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.
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.
We had the honor of interviewing actor Reuben Langdon and famed anime director, Hiroshi Nagahama during Ronin Expo 2019 in Little Tokyo, California. Ronin Expo is an annual anime festival located in the heart of the Los Angeles Japanese community, Little Tokyo!
Nagahama sketching for fans
Reuben Langdon signs a slice of pizza for a fan
Hiroshi Nagahama, began his career at Madhouse Studio as a mechanical designer for ‘The Cockpit’, after leaving Madhouse, he became a freelancer. He later went on to direct the highly acclaimed anime series, Mushishi. In recent news, Nagahama was working alongside writer Stan Lee to co-create, The Reflection an anime series surrounding individuals who have superpowers after coming in contact with a mysterious light. More on this in our interview with Hiroshi Nagahama below:
Reuben Langdon is known for voicing Dante (Devil May Cry series), Ken Masters beginning with Street Fighter IV various others. Aside from voicing characters, he’s also a well-known motion capture actor, doing motion capture for Chris Redfield in Resident Evil Code Veronica, 5 & 6. In addition, Langdon is also a stuntman, filmmaker and on-camera actor, working on well-known film titles such as, The Medallion, Spider-Man 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Night at the Museum 2, Ant-Man, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Avatar. In recent news, Langdon was involved in a life-threating armed assault, earlier this year, while filming a documentary in Guatemala, Mexico. This and more in our interview:
We would like to thank Ronin Expo staff for providing the services we needed to execute these interviews. Special thanks to Lisle Wilkerson for interpreting our interview with Nagahama.
The annual anime festival kicked off at the Cultural Arts Center in Torrance, California on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019
With the success of last year’s event, it’s no surprise that AniFest returned with a bang! With not only more attendees but also with more guests and performing acts!
Cosplay guests included D-Piddy, Ruiriupanda, VampyBitMe, Rinmieru, Paprika Mari and yours truly, to name a few.
Anifest had over 10+ performers including the Taiko Collegiate, Stephanie Yanez x Plasmic, Voia, Manatsu Project & Candy Bomber.
One of many performances were the Röli Angels, an idol group from Japan. They performed during Anifest’s very own, Arcane Maid Cafe.
The Roli Angeles performing the hit-song, A Cruel Angel’s Thesis:
During the festival, we stopped by Sanyo Foods’ Sapporo Ichiban booth, where representatives gave FREE ramen samples by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto to all attendees.
Sapporo Ichiban will be uploading all the photos they took with cosplayers during AniFest, keep your eye out for their album here. Sapporo Ichiban has now uploaded their AniFest photos, you can view them here. For deilcous ramen, visit their online store here.
Before I leave you with our wonderful AniFest photo gallery below, I’d like to mention the winner of our AniFest ticket giveaway, Romy! Hope you enjoyed your time at AniFest! Missed out? There’s always next year, that’s right, AniFest returns for another fantastic year in 2020, See you there!
Special thank to:
Beari King, Drew and the rest of the AniFest team for making this festival extraordinary!
AniFest is a yearly anime convention and festival dedicated to celebrating the arts and culture of Japanese animation. Cosplayers, vendors, partners, sponsors, performers, and event producers all come together in one day to bring you the best that an anime convention has to offer, but without the high price!
There’ll plenty of activities to part take during this 8-hour event such as Anisong Dance Festival Event, AniFest Cosplay Showcase, Itasha Anime Car Showcase, Pine Wind Japanese Garden Experience & more. (See their official schedule here for more information). All this and more at AniFest! Held at the Torrence Cultural Arts Center in Torrence, CA on March 23rd 2019, in just 16 days!
Even though ALA had exciting parties and exhibits to attend, the most eventful part of the weekend, occurred throughout the early morning hours of Day 3; Sunday. A man, now dubbed theAnime Los Angeles stalker, targeted a con attendee’s car and set it ablaze.
We usually see pretty crazy things that happen at anime conventions in general, but on early Sunday morning at around 1:30AM, Anime Los Angeles attendees, alongside other non-con hotel residents, woke up to what was initially thought of as an active shooter situation at the Folk Inn Hotel in Ontario, CA.
It was later discovered that it was not an active shooter situation but rather, an arson fire that destroyed a total of SEVEN cars.
Both the Folk Inn Hotel and its neighboring hotel, The Azure Hotel & Suites were evacuated, however, According to eyewitness Nora Moto, who staying at the Azure Hotel, employees, as well as hotel residents, were knocking on doors advising people to leave and evacuate their rooms immediately. Nora Moto told The Kitsune Network, “People were panicking because they thought it was an active shooter[…]the fire burst the tires and people thought someone was shooting up the place.”
Nora added that the initial reports of an active shooter caused mass panic inside the Azure Hotel lobby causing people to run out into the streets, some going towards the Gateway Hotel, adjacent to the Ontario Convention Center, to stay away from the “active shooter”.
We were able to speak to a police officer after the fire was out, the officer at the scene told us that, a person of interest was detained by police. An eyewitness saw individual pouring gasoline on ONE car and then setting it on fire, the fire then spread to the adjacent cars. The individual then sped off in an unidentified car, but not before the eyewitness was able to record their license plates number.
Authorities are yet to find a motive behind this terrible crime. It is unknown if the arson had any relation to Anime Los Angeles or any of its attendees. No official statement has been released by the Ontario police or fire department.
27 year old, Matt Masumi Toyotome, an Anime Los Angeles attendee, is currently in custody and in the West Valley Detention center on suspicion of arson. His bail is set to $250,000.
Sources have told us that, Matt Toyotome targeted a 2015 Subaru Outback belonging to fellow con attendee, Julia Moreno Jenkins, whom Matt had an obsession with for years. Authorities were able to arrest Matt at his Riverside home shortly after the fire without incident.
According to a friend of the victim who has chosen to remain anonymous, Matt had been harassing Jenkins for about 3+ years prior to this incident. The feud began when Matt, Julia, and a group Power Ranger fans created a fan-made YouTube series titled, Armored Rangers.
It was during the production of this series that Matt developed an obsession with Jenkins, even though Jenkins had been in a relationship since 2013. When the series ended, the group went their separate ways, however, Julia stayed on the YouTube scene with another series and became well known in the Power Ranger community.
Our source added, that Matt was not only obsessed with Julia but also, jealous of her new found fame with the new YouTube series. Over time Matt began to express his feelings for Julia and began harassing her by going to her house uninvited, dropping off gifts and following her around conventions.
It is unclear on what specifically made Matt commit this act, however, is it speculated that Matt’s advances toward Jenkins were rejected during convention prompting the attack.
Other affected cars owners, we are aware of another con attendee, father, and son, whose car caught fire as well. Most of the burnt cars were rentals from the hotel as well.
Julia was not the only one affected by Matt’s actions, several of the other vehicles belonged fellow ALA attendees, such as Sabrina Snowdon whose, 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport [seen below] was completely destroyed.
“I only had liability insurance, so my insurance will not cover me and I got it for $27,000. It was a really good working 2015 Subaru Outback. [. . .]I appreciate everyone who has helped be here for me during this ordeal, and thank you all for encouraging me to go through with starting a go fund me. I can’t say thank you enough for the cosplay community being so supportive and helpful to me in just every way.” – Julia Jenkins via Go-FundMe
Jenkins, as well as those whose car was affected, have since created donation accounts reaching out to the cosplay community for help.
For those who wish to be donors and help out the victims of this horrible crime, you can do so by clicking any of the following donation links below:
AniManga (Not to be confused with AniManga held in Melbourne, Australia) is a summer oriented, 3 day anime convention held at Fairplex in Pomona, California. AniManga, Founded in 2017, is combines Anime & Manga AND gaming into a fun weekend and was first held on August 3rd – 5th 2018.
A relatively low-key convention, AniManga began with a slow start however it rapidly picked up on Saturday with many cosplayers and guests joining the fun.
For those whom never been to Fairplex, Fairplex is compose of different ‘halls’ and sections. AniManga was held in Hall 4 which is a fairly big hall:
AniManga’s voice actor Guests included: Max Mittelman, Kyle McCarley, Zach Aguilar & Josh Grelle.
While at there, we had the honor of interviewing voice actor Josh Grelle:
Josh Grelle and I
Overall, our experience at AniManga was good. It began slow and picked up Saturday. Only time will tell if they’ll become bigger and better. We will most definitely return next year. Take a look at their website for upcoming detail for AniManga 2019.
For the 27th time, Anime Expo came back with full force from July 4th – July 8th drawing fans from 70 different countries. This year over 110,000 people attended Anime Expo, thats 2,342 more attendees than in Anime Expo 2017, making a local economic impact of $100 million to the city of Los Angeles.
Day -1 of Anime Expo 2018
Day -1 of Anime Expo 2018
Day -1 of Anime Expo 2018
Day -1 of Anime Expo 2018
Although Anime Expo went off without a hitch, there were a few slight inconveniences.
Before Anime Expo even began, they were altered to a possible threat made against AX and its attendees. According to Anime New Network, the threat was made by a man who allegedly stated via text, “These cons are due for a high school shooting, by a high school kidd [sic]. I’m working on a case at the moment. Shit u [sic] not.” although he did not specifically stated Anime Expo as a target, Anime Expo responded by promptly by ‘alerting local law enforcement to take appropriate actions in accordance with their procedures.‘ in a statement the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) said:
“Just as in 2017, we are working with security teams and local law enforcement, including K9 teams and traffic control officers, to maintain the safety of our event. Additionally, as previously announced, we are utilizing RFID badges for AX this year and will have security checks at each entrance. We encourage attendees to check our mobile app and maps to get familiarized with the various designated entrances.”
Thankfully, AX came and went without incident. Although the seriousness of this threat wasn’t felt among con goers; With public shootings happening all over the country on a daily basis, ‘indirect’ threats such as these, should NOT be taken with grain of salt. Though it may be a slight inconvenience, security checks at AX do their job by preventing such incidents to ever happen. If you would like to read more details on this situation please read Anime News Network’s article here.
Moving on to more lighter but heated topics:
Los Angeles suffered a huge heat wave during day 2 & day 3 of Anime Expo with temperatures reaching up to 108°. Although the convention center had functioning air conditioning, outside the heat was unbearable. Mailing AX badges eliminated “LineCon” or the long tedious, on-site registration line. Attendees were still not happy about waiting in line to get inside the convention center due to bag checks. Attendees also took to social to suggest that Anime Expo should cap their tickets due to overcrowding.
Do agree that Anime Expo should cap their badges? leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your opinions.
Be as it may, the heatwave was no match for hard working, determined cosplayers, whom in the middle of the scorching sun, went all out in their cosplays. Check these awesome cosplays:
Photo credit: Mystic Taku
Photo credit: Mystic Taku
Best cosplay of AX 2018?
We interviewed some of these wonderful cosplayers and this is what they had to say, about why they attended Anime Expo 2018 and how we dealt with the heat weave:
Before I jump on to a different topic, a HUGE shoutout to these guys at Alove yogurt, who, in the middle of the scorching sun, passed out these delicious yogurts to con goers
In addition to the 110K attendees, over 150 guests and industry made appearances including, Go Nagai, Hiromi Wakabayashi, Mari Okada, Sean Danconia, Santa Inoue, and SUSHIO. Booths also held guest appearances as with, Project Sekai who had Nekopara’s creator, Sayori in attendance for fan autographs.
The Exhibit & Entertainment Halls also featured more than 524 Exhibitors (74 Exhibitors more than AX 2017) Among them was AnimePls, a new Anime brand that is dedicated to bringing you exclusive merchandise from various anime series including: Hatsune Miku, Attack On Titan, Yugioh, My Hero Academia & Aggretsuko! Check their booth from AX 2018.
Check them out at: Animepls.com
AnimePls has licensed all these series, so far!
Near the end of Anime Expo; Funimation and LootCrate collaborated on an AX Afterparty held at the Globe Theater in Downtown Los Angeles during the night of Day 3.
FunimationXSonicBoomBoxXLootCrate AX After Party!
Attendees able to receive a free goodie bag which contained Loot Crate exclusives
There were so many things that went down at this year’s anime. From newly produced anime series to exclusive Anime Expo events and merchandise. If you missed out this year, don’t worry, Anime Expo will be back in 2019! Tickets are now on sale! For now enjoy our entire Anime Expo 2018 photoset: