By Kanara Ty
Anime is not the only hot commodity coming out of Asia these days. To break away from the vast numbers of anime conventions in the US, the next logical step would be to create something a bit broader, something that almost any fan of Asian pop culture and entertainment media could enjoy.
And Pacific Media Expo is doing just that.
Since its initial inauguration in 2003, Pacific Media Expo (PMX) is slowly building a reputation. Mike Tatsugawa, one of the original founders of America's largest Anime trade show, Anime Expo, introduced Pacific Media Expo to the world as the first American Asian/Pacific Rim entertainment and pop culture trade show. Based in Los Angeles, the parent company, Pacific Media Association, strives to bring the latest trends in Asia through workshops, guest panels, live concerts, screenings, exhibitions – a format similar found at Anime trade shows.
With the growing interest in pop culture and entertainment being produced in Asia, people are looking far into Asia to find the next big thing. In the past, PMX brought out guests such as JRock band T.M. Revolution, visual-kei band Psycho le Cemu, JPop stars Nami Tamaki and OLIVIA, as well as Japanese author Novala Takemoto. Although PMX is helmed as being an Asian pop culture trade show, in past years the focus has been mainly on East Asian pop culture.
At this year's convention, PMX strived to break out of that mold and to try new avenues. One of the biggest highlights this year was the hip-hop exhibition, pure FURISTA, which refers to "pure freestyle" in Japanese. The exhibition featured workshops from members of the hip hop dance troupe Sickstep, as well as performances from Sickstep and Kaba Modern, the winners from the USA Hip-Hop Championships. The exhibition brought a different vibe to the convention, presenting an aspect of how of the hip-hop diaspora (having originated in the U.S.) has spread out into the rest of the world, more particularly in Asia.
This year, PMX showed that they were not just about featuring popular artists in Asia by making the effort to include up-and-coming artists from the Asia's independent music scene. Among the lineup this year included: Head Phones President, The Candy Spooky Theatre, LiN Clover, The Slants, D&L and Three Mods Out. Showcasing the independent music scene in Asia provided a different aspect to past lineups for PMX's live concert series. Despite a smaller crowd for the concerts, it provided a more intimate atmosphere with the band for concertgoers.
Promoting Gothic Lolita culture is also a big part of PMX's programming. Due to a well received response from last year, PMX brought back the Twisted Tea Party, which allows participants to create a living visual exhibit of a Lolita Tea Party, using props, elaborate costumes and backdrops. In addition, there was also a Fashion Brunch with Angelic Pretty chief designers Maki and Asuka, where a fashion show was provided of their Sweet Lolita fall collection.
In Asian cinema, actor Collin Chou was present to promote the upcoming action flick, The Forbidden Kingdom, which stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li in their first collaboration. Heroes stars James Kyson Lee also was present for a fan panel and autographs.
Of course, anime was not forgotten – veteran voice actress Yukana (Moldiver, Chobits) was present to talk about her career in a fan panel. Voice actor Spike Spencer (Bleach, Evangelion) also presented in three entertaining workshops, with topics ranging from voice acting to dating to presenting a very revealing look behind-the-scenes of anime conventions.
With new additions and old favorites, PMX is certainly making a name for itself. Hopefully, in the future, it will continue to include the pop culture from all of Asia, instead of just focusing on East Asia. For it to be truly called the premier trade show for Asian pop culture and entertainment media, it needs to do just that – to bring together everything that's just interesting and unique about Asia all under one roof.
For more up-and-close interviews with PMX guests:
Head Phones President, heavy metal group from Japan
Yukana, veteran voice actress