This year, the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday, so Anime Expo 2012 is a bit earlier than usual this year. From Friday, June 29 through Monday, July 2, 2012, otaku, cosplayers, gamers and Lolita fashionistas from Southern California and points near and far will be making the LACC the place to be.
As always, AX has a full roster of guests from the worlds of anime, manga, gaming, J-Pop and J-Rock, including J-Pop sweetheart LiSA and metal heads Animetal USA, Japanese voice actors Ryo Horikawa and Rikiya Koyama, a creative team from anime studio Madhouse, the executive producer from Tiger and Bunny, a whole bunch of voice actors from North America, and acting as M.C. for the weekend, uber-otaku / blogger/dancing Stormtrooper Danny Choo.
THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2012
Thursday is "Day 0" of Anime Expo, as they kick things off with a red-carpet arrival of the special guests, starting at 6:00 pm, and the Opening Ceremonies starting at 7:00 pm in Hall G of the Los Angeles Convention Center.
FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012
Day One of Anime Expo will feature several industry panels, a "super secret VIZ Media Anime Project" panel at 2:00 pm, news of hot new anime releases from Right Stuf / Nozomi, FUNimation and Aniplex. Feel like some freebies? The Anime News Network crew will be givin' out prizes galore at their panel at 6:00 pm, and they'll be hosting a live version of their popular ANNCast podcast at 11:30 am. If you're feeling a little lonely on a Friday night, join the otaku singles at Anime Singled Out or "Super Epic Fun Time Love Love Dating Game Show", both at 9:00 pm (provided you're over 18, because they will card you at the door), or head to the AX Dance, which will keep the halls thumping from 10 pm - 2 am. If you're looking to do a little more headbanging, check out the Animetal USA concert at 5:30 pm.
- 11:00 am - 12:00 noon: The Cutting Edge of Anime/Manga Studies, LACC Room 501
Can you turn your interest in anime and manga into a college dissertation? See what this group of anime and manga scholars have to say as they talk about recent trends in otaku academia.
11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Anime News Network: ANNCast Live, LACC Room 502AB
Join ANN Editors Zac Bertschy, Justin Sevakis and their motley crew of regulars as they record the next episode of the ANNCast podcast. Hilarity is sure to ensue!
- 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: Why Do We Try So Hard? The Goal of Anime & Manga Studies (Roundtable Discussion), LACC Room 501
Join a roundtable of anime and manga scholars as they talk about their trials and tribulations in the halls of academia as they try to turn their interest in Japanese pop culture into advanced degrees.
- 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: FUNimation Sneak Peek Panel, LACC Room 502AB
Check out what's new and coming soon from the FUNimation crew, as they spotlight recent and upcoming anime releases. You'll laugh, you'll gasp, you'll line up and ask them questions they can't answer like "When are you going to license [insert title here]?"
- 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Super Secret VIZ Media Anime Project, Petree Hall (Hall C/D)
See what VIZ Media execs will unveil at what they're promising will be "the biggest development in anime this year." What could it be? Your guess is as good as mine, but whatever it is, it should be very interesting! UPDATE: Could it be this?
- 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Aniplex of America Industry Panel, Petree Hall (Hall C/D)
They brought you anime hits like Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Blue Exorcist -- so what do the folks at Aniplex of America have up their sleeves in the months to come? Come to this panel and find out before everyone else!
- 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm: Crunchyroll Panel, LACC Room 515A
The Crunchyroll crew will be announcing their next batch of simulcast anime hits, and will be holding a "supported device giveaway," which could mean anything from an iPad to... uh, I don't know what else.
- 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm: Right Stuf / Nozomi Entertainment Industry Panel, LACC Room 502AB
See what the RightStuf / Nozomi Entertainment crew will unveil at their industry panel , as they spotlight recent and upcoming anime releases. Mayhaps some surprises are in store? Be there and find out!
- 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm: Anime News Network, LACC Room 515A
Join ANN Editors Zac Bertschy, Justin Sevakis and probably a bunch of the ANN writers, editors and reviewers as they take your questions about the anime/manga industry, and if past ANN panels are any indication, they'll probably have lots of schwag to give away too. Come for the goodies, stay for the laughs and the punditry.
- 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Adventures in Teaching: "The History of Manga", LACC Room 501
Given that the peeps at Anime Expo haven't really provided descriptions of the panels they've posted on their schedule, I can only make some educated guesses about what this panel will be about. Will it be an overview of the history of manga, or will it be about the trials and tribulations of teaching the history of manga? Seriously, your guess is as good as mine.
- 9:00 pm - 12:00 am: Anime Singled Out! [18+] LACC 502AB
Let's face it -- being a hardcore otaku doesn't exactly make it easy to hook up with that special someone who understands your passion for all things anime/manga/gaming. There's only so much fun you can have with dating SIM games and that giant hug pillow with Haruhi Suzumiya in bunny ears isn't going to send you cute text messages that put a silly grin on your face. So here's your chance to find true(?) love and have some fun too. Bring your IDs kiddies, because they won't let you in unless you can prove that you're 18 or older.
SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 2012
Saturday is usually the busiest day at AX, and sure enough, it's packed with activities, guest appearances, special events and concerts from morning 'til night, and an almost full day of anime music video fun. So chug a few bottles of "5 Hour Energy" and get ready for a full day of fun.
- 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Pray for Japan Film Screening, LACC Film/Hybrid Concourse
Watch a screening of Stu Levy's documentary about the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and the recovery efforts in thed days after the disaster that struck Japan in March 2011.
- 10:00 am - 11:00 am: eigoMANGA in 2012, LACC Room 502AB
The eigoManga crew will be on hand to talk about their new and upcoming releases in comics, games and animated films.
- 10:00 am - 11:00 am: Hobby to Pro Workshop with Camilla d'Errico, LACC Room 515A
In this panel geared toward aspiring artists, comics creator and illustrator Camilla d'Errico will talk about how you can go from drawing for fun to making it into a career.
- 11:00 am - 1:30 pm: How to Draw Manga Characters Workshop with Ushio Kawada from Samurai Manga Workshop, LACC Room 501
Japanese manga artist Ushio Kawada will be joined by Felipe Smith (Peepo Choo) as he gives a hands-on workshop on drawing manga characters. Kawada is also one of the teachers who gives pay-per-view video tutorials on Samurai Manga Workshop's website. Since this is a hands-on workshop where attendees will be given the opportunity to draw, attendance will be limited, so if you want to check this out, do come early.
- 11:00 am - 12:00 noon: E-manga: The New Style of Manga, LACC Room 515A
Japanese voice actor Ryo Horikawa (Vegeta from Dragon Ball) will be talking about manga. I don't exactly know how this is a new style of manga, or if this has anything to do with Digital Manga Publishing's eManga.com website. Perhaps someday, we'll get our hands on some panel descriptions so I wouldn't have to make up stuff to write here.
- 12:00 noon - 1:30 pm: VIZ Media Presents: The Tiger and Bunny Panel, LACC Petree Hall
Tiger and Bunny Executive Producer Masayuki Ozaki, along with voice actors, Yuri Lowenthall (Barnaby Brooks Jr. / Bunny), Travis Willingham (Rock Bison), Laura Bailey (Dragon Kid), Patrick Seitz (Sky High), John Eric Bentley (Fire Emblem) and Tara Platt (Agnes) will be on hand to talk about the upcoming release of Tiger and Bunny on DVD, and perhaps share some behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this super-powered action/drama anime series.
- 1:30 noon - 2:30 pm: SUNRISE Official Panel, LACC Petree Hall
Execs and creative staff from SUNRISE animation studio in Japan (the peeps you brought you Gundam and much more) will be on hand to talk about their current and upcoming releases.
- 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Aniplex of America Presents the Madoka Magica Panel, LACC Petree Hall
Now that one of the most talked about anime releases of the past year is out on DVD, the folks from Aniplex are here to get you pumped up about this magical girl anime for grown-ups.
- 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm: Tiger and Bunny Autograph Session, LACC South Hall Autograph Area
Meet and greet Tiger and Bunny Executive Producer Masayuki Ozaki, and voice actors, Yuri Lowenthall (Barnaby Brooks Jr. / Bunny), Travis Willingham (Rock Bison), Laura Bailey (Dragon Kid), Patrick Seitz (Sky High), John Eric Bentley (Fire Emblem) and Tara Platt (Agnes), and get your Tiger and Bunny gear signed too, while you're at it.
- 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm: Anime Bloggers/Podcasters Town Hall, LACC Room 501
There's bound to be a whole bunch of anime/manga journalists, bloggers, pundits and podcasters attending Anime Expo this weekend, so why not give them a forum to discuss things that anime bloggers, pundits and podcasters want to talk about? Hopefully, it'll be more than complaining about WordPress, but well... we'll see, won't we?
- 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm: FUNimation IndustryPanel, LACC Room 502AB
So you say you missed the FUNimation sneak peek panel on Friday? Here's your chance to see what's new and coming soon from FUNimation, and participate in the ever-popular Q&A, where you get to wheedle the FUNi folks about the titles you love (and love to hate). Whee!
- 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm: Let Us Tell You About Homestuck, LACC Room 501
If you've been to an anime or comics show in the past two years, you've likely seen cosplayers in grey make-up with colored horns and t-shirts with astrological signs on 'em. No, it's not from any anime or manga -- it's from a hugely popular webcomic series called Homestuck, a.k.a. MS Paint Adventures by Andrew Hussie. I've asked around, and it seems you either get Homestuck, or you don't. If you want to figure out why it's so popular, check out this panel, or read this "Homestuck for Dummies" article at Project Ballad.
- 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Copic Workshop, LACC Room 501
Just for manga artists: learn the finer points of using these versatile color markers from Japan from the pros who know it best, the Copic crew.
- 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm: TOKYOPOP, Past, Present & Future, LACC Room 501
They're baaaack -- well, kind of. Now that TokyoPop has announced plans to publish Hetalia and Bizenghast as part of a partnership with RightStuf, enquiring fans want to know -- what's next? Join TokyoPop head honcho Stu Levy and editor Daniella Orihuela-Gruber as they reveal their plans for reviving TokyoPop's manga operations in a very different way than before.
- 9:30 pm - 10:30 pm: Eromanga: The Good, the Bad, & the WTF, LACC Room 515A
It's Anime Expo after dark, and that means it's time for the 'adults-only' events. This time, the focus is on "eromanga," which is short for "erotic manga." Given the subject matter, the squeamish, the easily offended, and especially the attendees under 18 need not drop by. Yes, you'll be carded, so don't whine 'I forgot my ID in my other wallet' at the door -- it just won't cut it here.
- 9:00 am - 11:00 am: How to Draw Manga Characters Workshop with Ushio Kawada from Samurai Manga Workshop, LACC Room 501
Missed Saturday's session with Japanese manga artist Ushio Kawada? You have another chance today to take this hands-on workshop on drawing manga characters. Kawada is also one of the teachers who gives pay-per-view video tutorials on Samurai Manga Workshop's website. Since this is a hands-on workshop where attendees will be given the opportunity to draw, attendance will be limited, so if you want to check this out, do come early.
- 10:00 am - 11:00 am: AX Guest of Honor Spotlight: GoFA (Gallery of Fantastic Art), LACC Petree Hall
Meet the peeps behind the display of amazing original artwork by top artists from Japan, and learn about who they are, how they represent artists, and why you should pick up some of these pieces for your home. Not at AX this year? You can get a taste of GoFA's offerings at their website.
- 11:00 am - 12:00 noon: How to Draw Manga & Portfolio Review with eigoMANGA, LACC Room 501
eigoMANGA artists and editors will be on hand to "teach the fundamentals of manga illustration and storytelling," and later, give critiques to aspiring artists, so bring your portfolio with art samples to show, if you dare.
- 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm: Objection! Anime, the Law & Fandom, LACC Room 515A
In an age when anime (and manga) fans have a fairly sketchy grasp of copyright law, it seems only fair to have a panel that explores the grey areas, and some black and white areas too, where the law and anime fandom collide.
- 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm: VIZ Media Industry Panel, LACC Room 515A
Get sneak peeks at other upcoming anime and manga series, as well as news on newly licensed properties from VIZ Media Panel. Also, stick around for the giveaways and the ever-popular Q&A session after all of the announcements.
- 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm: Right Stuf / Nozomi Entertainment Premiers, LACC Room 515A
See what's new and cool and coming soon from the folks at Right Stuf / Nozomi Entertainment. See clips from upcoming releases and hear first about hot coming attractions.
- 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm: Anime Expo Fashion Show, LACC Room Petree Hall
Attention fashionistas! Join MCs Misako Aoki and Danny Choo as they present flashy and fabulous styles straight from Japan, as created and worn by dolldelight, Galaxxxy & Kapi-Bara-San, and see a performance by KYOKA too.
- 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm: Naruto Shippuden: Dreamers Fight - Live Action Film Premiere, LACC Room Petree Hall
See the U.S. premiere of this new Naruto film before almost anyone else in North America.
- 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm: Shonen Jump Fan Meet-Up, LACC Room 515A
Meet the Shonen Jump Alpha editors and hang out with fellow fans at this fun fan meet-up. Get there early, so you can get one of the schwag-filled gift bags that they'll be handing out, and be ready to answer some Shonen Jump trivia to win some swank prizes.
- 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm: One Piece Podcast Panel, LACC Room 411
Join the One Piece Podcast crew as they talk about the latest developments in Eiichiro Oda's high seas adventure manga, and take your questions too.
- 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm: ComiPo! Manga Creation Software, LACC Room 411
See a demo of this comic creation software from Japan, and find out how it can even help the artistically-challenged create comics.
- 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Supporting & Expanding Anime & Manga Studies, LACC Room 501
Interested in anime/manga studies in academia? Join this discussion group as they talk about leveraging their interest in Japanese pop culture into an advanced degree.
- 8:00 pm - 12:00 am: Anime Expo Masquerade, LACC Hall G
Anime Expo attracts some top-notch cosplayers, and the Masquerade is where many bring their A-game to compete for acclaim and prizes. Doors open at 7:00 for this very popular event, so get there early if you want to check it out.
- 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Blue Exorcist Podcast Presents: Fandubbing a Manga, LACC Room 515B
I'm not exactly sure what "fandubbing a manga" means, but check out this panel if you love Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato and find out for yourself.
SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2012
It's day 3 of Anime Expo, and there's still lots to see and do. VIZ Media will be making some announcements at their panel at 1:30. There will also be a Shonen Jump fan meet-up event at 5 pm, and the ever-popular AX Masquerade at 8 pm. Here's the rest of the highlights of the day.
MONDAY, JULY 2, 2012
It's day 4 of Anime Expo, which is on the awfully awkward day of Monday, which isn't a holiday because the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this year. So if you aren't due back at school or your day job, here's what's worth seeing and doing on this, the final day of Anime Expo.
- 10:00 am - 11:00 am: PacSet Tours, LACC Room 515A
Dreaming of going to Japan someday? Your dream is just a little bit more accessible thanks to PacSet Tours, a otaku-friendly tour company that offers guided trips to Japan for budgets small and even smaller. With their monthly payment plans and low-cost travel options for adventurers, there's a PacSet tour for your needs. Find out about upcoming tours and how you can join them on a future trip to the land of the Rising Sun.
- 10:00 am - 11:00 am: "Winds from the East: Cross-currents of manga/anime and Hollywood and the future of non-Japanese manga/anime production", LACC Room 501
Again, without a panel description to really go by, I can only guess what this panel is about, and who'll be speaking here. You'll just have to go by the title and if you do go, let me know how it went.
Also worth checking out in the Exhibit Hall:
- eigoManga - #1149- See what's new from this publisher/distributor of comics, games and anime.
- Digital Manga Publishing - #1330 - Save big on manga, plus get first crack at some of DMP's latest releases weeks before they'll hit your local comics shop
- VIZ Media - #1401 - Get sci-fi samplers from Haikasoru, posters and take a photo with your favorite VIZ characters.
- NETComics - #301 - Score some sweet deals on manga and manhwa from this online/print publisher. Do yourself a favor and pick up the Tomoko Yamashita manga like Dining Bar Akira and Black-Winged Love. They are awesome.
- Vertical Inc. - #224 - Vertical is giving away 50 very special Chi's Sweet Home posters each day.
- Manga University - Learn to speak Japanese the Manga University way, with entertaining and educational books for learners of all levels.
- Media Blasters - Getcher red hot smut, imported movies and much more! Bring your ID if you want to buy the extra saucy stuff. Just saying.
- Namco Bandai Games America - See what's happening with the world of ShiftyLook, the new webcomics based on classic games you love.
- Right Stuf Inc. - Looking for the latest anime or manga release that everyone's talking about? Visit the Right Stuf booth to get your fix of fun.
Artist, Illustrators, and Comics Creators
Also, look for booths featuring our friends from Anime News Network, Kinokuniya Bookstores, Mighty Fine, Crunchyroll and much more. Have a great AX!
Image credits: © 1992-2010 Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), © Anime News Network, © VIZ Media, © SUNRISE / T&B Partners, © Shueisha, © Pray for Japan Partners