Sakura Con Coverage – Day 2

Saturday was a busy day at Sakura Con! After I attended the Mayumi Tanaka press conference, there were plenty of events to keep all congoers entertained.

Tea Ceremony Demonstration:

This quiet demonstration was a look at a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, with explanations and commentary about the process as well as the actions of the demonstrators. At the end, audience volunteers were given the opportunity to go up on stage to whisk tea and experience a tea ceremony first hand. This panel was more popular than the Kabuki panel, although there were two separate tea ceremony demonstrations scheduled that day.

Funimation Industry Panel:
Here there were more previews of videos currently released and soon to be available. This was followed by a question and answer period with the audience.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood will be released on May 25th. And a Geneon “rescue” series, X, will be available on June 15th (the complete series and OVA). My Bride is a Mermaid will also be coming soon.

For our readers in the US; Funimation is currently in talks with Comcast about offering the Funimation channel as a linear cable channel. An HD Funimation channel is also coming, thanks to AT&T. currently, the Funimation channel has free and pay per view options. They not only air Funimation titles, but quite a few Viz titles as well.

One of their new acquisitions is Black Butler. Casting is currently in progress and will be announced in the summer. The series should be available in early 2011.

More new series soon to be available for purchase are Spice and Wolf season 2, Chobits, and the Eden of the East movies.

It was not surprising to hear an audience member mention the recession and ask how well Funimation is dealing with it, especially considering that other anime licensors have been doing poorly. Funimation is dealing with things well though and said that having episodes available online for screening is helpful as a way for customers to preview before purchasing. However, they are a bit disappointed that there aren’t more successful licensors out there now as healthy competition can be encouraging.

When asked how to get their attention and let them know that fans are interested in particular series, they said that fansubs are not helpful because they can’t be tracked. Petitions and comments, however, do get their attention. After the panel, I spoke with Lance Heiskell briefly and he was enthusiastic about our Operation Moonrise report! So rest assured, fans, Funimation is listening.

Also, for any fans leading anime clubs (at the high school or post-secondary levels), check out Funimation’s Operation Anime to get free anime for your screenings.

For those unfamiliar with this game, Risemball is essentially dodge ball with a Fullmetal Alchemist fan twist. Edward Elric’s Risembool Rangers played against Roy Mustang’s Miniskirt Army, both intent on winning bragging rights. Although the Rangers did win one match, the Miniskirt Army won many more overall. I’m sure the Rangers were very disappointed, but it looked like everyone enjoyed the game anyway.

It was fun to watch, especially with the playful commentary of the hosts representing each team. It’s too bad Vic Mignogna wasn’t there to cheer on the Rangers, he was busy signing autographs elsewhere.

The Miniskirt Army host said at one point that the Rangers have complained that there are always big college guys in the Miniskirt Army and that it isn’t “fair” because they don’t wear miniskirts. She said that college guys LOVE miniskirts, so it made plenty of sense for them to support the Miniskirt Army.

Live Dubbing Panel with Todd Haberkorn:
Just like how it sounds, this panel was a live dubbing of a scene from an anime series. Audience volunteers were given the opportunity to try out their voice acting and did really well! Todd Haberkorn adjusted the timing of the voice acting and when it was all cleaned up and timed correctly, he played back the scene for us. It was a fun behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the dubbing process.

Dazzle Vision Concert:
This was followed by a concert by High and Mighty Color, but we left part way through the setup and switch over. Dazzle Vision has a very unique sound. The lead singer has a really cutesy speaking voice, but when she sings she ranges between melodic and almost screaming. I’ve never heard a band like that before.

Stay tuned for more Sakura Con convention coverage! There’s still more to come.

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