L.A. anime fans know to start off their year right by heading to Anime Los Angeles. The convention is always held on the first weekend of the year (next one is Jan. 6-8), lately at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. Compared to events like Anime Expo, ALA, as regulars call it, is small, drawing a couple thousand people as opposed to tens of thousands. It's the manageable size of the convention that helps make it the best around. It's big enough that you're bound to meet new people but small enough that you won't lose your friends. There are plenty of panels and events to keep you busy throughout the weekend, but the main draw is cosplay. Most of the people we've seen at ALA have shown up dressed as their favorite characters from anime and manga series (and, occasionally, a few American cartoons). The hotel's lovely pool and lower-level courtyard are great spots to meet up with fellow fans and pose for photos. It's also a teen-friendly convention. Youngsters under 14 can bring an adult with them for free, and there are discounted rates for students. 5855 W. Century Blvd., Westchester; animelosangeles.org.

—Liz Ohanesian

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