LOS ANGELES, CA — A group of anime fans is still waiting in line for a panel from Anime Expo 2013 nearly a year later.
Mark Anderson and his friends, Jacob Lewis and Steve Mann, are among the hundreds still waiting for entry into the panel. The group first got in line a half-hour in advance for an afternoon panel on Day 3 of the Japanese animation convention. The line snaked around the corner, through several halls and made its way through a couple of different rooms. It advanced slowly, and after a while, it split off. A few hours later, Mark and his friends found themselves waiting outside.
“I’m not sure how the line made its way out here, but we’re still here,” Mark said. “We really wanted to see that panel, too. We can wait.”
When told that the panel was likely long over and that he wouldn’t be able to see it, Mark was optimistic.
“Nah, we’ll get in eventually,” Anderson said. “It’ll happen, no worries. We just gotta keep waiting. The staff will find us eventually.”
Anime Expo staff is currently busy preparing for the 2014 iteration of the yearly convention.
Mark and crew spend their days in the same spot just outside the entrance of the Los Angeles Convention Center. They worked through their money getting food truck meals and then cheap food from close-by convenience stores. For the past few months, they have traveled around Los Angeles in shifts, stealing food wherever they can get it. They have also acquired blankets and pillows so that when they sleep in line, it will be as comfortable as possible.
“It’s a hard life waiting for this panel to open, but we’re hardy people,” Mann said, returning from his journey with a half-eaten grilled cheese sandwich and a small soda whose ice had all melted.
When asked why Los Angeles police or convention center security have not escorted them from the premises after nearly a year of waiting, Anderson shrugged.
“I dunno, they’re just ignoring us,” he said. “We’re kind of popular sometimes, though. People like to take pictures with us. It’s kind of odd.”
As for the panel they have been waiting for the whole time?
“We wanted to go to the Crunchyroll industry panel,” Lewis said. “We like to keep up with the news.”