Hey everyone great news here at Anime Pad……!!!! We’ve been invited out to Crunchyroll’s 2017 Expo, in Santa Clara, CA. We will also attend MAGWest Gaming Culture Convention. We normally don’t do much with video games, but they have partnered with Crunchyroll. So, you’ll get Anime, games, and crossovers coming up August 25-27.
Spikey blond hair, with a nice voice, and well dressed, Kato Kaelin is mic’d up on the PA system talking to attendees. He is the radio and entertainment personality guy that became famous after the O.J. Simpson Trial as a witness. He yells, “Hey, are you guys ready to enter Wizard World??” Wizard World the pop-culture event which is held in various cities across America. This edition is Wizard World Saint Louis 2017, at the America’s Center Convention Complex April 7th-9th.
This year there are some big changes from last year or previous years altogether. The Con short for convention is smaller. The big ball rooms aren’t being used this year for panels, the gaming area is half the section it was last year. Panels are being held in smaller adjacent rooms and artist alley while still impressive is missing a third of the floor area. Comments from attendees and artist lead you to believe this is both a plus and a negative.
While there is less booths and attractions, the ability to see and experience all the con is a possibility. Foot traffic has doubled and panels aren’t so overbearingly overlapping each other. Attendees can do the entire con in one day, versus needing all three days to experience everything. Instead of attendees literally having to run to another panel across the hall or debating over two panels which is better to go to. They can enjoy the con more and possibly hit every panel or Q &A Session.
The gaming section was huge last year with games unreleased in the US being playable. Wizard World doesn’t have any of those games or displays this year. The stage was much smaller and not plastered on a huge jumbo-tron screen. Attendees could still enjoy the smaller arcade station area with more older and some 8-bit games. The gaming tournament was still available, but on a much smaller scale; although it still had some of the top gamers from around the world.
Artist Alley was another world, Wizard World brought in some artist that connected with the fans. Artist that worked on projects that adults and young adults love still to this day. Steve Lavigne is the first employee of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and childhood friends with the creators. Kurt Lehner does a ton of art, but most recognized for his character design work on Disney’s TV show Gargoyles. Mat Nastos while an artist in his own right, is most known for is novel-writing and writing for Disney’s Phineas & Ferb. There is many more artist with fabulous art work in attendance.
Attendees were worried when many of the celebrity guest canceled from the con. The last couple weeks before the con Wizard World added some great celebrity guest. It was a saving grace for the fans and attendees. celebs such as Michael Rooker (Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy), Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek TV), Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things), Randy Orton (WWE Champion), and so many more.
Gene Simmons leader singer of KISS was a guest along with his own band. The addition brought in a niche audience and plenty of memorabilia. Simmons and his band would also perform at the Pageant for an extra fee. Attendees were a little perturbed, that the usual after-party was canceled. The large dance-off where cosplayers unwind from the biggest day of the con on Saturday.
The photo ops and autographs for the celebs was very different this year. Fans could enjoy a more intimate signing with celebs being more visible. Many reactions from passerby fans was all that was needed. Many squeals are being heard and “Oh, gosh!” Celebs like Michael Rooker are walking into the crowd just talking to attendees. The thought of being able to see and possibly touch the celebs was great. McLaughlin met many young adults, some even without a fee. Wizard World Saint Louis was another successful year, and they will be returning next year.
Two nouns you usually don’t place together in the same convention building is happening. Those two nouns are otakus and wrestlers at this year’s NatsuCon on July 22th-24th. NatsuCon is a Japanese culture convention held in Collinsville, IL at the Gateway Convention Center. The con has many guest appearances and actual wrestling matches. It is a very unique con with plenty to offer attendees
The biggest name of the guest appearances is Vic Mignogna, a multi-talented person for 15 plus years. He’s an actor, voice actor, musician, director, film graduate, and much more. He has voice acted in well over 300 anime and video games. Roles such as: Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, Broly in Dragonballz, Obito/Nagato in Naruto, Ikkaku in Bleach. Video games such as: Soul Calibur, Disgaea, Dynasty Warriors, Persona III and so much more. He also produces, stars, and directs a web-based, approved by CBS non-profit 1950’s Star Trek show. It is called Star Trek Continues, and at the con he has a screening of one of the episodes. As fans wait in line for his autograph those meeting him are welcomed with a giant smile and hug. Many of the fans are crying tears of joy or hyperventilating after meeting him. Mignogna even grants a fan’s wish and does a one act from said fan’s script. These are just some of the things that make him a great person and role- model.
As Mignogna does interviews he preaches against bullying, commends people to be different and unique.
He commends fans to work hard, because, “10% of talent and 90% of hard work is better than the reverse.”
These are just some of the reasons why he is respected in the business by fans and also his peers. Chuck Huber and Christopher Sabat also voice actors whom have worked with Mignogna rave about him and his genuine niceness personal and in business.
Dynamo Pro Wrestling a wrestling organization that centers around the Midwest, is a high flying, very entertaining show for all attendees. They have many matches going on daily at the con, ear ringing explosions and the smell of gunpowder from small pyrotechnics is in the air. The wrestlers can be seen walking the halls and their outfits blend well with the cosplayers here. Rick Story one of the organizers of NatsuCon even participated in a big match. Check out the video here NatsuCon Matches.
As you walk the halls at NatsuCon at every door there is an usher in different cosplay outfits. Domo is ushering in fans to catch the Jason Charles Miller live concert. Miller is a great musician, songwriter, and newly voice actor. As a voice actor he’s noted on titles as: Super Street Fighter 4, Street Fighter X Tekken, Ultra Street Fighter 4, and Code Geass. He has worked with all kinds of top artist such as Godhead, Marilyn Manson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ben Moody and many more other people and projects. Here you can find some of his YouTube videos.
With the craze of Pokémon Go still in full force the convention was littered with Go fans running around outside the convention center. There were even a few Team Rocket members out there stealing Pokémon. The convention center served attendees from an on-hand café serving snacks, pizza, hotdogs, soda etc. The panels were abundant, from topics on how to be a YouTube sensation to Japanese folktales and myths. They even had a panel covering Tokusatsu, which isn’t touched much at anime conventions. Tokusatsu is basically live-action drama with a ton of special effects. In Japan the two biggest series are Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. They each have a different variation of the show every year, with different plots and characters. The American equivalent of those series is Power Rangers and the Masked Rider.
Most of the time at conventions Saturday is the busiest day and the biggest day. Therefore, for attendees that were 18+ after all the festivities, there is a huge rave party, glow in the dark, edm style. A spectacle to see, where attendees let out everything and just go for broke. It’s great fun and attendees are surrounded by like-minded people. The vendors room and artist alley are like those you see at all the anime conventions. More cosplay outfits you can buy, posters, t-shirts, props, swords. If you’re into K-pop there is a booth for that too, all the biggest names from Korea. Different about the artist alley is more and more homemade toys, plushies, dolls, and glassware that is anime themed. The organizers are already working on NatsuCon 2017 and for more info click here.