Saturday, November 2, 2013

Anime Weekend Atlanta 19 - Sept. 27-30, 2013

September 27-30, 2013 - Visual KEIOS attended the 19th annual Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA). It was with no small bit of surprise that C.Thomas and I realized that this was our 10th AWA! The years have just flown by. If you haven't yet, be sure to read C.Thomas' Five Attractions Report covering AWA19.


Browsing the schedule we knew that our activities for the day would mostly consist of panels; but not before the Opening Ceremonies. The main hall which held the opening ceremonies was packed, it was hard to find a seat and it was soon filled to capacity.

It was an incredible ceremony, many of the guests taking to the stage and selecting members of the audience to partake in a fun contest to win a Crunchyroll subscription. Much to my surprise and delight, there were also performances during the ceremony. bless4 performed for the audience, as well as a show from Hatsune Miku.

Yuu Asakawa and Mitsuo Iwata’s panel were our first panels of the weekend. The lovely host/interpreter talked with the guests for a while, asking them some opening questions, and later shifted to a Q&A from the fans. Individually they are two funny and lively personalities, but together they were just hilarious; cracking jokes and pulling antics and telling funny stories of their past experiences. 

Soon it was time for bless4's panel. Charmingly sweet and good humored, the four siblings shared their stories and accepted questions for the fans. There were lots of laughs and a very heart-warming atmosphere. You could easily see how much the four of them love to sing; they even sang for the fans during their panel, they were so sincere as they spoke about music and the blessing they hoped to give and receive when they performed.

Next on our to-do list was a concert that we somehow hadn't realized would be on the schedule. Todd Haberkorn with Eyeshine. An accomplished voice actor, Todd proved to be a talented singer and guitarist, performing a lovely concert with Eyeshine. It was a lot of fun, his MCs were comical and at times touching. I had never heard him sing before, but I’d be very happy to see him perform again. [Gallery]

Dashing back downstairs, we attended Shunsuke and Misako’s hour-long panel at 6pm. As with previous panels, after a bit of time in which the host/interpreter conversed with the guests, things broke off into a Q&A. There were many beautiful lolita’s in attendance, eagerly listening to what the guests had to say, and asking questions to them.


This busy, busy day began with a Frill Fashion show, featuring designs from American Lolita brands, some of which were from Atlanta. I was very happy and proud to see the creativity and quality in each of the pieces. There was a beautiful diversity among the models, all of whom were very bright and full of character as they walked the runway and displayed the gorgeous coordinates that they were wearing. [Gallery]

Following the fabulous Frill show was Putumayo’s fashion show which featured an array of Lolita, punky, and gothic styles, all of which were skillfully coordinated from head to toe and just a joy to look at. Aside from the adorable Misako Aoki, the lovely models were all AWA attendees who had applied and been chosen to walk in the show, and all of them did a great job, striking cute poses with one another. Right after Putumayo’s show, Misako returned to the stage with some of the  models, and together they performed Misako's debut song from her music project Lolitina. It was a great show, and the dance routine was really cute; I wish it could have went on longer. [Gallery]

But this was just the beginning of all the Saturday fun. Later that day it was time to get on your feet and dance for concert after concert. First up was Yuu Asakawa and Mitsuo Iwata's concert. Fans surrounded the runway to get close to the action. Though they did some MCs together, they performed individually, Yuu's performance was so upbeat with a cute and flirty feeling, and Mitsuo's performance was nonstop high-energy from start to finish. The crowd loved them! [Gallery]

After another break, next up was the lovely sibling quartet, bless4! Their performance was a lot of fun, and you could see that the crowd really got into it; some were even called to the stage to dance or take part in Kamehameha contests. Their vocals were outstanding as was their choreography, the four of them had a great presence on the stage; their show was a very memorable one. [Gallery] After their concert a long line formed and bless4 were all too happy to stay for autographs and photos with all of the fans.

The last concert of the day came from Eyeshine, who were returning to AWA for a second year in a row, much to the delight of many. They put on a rocking show, they create such an intense atmosphere and it was impossible to stand still or stay quiet. Todd Haberkon made an appearance on the stage during the show, playing Polo's guitar briefly, which was a fun little surprise. By the end of it everyone was exhausted but undoubtedly happy. [Gallery] Again, there was a long line for autographs and photos with the band, and they kindly stood there to see that every fan got what they came for.


The final day of the convention held some memorable first experiences for me. For the first time ever, I dressed in Lolita, and for the first time ever, I attended a Lolita Tea Party. This was Anime Weekend Atlanta's first big Lolita Tea Party. Misako and Shunsuke were great hosts; as guests lined up for tea or coffee, Shunsuke was there to take your order, while Misako handed it to you with care. The food was light and delicious; breakfast pastries and jams and small finger sandwiches. The pair strolled the room to talk with the guests, taking lots of photos and gladly signing anything on hand; some even got their Putumayo purses signed by Shunsuke. There was just a great atmosphere throughout the entire Tea Party and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot. If possible I'd love to attend another in the future. [Gallery]

Following the tea party, the rest of the day was joyously spent interviewing some of the lovely guests. Check out our interviews with bless4, Misako Aoki, and Shunsuke Hasegawa.

AWA 19 was yet another wonderful year, it was so much fun that I wish I could go back and relive it all again. Next year will be Anime Weekend Atlanta’s 20th anniversary, and it seems that they are preparing for a spectacular celebration. I can’t wait to see what they have planned.

Anime Weekend Atlanta


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Anime Weekend Atlanta 19 report was written by Alicia R. Thomas, edited by C.Thomas.

Thank you to Anime Weekend Atlanta for once again bringing a great group of guests, and many thanks to those guests and their respective management and handlers for all being so kind.

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