Saturday would be the first full day of the event where all of the guests would be in attendance. VIP ticket owners were allowed in at 9AM, but all other General Admission ticket holders (like me, even as media) were allowed in at 10AM.
- Convention Overview
- Friday, August 16, 2019 (Preview Night) 4PM-8PM
- Saturday, August 17, 2019 – 9 AM (VIPs Only) 10AM-6PM
- Sunday, August 18, 2019 – 9 AM (VIPs Only) 10AM-5PM
As expected, there were more visitors in attendance. There was an hour before the first panel, so I opted to walk around a bit. A few more booths were open, but many of the guests didn’t really begin to arrive until later. After browsing a few booths, and visiting some artists like Last Bastion Studios (who are working on Ragnar, an indie kaiju comic), Astropill, Nickanger, and Aidan Casserly.
Before the first panel began, I saw special guest Stephen Ford at his table. He portrayed Kit, the main protagonist of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight which was an adaptation of Kamen Rider Ryuki, on the CW. Ford was really friendly and we briefly talked about Ryuki/Dragon Knight. I gave him one of my Kamen Rider lanyards (I was giving them out free all during the con) and managed to get a few photos and an autographed photo of Ford, which was fantastic. I continued my hunt for Ryuki merchandise until the first panel of the day.
The first panel was “Kaiju Suits and Stunts Featuring Tsutomu Kitagawa.” Each panel had a moderator, translator, and the special guest in the Panel Room beside the special guest tables.
Kitagawa is a stunt actor with years of experience. He discussed his various roles as Godzilla and Mothra, and expressed some regret over never playing Ultraman. At the end of the panel, the audience called out various characters, in which Kitagawa performed their special moves. The audience also had the opportunity to ask a few questions. It was a really entertaining panel.
Immediately after was the “Kamen Rider Dragon Knight Panel Featuring Stephen Ford” panel, which featured just the actor and moderator. Ford was asked about his early career and getting cast in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. Some particularly entertaining moments were Ford explaining how he met Danny Trejo at the audition, how Ford has to straighten his naturally curly hair for the popular 2000s curls popular during this time, and his current work as a Director on some exciting future projects. He also took a few questions from the audience while there was time, and one person mentioned Ford’s past career on various tween tv shows like Cory in the House, Zoey 101, and Victorious (FYI he played a mean Director who got beat up).
One of the benefits of having panels every hour is that the audience can just wait inside the Panel Room until the start of the hour. The next panel was “Double Red: Featuring Super Sentai Dekka Ranger Ryuji Seinei and Red SPD Power Ranger Brandon Jay McLaren.” It was a particularly exciting panel that brought together Power Rangers and Super Sentai.
They discussed how they were cast in the role. McLaren, who wasn’t currently familiar with the Power Rangers, was trying out for the other SPD Rangers and was called a few weeks later learning that he was cast as the Red Ranger. Seinei‘s audition story was similar, as he was auditioning for other characters but was surprised to learn he was cast as DekkaRed.
They discussed the differences between the Red characters and the changes that had to be made for the American version, such as removing DekkaPink’s infamous bath scenes. Seinei discussed performing the Japanese dub of SPD, commenting that he thought that McLaren’s dreads, uncommon in Japan, were “very cool.” There was a long line of fan questions, but after it ended, both Seinei performed his transformation pose for the audience.
Needing a break, I discovered that there were no vending machines inside this portion of the convention center, so I had to leave to get a drink. I made it back in time for the next panel, and one I was very much looking forward to, “Kamen Rider Blade Featuring Takayuki Tsubaki.” Most of the questions were about his early career, how he began acting, and his current activities. Tsubaki was scouted in the Harajuku/Shinjuku area, as he stood out because of his height (he’s over 6’). He also let the audience know that he still does talk to his castmates, and they have a private Line messenger group. Tsubaki is quite busy with acting, his new Vtuber career, and is an artist and designer of the jewelry line Arts. For aspiring actors, Tsubaki stated not to give up and remain confident in your abilities.
The panel itself was over quickly, but there were several questions. Most of the audience questions were about memes and other Western fandom tidbits, so I don’t think he understood most of them. But he was kind and answered each question.
After the panel, I spotted an amazing Kamen Rider Ouja cosplay by Andrewmiguelidea on Instagram, and he wasn’t vexed and took a photo with me. Immediately outside of the Panel Room were professional photography sessions and the next one scheduled was with Tsubaki. The line was short, so I took a moment and took advantage of the opportunity.
The con ended at 6PM on Saturday, so this gives visitors plenty of time to visit the surrounding area. Shared rides were plentiful in the Los Angeles region, so I got a ride to somewhere else I really wanted to visit: the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo in Carson, CA.
Saturday night is also when the guest dinner at Tokyo Wako is held, but since I didn’t register in advance, I toured the area. Within the few blocks around the convention center, there are many Japanese restaurants to visit. I’d get my opportunity to visit on Sunday.