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Anime Central 2001
ACen 2001: Opening Ceremonies

by George Phillips,
Opening Ceremonies

Friday morning, nearly every con attendee shuffled into the Main Programming room, filling it to overflowing. Steve Bennett received cheers when he stood up and asked "How many of you cut class to be here this afternoon?" as Anime Central staffers scurried to finish preparations.

From Voice Actors Brett Weaver and Scott McNeil to Animator Scott Frazier and Fanboy Entertainment's C.B. Beluski, each American guest entertained the crowd with a few choice words and the occasional set of bunny ears.

Kirby Morrow sadly explained a brush-in with Air Canada, as they lost his luggage en route to the convention. Scott McNeil graciously offered his clothes to the distressed voice of Trowa Barton.

After their exchange, Amy Howard Wilson (voice of Nova from Starblazers) stood up and introduced herself as well as her husband. Both received loud cheers. Amy Wilson is seeking to return to voice acting in anime and other titles.

Following the American Guests' antics, the Japanese guests were introduced with clips of their respective titles and the occasional accompanying piece of music.

First up, a newcomer to the Japanese seiyuu industry, Yūko Kagata greeted the crowd with a perky, "Good Morning!". This was her first trip to an anime convention in America.

Shin Nagasawa also stated this was his first time at an anime convention in the United States. He humbly asked the convention attendees to "please treat me well".

Yoshio Yamakawa was surprised by the energy and enthusiasm the crowd displayed. "I'm not a representative for my company," he joked, "I can do anything I want."

Mika Akitaka (Creator of Galaxy Fraulein Yuna) brought "something" from the new Sakura Taisen 3 video game in Japan, and asked people to watch it later.

Range Murata, known for his character designs in Blue Sub No. 6 was introduced with a clip of The Beatles "Yellow Submarine". This was his second time in the US, and he said he found American fandom to be very "open and friendly".

Finally Yoshitoshi ABe, creator of Lain and NieA_7, said he was working on a new project called "Virgin", but not much could be announced right now.

Kia Asamiya's third trip to the US was well received. He is now working on a new project entitled "Corrector Yui".

The full list of guests:

Kia Asamiya - Manga Artist, Steam Detectives, Silent Möbius
Range Murata - Character Designer, Blue Sub No. 6
Yoshitoshi ABe - Serial Experiments Lain, NieA_7
Mika Akitaka - Galaxy Fraulein Yuna Creator
Shin Nagasawa - Freelance Illustrator
Yoshio Yamakawa - 3-D Modeler and Designer
Yūko Kagata - Seiyuu for Haruna in Corrector Yui
Wendee Lee - Voice Actress, Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop
Scott Frazier - First American in Anime Production
Scott McNeil - Voice Actor, Duo Maxwell in Gundam Wing
Crispin Freeman - Voice Actor, Script Adaptor
Brett Weaver - Voice Actor, Gai in Martian Successor Nadesico
Kirby Morrow - Voice Actor, Trowa Barton in Gundam Wing
Amy Howard Wilson - Voice Actress, Nova in Star Blazers
C.B. Beluski - Owner, Fanboy Entertainment
Bruce Lewis - Artist, Writer, Editor-In-Chief of Cheap Disposable Entertainment
Robert Dejesus - Professional Artist, Fashionably Late ;)
Steve Bennett - Co-Founder, Art Director of Studio Ironcat

The 2001 Honorary Con Chair for Anime Central was a shy, young girl wielding a Mahou Shoujo (Magic Girl) wand. She quietly walked up to the podium, glanced at the audience, and quickly walked back to her seat.

Right before the end of the opening ceremonies, Robert Dejesus finally walked into the room, nearly an hour late. Why was he late? An off-color parody of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" kept him up later than usual, the previous night.

With that quip and a tap of a staff, Anime Central began!

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