LOUISIANIME | “Don’t Sell Your Soul for a Bowl of Porridge.”

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This event was a game changer for me. I have been writing for Geek News Network for three years in November, I have attended different conventions from New York City to Louisiana, and I have met a lot of people. But, the conventions that I’ve attended that have meant the most to me were the ones that I never dreamed would make a difference. A year ago, a week after I had come out of surgery, I went to a tiny little anime convention called Louisianime. I met six people from FUNimation who immediately befriended me when I least expected it, but also when I needed it the most. Through them, I learned that voice acting is an art. Not only that, but an underappreciated art. However, through this art, they have changed lives. They have changed mine.

Mario KartI approached this convention knowing that I was going to see some familiar faces and friends, so I had a more casual approach. I have been to a million of these things by now, so I did not expect to see or experience anything I haven’t seen before. I did not expect anything new, but I gained some new friends and heard one sentence that changed everything for me. So, look at the title. What are you selling your soul for that is absolutely worthless? A dead end job? A bad relationship? That is what made this convention a game changer for me. It made me realize that I have been eating porridge. Have you tooNow about this convention. It started with Cherry and Kaveman, two of those magnificent six people I met at the previous Louisianime and Austin Tindle, who I had interviewed at MechaCon. These three guys all mean quite a bit to me. Cherry and Kaveman because they were two of the first friends I made when I moved south and Cherry was one of the first people I interviewed as a journalist.  It was exciting to see Tindle because at MechaCon he has one of the two people who treated me like a human being (instead of a shark reporter out for blood) and he thoughtfully answered my questions, despite the fact that he had been in the hospital the previous week. I knew from the second I sat down in the lobby, with Cherry sampling perfume from my purse just to make me laugh, and Tindle plopped down on the floor that this convention was going to be one to remember.

Now about this convention. It started with Cherry and Kaveman, two of those magnificent six people I met at the previous Louisianime and Austin Tindle, who I had interviewed at MechaCon. These three guys all mean quite a bit to me. Cherry and Kaveman because they were two of the first friends I made when I moved south and Cherry was one of the first people I interviewed as a journalist.  It was exciting to see Tindle because at MechaCon he has one of the two people who treated me like a human being (instead of a shark reporter out for blood) and he thoughtfully answered my questions, despite the fact that he had been in the hospital the previous week. I knew from the second I sat down in the lobby, with Cherry sampling perfume from my purse just to make me laugh, and Tindle plopped down on the floor that this convention was going to be one to remember.

Opening ceremoniesThe first panel I attended was “Assassination Classroom” with Eric Cherry and Austin Tindle. I entered a little late because I had been scheduling some interviews, but Cherry enthusiastically waved and Tindle was in the process of kicking his sandals off and draping his bare feet over the table-sandals he never put back on. He was barefoot during the opening ceremonies. (No seriously, I did not see those shoes for the rest of the day.) Their panel was very laid back and comfortable. Fans were free to ask literally any questions they wanted and those guys answered even the most ridiculous questions (Goku versus Superman?) with zeal and fervor.Cherry and Tindle recounted what an average day at work was like at the studio. They explained that they are handed their scripts, shown the show in Japanese and told to “just go”. Surprisingly, they record alone in studios. (I had no idea about this until this convention.) Because of this, many of the actors of the same show have not really seen each other. Cherry had said he had been in several different shows with Tindle, but hadn’t really seen him until this convention. When asked how this separation affected their performance, Tindle said, “A lot of the quality of the acting is the most part the director’s responsibility. It was a learning curve and you have to understand the emotional language of the director.” Then, he was asked how being in theater helped his career as a voice actor and he replied, “Being on stage gave me a lot of tools to help me be successful recording in the studio. I feel like I’m more of a studio musician than an actor sometimes.” Cherry added, “Most of the people who have been successful in voice acting have been in broadcasting or improv. It teaches you to say ‘yes and-’ which is an important tool in voice acting.”

Cherry and Tindle recounted what an average day at work was like at the studio. They explained that they are handed their scripts, shown the show in Japanese and told to “just go”. Surprisingly, they record alone in studios. (I had no idea about this until this convention.) Because of this, many of the actors of the same show have not really seen each other. Cherry had said he had been in several different shows with Tindle, but hadn’t really seen him until this convention. When asked how this separation affected their performance, Tindle said, “A lot of the quality of the acting is the most part the director’s responsibility. It was a learning curve and you have to understand the emotional language of the director.” Then, he was asked how being in theater helped his career as a voice actor and he replied, “Being on stage gave me a lot of tools to help me be successful recording in the studio. I feel like I’m more of a studio musician than an actor sometimes.” Cherry added, “Most of the people who have been successful in voice acting have been in broadcasting or improv. It teaches you to say ‘yes and-’ which is an important tool in voice acting.”A curious fan then asked whether Cherry and Tindle used a lot of full body motion while recording. Cherry said that he did lunges and jumped around the studio, while Tindle explained that he just lets his body move.

A curious fan then asked whether Cherry and Tindle used a lot of full body motion while recording. Cherry said that he did lunges and jumped around the studio, while Tindle explained that he just lets his body move.After a pause, someone from the back raised their voice and asked how they felt about dub haters- a sensitive topic that can get any anime fan in a heated debate. “Yes, voice inflection is different in English than in Japanese. It’s a cultural difference,” Austin said simply. Cherry nodded and added, “Dub haters don’t understand that there are cultural regional differences. They also do not understand that the reason we change the dialogue is to match their mouth movements. It’s like the old Godzilla movie where the words don’t match.”

After a pause, someone from the back raised their voice and asked how they felt about dub haters- a sensitive topic that can get any anime fan in a heated debate. “Yes, voice inflection is different in English than in Japanese. It’s a cultural difference,” Austin said simply. Cherry nodded and added, “Dub haters don’t understand that there are cultural regional differences. They also do not understand that the reason we change the dialogue is to match their mouth movements. It’s like the old Godzilla movie where the words don’t match.”Cherry turned to Tindle and asked him how he first got into anime. Tindle answered that his dad used to watch “weird” rental movies from Blockbuster. “I loved anime like any other media. Miyazaki, Toonami, any of the mainstream animes I would watch.”

Cherry turned to Tindle and asked him how he first got into anime. Tindle answered that his dad used to watch “weird” rental movies from Blockbuster. “I loved anime like any other media. Miyazaki, Toonami, any of the mainstream animes I would watch.”Cherry said that watched many cartoons with his dad. “One night I was at my aunts’ and we were watching Vampire Hunter D and I thought it was amazing. I went to Blockbuster and rented Vampire Hunter D and from there I kept going back and watching any anime I could find. I got into cosplaying. I did Initial D cosplay. I was in theater in middle school and when I got older someone asked me if I wanted to voice act. This was back before voice acting for anime was a big thing and it happened to be in my

Cherry said that watched many cartoons with his dad. “One night I was at my aunts’ and we were watching Vampire Hunter D and I thought it was amazing. I went to Blockbuster and rented Vampire Hunter D and from there I kept going back and watching any anime I could find. I got into cosplaying. I did Initial D cosplay. I was in theater in middle school and when I got older someone asked me if I wanted to voice act. This was back before voice acting for anime was a big thing and it happened to be in my hometown.”

Austin laughed and said that every time he walks out of an audition he says, “There is no way I am ever going to get that part! It’s like picking up a girl at a bar. If you try too hard, you give off a weird vibe.” Well, now we know his trick to auditioning and to romance: don’t be creepy. Surprisingly simple, yet insightful.

Austin and cosplayerNext, up I was able to go the Cherami Leigh’s panel “Turning Villains into Heroes” and finally meet her face to face. I was very excited, not only as a journalist but also as a fan. I sat down by a sweet looking girl whom, it turned out, was her cousin, and had anxiously waited to hear what Cherami had to say.Cherami began by introducing herself and listed some of the different roles she has voiced, such

Cherami began by introducing herself and listed some of the different roles she has voiced, such as: Asuna in Sword Art Online, Lucy Heartfilia in Fairy Tail, Venus in Sailor Moon Crystal, and Patty in Soul Eater. She then addressed her topic of turning a villain into a hero. “The darker the character the more I was able to discover more about myself and work out issues.” She explained she was bullied in school and when she was cast in her first anime role in Peach Girl, she played a bully and she learned their perspective. “Every villain or bully feels justified in their choices,” she said.

Sword Art Online was her first show in Los Angeles. She said she had watched the show, loved it and knew she really wanted to be in it. She remarked that she thought it was funny how people are either passionate about the show or passionately hate the show. “But as long as they’re passionate about something, it’s wonderful. If the characters are so bad and you hate them, that means it was done well because it made you feel something.” (She has a point, you know.)She continued to tell the story of her role as Lucy Heartfilia in Fairy Tail. She said there was a lot of pressure for the Fairy Tail audition. She liked the role of

She continued to tell the story of her role as Lucy Heartfilia in Fairy Tail. She said there was a lot of pressure for the Fairy Tail audition. She liked the role of Lucy, but was certain she could not get the role and because she didn’t think she was like Lucy. She kept saying things during her audition that were very much like Lucy’s personality. When they cast her, she thought it was an elaborate joke that everyone was playing on her and it took six episodes and a huge crowd watching for her to realize it wasn’t a joke.She then gave some advice to aspiring voice actors- I have never seen an actor or actress do this. For example, Tindle had said during his Assassination Classroom panel, “If you like being poor and doing a labor of love, then go for it. But if you can, do anything else. That’s what I tell people.” But Cherami smiled and said, “When you go into an anime voice acting audition, you get to choose three different people to try. I recommend choosing three very different types to show your range and see what fits for you in particular.”

She then gave some advice to aspiring voice actors- I have never seen an actor or actress do this. For example, Tindle had said during his Assassination Classroom panel, “If you like being poor and doing a labor of love, then go for it. But if you can, do anything else. That’s what I tell people.” But Cherami smiled and said, “When you go into an anime voice acting audition, you get to choose three different people to try. I recommend choosing three very different types to show your range and see what fits for you in particular.”She continued to explain that videogame voice acting is very different from voice acting for anime. In videogames, they have you audition for the one character they think suits you. Normally, they ask you to do improv and they rarely give you any hints or direction. Then, they ask for voice matches and mixes. “In

InuyashaShe continued to explain that videogame voice acting is very different from voice acting for anime. In videogames, they have you audition for the one character they think suits you. Normally, they ask you to do improv and they rarely give you any hints or direction. Then, they ask for voice matches and mixes. “In videogames there aren’t any real boundaries, whereas in anime you have to worry about your words matching the ‘flaps,’” she concluded.Wrapping up her panel, she said that the character’s eyes are what tells her about the character. Depending on how they would behave and what their personality is like, this helps her decide how to voice her character. What she said really impressed me and really added further insight into the fact that “eyes are the windows to a person’s soul” not only in real

Wrapping up her panel, she said that the character’s eyes are what tells her about the character. Depending on how they would behave and what their personality is like, this helps her decide how to voice her character. What she said really impressed me and really added further insight into the fact that “eyes are the windows to a person’s soul” not only in real life, but also in the world of animation.

I was so amazed by Cherami’s perception- after I left her panel, I asked Cherry and Tindle if they felt the same way and how the appearance of their characters helped them determine their voice inflections. Tindle said, “I definitely agree with that. Basic facts about the character add texture and it helps just seeing a picture of the character and talking with the director. I also like getting an idea of what the universe is like. Figuring out the genre and style. I personally find that eyebrows are a good indicator and clarify the character’s intentions.” Cherry, who has been voice acting for seven years said that he looked more into the movement of the character on screen. “It’s a combination of body language and how the character moves. For example, in Attack on Titan, if a titan took quick erratic steps, I would use a frantic breathing with a higher tone of voice. But if they moved smooth and languid, I would use deep slow breaths and rumbling tones.”

Cosplay3Louisianime 2016 really expanded from what it was last year. A lot of the fun activities from last year carried over such as the Lolita Tea Party and Zombie Tag. The game room was split into two different sections: one was the computer/console room on the first floor behind the exhibition room and the board game/card games were in a separate room upstairs on the second floor. There were several vendors that lined the entire length of the hallways on the first floor, giving almost a cramped market place feel. (Good or bad, I’ll let you decide.) This was good for the ambiance, but not so good for crowd control. The exhibition room had some excellent shops with some exciting finds that even I couldn’t resist. (A Deadpool pocket watch?! Shut up and take my money.) There was an issue with some of the professional cosplayers- two girls didn’t even show up for their panel. (Not sure what the penalty for that is exactly…) The check in process this year was very smooth and I was pleasantly surprised when I was inside the convention after a 30 second wait. (A new record!) Tetro Events, the people who run the Louisianime, also run Anime Austin (which is coming up in July the 15th through the 17th) and Omnicon (which will be taking place August 5th-6th) are genuinely good people who want to best for their guests. They are always seeking to improve and make that year better than before and this year (other than those couple hiccups) really showed that their strong following.

Business CardI had the pleasure of speaking with one cosplayer, Erin Greer, after the event and she admitted to feeling sad the weekend was over. She said that during the dance on Saturday night, her friend April Cherie, cosplaying as England from Hetalia, rose up a plush Toothless from Build-a-Bear and had it dancing over her head. Cosplaying plays an important part in Greer’s life and she explained, “I have a really low self-esteem, so cosplaying and being noticed makes me feel better about myself. I guess it just makes me feel like I can be someone other than myself.”

There is so much more to these conventions than the fun shops, meeting the guests, and listening to panels. The most important thing about these conventions is the comradery and unification among the fans. It is an escape for so many people from various backgrounds who are fighting their own personal demons any other day of the week and “selling their souls for a bowl of porridge” as Tindle said in his Shakespeare panel.  That weekend at Louisianime, they were able to walk away from those demons, be surrounded by friends, old and new and forget their troubles. I hope to see you next year and we can walk away from those troubles together. I will bring my own Toothless. Until then!

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