Welcome to the homepage of The-O Network Online's Anime Expo 2007 Con Report! This year's AX surprises us all with the announcement of the SOS Brigade Invasion Tour, bringing the original Japanese voice actors of the sensational series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Lets not also forget that Gackt himself was AX this year performing live in the newly formed band S.K.I.N.
Another convention, another weekend filled with various memories, that’s what I always say. Alright, so I’ve never said that before, but that’s my new motto. However, this wasn’t just any other con, this was Anime Expo, the biggest anime convention in North America. 50,000 attendees! I can’t even begin to fathom that number of people. This year’s AX was slated to have major guests of honor including the voice actresses from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, the director of Death Note, and every over-energetic fan girl’s new favorite band S.K.I.N. These are just a few of the headliners that appeared at this year’s AX.
From the moment I arrived at the Long Beach Convention Center on Thursday, I could feel the energy of the masses of fans and the sheer size of con. Unfortunately, aside from picking up badges, there was little to do on “Day 0”. So instead I hung out with nationally renowned con-planner, famous ex con-reporter, and personal friend of mine Ray Nager. We had dinner and swapped stories for the majority of the night. Dear old Ray also generously provided me with a press badge that granted access to many different areas of the con that were normally closed off to the public. After meeting up with The-O’s friend Alice Yan to pick up my attendee badge, I retired back to my apartment around 2 am.
Day 1 rolled around quicker than I thought it would. Why? I was asleep, dreaming blissfully about the cute cosplayers I saw the day before, when all of a sudden The-O decides to call me…at 6 am. A disgruntled phone conversation later, I found myself getting ready for AX. It had begun. I reached the convention center around 10 due to heavy traffic, and parked my car in some lot quite a ways from the con. After trekking past the crowds of fans in the sweltering heat I made my way to the rendezvous point; the ridiculously large fountain in front of the Performing Arts Center. I couldn’t find the group at first, so I happened upon a pair of girls cosplaying as Riku and Aerith; did I mention they were cute, who were keeping cool in the fountain. I asked them how the water was, and they invited me to join them. I woefully declined seeing as I had just found The-O and AMG across the way. Girls if you want to go for a dip anytime let me know ^_^
After we met up, The-O, AMG, and myself joined with WellpaidMercenary, and JDV who were waiting patiently in line for the dealers room to open. Without much else to do, I wandered about taking pictures. One girl in a super sexy awesome Santa outfit let me take her picture and said that my shirt from Threadless (shameless plug) was “adorable”. I should have gave it to her :\ Anyway eventually the line shifted and we made our way in. As expected, the dealers room was immense with hundreds of different booths including the big names like Bandai, Geneon, Gaia Online, ADV, etc. Also in the mix were a larger number of Japanese companies like Toei Animation. It’s hard to recall every booth there, but some that stuck out were Jungle Toys (crazy discounts on swords), Geneon (nice Hellsing theme), and the Broccoli booth, which had cool merchandise along with prizes for each purchase.
Around 1, we all headed out to eat lunch after we dropped off our newly purchased shat in our cars. I also changed into my Teru Mikami from Death Note costume. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, it was hovering around the high 80s all day, and Teru dresses in winter wear, so I was sweating buckets. We all met at Smoothie King for lunch…err…smoothies. About an hour later our assembly went off to our respective panels. The-O and AMG to their Hirano, Chihara, and Goto Focus Panel, while JDV, Merch, and myself went to the Bandai Freedom Panel. We arrived a bit early, and I got us in with the press badge. The total number of people that actually went to the panel was around 40; keep in mind that the SKIN concert was also at this time. Anyway, Freedom is a new anime from Bandai, which also happens to be the first HD DVD Anime created. It is a 6 part OVA that features the talents of up and coming director Shuhei Morita, Eureka 7 story director Dai Sato, and character designer Daisuke Sajiki. From what I gleaned during the panel, and later the episode 1 viewing, Freedom is about a group of teenagers who live on the moon base Eden, after the Earth became inhabitable. However, the main character Takeru discovers a hidden secret that could change the human race forever. (watch it).
At the end of the panel the three of us hung out some more at the dealers room, visited the artists alley, and took a ton more pictures. We left the con around 7, and went out to dinner. That was pretty much the end of Day 1.
Day 2, Saturday, came sneaking in quietly. I arrived around 11, but I went with Alice to get her phone fixed. After running around for about an hour looking for the Cingular store we arrived and got our business done. I got back to the con around 1 and I met up with the gang. We spent the majority of our time in the dealer’s room. There I met up with another group of Death Note cosplayers and we got our pictures taken, that was pretty cool. We also viewed the first episode of Freedom later that day. I thought it was pretty good as a 3D anime. That was pretty much my Saturday, and coincidentally my last day of Anime Expo.
All in all, it was a pretty decent AX. Not the best I’ve ever been to, but then again I think the location had a lot to do with it. Also I think with a con of this magnitude, if you don’t do your work before hand (cosplay gatherings, joining groups, etc.) you don’t tend to get to know that many people. To wrap things up, AX was pretty good; lots of crap to do, lots of crap to buy, lots of nice cosplayers; however, long lines, sheer size, and staff inefficiency kind of outweighed the good parts.
Long Beach, Calif. – Hot on the heels of the Geneon panel followed ADV’s time slot in Live Programming room 2 at Anime Expo 2007. While the waiting line for the Geneon panel was surprisingly long, those who stuck their backsides firmly to their seats afterward were spared the wait in another unending line. ADV heads and long-time (think fifteen years) anime fans Matt Greenfield and John Ledford took stage front and center to announce upcoming titles and answer attendee questions. The panel opened with a Q & A session, or was suppose to until it was decided that important announcements should be made first. No complaints.
In the moments before the first announcement, the panelists took a second to mention a shifting focus towards slow and steady releases throughout the year all the while providing fans with great deals of information. In brief: slow and steady wins the fans, indeed.
Without wasting anymore time, the lights dimmed and ADV unveiled its first upcoming title, Kyoshiro and the Eternal Sky. Slated for stateside release later this year, Kyoshiro tells the story of Kuu Shiratori, a young school girl who endures the doldrums of school life by fantasizing about her “prince” and the day when she is able to meet him. In a twist of fate, a new transfer student whose appearance uncannily resembles the prince from her dreams transfers into her class. His name is Kyoshiro Ayanokoji, and little does Kuu realize that his coming would set off a wondrous adventure filled with strange, mechanical creatures and magic to which the likes of are unknown to her young eyes.
The second announcement from ADV and an indifferent shrug from this writer followed quickly after the teaser trailer for the first announcement. The lights come back up then dim once again, and technical snafues aside, ADV shows off their second title, Gainax’s big hit series Gurren Lagaan. The show takes place in the distant future, in which humans are forced underground by oppressive beastmen and the hope of a bright future is laid upon the shoulders of a young driller named Simon and his cohorts Kamina and Yoko. With the help of a powerful weapon, the heroic trio fight back against the nefarious Beastmen and their Human Eradication Army to ensure the survival of mankind.
The currently running series recently met its halfway point of a total 26 episodes. No stateside release date has been announced.
ADV’s final announcement was Devil May Cry, a new series based on the popular videogame franchise published by Capcom. The show follows the game series mainstay Dante, a half-human, half-demon, and all-around badass demon hunter-for-hire. Through his business, “Devil May Cry”, services involving demon elimination may be contracted.
The Madhouse produced show is slated for American release in the winter of 2007, possibly to coincide with the release of the next installment of the game franchise, Devil May Cry 4, which sees release in the fourth quarter of this year.
Among the new announcements, ADV also mentioned some of its other upcoming titles such as Air Tv, Xenosaga, Welcome to the NHK, and 5cm per Second.
With the announcements over and done with, ADV opened the panel for questions and comments. The questions and comments ran the gamut from requests to do a certain project to queries about MIA projects long overdue (I.E. The 10th Anniversary Evangelion box set). However, there was one question that sparked interest in the audience - Will the U.S. Voice cast return for the upcoming Rebuild of Evangelion project? Matt Greenfield and John Ledford expressed their interest in the project and definitely seemed genuinely excited about its progress, but aside from that little tidbit, there was no official confirmation.
Panelists: Chip Carter, with Chad Kime, Terry Ho, Yukio Kusonoda, and John “packaging guru,” Bailey.
The panel started with new developments about the Geneon Spot. The Geneon Spot started in October and had high expectatcions. However, Geneon Spot ste had a lot of difficulties and will be later launched later this year. One component that did not cause any difficulties was the Geneon Talk Radio podcast which is available at the company website and iTunes. It can also be found by searching “Geneon Talk Radio” at any podcast search engines. The Geneon Spot will still offer exclusive merchandise items. Calendars from comi-ket will be imported over. One item that was highlighted was the Hellsing Ultimate pocket watch, manufactured by Fossil watches. Only 666 of these will be produced (no price has been set yet, but pre-orders are available).
Geneon has been busy pursuing digital distribution or also known as “unpackaged media”. They have teamed up with Akimbo, Xbox 360 live, and Vuze. Akira is available in HD only on the Xbox 360 (480 points to download). The other titles that are available in HD are Last Exile, GunXsword, Samurai Horror Tales, Lupin 3rd, and Gankatsous (theo, check on name).
Geneon is starting to more kid-friendly anime series. One of the titles that they had acquired is called Chop Socky Chooks, which is made from the people who created Wallace and Grommet. Another title is which was purchased is Deltora Quest, which will be aired in January on TV Aichi.
Geneon has also been active in placing anime series on TV. Fuse TV and ImaginAsian TV have their own time blocks dedicated to anime. Fuse TV is currently running the Tenjho Tenge and Ergo Proxy weekly at 9 PM (check local listings to see what channel and day). ImaginAsian TV has AnimeEnerG block with Elemental Glade, Kyo Kara Maoh!, and Gankutsou every Tuesday at 8 (check local listings to see what channel they are running on). To please the viewers who do not like dubbed versions of their anime, there are subbed versions available, too.
The last part of the panel was to display the new anime titles that Geneon has obtained. Shonen Onmyouji is a retelling of an onmyouji story featuring the grandson. It is mainly for viewers who are into Shonen since it is comprised of Shonen character designs and action. It is officially available on July 10. Saiunkoku Monogatari is a series set in ancient China; a princess is tasked to make the king respectable in 6 months. It will be debuted on August 28. Hellsing Ultimate: Volume 3 premiered in the US the following night; there was a marathon from episodes 1 to 3 for it. For the October release, there will be 2 types of packaging: a regular and a steel-case special edition (the steel edition will have extras involving the a panel following the Geneon Panel). The Familiar of Zero is more for the Harry Potter fans because of one of the panelists said “Harry Potter done by the creators of Tenchi Muyo.” However, there is no release date announced. Guardian of the Sacred Spirit (Serei no Moribito) from production I.G., was announced in Tokyo fair and airing now. It is very new and the panelists got the dvd yesterday from Japan. There is no set announcement yet for a US release, but a panelist stated it would debut a lot sooner than expected. The main video room premiered it first in the US that night. It is from the same people who did Ghost in the Shell.
Nearing the end, Geneon announced to some of its brand-new titles it has attained. One of the titles announced is, Shakugan no Shana OVA. Yoshida vs Shana for Yuji’s heart, Ogata vs Satao for Tanaka’s attention, all’s fair in love and war…, And hot springs make the most dangerous battlegrounds. Fan service lovers rejoice! Going to be shown exactly as the one shot dvd and original voice actors are in it. Not a new, but it is the first GeneonUSA is going to announce. The second new title announcement was releasing 2004’s Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and its 2005 sequel Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A (same site as the Mgical Girl Lyrical Nanoha). There is no release date however, but one of the panelists said there was. So, the information on the release date is ambiguous.
For the warp-up of the show, there was an overview of the different styles of dvd packaging they currently have. Surveys were passed out asking which type of packing is preferred. There was a Q&A, but only three questions were asked due to time constraints.
Q) You used to be called Pioneer, but why are you calling yourselves Geneon? A) Geneon is just a marketing name that was made up. They were part of Pioneer electronics and they were sold to an advertising conglomerate to a Japanese company named Bensu. It is funny because Pioneer (the part that got sold) wanted to get out of entertainment one way or the other, while Bensu wanted to get into the US entertainment market. So it worked out kind of well. They are the same, just with different name. Because they are on their own, they wanted a new name.
Q) What is the advantages and disadvantages of HD-DVD or Blu-Ray (Basically High-Def as a whole)? A) Do you want the sarcastic answer? ::laugh:: Well, its all about breaking even. If it takes 30,000 units to break even and Superman Returns only has 30,000 units sold, we are going to wait awhile. Even though the anime fans are leading the edge of technology, the general public is not.
Q) I have a playstation 3 and I notice that everything you are doing is going to the Xbox live, are you ever going to the playstation system? Now with all the updates I have had on it, my dvd’s look great. I would love to download from Geneon content, legally? A) ::laughs and gives CD to question asker:: Yes, they are looking to work with more people and Sony. But, there are not that many PS3’s out there.
After the Q&A, there was a raffle for the dvd boxes that were used for the examples of the different styles of dvd packaging.
Aya Hirano, Yuko Goto, and Minori Chihara known most famously for their work The concert was held on Saturday night initially scheduled at 4:30 PM; however, the concert actually didn't start until around 6.
The concert format generally went from a song, a brief Q and A session, then usually a dubbing demonstration. We were introduced to a representative from Bang Zoom Entertainment who would be the translator for the show. Our host for the show was Patricia Ja Le from the ASOS Brigade. There was also a no photography or filming policy enforced during the concert. There were 2 Anime Expo staff members patrolling the sides of each section.
Yoko Goto was the first to start the concert with her song "Shinzen Akatsuki," the intro song to the Adventures of Asahina Mikuru Episode 00. After the song she told the audience she was very nervous before the concert as she was asked to start the concert. The American voice actor for Mikuru, Stephanie Sheh, came out and did a dubbing demonstration, Mikuru Beam from episode 00 and the classified segments from episode 3, with Goto-san. Goto-san commented that during the recording sessions for the series, she was on a very tight schedule and did them without rest.
Aya Hirano came out next singing the series' opening, "Bouken Desho Desho." Haruhi's American voice actor came out Wendee Lee and did a live dubbing of episode 1, the scene of Haruhi's class introduction. Aya-san mentions that she use to live in the United States until she was 3, back then she was fluent in English, but forgot it over time.
Minori Chihara sang 2 songs next, "Yiki, Muon, Madobe Nite," and "Select." Minori-san dubbed the scene where Yuki explains who she is from episode 5 (broadcast order). She explained that this was one of the most difficult lines for her to do. She was always practicing whenever she had free time. Sometimes she would be too slow, or too fast as the speed of some words varied. Michelle Ruff, the American voice actor for Yuki, was unable to attend so Johnny Yong Bosch, the American voice actor for Itsuki did a dubbing demonstration with her.
Aya-san came out again with a deafening roar from the crowd. She performed "God Knows" and "Lost My Music."
The dance contest winners of the Hare Hare Yukai came out, 3 groups total, along with the ASOS Brigade came out to dance alongside Yuko-san, Aya-san, and Chihara-san. After the performance, the crowd hooted and shouted, and an encore followed.
We bought our premier tickets when it first opened and we were sitting in the second row. There were the occasional technical difficulties including the script, but as the 9,000 seated SOS Brigade fans can testify, it was a blast.