AnimeNEXT 2013: Opening Ceremonies

Cosplayer Euphoria takes the stage as a pretty Tsukino Usagi with a basket of scones for a tea party. She highlighted some choice events beginning with the karaoke contest, the weekend-long hall cosplay contest, the masquerade signups and of course, the ever fun cosplay chess on sunday. The Dating Game and the 18+ version which are hilarious with questions and responses by the panelists.

(As a request from the guests, there are no photos of the Opening Ceremonies. Please scroll to the bottom for Euphoria’s youtube videos of the event.)

Usagi introduced the Japanese guests and detailed the highly anticipated fashion show of MINT NeKO and BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT with ALICE AND THE PIRATES designs on saturday at 2:30pm and 3:30pm respectively. Designers Masumi Kano appeared onstage in a beautiful strawberry decked lolita dress with Tachibana Saki in a delicate lacy pink outfit. CEO Isobe Akinori-san wore an ALICE AND THE PIRATES design with a feathered hat and a long black coat with gold braids.

    Isobe: Hello, I’m Isobe Akinori, the CEO of BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT. Thank you all for coming. Tomorrow, we’ll have a fashion show right here in Main Events. So please I encourage you to come.

    Kano: Hello, I’m Kano Masumi, the designer of BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT. A three years ago, I was here in New York. I look forward to seeing everyone here.

    Tachibana: Nice to meet you! My name is Tachibana Saki. I’m one of the designers with BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT. I’m glad to see you all here. We have a booth in the Exhibitors Hall, so please everyone come and visit us. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

MINT appeared on stage after them clothed in one of his flowy designs: a deep gray outer sweater and long graphic black and white shirt.

    MINT: *in English* Hello, everyone! *waves* *Japanese* Hello, I’m MINT of h.Naoto. I’m really happy to be here. We have a booth in the Exhibit Hall as well as a fashion show tomorrow. So everyone please come and I look forward to meeting all of you.

Becoming common with AnimeNEXT programing, there are two bands, Asterplace who are performing sunday and Moon Stream who are performing tonight at 9:30pm. Though they haven’t arrived yet, The Asterplace include vocalist and guitarist Tsukimoto Kota, lead guitarist Hattori Cohei, drummer Inava Shusuke, bassist Terai Kenji and guitarist Chinzei Kiyoshi. Moon Stream, vocalist Satsuki, guitarist Tomo, bass guitar Poel (who speaks English quite well!) and drummer Takaya stepped onstage to make their intros.

    Satsuki: *in English* Hi! This is Moon Stream. Nice to meet you!
    Tomo: *in English* Hi! How are you doing? Let’s go AnimeNEXT! *audience cheers* Yes! Tonight’s show will be here at 9 o’clock. My name is Tomo, I play the guitar. Nice to meet you guys!
    Poel: *in English* Hello, everybody! We’re playing here tonight at 9 so we’ll see you okay? I’m Poel!
    Takaya: *in English* Hello, I’m Takaya. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

They were followed by game Perfect World character illustrator, Usuda Hiro.

    Usuda: *in English* Hello, everyone! Nice to meet you! *Japanese* I am Usuda Hiro. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! I will have a panel tomorrow at 4. Do come and see me! I look forward to talking with you guys about creating and designing. I have a booth that has artbooks so do come and look at them. And purchase if you like them. *in English* Thank you very much!

    The director of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Yamamoto Sayo and the key animator of the same Lupin III Shimizu Hiroshi came onstage. (Amongst the plethora of works, the crowd was especially happy to hear that Yamamoto-san worked on Highschool of the Dead.) Yamamoto-san was super shy, appearing onstage in sunglasses.

      Yamamoto: Nice to meet you! I’m Yamamoto Sayo. I have a panel tomorrow at 5pm and sunday at 12pm. Do come and see me! Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

      Shimizu: *in English* Hello, everyone! *Japanese* I’m Shimizu Hiroshi. I have a panel with Yamamoto-san tomorrow and on sunday…and I might be drawing. *in English* Thank you!

    The US voice actors were introduced next starting with AnimeNEXT regular, Bill Rogers who talked than ran since he needed to prep for a weekend-long dubbing workshop right afterwards. Friday held the preliminaries for the contest for the best audition, saturday was the voice acting contest with sunday finalist actually ‘recording’ a dub. Although this does not constitute an actual contract with a dubbing studio, fans are able to gather more information in this simulation hands-on approach to voice acting. An additional note, there were only 20 seats available for this workshop.

    Other guests that were at the con was Robotech production team, Kevin McKeever, Tommy and Steve Yun, DJ Chipocrite, voice actors Mike Pollock and Greg Houser.

    Time for an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ tea party! Usagi invited ANN writer Mike Toole to the stage. He held up an ipad with the words ‘APPLAUSE’ on it…upside down. Upon flipping the screen around, the words also flipped as well. Net humor…lolz. Fan favorite, voice actor Greg Ayres was next with his new hair color, a beautiful shade of dark pink and purple.

      Greg: I have panels and signings. Find me and say hi…I made myself very hard to find. *points at hair*

    C.R.A.Z.Y.O.T.A.K.U…joined them a bit late escorted by Tuxedo Mask. Tuxedo Mask was a bit upset at Usagi not inviting him to the tea party…to which Usagi replied. “But you never show up…unless I am in trouble. *to the audience* Am I in trouble?” The first tea party theme was riddles which the guests can guess. If they are wrong, the audience gets to steal the question…and get a buttermilk or rasberry scone courtesy of Usagi-chan. (If Usagi really made the scones, would anyone want to eat them? XD)

      Q: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
      Guests: *blank stares*
      Usagi: *starts explaining the joke*
      *Tuxedo Mask takes over*

      Q: What is on the table, cut…but never eaten?
      Greg: Attention?
      Mike: Uh…I cut the cheese. XD
      Audience: Deck of cards!

      Q: The maker doesn’t want it. The buyer doesn’t use it. The user doesn’t see it. What is it?
      CRAZYOTAKU: Taxes?
      Mike: Farts?
      Audience: Coffin.

      Q: Tool of a thief, toy of a queen. Always used to be unseen. Sign of joy, sign of sorrow. Giving all likeness borrowed.
      Greg: Pass.
      Mike: *makes farting noises*
      Audience: Mask!

      Q: Until I am measured, I am not known. Yet how you’ll miss me when I have flown.
      CRAZYOTAKU: I will say…a strapless bra.
      Greg: Uh…your reputation?
      Audience: Time!

    Either they’re joking…or the guests are really bad at riddles. The question turned to the guests for riddles.

      Mike: What is brown and sticky?
      A: A stick! *audience groans*

    The first panel of guests vacated the stage for the next part. Voice actress Michele Knotz snuck onstage during her introduction…as hyperactive as ever! Geek comedian Uncle Yo popped on a monocle and Tuxedo Mask’s top hat to be more steampunk…before handing the hat back. Voice actor Chris Cason joined them onstage to round off the trio.

      Chris: How many of you never been to AnimeNEXT…like me? How many of you never been to a con before? Welcome to your future in…CONdom. *audience laughs*

    The other guests munched on some scones and played around with their teacups as Usagi and Tuxedo Mask announced the rules. Since the Queen the Hearts wants a song, the guests will create the song with Mad Libs. Since they have to sing the words, the required number of syllables will be given as well. What an innovative idea! The resulting song was thus…sung to the tune of the first Pokemon theme, ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All!’

      Uncle Yo: *stares at paper* *facepalm*
      I wanna be the very NICE,
      like no one ever was.
      To catch them is my real PIPE,
      to DASH them is my cause.
      I will RUNNING across the DOG,
      searching far and wide.
      Each Pokemon to understand,
      the power that’s inside.
      MALARKEY! It’s up to you!
      It’s you and me,
      I know it’s my destiny!
      Pokemon! Oh you’re my best friend,
      in a BANK we must defend.
      Pokemon! A heart so true,
      our DEATH will pull us through!
      You JUMP me and I’ll SIT you,
      Pokemon! Gotta JUMP ’em all!
      Gotta SIT ’em all!

    The audience (acting for the Queen of Hearts) provided the verdict for the song. Of course, it was ‘Off with their heads!’ A wonderful conclusion to the Opening Ceremonies. One of the better and more entertaining ones I might add. ^-^