Two years ago, my knowledge of anime was limited to three facts: (1) it was made in Japan, (2) the characters had weird hair and eyes, and (3) my daughter was obsessed with it. She would emerge from her room after a weekend binge, hair wild, eyes bloodshot–looking like a character herself, actually–and I would think, “What does she see in those shows?”
Then I watched Fullmetal Alchemist, then Death Note, then Black Butler, and I thought, “OK, these are pretty cool.” So cool, in fact, that I took my daughter to Ichibancon 3, my first anime convention, in 2012. We are now back from Ichibancon 5, held January 9-12 in Concord, NC, a suburb of Charlotte. It has grown a lot since our first year–bigger hotel, more dealers, more fans, and three days instead of two. Last year, for instance, there were 2-3 arcade games in the hallway. This year, a room was devoted to Street Fighter, Technika 3, Versus City, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, Guitar Freaks, and about a dozen Playstations and Xbox 360s.
There were also more guests than before. J. Michael Tatum, Bryce Papenbrook, Cherami Leigh, Jad Sexton, and Chuck Huber all had Q & A sessions following by autograph signings. I sat in on Bryce’s Saturday Q & A, which had about 100 attendees in a ballroom that seated nearly 400. Respectable, but not great. Afterward, five or six people left, and about 300 streamed in. Soon cosplayers were standing against the walls and out the doors, waiting for the weekend’s headliner, Vic Mignogna.
Vic is the Johnny Depp of anime. I had seen him at previous conventions, and each time I was amazed at how good he was with fans. He talks to them like old friends, lets girls hug him, and signs anything you wave in his face. In his Q & A, he showed the energy and improv skills of a young Robin Williams. Someone asked him–they always ask him–for his advice to aspiring voice actors, and it was this: (1) get as much experience as you can acting, (2) move to one of the best cities for voice actors–Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas, or Vancouver–and (3) find a way to feed yourself. (Voice actors don’t exactly make it rain.)
Ichibancon was fun, and I was glad to see it growing. In March, I am headed to Winston-Salem to the Triad Anime Con, which is operated by the same company, Nostalgiaconventions. Maybe I’ll see you there!
This past weekend the Hynes Convention Center once again hosted Anime Boston, one of the city’s largest events which draws thousands upon thousands of attendees each year. This year was marked by last month’s tragic events with heightened security including bag checks at every entrance and strict regulation of cosplay props. Despite this, the atmosphere was one of celebration and fun.
As always throngs of cosplayers crowded the Hynes as well as the surrounding area to the surprise and bemusement of locals. Catgirls, stormtroopers, and Marios swarmed the Food Court of the Prudential Center Mall as the heavy rainfall limited options to find food. Packed panel rooms forced convention staff to shoo away attendees lining up for the next event throughout the weekend.
One of the highlights of Anime Boston this year was the world premiere of the English dub of the popular anime series Sword Art Online. Director Tomohiko Ito and producer Shinichiro Kashiwada appeared on several panels as did American voice actors Cherami Leigh and Bryce Papenbrook, who respectively play lead characters Asuna and Kirito. A standing-room-only panel on Saturday evening treated AB con-goers to the first look at episode 1 and 2 in English. Also announced was the exciting news that the series will begin airing on Toonami in August. Through an interpreter, Ito and Kashiwada fielded questions from the audience the first naturally being,” When can we expect Season Two?” They deferred to say that while they are currently attached to other projects, they hope to produce a second season in the near future. When asked if they could at least do an OVA series, Kashiwada replied, “If we’re going to do it we might as well get a whoe series out of it.”
The plot of Sword Art Online follows a group of gamers trapped in an immersive MMORPG where if they lose their hit points they die in real life. Based on a light novel by Reki Kawahara the first season covered the first two iterations of SAO.
Anime Boston, the largest anime convention in the Northeast, announced another round of guests today. Director Tomohiko Ito, producer Shinichiro Kashiwada and voice actors Cherami Leigh and Bryce Papenbrook will attend Anime Boston at the Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Mass. on May 24 through May 26, 2013.
Tomohiko Ito works at A-1 Pictures and is most recognized as the director of the hit series Sword Art Online. He made his directorial debut with the animated series Occult Academy.
Ito’s long list of credits includes Death Note, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Summer Wars to name a few.
This will be Ito’s first time appearing at an Anime Convention here in the U.S. Mr. Ito is looking forward to share his thoughts on Sword Art Online and more, here at Anime Boston.
As Aniplex’s producer, Shinichiro Kashiwada is involved as a chief producer for the hit animated series Sword Art Online.
He has also been involved with numerous titles including Puella Magi Madoka Magica TV series and Oreimo Series as an associate producer.
Cherami Leigh is an on camera and voice actor from Dallas.
In the anime world, she is the female lead Asuna in Sword Art Online. She has appeared as Road in D. Grayman, Sae in Peach Girl, Yuti La in Heroic Age, Elizabeth in Black Butler, Patty in Soul Eater, Ayano in Kaze no Stigma, Natsumi in Sgt. Frog, Naomi in Witchblade, Yoshika in Strike Witches, Elicia Hughes in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Setsuna and Akira in Negima, Mai in Ghost Hunt, Tamaki in Bamboo Blade, Himawari in XXXholic, Cecily in Sacred Blacksmith, Liechtenstein in Hetalia, Lucy in Fairy Tail, Takeshita in B Gata H Kei, Kneesocks in Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, Sunako in Shiki, Suzuha in Steins;Gate, Shana in Shakugan no Shana, Gaige in Borderlands 2.
She has been in over 75 commercials, and was a live national on-air DJ for Radio Disney. She has appeared in many films and television shows, including the soon to be released Beyond the Farthest Star and in the hit webseries Throwing Stones. She was also in the Emmy-award winning Temple Grandin, and has appeared on various network television shows.
Bryce Papenbrook has been a professional voice over artist since the age of eight. He has also been announced as Kirito, the male lead of Sword Art Online.
Papenbrook was introduced to the voice acting scene by his father, Bob Papenbrook, and has continued the trade in his footsteps. Bryce has performed in numerous video games, cartoons, and television shows.
Some recent roles include Rin Okumura in Blue Exorcist, Asbel Lhant in Tales of Graces F, Zidane Tribal in Final Fantasy Dissidia 012, Masaomi Kida in Durarara!!, and Guan Ping in Dynasty Warriors. Past leading roles include Shugo in .hack//Sign Legend of the Twilight, Jack in MAR, Jack Russell in Radiata Stories, Hanabusa Aido in Vampire Knight, and Isami Fujiwara in Noein.
Previously announced guests were Chris Ayres, Greg Ayres, Lauren Landa, David Matranga, ORIGA, Raj Ramayya, Stephanie Sheh, Tom Wayland, and Kari Wahlgren.
About Anime Boston: With more than 22,000 attendees in 2012, Anime Boston is an annual three-day Japanese animation convention held in Boston, Mass. Anime Boston 2013 is scheduled for Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24 at the Hynes Convention Center and Sheraton Boston Hotel. More information about Anime Boston can be found at http://www.animeboston.com.
About New England Anime Society: The New England Anime Society was founded in 2001. Based in Massachusetts, The New England Anime Society, Inc. is an organization dedicated to furthering public education and understanding of the Japanese language and culture through visual and written media. More information about The New England Anime Society is available at http://www.neanime.org.