FEATURE: Anime Expo Coverage, Day 1

Opening Ceremonies

I arrived in line for Opening Ceremonies at 9:15 AM, and when the ceremonies started at 10:50 (nearly an hour late, as it was supposed to start at 10:00 AM) I was seated near the back. According to the in-house publication, Anime Expo is expecting 10,000 fans to show up this year.

There were only a few cosplayers out this early, but there were numerous well-done designs. I counted no less than a half-dozen Sakura-chan's before the Opening Ceremonies finally went underway.

This is the 9th year of Anime Expo, and no less than 17 Guests of Honor were present. The fan favorite (by far) was Yu Watase, of Fushigi Yuugi fame. Unfortunately, time-constraints are preventing her from attending the entire convention.

The convention's honorary chairman is Akira Kamiya, "Iron Chef of Voice Talent" according to Jeff Okamoto.. and thus the largest US anime convention started!

Warner Brothers Panel

There weren't many industry panels today. Most of panels occur Saturday and Sunday. Warner Brothers, however, was an exception to this.

In addition to Mike Tatsugawa as moderator of the panel, the Vice President of Warner Brothers Animation and Chouji Murahama of Studio Gonzo were present. Instead of a regular "panel" about Warner Brothers, however, Mike Tatsugawa introduced the concept of "bridging" the US and Japanese companies, by showing the perspective of both the US and Japanese companies involved in production and distribution of anime.

Warner Brothers, unfortunately, said very little about future plans with both Pokémon and Cardcaptors. Instead, they said they've seen Pokémon's popularity slowly, but steadily decline, and they're looking for the new "hit" series.

Mr. Murahama mentioned that there has been an increase in the number of licensing and distribution offers from the USA as well as from other countries around the world.

When asked if there was any problem retaining the creativity of a series when it's licensed to a large company such as Warner Brothers, instead of a small company like ADV Films, Mr. Murahama said "Not at all."

When asked if there can (or will) be a resolution to the difficulties of censoring and broadcasting anime, both Warner Brothers and Studio Gonzo believe that problems will be solved by an easing of regulations (because the current generation is used to edgier video games and animation) as well as Japanese studios producing less objectionable content in their films.

Warner Brothers mentioned that throughout televised history, animation in primetime slots has not done well in America, with the exception of Fox's Simpsons and such.

One interesting thing Warner Brothers said was that it didn't seem to matter how much Japanese references were in the animation, that kids aren't looking at if it's located in "Japan" or "America".

After running a half hour overtime (Global A Entertainment didn't show up) the Warner Brothers "bridge" panel drew to a conclusion.

Escaflowne: The Movie

Sorry everyone. I promised a review of it today, but the anticipation for this movie was greater than I had even imagined, and I was unable to get a seat tonight.

I will try to watch it Saturday night and get a report up about it then.

Rumors in the halls, however, say this is a very good movie, one that is definately worth seeing again. As I left Anime Expo, the line for Escaflowne streched from the entrance to the theater, down a flight of stairs and across the hotel, ending several hundred feet outside the door.

Maison Ikkoku Panel

Viz says that a new MI tape should be available next month. However, DVDs of Maison Ikkoku will not be coming unless "sales pick up considerably.".

End Of Friday

And thus draws the conclusion to the first day of Anime Expo. Aside from the Warner Brothers panel, the only other major industry panels were the EX: Online Magazine panel, and the Anime on DVD panel. I missed both, unfortunately.

Tommorrow's panels include Pioneer, ADV Films, Media Blasters, Viz Communications, New Generation, and Bandai Entertainment.

One special note, a special thanks goes to the girl who was in line in front of me before the opening ceremonies. Without her generous donation of a pen, I wouldn't have been able to write any of this. Thank you!

-George Phillips

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