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A Look Back at ACen 2013

Anime Central 2013 was another great year for the country's third largest anime convention. With the new convention season right around the corner, let's take a look back at what made this one so great!

The 2013 art mural was "Lupin III - the Legend of Fujiko Mine." Over the course of three days, it went from what you on day one above, to the finished work below:

All the big names were present, such as FUNimation.

Crunchyroll, who had a live-stream of the convention:

& just check out their awesome PS3!

Aniplex, with some lovely giant cloth posters:

Media Blasters. Yes, they're still alive and kicking. & they had some very... interesting things for sale:

Daisuki.net, the new name in the streaming game.

Sentai Filmworks.

MangaGamer had their own little hentai booth. One of their highlights for sale was a game called Boob Wars:

Newcomer to town Anime Sols didn't have a booth, but they did have a panel. This was pretty early on in their existence, so they explained what they were about. Pledging money to release great anime series that have never been released in the US before.

FUNimation had an interesting DVD behind the scenes production panel. They mentioned how advantageous it is to research and read the manga before they start translating and subbing a series, how on some license-rescues they'll go back & redo the subtitles to make them better (Fafner was a big example, having lots of problems on Geneon's original release), and went into detail about how come blu-ray releases have odd episode counts on each disc (9 eps on one, 3 on another, instead of 6 & 6). Basically a two-layered disc can fit a lot of eps, but a single layered disc can't. But 2-layered discs also cost a bit more to produce. So they'll often have one 2-layered disc, & one single layer disc to save money.

Next up was the Digimon panel! Lots of fond memories for everyone in attendance. Laid back & lots of fun, the panel had the entire audience sing the original English dub opening. There was also a fair bit of Savers bashing, & odd things overhead such as "Myotismon is a douche."

Sentai was the first major anime company to hold an industry panel, but alas didn't have anything major to announce at that time. They did answer some interesting FAQ though, such as revealing their top three best-selling titles are Highschool of the Dead, Angel Beats, & Demon King Daimou. There was also no update on when we can expect a release of season 4 of Familiar of Zero, even though they licensed it awhile ago. Speculation is they're waiting to get the first three seasons first, which, at that time, they didn't have any of yet.

Vertical also didn't have anything to announce, sadly, but still held an interesting panel. Flowers of Evil was discussed, mainly because of how controversial the anime was. However, we were rest assured that the manga is very different. The anime did help boost sales of the manga, though. They also talked about upcoming Japanese & anime-themed cookbooks they were releasing ("And now on to the titles that actually make money for us - cookbooks!"). Then moved on to Gundam the Origin. They had asked Sunrise why they couldn't use Garma on the cover of volume 2, who was the most important character in that volume. Sunrise responded, "Because nobody will buy figures of Garma. Use Amaro." Finally they discussed their biggest seller of the past few years, Chi's Sweet Home. "See, some of our manga actually sells!"

Let's Play Oregon Trail is always one of the funnest pars of ACen. An entire room contributes to playing a game of Oregon Trail, with a few volunteers doing the main work- but with lots of twists! These include Physical Challenges, ala Double-Dare style! Lots of other things also make up for a few really fun hours. This year's game had the main character's party dying at a record pace. Despite being the sole survivor for a good chunk of the game & not willing to die ("What is he living for?!"), the game finally ended when the game froze ("It's the only way Oregon could kill us!")

Voice actor Sonny Strait's press panel was quite good. He discussed how Mel Blanc is his biggest influence in VA work, how emotional he got during Usopp's crying scene, how lots of his characters seem to die ("It's in my contract"), & that it was the Japanese executives that wanted Sogeking changed to Sniper King for the dub. He also said that voice-acting is like puppeteering, only reversed, & that voicing Krillin was like playing Popeye on helium.

The FUNimation industry panel is always one of the biggest events at ACen. They announced how they were close to getting a million likes on Facebook, & that a big announcement would come once they do (which wound up being licensing Evangelion 3.33), & that the big relaunch of their site was coming soon. But the biggest news of course was that they officially licensed Attack on Titan for home video release. They did do some Q&A, but declared ahead of time that they would not answer any questions about DBZ Battle of the Gods movie or Sailor Moon.

Viz Media, who has never had an ACen panel before, had TWO this year! One was for Neon Alley, & the other an industry panel, both lead by the lovely Char. She discussed both Viz anime & manga. Their digital apps & releases were highlighted, & explained how they were a good home for older and out of print titles (like Please Save my Earth, Case Closed, & MAR). They also formally announced that K would be getting a dub & home video release (& therefor Neon Alley release too).

Aniplex was next to hold an industry panel. It was lead by the Aniplex Guy, whose shirt actually says "The Aniplex Guy." They promoted their dub of Fate/Zero that was airing on Neon Alley, & upcoming releases like Oreimo 2 & Monogatari. They also showed a dub trailer for Sword Art Online, & announced that the Blue Exorcist movie would be playing at US theaters.

One of the biggest events at Anime Central for 2013 though was the dub premiere of Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail, lead by Rock's dub VA Brad Swaile. Yup, Light Yagami himself! There was also a secret prizes being given out. Whoever had a homemade DragonBall (made by Brad himself!) taped under their chair would win a prize. & whoever had the 4-star ball would win the grand prize, a figure of Revy signed by the entire dub cast!

As it so happened, my girlfriend was sitting in that very chair! Which she eventually gave to me as a gift, many months later.

The final industry panel for the weekend was Crunchyroll. As this took place right in middle of the Spring anime season, they didn't have anything to announce, but did answer any questions. It turns out they can't sub most opening & ending themes due to rights issues from Japan. Doing so on AKB0048 was described as a "miracle of god." But most interestingly was that they gave the best answer yet as to why both them & Funi got to simulcast Attack on Titan. It would seem that FUNimation had the rights first, but Crunchyroll was interested in sharing & so were granted rights as well.

Actor & director Chris Ayres was the next guest to have a press panel. As a director, Chris relies on having an outside director as a sort of third eye. He takes 2 days to cast a show. & because of the fast turnaround that the Japanese studio wants, he usually has to hire mostly veterans in order to assure good quality. But he still enjoys taking new talent in. 99% of open calls for auditions are not actors. Just anime fans. & usually, unusable. All-day auditions can often lead to just one person making the cut. An alarming amount of demos and auditions consist of imitating established anime dub actors. This of course is totally unneeded. They need NEW voices.

As always, there's quite a few hentai panels late at night. Topics ranged from "is futa considered yuri?" to reading aloud My Little Pony fanfiction.

And as always, all the merch!

& that's all she wrote for ACen 2013! Another great year & lots of fun. Can't wait for the next one!