Category Archives: Events

‘A SILENT VOICE’ Celebrates 5th Anniv – AX Cinema Nights

A SILENT VOICE is celebrating its 5th anniversary with limited engagement screenings beginning on Wednesday, October 12th, at nearly 300 theatres, as part of AX Cinema Nights. Brought to you by Anime Expo, Iconic events & distributed by Eleven Arts, this partnership marks the next installment of AX Cinema Nights.

Based on the best-selling manga series by Yoshitoki Ōima, A SILENT VOICE is the poignant and moving story of Shōya Ishida, a school bully, and Shōko Nishimiya, a young girl with a hearing disability. Their story begins in sixth grade when Shōko transfers to Shōya’s elementary school and quickly finds herself bullied and isolated. Years later, the tables turn, and Shōya finds himself isolated and alone. A SILENT VOICE depicts the struggles and challenges of adolescence alongside coming of age outside the norm.

The film was produced by the acclaimed studio Kyoto Animation, directed by Naoko Yamada (K-On!, Tamako Market, ) and written by Reiko Yoshida, featuring music by Kensuke Ushio. The film grossed over $31.6 million worldwide and received a Best Animated Film nomination from the Japanese Film Academy upon its initial release in 2017.

The English dub cast includes renowned voice actors including Robbie Daymond (as Shoya Ishida), Lexi Marman Cowden (as Shoko Nishimiya), Kristen Sullivan (as Yuzuru Nishimiya), Graham Halstead (as Tomohiro Nagatsuka), Kira Buckland (as Naoka Ueno), Melissa Hope (as Miyoko Sahara), Amber Lee Connors (as Miki Kawai), Max Mittelman (as Satoshi Mashiba), Michael Sinterniklaas (as Kazuki Shimada), and Sara Cravens (as Miyoko Ishida).

AX Cinema Nights is an in-person movie event series celebrating the best new and classic anime films by bringing them to theaters across North America. Leveraging the brand power of Anime Expo, the largest Japanese culture event in North America, AX Cinema Nights brings passionate fans together for immersive and unforgettable community experiences.

Relive the experience by purchasing your tickets here.

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Anime Expo – SPINOFF CONVENTION COMING THIS NOVEMBER

During the closing ceremonies, the SJPA thanked all attendees for coming to Anime Expo 2022 and introduced the very first ‘anime expo ontario’ in California.

Introduced as “anime expo” (all lower case letters), a smaller-scale spinoff convention that will allow fans an additional opportunity to celebrate Japanese pop culture this November in Ontario, California.

Smaller-Scale “anime expo” Focused on Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley to
be Hosted at Ontario Convention Center November 12-13, 2022

The event, which will be focused primarily on the exhibit hall and artist alley experience, will take place November 12-13, 2022 at the Ontario Convention Center; ticket sales will be announced in the upcoming months.

“Seeing our Anime Expo family once per year simply isn’t enough, which is why we’re incredibly excited to bring the brand-new ‘anime expo’ event to Ontario, California,[. . .]Anime Expo 2022 was a success, and we look forward to carrying that positive momentum into this smaller-scale show that provides a unique, more intimate opportunity for fans of Japanese pop culture to come together a second time this year.”

– Ray Chiang, CEO of SPJA

The first in-person Anime Expo since 2019 welcomed fans back to the Los Angeles Convention Center with over 1,000 hours of programming, including Japanese musical guests SG5 and Travis Japan, renowned DJs Steve Aoki and TeddyLoid, and Guests of Honor including Studio MAPPA CEO Manabu Otsuka and JUJUTSU KAISEN Script Writer Hiroshi Seko, as well as Ranking of Kings Director Yosuke Hatta and Animation Producer Maiko Okada of WIT Studio; Mika Akitaka, the creator of Anime Expo’s iconic mascot, MAX, also joined in the festivities in honor of the event’s 31st year.

Anime Expo will once again return in-person to the Los Angeles Convention Center next year from July 1-4. Ticket sales for Anime Expo 2023 will be announced in fall 2022. Ray added,

“After three long years away from the Los Angeles Convention Center, it was incredibly important to all of us at SPJA that our community be welcomed home with a truly unforgettable convention experience and, thanks to all the participants–including exhibitors (small and big alike), artists, industry and sponsors–and the incredibly hard work and dedication shown by each and every volunteer and staff member, we’re proud to say that this year’s show not only met, but exceeded our expectations. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for next year!”

– Ray Chiang, CEO of SPJA
Los Angeles Convention Center two days before day zero

Anime Expo celebrated its 31st annual convention by returning to the Los Angeles Convention Center live and in-person, bringing together fans and industry professionals for the largest celebration of Japanese pop culture in North America. Hosted by The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), the sold-out four-day convention saw attendees from over 70 countries descend upon the city of Los Angeles to generate an estimated positive economic impact of over $100 Million for local hotels and businesses. Anime Expo fans that were unable to attend Anime Expo 2022 also had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of AX virtually through Anime Expo Lite through Twitch and YouTube.

For more updates on anime expo Ontario, visit the official Anime Expo website.

Ronin-Expo 2022 REturns & REscheduled!

For those following the anime convention scene in Los Angeles, CA; Ronin Expo announced earlier this year that had to postpone its June event until further notice due to changes in the venue’s service policies. Recently they announced that Ronin Expo has found a new venue within the Little Tokyo district.

Artist Ally at Ronin Expo 2018

Since 2017 Ronin-Expo is an Anime and Asian culture convention targeting both new and veteran convention-goers. The convention is designed to feel like an festival featuring artists, exhibitors, live performances, and guests of honors and special in-door panels. Past featured guests include voice actors, Sarah William, Reuben Langdon and Japanese anime director, Hiroshi Nagahama.

The event is now scheduled for August 13th, 2022 at its new home at The Terasaki Budokan Center in the Little Tokyo District, tickets are still available for purchase here. Special guests include voice actors, Mela Lee & Richard Epcar with performances by Origami Flagship, Ryujin Taiko & Burai.

Follow RONIN EXPO for more updates and announcements on updating panels, events and guests!

Review | Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis – Decide

Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> will premiere in the U.S. tomorrow, May 12th, in theatres as part of the first-ever AX Cinema Nights, a collaboration between Anime Expo, Eleven Arts, and Iconic events.

It’s important to note that there are two versions of the film, Decide and Glory; this review will cover Decide; there is no release date set for “Glory” as of the release of this review.

Debuting as the first CG film in the series, it serves as a bridge between the original manga series’ timeline and its sequel, which saw Ryoma leaving Japan for America for the US Open and then appearing at the All-Japan Junior Training Camp in Japan.

The film follows Ryoma Echizen, inspired by his tennis champion father Nanjirō Echizen, is determined to take his game to the next level and train in the US. But in the middle of an intense tennis battle to save his classmate Sakuno from “dangerous” villains, they somehow find themselves transported to the past, just as Ryoma’s father is about to face his final championship match at the US Open – when he was mysteriously forced to retire. Takeshi Konomi, The Prince of Tennis creator, oversaw the film’s production and wrote some of the music and lyrics for the featured songs.

Yes, this film has a few sporadic musical numbers (perhaps inspired from Musical: The Prince of Tennis) combined with its CG animation style making it feel like a Disney film or an episode of Miraculous Ladybug. Still, as sporadic musical numbers go, they are entertaining to watch. This film also makes for a great kid-friendly film and is perfect for introducing your kids to anime and The Prince of Tennis series. Although the film pays homage to the series’ comedic genre, it exaggerates, making the featured slap-stick comedy dull to older audiences. Like the original series, there is still tennis action on the court, mainly focusing on using tennis as a form of distraction; the real tennis action comes towards the end of the film with Nanjirō Echizen facing off an American character.

Throughout the film, there are major plot holes; for example, there is no explanation for the time travel nor an explanation as to why a particular character is seen in a wheelchair at the beginning but is completely fine throughout the film. These are only a few questions that seem to be unanswered; however, as mentioned above, this is only one version of the film; therefore, it’s safe to assume that any plot holes or questions may be answered in “Glory.” 

Overall, the film lives up to The Prince of Tennis legacy; it’s a unique take on The Prince of Tennis series and its characters and a concrete bridge between the US Open and U-17 Training camp gap. It’s a fun-packed, family-friendly film that will capture both old and new fans.

Experience the newest addition to The Prince of Tennis series and purchase your tickets HERE.

BELLE | Should You Watch It?

Mamoru Hosoda at Animation Is Film Festival 2021

Known for his emotionally touching and visually captivating films, such as Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Summer Wars, award-winning film director Mamoru Hosoda is back with his ninth film, BELLE.

Now playing in theaters, Belle is a modern adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast and could be considered a spiritual sequel to Hosoda’s 2009 film, Summer Wars, as it also deals with a virtual world.

Synopsis

The film starts with Suzu Naito (Voiced by Kylie McNeill), a shy 17-year old high school student living with her father (Voiced by Ben Lepley). She lives haunted by the memory of her mother’s death at a young age. Since then, Suzu has been living in her shadow, having almost no close connections and no self confidence. At least, until one day, with the help of her one close friend Hiroka Betsuyaku (Voiced by Jessica DiCicco), she discovers the online virtual world of ‘U‘ where over 5 billion users log on daily. When Suzu logs in for the first time, U automatically creates a beautiful, freckled, pink-haired avatar based on her biometrics, and she nicknames herself “Bell” (鈴 = Suzu is Japanese for Bell).

Suzu logging into U for the first time. Bimetic readers in her ear.

Enjoying her newfound life in anonymity; Suzu, using her voice and overcoming her trauma, develops Bell into a world-famous singer among U. Rapidly gaining popularity, Suzu holds events and concerts as Bell in U, and fans come to dub her as ‘Belle‘ (French for “Beautiful”) However, during one of Belle’s online concerts, she is interrupted by an avatar named only as “The Dragon” (Voiced by Paul Castro Jr).

“The Dragon” avater appears for the first time, during BELLE’s concert.

Intrigued, Suzu & Hiro embark on a journey to discover the person behind The Dragon. Along the way, Suzu realizes the real power of being anonymous online and the many reasons why people like her escape to U from their own lives. 

What type of story is BELLE?

The film seems to be confused about what type of story it wants to tell; whether it is an action-adventure story, as Suzu begins to discover the virtual world of U as Bell, or a romantic story, as the plot depicts the ‘forbidden’ nature in the relationship between Bell and The Dragon and Suzu’s determination to help The Dragon. One thing is for sure, the film is a musical feature. Unlike a Disney film, where characters spontaneously spring into a musical number often without warning, the film does a great job in coordinating the music with the imagery that’s on screen.

“Lend Me Your Voice”

The film touches on several sensitive topics and themes, such as overcoming personal trauma. The film successfully portrays one’s desire to escape real situations for a glamorous, anonymous lifestyle; a secret, secondary life where real-life issues are nonexistent. Additionally, many viewers find themselves connected to the main character as the film dives into the psychological impact of dealing with a personal loss and its effects on a person’s daily life. 

The Music

The music in this film is captivating and leaves the viewers in astonishment, undoubtedly worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation. Kaho Nakumora (Suzu/Belle in Japanese) and Kylie McNeill’s vocal performances are phenomenal and are presented with a profusion of emotional appeal. Kylie’s vocals perfectly embody Kaho’s performance as BELLE and, with Ludvig Forssell’s creative songwriting skills alongside Mamoru Hosoda and actress Kaho Nakumora, make exquisite lyrics. 

BELLE sings “Gale of Songs” as she enters U for the first time.

“Should I Watch it?”

Though the film may contain some unnecessary subplots, it makes up for its visual presentation and musical and vocal performances. The film portrays Suzu with relatable qualities that speak to the viewer, whether you have experienced personal loss or not. If the above mentioned is not convincing enough to watch BELLE in theaters, consider that this film was worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation during the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Perhaps cast members, Kylie Mcneill and Paul Castro Jr can convince you through our exclusive interviews. Watch as Kylie & Paul share behind the scene stories and their experiences working on BELLE.

Interview With Kylie McNeill

Interview With Paul Castro Jr

We also included a brief Interview with Mamoru Hosoda we conducted during the 2021 Animation Is Film Festival in Hollywood, CA.

Patrick Imbert’s ‘The Summit of The Gods’ premieres at Animation is Film Festival 2021

The newest adaptation of Jiro Taniguchi’s manga, The summit of Gods had a special screening at the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood on October 22nd. initially announced in 2015, the film went through different creative hands before it made its way to award-winning, French animator, Patrick Imbert in 2020.

The Summit of the Gods revolves around two hikers, Makoto Fukamachi, a young Japanese reporter, and a mysterious mountain climber named Habu Joji. Fukamachi believes, Habu is in possession of George Mallory’s camera.

George Mallory is a mountain climber who, along with Andrew Irvine, attempted to climb Mount Everest in 1924 and were never seen again. The camera might reveal if Mallory and his companion really were the first to climb Everest. 27 years later, Fukamachi and Habu find themselves, cooperating to climb to the peak of Mount Everest.

Imbert is known for his work in Ernest et Célestine, April and the Extraordinary World, and his award-winning film, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.

Patrick Imbert at Animation is Film Festival 2021

Using 2D animation and produced by Folivari and Mélusine Productions, Patrick Imbert’s The Summit of The Gods has been praised for his realistic animation of the iconic Mount Everest.

The film is based on the manga of the same, written and illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi, itself is an adaptation of Baku Yumemakura’s 1998 novel of the same name. Yumemakura’s work has had various adaptations, including a live-action version, starring Junichi Okada, which was released on March 12, 2016. The live-action version was directed by Hideyuki Hirayama (known for, School Ghost Stories).

During the Animation is Film Festival 2021, we had the opportunity to speak with film director Patrick Imbert:

Netflix will air the film in theaters in the United States starting on November 24, 2021, and will start streaming the film on November 30, 2021.

Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE At Animation Is Film Fest 2021

For the first time, outside Japan, Mamoru Hosoda’s newest film BELLE had a chance to capture western audiences’ hearts during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood!

In 1999, Mamoru Hosoda began his journey with Dejimon Adobenchā (Digimon Adventure) as his first anime directorial debut; since then, Hosoda has developed this craft and quickly became one of Japan’s most predominant figures in Japanese animation. In 2011, Hosoda founded his own animation studio, Studio Chizu.

Photo by AIF | John Salangsang

Hosoda developed his own unique and highly influential animation style, which can be seen and felt throughout his work. His works are heartfelt, beautifully animated films and convey a sympathetic aesthetic element, often relatable. In 2019, his adventure fantasy comedy film, MIRAI, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. His most recent film, BELLE, premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a 14-minute standing ovation.

Mamoru Hosoda at Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood, CA

In BELLE, Hosoda visually transforms the internet, as the popular virtual world known as ‘U’. In a plot where characters face personal turmoil, isolation, a sense of belongingness, and the need to pretend to be someone else, Hosoda effectively exploits the ability to remain anonymous online and how anonymity can have its benefits and disadvantages on its users.

We had the opportunity to briefly speak with Hosoda during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 regarding his newest work and his thoughts on MIRAI’s Oscar nomination:

*The video below may contain SPOILERS* After the screening, Hosoda addressed the audience members and answered fan questions:

The film pays homage to Beauty and The Beast (specifically Disney’s version) and is composed of tantalizing visual animation with extraordinary, captivating music tracks. In addition, Hosoda mentioned working with veteran Disney animator Jin Kim as Belle’s lead character designer earlier this year. (Below are some of Kim’s BELLE concept Sketches).

One of many scenes in which the ‘ Beauty and The Beast‘ elements can be seen
Jin Kim (김상진)

Kim has worked for Disney since 1995 and is credited in over 30 Disney titles including, Zootpia, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and his most recent work Raya and the Last Dragon. Adding to Kim’s involvement, Studio Chizu also teamed up with Irish animation studio Cartoon Salon to produce the background art for the popular virtual world, ‘U’.

Get ready to dive into the beautiful world of U and watch BELLE this spring! Gkids is set to release BELLE in theaters on January 14th, 2022. For more information, visit GKids.com.

Anime Expo Lite announces “Discover Little Tokyo” Event

Anime Expo Lite 2021 ticketholders will have the opportunity to partake in a special promotion event being offered by a dozens retailers and restaurants in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles!

Little Tokyo’s famous Yagura or Tower

Beginning Friday, June 25 thru Sunday, July 11, 2021, Anime Expo Lite Ticketholders are invited to discover the historic Little Tokyo district and visit each of the participating establishments listed below to receive a custom designed Anime Expo coaster.

There are 6 different full color coasters available to collect, each may be assembled to create the above artwork designed by, Collateral Damage Studios commemorating Anime Expo’s partnership this year with Hate Is A Virus.

The list of participating establishments are as follows:

Although held virtually the past two years, Anime Expo Lite 2021 marks the 30th Anniversary of the long-running annual convention. Anime Expo Lite begins on July 3-4, 2021 from 12pm – 8pm (PST).

Tickets for Anime Expo Lite 2021 are just $5 (+ processing fees) with all proceeds to benefit the Hate Is a Virus commUNITY Action Fund. Purchase your tickets here and take a trip to Los Angeles to ‘Discover Little Tokyo’ and get exclusive access to Anime Expo Lite (Live stream).

Nihon Falcom Celebrates its 40th Anniversary with A free virtual concert from Falcom jdk BAND

Nihon Falcom announced their celebration plans earlier this week. For the last 40 years, Nihon Falcom has become a prominent video game developing company within the industry alongside Square Enix.

Falcom is most notably known for the Ys, The Legend of Heroes, and Trails series. Its current company president, Toshihiro Kondo, will be making a special message during its special 40th Anniversary celebration event on June 24th.

The special event will also feature a special virtual concert from the Falcom jdk band, for all Falcom fans for free, featuring tracks spanning four decades of Nihon Falcom’s game history.

NISA (NIS America) Online Store and NGPX have team up to announce brand new merchandise going live on June 24th after the event, warping up the celebration. According to NISA Online Store, one of these ‘brand new’ merchandise will be made in limited supply.

Tune in and catch it all:
Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 10:00 PM PT (June 25 at 7:00 AM CET)
Streamed live at the New Game+ Expo Twitch and YouTube channels

Bushiroad x Little Tokyo: Eat At Little Tokyo D4DJ Event!

Bushiroad and popular Japanese anime shop, Anime Jungle have teamed in order to help support small business in the Little Tokyo district in Los Angeles, California.

Bushiroad known for its popular card game, Cardfight!! Vanguard and the music media franchise BanG Dream! They have teamed up with local businesses in the Little Tokyo area to, not only promote their latest project D4DJ -(Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ) but to also help out businesses that are suffering during the COVID19 pandemic.

D4DJ -(Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ) is a new music media franchise created by Bushiroad. It features the creative talents of Japanese novelist and scriptwriter,, Kō Nakamura (Crying 100 Times, Tori Girl) and Takaaki Kidani as the executive producer. The franchise will focus on DJing and remixing different music genre with electronic dance music.

Much like BanG! Dream, It consists of a rhythm game D4DJ Groovy Mix, music CDs, an anime series and an upcoming manga series. An English version of the rhythm game is currently in development and set to be release in 2021. Bushiroad announced worldwide streaming of the anime series via Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Sentai Filmworks, with plans for a Blu-ray release by Funimation in the future. You can watch episode 1 via D4DJ’s official YouTube channel here.

The event will offer customers the chance to get D4DJ novelty items for every $10 spent at participating stores and restaurants white supplies last. Participating stores are listed on Anime Jungle’s official event page.

D4DJ Novelties Include, D4DJ promo poster and D4DJ band sticker (Each participating store/restaurant will carry different stickers of different D4DJ and BanG! Dream bands).

In addition, customers also will receive a chance to win a CD album prizes by uploading the receipt from your store visit(s) in Little Tokyo during this event! Receipt must be within 10/23 – 11/8/2020 and can be uploaded here.

Album Prizes:

D4DJ 1st Album – 「Direct Drive!」& Poppin’Party 2nd Album: Breakthrough!」

*There will be 1 Winner per Album.*

Please note only one receipt per entry. Duplicate receipts will not be accepted. Participants may enter as many times as they wish as long as they submit a different receipt. For more information on the terms and conditions, visit the official event website here. Please follow all COVID19 prevention guidelines, each store will have a customer limit.