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Anime Central 2002
Other Report

by George Phillips,

Opening Ceremonies

The moment Carl Horn, ACen Master of Ceremonies, walked on stage Friday morning the crowded Main Programming hall knew Anime Central had truely begun. With half of the Grand Ballroom dedicated to seating, Anime Central attendees still managed to pack the room and line the walls with latecomers.

Carl Horn kicked off Anime Central by introducing the American guests:

C.B. Cebulski: Formerly of Fanboy Entertainment, C.B. now works for Marvel. This was his 3rd ACen visit.

Jeff Thompson: The Right Stuf Director, known most recently for his work on Kare Kano

Neil Nadelman: Translator Extrordinare, known for quite a few titles including Slayers and Captain Tylor

Bruce Lewis: Manga and Graphic artist

Amy Howard Wilson: Voice Actress of Nova from Star Blazers

Brad Swaile: The wimpering, simpering voice of Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. This was Brad's first trip to Anime Central.

Robert Dejesus: Skilled manga artist, best known as a contributing artist to PSM Magazine, as well as his work on Ninja High School.

Steve Bennett: Studio Ironcat's beloved Artist, Storyteller, and Comedian. ;)

Scott Frazier: In the words of Carl Horn, Scott Frazier "not only draws cute chicks, but is one". I believe the rest can remain unspoken.

Jessica Calvello: Although she's slowly losing her sanity while dubbing Excel for ADV, she's still a skilled voice actress.

Crispin Freeman: Voice Actor of Zelgadis from Slayers, and Fangirl favorite Touga from Utena

Tiffany Grant: Not only was this Tiffany's first visit to ACen, but it was also her first trip to Chicago! She's best known for her work as Asuka Langley Sohryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Hilary Haag: Another 1st timer to ACen, Hilary is the voice of Ryo from ADV's hit shoujo series, Princess Nine.

Melissa Williamson: While her name might not be well-known, her work certainly is! Melissa was the director of the Cowboy Bebop dub. Anime Central 2002 was her first convention ever.

Fred "Piro" Gallagher: The artist of Megatokyo, one of the 'net's hottest webcomics! Fred was stuck in traffic for opening ceremonies, but showed up Friday afternoon.

After introducing all of the American guests, Carl turned to introducing the Japanese guests:

Tetsuya Aoki: Designer for PLEX, a Japanese company releasing its first full-color manga at Anime Central. (Read the original press release about PLEX here)

Ken Akamatsu: Love Hina. Need we say more? ACen 2002 was his first trip to any North American Convention, ever.

Toshio Kawamori: Kawamori-san was the Character Designer for Cowboy Bebop, Golden Boy, and Gundam 0083. He also worked on numerous other projects, including Ghost in the Shell.

Hidenori Matsubara: Matsubara-san worked as Character Designer for Oh My Goddess! and Sakura Wars, adapting the original manga designs for the anime medium.

Anime Central was more than just anime and manga fandom -- this year, two traditional tea ceremonies were held for fans interested in learning about the classical art of tea from Japan.

After joking around and introducing the guests, Carl Horn introduced the Honorary Con-Chair, a young girl named Anika. Although she was too shy to say it, Anika and Carl together officially opened the con.

Final Thoughts

While a final number is yet to be announced, it's no suprise that estimates place Anime Central around 4,500 members this year.

The Anime Central con suite was one of the best planned features of the convention.

Utilizing a small theater-type setup, anyone with a con badge could snack on chips, guzzle soda and generally have a great, relaxing time. There was a near-infinite supply of Pepsi, as well as chips, cookies, pretzels, and on saturday evening even deli meats and cheese. Unlike last year's suite, this year's suite was highly accessible, which made it an excellent gathering place for fans. Comedy routines, karaoke, and even philosophical discussions kept those weary of wandering halls or sitting alone in hotel rooms entertained.

Of course, even this year's Anime Central had flaws too. Most notably, the program guide was significantly lacking in detail about certain panels, making them difficult to determine what, exactly, was being presented. The video room scheduling was tricky as well, and for whatever reason, most of the convention we were unable to obtain a printed copy of the video schedule, although some were seen being passed around by other fans.

Communication between staff members in the convention and in the Operations' Center were sometimes less than optimal. This lead to some strange instances where Press members weren't allowed in early to certain areas to set-up cameras, microphones and other devices essential to our trade. Additionally, sometimes these communications also tripped up regular attendees. We noted that several artists in the Artist's Alley were dismayed as there was no clear policy regarding its opening and closing.

However, many of these problems were minor, and can easily be addressed with minimal impact on the convention itself. In fact, many of our gripes don't touch average attendees at all. Anime Central 2002 was one of the best, if not the best, convention we were lucky enough to attend in the last year. Many of the problems in 2001 were solved and although 'new' problems arose, they were significantly less irritating than in the previous year.

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