Anime Expo 2013 at L.A. Convention Center

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Anime Expo 2013 takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, from Thursday, July 4, to Sunday, July 7.

The largest project managed by the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Anime, Anime Expo has been held on Fourth of July weekend as a four-day event. It has grown in scale dramatically, and is currently the largest anime and manga convention in North America. Established in 1992, it is the second-longest-running anime convention after A-kon in Texas.

Popular large events include the Masquerade, Anime Music Video Contest, Battle of the Bands, and the AX Fashion Show. Anime Expo is a 24-hour convention that offers late-night dances, all-night video programming, tabletop gaming rooms, and open-mic karaoke in the late evening/early morning hours. Many of the attendees cosplay while attending the convention, and there are many gatherings for fans of different anime and manga series.

Renowned for its ability to bring famous guests to America for panels and concerts, Anime Expo has been the site of many U.S. premieres of shows, movies, and bands.

This year’s special guests include:

CELL

CELL, formed in July 2012 with Kon, Sin and Nao, all formerly of La’Mule, and Yuki, will make their first U.S. appearance live at Anime Expo. They will join a Visual Kei event also featuring renowned solo artist Kaya and musical unit Moon Stream, featuring Satsuki and Tomo, on July 5.

The Chalk Twins, Lexi and Devon, will work on their large-scale “Fate/Zero” piece. Upon completion, the piece will be available for purchase at the Charity Auction on July 7. The self-proclaimed geeks have found joy in the characters, story lines and art of anime.

• Director Kazuhiro Furuhashi, who has worked on such titles as Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story,” “Hunter x Hunter,” “Le Chevalier D’Eon,” “Real Drive” and “Amatsuki.” He began directing “Mobile Suit Gundam UC (Unicorn)” and is currently working the final episode for that series.

Alodia Gosiengfiao, renowned cosplay artist, model and actress, who serves as an ambassador and VJ for Animax-Asia and co-host of ABS-CBN’s prank show “Laugh Out Loud.”

• Voice actor Megumi Han, who has played Gon Freecss in “Hunter x Hunter,” Akko Kagari in “Little Witch Academia,” and Sumire Hanano in “Chihayafuru 2.” She has worked on popular series such as “Digimon” and “Yu-Gi-Oh” and done voiceovers for computer games and foreign dramas.

Character designer huke, best known for such works as “BlackRock Shooter” and “Steins;Gate.” He has also contributed character designs to “Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops” and “Metal Gear Solid 4.”

Aya Ikeda and CARAT

Aya Ikeda, best known for singing the opening themes for “Heart-Catch Pre-Cure,” “Sweet Pre-Cure,” and “Smile Pre-Cure,” and J-Pop group CARAT, a five-member DJ, dance and vocal unit, will give a special free concert on July 4.

• Voice actor Kazuhiko Inoue, who has a prolific and memorable body of work extending from the 1970s through today, from seminal anime series like “Candy Candy” (as Anthony) and “Space Battleship Yamato” (as Akira Yamamoto) to contemporary hits like “Naruto” (as Hatake Kakashi) and “Fruits Basket” (as Hatori Sohma). He has also dubbed American series for Japanese TV.

• Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (“Ghost in the Shell: ARISE”), revolutionized the anime industry as a founder and current CEO/president of animation studio Production I.G. Inc. His credits as producer include “Ghost in the Shell,” “Kill Bill, Vol. 1,” “Blood: The Last Vampire,” and “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.”

• Noizi Ito, character designer and illustrator, whose work includes “Shakugan no Shana” by Dengeki Bunko, the “Haruhi Suzumiya” series by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko, and most recently, “The Guided Fate Paradox” by Nippon Ichi Software Inc.

Kaname, a Japanese cosplayer who made his debut at Comiket 2007. A wide variety of media outlets have featured Kaname, making him one of the world’s most recognizable and renowned cosplayers. He has cosplayed diverse characters from anime, video games, and manga, original characters, and more.

Nobuhiro Kikuchi, producer and coordinator of the animation production company P.A. Works. He is known for such anime as “Angel Beats!,” “true tears,” and “Hanasaku Iroha — Blossoms for Tomorrow.”

Porno Graffitti

• Kazuchika Kise, director and character designer of “Ghost in the Shell: ARISE” and one of the main character designers and animation supervisors at Production I.G. Inc. His credits include “Blood +,” “xxx Holic,” “Evangelion: 1.0,” “Miyamoto Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai,” “Basara: The Last Party,” and “Blood-C: The Last Dark.”

Voice actor Vic Mignogna, known for popular roles including Edward Elric in “Fullmetal Alchemist,” Tamaki Suou in “Ouran High School Host Club,” and Zero in “Vampire Knight.” He has also voiced many video games roles and is active as a producer, director and musician.

• Mari Okada, an award-winning screenwriter who has contributed to the world of anime since 1998 and worked on such favorites as “Toradora!,” “Black Butler” and  “AKB0048.”

Porno Graffitti will make their U.S. live debut at Club Nokia on July 6. Their hit anime themes include “Winding Road” (“Ayakashi Ayashi”), “Koyoi, Tsuki ga Miezu Tomo” (the third “Bleach” film), “2012 Spark” (“Gyakuten Saiban”), “Matataku Hoshi no Shita de” (Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”).

• Ram Rider, a prolific DJ, producer, lyricist and vocalist, will be behind the decks at AXDance, Anime Expo’s showcase of leading EDM DJs from the U.S. and Japan. He blazed up the Shibuya club and Oricon charts working as a remixer and composer with artists like Ayumi Hamasaki, Suzuki Ami, Sawa, Halcali, m-flo, Orange Range, Meg, and Speed.

Sakura, a manga artist, illustrator, radio/TV personality, and model. She specializes in female character design, and her illustration work includes light novel book covers.

• Keigo Sasaki, supervising animation director and character designer for “Blue Exorcist: The Movie,” which will its U.S. premiere at Anime Expo. His vast credits include “Sengoku Basara” 1 and 2, “Nightraid,” and “Blue Exorcist.” This will be his first time appearing at an anime convention in the U.S.

Starmarie

Makoto Shinkai will premiere his latest animated film, “The Garden of Words.” He is known for “Voices of a Distant Star,” “5cm per Second,” “She and Her Cat,” “The Place Promised in Our Early Days,” and the feature-length “Children Who Chase Lost Voices.”

• J-pop artists Starmarie will be making their U.S. live debut at Anime Expo. Featuring Shino Takamori, Nozomi Kishita and Shiori Aoki, the group recently released their second album, “Fantasy World 2,” and have also collaborated with Yanagi Nobuto and gothic lolita brand Opera theDream House.

Mirai Suenaga, the site mascot character for Culture Japan, will perform a live concert.  Developed by Danny Choo in 2007 as a single illustration in the corner of his website, she has gained much popularity worldwide.

• Último Dragón, international wrestling legend and Lucha Libre icon, returns to the U.S. after an eight-year hiatus as a judge for LA FIGHT, Japan Film Society’s anime-based short film competition. He will also host a panel and signing autographs for his upcoming “Último Dragón Kickstarter” graphic novel.

George Wada, who has produced a number of recent hits, including the wildly popular “Attack on Titan,” “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings,” “Kimi ni Todoke,” “Guilty Crown,” “Robotics;Notes,” and “PSYCHO-PASS.” He is the founder and president of WIT Studio.

• Director Masaaki Yuasa will present the North American premiere of the Kickstarter-funded project “Kick-heart!” He has been involved in many notable series such as “Crayon Shin-chan,” “Hakkenden,” “My Neighbors the Yamadas,” and “Samurai Champloo,” leading up to his directorial debut with “Mind Game.”

Cost: $75 for four-day attendee ($35 for children 6 to 12), $65 for two-day attendee, $45 for one-day attendee, $30 for Exhibit Hall only. For registration or more information, visit www.anime-expo.org/.

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