Sakuracon 2015 Wrap-up: News, Cosplay and Moreby The Anime News Network Editorial Team,
The Pacific Northwest's largest anime convention returned to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle on Easter weekend this year from April 3-5. Organized by the Asia-Northwest Cultural Education Association (ANCEA), the event drew close to 23,000 individuals or a turnstile attendance of approximately 60,000.
Guests for Sakura-con 2015 included American voice actors Vic Mignogna, Bryce Papenbrook, Johnny Yong Bosch, Rachel Robinson, David Vincent, and Christopher Bevins as well as Japanese voice actors Sumi Shimamoto (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke), Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Sword Art Online, Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma, SAEKANO: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend), Haruka Terui (Engaged to the Unidentified, Yuki Yuna is a Hero), Kanako Kondou (BlazBlue Alter Memory), and Kana Ueda (Fate/stay night, Freezing, A Certain Scientific Railgun S).
The convention also brought guests from fan-favorite franchises like Sword Art Online II producer Shinichiro Kashiwada, Chain Chronicle character designer Hiromi Kato, Kill la Kill theme song performers GARNiDELiA, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt animator Osamu Kobayashi, BlazBlue game franchise creator Toshimichi Mori, Steins;Gate singer Kanako Itou, Attack on Titan animation director Katsuhiko Kitada and action animator director Arifumi Imai, Silver Spoon and The Rolling Girls director Kotomi Deai, and Max Factory founders Makoto "Max" Watanabe and Masaki Asai.
Despite a forecast of rain, and this being Seattle after all, the weekend was dry and even warm at times despite the brisk morning winds.
Opening ceremonies was book-ended by performances from OKK Taiko, who offered Japanese dance accompanied by drumming, and Mary Mariko's Kabuki Academy with its shamisen and vocal cover of "Let It Go" from Frozen. Director and actor Christopher Bevins introduced the guests one at a time, with most Japanese guests coming on to introduce themselves, but one of the biggest crowd-pleasers was the Consul General of Japan in Seattle, Masahiro Omura. He appeared with his staff in full samurai armor, and thanked audiences for a chance to wear "something fun" to work instead of a suit.
Aniplex of America
Aniplex USA took the opportunity to go over its current streaming titles and upcoming releases. The company did let one big cat out of the bag by bringing Sword Art Online II producer Shinichiro Kashiwada to the front to announce a new anime adaptation, before its announcement in Japan. Kashiwada introduced a trailer revealing Yuu Miyazaki and okiura's The Asterisk War: The Academy City of the Water (Gakusen Toshi Asterisk) light novel series will get a television anime adaptation this fall by A-1 Pictures. Manabu Ono will serve as general director, Kenji Seto as director, and Tetsuya Kawakami will design the characters.
Aniplex of America also hosted the premiere of the first three episodes of Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works' second season at Sakura-Con.
Pony Canyon USA
Pony Canyon USA (PonyCan) might be a newcomer both to Sakura-Con and anime localization in the States, but the parent company has produced anime, music, and movies since 1966. The company was pushing its two premiere properties, the magical girl show Yuki Yuna is a Hero and the comedy Denki-Gai, as well as its upcoming products for the year. Yuki Yuna is a Hero got its English dub premiere at Sakura-Con with the first reveal of its dub cast stars:
- Xanthe Huynh as Yuna Yuki
- Erika Harlacher as Mimori Togo
- Erica Mendez as Fu Inubozaki
- Brianna Knickerbocker as Itsuki Inubozaki
- Sarah Anne Williams as Karin Miyoshi
- Carrie Keranen as teacher
- Kira Buckland and Johanna Luis as students
PonyCan also announced its plans to localize the following shows this year:
- Sound! Euphonium (now streaming)
- Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers (July 2015)
- Lance N' Masques (2015)
- Garakowa (Vitreous Flower & Destroy the World) film (2015)
The North American manga and light novel publisher got excited fans going during its panel on Saturday when it announced both Yowamushi Pedal and Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun manga are heading to the states. That wasn't the only announcement Yen Press had up their sleeve. Overall the company announced 13 titles slated for release in either print or digital venues.
- Yowamushi Pedal by Wataru Watanabe (print)
- Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki (print)
- Sakura no Himegoto by Akira Hagio (print)
- Dragon's Rioting by Tsuyoshi Watanabe (print)
- Aldnoah.Zero Season One by Olympus Knights and Pinakes (print)
- Handa-Kun by Satsuki Yoshino (digital)
- Today's Kerberos by Ato Sakurai (digital)
- Shut-In Shoutarou Kominami Takes on the World by Dan Ichikawa (digital)
- Servant X Service by Karino Takatsu (digital)
- Unknown by Tsumuji Yoshimura (digital)
- When a Magician's Pupil Smiles by Chisaki Kanai (digital)
- The Royal Tutor by Higasa Akai (digital)
- Scarlet Empire by Hanjiro Tsukioka and Hikaru Tanaka (digital)
Funimation unveiled the dub cast for its home video release of Danganronpa: The Animation television anime. The series is based on Spike Chunsoft's murder-mystery video games. NIS America released the game series in North America, but Funimation is replacing much of the cast for its anime release. The show stars:
- Greg Ayres as Monokuma
- Bryce Papenbrook as Makoto Naegi
- Felecia Angelle as Aoi Asahina
- Lindsay Seidel as Celestia Ludenwerg
- Jamie Marchi as Junko Enoshima
- Kara Edwards as Chihiro Fujisaki
- Carli Mosier as Toko Fukawa
- Christopher Bevins as Yasuhiro Hagakure
- Austin Tindle as Kyotaka Ishimaru
- Caitlin Glass as Kyoko Kirigiri
- Justin Cook as Leon Kuwata
- Monica Rial as Sayaka Maizono
- Rachel Robinson as Sakura Ohgami
- Christopher R. Sabat as Mondo Owada
- Josh Grelle as Byakuya Togami
- Tyson Rinehart as Hifumi Yamada
The company also announced its plans to stream the Ultimate Otaku Teacher anime series and the Love:Redux live-action series.
Saturday's industry panels came to a close with video game and visual novel localization company Sekai Project panel at 9 p.m. Staff remarked that when they held their first panel at Sakura-Con, only five people were in attendance; all of which were friends of the staff. This year's panel had a larger turn-out by far, thanks to the company gaining traction with more fan-favorite properties like Clannad and The Fruit of Grisaia.
The company's biggest announcement was that Spice & Wolf light novel author Isuna Hasekura will be a special guest of Sekai Project's at this year's Anime Expo in Los Angeles from July 2-5. The staff commented that despite Hasekura rarely attending such events, the author was impressed with the support for the three-part visual novel game World End Economica.
The company also announced it will release:
- Machina of the Planet Tree -Planet Ruler (Seiju no Kishin) role-playing game by Denneko Yugi
- Shizuku no Oto horror game
- November Boy Korean boys-love mystery adventure game by Team ANAGO
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