This has been Ronin-Expo’s second year promoting the love of Asian culture to the community within Los Angeles. For those unfamiliar with Ronin-Expo, it started back in 2017 by a team of six members; Danny Gonzalez (Chairman), Victor Castillo (Vice-Chairman), Becky Booth (Entertainment Director), Belen Lujano (Registration), Ray Kil (Merchant Hall/Artist Alley), and Anthony Quintero (Stage). Held within Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC), guest can enjoy both the Asian art and culture of the city and convention.
Ryujin Taiko started Ronin’s Opening Ceremony with a phenomenal live performance! Ryujin Taiko is a group that brings art, excitement and energy through their gigs using taiko drums and other rhythmic instruments. Their first number was called “Acceleration”, starting off at a walking pace tempo but then became very lively and fast! At intermission, the host took the time to introduce the Guests of Honor of the event. First on the stage was none other than the lovely Sarah Williams! Best known for Jinx (League of Legends), Neferpitou (HunterxHunter), Lisbeth (Sword Art Online), and Felix (Re:Zero). Next on the scene was Annjela Saet of Annjelife Cosplay and Novella Nikita of Geek Crafters, both specializing in costume design and modeling. Les and Mary Claypool were the next couple to be introduced. Les Claymore has been providing audio services, specifically English dubbing, to the anime industry since 1992. Mary Claymore has 23-years of writing and translating scripts for both anime and live action. Next up was Kevin Connolly, successful script writer and best known for Valdimir (League of Legends), Harley (Case Closed), and Kain Fuery (Fullmetal Alchemsit). Founder of SupaPop Studio, Sean Danconia also took the stage. The Ronin-Expo Committee also had a chance to introduce themselves. With introductions out of the way, Ryujin Taiko retook the stage for their closing numbers. The second song played was called “Kore Kara” (From Now On) which featured the Japanese drumming as well as a flute solo. For the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony, they performed a song called “Ashira”, which starts off with two very different melodies that eventually become one harmony, using the taiko drums.
Unfortunately, due to a flight issue, Stephanie Nadolny was unable to make the Opening Ceremony and her Q&A panel. This left time to explore the rest of the venue with much leisure. In the Plaza Area, the Artist Alley was filled with many talented individuals selling their art in the form of prints, stickers, keychains, and pins. Photographers were using this time to get some shots of the many attending cosplayers. Inside the JACCC, there were signups for Cosplay Masquerade and Super Smash Bros. tournament. On the second floor there was the Guest Access balcony where we bumped into Kevin Connolly and a few industry guests before their appointed panels. Finished with wandering around, it was back to the plaza area for the next panel!
Now we join Tyler, Founder of The Grand Geek Gathering and host for the Q&A Panels, for Kevin M. Connolly’s Q&A! Kevin starts by sharing the story of how he first got into voice acting. His short version is that he was in the right place, at the right time while the long version takes us through the classes he took, the people he met on the way, and the different projects he had to do. We were able to ask Kevin what his dream role would be and to great surprise, he stated any character of any StarTrek production. Another attendee was able to ask if there are any tips for inspiring voice actors. Kevin suggests take acting classes, care for your voice, strengthen your five best voices, learn social media, and try different media area in voice over.
We’re back again with Tyler for Sarah Williams’s Q&A! She starts off by sharing how she got into voice acting and her ties to anime. The magical girls of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura were her first favorites and thus began her interest in anime. An attendee asks if she gets to pick character roles. Unfortunately, she has to go through the audition process for roles, while occasionally given extra roles. She expresses how she would love to do more horror video games. We got to ask how she was liking her role as Neferpitou from HunterxHunter and how the Chimera Ant Arc was treating her. She was shocked about what happens during Neferpitou’s first appearance, her kill count during the arc, and how dark both the character and arc of the series is.
The last panel we were able to cover for the evening was the Ghost in the Shell: Behind the Scenes of the English Dub with Les and Mary Claypool. Les was the Supervising Sound Editor and FX Sound Designer while Mary was the writer of the English ADR script. Originally, we were going to live stream this panel but some copyright protected scenes and stories prevented us from doing so. Nonetheless, Les and Mary had a very informative panel. Both took turns sharing the overall experiences working on the Ghost in the Shell series and movie. Unfortunately, the panel was pressed for time, and we were not able to see the memorial tribute to the late director Kevin Seymour.
That concludes our first year coverage of the second annual Ronin-Expo! We would like to extend our thanks to the Ronin-Expo Committee, artists, cosplayers, special guests, performers, vendors, and volunteers who all helped make this another successful year. We hope to join you all again next year for the third annual Ronin-Expo. Thank you for reading and Stay Gold!