In the past few months, I have reviewed L.A. Comic-Con and Anime Los Angeles 18 on my own as a new TGON writer, but this time, I attended the one-day event, Anime Days, with my good friend and fellow TGON writer, Kat! I grew up going to conventions and events like this often with friends, so it was exciting to attend with friends again, and it made the experience so much better!

I dressed as Mimikyu from Pokémon and Kat as Jinx from Arcane. Kat’s cosplay of Jinx was particularly popular. Before making it to the information booth, I saw cosplayers dressed as Luffy and Boa Hancock from One Piece, Volo from Pokémon Legends, and Sailor Moon. Kat was ecstatic when she spotted someone cosplaying as Doll from Black Butler: Book of Circus and live2night cosplaying as Mae from the video game Night in the Woods.

@katrojohnson dressed as Jinx and @brandimichele dressed as Mimikyu. Source: Brandi Ortiz from The Game of Nerds

At the information booth, we were greeted by the Anime Days event staff and alternative model Vampz. The event staff and coordinator were told about the live performances scheduled for today, given courtesy tasting cards, and encouraged to enjoy the event. I appreciated the staff’s friendliness. I learned about Anime Days and messaged the event staff with my request. 

After our first stop at the information booth, Kat and I backtracked to Artist Alley, where Kat bought a rainbow sun catcher from Heed the Hare. I didn’t get anything but smelled Ryuk from Death Note. Not really, but I did smell a Death Note-inspired candle called Ryuk, courtesy of Animoo Candles. I expected Ryuk to smell like apples, and to my surprise, I got whiffs of vanilla and tobacco. As a candle connoisseur, I have a strange appreciation for these fandom-inspired scents, so I recommend checking them out if you want to start a fun candle collection.

While in Artist Alley, we talked to some vendors, including Lui, who turned out to own one of California’s only manga cafés, La Manga Cafe. Lui said his café would host a speed dating event for manga fans looking for new friends and love, so check it out if you’re single and ready to mingle! Lui and his friend also recommended we attend Sugoi Saturday (ironically held on Sundays), and after Googling it, I admittedly was hyped to check it out, so that may be Kat and I’s next stop this month. 

After finishing up with Artist Alley, we checked out the rest of the vendors, and I was happy to recognize some of the names. Runeechan and Chucky Tomato. Both artists with incredibly adorable art styles that I’m delighted to support. I bought a Rainbow Poké Ball Pride pin from Chucky Tomato, and I adore it! Admittedly, I wear a LOT of black most days, but when I see a rainbow, I can’t say no!

Kat bought an iridescent pair of DnD dice from TableTopWitchy, and I could tell she was so excited to use them in her next game. I tried playing DnD a while back, but I needed help understanding the rules more often and felt like I was holding back my group by being a newbie. After hearing Kat explain the game, I may give DnD another whirl.

When we got to the main stage, we saw that JPop musician Stephanie Yanez was opening with a song inspired by her love for Shōjo manga. As someone that also enjoys Shōjo manga, I found it charming and fun to listen to while we walked around. I don’t consider myself a hopeless romantic, but I love coming-of-age stories like Sailor Moon and Fruits Basket.

I spotted a decent-sized Snorlax pin made by Here Comes The Nerd and made a beeline for it. I looked at it and knew I needed this sleepy big boy. I scanned the rest of their pin selection and was happily amused to see how their pin designs reminded me of the Powerpuff Girls with their massive eyes and smiles. I also bought a Ditto mini pin to pair with my new Snorlax.

Eventually, we got hungry and decided to taste the options included in the tasting cards. The cards we got allowed us to pick from a curated menu from restaurants at the GardenWalk, such as Pico Smashes, Outlier BBQ, Banh Mi Dealer, Dulce Handcrafted Ice Cream, and Ray’s Amazing Pizza.

Source: Brandi Ortiz from The Game of Nerds

Kat got an Italian Cubano sandwich from Ray’s, which she rated 8 out of 10 for being “deliciously neat, but too small,” and an original iced coffee from Banh Mi Dealer, which she rated 9 out of 10 since it was “good, but not iced tea.” I got a beef slider from Outlier BBQ, rated 8 out of 10 for being “saucy, messy, but delicious.” I would have rated it higher, but the burger had so much sauce I was worried it would drip and stain my Mimikyu cloak. We ended our tasting journey with two ice creams from Dulce, which we rated 10 out of 10 for “just being ice cream!” Everything we got through the tasting cards was arguably sample size but delicious!

While looking at the restaurant options, Kat and I spotted a caricature stand operated by caricaturist and painter Amy Doan and couldn’t resist. She drew us in our cosplays, and they turned out so cute! I couldn’t wait to find the perfect frame for mine!

Amy said she was invited by the event coordinator of Artist Alley, Ashley Dinh, to be an art vendor for the Anime Days event and would love to attend and vend at Anime Days again next year. I hope she returns next year because she and her caricature were among my favorite parts of the day! Such a fun way to capture the moment!

Amy said, “the afternoon was a bit slow, but once the sun moved down and live performances started, the crowds started gathering. It was when you and your friend (Kat dressed as Jinx) came by! I went downstairs to check the shops because I thought I was done for the day, but you two turned it around! I enjoyed my time so much today and loved drawing everybody. The mini caricatures were a new product because I wanted to create something affordable and accessible for all!”

While waiting for Kat’s caricature to be finished, I saw a Vegeta Funko Pop sold by toy collector AstroCollectives and thought it would be perfect for one of my coworkers, so I bought it straight away. I would have wanted this Saiyan prince if I didn’t know he was a Dragon Ball Z fan. I always like bringing back something fun for my friends. 

Lastly, Kat bought a well-detailed shirt from Kiv Bui and a Jinx figure from collector and crafter Sheri Jordan. I pointed out the figure to Kat, and she had to have it! Closer to the end of the event, Kat and I decided to hit the road and swing back to the information booth to say goodbye to the staff. The main stage was next, so we got the chance to watch the SoCal-based K-pop dance cover team Mirus’ routine. Whenever half the group took center stage, the other half cheered!

Kat and I hit the road after chatting more with the staff, and part of me couldn’t wait to return next year! I recommend watching out Anime Days 2024 if you’re looking for a fun-filled opportunity to meet artists, content creators, and fellow anime nerds!

To my excitement, the Anime Days event staff said that Anime Days will return to Anaheim Gardenwalk sometime next year, with the goal “to make Anime Days a place where you can bring your friends, where everyone feels welcomed, and where even the biggest weebs feel like they belong.”