Anime Expo 2008

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In video game terms, this year’s Anime Expo 2008 seriously leveled up by moving its location to the Los Angeles Convention Center in the heart of a downtown area that is undergoing a massive makeover and revitalization.

The Masquerade, a contest for cosplayers and one of the hottest events at AX, was held in the newly constructed Nokia Theater along with the AX Idol Singing and Voice Acting contests. This year’s winner for AX Idol was Pamela Moss, who sang “Kouga Ninpou Chou” from the ninja legend anime Basilisk. AX Voice Acting winner was Caitlin Chang, who voiced Yoko Ritona from sci-fi anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Attendees increased from 41,000 last year to 43,000 this year. Other fun highlights included the Anime Singled Out dating game and a screening of the new animated DVD Batman: Gotham Knight, comprised of six short films filling in the story line between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Guests of honor included voice actor David Hayter, best known for playing the main character Snake in the vastly popular Metal Gear videogame series from Japan.

Mike Shinoda’s ‘Glorious Excess’
Rock star and producer Mike Shinoda’s exhibition, Glorious Excess, on display at the Japanese American National Museum through August 3, makes you want to turn away in disgust as video footage of extravagant jewelry worn at red carpet events are juxtaposed against gratuitous Asian pop music videos.

The art evokes the sort of exhaustion that comes from being face-to-face with too much materialism and not enough soul. The centerpiece called “Icon” is an image composed of dollar signs that form a skeleton with a rifle and flanked by two objectified women.

Shinoda, whose relatives were sent to internment camps during World War II, was on hand for the exhibit’s opening, where skateboard decks with artwork from the show were for sale. The favorite deck featured a skeleton with red, empty eye sockets and a handful of money on a background of blood-splattered entertainment news clippings.

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