Manga-tize Your Library: Resource Guide for Librarians
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Special Guest Recommendations
Special guests are important draws and must-haves for any kind of convention. Special guests can range from musical guests, well-known artists, voice actors--basically anyone who does something related to the theme of your event. Most professionals, especially if they are famous in their field, will require monetary compensation as well as coverage for their airfare/hotel if they are coming from far away. Many performers will cancel their speaking fee as long as travel is covered. The best way to save money is to find people local to your area. Also, keep in mind that beginning performers will be more likely to perform for less money--or even free!--if it gets them exposure and publicity.
Tosho-con has worked with a number of excellent professionals in the past three years. In addition, we have gotten many emails from performers around the country, asking to participate in our event. I will separate this page into people we have worked with first hand--and endorse--and those who we couldn't hire either due to location or they were inquring too close to our event. In the Tosho-con field are also people that I have worked with in my library, even if it wasn't specifically at Tosho-con.
Tosho-con Special Guests
501st Legion: Vader's Fist: What could be better than having amazing cosplayers at your library? How about cosplayers in professional Star Wars costumes who interact with fans for free! 501st Legion is a national organization and they have appeared at big cons, small cons, libraries and awareness events. If you are a non-profit group such as a library or school they will appear for free. We worked with the N. East region for our Summer Reading kick-off in 2014. They came with about half a dozen cosplayers. They signed autographs, kept in character and graciously let us take promotional pictures of them reading in our children's room. Visit http://www.501st.com/ to find a guild near you.
Angelic Complex: A vocal duo made up of Ena, a famous Japanese pop singer in Japan, and Amanda (aka Lain). Amanda is a native New Yorker, while Ena resides in Japan. We were lucky to catch Ena on a trip to NY, and she and Amanda performed together for the first time in the U.S at Tosho-con. As with Hitomi, until they make it big in the U.S, they seem eager to gain exposure. Email Amanda at
Hitomi Himekawa: Hitomi is a very talented Japanese pop singer. She has performed at many of the large anime conventions, and has won a number of singing competitions. Hitomi and her back-up singers/dancers, The Rainbow Bubbles, gave a heart-felt, energetic performance. https://www.facebook.com/HitomiHimekawa. Contact her manager, hitomivocal @ gmail.com for booking info. Michele Knotz: Michele Knotz, based in New Jersey, is a professional voice actress. She is the voice behind numerous anime characters, most notably Jessie from Pokemon. Michele Knotz is a dynamic presenter, great with kids, easy to work with and affordable. Her specialty is her "Knotz Your Everyday Panel," where she discusses her work as a voice actress followed by hosting a talent show. She even comes with her own prizes! Visit her website for more info: http://micheleknotz.com/
Misako Rocks!: Misako Takashima moved to NY in 2001 and currently resides in Brooklyn. She drew her first comic at age 13, and now has 3 published manga books in the U.S, as well as other published works in Japan. She has done many programs for libraries and schools in the NYC area, including drawing workshops and a presentation about her life. Misako is extremely easy to work with; she is fun, energetic, and great with people of all ages. Her price is negotiable, especially when it comes to library programs. Visit her website for more info: http://www.misakorocks.com/
OMNY Taiko Group: The One Miracle in New York is a performance school for learning taiko. Taiko refers to great, large drums, and are an important part of Japanese culture. One does not simply playthe drums with one's sticks; there is movement and voice that goes along with it. The OMNY taiko group and performed twice at Tosho-con. After their show, they allowed the audience to come up and play taiko. It is always a pleasure working with this group. They are extremely affordable, and the high-ranking students who perform are excellent. A great cultural addition to any anime event--adults not interested in anime may appreciate the concert as well! http://www.omnytaiko.org
Tenshi no Ai Maid Cafe: They sing, dance, play musical instruments, bake and cook! Based in the NYC area, this energetic and talented group came to our convention for the first time this year. They performed for about an hour, and then later in the day, they set up a Maid Cafe. Mainstream in Japan, Maid Cafe's are a place for people to relax, eat, and be pampered by staff dressed up as maids. Though this phenomenon has not made its way to the U.S outside of anime conventions, it is still popular with anime fans all over. Visit their page at http://tenshinoaicafe.webs.com/
Yoshi Amao: Well known in Japan and the U.S, Yoshi has created a samurai swordsmen performance group, which has appeared at Sakura Matsrui events, as well as big and small conventions. He answers emails quickly and his price is negotiable. Contact at yoshiamao @ gmail.com.
Other Possible Guests for Your Event
Alexandra Honigsberg: Native New Yorker, world-traveller violist-poet Alexandra Honigsberg has premiered culture-spanning works from Carnegie Hall to art galleries. A founding member of new music and improv trio Wolf’s Gang, she debuted at Serial Underground 2012 and premiered Chinese folksong-inspired music in Exploring the Metropolis’ and Symphony Space’s Composers’ Series, as well as being part of Rite of Summer’s In C All-Stars and the Women’s Work series. As guest artist with musicians from all over Asia, she’s introduced Western audiences to soundtrack music from iconic Japanese animation. She can be heard on Albany Records with the Metropolitan Philharmonic and Albany Symphony.At the East Meadow Library's EM Con, she played viola along with popular anime tracks. Contact her at ahonigsberg @ earthlink.net
The Asterplace: A NYC-based Japanese rock band. They have performed at Manga Next, Anime Syracuse, Anime Soho, Tribeca Film Festival, etc. In 2011, they released their first professional album, Moon. Email Kota Tsukimoto at theasterplace @ gmail.com for more info.
Brittany Lauda: " Voice Over Artist who at a young age was overfilled with her desire to act and entertain, from local plays to read alongs for young children." (from her website, http://www.brittanylauda.com/). Known for her work in My Little Pony. Based on Long Island, NY.
Mark Crilley: This published comic artist and children's author/illustrator has a huge following with teens. If you're located near the Detroit area, check out this top-notch artist. Contact Mark at [email protected] and visit his website: http://www.markcrilley.com/
Paul St. Peter: Voice actors usually take the spotlight as special guests at larger conventions. Paul provides the voice to characters in many notable anime series and video/computer games, including Bleach, Naruto, World of Warcraft, and Soul Caliber. Based in California, he would be willing to waive speaking fees if he needs to travel by air. Contact him at 55frenchy @ sbcglobal.net
Power Rangers: "It's Morphin' Time!" Remember the Power Rangers? They have been a hit with Americans since the early '90s and are still going strong. Power Rangers is a Japanese televsision show that was brought to the U.S and recast with American actors. If you're library is in California, this may be the unique special guest you are looking for! Contact Nicole Lising, PR Manager for some of the New Rangers at jnlising @ gmail.com.
Rebecca Friedman: Founder of GraphicAnime and director/animator of The Villikon Chronicles: Return to Mayhem and creator of Lovely Demon: Demonic-Reaper Chronicles, an original manga and cross-interactive media venture. She is the comic book illustrator of the graphic novelization of Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement. Rebecca has been a part of the East Meadow Library's EM CON for two years, participating in artist alley and running a program on animation. Visit her websites:www.graphicanime.com and www.designertek.com
ReniReni: A New York- based electro pop singer, Reni is known for her futuristic adorability, profound ideology, and high-energy onstage presence. Reni moved to NY from Japan in 2008 and got her big break when she won a talent search competition. Reni is a well-known Jpop performer, having performed at major cons, concerts, and Japanese television shows. Visit her website http://www.renireni.com or contact her manager at agentsato @ renireni.com
Uncle Yo: From Albany to Albuquerque, from Denver to D.C., Uncle Yo has toured many conventions to perform his unique stand-up comedy aimed exclusively at the geek community. Discussion panel leader, game show host and emcee all-in-one, this Renaissance Nerd keeps the laughs coming and the show rolling. Visit his website at http://www.uncleyo.com/