Anime Crossroads 2011 Recap

The 3rd annual Anime Crossroads took place this past weekend (December 16-18th) in Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Marriot East convention center. With my schedule this year, I was only able to snag a day pass on Saturday to check it out and I can assess the turnout was WAY better this year than last year. Last year had a snafu with the website going down a few days before the event. This year was packed with enough young people in cosplay to make me start wondering if I’m getting old with all their hyper energy running down the halls.

What is an anime convention? It’s a convention like Gen Con that aims directly for the otaku — the people who love and appreciate anime which is Japanese animation. At an anime convention, you’ll see lots of people in costumes, some of which are entering a costume contest that weekend, but most are not and are just doing it for fun. The best to see are the groups who dress up together from the same show and not only spend the weekend in costume but in character talking to other people and posing for photos. Besides the costume contest, there is a viewing room where anime is always playing and there’s a schedule so you can check out something new or rewatch your favorite shows.

My favorite panels to attend at Anime Conventions are the voice actor panels. Voice actors dub english for the American audiences. It is very challenging because the Japanese actors originate the roles and American voice actors have to make it their own and emote while matching mouth flaps of the animation. This year’s voice actors were Monica Rial, Todd Haberkorn, and Vic Mignogna. Monica has voiced characters in almost every anime under the sun (like Sakura from “Tsubasa“), and it was a pleasure to meet her and attend her panel. She is hyper, cheerful, and very gracious with her fans, always willing to repeat answers for those who come in late and ask the same questions and talked to everyone in line later at her autograph session (which we got a great spot in line for and didn’t wait long!). She started her panel early because she didn’t really need set up and answered questions for a full hour and a half even though she was sick. I recorded her whole panel and you can check out the first video of the playlist below.

I was really excited to meet Todd Haberkorn because he voices great characters in a few of my favorite shows like the leads in “My Bride is a Mermaid” and “Sgt. Frog“, but was disappointed to see the only panel on the schedule for Saturday, the main day of the convention when the most people attend, was a concert. That was cool because it was a unique experience I hadn’t had at a convention before, but disappointing because I’d never met him and would have loved to hear him talk about his career and let us get to know him. It was also unfortunate that we had already waited in a line for an hour and the concert was another 20 minutes late in starting and we couldn’t get into the room! They cited technical difficulties. Todd puts on a one man and a guitar show where he covers some Dave Matthews and U2, but mostly sings his own songs which song a great deal like his influences. Then afterward, his autograph lined stretched the length of the convention center and since we were starving, I had to give up on meeting Todd and getting my photo taken with him. Here’s my favorite clip from the concert (You can check out the full playlist on my YouTube channel: TeamHauntedFlower):

The other voice actor at the convention was Vic Mignogna, the voice of Edward Elric from “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood“, Tamaki from “Ouran High School Host Club”, and Fay from “Tsubasa” among many others. I’ve met Vic many times now and he never disappoints. He has a huge crowd of fan girls who shriek and sigh during his panels. He answers many of the same questions about how anyone would become a voice actor and discourages anyone from picking up and moving to Texas while still advising them to follow their dreams and learn to be an actor first. He talks about how lucky he is to do what he loves and that voice acting isn’t for anyone who wants to be rich and thanks God many times. He even has a free CD he gives out to the kids of his voice reading the Bible. His autograph line is insane and I don’t attempt to wait in it since I’ve gotten to hang out with him several times before.

What else was going on at the convention? This year, a very impressive arcade lined the walls of the main lobby complete with a Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova machine, Star Wars games, fighting and racing games, and more. The only drawback? The need for quarters which I didn’t bring. There is also an AMV contest each year which are “Anime Music Videos”. People take clips from their favorite shows and edit it together to music sometimes adding effects. They can be funny or serious but usually always tell a story and this year there were over 20 entries which was a LOT. I never found out who won because after all those videos, I had to get to the bathroom, like, NOW.

Just like Gen Con, there’s a Dealer room where you can go buy stuff. This year’s had a Maid Cafe for a refreshment experience, lots of action figures and plushies (stuffed toys of your favorite characters), t-shirts, hats, costume pieces, manga, DVDs, Blu-rays, Hentai, keychains, and Japanese junk food like Pocky (cookie sticks covered in chocolate or another flavor), sweet buns, and gummy snacks. Other panels that take place over the weekend are for people who want to learn more about anime or improve a skill. For example, a friend of our’s ran a panel on “Para Para dancing” where you’d learn a dance you’d seen done in a Japanese music video or by anime characters like those in the opening credits to “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”. Other panels might help you learn how to work with leather for future cosplays or write better fan fiction or how to make your own plushie.

All in all, this might have been the convention’s most successful year yet (which their first year would be pretty hard to top since it had Vic Mignogna, Christopher Sabat, Stephanie Sheh, and Brina Palencia). The convention ran smoothly (other than Todd’s panel’s technical difficulties) and the line police were out in force making sure lines stayed to the sides of the hallways as much as possible so other people could navigate through them. The panels were even blocked with 30 minute windows for set up in between so not to waste time. If you couldn’t find something to do, it was pretty much your fault. Good job, Anime Crossroads!

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