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Anime Expo 2007
Opening Ceremonies

by Bamboo Dong, Jonathan Mays,

After four years in Anaheim, Anime Expo finally returned to the Long Beach Convention Center. The event officially kicked off with the start of the opening ceremonies on Friday, June 29 at 10:30AM, even though throngs of cosplayers and excited fans were already out in force the previous day.

The theme for this year is “Celebration of Music,” a nod to the staggering six musical acts that will be performing this year, including the highly anticipated world premiere of S.K.I.N., a band comprised of J-Rock heavyweights Gackt, YOSHIKI, MIYAVI, and Sugizo. Other musical acts include Oreskaband, Anna Tsuchiya, Halko Momoi, Chiaki Ishikawa, and the SOS Brigade.

First introduced to the stage was a representative from the Children's Hospitals of Orange County, the organization who will be accepting the proceedings from this year's charity auction. Afterwards, the guests of honor were introduced, one by one. The members of the SOS Brigade were unable to attend, but the audience was treated to a specially recorded message from the girls apologizing for their delay.

Next up was Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, a voice actress known for her work in popular series like Ghost in the Shell, X, Wolf's Rain, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star. Also introduced to the stage were the members of Oreskaband, an all-female rock band that will be performing this weekend. The next musical artist brought to the stage was Halko Momoi, a singer known as the “Queen of Akihabara.” She's also recorded voices for series like Ai Yori Aoshi and Popotan. Following her was Chiaki Ishikawa, one of the members of the vocal group See-Saw, and voice actress for series like Gundam Seed and .hack//SIGN. During her concert this week, she will be performing selections from her solo album, as well as a few See-Saw songs. The last musician to be introduced was Anna Tsuchiya, the artist behind the NANA themes, who is also popular for her work as a model and an actress.

Next up was Eisaku Inoue, the character designer and animation director for One Piece. Inoue joked to the audience that he had heard that his show was originally “very much altered” for US audiences, but that it was being redone and redistributed, which is why he was brought over. Also introduced was Masaru Kitao, character designer for works like the Cardcaptor Sakura movie, and the Death Note series.

To the wild screams of the audience, the next to be introduced was Tetsuro Araki, director of the Death Note TV series, who professed to be a big fan of the manga. Lastly was Michael Arias, who directed Tekkon Kinkreet, which will be shown on Sunday evening.

After all the guests were introduced, the Master of Ceremonies asked Eisaku Inoue to draw on a Japanese Daruma doll. He filled in the right eye, symbolizing a wish for a successful convention. The left eye will be filled in at the closing ceremonies.

Once all the guests were introduced, a staff member from Nippon Engineering College was introduced. The school trains students to work in the anime industry, learning skills ranging from animation and voice acting. 200 students from the school are in attendance at Anime Expo, some of whom did a voice acting demo during the opening ceremonies, set to a short also animated by NEEC students. After several minutes of “technical difficulties,” an NEEC video with a sound-effect track ran in the background as six NEEC students performed a “live dub.”

The convention was officially opened at 11:34 AM.

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