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Dreams Do Come True: Anime Expo 2014 Con Report

Anime-Expo-Logo

 

Anime Expo has always been on my bucket list. C’mon, the biggest anime convention in the United States?! Of course! I knew the cast of the 90s Sailor Moon English dub would be attending, but I thought maybe, maybe I could see them at Otakon. However, once VIZ announced their acquisition of the franchise and the new English dub cast would be appearing at AX, I was sold!

July 3rd, Thursday, Day 1

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had no idea I would be standing in the brutal L.A. heat for over four hours to get my badge. FOUR HOURS IN THE BLAZING HEAT. No water, no shade, no sunscreen (really, what was I thinking!?). Luckily I had brought my umbrella which I will have to thank for helping me not get skin cancer in next twenty years.

I had never stood in a line like this before. The line went on and on–and circled back again and again! Truly, after that day, I was regretting coming to AX. After three hours in line, con staff handed out free water, but it was a little too late. I had already spent $3 on a bottle from the water hockers. I hear tents were put up the next day, but again, after a five hour wait on Wednesday, you put up tents two days later? A mist machine would have been appreciated too. However, what we should have done was get out of the darn line, stayed cool in a Starbucks and just waltzed into the con around 6pm. Which is pretty sad if you think about it–you pay for four days, and you really only get three. >:(

Once inside, my friends and I made a beeline for the exhibitors’ hall and the VIZ booth. With the stamp card in hand, we ran around to several booths collecting the necessary stamps to acquire the limited edition premiere coin.

There's a card with planetary stamps and the VIZ Anime Expo Limited Edition Coin

Next on the to-do list was the opening ceremonies. I had actually never been to an opening ceremonies before–the only reason I was going was because Jennifer Cihi (pronounced See-Hee), the singing voice of Sailor Moon from the 90s dub, would be performing. Overall, the opening ceremonies weren’t that exciting–just the guests of honor saying hello and they were glad they were there. Jennifer Cihi only sang one song, Call My Name from the Full Moon Collection album. And here’s video of it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yESQFzAcRjk

For dinner, we went to a local steakhouse, Flemings, which was pretty good!

July 4th, Friday, Day 2

After donning my Sailor Mars cosplay, I ran to the convention center in the early morning to make sure I got a good spot in line for autograph tickets for the 90s dub cast. Most people in line were young men hoping for Kill La Kill autograph tickets, but I did meet two lovely Sailor Moon cosplayers who were dressed as Black Lady and Princess Serenity. We passed time by chatting away about our love for Sailor Moon–this is one of my absolute favorite things about conventions! Thankfully, we were able nab tickets–mine was number 86.

While we waited for the autograph session to start, we took advantage of the cosplay sets. I must say–these cosplay sets are just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a convention. (Hey Otakon! New York City Comic Con! Get on this!) About ten sets were staged in the entertainment hall–there was a school room, a pink bedroom, tori gates, sewers, forests and much more!

Black Lady sits on a bed in a pink bedroom

During this time, a male photographer came up to me and Princess Serenity and asked us to pose for him. We said sure and he responded he wanted Princess Serenity to lay on the bed like Sleeping Beauty and Sailor Mars to “get on top of her.” Both of us turned to him with a surprised “WHAT?!” He immediately apologized; his words it came out wrong. I told him I wouldn’t be getting on top of Serenity, but I’d do something else. While Princess Serenity did her best Sleeping Beauty impression, I stood next to her as if a prince(ss) just discovered the sleeping princess.

Sailor Mars stands in a tatami room

Finally, it was time to get in line for autographs for the 90s dub cast. I was soooo excited! I had met Kristen Bishop (Zoicite, Emerald, Kaorinite, Queen Badiane) and Roland Parliament (Melvin) at Anime North in 2004, so I was eager to add more autographs to my poster. The cast members were absolutely lovely; many of them were very impressed that I had flown in from New York City to see them. (They were also very confused by the Anime North poster, but I explained I was originally from Michigan. Toronto was just four hours away!) I told Karen Bernstein (Sailor Mercury #1) that I was so happy to finally meet her and she told me this was her first anime convention! She said she was having a good time–I hope we get to see more of her!

I didn’t want to take too much of their time, but since I was dressed as Sailor Mars, I knew I had to get a picture with Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars #1).

A sailor mars cosplayer stands next to Katie Griffin, voice actress of sailor mars

I told her that when she returned to the role of Sailor Mars in the third season, I had run victory laps around my house. Not that the other voice actress was bad or anything, I explained, but the original cast transports me back to that magical place. She said she was touched by my words.

The final cast member at the table was Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask #2). I whispered to him that he was my favorite Tuxedo Mask. He responded in his Tuxedo Mask voice “Thanks Meatball Head!” If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you I’m not one to fawn over Tuxedo Mask, but OMG, when I heard these words I immediately blushed, giggled, and promptly turned into a BIG PILE OF GOO. How embarrassing! >.<

After I left the autograph area, I had to run to the line for their panel. And OMG! I believe Petree Hall holds about 1,000 people and let me tell you, there were most definitely 1,000 people in that panel–if not more!

The funniest part of the panel was when Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask #2)        received the loudest response from the audience. He commented, “Why am I the one blushing?” Here is the panel:

Next up was food! Across from the convention center, there were a bunch of food trucks. I hadn’t never seen something like this before and it was way cool! (Psst!! Otakon and New York City Comic Con!!)

food trucks anime expo 2014

At 8pm, Jennifer Cihi performed at the convention center in Lounge 21. I was so happy to make this performance–Jennifer performed several Sailor Moon songs: It’s A New Day, Call My Name, Carry On, My Only Love, and Power of Love. It was definitely a special performance; her nephew played on lead guitar and arranged the music and band. I totally thought I would ugly cry during Sailor Moon Crystal; turns out I saved all my ugly crying for Jennifer Cihi’s concert!

I really hope Jennifer Cihi is invited to more anime conventions–she’s an amazing performer. Her performances can’t be missed! You can watch her Anime Expo performance here:

Later that evening was the Cosplay Burlesque & Magic Show. Vixen DeVille was absolutely sexy and hilarious as the host. Magician Nathaan Phan sang opera while he did card tricks. I was duly impressed by performances by Princess Leia, Black Cat, Lady Joker and Captain America (and to the tune of America, Fuck Yeah!). However, I was disappointed that only one performance was anime themed and I didn’t even know which character she was. Perhaps there were more in the second half of the performance? My friend and I enjoyed the performances, but after two hours, and only half of the show done, we were super tired and left.

July 5th, Saturday, Day 3 aka SAILOR MOON DAY!

This day started bright and early at 3am by watching Sailor Moon Crystal! My friend and I snuggled close to watch the episode on my iphone via Hulu Plus. After that, I promptly passed out again and had a dream that my friends and I were in Japan! LOL

Today’s cosplay was Super Sailor Moon and we dashed to the convention around 7am. We decided to nix the convention line and headed up the stairs to the area where we lined up for the previous Sailor Moon panel. I met so many Moonies there! I even met Tiff from Sailor Moon Collectibles and Lisa from Three-Lights.net (but I didn’t get a picture with them *cries*). 

A punk sailor moon and a super sailor moon pose for the camera

Cycyn from Sailor Moon Obsession blog

Two girls dressed as sailor moon pose for the camera. one is holding the moon scepter.

Jpop singer and model Stephanie Yanez

A cosplaying Usagi in pjs, holding a plush Luna, Super Sailor Jupiter and Super Sailor Moon pose for the camera

@brat_zilla and Ochiba Wolf of Ochiba Wolf’s Toy Shop

The Official VIZ Sailor Moon panel has made its way online and you can watch it here:

But for those who can’t or prefer not to watch video, here are some highlights:

VIZ announced that the limited edition blu ray/dvd part 1 of season one set will be released on November 11th, 2014. If you pre-order from Rightstuf.com, you will receive a limited edition collector’s coin. I’ve ordered it already, have you? They also revealed the cover art for the package:

Sailor Moon poses on a pink background on the cover of the blu ray set

But of course, the big announcement was the cast of the new English dub and the premiere of the first two episodes of the dub. I have to admit, I was really apprehensive about the new cast. But after watching the first two episodes and hearing about their love of Sailor Moon, my anxieties have (mostly) been assuaged. I’m still a little concerned that the girls will all sound the same–something which the 90s English dub specifically went great lengths to avoid. Apparently little kids don’t pay attention very well and so distinctive voices helps them follow along when they aren’t looking at the TV.

Sailor Moon/Stephanie Sheh–Her Usagi voice is super cute and reminds me a lot of Kotono-san’s Usagi. In fact, Stephanie said she looked to Kotono’s performance to create her Usagi voice.

Sailor Mercury/Kate Higgins– Kate is a bit older than the rest of the cast members so she didn’t grow up watching Sailor Moon like the rest of them did. She was pretty funny during the panel and at one point put on a voice, but I wasn’t sure if this was her Mercury voice or not. A fan asked if the cast members could say a phrase as their character, but they weren’t allowed to because most of them haven’t started recording yet.

Sailor Mars/Cristina Vee– Back in the day, I used to run in the same internet circles as Cristina Vee before she went pro. I can’t recall her Sailor Mars voice, but I don’t have any doubt that she’ll give 110% to this role. 

Sailor Jupiter/Amanda C. Miller–Amanda talked about how she’s been a Sailor Moon fan since she was a kid–she even played Sailor Jupiter on the playground! She sounded very honored to voice Sailor Jupiter and that she totally geeked out over meeting the previous Sailor Jupiter VA, Susan Roman. I’m really excited to hear her Jupiter! 

Sailor Venus/Cherami Leigh–We got a sneak peak of Sailor V’s voice in episode 2 (“I am Sailor V!”) and it’s very cute, although it remains to be seen (heard?) if it will be distinctive from Usagi’s voice. Cherami talked about how when she was growing up that she thought anime was just Sailor Moon, DBZ and Pokemon–she had no idea that there was so much more! She said she bought the Sailor V manga for research and watched the show for her own enjoyment. She also spoke about how she was really excited to be part of a show where the girls are portrayed as full human beings. I really appreciated this comment because it’s definitely how I feel about Sailor Moon and in particular, the character of Sailor Venus. 

Tuxedo Mask/Robbie Daymond–I was really happy to hear Robbie’s portrayal of Mamoru. He sounds very similar to Toby Procter’s Darien, which as you know, is my favorite. ^_^ When asked how he is similar to Mamoru, Robbie responded with “I also love being surrounded by beautiful women.” ROFLOL. He spoke about how he used to watch Sailor Moon in college. He said it was pretty funny–a bunch of 18 year old dudes, sitting around the TV, drinking beer and getting super excited over Moon Tiara Magic!

Naru/Danielle Nicole-Naru doesn’t have a Jersey accent! So weird! She sounds like a normal teen girl. 

Luna/Michelle Ruff– Michelle’s Luna sounds very similar to the new Luna VA in Sailor Moon Crystal. The only small quibble I have is that it sounds a bit too “polished.”

Artemis/Johnny Yong Bosch–I was really surprised by this! I can’t wait to hear how he sounds! Will he sound like Vash the Stampede!?

Zoicite/Lucien Dodge–I was REALLY excited to hear about this casting since Lucien Dodge is a personal friend of mine! A few years ago he left New York City to pursue his voice acting career in L.A. I couldn’t be happier about his success! My favorite voice of his is his Dilandau impression from Escaflowne. Pure sadistic evil! So, if his Zoicite voice is anywhere near that voice, it is going to be absolutely AMAZEBALLS. 

After the VIZ Sailor Moon panel, I ran to get an autograph from Jennifer Cihi. I told her I’ve gone through some difficult times these past two years, and sometimes I’ll just listen to Carry On and Power of Love over and over again to get through it. She signed a copy of her CD for me and I’m happy to report that if Vic Mignogna’s early 90s CD went head to head with Jennifer Cihi’s, Jennifer Cihi’s CD totally wins. :P

ALL THE TEARS with Jennifer Cihi.

ALL THE TEARS with Jennifer Cihi.

Then it was off to the VIZ Sailor Moon Cosplay meet up. I ended up sitting next to the big Kirby Sailor Moon. I can’t really see myself in the pictures, but apparently, footage from this meet up will on the upcoming blu ray/dvd set. It will be interesting to see what they do with it!

Later that night was the masquerade. I ended up not staying too long cuz OMG SO TIRED. I did enjoy the “What does the Fox say?” skit and the little musical number about cosplaying.

Sunday, July 6th, Day 4

Sunday, the last day of the con, was my dedicated dealers’ room day. I ended up running into a booth that had a capsule toy machine! The staff even gave you yen to put into it. AND THEY HAD THE SAILOR MOON CAPSULES! I won two Sailor Chibi Moons. ^_^

Sailor Moon Capsule Machine

I wasn’t planning to spend too much in the dealers’ room since I’ve been spending so much on Sailor Moon merchandise lately. But here is what $160 looks like:

A bunch of Sailor Moon posters and merchandise

THE HAUL

And that’s it! I’m so happy that I was able to scratch Anime Expo off my bucket list and do it in amazing Sailor Moon style! I would recommend going to Anime Expo at least once, but I would beware of the long lines in the heat. Just relax in your hotel at the last possible moment before going in–Sailor Moon Says!

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Heather Paxton July 14, 2014, 11:27 pm

    I am so glad you had a great time!!!!!!!!!!

    Heather

  • Elizabeth Smith July 29, 2014, 2:04 am

    Hi!! I don’t know if you saw me at AX but I was cosplaying as Pink Overalls Rei on Saturday. (:

    • Anne Lee Anne Lee July 29, 2014, 2:25 am

      I’m not sure–but Pink Overalls Rei?!?! SO AWESOME!!!!!

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