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July 16, 2009

A Report from Anime Expo 2009


Every year, southern California hosts the largest anime and manga convention in the country, Anime Expo. Over 44,000 guests attended this year’s convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center from July 2nd to 5th. For the avid graphic novel reader, a day in the exhibit hall is like a day at Willie Wonka’s factory. That is…if Willie Wonka was a cosplaying, manga-reading fanboy. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you could pry your eyes away from the stacks upon stacks of manga for sale, the convention hosted a number of attractions, including a costume contest, concerts from Morning Musume and Moi Dix Mois, industry panels, karaoke, debates, workshops, autograph sessions, and guests ranging from legendary Japanese manga artists to Seth Green and the team behind Robot Chicken.
Fans were starry-eyed and rushing to grab autographs at the end of the artist panel that featured Yun Kouga (Loveless, Earthian), Yasuhiro Nightow (Trigun) Takashi Okazaki (Spiderman 2, Afro Samurai), Daisuke Ishiwatari (Guilty Gear), and Atsushi Nishigori (This Ugly Yet Beautiful World). It’s both joyous and a little sad to see fans fawn over their favorite guests and yet never be able to truly connect due to the language barrier.
Funimation has digitally restored the Dragon Ball anime series, which will be available in September. They're also opening a new social networking site called ShoDojo, which will allow members to screen anime with friends and chat about it at any time.

The Viz panel spilled the beans on many of its new titles, including a new brand for comics originating from Ikki in Japan, all of which will be made available as free downloads. The Viz Signature line is hard at work giving classic manga new life with American releases. Some new titles coming this fall in the classics line include Jormongand, Go Go Master, and What a Wonderful World. The Shounen Jump and Shoujo Beat lines are both going strong with their flagship titles as well as dozens of other new and continuing series. Inuyasha will also finally read right to left.

Anime Expo is also an excellent source for anyone looking to stock up on yaoi, yuri, doujinshi, and art books. You will have to wade through rows of tables, but it’s well worth it. Don’t forget to check out the Artists’ Alley either. There you will find dozens of local artists selling their own artwork, crafts, and self-published manga. Who knows, the next big thing might be sitting at one of those tables.

If you missed it this year, then you had best clear your schedule for next year’s July 4th weekend. You didn’t want to go to your uncle’s annual barbecue anyway.