PopLurker Convention Coverage: Ronin-Expo 2018

By Loryn Stone

PopLurker would like to thank Ronin-Expo for generously providing Press Passes in exchange for convention coverage.

 

DSCN0096Ronin-Expo is a one-day Anime and Asian Culture Convention located in beautiful Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district. Celebrating its second year, Ronin-Expo is a small convention with a big vision. Timing of the event was perfect, as it primarily took place outside of the Japanese-American Cultural and Community Center and good weather was on our side. Any later in the season and it might have been too hot to enjoy an outdoor festival, though all of the vendor and sales areas were thankfully shaded by canopies and tents.

There was a wide variety of sellers and vendors with many types of merchandise available for sale. Among the majority, overwhelmingly, were artists making home-made crafts. Specifically, pillows, which vendors informed me are a current trend in anime merchandise.

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Michael Stanback of Stanback Studios

And no, not just the “cuddle my Waifu” body pillows. Although those were present at the convention, too.

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Select your character.

On a personal level, I would have liked to see a higher balance of licensed merchandise to crafts simply because I’m someone who enjoys rummaging for old toys and weird old surprises, but obviously, that’s not the agenda of most anime fans today. And certainly not of Ronin-Expo’s, which was very much a convention for the people. It caters to fresh anime fans with only a few Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball items scattered.

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That said, there’s always treasures at the Toy-Zilla booth

Fortunately, I found an artist selling incredible prints of his original mecha artwork.

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Al Santiago of Chrome Gear Illustration

There was also no shortage of amazing (and some original) cosplays.

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Dio Brando Cosplay: M0gwhy on Instagram

Ronin-Expo featured a large stage for entertainment, where viewers were treated to a Japanese Taiko drum performance. And later, to keep the energy high, The Dance Corps dance troupe rocked the stage, eliciting cheers, whistles, and howls of excitement from all members of the crowd.

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The Corps Dance Crew in Sailor Moon inspired Cosplay

There were indoor activities as well- down inside the lower level of the Community Center, a small variety of panels were taking place. These panels ranged from discussions about dubbing, to the history of mecha, voice actor Q&A sessions and more, the panels schedule was completely packed. There was a Cosplay Masquerade, a full gaming room (complete with Guitar Hero competition) and a Love Live! Maid Café with lots of adorable treats.

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Two cosplayers advertising the Love Live! Maid Cafe

Plus, the outdoor gardens and stage area were just beautiful.

Ronin-Expo was small, super fun convention with big ambitions. The atmosphere was cozy, exciting, and friendly. If I had to compare the convention to high school, it felt like a place where everyone who wasn’t an anime fan was locked in the classroom and it was time for the geeks to come out any play. We infiltrated the schoolyard, and everyone was their best and happiest self. Congratulations and well-done to Ronin-Expo- we can’t wait to see you next year!

 

You can follow Loryn on Twitter or her personal blog. Loryn’s debut novel My Starlight, a young adult novel about anime, cosplaying, fandom, love, loss, and friendship will be released August 3rd, 2018 by Affinity Rainbow Publications.

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