This was the first fan convention, of any genre, that my SO and I have attended. I'd heard that it was big, but even so I was amazed at the size; Anime Expo's press release says that they expected 35,000 attendees this year. The convention was held at the Anaheim Convention Center (home of the AACR meeting Orac recently attended), which is absolutely huge.
The exhibit hall (aka dealers' room) was where we spent the majority of our time, and it was packed full of people:
Exhibit hall of AX 2005; we weren't even at one end of the hall for this picture.
Yes, it was that crowded (compare it to Orac's picture, possibly even of the same hall, during the AACR meeting). There were a lot of sellers present, and some good deals could be found, though much of the merchandise was depressingly similar. Currently popular shows (e.g., Full Metal Alchemist, Fruits Basket, Naruto) had tons and tons of merchandise available, but older (and less popular) shows had extremely little available. While we didn't look at everything, I don't think we saw a single piece of merchandise (other than manga) for Tokyo Babylon, Mirage of Blaze, or some of our other favorite shows.
One of the coolest features of the convention was the manga library. This was a whole room dedicated to manga; after turning in your badge and bag(s), you could browse through the manga (they had hundreds of volumes), pick any two books, and sit down to read them. The library was open 24 hours a day, and you could enter and leave as often as you wanted.
This library room is a feature scientific meetings should adopt; imagine your favorite meeting having a room packed with the latest journals and books, all available for your browsing, any time of day. It'd be great for those bits of time that aren't filled with other events, or if you wanted a break from the meeting. We spent a few hours in the library between events, and had a blast.
Of course the convention was swarming with cosplayers. I didn't take too many pictures of them (partially because they were already being swarmed with photographers, and partially because there are many other places to get cosplay pictures, e.g., cosplay.com), but it was quite enjoyable to admire the costumes and try to figure out who everyone was. It was especially fun when multiple cosplayers from the same show got together:
A horde of Full Metal Alchemist cosplayers
In the picture above we have at least five Eds (all played by females), four homunculi (Lust, Pride, Greed, and Envy), two soldiers (Colonel Mustang and Brigadier General Hughes), one Winry, and (we think) one fake Elric brother. Not in the picture, but in the area, were at least one other Envy and an Izumi.
Cosplayers made the convention very enjoyable to wander around (much more visually interesting than a scientific meeting), and also created some scenes that I suspect Orac didn't get to see during his meeting:
A samurai practicing on the roof of the convention center
I'll close with a picture of my favorite cosplayer of the entire convention:
A Japanese Stormtrooper!