Hey readers! This year, I had the pleasure of attending Anime Weekend Atlanta 2013, which was held from September 27-29. Some really big name guests attended this year’s AWA, which made things all the more exciting. These guests included ZUN, the creator of Touhou, Mitsuo Iwata, the voice of Kaneda in Akira and Kintaro in Golden Boy, and Toshio Furukawa, the voice of iconic characters like Kai Shiden, Piccolo, and Portgas D. Ace.
I’ll highlight the organization and layout of the con itself, then proceed into the panels I attended.
Layout and Organization
I have to admit, I really liked the layout of AWA. Everything was easy to find and in their own little section. The con “entrance” was essentially the lobby of the Renaissance Waverly Hotel. Registration was right up the stairs and easy to maneuver. The Grand Ballroom, where the main events were held, was right next to registration. Surprisingly, this didn’t cause as much crowding as one would think. Back on the first floor, there was a giant room called the Kennesaw room, where guest and industry panels were held.
Connected to the Renaissance Hotel was the Cobb Galleria Centre, where the panel rooms, dealer room, and artist alley were located. The food court was also here, but it was mainly just a Subway and Chinese restaurant. For those looking for more options, there was a sky bridge that connected to the Sheraton Hotel and a mall.
The Dealers Room was nice and big and also contained the autograph stations. The Artist Alley was also pretty spacious and had a mini food court in the back, which featured some of the local food trucks in Atlanta. This was definitely a highlight for me. I love food trucks.
Overall, for the amount of people at the con (just over 18,000), I felt there was more than enough space and breathing room. As I stated earlier, everything was easy to find, and I would definitely recommend going. Now to the panels…
For the panels, I’ll be using bullet points to highlight the interesting things that I learned. I mostly attended guest panels since I could not conduct any interviews due to a mistake by the con. All the translations during the Japanese guest panels were done by voice actress Lisle Wilkerson, who is fluent in Japanese. The exception was bless4, since they’re all fluent in English.
bless4 and AKINO Panel
- They have always been performers. They used to be part of an exhibition martial arts troupe called the “Flying Dragons” while growing up.
- They’re anime fans!
- When they first came up with the name bless4, Audrey (Kanasa), the second oldest, thought it was stupid. However, the name eventually grew on her. Now, they love the name because they feel “blessed” to be sharing their love of music with everyone.
- The youngest Douglas (Aiki) does most of the choreography.
- Aiki was originally going to sing “Genesis of Aquarion.” However, composer Yoko Kanno liked Akino’s voice for the song better. The rest is history.
- How they first got into voice acting. Asakawa was about 20 when she decided she wanted to do voice acting. Iwata was a child actor and has always been acting.
- They shared some funny stories. Asakawa once went to a concert and accidentally flashed her breasts. Iwata once went to Australia and their tour guide said he loved Akira. He then asked Iwata if he liked Akira too. Little did the guide know that he was actually speaking to the voice of Akira.
- Iwata loves classic rock like Journey. He makes his own music in his spare time.
- ZUN mentioned that as far as the gaps in the overarching canon, whatever is current is what it is despite anything else that might be contradictory.
- But he also stated that the older characters (particularly Mima) ‘might’ make a comeback.
- His favorite beer is Kirin.
- He says that American food portions are too big, and beer portions are too small.
- When he first voiced Kai Shiden, he didn’t put much effort into it since Kai was just a minor character.
- When voicing Ace’s death scene, it was so powerful that he made Mayumi Tanaka, the voice of Monkey D. Luffy, cry.
- When he first voiced Piccolo, it was initially hard since he had to voice him with such a deep voice. He recalls that his director kept telling him to go “lower.”
- He loves America because of how open minded and diverse it is.
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