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Anime Expo 2005
Anime Expo - Opening Ceremonies

by Christopher Macdonald,
As in past years, the Anime Expo opening ceremonies started approximately an hour and a half late. Despite this, the organizers managed to finish the opening ceremonies at their scheduled time.

Citing the conventions expected attendance of 31,000 to 34,000 people (last year was just over 25,000), chair person Darold Higa likened Anime Expo to a small city, except that it was a city of people with similar interests.

For the tenth year in a row, Anime Expo is raising money for the City of Hope. John Taylor of City of Hope spoke somewhat about the good that is done with the money raised by Anime Expo. Anime Expo will be raising money for City of Hope through the AX Charity Auction, which raises tens of thousands of dollars every year, and they are also collecting money for City of Hope at the Summer Festival.

Once again, students from the Nippon Engineering College, lead by Akira Kamiya and Takumi Yamasaki, held a live voice acting demonstration. The six students, all female, voiced a portion of the new anime Izumo: Takeki Ken no Hirameki. Even the one male part, an adolescent boy, was voiced by one of the girls. Izumo was chosen as the anime for their demo this year because the creator, Kazue Yamamoto, is present as a guest of honor at Anime Expo this year and the closing theme, Saishin Dream, is sung by Clover, an alumni of the Nippon Engineering College.

Following the students' presentation the conventions guests of honor and “special guests” were announced.

The special guests were a trio of North American voice actors that helped Anime Expo by running their own panels as well as moderating some the guest of honor panels. The special guests were Crispin Freeman, who is also the MC for AX Idol, Colleen Clinkenbeard and Greg Ayres. As Colleen went to the stage she was heckled (in good nature) into performing a pirouette, and she kindly acquiesced. Following her, every guest, both male and female, including the Japanese guests, performed a short pirouette before taking their seats on the stage.

Unable to make it to the opening ceremonies were Tomokazu Seki, who received a huge applause for his roles in Fruits Basket and Gravitation, and Maya Sakamoto who will perform in concert on Sunday.

Hiroshi Ōsaka stated that he came to Anime Expo from Japan to learn about anime, “I would like to learn a lot here so that I can take it back to Japan and use it for my work.”
Kazue Yamamoto said that it was her first experience in front of such a large crowd and that she was looking forward to seeing some real, live bishounen over the weekend so that she could use them as references for her work.
Akahito Yamashita said that he wanted to observe the attendees' energy so that he could take some of it back with him to Japan and convert it to work energy.
Miho Shimogasa joked that despite being announced on April 1st, Power Puff Girls Z, based on the American cartoon, which was influenced by anime, is in fact no joke and is a real anime under production.
Ugetsu Hakua invited fans to his panel, but suggested that, given the fan-servicy nature of his character designs, perhaps only adults should attend.
In addition to singing the theme song for many anime, including some titles announced at Anime Expo 2005 by Geneon, KOTOKO also provided this year's Anime Expo theme song, Wing my Way. She said she was very honored to share the stage with people as illustrious as her co-guests of honor.
Osamu Kobayashi, who recently directed Beck, said that he was very happy to be at Anime Expo. Yuki Nobutero had also been invited to Anime Expo, but since Kobarashi and Nobutero are respectively animation director and director of the new anime Paradise Kiss, they couldn't both leave production for a week. He closed with “Love and Peace!”
Tsuneo Kobarashi didn't just pirouette once like every other guest but actually spun several times on stage and appeared a bit dizzy as he went to sit down. He said he was very happy to be at Anime Expo was impressed when he turned on the TV in his hotel room and saw anime on TV.
Hiroyuki Kitakubo was last at Anime Expo in 1998 and stated then, “I've come here to start my conquering of the world.” However in 1998 AX only had 7000 attendees and he felt that it was easy to conquer, with so many attendees at Anime Expo 2005 he fears that he instead may be conquered.
Ryō Horikawa was the only Japanese guest to speak to the audience without a translator. He stated in English that he was very happy to be present at Anime Expo and that he was having a lot of fun.

After the Japanese guests of honor were introduced Ryō Horikawa was invited to draw in one eye of the Daruba doll and Anime Expo 2005 was pronounced, “Open.”

Photos by Alvin Wong except Hiroshi Ōsaka and Ryō Horikawa.

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