Anime Expo: Creative Cosplay Downtown

Manga and comics fans gather for talks, costuming, more.

It's always fascinating to see what new words are added to official dictionaries each year, the "selfies" and the "unfriends" and the "tweets" and the "hashtags" and other terms that weren't in common parlance even a few years before.

"Cosplay" is one such word. Even a few years ago the idea of "costume play" at a pop culture convention -- or elsewhere -- was not known to the wider world, but it most definitely is nowadays. And Anime Expo, the huge-scale manga-, anime-, film/TV- and game-focused gathering that lands at the Los Angeles Convention Center each July, is very much behind the expansion of the fan-embodies-art-form concept.

Which means this: Aficionados of Japanese comics and iconic fictional characters and games galore (both tabletop and on-screen) will be out in imaginative costumed force from Thursday, July 2 through Sunday, July 5.

So impressive are the glam-meets-genre get-ups that one can forget that fans, and not movie costume designers, are behind the sewing and design. But fandom has raised various bars, and convention goers work for months on what they'll wear.

And while cosplay is one of the cool-to-see centerpieces of the 24th annual Anime Expo, the character-filled to-dos crowd the schedule. Look for an arcade and tabletop gaming and karaoke and fashion shows and DJ-helmed dance happenings and a manga lounge and vendors and big-name sightings and everything pop-culture-y that can fit into four full days.

Plus? The celebrities of cosplay shall make a showing, with appearances by Aicosu, a couple that cosplays niftily and in theme together, and the elegantly outfitted WindoftheStars. Even Kiba the Cosplay Corgi shall make a much-coo'd-over cameo.

Will many Anime Expo attendees do Comic-Con International the following weekend? You bet. Costuming, and rocking those costumes in a public way, is now an integral part of experiencing the fantasy of a fictional tale in our workaday world. Fans are leading the way on this front, and fewer stages are bigger, or more lively, than Anime Expo.

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