Otakon 2011 has come and gone in its usual three day stampede through Baltimore, MD. A great time was had by all and some were mentally scarred by the weekend (Ninja Legion style!). Two of us, Heimdall and myself, had the opportunity to attend the Sunrise and Bandai After Dark panels. Since we were a couple of Gundam fanatics we were looking forward to what both had to offer in the Gundam lineup for anime old and new. I must say we were not disappointed!
We started off with Sunrise productions and the panel room was over half full for this. What was a nice treat for us fans, was that this was their very first convention in the U.S. So of course the fans had to make them feel welcome with a barrage of questions and thank you messages during the question and answer portion. We learned that, out of over three hundred anime productions from Sunrise, approximately seventy five percent of those are actually original works and not based off of a manga. That’s an impressive feat and Sunrise has been around since 1972. Not only are they known for creating the Gundam franchise but the other notable titles they’ve produced are Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, Witch Hunter Robin, and Inuyasha.
Since Sunrise works in conjunction with Bandai, the titles mentioned at both panels for release were pretty much the same, with the Sunrise panel focusing mainly on the company and what they have accomplished. The Bandai After Dark got started off with a bang by one of the panelists getting the crowd all fired up. Then we got the nice surprise of Bandai swag that was originally going to be for the first four hundred or so attendees, but they had more than enough for everyone there. We all received a Gurren Lagan drawstring back pack filled figurines that originally came with Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex original release DVD special boxed sets. There were six Ghost in the Shell figures in the bags (original release contained eleven) and everyone got the same ones. Then there was volume one of the Eureka Seven manga series and the crown jewel of the swag in the bag: a T-shirt with a blue Japanese schoolgirl outfit on the front and the back. Put the shirt on and you’d look like you were in a girl’s uniform! **lol** We also got to pick up extra figures from the boxes Bandai had since they didn’t get pass them all out.
The panel also featured several voice actresses from K-On and one from the new CGI movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance. They sang what I believe was the opening song from K-On and they had a contest to see if anyone was brave enough to come on stage to sing it themselves in Japanese! One guy answered the call and wowed the crowd! For his efforts he got the K-On banner that was onstage and autographed by the ladies. We also got to see some spoiler material for the new Haruhi Suzumiya movie. I haven’t seen the series so it didn’t bother me, plus it was in Japanese with no subtitles, so no harm no foul on me giving away anything about it. But, at the end of the panel, we were treated to voice actor bloopers from the movie courtesy of Crispin Freeman. Oh, so wrong and oh, so hilarious to hear!!
We even received what a lot of us had been waiting for, a list of upcoming new releases from Bandai and Sunrise and a couple that had just came out in the past few days. Hopefully, I remember all of what was shown, so please bear with me if I may have missed a title or two:
Akira DVD re-release
Tiger and Bunny
25cm Per Second
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Tekken: Blood Vengeance
Gundam Unicorn Volume 4(December 2011 release)
Gundam 00 The Movie: AWakening of the Trailblazer
Turn A Gundam (side note, Syd Mead did the Turn A design and he’s known for his work on Blade Runner)
Gundam Golden Age (BRAND NEW GUNDAM SERIES SPANNING THREE GENERATIONS!! A subtle tease in the trailer shows an old, old painting of a Gundam. Looked like the old RX-78 from the original series)
Finally, for all the fans of the Gundam Universal Century material, the Bandai representative diverted the one question on every fans minds. One person found a sneaky way of rewording the question and getting an answer during the Q&A though. **chuckle** The release of ZZ Gundam is to be determined. Apparently, wherever Bandai goes, they get hit with it all the time and the smile on the representative’s face told me they’re probably going to release it soon. I’d say about two to three years from now, given that Gundam Unicorn is still not finished, Turn A is being released in the U.S., and Golden Age will be coming out soon. But hey, that’s just my guess!