Monday, July 06, 2009

Anime Expo 2009-The Enthusiasm Never Stops!

While it could be said the economy might have had a negative effect on Anime Expo (because of less sponsors, vendors and events this year), nothing could stop the unabashed enthusiasm of the con goers. This year cosplayers, those that dress in costumes, were more original then ever pulling from sources outside of the anime realm including video game characters, power rangers and the surprise hit of the season Vocaloids. More than that, even those not dressed up could be seen running around the exhibit hall looking for costumes or felt hats so that they to could join in the magic. No one wanted to be left out of the fun!

And more importantly no one was excluded. At Anime Expo, everyone's dedication and eagerness is embraced (although don't be fooled, people are opinioned and fights between ninjas and pirates are common) and all that is asked in return is that you try something new and different. Which is what I did. I set out to go to more panels then ever and sit in on video rooms for shows I hadn't seen, all so that I could have the full expo experience. I went to everything from industry to educational to just plain hilarious interactive panels and enjoyed each one, experiencing the vibes of the different crowds.

Needless to say this was an event (and shopping) filled expo that was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. For me, the best part about Anime Expo is going to different panels and hearing about new shows, meeting new people and really being able to interact with the characters I love and that's just what I did. Because really, that's what Anime Expo is about - it is a big party where you just get to be your enthusiastic fun self. You can dress up and enjoy being in character all day and having your picture taken. Or just go in street clothes or anime-themed graphic tees and be able to sneak past some of the fun madness that comes with cosplay. Either way it's a blast! You can even stay at a hotel near the convention center, that way the festivities are twenty four hour - and trust me, having done it, it is more fun staying in a hotel then commuting.

But what really keeps me going back to expo and what makes it so interesting are the panels. Because the con is not just about shopping (though that is easy to forget) but about learning and experiencing new things. For example, the industry panels are always slightly nerve-wracking because of the feelings of excitement and anticipation that lingers in the room as we hold our breath waiting for the announcement of our favorite anime or manga's latest release date and the new titles the company is acquiring. At the Viz Media Anime and Manga panel on July 3rd fans filled in an hour early all so that they could claim to be one of the first to hear about what is new. But in case you missed anything here is a brief recap:

Shonen Jump recently required the license to release a few new manga including Tegami Bachi and Yu-Gi-Oh! R. They also announced the future release of several movies and anime such as L, Change the World (which I saw last con and it is hysterical, I highly recommend it)and the second Bleach Movie The Diamond Dust Rebellion, which is set to come out September 28th 2009. What is special about this is a Bleach contest revolving around the movie's premiere and to learn more go to Some new titles for Shojo Beat are Beast Master and Cactus's Secret. And finally Viz Signiture is acquiring titles such as Ooku: The Inner Champers and What a Wonderful World! What is great about these panels is that they give descriptions of all the new manga, giving us new things to look forward to and making finding new series much easier.

Another Industry Panel was Funamation on July 4th who proved how involved they keep their viewers by announcing the license of Sengoko Basara which they acquired the rights to just that morning. Other announcements included the Season one box set of Dragon Ball Z and the second season of Gunslinger Girl.

I also attended two panels which were more on the educational side but in no way less interesting. On July 3rd I went to the "Manga as High Art" panel which discussed comics' position in pop culture and how in today's society. The speaker further went on to discuss the importance of the cartoon style of drawing and how the abstraction of it allows an individual to put themselves into the story. This involvement with the story is what attracts people to manga, comics and animation in general. Another panel was "Getting Paid to Work in Anime" on July 5th, put on by the Japanese Visual Media Translation Academy (JVTA). They went over different jobs involved in the production of anime, such as script translator, video editor, animator/graphic artist, producer and voice actor. And then compared these different key roles to subjects they offer which include translation, production workflow, script adaptation, voice acting and anime mythology.

And finally there are the hilarious interactive panels which allow the audience to endlessly question some of their favorite creators and voice actors on subjects ranging from their favorite shows or skits to "what they do to stay so sexy." The first interactive panel I went to was the Voice Actor Panel on July 5th which I highly recommend because whether or not you are familiar with the voice actors the audience is bound to come up with something fun. This year the guests included Kari Wahlgren and Cristina Valenzuela. Kari is best known for her roles as Fuu Kasumi in Samurai Champloo, Kagami Hiiragi in Lucky Star, and Robin in Witch Hunter Robin. She has also given her voice to over 90 video games. Cristina (more commonly known as Cristina V) is the less experienced voice actor, but that, however by no means makes her unknown. She has a huge online fan following for her unofficial voice acting work on youtube which she attributes as her break into the industry. Professionally she is best known for her work as Louise from The Familiar of Zero. These two women were very funny and willing to do a lot to please the enthusiastic audience including call friends and family members that could not be there.

Directly following this panel was one featuring the creative team of Robot Chicken which includes producers Seth Green and Matthew Senriech. This stop-motion show has won the hearts of many an anime fan through its hysterical pop culture parodies and endless variety of guests stars. These men were extremely funny and held nothing back in answering questions from the audience and discussing their creative process. They also made the announcement of their upcoming Robot Chicken Skate Park Bus Tour featuring the band Gym Class Heroes which will begin on July 25th at Comicon San Diego. The exact route of the tour will be available on on July 9th. So really Anime Expo is basically a hysterical four-day long party where you get to meet some of the most amazing people in the industry, so if you didn't join us this year come next year for the 20th anniversary of Anime Expo because it is going to be amazing!!!


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