New York Anime Festival 2008
Preview - Guest of Honor Panels/Special Events

by Mikhail Koulikov,

Of course, industry panels only go so far at an anime convention. What most of the attendees are there for is to get a chance to see their favorite creators, voice actors, and other stars, to sit through two or more hours of anime music videos, to cheer on cosplayers...

Guests of Honor

Friday, September 26
5:00 p.m.
Pop Culture Panel Room (1A21)

The first of NYAF's guests of honor is someone whose presence at an anime-themed event is certainly unexpected: restauranteur and Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. During his panel, Morimoto promises to share his own experiences of coming to the U.S. with little but a dream in his pocket, and talk about the role that food and cooking play in Japanese popular culture.

5:30 p.m.
Manga Panel Room (1A24)

Novelist Hideyuki Kikuchi (Demon City Shinjuku, Dark Side Blues, and of course, Vampire Hunter D) is today one of the best gothic sci-fi/fantasy writers anywhere in the world. His creations were what first got many Americans intrigued about the creative potential of Japanese popular culture. The Vampire Hunter D novel sequence has already been the source of two anime films and a manga. Next year, U.S. comics publisher Devil's Due is also set to start bringing out a series of traditional American comics inspired by it. Along with Kikuchi, Kevin Leahy, the English translator of the novels, will be participating in the panel.

Saturday, September 27
3:00 p.m.
Manga Panel Room (1A24)

The other half of the Vampire Hunter D equation is illustrator and graphic artist Yoshitaka Amano. Returning to New York, a city where he has exhibited several times, Amano will talk about his inspirations, resources, techniques, and goals.

Sunday, September 28
11:00 a.m.
Anime Panel Room (1A06)

Rie Tanaka's voice-acting credits run into the dozens, if not the hundreds. Cast in everything from Air Gear to Yozakura Quartet, she is also a blogger, singer, on-air radio personality, and accomplished anime columnist who has written for Newtype and Seiyuu Grand Prix magazines. And this is her first-ever appearance at an American anime convention.

Other Events of Interest

Friday, September 26
3:30 p.m.
Akihabara Dance Stage
Pirates vs. Ninjas Dance-Off

Pretty much everything you may have wanted to ask about this is right there in the title of the event. Pirates. Ninjas. Akihabara. So, either you are already absolutely set on being there, or will avoid the entire area as much as physically possible.

Friday, September 27
4:15 p.m.
Manga Panel Room (1A24)
Comics for the Manga Fan

Much has been said about how vibrant and unique manga is from Western comics. But, from Warren Ellis' gritty urban science fiction to Bryan Wood's hyperrealistic slice-of-life, there are easily dozens of different American comics that anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of graphical narrative in general should not ignore, and that manga fans will be astonished to learn about.

7 p.m.
Anime News Network Theater (1A12)
World Cosplay Summit U.S. Round

Win the costume contest at any other anime con in the U.S., and what do you get? A trophy, some photos, and the knowledge that you won a costume contest. But the winning team of two at NYAF's masquerade will get a chance to go to Japan on an all-expenses-paid trip and compete against finalists from around the world for the title of World Cosplay Summit grand champion.

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