Since 1992, Anime Expo has been giving us all sorts of distinct memories. Some have been amazing, some lukewarm, and some even disappointing, but no hard feelings here. Anime Expo is not just about attending the programming lineup. Rather it is also about meeting other people who share your interests. Through cosplaying, new friends are made through gatherings. In karaoke rooms, the shyest girl in the room builds up incredible courage to sing her favorite theme song from the Evangelion series. And a true devotee of Morning Musume will finally get to see them perform live in person.
Thanks for all the memories, AX. Here's to you: our top ten.
1. Clamp's First US Appearance at Anime Expo 2006
Anime Expo is no stranger to firsts -- and this one in particular was extremely special. One of Japan's most beloved manga groups makes their first appearance in the United States. The show had the huge room filled to capacity (as if it was for a concert), and even if the actual event wasn't too exciting, just having them there was awesome enough.
2. Concerts Galore at Anime Expo 2007
Anime Expo 2007 featured a very impressive lineup of concerts: the infamous SOS Bridgade, the megaline up of supergroup S.K.I.N., Akihabara starlet Halko Mamoi, ska group Oreskaband, and Kamikaze star Anna Tsuchiya all made apperances. I'm sure you were just as overwhelmed as we were.
3. Yoko Kanno at Anime Expo 1999
One of the most talented and versatile musicians of her generation, Yoko Kanno helped define countless hit series, including Vision of Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Wolf's Rain, and the legendary Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop wouldn't have been as amazing if weren't for her amazing compositions (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgTS_AIbcC8) and collaborations (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-RXJa17ea0) with other talented musicians. She's also known for her collaborations (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ydLyHcIRwc) with J-pop starlet Maaya Sakamoto, as well as being the front woman for her jazz band, The Seatbelts. It's unfortunate that Kanno didn't make her appearance at Anime Expo a year or two later, when Cowboy Bebop became a huge hit in America.
4. Ultimate Hellsing OVA trailer in Anime Expo 2005
The first Hellsing anime adaptation was a weak, watered down version of Hirano Kouta's ultra-violent hit manga series. Alucard, Hellsing's gunslinging, Nazi-slaying vampire anti-hero deserved better. So when Kouta himself unveiled this super stylish trailer in a packed room at Anime Expo 2005, he showed that Hellsing would finally get the faithful adaptation anime fans had been begging for. The reception was deafening, and fans roared when their favorite heroes and villains graced the big screen. It was truly one of the great fanboy moments in recent AX memory.
5. Maaya Sakamoto Concert at Anime Expo 2005
Maaya Sakamoto made her grand debut at age 16, voicing Hitomi in the Vision of Escaflowne as well as contributing several songs for the show. It also marked the first of her many successful collaborations with the legendary Yoko Kanno. Since then, Sakamoto has had a very successful career as a musician, voice actress, and TV actress. She also sings in English (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-C9gjmhtxw) fairly well, too. Her much anticipated, but all too brief, concert at Anime Expo 2005 set the bar for musical guests until Anime Expo topped itself with its 2007 concert fest.
6. Man Faye at Various Anime Expos
Watch the video for yourself, and you'll see why. There are a lot of attention seekers at AX -- and he is very much one of them. If you're not sure who Man Faye is supposed to be (although that would be considered a blasphemy), google Faye Valentine and you'll see what we mean.
7. The New Registration System at Anime Expo 2007
Pre-registering! No more hour-long waits getting your badge to attend Anime Expo! Improvements are always welcome. We couldn't find a video of that new registration system, but you can imagine how long the lines get.
8. Premiere of Escaflowne in 2000
Before the advent of Bittorent and the emergence of high speed internet access, it was much harder for anime fans to acquire freshly-minted anime from Japan. These days, people are downloading leaked versions of movies before their official premieres. This wasn't possible for most anime fans back in 2000, so when the heavily-anticipated Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea film made its American debut that year, you had to be at Anime Expo to watch it. While the plot was mostly a condensed version of the anime with some slight changes, Escaflowne boasted amazing visuals and an incredible orchestral soundtrack, composed by Yoko Kanno, Hajime Mizoguchi, and Inon Zur. There's nothing quite like watching the premiere of a movie adaptation of your favorite anime in a room packed full of eager fans.
9. Anime Expo 1996: Hideaki Anno, Leiji Matsumoto, Mamoru Oshii, Kenichii Sonada
With this incredible lineup, 1996 was full of all sorts of amazing. These Guests of Honor are considered to be very prolific individuals in the Anime industry. Hideaki Anno is one of the co-founding members of Gainax and gave us Neon Genesis Evangelion. Anime and manga creator Leiji Matsumoto is a legend of anime space operas fame, such as Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. Both a famous screenwriter and director, Mamoru Oshii gave us Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor, and Urusei Yatsura. Manga artist Kenichii Sonada gave us the rambunctious babes of beloved series Bubblegum Crisis and Gunsmith Cats.
10. Morning Musume's 1st US Concert + Hello Project's Tsunku at Anime Expo 2009
Japan's biggest pop female group ever... in the same room room as hot-blooded otakus? It's a win-win situation. (We couldn't resist putting up the airport arrival scene. We have a thing for them.)