Anime Expo 2010: Day 1
ANIME EXPO 2010
The largest anime convention of the year, Anime Expo, hit the Los Angeles Convention Center for the July Fourth weekend. I was live in attendance, so here is what went down on Thursday, day one of the convention. The day stated off well with a trivia contest at the Gundam 31st Anniversary panel. I won this Tallgeese III model by correctly answering a question about the real name of Zechs in Gundam Wing (in case you’re wondering, it’s Milliardo Peacecraft).
SHINICHI “NABESHIN” WATANABE PANEL
Shinichi Watanabe, better known as Nabeshin, is the afro-wearing anime director behind such fantastic shows as Excel Saga, Nerima Daikon Bros. , and Tenchi Muyo: GXP. Nabeshin has also provided voice work for the aforementioned anime, usually as an anime-counterpart also named Nabeshin. Nabeshin was impressed with the number of people in attendance at the panel — especially all the cute girls. Nabeshin invited all the cute girls in the auditorium to come visit him at his hotel room later. Next, Nabeshin answered questions from the fans and provided some fantastic hilarious answers. A cosplaying fan in the audience had a giant, genuine afro which impressed Nabeshin. According to Nabeshin, one day God granted Nabeshin the power of the “Afro;” but since God is sometimes a little mean, Nabeshin still must give his hair a perm. Another topic concerned getting through airport security and customs with all the weapons in Nabeshin’s afro. A female fan asked when the series, The Wallflower, directed by Nabeshin, would be released on DVD in the US. The audience responded that the show was already released here. Then Nabeshin asked the girl in English, “Do you know DVD?” Nabeshin physically described what a DVD is and he explained how it works. You had to be there. Nabeshin also handed out tickets for his autograph signing and invited fans to come. Nabeshin’s interpreter informed attendees that Nabeshin would be selling his autobiography, told in manga format, at his autograph booth.
BANDAI INDUSTRY PANEL
Representatives of Bandai Entertainment discussed their upcoming release slate. To be honest, the Bandai panel was somewhat dull and negative. I can definitely understand that the industry is struggling right now, but the anime industry is not the only one experiencing hardship. The representatives of Bandai were not at all enthusiastic, and came off like they wanted to be anywhere but at the panel and creating a dialogue with fans. They plugged the DVD release of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya Season 2, which will be released in the US on August 10. Voice actress Christina Vee, came out in costume as Haruhi to sing the opening theme song for the second season in English. Bandai also announced that it would release the comedy omake supplement series to Haruhi,Haruhi-Chan; they then previewed some humorous clips of the English dub. Also announced was the US release for the feature movie, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. Bang Zoom is producing the English dub for the movie, and the English voice cast for the series will all return to reprise their roles. According to Bandai, the US DVD release for the movie is still pending. For new releases, Bandai officially announced the US licensing for the anime series, K-On, and played the series opening. This was followed by another appearance of Christina Vee, this time cos-playing as K-On’s Mio to sing the opening theme song in English. Voice actress Stephanie Sheh briefly joined the panel to talk about working on the English dub for Gundam Unicorn, which was promoted and previewed at the convention. Bandai did a Q&A session before concluding the panel.
ROBOTECH 25TH ANNIVERSARY PANEL
Harmony Gold creative director Tommy Yune and much of the cast and crew behind the original Robotech, including Richard Epcar and Rebecca Forstadt, attended the Robotech panel. The mood was bittersweet due to the recent untimely passing of the father and story editor of Robotech, Carl Macek. The panel reflected on the memories of working with Macek on the original series, when many were first starting to work on animation and voice-over for the first time in their careers. Tommy Yune also announced a new Robotech animated project that will hopefully finally continue the story from the end of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. Some still were shown depicting Sarah, a character from the Robotech: New Generation series that was not in Shadow Chronicles. Special prizes were given out to fans who asked questions during the Q&A session.
ANIME EXPO CONVENTION COMINGS AND GOINGS
Over the last few years, the Anime Expo exhibit hall has attracted fewer companies to represent their products at the booths. Staff are more disorganized and confused than ever, especially when it comes to autograph signings. I’m not sure what is so difficult about putting up a sign with times and labels to indicate who is expected to sign and when. San Diego Comic Con is able to do this. Interestingly enough the streaming anime website Crunchyroll, who had the largest booth at the convention last year, was nowhere to be seen. FUNimation slimmed down their booth a little bit and decided to forego the interactive attraction such as the “host club” in 2008 and the “classroom” in 2009. Instead, FUNimation provided attendees with a viral scavenger hunt across the entire exhibit hall in order to promote the new anime series, Eden of The East. Aniplex and Bandai shared their own booth together close by. Viral marketing and anime is a ginchy combination. Dealers were there in full force. As a newly minted gigantic fan of Kamen Rider, I noticed these awesome Twist Action Form figures for Kamen Rider I brought from an excellent dealer:
DEN-O! And let’s not forget Ryuki and Knight!