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San Diego Comic-Con International 2009
The Anime and Manga Fan's Guide to Comic-Con 2009

by Zac Bertschy,

So, as everyone on the planet knows by now, this weekend is San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest fan gathering in the country, and there's so much happening that it's hard to keep it all straight, especially if you're an anime fan and are looking for the events that are designed for you. Here's a handy guide to the anime and manga happenings around the convention.



Summit Entertainment: Astro Boy
10:15-11:15am, Room 6BCF
Hit up this panel first thing on Thursday morning to see some exclusive footage from the new Astro Boy movie, with stars Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell in attendance. The real upside to this panel is that you can skip the big Hall H Summit panel, which also features Astro Boy, but you'll have to brave the giant swirling crowd of screeching Twilight fangirls who will mob the room once Summit's New Moon presentation starts.

Tetsuo for the 21st Century
1:00-2:00pm, Room 32AB
Shinya Tsukamoto is here to present the third in his Tetsuo series of films, and apparently this one is in English.

The Best And Worst Manga of 2008-2009
4:30-5:30pm, Room 3
A big panel of popular editors and critics including Ed Chavez, Deb Aoki, Kai-Ming Cha, Jason Thompson and Gia Mandry host this panel which apparently covers the entire spectrum of manga over the last year, good and bad. Sounds like they've got a sense of humor, too, so hey, might be fun!

Manga: Lost in Translation
5:30-6:30pm, Room 3
Stick around for another hour in the same room for a panel discussion about the perils of manga translation, with a whole bunch of seasoned pros attending, including Jonathan Tarbox, Mari Morimoto, Mark Simmons, Julie Davis and a repeat performance by Jason Thompson. You'll probably also meet every other manga fan at the convention in this room.

Bandai Entertainment
6:30-7:30pm, Room 3
Bandai's here and they might have some announcements. Show up and find out.

The Wonderful World of Computer Games in Japan
6:30-7:30pm, Room 32AB
This panel is apparently mostly about doujin games; they'll probably cover visual novels, dating sims, eroge and all that jazz. There's no moderator listed which means it's probably hosted by a fan, which means you're rolling the dice on how prepared they'll be. I've been informed that the moderator of this panel is Peter Payne, the guy who runs Jlist and JAST USA and all that, and he knows what he's Talking About... so if you're into this sort of thing, check it out.


Viz Media: Shonen Jump
10:30-11:30am, Room 10
The main event at this panel – which is exclusively about Shonen Jump so don't show up expecting them to talk about VIZ Signature titles – is that Stan Lee will be here to talk about his upcoming co-production, Ultimo. Expect to hear a bunch of Naruto DVD release dates and then they'll probably bring Lee out.

Disney Animation
12:45-2:15pm, Hall H
Line up early if you want to get in – like, a few hours early, maybe more - because the master himself, Hayao Miyazaki, is going to be in this room, chewing the fat with creative giants like John Lasseter and Ron Clements. This panel is moderated by comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, which just ups the awesome factor by about 10.

Viz Media: Anime and Manga
3:00-4:30pm, Room 32AB
Here's the usual VIZ panel for those of you looking for the one aimed at hardcore fans. It's 90 minutes, which is 40 minutes longer than usual, which means there might be a screening but it'll mostly be a recap of recent releases and some release date announcements. It's probably the most significant anime panel at the show, though, so you may not want to miss it.

Yen Press
5:30-6:30pm, Room 4
Kurt Hassler will be here to talk about what Yen Press has coming up. My spider-sense tells me there'll maybe probably just might be some license announcements, since manga companies usually do that sort of thing at Comic-con. They're also promising swag, so, you know, show up.


Women in Manga
11:00-12:00pm, Room 24A
This panel is focused on the contributions of women to the manga industry, in the realms of creation, publication, and fandom. Included at the table are Deb Aoki, JuYoun Lee and Leyla Aker.

Viz Media: IKKI
12:00-1:00pm, Room 3
Check out all the latest news about Viz's newest venture, the online manga destination sigikki.com. Be sure to ask how they plan to monetize it!

Adventures in Voice Acting
5:00-6:00pm, Room 30CDE
The usual Bang Zoom voice actor workshop, except this is Comic-con so they have people like Michele Rodriguez and Steve Blum rather than the usual stable of anime voice actors. Show up, find out about the world of voice acting and see some celebrities. It's win-win.

Del Rey Manga & Comics
5:30-6:30pm, Room 4
Looks like Del Rey has some new license announcements to make (at least according to the panel description) so you may want to be here for this (or, you know, just click on ANN during the panel's runtime). The always personable Dallas Middaugh will be there to answer your questions. They've got an upcoming comics project with Stephen King, too, so if you're a fan, check it out.


Dynamic Anatomy – Manga Style
10:00-11:00am, Room 30CDE
This is a drawing class being taught by a guy named Billy Martinez from “Neko Press”, which I Googled and it doesn't really look like manga or anything ever drawn in Japan, so maybe skip this one. He's not bad, but this ain't manga. Protip to professional artists: just slapping the name ‘manga’ on your art doesn't mean the kids are gonna think it's the hot new thing!

CMX Manga
11:00-12:00pm, Room 4
It's the CMX panel. They might make some announcements. Who knows? It's Sunday morning so you may be nursing your hangover instead.

Manga Art for Kids
1:00-2:00pm, Room 30CDE
Got kids? Want them to learn how to draw manga? Well, here you go. It's being run by the EigoMANGA people, so there's that.

Other Programming

For fans looking to relax with a little video, Comic-con has three rooms that do nothing but run anime 24 hours a day. They're located in rooms 24BC, 25AB and 25C, and the schedule seems to be pretty eclectic - there are a lot of new shows, like Romeo X Juliet, Tsubasa, and Rozen Maiden: Träumend, but then there's a lot of inexplicable, forgettable old stuff like Dan Doh!!, Zegapain and Steam Detectives. You can check out the full schedule here.

You may also have heard of the Ponyo screening happening downtown on Friday. Here's the skinny: show up as early as you possibly can to the Pacific Gaslamp 15 theater, which is at 5th avenue & G Street, up the street from the convention center. Doors at 7, and tickets are first come first serve. The reason everyone is making a big deal out of this is because not only is this the first real public chance to see the excellent Ponyo dub, but the film will be introduced by MIYAZAKI HIMSELF. So show up. Early. And if you get in, feel lucky. You can check out HitFix's info page on the screening right here.

And that's about it; make sure you drop by AAA Anime, Square Enix and Funimation's booths in the dealer's room, as well as all the other anime exhibitors that show up to this thing. See you at the convention!

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