Anime Expo 2012
Opening Ceremonies

by Bamboo Dong,

Although Anime Expo does not officially start until Friday, June 29, the convention kicked things off a day early with the Opening Ceremonies, which were held Thursday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Emceed by AX Live host Courtney Kraft and blogger Danny Choo, the event allowed attendees lucky enough to successfully brave the long pre-registered badge pick-up lines a chance to see the Guests of Honor introduce themselves and interact with the audience.

After a brief introduction from Kraft and Choo, the ceremonies started with an opening statement by Anime Expo Chairman of the Board of Directors Takayuki Karahashi, a role typically reserved for the SPJA CEO. In his introduction, he mentioned that he was also one of four co-chairs of this year's convention, a statement that insinuates a restructuring of the organization. Notably, up until this point, Anime Expo has not had an official con-chair, but the position has been effectively held by the CEO, the director of operations and the director of programming. Anime Expo later confirmed to ANN that Marc Perez, who became acting CEO in 2010, and shortly afterward the appointed CEO, is absent from the event due to medical reasons.

The Opening Ceremonies continued with brief introductions from many of the guests of honor, including voice actors from both Japan and the United States, like Ryo Horikawa of Dragon Ball fame and Rikiya Koyama, whose recent projects included Fate/Zero and Gundam UC, as well as several members of the English voice cast for the upcoming Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Other guests included musical guests like Animetal USA, fashion designers and icons like Cyril Lumboy and Misaki Aoki, as well as production talent, such as the Madhouse creative team behind Chihayafuru.

Some of the guests received especially rowdy audience receptions, including voice talent Steve Blum, whose resume includes roles like Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, Orochimaru from Naruto, as well as Amon from the ongoing Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Also well-received was singer LiSA, whose recently released album includes the hit single “Oath Sign,” the opening theme from Fate/Zero. Last to be introduced was famed composer Yuki Kajiura, who has composed the soundtracks for many properties such as Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and the Garden of Sinners movie series.

Closing the event, Kajiura was invited back to the stage to draw the first eye on a daruma doll, which symbolizes the official start of the convention.

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