Anime Weekend Atlanta 2001 Convention Report

Words and photos by Mike Toole. Some pictures are thumbnails. Click for larger image.

I love Anime Weekend Atlanta. Not only have I made a million friends at the convention, there’s always an interesting mix of good programming, weird stuff, and fun guests. I won’t waste time waxing poetic– here are some of my favorite photos from Anime Weekend Atlanta 7!

In this first photo, popular ADV voice actors Jessica Calvello and Brett Weaver harrass Bruce Lewis at the Cheap Disposable Entertainment table. I’d print what these two goons were saying to poor Bruce, but it would probably get me locked up. Without electricity.

Later, I took a candid photo of Brett, and forgot to turn the “read mind” feature on my digital camera off. We should alll be lucky enough to be as lucid and introspective as Brett.

I later went to a panel on writing about anime, which I wasn’t actually sitting on. (I was incensed, of course, but I somehow managed to keep my famously-violent temper in check.) Here, Rob Fenelon, Steve Kyte, and Jonathan Clements react to the sudden appearance of a monkey on Helen McCarthy’s head. After a brief but memorably chaotic moment, it was established that the monkey was actually a regular contributor to Animerica magazine, and the panel continued peacefully.

Here’s a shot of Carl Horn and Bruce Lewis, the other two panelists. Did you know that Carl discovered the peanut? It’s true! And Bruce is actually the man who invented Velcro! I’m serious!

The next day (that would be Saturday, you loons), I began the day properly by attending the panel of Hilary Haag and Kira Vincent-Davis, two more actors in ADV’s stable. It was a fun panel (only 3 unruly fans had to be escorted out by armed guards). I enjoyed hearing the two talk, even though I was mostly there to meet Hilary (on the left). Her performance as Nene in Bubblegum Crisis 2040 had charmed the hell out of me, so I was crushed when I discovered that she didn’t look exactly like Nene. Can you believe that? And George Lowe doesn’t look like a thing like Space Ghost, either! I want my money back.

After the panel, I rushed up and took a photograph of the gang at the front. Left to right, it’s Greg Wicker, Brett Weaver, Hilary Haag, and Matt “Bowling” Greenfield.

I really can’t remember when this photo was taken. I think I took it on friday night, and then it somehow got processed out of sequence. Here’s evening relaxation, featuring Melissa Jensen, Dan Baker (peeking out from the back), and Kathy, one of the coordinators of the wonderful party on Saturday night that is only open to a select few friends.

Cosplay photos are fun and popular, but I tend to only take a specific variety of cosplay photo when I can: the kind where the person in costume is doing something normal, like waiting in line at the ATM. Here, as Prairie succinctly puts it, Hikaru is waiting to get her escudo.

The Georgia International Convention Center is spacious and roomy and space-age. Here’s a couple of balcony-eye views of the crowd gathering for registration and the dealer’s room on Saturday morning.

These two crack me up. On the left, there’s Corinne Orr, voice of Trixie in Speed Racer, the Snuggle fabric softener bear, and hundreds of other character voices. On the right, there’s Peter Fernandez, the voice of Speed in Speed Racer, and the lucky guy who got to direct the dubs of all sorts of cheesy old Japanese movies and cartoons. Meeting these two is always a tremendous experience– they’re always full of stories about how bizarre the cottage industry of dubbing is.

Saturday night saw a party hosted by the lovely and cultured Jessica Calvello, who will shortly be appearing as the title character in Excel Saga. Her only requirement for admission to the event was that each person needed to wear something anime-related on their head. Here’s ADV’s famous producer David Williams, wearing something anime-related on his head.

Here’s more from the party. On the left is Mariela Ortiz, known to Anime on DVD readers as the keeper of the indispensable Grand High Licensing List. On the right is Stan Dahlin, the man who brings guests to Anime Weekend Atlanta and arranges them in a fashion that allows us fanboys to meet them. He’s a swell guy.

Blinded by the flash in my camera, EK grins helplessly, while Mariela reads comics.

I stopped on the way out of the party to be photographed with its hostess, Jess herself. (She’s dressed as Shiokaze from Virgin Fleet, a character she provided the voice for in the dub. Don’t mind her, she always dresses like that.)

Gundam Truck! Convention Report

Words and photos by Mike Toole. Most pictures are thumbnails. Click for larger image.

I remember just last year, at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2000, a certain now-sadly-departed marketing dude at Bandai Entertainment had a little breakfast with myself, Prairie, and our pals Mara and Wednesday. This fine fellow chatted us up about our feelings on the viability of marketing Gundam to kids in the US, and bounced a few ideas off of us, just for shits n’ giggles. One of them was for a truck, a “Gundam Express” that would roam the countryside, appearing in mall parking lots and dispensing toys and indoctrination to children all over the country.

Needless to say, we thought it was a smashing idea. And wouldn’t you know it, this summer saw the appearance of an actual Gundam Truck! Here are some photos from the truck’s appearance in Framingham, MA on September 9th, 2001. Hopefully, we’ll see this truck (or something like it) next summer, as well!

The glare from the sun (and my camera’s poor handling of exposure speed) keeps you from seeing too much, but here’s a shot of the truck’s exterior. Folks were lined up along the side of the truck, playing Gundam Battle Assault (a.k.a. Gundam the Battle Master 2) for PSX and Gundam: Journey to Jaburo for PS2.

Here’s a very slightly better-looking shot of the truck, with a car passing by. Hi, car!

This sign, while indicative of the necessity of handicapped access, made me giggle. “Excuse me, Gundam Captain? Could you lower the wheelchair ramp for me? Thank you, Gundam Captain!”

Ah, now this was impressive. The truck was plastered (on both sides, no less) with a blown-up illustration of the U.C. Gundam main cast, done by Haruhiko Mikimoto of Macross fame.

The real sights began inside the truck. Here’s an awesome, full-scale replica of Sayla Mas’ costume. The detail on this was great!

I can say the same for this costume of Amuro Ray. How soon ’till we can get these through the Previews catalog?

Here’s a shot of the length of the truck from the back. On the left and right are displays showing off Gundam toys and the franchise’s “timeline”.

The truck was manufactured by Anaheim Electronics, Luna’s best heavy electronics manufacturer!

Here’s a shot from the opposite end of the truck– you can see that the back is equipped with a nifty Pioneer flat plasma display, which is held in a 1:1 scale model of a Gundam’s hand!

Obscuring the wonderful toys in this shot is Anime Jump‘s Live-Action Traction contributor, Mike Horne! Fight for justice, Mike!

And here’s the harried Gundam Captain himself, readily explaining the universe of Gundam, including all of the great things you can buy! With your money! You know, money? Cha-ching!

To be fair, Captain Teeg here was a cool dude. He explained all about the Gundam toys and goodies to all of us kids (big and small), and was actually surprisingly knowledgeable about the franchise (meaning that he actually knew what we were talking about when we asked him about Zeta and G-Gundam, though he couldn’t comment on them). Thank you, Captain Teeg!

In fact, Captain Teeg was kind enough to favor us all with special edition cards of the Gundam: M.S. War card game, featuring our own fair city of Boston! Cards were issued for each leg of the tour, so these are actually fairly tough to come by if you weren’t at the truck in Framingham or Boston itself (the truck also made a stop in Dorchester). Neat– a GM is standing guard over the Boston Tea Party!

Here’s what you’re realling interested in: the toys! Here’s a wide shot of some of the new toys, many of which are in stores now!

Here’s a closer shot, specifically of the U.C. Gundam character miniatures. They look nice, but man, I wish they were poseable…

Here’s a shot of the opposite wall ‘o toys. Time to start making that Christmas list already…

Anime Central 2002 Convention Report

Words and photos by Mike Toole. Some pictures are thumbnails. Click for larger image.

There’s not a lot to tell about Anime Central 2002. Since I’m the karaoke guy, I end up spending a lot of the con’s “prime time” trapped in a room with singing teenagers. (Not that I mind, though– karaoke rules, especially my karaoke!) I did, however, manage to snap a few photos, so I figured I should at least share them with everyone.

I honestly felt pride at seeing this, because I’ve been an Anime Central staffer for all five years of the con’s existence. (I’ll be returning for a sixth year, as well.) Despite being hundreds and hundreds of miles away from my hometown, I think of ACen as my “home” convention, and probably always will.

Con co-chairs James “Cornboy” Alsup (who’s left the ACen treehouse to start his own con, the highly promising Anime Reactor) and Ryan Gavigan duel over the cake. Wait a minute, I can improve this.

That’s better.

But both chairs lost out to Bob DeJesus and his wife, who did the honors.

Then we all started harrassing the guests. From left to right, there’s Hidenori Matsubara, Toshihiro Kawamoto, and Tetsuya Aoki.

There’s Bob DeJesus drawing up a storm. (Sneaking in on the right is Hilary Haag!)

There’s Bruce Lewis!

My good friend and fellow Anime Jump-er Dave Merrill, with his then-girlfriend (now wife) and fellow comic artist Shaindle Minuk.

Holy crap, it’s Ken Akamatsu! I’m not a huge fan of Love Hina, but I like the way this man draws girls. So I had him draw me two.

Awww, yeah.

Crispin Freeman talked up his newest stuff, which included Hellsing.

This banner amused me for some reason. “Anime World Tour”. Heh heh.

Carl surreptitiously mugs for the camera while waiting for Opening Ceremonies to start.

At ACen, Dave Merrill and I launched one of our latest little projects, the multimedia panel Dubs That Time Forgot. These are photos of the audience.

As you can see, the panel was standing-room only. (Let’s leave out the fact that the panel room was fairly small…) It was a hit, and the panel was repeated (to a welcoming response) at both Anime Expo New York and Anime Weekend Atlanta. Look for Dubs That Time Forgot at many more midwestern and east-coast cons!

Anime Expo New York 2002 Convention Report

Words and photos by Mike Toole. Some pictures are thumbnails. Click for larger image.

CLICK HERE FOR SPECIAL MUSTARD GUY EDITION!!

So another month rolls by, and sure enough, I end up at another convention in this podunk little burg called New York City. Naturally, I make with the photos.

Yoshiyuki Tomino, creator of Gundam, framed by Yoshihiro Komada and Tommy Ohtsuka.

The same three guys again, at a slightly different angle.

Ah, opening ceremonies. My photos of events like this always suck, because I don’t have optical zoom on my camera. That fuzzy blob is con chair Mike Tatsugawa.

Famous director Noboru Ishiguro starts the convention by drawing an eye on the Daruma. It’s kind of like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, only without all the screaming.

I snapped a bunch of terrible photos of the Cowboy Bebop panel. There’s Yoko Kanno, Shinichiro Watanabe, and Toshihiro Kawamoto. (On the far left there, I believe, would be translator Rika Takahashi.)

You can almost sort of see what the trio looks like in this photo.

This one’s even better. Why, it’s merely awful, instead of absolutely hideous! That’s a shame, because Yoko Kanno is a cutie-pie.

But my camera just sucks.

Plain and simple.

Here’s the fan webpage panel, featuring Megazone, Scott Hards of Hobbylink Japan (BEST. IMPORT ANIME TOY STORE. EVER.), Prairie, and Patrick Delahanty of Adequate.com.

Here’s a pretty lousy photo of Taro Maki’s post-Millennium Actress Q&A session.

Ah, this is better. Mr. Maki’s in the middle; the guy on the left is a certain Justin Sevakis.

Here’s the gang from the other side.

Sometimes I delude myself into thinking that anime is still a modest little niche hobby. Then I’m greeted by sights like this. (Unfortunately, the dealer’s room sucked. It was absolutely swimming in counterfeit merchandise, which was lame not just because that’s just incredibly disrespectful to the Japanese staff who attend as guests, but because it made it damn hard for me to search for legitimate merchandise. I couldn’t even find a goddamned copy of eX-Driver thanks to those shysters with the fakes. Also, it’s awfully telling that the largest con, in terms of organization, can’t even get their act together enough to keep the fakes out…)

Character designers Koji Sugiura and Atsushi Takeuchi. They were a little nervous about being photographed, but I took pictures anyway. A-ha, joke’s on them!

Tomino makes a funny.

…but then sits down and answers everyone’s questions.

Well, that’s all I’ve got this time around. The whole Anime Expo New York/Big Apple Anime Fest experience was interesting– the film premieres were absolutely dynamite, and probably my favorite part of the weekend. Some of the panels were good, though the program book schedule was so difficult to read that I ended up missing one of my panels! (Sorry if you showed up and waited around for me…) Aside from the lousy dealer’s room, it wasn’t a bad little con. I’ll probably return next year, when the whole show will be run by the Big Apple Anime Fest again.

Anime Weekend Atlanta 2002 Convention Reports

Words and photos by Mike Toole. Some pictures are thumbnails. Click for larger image.

You know, maybe I just can’t do con reports anymore. The past couple of cons I’ve done have been exercises in either 1.) doing events for the con, making me unable to take groovy photos, or 2.) going to parties and seeing my friends, which you jerks aren’t likely to care about (and rightly so, since my con buddies aren’t exactly prime convention entertainment for anyone but myself).

But still, I know people are going to ask me about these damn pictures, so here they are. This time, Anime Jump is proud to present…

STARRING…


DAVID WILLIAMS
MIKE TOOLE
GEMA GEMA
WEDNESDAY WHITE
SCOTT FRAZIER
BRUCE LEWIS
GREG WICKER
BRETT WEAVER AND FEATURING…
EK
DAVE MERRILL
ROBERT DeJESUS
DAN BAKER
MIKE HORNE
DOUG SMITH
introducing MONICA RIAL
special guest star TIM ELDRED

Wasn’t that fun? As I kept repeating ad nauseum at the con, “Sooner or later, everybody wears the bitch hat.” Now that we’ve gotten that foolishness out of our systems, let’s look at some actual photos of regular, non-bitch-hat-wearing people.

Anime Boston 2003 Convention Report

Words and photos by Mike Toole. Pictures are thumbnails. Click for full image.

For months, I was convinced that Anime Boston would fail somehow.

I’m not a total pessimist– I just figured that the con would hold together until Saturday, and then some sort of catastrophic meltdown would occur, mostly because of overcrowding. The problem is, Anime Boston was smack in the middle of the city, and it took place on a weekend that boasted a brace of Red Sox games– not to mention a certain little-known marathon that happens to be the single biggest tourist event for Boston all year. Those were factors that could potentially interfere with the convention, as the majority of the people staying at the hotel were actually Boston Marathon runners and tourists. (Interestingly, the mix of marathon runners and anime fans meant that the skinniest people in town and the fattest people in town were all under the same roof!) Another problem was a simply amazing response to the convention– prior to the con, there were more than 1,300 registrants, which would mean that some 3,000 would also show up at the door wanting to go to the convention. The Park Plaza is a grand old hotel, but it could use some renovation and is a bit cramped. So how the hell could Anime Boston possibly manage, in the face of these trials?

I don’t know, but they did it. They pulled it off. Despite a crowd so large that registration had to be shut down at just 11:00am on Saturday, Anime Boston drew nearly 4,000 fans to the downtown area over the weekend, instantly establishing themselves as the northeast’s largest fan-run anime convention (AXNY/BAAF was technically larger last year, but that convention was run with support from Central Park Media, among others) and the largest-ever first year convention. Apparently, fans in this neck of the woods have been wanting a con for awhile, because they responded in tremendous numbers. The result? A large, noisy, and almost unwieldy convention, but one successful enough to ensure a popular Anime Boston 2004 next year.

Anime Boston also had the novelty of being just minutes away from my house, so I wasn’t about to miss out on it just because I didn’t feel like fighting the crowds. I hit the convention all three days, and managed to get a few good snapshots in. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get to any guest panels or snag photos of those man-tastic Gundam Wing actors (did you know Scott McNeil is going to be in the next Scooby Doo movie? It’s true!), so if you’re looking for pictures of them, you’re outta luck.

Anime Boston

As with most cons, Anime Boston was all about panels. Friday boasted a panel about anime on television. Here are the panelists, Bill Todd and David Williams. Bill is the one with the mullet. David is the one who works for ADV and therefore knows a bit about the hows and whys involved with anime getting on TV, albeit often in edited form. The only bit of news I can report is that the Anime Network is doing well enough that it just might be in your town by the end of the year.

Anime Boston

That was the only panel photo I managed to get that day; Prairie and I were planning a private party in the evening, and that sapped our attention from the convention for several hours. Saturday, however, things started off quickly with Chris Beveridge’s panel. This was a weird one– he got a good crowd wanting to know how he runs his extremely popular site and finds time for his wife and kids, and he had so many DVDs to give away that every single person who could think of a question to ask got one. In fact, free stuff rapidly became the theme of the day. At the Bandai Entertainment panel, where Jerry Chu let slip that the company would have Witch Hunter Robin out before long, s-CRY-ed and Argentosoma shirts were given to pretty much anyone who wanted one. I snagged one of each, only to give them away myself later in the weekend.

Anime Boston

At the ADV panel, which was crowded to capacity and had to turn away some 100 eager fans, Matt and David unveiled several news shows and discussed stuff currently in production…

Anime Boston

…but not before the stage was bum-rushed by a crowd of fans and friends of the company dressed as every single player (including the coach and manager) from Princess Nine. Yes, some of them were actually men in drag. No, I’m not saying which ones. As with the previous panel, stuff was given away to fans, this time in exchange for answering trivia questions.

Anime Boston

Then there was Chad Kime from Pioneer, who discussed upcoming release plans for shows like the second season of Mahoromatic and Master Keaton, along with passing out t-shirts and pencil boards from Pioneer shows. Hey, he’s got a cowlick! Heh heh.

Anime Boston

Taking a break and heading to the front of the hotel, I saw something I’d never seen at a con before. Who knew? I wonder how many people had to go home disappointed because they arrived too late? Hopefully, the fact that next year’s con won’t be butting heads with the marathon (and the fact that the dealer’s room is moving to a large venue across the street) will allow more fans to squeeze in.

Anime Boston

Then I took a few shots just to try and establish the flavor of the con. The Park Plaza is a grand old hotel, with a large, fancy lobby and mezzanine that was entirely too crowded. These cosplayers were leaning over the railing observing people. I tried to observe them without them noticing, but they were too quick for me.

Anime Boston

Here’s an overhead shot of a girl in an amazing winged costume. Not sure what it is, but the thing lights up, just like Fenway Park at a night game.

Anime Boston

Here’s the reverse angle shot of the same costumer. Look closely– you’ll notice that the winged lady is at least two feet clear of the last defender back, definitely offsides. I’m happy that she managed to draw with Manchester United, but the referee really should’ve disallowed that second goal.

Anime Boston

One of my favorite subjects is people asleep at the convention, islands of tranquility with the mad energy of the con swirling around them. This guy isn’t one of the hilarious “couch campers” who stake out lobby couches overnight– he’s just a fan who got tired and is taking a little mid-afternoon nap.

Anime Boston

This girl is drawing fan art and is in costume. Obviously, it’s very dangerous to do both at the same time, but she’s living on the edge.

Anime Boston

Hey, it’s Andrew “Reikun” Tei and Mariela “Sapphire” Ortiz! Andrew contributes reviews and Mariela maintains the Grand High Licensing List at Anime on DVD. They are rad people.

Anime Boston

Kevin Lillard of A Fan’s View was a good enough sport to wear the bitch hat….

Anime Boston

…as was Chad Kime of Pioneer! (Jerry Chu wussed out.) Remember, sooner or later, everyone must wear the bitch hat!

Anime Boston

Next up was the Production I.G. panel. Several posters showcasing their work hung on the front of the conference table, and promptly started falling down as soon as the panel got underway.

Anime Boston

Some dudes from NHK– all the way from Japan!– were on hand to cover Anime Boston. I’m told the con even got a blurb on CNN!

Anime Boston

Maki Terashima has been running Production I.G.’s tiny U.S. offices for years. The company is finally starting to make serious headway in the ‘states, with successful co-branded productions like Love Hina and FLCL. The daddy company back in Japan is working with Manga Entertainment on something called Dead Leaves. Also, Maki gave away a ton of crap, including I.G. tchotchkes, a few DVDs, and even a handful of Gameboy Advance games.

Anime Boston

The last photo I snagged was of a private party where the attendees were required to wear pajamas. Most of these nerds hang out on #animedvd on ESPernet, so be sure to swing by and heckle them.

Anime Boston

I walked away from Anime Boston with this clear poster of Jin-Roh. This is one of the coolest little prizes I’ve ever gotten at a con– I love the cartoony caricatures of the deadly serious movie characters! I think my favorite is the moony-eyed wolf sitting on the guy’s head.

….aaaaand that’s all I’ve got this time around. Maybe Anime Boston’s inaugural outing wasn’t perfect, but I still came away very impressed with what they did. Their space and resources were limited– as all first year cons are– but in the end it all turned out OK. The convention had that very definite feeling of excitement in the air. One thing I noticed was the extreme abundance of new fans, who’d never hit a convention before. This was actually really cool– every single panel had a good crowd, even the obscure ones trapped in the upstairs meeting rooms. Even my panel, the usual outing of Dubs That Time Forgot, was standing room only. I love it when that happens!

All things considered, Anime Boston was a strong outing with plenty to write home about. I can’t wait to go back next year, because frankly, there’s nothing as financially convenient as a con where you live close enough that it doesn’t make sense to bother renting a room. Maybe there’ll be a convention in your hometown next year– and maybe it’ll be run as well as Anime Boston.

Anime Central Convention Reports

Once again, Anime Central, located in the great city of Chicago (or more accurately, near the airport in Rosemont), has passed us by. For this year, the con’s sixth year and my sixth year on staff, I somehow managed to take a lot more photographs and get a lot more accomplished than I thought possible. I’ve got other coverage from this con, including a swell interview with Yoko Ishida, but for now, I’ll stick with the usual pithy, stream-of-consciousness, incredibly unfunny essay with photographs.

One of the perks that the staff of Anime Central receives is a brief ‘Meet the Guests’ reception on the Thursday prior to the con. The idea is that most staff won’t have the time during the convention to go seeking and greeting their favorites, so it’s good to get it out of the way early. One of the first people I saw at the con hotel was Yoko Ishida. Ms. Ishida is known for singing lots of anime songs. She’s actually got a great voice, I listen to her para para songs when I’m at the gym. She’s also really attractive, a fact that this photo does not, unfortunately, communicate very effectively.

Hey, it’s Kazuyoshi Katayama, the director of The Big O! Mr. Katayama was actually quite jovial and sociable for most of the weekend. Thumbs up!

That’s my ugly mug above on the left. On the right is Maya Okamoto, one of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met at these ridiculous conventions. Maya speaks English– not quite fluently, but you can have a conversation with her– and she’s personable and funny as hell.

On the left is Brett Weaver. On the near right, looking vaguely like a stretched-out Billy Idol, is Chris Patton. They’re famous voice actors for ADV. We’ll just pretend that they’re arguing over the price of veal in this photo.

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Hiroaki Gohda was a pretty amusing guy. He was interested in all of the Onegai Teacher stuff that’s been coming out in the ‘states, as he’s one of the guys most responsible for the show. He also directed the hideous Hanaukyo Maid Team, but we’ll forgive him. Mr. Gohda spent most of his free time cajoling the attendees into praising his work and teasing the other guests.

It’s Maya again. Here’s she’s drawing a photo of Richard “Pocky” Kim, a dear friend and one of ACen’s guest relations staff.

The drawing isn’t very flattering, but it’s fun to look at.

The next day saw crowds gathering early for ACen’s opening ceremonies. Meanwhile, the registration line was busily snaking out the door and around the building.

Master of ceremonies Carl Horn was even more dapper than usual, sporting a long dress jacket for much of the weekend rather than his usual matched blazer.

First among the guests introduced was everyone’s favorite Bruce Lewis, who was on hand to teach kids how to draw comics all weekend.

Sailor Bubba escorted Scott Frazier out with a carpet of rose petals. Scott has added “Jan” to the beginning of his name, but I can’t hear the name and look at that blonde coiff of his without thinking of the little girl from The Brady Bunch, so he’s still Scott to me.

Then, Brett Weaver adjusted the microphone height. Why would he do such an audacious thing?

Why, because Tiffany Grant was coming out! Tiff’s a bit short.

Appearing on these shores for the first time in awhile was Kazuko Tadano, the character designer for Sailor Moon and, more importantly, Dancougar. Well, more importantly to me, anyway. Amusingly, she was having trouble remembering the correct kanji for “Super Bestial Machine God Dancougar”.

My camera’s batteries died at this point. I rushed for replacements, rushed back, and snapped a quick photo of the people I’d missed. From left to right, there’s Yoko Ishida, Maya Okamoto, Monica Rial, and Chris Patton. Yaaaay!

Then Kazuyoshi Katayama was introduced. I swear to god, the way his badge was flashing was just a trick of the light. It is absolutely NOT one of his many special, hidden attacks.

On the other hand…

I snagged an additional photo of Katayama, Tadano, and Hidenori Matsubara sitting down, because I’d also missed out on Matsubara. Big deal, he was here last year anyway. Heh heh.

Next was the aforementioned Mr. Gohda, who commanded the audience to spend their entire weekend paying attention only to him. My camera seems to have stolen his face, at least temporarily.

Along with Mr. Gohda, the Onegai Teacher crew was represented by character designer Yasunori Ide.

Then writer extraordinaire Satoru Akahori took the mic. Man, check out the suit on that guy! I haven’t seen anything that smart and austere on a man since I was at the Tomb of Mao Zedong! Mr. Akahori’s a talented writer; he can handle both action AND comedy!

Then Hiroaki Inoue was called to the stage from the audience to hype the upcoming Anime Expo Tokyo. This is an event I wouldn’t mind attending, but I have a hard time justifying the bucks for an American-style con that just happens to take place in Tokyo. Tokyo is pretty cool, it doesn’t need a con to have that party-time atmosphere.

Opening ceremonies closed with co-chairs Ryan Gavigan and Frank Sanchez and vice chair Isaac Sher cracking wise and allowing the fans to declare the convention open.

Then Monica Rial threw a plush doll. Yaaaaaay!

One of the things that ACen does to drum up revenue is some fairly aggressive merchandising. This item, which I positively cannot wait to buy, is the prototype for a Sailor Bubba bobblehead doll. Considering that Sailor Bubba really only has one joke, it’s impressive that it’s lasted this long and is still amusing. I think Bubba really needs to just build himself an actual, working Moon Crescent Wand cigar cutter/lighter.

Anime Weekend Atlanta 2003 Convention Report

Here is PROOF POSITIVE I was at this convention! Actually, I’m a little embarrassed, because I hardly took any photos. I’ve only got one page’s worth, and that’s stretching it. But for your consideration, here they are.

AWA 2003!

There’s a giant banner for the Anime Network. They’re launching a linear cable channel, so make sure you write to Comcast or Cablevision or whoever and demand it. That way, they definitely WON’T add it. Just like the sons of bitches didn’t add Boomerang when I asked them to. Bastards. How the hell am I supposed to watch Topcat without– anyway…

AWA 2003!

This is kind of cute, but I’m starting to see too many homemade signs like this one. Kids at the artist’s alley had signs begging for hugs and spare change. Anyway, the thing to remember about these signs is, they’re an invitation for ridicule on the internet.

AWA 2003!

See?

AWA 2003!

See?!

AWA 2003!

SEE?!?

AWA 2003!

I’m not a big costume dude, but this chick has a very nice Full Moon o Sagashite outfit.

AWA 2003!

…and then there’s this lady. She’s… uh, I’m pretty sure she’s from a Castlevania game. No wait, it’s got to be one of the Amano-designed Final Fantasys. Definitely. Don’t ask me who, though.

AWA 2003!

Hi, Jerry! Jerry Chu from Bandai was giving away neat promotional boxes at the Bandai Entertainment panel. But you know, those boxes didn’t seem very interesting to me.

AWA 2003!

Wouldn’t it have been nice if Jerry had brought doughnuts for everyone?

AWA 2003!

Or brought us a puppy to pet and play with?

AWA 2003!

Or serenaded us with his trademark scorching flamenco guitar, rivaled only by Charo herself?

AWA 2003!

Here’s a blurry photo of the bad guy from Resident Evil: Nemesis. Anyone remember his name?

AWA 2003!

Finally, two Harlock cosplayers. I like the girl, but the guy should lose the glasses, and at least one of his eyes. Sadly, when I suggested he do this, he did not seem convinced.

Anime Weekend Atlanta happens every year, and I’m sure to be at the next one. Until then, try not to carry any white handmade signs. Oddly enough, just one week later I’d find myself on the west coast, at Ani-Magic 2003

Anime Boston 2004 Convention Report

Once again Anime Boston descended upon the city, and we were there, camera in hand, all ready to report on… uh… anyway, we were totally ready! Really totally! Read on for some photos and reports from Anime Boston 2004, live at the Park Plaza hotel!

Anime boston  2004!

This is about 90% of the convention experience, right here. It can all be distilled to a chilly, clinical hotel conference room, some portable A/V equipment, and Bandai Entertainment rep Jerry Chu. Here Jerry tells some of his famous knock-knock jokes. Actually, I don’t even know if he has any knock-knock jokes, I just don’t remember what he was talking about.

Anime boston  2004!

Next, we ventured into the dealer’s room (which was actually across the street this year, in a curious castle-like building), where we encountered the fiendish Dr. Cube of Kaiju Big Battel fame! But was this the real Dr. Cube, or one of his legions of dopplegangers? We may never know for certain.

Anime boston  2004!

Here’s the dealer’s room in general. The lighting was bad so I had to boost the levels through the roof, which is why it looks so grainy. There’s the Dreamworks booth in the background. Hey, thanks for not promoting Millennium Actress, guys! Way to go, you jerks!

Anime boston  2004!

Now, it’s very important to visit the guests at these conventions, so I ducked in to meet some famous voice actors and test the settings out on my crappy digital camera. Here’s the famous Lex Lang, who has a website and apparently a record album. He’s also played the voice of both Captain Harlock AND Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, which puts his manliness way off the scale, higher than even an entire fleet of motorcycle-riding Steve McQueens.

Anime boston  2004!

Here’s another picture of Lex, and the panel moderator. I wonder if Lex is short for “Alexander?” Maybe it’s short for “Lexington.” Or perhaps it’s an abbreviated form of Lexmark, that crappy printer company.

Anime boston  2004!

Ah! Lex is melting! Lex has even gotten to play the Movie Trailer Guy a couple of times. That’s a lifelong ambition of mine. I want to utter dramatic phrases like, “IN A WORLD COVERED IN CHOCOLATE… ONE MAN”

Anime boston  2004!

Here’s the only photo I got of Dave Wittenberg. Dave Wittenberg is awesome. Not only was the the voice of Kikaider in the cartoon of the same name, he was Lee in the Cowboy Bebop movie, putting forth the best fake cockney accent this side of Don Cheadle in Ocean’s Eleven. He was also the sensitive computer nerd in Witch Hunter Robin, a fact which had teenage girls queueing up for his autograph and a demonstration of his vocal talents.

Anime boston  2004!

Then I grabbed a couple of snapshots of cosplayers. I try not to take too many cosplay photos– not only does that practice eat up time like crazy, there are lots of sites which do a much better job of cosplay photography than I ever could. But when I saw these costumes, I couldn’t resist, being a huge Rose of Versailles nerd. So here’s one.

Anime boston  2004!

And here’s the reverse angle. I’ll be frank: I’m kind of jaded about cosplaying, most stuff doesn’t impress me the way it used to. But these are some damn good costumes. Seriously, this shit is HOT.

Anime boston  2004!

Here’s a shot of the hotel mezzanine, with nerds practically hanging over the railing as they wait in line for some event or another. Later in the afternoon, I’d encounter two girls waving badly handwritten signs and begging for attention. I never knew anime kids liked crazy homeless people so much that they wanted to imitate them!

Anime boston  2004!

I’ve got just a couple of more big events at this particular con. Like I was saying earlier, I tend to eschew the flashier shit, and here’s a neat little tableau that unfolded before me on Saturday afternoon. See, there’s always a piano at these damn conventions, and there’s always some jerk playing it. It’s invariably either a kid messing around, some asshole playing “Piano Man,” or some even BIGGER asshole playing Final Fantasy or Super Mario Brothers music. I don’t remember what this couple was playing, but I just had to capture the scene.

Anime boston  2004!

Ah, but what’s this? One dude left, but two more people came to watch the girl in the maroon velvet play. The one on the right is wearing one of those cheap, awful felt cat tails. No offense, lady, but those things never look good.

Anime boston  2004!

Again, the cast of piano players and specators shifted! What drama.

Anime boston  2004!

At one point, the girl was just playing by herself. Check out Sanosuke in the lower right-hand corner! I love shit like that.

Anime boston  2004!

Then some other dude showed up and started playing. You can still see the redhead chilling out in the background.

Anime boston  2004!

Finally, two OTHER dudes, one playing, the other listening intently. This entire shuffle happened over the course of about seven minutes. Once again, I love shit like this. In my opinion, it’s a better summary of what a hotel anime convention is really like than any giant-ass parade of cosplay photos.

 

Anime Central 2004 Convention Report

Anime Central is a con that continues to be near and dear to my heart. It’s a thousand miles away, but it’s still my “home” convention, the one I staff at, and the one I see the most buddies and acquaintances at. I always look forward to it, and always return with a photo-diary of my experiences. Here it is.

Anime Central  2004!

The first thing I saw on Thursday evening? Nabeshin! Director extraordinaire Shinichi Watanabe was a little baffled at all the attention being paid to Excel Saga, a show he directed 5 years ago, but he was happy to sign a t-shirt.

Anime Central  2004!

What amuses me the most about Nabeshin is just how much he resembles the animated version of himself. None of it is an exaggeration, he even dresses like Lupin in real life.

Anime Central  2004!

Here’s con officer Isaac Sher and voice actor Brett Weaver, both of them good pals of mine. But you know, this photo just isn’t surreal enough. I think I need to add a thought bubble.

Anime Central  2004!

Ah, much better.

Anime Central  2004!

Dan Baker moves too quickly to be seen by the naked eye.

Anime Central  2004!

Bruce Lewis doing what he does best– drawing pictures of dogs wearing little hats.

Anime Central  2004!

Ah, opening ceremonies! The excitement is building as the cavernous main events room fills up!

Anime Central  2004!

As usual, M.C. Carl Horn was there to kick things off.

Anime Central  2004!

He introduced the likes of Monica Rial…

Anime Central  2004!

Scott McNeil, a famous cowboy from Canada…

Anime Central  2004!

Greg Ayres, a voice actor who specializes in playing children and teenagers and looking like the lead singer from Korn…

Anime Central  2004!

Japanese glam-rockers SID…

Anime Central  2004!

Super-cute seiyuu Chiwa Saito, whose agency asked that we not publish photographs of her. Fine, have it your way! Jerks.

Anime Central  2004!

And Nabeshin, who, to nobody’s surprise, stole the show.

Anime Central  2004!

Things wrapped up with remarks from the con chairs, co-chair Locke the Superman, the Man of Might, and convention chairman Frank Sanchez. Frank looked hungry, so I also made him thinking of a taco.