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Anime Expo 2008
Preview (Updated)

by Mikhail Koulikov,

As fans, dealers, media reporters and industry professionals begin gathering for the seventeenth annual Anime Expo, set to be held for the first time at the Los Angeles Convention Center from July 3 to July 6, several anime and manga companies have began to announce their full plans for the convention.

Bandai Entertainment

Bandai's AX panel line-up will start at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, when the English voice cast for Gurren Lagann will be unveiled at a joint panel with Aniplex. This will be followed by a 12 p.m. Friday, July 4 session dedicated to the Honneamise label, which absorbs many of the anime formerly released in English by Bandai Visual USA. The main Bandai Entertainment panel, which promises both latest news and new acquisition announcements, will follow at 4 p.m. on the same day.

FUNimation Entertainment

One of North America's leading anime distributors is coming to AX in full force. On Thursday, July 3, Funimation's Marketing Director, Lance Heiskell, will be one of the participants in the Anime in the U.S: Fansubs - the Death of Anime? panel discussion. Adam Zeher, Director of Acquisitions and Licensing, will be a speaker on the Future of Anime in Movies, Television, Video Games, Online and Cable roundtable, set for the morning of Saturday, July 5. In between the two panel discussions, Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga will share his thoughts on the future of his ocmpany, and on the state of anime industry in the U.S. as a whole in a Friday, July 4 keynote address.

Funimation's own industry panel, which will feature several new license announcements, is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 5. In addition, the company will also be holding a special panel dedicated to Ouran High School Host Club, during which, the main voice cast for the long-awaited shoujo series will be announced.

Nozomi Entertainment

Nozomi, the licensing and production arm of online anime shop The Right Stuf International also plans to use Anime Expo to unveil several new projects. The TRSI/Nozomi panel is currently scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, July 4.

Digital Manga Publishing

In addition to their own industry panel, Digital Manga plans to use Anime Expo to promote its manga adaptation of Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D science fiction/horror novel. DMP's Vampire Hunter D focus panel, set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 5, will feature both Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki, the artist who he selected to draw the manga. One component of the panel will be a raffle with prizes such as exclusive sketches, limited-edition merchandise, and a grand prize of a dinner with Kikuchi and Takaki.

Other Companies

Other companies that are scheduled to hold AX panels include: ADV (sneak previews and industry panel), Aurora Publishing, Broccoli USA, CMX Manga, Dark Horse, EigoMANGA, Go! Comi, ImaginAsian, Kadokawa USA, and Tokyopop, as well as Japan's Aniplex and Production I.G Notably absent are the American manga publisher Del Rey and anime distributors Manga Entertainment and Media Blasters.

Anime News Network

Of course, in addition to ANN's panel reports, video segments and interviews, AX will give you a chance to meet the staff of the Anime News Network face to face. If you've ever wanted to break into the glamorous and exciting world of anime journalism, on Thursday, July 3, at 5:00, ANN will be hosting a panel just for you. The next day, Friday, July 4, at 10 a.m., Zac "Answerman" Bertschy and Bamboo "SakechanBD" Dong, ANN's Executive Editor and Managing Editor respectively, along with several special industry guests, will run a discussion on the art of reviewing anime. Finally, at 6 p.m. the same day, the full senior editorial staff of Anime News Network, led by Editor-in-Chief Christopher Macdonald, will be on hand for a panel full of questions, answers, and giveaways.

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