With the pandemic still ongoing, in-person conventions are still put on hold, and digital conventions have definitely become the de facto form of conventions. Anime Expo Lite (AX Lite) held its second digital convention last July 3-4, 2021. That’s two days filled with content sure to pique the interest of those that are parched for anime conventions. While most conventions don’t tend to archive their content, Anime Expo Lite this year decided to go through the road less traveled and offered VOD for the majority of the AX’s content, which was a plus for people who might have missed certain panels due to time zones; they get to watch it at their convenience.
The first day started with the Crunchyroll Industry Panel, where they showcased some of the highly anticipated anime that will be gracing their service, such as the sequel to Kobayashi Chi no Maid Dragon, Kobayashi no Maid Dragon S. There was also a brief segment from Ayumu Murase, the voice actor of the protagonist from the new series dealing with people with powers participating in a high-speed battle, Battle Game in 5 Seconds. Ayumu Murase, also a gamer, noted that something he had in common with the protagonist was that they were pretty good at most things without really trying hard, which bored them. But when they found something new that was challenging (acting for Murase), they were very much invested.
What better way to introduce their visual novels than having their mascot showcase their visual novel style offerings? LA-based Project Sekai gives their fans a treat by showing teasers of their recent and upcoming releases in the next segment, Visual Novels with Project Sekai.
VTuber fans had a field day as not one, not two, but all five members of Hololive English graced the screens on their first-ever convention appearance: Mori Calliope, Amelia Watson, Ninomae Inanis, Gura Gawr, and Kiara Takanashi. Hijinks ensue as they also introduce their Japanese and Indonesian counterparts and, of course, the male VTubers of HoloStars. One of the most iconic scenes was Yukoku Roberu’s short stint as an impostor in Among Us, where he utters the “Cafeteria in my soul” line.
For viewers fond of dancing, the next panel, Para Para Workshop with the Corps Dance Crew, introduced the club dance craze in the early 2000s. Voice Actors for My Hero Academia showed a Para Para routine. It’s interesting to note basics such as that Para Para movements start from the right, that one has to maintain a neutral expression while doing the steps, and that movement should be relaxed and should not be taking up a huge space.
The J-Novel Club Industry Panel showcased some of their upcoming releases as Min-Maxing my TRPG Build in Another World, and My Daughter Left the Nest and Returned an S-Rank Adventurer.
The next panel gives a glimpse of an upcoming Hayao Miyazaki Exhibition at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. They talk about the inspiration for the various installations in the said exhibition and how each Miyazaki movie translated to certain exhibit sections.
The next panel, Project Anime Presents: Understanding Your Rights as an Artist, gave aspiring creatives insights on how to protect their work and how copyright should work for them.
The next panel was Mihoyo showcasing the version 1.6 updates to the global hit gacha, Genshin Impact – from the Golden Apple Archipelago to the new samurai-inspired foe, Maguu Kenki.
The next panel, A Taste of Tokusatsu, talked about the history of tokusatsu and, at times, delved into the history of famous kaiju such as Godzilla. Definitely not a panel to be missed by fans of these metal heroes.
For fans of George Lucas’ Space epic, Star Wars, the next panel, Lucasfilm – Star Wars Visions- Sneak Preview, provided a teaser of the highly-anticipated project Star Wars Visions. The project comprises various content from studios such as Studio Trigger, Production IG, and Science Saru. It will be interesting to see how Star Wars has touched various creators worldwide and how their vision will welcome additions to the Star Wars universe.
Of course, no convention would be complete without cosplay. Hosted by famous cosplayer/entrepreneur Yaya Han, the AXL Cosplay Spot-Lite Competition had many entries that showcased fans’ creativity.
In the next panel, GOOD SMILE COMPANY WONHOBBY LITE!, Japanese Good Smile Company, well-known for its Nendoroid line of figures, gave viewers worldwide a teaser of their upcoming goods. Everyone was in for a pleasant surprise when they announced a Nendoroid of Monika from Doki Doki Literature Club.
The next panel, Introduction to the Way of the Tea, Mayo cosplay, talked about tea ceremonies, their history, and do’s and don’ts of tea drinking. The panel is perfect for those intrigued about Japanse tea ceremonies and have found it too daunting to give it a try.
Anime News Network talked about how the biggest anime and manga news website is maintained in their panel.
6%DOKIDOKI, the shop known for its “SENSATIONAL KAWAII” products, gave a virtual show that had fashion fans salivating. They showcased their colorful threads via a virtual fashion show to give an overview of their brand.
Have you ever wanted to dance like one of AX’s butlers? Now’s the perfect chance to learn how to be groovy as official AX Butler Cafe choreographer Michael Avelino teaches a dance routine similar to the one AX butlers perform.
Fans of the franchise, Obey Me!, had an opportunity to ask the voice actors questions on their roles and how they felt about the anime being announced. The voice actors of the main cast expressed their appreciation to the fans and mentioned how glad they were to meet fans online. They also wished that they’d be able to meet their fans face to face one day.
The second day of AX begins with a bang as Kousuke Ono, the creator of the yakuza combined with a slice of life manga, The Way of the Househusband, hosted a live-drawing session while answering fans’ queries. When asked which character most resembled him, Ono-san mentioned that within the work, most of the characters sound like he does and that his friends have pointed out that all of the characters actually sound like him. But if Ono-san had to choose one, he thinks that it’s Masa that’s the most like him with his manner where he can’t be bothered to do things. He also emphasized that while it’s not a cooking manga, there’s always a possibility that recipes will appear in the manga if they are part of the story.
For those curious about VTubers and who would like to delve deeper into these virtual characters, Nijisanji English gave a crash course on Virtual YouTubers. Pomu Rainpuff, Elira Pendora, and Finana Ryugu also answer some questions from fans.
The Building, a Stronger Community Panel, tackled one of the most pressing issues in American society, Anti-Asian sentiment in the middle of the COVID pandemic.
The next panel, The Future of Otaku, talked about the effects of the COVID situation on otaku culture and how digitization has helped evolve the otaku landscape. Since most (if not all) events were canceled due to the pandemic, conventions and most meetings have been moved to the digital space, and at first, people were more guarded when interacting with others. As people get used to meeting through the internet, they’re now less guarded and more willing to open up a bit more.
The next segment, FEATURE FILM FIRST LOOK: “CHILD OF KAMIARI MONTH” offered a preview of the gorgeous anime set in the Izumo region. Kanna, a 12-year-old, takes on her departed mother’s mantle to deliver offerings from Japan to the destined event, the god’s gathering in Izumo.
The next panel was a Q&A session with some of the English Voice cast of My Hero Academia. They talk about the new season, the school festival arc, which seems to be more lighthearted than previous seasons. One of the interesting topics discussed during the session was about the new villains, which they were very interested in given the show’s track record with previous villains. The new set will be that much different.
For fans of Hololive, Day 2 brings the gals of Hololive English once again to your screens. They started with a brief getting-to-know session where the girls discussed their favorite anime and video games. Amelia Watson’s favorite anime was Girls’ Last Tour (not “twerk,” she jokingly said.) Gawr Gura’s favorite games would be the Devil May Cry Series, Inanis’ favorite anime was Sangatsu no Lion, Kiara’s would be the Bakemonogatari series, and Calliope’s was Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. For the entirety of the panel, they played a telepathy game, where the girls were asked questions, and they had to write down the answers they thought the others would write. Hilarity ensues as they try to decipher what goes through the other members’ minds.
The next panel showed another form of anime-related artistry, anime tattoos. Tattoo Artist Goretaku said he was initially surprised that there was a demand for anime and video game-related tattoos and how different it was from his previous tattoos, mostly original design based.
Pony Canyon’s panel, PONY CANYON’S LATEST AND UPCOMING ANIME LINEUP IN 2021, showed viewers various clips and teasers from their shows such as Attack on Titan, SSSS. Dynazenon, and Yuki Yuna is a Hero. For fans looking for newer content, they also showed their 2021 lineup, including Taisho Otome Romance Fairy Tale.
There was also a preview of an anime with famed anisong artist MAY’N singing the ending theme, Shikizakura. Set in Nagoya, this anime features onus and powered suits with stunning art.
For occult fans, YUREI THE JAPANESE GHOST – ZACK DAVISSON VIRTUAL PANEL 2021 was a panel focused on ghosts in Japanese culture. The panel talked about how ghosts are closely intertwined with the Japanese summer. From the foreigner Lafcadio Hearn who recorded various ghost stories from Japan, to Junji Ito’s distinctive brand of shoujo horror manga, this panel showed Japan’s rich ghost story culture.
Bilingual VTuber Aimu Sora appeared with Show Hayami, a veteran voice actor with over 40 years of voice acting experience as a guest. Best known for his role as Jinguji Jakurai in Hypnosis Mic and Aizen in Bleach, Show Hayami is the 19th senpai to grace Aimu’s show. Hayami-san suggested a nickname for himself, Show-pon, to signify that he and Aimu have gotten a bit closer. Hayami-san mentioned that he wanted to be a doctor when he was younger and when asked what made him choose his current profession, he answered money, which Aimu found surprisingly blunt. Hayami-san recounted that when the idea of HypMic was first raised, it was at a drinking party and never expected that he’d be involved with any kind of rapping. When the producers approached him to be part of the project, he initially declined, but they kept telling him that it will be okay. When asked what character best highlights his career of over 40 years, Hayami-san mentioned that voicing Aizen was the most challenging because Aizen had pages upon pages of monologues during action scenes.
The last panel for day 2 of Anime Expo was of Studio Trigger staff members hosting a doodle session where they asked fans for their input on which character they’ll be drawing the stream. Fans voted for Kill La Kill’s Mako Mankanshoku, and her bubbly personality came out in said drawing! Another fan request was a doodle of Space Patrol Luluco’s Over Justice.
Manga subscription services futekiya and Manga Planet also held an Industry Panel where the team members introduced the manga streaming services for Boys’ Love (futekiya) and more general manga (Manga Planet). One of the key selling features for both services is that you only pay a flat monthly fee to access all of the content in their library. Also, every time you view a particular manga (even if it’s a repeat view), it will contribute to the mangaka’s income, so you’ll be able to support your favorite mangakas legally. The services are part of an anti-piracy drive and are working to make manga more accessible to everyone. The biggest announcements during this panel were that Kodansha titles are coming to Manga Planet, and 16 BL titles from Home-sha are also making their way to futekiya.
Have a sweet tooth and love all things Japanese? The Candy Samurai Panel delved into the art of amezaiku, the Japanese art of candy crafting. Watch as a master create various sweet works of art, including Tanjiro from the hit anime Demon Slayer.
Fans of Filipino comics rejoice as the long-awaited supernatural comic, Trese by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo finally got an animated adaptation on Netflix, who also was present on the Trese Panel. It’s interesting to note that way back in the early stages of conception, Alexandra Trese was supposed to be a tough guy detective that fought against the aswangs in Manila, but somewhere along the way, they decided to change it into a female lead as this was something that was still not common in the Philippine pop culture scene. Budjette then showed the very first sketch that Kajo did of Trese. True enough to his promise when Budjette sent him enough material to have a 20-page comic, Kajo finished the first 20 pages in 20 days and then asked Budjette for the next part of the script.
All in all, Anime Expo Lite 2021 has definitely offered a convention that improved on their last convention. The archiving of contents was definitely an inspired choice that’s more con-goer-friendly. We are definitely looking forward to more conventions like this one.
About Manga Planet: Read manga, support artists
In 2012, Manga Planet started as a joint project between Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and FANTASISTA, INC. to research and explore the ways manga is read throughout the world. Aiming to bring new manga to fans worldwide and support artists and the industry, Manga Planet pushes for affordability and access to manga through a subscription-based service.
Readers who subscribe to Manga Planet and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.mangaplanet.com and create an account. More information is in our Guide.