10 Things to Check Out at Anime Expo

This weekend, Los Angeles hosts the 20th Anniversary of Anime Expo, the biggest anime expo in the country, with over 105,000 visitors attending the four-day convention last year. And that number didn't include all the various outdoor activities in the immediate vicinity, like the annual Battle of the Bands, Masquerade, and Idol Singer competition that occurred across the street from the L.A. Convention Center at Club Nokia and Nokia Theater.

With the doors opening again this Friday, we take a look at ten more can't-miss things happening in and around L.A. Live.
1.       Anime Expo 20th Anniversary Panel – Kicking off Sunday morning activities will be this panel which will take a retrospective look back on the past 20 years of Anime Expos, from its first event at the Red Lion Hotel in San Jose, CA (attended by 1,750 hardcore fans) to its journey down to Southern California in Anaheim, Long Beach and since 2008, Los Angeles. The Expo's one-time events in New York (2002) and Tokyo (2004) will also be highlighted.
2.       Giant Robot Rumble - Think of it as a real-life version of Real Steel meets WWE's Royal Rumble. Sixteen giant robots will enter into a ring inside the Convention Center, and only one will survive and be crowned champion. The smackdown starts Saturday night at 10p.m. and concludes at midnight in Room 502.
3.       Battle of the Bands – Now in its sixth year, one of the more popular events at Expo is this anime version of Battle of the Bands. Musicians will jam at Club Nokia beginning just after noon on Friday with a winner being crowned three hours later. Six finalists have been chosen to throw down their best performances in winning the AX Band Champ Trophy. Fault, Sounddrug, Little Alto, Dream Rush, Black Crystal and Midnight Shinigami will battle it out to be number one.
Midnight Shinigami
4.       Anime Expo AX Idol – This unique opportunity gives attendees the chance to display their voice acting and singing skills for both fans as well as respected industry pros. This year's judges will include BangZoom! president Eric Sherman and vice-president Kaeko Sakamoto along with musician Jason C. Miller and American Idol runner-up Blake Lewis. Auditions will begin on Friday morning with the winner being crowned following the AX Idol Show at Nokia Theater on Sunday beginning at noon.
5.       Bandai Entertainment – The anime giant will be on hand to showcase various Gundam-related products including the Gundam 00 Movie's English premiere. If robots aren't your thing, the company will also host a K-On!  autograph session and mini-concert. K-On! revolves around the story of four Japanese high school girls who join their school's music club to save it from being abolished. The ladies who voice the English-dubbed version will be on hand to entertain and greet fans.
Cassandra Morris, Christine Canabos, Shelby Lindley, Stephanie Sheh and Cassandra Vee from K-On!
6.       Cosplay Chess! Heroes vs. Villains – Go to any anime related event and you're sure to find plenty of people dressed up in costumes of their favorite characters. Anime Expo is no different and will take that idea one step further and pit anime heroes against anime villains in an ultimate two-hour chess match in Room 515B Friday beginning at 3:30 p.m.
7.       Death Note Mafia – Another fan friendly event is this Sunday night event featuring Death Note characters playing the party game Mafia. Much like the series, betrayal can happen at any time. The event goes down in Room 515B starting at 10 p.m. and runs until midnight or until someone writes your name in their Death Notebook. Kidding.
8.       FUNimation Sneak Peek – The American distribution company which holds English-language distribution rights for Yuyu Hakusho, Full Metal Alchemist, Afro Samurai, Trigun and many more well-known titles will be on hand showcasing clips from some of their newest shows including City Under Siege, Noir and The Sword With No Name.
9.       Naruto Shippuden: Dreamers Fight Sneak Peek – Saturday will be a huge day for fans to catch clips of various titles. In addition to screenings for Yuyu Hakusho, Initial D, Dragon Ball Z, Bleach, Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, Inyusha and Prince of Tennis will be this live-action short film based on Masashi Kishimoto's wildly popular anime/manga series. Check out the trailer below for the 20-minute short in which Naruto and Rock Lee prepare to fight and be sure to check it out in Room 411 Theater beginning at 7 p.m.

10.   VIZ Media Panel –VIZ Media, home of some of the biggest anime/manga around will give fans the low-down on everything from latest acquisitions to new manga and anime hitting shelves later this year. The company is expected to unveil their Viz Manga app which offers over 200+ ready to read titles as well as announce six new titles that were released this month. There will also be a Q&A session for fans who are sure to ask about the recent collaboration with Studio Ghibli and a series of books releasing next year based on The Borrower Arrietty. Disney has the rights to release the film version in the U.S., but no release date has been set.
It's almost impossible to pick just ten things to see at Anime Expo. In some ways, it's the anime version of Comic-Con, with hundreds of events going on throughout the holiday weekend. Other events worth checking out include a speed dating event called Anime Singled Out, an Otaku Debate Session, Cosplay Masquerade Competition, video game tournaments for Street Fighter IV, Tekken 6, Capcom vs. Marvel 3 and Mortal Kombat, a 12-hour karaoke competition and Last Comic Standing Try-outs. All this and we haven't even mentioned the Guests of Honor. For casual fans (we know the hardcore otakus have snapped up their tickets already) tickets are still available and range from $50 for a 1-Day Pass to $75 for four days.
OK anime fans. What are you look forward to the most at Expo?
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