An expo featuring the expansive world of Eastern culture took place this past weekend, as the 2016 Pacific Media Expo returned to the Pasadena Convention Center. As its name suggests, this expo featured just about everything revolving around Asian pop culture, from the fashion to the fiction to the food to the art to the music and so much more. Attendees would encounter art, music, dance, entertainment, cosplay, fashion, anime, manga, comics, video games, merchandise, accessories, food, drinks, treats, and tons of other things that could keep one occupied for more than just a weekend. Many attendees went all out and dressed for the occasion, while other fans simply attended to check out the latest in Asian pop culture.
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I attended two out of the three days, so I will do my best to chronicle my adventures at the 2016 Pacific Media Expo. With so much to do, I often found myself bouncing back and forth between rooms, programs, and seminars. Upon my arrival on Friday afternoon, I immediately started to scout out the area to get a feel for the layout of this expo. At one point, I did end up in a section of the convention center dedicated to an entirely different event. Roaming around revealed to me that the expo took place on both sides of the convention center: the ballrooms and the conference rooms on the other side of the theater. Starting with the conference rooms, these rooms held mainly the fashion rooms, with markets, shops, and fashion-based programs in the back room. This side also had the gaming room for those attendees wanting to relax a bit between programs.
After checking out the conference rooms, I roamed over to the ballrooms. The front two ballrooms contained a variety of seminars and programs. The next three ballrooms would contain the Artists’ Market (display), the Main Stage (entertainment), and the Exhibit Hall (vendors). As the Exhibit Hall also contained food vendors in an enclosed space, the scent of food wafted all throughout the room plus a small section of the foyer in front of that ballroom.
Now that I had scouted out the entire expo area, I started to explore the rooms individually to discover the programs. One ballroom had a lip-sync dance show, while another had a panel discussing retro video games. Wandering back to the conference rooms, I discovered a fashion panel presented by a butler café.
As the sun set, the expo’s Opening Ceremonies started to take place. This mainly involved the expo’s special guests introducing themselves, talking about their experience traveling here in Southern California, and previewing what they will do that weekend at the expo. Also around this time, the Swap Meet started to set up in the ballroom foyer, which attracted dozens of attendees to come check out the goods. Typically the items found at the Swap Meet cost less than the items in the Exhibit Hall. Attendees would likely find rare goods as well. Following the Opening Ceremonies, a few more programs took place involving cosplay and martial arts.
Capping off the night, a concert took place featuring Hitomi from a maid café in Akihabara, Japan. Essentially a one-woman show, Hitomi danced and sang in her cutesy style. Since she speaks exclusively Japanese, Hitomi had a translator with her between songs when she spoke to the audience. She also got the audience involved in some sort of Rock-Paper-Scissors game that the maids do regularly at their café in Japan. She gave out autographed posters to those who bested her in that game. After this concert, I called it a night so that I could return the next day with energy to make it through the night.
On Saturday, I arrived at the expo at about the same time as I had on Friday, meaning that I arrived in the middle of another concert, this one featuring Stephanie Yanez. Unlike Hitomi, Stephanie can speak English, so she had no issues communicating with the audience.
Following the concert, I got to check out many more programs and activities of the expo. These activities included a business fashion panel, yoga room, DDR-like game, panel discussing idol culture, meet & greet with Hitomi, live art session, and indie fashion panel.
Just like the previous night, the Swap Meet opened after sunset, attracting dozens of people the come check out the goods. Also at this time, the Fashion Swap Meet took place in the conference rooms area, focused more on apparel and accessories rather than fandom goods.
Saturday’s main event involved the Masquerade Cosplay Contest. Over a dozen attendees participated in this contest to exhibit their outfit and character, since the contest required participants to do something to act in character. Some of the participants merely posed, while others performed some dance routine. After the participants strutted their stuff, an intermission show took place that featured a professional group of women performing their act for the audience. Finally, awards of varying categories went out to the participants.
With the main event over, night had fallen, indicating the start of the more mature programs of the expo. A few Truth Or Dare programs took place, both of which got very dirty as time progressed. After that, the ballrooms converted to a dance hall and a singalong room. The final event in the conference rooms involved speed dating. According to some of the returning attendees, last year’s speed dating delivered a lot of success in terms of matching people up. I had never attended Pacific Media Expo before, and this year’s speed dating broke the expectation of how speed dating should look. Basically, only about seven women showed up, some of which did not have any interest in dating or already had a partner – they participated simply to participate, but not to find romance. Compare that with the 20+ guys that showed up, most of which appeared as the stereotypical hikikomori.
Alas, I did not return to the expo on Sunday, as the first two days had greatly drained all of my energy. Fret not, for I still managed to capture many of the cosplays of the 2016 Pacific Media Expo. Even to those not interested in anime or manga, everyone should attend an expo/con of this nature just to see everyone dressing up in costume. At any expo involving comics, video games, anime, manga, and more, any attendee cannot avoid seeing another guest participating in the inevitable cosplay for the duration of the event. Cosplay has turned into a staple for any sort of expo in this industry, and the fans proudly donned their best gear for this expo. Watch in amazement the best of the best of this year’s Pacific Media Expo.
With the Pacific Media Expo having drawn to a close, it paves the way for additional similar expos in Southern California, one of the world’s largest communities of Asian pop culture outside of Japan. With connections to Anime Impulse, Anime Los Angeles, and Ninja Con, Southern California’s anime & manga industry coexist in a vast community of connected fans & friends. Stay in touch with the Pacific Media Expo to learn about future events and opportunities by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.