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Otakon 2010
Opening Ceremonies

by Gia Manry,

Otakon 2010's opening ceremonies were launched with a reel running through Otakon's special guests: Home Made Kazoku, Vic Mignogna, Jerry Jewell, Maile Flanagan, my Howard Wilson, J. Michael Tatum, the Yoshida Brothers, H. Naoto, Patrick Seitz, Todd Haberkorn, Masamo Maruyama, Christopher Bevins, YOSHIKI and Sugizo, Kanon, Stephanie Sheh, director Koji Masunori, producer Tomonori Ochikoshi, Masashi Ishihama, Yūji Mitsuya, Scott Freeman, Takamasa Sakurai, Peter S. Beagle, Felipe Smith, Hiroaki Yura, Hiroki Kikuta, Shihori, and Michael Sinterniklaas.

Following the video presentation came a video from the Yoshida Brothers, featuring the two playing their song "KODO" on a pair of shamisen, traditional Japanese instruments. The song was featured in a commercial for Nintendo's Wii video game console in 2006.

After the presentation, an apology was issued to guest Clarine Harp, who was not included in the video of guests.

Jim Vowles of the Guest Relations department began bringing up guests starting with those who have panels, starting with Takamasa Sakurai, who pronounced that he is and loves otaku. Next came AnCafe's Kanon, who also offered a hello.

Next came the Yoshida Brothers, who hoped that Otakon attendees would enjoy their concert in the evening. Vowles noted that they have spent most of their time rehearsing so far. Another musical guest, Home Made Kazoku, was presented next. MC Mikuro presented MC Kuro and DJ Yuichi, as well as conducting a call/response of "OTAKON," to be responded with "ICHIBAN" by the audience (roughly this translates to "Otakon is #1!"). Mikuro then sang the hook to Bleach theme "Thank You!!!" MC Kuro proved to be fluent in English and requested that fans enjoy their concert on Sunday.

Vowles then announced the Madhouse guests, who were scheduled to panels opposite the opening ceremonies, with the exception of seiyuu Yūji Mitsuya, who came up to the stage. Mitsuya has been a voice actor for 35 years, and included over 150 roles, including those in Dragon Ball Z. He has also been working as recording director on titles like YuGiOh, and runs a voice acting school as well. On the side, he also writes boys love drama CDs, and is active in Japanese musicals, including writing the Saint Seiya and Prince of Tennis musicals.

The next "victim," as Vowles joked, was voice actor Vic Mignogna, followed by voice actress Amy Howard Wilson, Starblazers' Nova.

The Madhouse guests were able to make it to the panel after all, Masao Maruyama and director Hiroshi Koujina. Maruyama expressed pleasure at returning to Otakon again, while Koujina called Baltimore "great." Vowles presented Maruyama, who was honorary staff in 2009, with a new badge for 2010.

Hiroaki Yura, from the musical group Eminence, speaks English and was therefore the representative for the group, which included Hiroki Kikuta (composer for the video game Secret of Mana) and singer/songwriter Shihori, who composes music for Nana Mizuki and has also worked for Yoko Kanno. Vowles noted that they produced the music for this year's Otakon opening animation.

Vowles announced that the remaining guests on the list were all busy with other panels and events, and apologized: due to a power outage and other problems in Tokyo, many of the Japanese guests arrived late. Vowles passed the mic to con chair Sean Chiochakitmun, who lead a remembrance of those who have passed away over the last year: long-time Otakon volunteer John Scofield, Robotech producer Carl Macek, and Speed Racer voice actor/director Peter Fernandez.

Chiochakitmun then welcomed the audience to Otakon 2010 and acknowledged the staff's contributions along with the audience, requested that attendees not run, shower, and drink water, and then came Otakon 2010's opening animation, created by Production I.G and directed by Nekomataya.

It was then announced that Shihori would perform several songs, including the song from the opening video titled "Shackles of the Night," for which she would be backed by the Baltimore-based teen band School of Rock. Between Shihori's first two songs, Hiroaki Yura played a song composed by Kikuta on the violin.

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