Revisions were made as of November 18. 2011. See notes below for details.
Since 3 days have passed since this convention has reached its conclusion, it was about time a report showed up on the website. Having moved to Los Angeles not too long ago, I decided to add the various conventions in Southern California to my hit list. I had attended Anime Expo prior to moving down here, but I also wanted to check out the smaller conventions in the area. Living only an hour and 15 minute bus ride or 20 minute car ride from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Pacific Media Expo (PMX) seemed quite feasible for the first of these modestly sized conventions. Held at the LAX Hilton once more after taking a little break at Pasadena the year before, PMX broadens its appeal with the wide range of media it exhibits.
In terms of accommodations, the LAX Hilton and its surrounding area does not disappoint. In fact, the “head” of our hotel room even managed to check in earlier than originally scheduled, lightening my burden of heavy luggage in particular since I arrived not too long after the convention had opened the first day, which happened to be 11:11 AM on November 11, 2011. For those who forget to bring certain essentials, there are some department stores to pick things up at if you are willing to take the 20-25 minute walk to get there. Otherwise, you can stick with the hotel shop or take a bus if you have the money. There are also various restaurants nearby along with the conveniently located food truck, “Truck Norris,” to keep yourself nourished throughout the duration of the convention. Frankly, I find the things sold in the hotel shop and the food truck to be too expensive for my tastes, so I personally opted for the nearby restaurants instead.
PMX features events and panels that cater to a broad audience. Whether you are into anime, manga, video games, East Asian pop or rock music, cosplay, gothic Lolita, or even ball-jointed dolls, PMX has something for you. Guests at this year’s PMX include: visual-kei band D, fashion designer Atelier-Pierrot, voice actress Cristina Vee, director Imagawa Yasuhiro, and mechanical designer Nonaka Tsuyoshi. Unfortunately, being a convention that is held at a hotel, some of the rooms used for panels and such are not sufficient enough in terms of size and seating arrangements. Panels and other events also had a tendency to begin late and end late. Regardless of these issues, they went well for the most part. As this is a smaller sized convention, the Dealer's Hall is quite diverse despite its limited space. Along with typical anime and manga merchandise, Lolita fashion clothing and a wide range of Japanese music CDs were also being sold. The Artist's Alley, on the other hand, seemed quite isolated and almost unwanted.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of the 2 D concerts, but judging by the noise of the crowd as one walked by and the delay of the dances that were scheduled not too long after, I would say that the concerts were quite successful. Of course, I was also told that the delays were also caused by technical difficulties during the start of the concert (especially with instruments not working properly). However, I really do not like how PMX charges attendees extra money for some of their events the way AX does. I personally believe that a con registration should cover access to all events akin to FanimeCon. Luckily, a free-to-attend fashion show on Day 3 provided the attendees a look into Atelier-Pierrot’s product line with the help of 8 attractive models. For those who wanted some action, a martial arts tournament was held throughout most of Day 3, which featured some professional fighters (see picture below).
If there’s anything to mention in particular, it would be Vocalekt Visions’ panel on Day 2. This group of Vocaloid producers based in the West has been constantly exposing its work to the world for a while now and continues even more so at conventions and events such as PMX. Being held at the size-deficient Los Angeles B (Live Programming 2), this panel attracted a large crowd of Vocaloid fans and listeners to the point where some had to resort to standing. Oddly enough, I found that other panels in this room featuring industry guests were unable to attract even half the number of this panel's attendees. The panel host, none other than Mission Start Podcast’s community manager, James Lawrence Sakura (Holo the Wise), introduced the crowd to the song and lyrics composer of the group, Tempo-P (Unfortunately, his partner, sound engineer and songwriter, NeutrinoP, was unable to make the trip.), animators and illustrators 1FNPony and Dregorin, and some special guests including the 7th MikuMikuDance (MMD) Cup champion Sekken-P, the composer of the hit “Project DIVA Desu,” Utata-P, and performer Yukie Dong. Screenings of an animated “live” performance of two of the group’s songs: “Bring Back Your Smile/笑顔を取り戻せ!” featuring Gackpoid: Kamui Gakupo and Megpoid: Gumi and “Lemon Ice Bar/レモンアイスバー” featuring Hatsune Miku and Sekken-P’s entry to the 7th MMD Cup followed a Q&A session for the guests. Free copies of the group’s first EP, “Tuned in the West” were given to the panel attendees. If you were unable to attend the panel, below is a video (Video provided by 39diyMMDConcert).
For a moderately small convention, PMX has much to offer. Its location and layout at the LAX Hilton provides a form of convenience and accessibility that conventions held at larger venues cannot. While hotel guests who are not attendees are passing by wondering what they’re missing out on and baffled by all the cosplayers and Lolitas, there is a variety of activities and events to look at. However, don't be surprised if you see very few fellow con-goers attending certain panels even if they do feature guests of honor. If you go to cons primarily to shop, you might be in for some disappointment only because of the limited number of vendors and limited offerings. Because of its size and its offerings, I would strongly recommend this as a first convention for those who have yet to attend one and as an additional convention to check out if you’re into any aspect of East Asian entertainment, fashion, or pop culture.
A previous version of this article (before November 18, 2011) had mentioned Re:VB as an animator/illustrator for Vocalekt Visions. Re:VB is actually the person behind AniMiku, the software used for the rendering of the concert mentioned above (Thanks to Re:VB himself and Tempo-P for this clarification.). Information about Tempo-P's partner, NeutrinoP, was also added. Minor corrections have also been made.