Anime Los Angeles has been bringing top hit musical guests such Stephanie Yanez, Raj Ramayya, and Lolita Dark in 2019 followed by, Japanese electronic dance music duo FEMM in 2020. This year’s musical guest was KAZAH!
Kazha is a rock band founded by Japanese singer-songwriter Kazuha Oda and guitarist Hideki Matsushige in 2009. Since the release of their first album, Overture (2010) they’ve been touring around the U.S. making headlines in U.S. Anime Conventions such as Nan Desu Kan and Anime Los Angeles.
Kazha has also shared the stage with national artists such as George Lynch, Tracii Guns, LA Guns, Y&T, Tantric, and Trapt. Moving their base of operations to Memphis, TN in 2015, they’ve been featured on local broadcasts such as WREG News Channel 3, Channel 24, and WMC Action News 5.
We had the honor of interviewing lead vocalist, Kazuha Oda, and hearing her story behind the formation of KAZHA!
Join us as we explore Corina Boettger’s voice over career and journey voicing Paimon in the hit mobile game, Genshin Impact!
This marks our first, in-person interview, since Febraruy 2020. Corina has other character roles such as, Tatsumaki (One Punch Man), Naoko (Dino Girl Gauko) and Mizuki (AI: The Somnium Files). In September 2020, she became known for providing the voice of Pimon in Genshin Impact.
Enter for your chnace to win an autographed Paimon wall scroll and acrylic standee signed by Corina Boettger. For more details, watch our interview above!
Watch BELLE the newest movie by award-winning filmmaker, Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and more), comes a fantastical, heartfelt story of growing up in the age of social media.
Suzu is a shy, everyday high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters “U”, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a gorgeous and globally-beloved singer. One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature chased by vigilantes. As their hunt escalates, Suzu embarks on an emotional and epic quest to uncover the identity of this mysterious “beast” and to discover her true self in a world where you can be anyone.
English Dub Trailer
You can watch Belle in theaters and IMAX in both Japanese and English starting January 14, 2022,get your ticket now!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 studioCartoon Salonto 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 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!
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:
Tsurumaru Udon(main menu only) 333 South Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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).
We had the honor of interviewing voice actress, Dorothy Fahn during Ronin Expo‘s Otaku Market Gathering in Orange County! This mark Dorothy’s first on-camera interview, all other interviews she’s previously done have been in audio format only. Dorothy is known for voicing Lilymon in Digimon, Meryl Stryfe in Trigun and Chihiro Fujisaki in Danganronpa
She’s married to voice actor Tom Fahn (Voice of Agumon) and is one of four family members to become voice actors, family members include, Jonathan Fahn (Brother-in-law) and Melissa Fahn (Sister-in-law). We’re honored to share Dorothy’s on-camera, interview debut and we hope to interview the rest of the Fahn family.
The Nisei Week Parade was held in Los Angeles on August 10th, 2019. Originally a 7-day festival celebrating first American born Japanese in Los Angeles.
Although the festival is no longer confined within a week nor is it exclusively targeted to ‘niseis‘, (the first American born Japanese) it is a celebration of Japanese American culture and history in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.
Nisei week has over the years diversified giving the surrounding community “[…]the opportunity for people of all backgrounds to celebrate Japanese heritage and culture.“. as stated by Michelle Suzuki, Nisei Week Foundation president in 2006. To learn more about Nisei week and its cultural significance, visit their official website here.
Here some of our highlights from the parade
J-pop band, Bishonen
Band members; Ryuga Sato, Yuto Nasu & Hidaka Ukisho. Represented by Japan’s male idol talent agency, Johnny & Associates (also known as, Johnny’s).
Montebello-Ashiya Sister city program
Over fifty years after an international agreement between the two distant cities, one in the United States, and one in far-off Japan, the international sister city agreement between Montebello and Ashiya, Japan, continues to be vital and strong. Created to help people understand and implement tolerance of cultural differences and an awareness of people’s qualities and attributes.
Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen and Princesses
Princess Nami Katie Saito, Princess Elena Harumi Nielsen, Princess Stephanie Reiko Gee, First Princess Naomi Leilani Furukawa, Queen Yuki Nishimura.
2019 Nisei Week Queen & Court
Princess Ariel Mei Imamoto, Princess Emily Yuiko Ishida, First Princess Mia Masae Lopez, 2019 Nisei Week Queen Juli Yoshinaga, Miss Tomodachi Kara Chizuru Ito, Princess Marika Kate Gotschall, and Princess Kayla Sachiko Igawa.
Entertainment Hobby Shop Jungle
Osaka based, anime retail store, Anime Jungle! Jungle has everything from Anime and Tokusatsu merchandise include toys, figures, DVDs, Apparels to rare anime figures!
In its 28th year, Anime Expo once again welcomed 115,000* attendees from across the world.
Japanese pop culture fans, both locally and internationally, traveled to the Los Angeles Convention Center for annual Anime Expo (Commonly known as, AX) held from July 4th thru 7th, including a pre-night show on the July 3rd.
Reports that Anime Expo’s contract with the Los Angeles Convention Center had expired, created rumors of Anime Expo moving to another venue by 2020. We can officially confirm that Anime Expo will definitely return to the Los Angeles Convention Center for 29th Anime Expo in 2020, as stated in their website and the back of the Anime Expo 2019 program books.
The Great Anime Expo Earthquake
In an unforeseen turn of events, two earthquakes occurred during Anime Expo 2019, one during Day 2, July 4th at 10:02AM PTD (4.0 magnitude) and the second during Day 3, July 5th at 8:19PM PTD (7.1 magnitude). During the first earthquake on the morning of July 4th, ABC 7 Action News had mistakenly stated that the Los Angeles Convention Center was being evacuated as a precaution. In reality, it was Anime Expo attendees waiting to get insidethe convention, not out. Their statement was later retracted. The earthquake’s epicenter location was Ridgecrest, California.
The following day, July 5th at 8:19PM a second earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.1, struck Ridgecrest, California once more. The earthquake was felt by AX attendees, which some taking to social media to post videos of their terrifying experience while inside the convention center.
Guests of Honor, Faye Mata
This year, Anime Expo featured 22 Guests of Honor, among them, voice actress Faye Mata.
Mata has voiced numerous characters including, Aqua; Konosuba, Fukaziroh; SAO: Gun Gale Online, Katie Killjoy; Hazbin Hotel, Astolfo; Fate/Apocrypha and most recently Petra in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. We had the pleasure of having an exclusive interview with Faye Mata, Join us we speak about her career, character roles, and other upcoming projects.
This year Anime Expo featured over 400+ vendors among them animator, Vivienne Medrano better known by her pseudonym, Vivziepop.
Vivziepop is famously known for creating the hit series, HAZBIN HOTEL. Following her huge viral success with her YouTube video, which features JayJay, a character from another of Vivzie’s creations titled, Zoophobia, lipsyncing to Ke$ha’s Die Young. This video helped her gain a large audience early in her career as an animator.
She began her working on Hazbin Hotel during her High school years, designing characters such Alastor, one of many main characters of the series. It wasn’t until 2016, that she initially announced Hazbin Hotel, which was originally titled, People Like Us. We caught up with Vivziepop during the last day of Anime Expo and she gave us an insight into the series’ production and its future.
The series is set to be released sometime during October 2019, although the exact date is yet to be announced. Follow Vivziepop’s Twitter account for more updates and details.
RGP Games, anyone?
We decided to cover a few things from this year’s Entertainment Hall booth, beginning with Fate/Grand Order 2019 Tour. As you may remember, the Fate/Grand Order 2019 Tour began back in February of this year…
…and continued throughout Anime Expo 2019. Their booth featured an interactive photo-op station and the opportunity to play the tabletop game, Fate/Grand Order duel. Type-Moon representatives also handed out Fate/Grand Order 2019 player guides.
The Fate/Grand Order tour continues with its next stop being at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2019 in October, for more information visit their official here.
Staying inside the Entertainment Hall, we stopped by Auragon Games’ booth as they promoted their newest game, Hiraethia!
Hiraethia is a new RPG puzzle game developed by Auragon Games, a new independent game developing company based off Texas. Auragon Games founder, Sunny Chai and Hiraethia character designer, Tin Liu spoke to us gave us an overview on Hiraethia.
We got to play the game during its promotion demo at Anime Expo and although we did not explore much of the storyline, we can see it becoming quite popular among mobile RPG fans. As Chai stated in our interview, what sets the game apart is the fully animated character scenes. It’s one of the few games out there, that features hand-drawn, fully animated attack sequences. As you may know, most games go with the traditional visual novel animation. In addition, the game also features a puzzle mini-game within the main game itself, in which, the player must strategically match ‘tiles‘ accordingly to create stronger and more powerful attack combos. It is when these attacks are performed that the fully animated sequences appear.
Furthermore, the game also features a collaboration with YouTube gamer, LilyPichu as a playable character in the game. Auragon games have not released much about their character’s background, therefore not much is known about lily nor the role she’ll play in the game, storywise.
There is currently no date set for the game’s release, other than ‘it’ll be out on the market before the end of 2019.‘ Want to know more,? head over to their official website to learn more about the game and merchandise.
Anime Expo 2020
Anime Expo ended with an unusually finish. It’s a well-known fact that Anime Expo sale badges for the coming year, hours before the current year convention is over. Things were a bit different this year, with Anime Expo announcing that badges for Anime Expo 2020 would not be sold on-site and instead, sold online.
A limited number of early bird 4-day badges will go on sale beginning on August 16th 2019. Early bird price is $75 (not including fees) for a 4-day badge. Once all the early bird badges sell out, 4-day badges will be available for $85 (not including fees) and continue rising monthly as Anime Expo 2020 gets closer. In another surprising move, Anime Expo has also stated they will no longer hold a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales.
For more information regarding Anime Expo 2020 badge please go to their official website here. Now that Anime Expo 2019 has long been over, its time to prepare for Anime Expo 2020. Will you be there?
Ever wondered how the Los Angeles Convention Center looks like without thousands of Anime Expo attendees? We went to the convention center early during the week of Anime Expo 2019 and captured some of the empty rooms and corridors.
Outside the convention center during Day -1, No lines. Day -1 was dedicated to setting up AX and badge pick up for exhibitors and guests.
As seen in the photos, AX staff were still setting up in preparation for Day 0. Empty, the convention center’s size and beauty really stand out.