Attack on Titan Storms Anime Boston 2014

ab14-AOTBoston is a good city in which to be a geek. Annually it hosts several well established conventions including Vericon, Arisia, PAX East, and Boston Comic Con. Last weekend Anime Boston hit town bringing with it thousands of attendees, most of whom wore cosplay. Founded by the New England Anime Society in 2003 with a focus on Japanese animation and comics, the convention still welcomes fans of many genres and media who are interested.

This year’s big feature was the highly anticipated US debut of the English dub of Attack on Titan. A popular manga which was adapted last year into an animated series, Attack on Titan imagines a world where the entire human race hides away in a giant walled city to protect themselves from monstrous Titans that have devoured anyone caught outside. After one hundred years of peace, lead character Eren Yeager, his adoptive sister Mikasa Ackerman, and their friend Armin Arlert find themselves pulled into the Survey Corps to battle the new breed of Titans that have breached the walls and avenge their fallen families.

In the weeks leading up to Anime Boston the production company FUNimation gradually announced the English language cast for the dubbed version. Included were 2014 guests Patrick Seitz as Keith, Kyle Hebert at Mitabi, Mike McFarland as Jean (in addition to being the voice over director), Josh Grelle as Armin, Matthew Mercer as Levi, and Trina Nishimura as Mikasa. The only role unannounced leading up to the convention was that of Eren, the main character, which led to a great deal of speculation that it would be given to actor Greg Ayres, who was another guest of the show. However, at the premiere Sr. Manager of Social Strategy and Development for FUNimation Justin Rojas began with a specially recorded video message. Actor Bryce Papenbrook appeared on screen to announce that he would perform the role of Eren and expressed his regrets that he could not appear in person.

The crowd was raucous and excited as they were given the first public screening of the first three episodes of Attack on Titan. The fans sang along to the theme song and cheered loudly for the first appearance of literally every major character. One thing anime fans have in spades is enthusiasm. An encore presentation with two more episodes was screened on Sunday. The full series will release on June 3rd 2014.

Following the screening was a Q&A with cast members Mike McFarland, Josh Grelle, Matthew Mercer, and Trina Nishimura. They all expressed a keen interest in the project, though Mercer seemed intimidated by one fan saying he is now a sex symbol. His signing line earlier that day would certainly reinforce his popularity as hundreds of fans queued up though only one hundred were guaranteed to get their posters and DVDs signed. Grelle said it was exciting to see an anime taking a chance and deviating from the old trope of “harem shows with magic” which have dominated the industry. He also said the music drew him in as well.

McFarland and Mercer were both unacquainted with Attack on Titan prior to being cast but each said they binged on the entire series in one viewing because they were so drawn into the story and characters. McFarland warned that it’s a gritty show but SO dark that some characters won’t make it. When asked about casting, McFarland said that many key roles went to Los Angeles talent, as opposed to FUNimation stalwarts, because of amount of work that went into each session and that he actively wanted to bring in new people as much as possible. The actors were pushed hard to make sure the performances were the very best.

Nishimura had an admiration for her role as Mikasa, a character who is as strong or even stronger those around her. “The stereotype of the anime chick is changing,” she said to applause, “It’s not pantie shots and flying and sparkles.”

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CA – Fandom Society Cosplay Ball

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Dante Basco, Bryce Papenbrook, Giancarlo Volpe, and more appear at Supperclub in Los Angeles on Thursday April 3rd at 7:30 pm!

Press Release:

The Fandom Society’s inaugural COSPLAY BALL will be the largest cosplay event ever held in Hollywood, CA. This unique event allows fans who arrive early to meet their favorite stars from hit movies,TV shows, and internet series in a personal and interactive environment. The meet and greet event will be followed by an outrageous night of cosplay and special performances. Join us and meet your friends in fandom!

The Fandom Society is a community of fans, celebrating each other’s interests. We help you find your friends in fandom and be a part of a community of fans.

Tickets at the link!

Who’s coming?

So far we have two confirmed hosts, Bryce Papenbrook and Giancarlo Volpe. Bryce Papenbrook is a voice actor and has been in the roles of Eren Jaeger (Attack on Titan), Rin Okumura (Blue Exorcist), Kirito (SAO), Masaomi Kida (DRRR!), and is the voice of Makoto Naegi (SDR). Giancarlo Volpe was the director for Avatar: The Last Airbender and Clone Wars as well as the producer for Green Lantern: The Animated Series. And, of course, Dante Basco, the man behind the idea of Fandom Society. Dante Basco is best known as the voice of Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender, General Iroh from Legend of Korra, and Rufio from Hook.

Event Schedule
7:30PM – 10:30PM Meet & Greet (Open to Guests Under 21 & 21+)
7:30 Doors Open for VIP Ticket Holders
8:00 Doors Open for General Admission Ticket holders
8:30 Intro & Cirque Performance
9:00 AJ Rafael Performance
9:45 The Megas Performance
10:15 Cirque Performance
10:30PM – 2:00AM Cosplay Ball (Open to Guests Over 21)
11:30 Cirque Performance
11:45 DJ Rufio Set

Hosts
Dante Basco
Bryce Papenbrook
Giancarlo Volpe

Special Guests (Updated)
AJ Rafael
The Megas
Jack DeSena
Kevin Michael Richardson
Christine Marie Cabanos
Victor Yerrid and The Rufio Puppet
Adrianne Curry
Kari Wahlgren
Lauren Landa
Mary Kate Wiles
Xander Jeanneret
Yoshi Sudarso
Peter Adrian Sudarso
Meghan Camarena
Blake Foster
Vanessa Marshall
Jason Spisak
Bryan Konietzko
Mary Kate Wiles
Kurt Matilla
Natalie Hoover
Kira Buckland
Erika Harlacher
Greg Cipes
Jake Castorena
Benjamin Diskin

What is Fandom Society?

The main idea behind Fandom Society is that everyone is a fan of something. Whether it be video games, anime, webcomics, comics, etc. someone’s a fan of something. Fandom Society is a way to meet new people within these fandoms and even to meet and interact with people you who would normally be behind a signing booth. The main goal behind Fandom Society is to break down that barrier between the fan and the content creators (because even Dante Basco can be a fanboy). We also want to show mainstream media what it is to be in a fandom and to be into cosplay (let’s pretend HoC didn’t happen).

Cosplay ball means… Cosplay! If you want to create an entirely new cosplay for this party alone, go ahead. Or if you want to recycle one you’re really proud of, do that too! We’re going to have a lot of coverage of this event so bring your best foot forward. The hosts will also be going around looking for the best costumes and you will be put front and center in a fashion show for the entire party to see. I don’t know about you, but that’s some motive to bring a great cosplay.

Now what are you doing? Go and buy your tickets and bring your friends too!

Supperclub
6675 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

Ichibancon 2014 Report!

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!

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Sword Art Online Premieres at Anime Boston 2013

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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.

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Sword Art Online cast and crew sign autographs

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Sword Art Online Cast & Crew Appear at Anime Boston 2013

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Press Release:

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.