There are almost too many things to do at Anime Expo this year. While people across the country will be out celebrating this Independence Day weekend, tens of thousands are expected to converge on the L.A. Convention Center. With the con fast-approaching and final plans being made, now is the perfect time to start planning your day to day activities.

If you’ve read part one of our two-part guide, that means that your bags are packed and ready to go. Part two is here to help you navigate all the happenings of the Expo. This year’s Expo will have over 400 vendors and nearly as many artists in their artist alley, hundreds of panels and screenings, and a ton of on-site events. It’s a lot to take in, but don’t worry. We’ve got your back. By the time you walk through the front doors of the L.A. Convention Center, you’ll know some of the things you absolutely have to be on the lookout for.

Exclusive Merchandise

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Image: Bandai America.

DRAGON BALL fans can rejoice with the release of three con exclusives. The Bandai Booth (booth #111) is selling a 6.5″ DRAGON BALL SUPER Ultimate Deco Super Saiyan Goku figure. Bandai is also selling a DRAGON BALL SUPER Ultra Deluxe Scouter. If you want to secure these exclusives in advance of the con, they’re already going for around $80 on eBay. Meanwhile, Bluefin Brands (booth #2406) is selling a Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (SSGSS) Goku Figure-rise Standard model kit. What’s really awesome about this figure is the fact that it will be the first DRAGON BALL figure not sold in Japan. Bluefin Brands will also be selling limited edition GUNDAM figures. You can learn more about their exclusives here.

Good Smile Company (booth #1600) has a pretty good line-up this year as well. YURI!!! ON ICE fans will be able to purchase the Yuri Katsuki Free Skating Ver. Nendoroid ahead of its release (just in time for an autograph signing with show creators, Mitsurou Kubo and Sayo Yamamoto). Other Nendoroids available include characters from TOUHOU PROJECT, KANTAI COLLECTION -KANCOLLE-, VOCALOID, and two from SWORD ART ONLINE THE MOVIE: ORDINAL SCALE. Figures from VOCALOID and the popular smartphone game FATE/GRAND ORDER will also be available. Fans of Studio Trigger’s LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA and SPACE PATROL LULUCO will also have items to choose from. For a full list of Good Smile’s con exclusives and how you can get them, check out this announcement.

SEE: Representation in media matters! See how YURI!!! ON ICE holds up!

Film World Premieres

Prior to its July 29 release date in Japan, the live-action TOKYO GHOUL makes it’s debut at Anime Expo. The film is based on the manga series by Ishida Sui about college student, Kaneki Ken, who undergoes surgery which turns him into a half-ghoul (ghouls being monsters which need human flesh to survive). Directed by Kentaro Hagiwara and starring Masataka Kubota (who also starred as Light Yagami in the 2015 live-action DEATH NOTE series), fans will be able to watch the film on Monday, July 3 at 7:30 pm in Video 2, located inside the JW Marriott-Diamond Ballroom. This screening is an 18+ event and hopeful attendees will have to show a valid ID to Info Services in order to obtain a wristband that will get you into the screening. If you haven’t yet, you have to see the trailer. This is one summer blockbuster you don’t want to miss — especially when attending the premiere gives you ultimate bragging rights before the US release!

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Official TOKYO GHOUL US movie poster! Image: Shochiku Co., LTD.

Another screening of note comes from Shout! Factory Films and Funimation Films. After winning Animation of the Year at this year’s Japan Academy Prize, IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD is scheduled to hit Anime Expo on Sunday, July 2. The story, set in 1944, follows 18-year old Suzu Urano, who moves to the small town of Kure in Hiroshima. Suzu must find a way to continue with her day-to-day life after her town is bombed in an American air raid. Directed by the same man who brought us MAI MAI MIRACLE, IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD is a heart-wrenching tale of life in the shadow of one of the most devastating events in history. The film will be screened at 5 pm in room LP4/LACC 411 followed by a Q&A session with director Sunao Katabuchi. And if that wasn’t enough, the trailer shows exactly how cute and super-feels-y the movie is!

If you thought that was all, there’s one more movie premiering that I wouldn’t dare forget. Kyoto Animation, the studio behind films like A SILENT VOICE and shows like K-ON! brings to Anime Expo their highly anticipated movie VIOLET EVERGARDEN. The film stars Yui Ishikawa, who also voices Mikasa Ackerman in ATTACK ON TITAN. Based on the light novel of the same name, VIOLET EVERGARDEN follows a young girl named Violet, who becomes an Auto Memories Doll — a person who can turn other people’s thoughts into words — in a post-war world. Breathtaking visuals only add to the intriguing plot. Attendees can watch the movie before its January 2018 release on Sunday, July 2, at 2 pm in Main Events-Hall B.

TV World Premieres

It’s been seventeen years since CARDCAPTOR SAKURA left our screens, and in six months, the show will return with an all new series called CARDCAPTOR SAKURA: CLEAR CARD-HEN. Fans won’t have to wait till January 2018, however, to get a look at the new series with the CARDCAPTOR SAKURA: CLEAR CARD PROLOGUE OVA screening at Anime Expo. Sakura’s life was supposed to go back to normal after all the Clow Cards had been collected. And it did… Until Syaoran confesses his feelings for Sakura. Syaoran, however, is about to move to Hong Kong. What is Sakura to do? Find out on Saturday, July 1st at 4 pm in Main Events-Hall B. The screening is followed by a Q&A session with anime producer Chiyo Kawazoe. Attendees can also expect to receive exclusive giveaways.

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Who knew you could miss one person so much?

Also making it’s debut at Anime Expo is WELCOME TO THE BALLROOM, just a week before its much-anticipated official release. The anime follows Fujita Tatara, a quiet middle schooler and frequent target of bullies. One day, while being attacked outside of Ogasawara Dance Studio, he is saved by Sengoku Kaname, a professional dancer and teacher at Ogasawara. After mistakenly being invited inside, Fujita is thrown into the world of ballroom dance. With his unwavering drive for improvement, Fujita Tatara quickly proves to be an opponent that even seasoned dancers have to watch out for. If it’s anything like the manga it’s based off of, you can expect the show to offer stunning visuals and entrancing music. You can catch the premiere of WELCOME TO THE BALLROOM on Sunday, July 2, at 10:30 am in Main Events-Hall B. This is going to be one premiere you don’t want to miss if you’re a lover of sports animes (but honestly, who isn’t? They’re the best).

LUPIN THE 3RD: THE ITALIAN GAME will also be premiering at Anime Expo. It is the latest installment in the LUPIN THE 3RD anime series. The show will be screened on Monday, July 3, at 2pm in the Video 2/JW Marriott Ballroom.

CLICK: WELCOME TO THE BALLROOM is expected to be one of the best anime of 2017. But before that, here’s what we thought were the top anime of 2016!

Anisong World Matsuri

Anisong World Matsuri made its US debut at Anime Expo 2016 and is set to return this year with a two night extravaganza! For those of you who are unfamiliar, Anisong World Matsuri features a wide variety of performers and other special guests. The first event, titled ~Japan Kawaii Live~ will take place on June 30th at 7 pm and features four different performances: Aqours, JUNNA and Minori Suzuki from Walküre, THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS, and Wake Up, Girls! The second event, ~Japan Super Live~, will take place the next day, July 1st at 7 pm and features performers ALI PROJECT, angela, GARNiDELiA, Konomi Suzuki, Mashiro Ayano, and Minori Chihara. Fans might recognize some of these songs, like “Yuukyou Seishunka” from CODE GEASS LELOUCH OF THE REBELLION, “NEWLOOK” from RE: CREATORS, “Vanilla Sky” from GUNSLINGER STRATOS, “Redo” from RE: ZERO, and “This game” from NO GAME, NO LIFE. Tickets are still available for both events. You can find out more information about the events here.

The music featured in anime is often our gateway into the world of Japanese music. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve blasted “Unravel” by TK (the opening song of TOKYO GHOUL: Season 1) or the entire RADWIMPS album from KIMI NO NA WA. Being able to hear your favorite anime songs live is an experience you don’t want to miss!

Spotlight Panels

Lovers of ATTACK ON TITAN will be able to see voice actresses Yui Ishikawa and Trina Nishimura at the Funimation Presents: ATTACK ON TITAN Season 2 VA Panel. Ishikawa and Nishimura are, respectively, the Japanese and English voice actors for Mikasa Ackerman. Fans will be able to hear behind-the-scene stories from the filming of Season 2 as well as learn more about the art of voice acting. It will definitely be interesting to see two versions of the same character interacting with each other and discussing how they approach the character. The panel will take place on Saturday, July 1st, at 10:30 am in the Live Programming 2 Room.

There will also be an opportunity to learn more about history of the legendary Studio Ghibli. For the past thirty years, Studio Ghibli has produced movies that have weaseled their way into the hearts of many. It’s without a doubt the most influential anime studio in the world. But in order to figure out how they got to where they are now, Dr. Rayna Denison, a senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia, takes a look at the history of Studio Ghibli as a whole. This panel is part of the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium and will take place on Sunday, July 2, at 1:30 pm in the Live Programming 4 Room.

First look at Alphonse Elric. Image: Warner Bros. Japan.

While it’s not the panel I’m sure a lot of people would hope for, Anime Expo’s FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Movie Panel will hopefully give fans an inside look into the mind of director, Fumihiko Sori. The panel will also feature actor Ryosuke Yamada, who plays Edward Elric, an alchemy genius. There’s no confirmation yet if exclusive footage will be shown at the panel, though having the director of the film present should help hold fans over until more trailers out. The movie is set to release in Japan on December 1st with no word of a US release. The panel will be happening on Monday, July 3, at 11am in the Main Events room.

And to end your con with a bang, you’re not going to want to miss this panel! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS has taken the anime world by storm. This panel, hosted by Shonen Jump, features the English voice actors of both BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS and BORUTO: NARUTO THE MOVIE: Amanda Celine Miller (Boruto), Cherami Leigh (Sarada), and Robbie Daymond (Mitsuki). Whether you’ve stuck through all 700+ episodes of NARUTO or are just getting into BORUTO, this panel is sure to be a blast. Catch Shonen Jump Presents: BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS Official Panel On Tuesday, July 4, at 1pm in the Live Programming 3 Room and take home one of their exclusive panel-only giveaways.

READ: Want to learn more about BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS? Here’s what the opening tells us about the show!

Anime Expo Masquerade

An integral part of any convention, especially an anime and manga one, is the cosplay contest. Anime Expo Masquerade has been around for over twenty years and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. It’s gotten so popular, in fact, that you now have to buy a ticket to the event! Don’t worry though, they cost under $15, with the cheapest being only $5. The Masquerade is set to take place on Sunday, July 2nd, from 8 pm to 10 pm in Main Events-Hall B. Interested in competing? While it might be too late to join the Intermediate Class, advanced cosplayers are still free to join the Master Class. Prizes for the contest range from $1000-$3000. Find out more about the Masquerade here.

The Masquerade is great chance to see the hard work of dozens of cosplayers in action. Cosplaying isn’t just a hobby, it’s a form of art. Anyone who has ever tried to cosplay will definitely agree that it isn’t easy. And seeing your favorite characters strut across the stage is just a major plus.

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Image: Anime Expo.

Autograph Sessions

If you’ve never gone to get an autograph at a convention, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with people who helped create and love the same shows and characters that you do. Though it has to be tiring (honestly, what kind of human interaction isn’t tiring), most actors, actresses, creators, and artists love talking to fans about the projects they’ve worked on. It’s definitely an unforgettable moment when you walk up to them, art/collectible/figure in hand.

From JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE to STEVEN UNIVERSE, there are opportunities to get an autograph from some (if not all) of the talent behind your favorite shows. Talent for Cons is bringing in over 40 actors and personalities from both American and Japanese shows and videogames. I’ve honestly never seen such a diverse list of actors and actresses. Fans of the acclaimed game, OVERWATCH, will be able to get autographs from D.Va voice actress Charlet Chung and Lúcio voice actor Jonny Cruz at booth #2438 in the Exhibit Hall. FOOD WARS! co-creator Yuto Tsukuda will be signing multiple times during the weekend. Fans will also be able to meet the English cast of SAILOR MOON on Monday, July 3 at 2pm. For a full list of voice actors and personalities who will be signing autographs, click this link here and hit the “Autograph” button near the top of the page.

Video Games Galore

Anime Expo isn’t limited to anime and manga! FINAL FANTASY creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, along with video game character designer/artist Kimihiko Fujisaki are being honored as guests-of-honor at this year’s event. You’ll also be able to celebrate FINAL FANTASY’s 30th anniversary alongside them and a bunch of other FINAL FANTASY creators. Looking for a different kind of game? Fans will also be able to take a look at the English version of RESIDENT EVIL: VENDETTA on Saturday, July 1st, along with a panel of voice actors, the ADR director, and the casting director. Popular mobile game FATE/GRAND ORDER will also be launching the English version of their game which you can demo at the FATE/GRAND ORDER booth.

Want to sit back and relax while playing some classic games? The Entertainment Hall will host a plethora of modern and vintage arcade games. Attendees will also be able to participate in eGaming, which features over 70 different game consoles both past and present. Tabletop gaming will also be available in Kentia Hall. Experienced trading card game players are invited to bring their own cards and dice. And if you think you’ve got what it takes, you can test your skills against other attendees in one of Anime Expo’s daily tournaments! But if you’re like me and haven’t played a tabletop card game since POKEMON in the ’90s, fret not. There are staff on-hand to teach you how to play along with the cool kids.

Dance Your Pants Off

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Neon District Announcement poster.

Unlike most conventions, Anime Expo is host to a slew of on-site parties where attendees can let loose after a long day of walking. There are two major dance parties happening this year, the first being the 10th Anniversary of Hatsune Miku presented by JUST DANCE 2018, and the second is Neon District. While Neon District is an 18 and over event, Hatsune Miku’s 10th Anniversary Dance Party offers an all ages dance party from 7 pm to 10 pm on Sunday July 2nd. The Dance Party features Miku Expo winners HachiojiP, BigHead, and The Orkestrate. The full event goes on until 11 pm. For the full press release, click here.

Then there’s Neon District. When a website describes something as, “Tokyo’s underground scene” meets “LA’s nightlife,” you know it’s going to be a blast. Neon District is a one night event featuring eight Japanese DJs, a beer garden, and exclusive merchandise. The event will take place on Monday, July 3 from 8 pm to 2 am in the Main Events hall. Attendees can catch performances by Taku Takahashi, R3LL, Ram Rider, TeddyLoid, Pa’s Lam System, Massive New Krew, and it’s most recent announcement YUCe. Tickets go between $40-$125 and can be purchased here.

CLICK: Love Japanese music? You become the producer of your own popstar group in the video game THE IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE! THEATER DAYS!

Correction: A previous edition of this article listed LUPIN THE 3RD: THE ITALIAN GAME as a game. The error has since been corrected. It is now placed under the “TV World Premieres” sub-heading.

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