Monday, June 3, 2024

Anime Riverside 3: 2024 Went Down Easy

By Jonathan Bilski
Riverside, a college town, was a smart choice to start off SoCal's anime season. Sort of like a precursor to AX, you can get the feel of what's to come. Anime Riverside is however, its own con and and easy one at that to attend. Let's go over what made it stand out this year.

The biggest attention grabber for Anime Riverside might have been the multiple well-known anime voice actors who showed-up for signings and panels. You had English dub casts from Natruo, Dragon Ball Super, Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, One-Punch Man and even Kaiju No.8. Lines stretched outside from early morning, well into evening for the signings taking place. We saw plenty of fans happily moving throughout the con with their merch signed.

Many of those voice artist panels were outside on the main stage to accommodate the crowds. 

What was also outside was Anime Wrestling. Three shows a day had wrestlers cosplaying as well
known anime and manga characters. This was a true highlight of the con for the over-the-top showmanship. And of course, childish name-calling. A triple tag-team match between Team Rocket, DBZ Android's 18 & 19 and Naruto and Rock Lee started off Saturday matches. A pure spectacle of moves seen in their anime's turned into real wrestling moves was funny to watch. Later, seeing a man get busted through a  wooden door he threw into the ring was pure action. "Crunch!" He might have lost the match, but he'll always been in our hearts.

The main convention hall and artist alley still feel small at AR, even though they are filled to the brim with booths. They have artist and booths we see at the bigger cons, but they might have to go the way of Anime Expo Chibi and invest in an air conditioned tent for more room. Some great finds for certain animes and rare stuff you'd never want to pay shipping on. Always a delight to see better merch for some shows then what is officially made.

We noticed Delicious in Dungeon was holding strong in artist alley and Pokemon is still going strong, but nothing else was that high in volume or trending anywhere around the con. Unless you're into meme cats.


Panels wise, we'll go over the two that really caught are eye in another post, but it was nice to see some
18+ adult themed ones towards the end of the evening. We got some truly dirty and messed up comedy from the Standup Comedy Panel. I can't repeat a word on here. Let's just say it went there and was well on the pulse with too much info about OnlyFans jokes.

When there wasn't panels there was many other things to do like a "Dragon Ball Hunt", a simple stamp rally. It was a sneaky way to show you all the other things you could do like the open free arcade, karaoke, Four Kingdoms experience. Basically, it was saying, "Hey, you can go outside of the convention center and look around."

Possibly our favorite part about AR is the, not on LGBTQ+. Though the way people dressed, everyone is welcome. We mean how Anime Riverside uses every inch of the Riverside Convention Hall. Like a Native American it uses up every part of that place from head to...uh, parking lot. So, you have a nice hilly grass area for cosplaying and meeting up. And places to do wrestling and eat. Or just somewhere to get some fresh air. If, it could be more tented or have certain shaded areas we think it be great to have booths outside... depending on how hot it gets.
With problems, the only thing we heard was the website for tickets for the event was malfunctioning. This was from a server at local taqueria where we grabbed food after the first day shut down. She wanted to go to AR too, but just couldn't get tickets. So, hopefully that was resolved.

On that, food choices are a plenty nearby. You've got a 24/7 ramen joint walking distance from it and  multiple Mexican restaurants. Riverside Food Lab was quite close too. And, they had some high priced food options inside. An even an otaku food market. All, faster better options than the nightmare that is Downtown LA and the dump of LA Live.
We just had to highlight the strange and entrancing Unikorn, we dare not eat it

Anime Riverside manages once again to make itself stand out by being a chill anime convention with plenty of options and activities for the anime fan of all ages. Compared to other cons, just an ease of access to get around and enjoy. Hope they can pull it off again in November with Anime Pasadena.