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Anime Expo 2003 Collector's Gallery

One of the primary reasons why I attend conventions like Anime Expo is to meet the industry guests. As an avid fan of the Japanese animation industry as well as serious collectors of production art (cels, sketches, etc.), I am far more likely appear at guest panels and autograph sessions than anywhere else. Maybe I do tend to go a little overboard; but then again, you really can't argue with results, right?

* Some of the pictures below may appear dark or hazy; I apologize for their quality but I needed to work with low-level light when photographing sensitive art (particularly cels). I wasn't able to find the ideal lighting many times, but after 2 hours of taking shots I decided just to live with the current results. In the future I'll strive do better, though. (NOTE: Not all my autographed items from AX2003 are shown here, due to space concerns.) *

An annual tradition: a portrait of all the autographed stuff from AX; sadly, no matter how hard I tried I simply just could not fit them all in one shot! Convention-exclusive postcard for the EXCEL SAGA manga (featuring Hyatt, Menchi and Excel) signed by the creator Rikudo Koushi! That's right!  It's an opening sequence cel from TENKU NO ESCAFLOWNE signed by series director Akane Kazuki, with ~Yakusoku wa Iranai~ written on top! Hongo Mitsuru (director) was pleasantly surprised to see a cel from the charming SPIRIT OF WONDER ~ MISS CHINA'S RING film, which he worked on almost 10 years ago! Pretty MUGEN NO RYVIUS cel of the enigmatic Neeya signed by Taniguchi Goro (director)! I couldn't resist having this RUROUNI KENSHIN TSUIOKUHEN OVA cel of Hiko Seijuro (the suave swordmaster of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu) autographed by director Furuhashi Kazuhiro (with a personal ~Kanpai~ greeting to boot)! Taniguchi Goro may have been a little surprised to see me back in line again to get this first DVD volume of GASARAKI signed; Taniguchi was the floor director for the series! More ~Oohs~ and ~Aahs~ from nearby spectators as Rikudo Koushi (creator) autographed this wacky production sketch of Excel and Hyatt from EXCEL SAGA! Kuroda Yousuke signed his name between Vash The Stampede and his trusty gun on this TRIGUN cel! OUTLAW STAR production cel of lead hero Gene Starwind, autographed by director Hongo Mitsuru! A slick TRIGUN cel of Vash The Stampede signed by Kuroda Yousuke (screenwriter), complete with a ~Love & Peace~ message written in Japanese! Taniguchi Goro, director of MUGEN NO RYVIUS, remarked (as he autographed it) that this cel of Aiba Kouji was extremely difficult to find anywhere! An action cel of Urameshi Yuusuke beating up disguised demon Rondo from YU YU HAKUSHO, autographed by Kitayama Mari (character designer) and Abe Noriyuki (director)! No one at the entire convention knew (except for me and Mahiro-san himself, of course) that Mahiro Maeda once worked as a key animator and dragon designer for the famous LUNAR ~ SILVER STAR STORY role-playing game! Always willing to grant autographs, Studio Pierrot president Nunokawa Yuji inked his name on this classic KIMAGURE ORANGE ROAD cel of Ayukawa Madoka! Series director Akane Kazuki was amazed to find this TENKU NO ESCAFLOWNE opening sequence cel of the Ispano guymelf in front of him to sign! With nothing else handy, this Studio Pierrot promotional frisbee was grabbed in order to get the YU YU HAKUSHO producer (Nunokawa Yuji), director (Abe Noriyuki) and character designer (Kitayama Mari) to autograph it! Easily the most accomodating Guest of Honor at the convention, director Hongo Mitsuru finished off my third OUTLAW STAR cel, this time featuring Gene Starwind and Melfina! RUROUNI KENSHIN TSUIOKUHEN OVA cel of the tragic heroine Yukishiro Tomoe, signed by director Furuhashi Kazuhiro! Although it was released only weeks before, I got my hands on a special edition copy of THE ANIMATRIX to be signed by Mahiro Maeda, who directed the epic ~The Second Rennaisance~ prequel! An unusually light-hearted cel of Iwakura Lain from SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN, autographed by both Ueda Yasuyuki (creator) and Abe Yoshitoshi (character designer)! One of the extremely rare copies of Kajiura Yuki's debut solo album FICTION (only 500 were available at the convention and all were sold out by the second day) signed by the popular singer/composer herself! I scrambled in the dealer's room to find this cel of Tsujimoto Natsumi from TAIHO SHICHAUZO [YOU'RE UNDER ARREST] for Nakajima Atsuko (character designer) to sign! Couldn't be happier to discover that Hongo Mitsuru directed a fan-favorite show, MEGAMI KOUHOUSEI [PILOT CANDIDATES], and made sure to bring this art book for autographing! Another fantastic opening sequence cel of Kuruta Kurapica from one of my all-time favorite series, HUNTER X HUNTER, autographed by Furuhashi Kazuhiro (director)! With words of admiration, seiyuu Yao Kazuki autographed this INITIAL D cel of Kenji and Iketani (whom Yao provided the voice for)! Not finished yet, I also had his GREAT TEACHER ONIZUKA (GTO) cel of Onizuka Eikichi (previously signed by series creator Fujisawa Tohru) adorned with the signatures of director Abe Noriyuki and Studio Pierrot president Nunokawa Yuji! How cool was it to add the signatures of Abe Noriyuki (director), Kitayama Mari (key animator), and Nunokawa Yuji (producer) to this hilarious cel of Onizuka Eikichi from GREAT TEACHER ONIZUKA (GTO)?  Especially when it already autographed by the creator Fujisawa Tohru the previous year! A very rare INITIAL D cel of Iketani Kouichirou, leader of the Akina Speedstars, autographed by original seiyuu Yao Kazuki! A great HUNTER X HUNTER opening sequence cel of Gon Freeks autographed by Furuhashi Kazuhiro (director)! Bow down with me in reverence as you gaze upon this gorgeous final episode cel of Deedlit and Parn from LODOSS TOU SENKI, now signed by the incomparable character designer Yuuki Nobuteru! Ecstatic to have this stunning cel of Kanzaki Urumi from GREAT TEACHER ONIZUKA (GTO) autographed by the director Abe Noriyuki! A ferocious Aisha Clan Clan sparks off this OUTLAW STAR cel, signed by Hongo Mitsuru (director)! This extremely rare production sketch of Excel and Hyatt from EXCEL SAGA, signed by series creator Rikudo Koushi, drew murmurs of praise by Rikudo's staff! Once again, director Hongo Mitsuru was impressed to see this cel of Jim Floyd and the flirtatious florist from SPIRIT OF WONDER ~ MISS CHINA'S RING! Although she didn't appear at Sunday's open autograph session, Kajiura Yuki did appear at the Pioneer booth later on to autograph this shikishi [sign-board] for me!

Abe Yoshitoshi (creator; character designer) and Ueda Yasuyuki (producer) spent much of their time at the Pioneer booth autographing these HAIBANE RENMEI sign-boards! Kuroda Yousuke autographed this large clear poster from ONEGAI TEACHER, which he wrote the screenplays for! With nothing else to left to sign, director Taniguchi Goro was presented with this nifty shikishi to sign! Although I really wanted a chibi-sketch of Deedlit (LODOSS), Yuuki Nobuteru misheard me and drew a funny doodle of Dilandau (ESCAFLOWNE) instead!  Hey, both characters are equally popular... but soooo opposite from each other!

At the Pioneer booth, Hongo Mitsuru (director) was autographing these sign-boards from SAKURA WARS THE MOVIE! ONEGAI TEACHER screenwriter Kuroda Yousuke signed this shikishi for me, which included Kazami Mizuho's famous catch-phrase: ~Saiyu sen jiko yo!~ [This is top priority!] I had to wait 2 hours over 2 days for an autograph by Abe Yoshitoshi, but to reward my patience Pioneer also gave me a bonus autographed poster with an original Abe design! Just when you thought it was over ... director Hongo Mitsuru dropped his signature one last time!