Anime Expo Days 3 and 4 | We truly are FIGHTING DREAMERS

We sure as hell ended the convention with a bang! Watch the video above and check out the text recap after the jump.

It’s a bit late, but here’s the day three and four recap post! Day three was by far our busiest day, with both of us hitting numerous panels, whereas day four was, well, slow as hell. That was good though, we were happy to finally have a bit of a break where we could leisurely stroll around the convention.

Day three I ran around like a man with a mission… probably because I had one. The first panel for me was What is Anime Consortium Japan? For me this was right at the top of my most anticipated panels list, mostly because Anime Consortium Japan (henceforth ACJ) is in a very unique position to control how anime makes it to the West. This panel had an audience of about 20, and that’s being generous enough to include the industry members in attendance. You’d think the panel for the company with the two biggest banners at the convention would have more interest.

But I digress. The panel started off with one of the representatives from the US branch of ACJ explaining that ACJ us a sort of conglomerate/joint venture between a lot of Japanese entertainment companies including but not limited to: Bandai Namco, Cool Japan, Aniplex, Toei, Goodsmile Company, and Kadokawa. He then introduced the panelists: The CEO, another executive officer, and a staff writer/translator. From there the panel can easily be split into three sections.

First up, the CEO talked about Daisuki. While Daisuki has been around for roughly four years, he explained, ACJ entered the scene about a year and four months ago. While Daisuki mainly functions as a streaming site it also brokers licensing deals due to its obvious closeness with Japanese publishers.

The big takeaways from this part were two streaming announcements (Love Live! Sunshine!! and Tales of Zestiria the X) and the announcement of a premium service for Daisuki. While they didn’t out and say it, it feels like they’re consciously avoiding competition with Funimation and Crunchyroll in this arena by focusing on catalog titles more than simulcasting. The service goes into beta later this month for $5 per month with a catalog full of Gundam Wing, SeedSeed Destiny all subbed and dubbed) as well as some really cool never before licensed titles like The Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene.

For the second topic they brought out the CEO of Lantis, one of the largest music publishers in Japan. He spoke at length about the music events they put on in combination with ACJ under the Anison World Matsuri banner. Soon after he talked about the burgeoning market for anime music in Japan and how one of his personal missions as CEO is to spread their music throughout the whole world. He seemed very spirited, and as someone who is constantly on the brink of bankruptcy thanks to the price of importing CDs, I rather liked the guy!

Finally, the third part of their panel was about Anime Now, ACJ’s new anime news website. Sarah Nelkin ran this part of the panel, stressing that they will not, in any way, give preference to news related to their own properties, despite being owned by ACJ. However, since the writers are in the heart of Tokyo and have connections, they promise a lot of reporting from things like premières, seiyuu events, and other things English speaking anime sites don’t often have access to. Right now Anime Now looks pretty barren (considering it’s made of one editor and one staff writer I think that’s pretty forgivable at this point) but the content they do have is pretty top-notch.

They wrapped their panel up nicely by reiterating that the three parts of ACJ are Daisuki, Anison World Matsuri, and Anime Now. To finish on a strong (albeit pretty corny) note they said their company goal is “to make your anime lives better.” They’re certainly in a good position to do so, I hope they make good on it!

Following the ACJ panel was the Bones with Masahiko Minami panel, Minami being the founder and CEO of the animation studio Bones. This panel was hosted by Crunchyroll and more or less walked us through Minami’s history in the animation industry, well Minami himself peppered it with details. Because Bones is such an influential studio in the West (and Japan!) and Minami has been such an integral part of anime in the West, I’ve decided to write a separate blog post for that panel. It should go up some time late this week.

While I was in this panel Marc waited in line for the premiere of Makoto Shinkai’s new feature length film Your Name. He also attended the Production I.G. and FLCL2 panels before we met up again for TRIGGER. Please watch our recap video for more information on the movie (it’s real good!) and those two panels.

TRIGGER is definitely one of the major reasons I keep going back to Anime Expo and they delivered once again. Their guests this time consisted of Yoneyama Mai, Iwasaki Shouta, sushio, Wakabayashi, Tattun, and Koyama Shigeto. The panel was unusually well-structured considering this is TRIGGER we’re talking about. They walked through both of their Spring shows, Kiznaiver and Luluco, giving a lot of cool insight to who did what where and providing playful banter along the way. We talk at length about this portion of the panel in our recap video so be sure to give that a listen up above.

It wouldn’t be a TRIGGER panel at Anime Expo without some Little Witch Academia. While this year they might not have made a crossover with Inferno Cop, they did let us see some LWA2 sketches. Wakabayashi purportedly snuck onto Yoshinari’s computer to bring us a load of character, scene, and background mock-ups and it is looking real pretty. On top of the sneak peek at the artwork they also let us know that it is schedule for worldwide release via Netflix. We do not, however, know whether this is just the release platform or if they’re funding/involved in development at this time. My only worry with this news is whether we’ll be getting the “Netflix release” treatment as well with the entirety of the show dropping at once. Personally I prefer the weekly release schedule as it is more conducive to conversation online.

Unfortunately we had to bail out of the TRIGGER panel as soon as the Q&A session started. Due to the aforementioned population and line issues the panel started nearly half an hour late; which in turn caused it to run into the Battle of the Bands between Flow and OLDCODEX. Both of these J-rock bands are known (in the US anyway) primarily for their work on anime openings and endings. OLDCODEX can be heard in recent anime like Free, KuroBas, and this season’s Servamp while Flow can be heard in anime as far back as early Naruto and Eureka 7.

Battle of the Bands may have been a bit of a silly name for the show, seeing as it was more or less OLDCODEX opening for Flow with DJ Kazu playing a short set in-between. There’s not too much to really say about the show other than it was pretty freakin’ great. Both bands seemed incredibly gracious to the crowd and their interactions with the GA crowd were a certain highlight. Despite being the definition of a non-Naruto-fan I have to say the best part was Flow doing an extended rendition of GO!! (Fighting Dreamers). The whole crowd changed their penlights to orange in honor of everyone’s favorite subtle ninja and went insane for it.

Day four, as is tradition, had almost nothing going on. It’s a good day to laze around and make one last lap around the exhibition hall and maybe go to a low-key panel. For me, that low-key panel was “Kadokawa is here!”, hosted once again by Crunchyroll. Similar to the ACJ panel it was more or less an explanation of what Kadokawa is (one of the “big four” publishers in Japan) followed by a short list of announcements.

Of special note in this panel was a third special panelist from Yen Press. Yen Press started as a publishing arm of Hachette specializing in Japanese media until Kadokawa themselves decided to buy a majority share. These days they’re 51% Kadokawa and 49% Hachette owned, granting them rights to all Kadokawa published light novels and manga (excepting those that were licensed before they exist of course). While the Yen Press representative announced some cool things (Erased box set!) perhaps the most interesting bit from the panel was that light novels, counter to “common industry knowledge” are actually incredibly lucrative right now. On a similar licensing note, due to an output deal Crunchyroll has was Kadokawa, they will be streaming all Kadokawa properties through the end of 2016.

That wrapped up a hugely successful Anime Expo for all of us, and I believe all of the companies attending the convention. Wait - hold on, I also ate a 1.5lb Fatburger while wearing a Go Princess Precure shirt and as such now have my picture on the wall of the downtown LA Fatburger while wearing that shirt. THAT wrapped up a successful Anime Expo. I'd very much like to return next year, but I juuuust might be in Japan during that time. We'll have to wait and see!