I first heard about AM^2 from my brother, who told me the original coordinators of Anime Expo didn't like how AX was diverting its focus from anime/manga and focusing more towards making a profit. Supposedly, they broke away from AX and started their own convention - AM^2. Nearly everything at AM^2 is free, but if you want to be first in line for concerts or movie screenings, you can purchase a VIP pass. (You also have to buy a ticket to enter the AniMaid Cafe and there's a fee to play the games in the Summer Festival area.) Personally, I love this system so much more than Anime Expo's - no high cost of admission, no overcharging error, no endless badge pick-up line... it all sounded great to me!
After telling my friends about AM^2, we decided to go on Sunday - the day after I attended Anime Expo. (Read about my AX experience here.) Because of costs, several of my friends opted out of attending AX this year, but they couldn't argue with free!
|AM^2 Sunday Program|
In the main hall, one corner was dedicated to vendors who sold plushies, manga, anime, and other merchandise. Although I was not able to purchase my giant Pokeball plushie at Anime Expo, I did find a smaller version for $5 here.
|Shan the Candy Man|
|Pikachu Candy Sculpture|
|Shan the Candy Man's candy sculptures|
Behind the Summer Festival area, there was a stage, which showcased various bands, singers, and traditional Japanese dancers.
|Traditional Japanese Dancers|
|Waffles de Liege truck|
|Liege Waffle with Speculoo Spread|
After we ate, my friends went to play some video games in the video game corner across from the shopping area. These games were also free to play and had everything from some original Nintendo game I had never seen (with an actual old-school Nintendo console!) to Super Smash Bros. After the games, we caught the screening for Ouran High School Host Club and a little bit of the masquerade competition before we left.
Overall, I had a pleasant experience. It wasn't as grand as Anime Expo, but I see the potential AM^2 possesses. And for being a free event, I can't really complain.