published Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Johnny Bosch headlines Anime con this weekend - Nov. 8-10

IF YOU GO:

* What: Anime Blast Chattanooga.

* When: Noon-midnight Friday, Nov. 8; 9:30 a.m.-midnight Saturday, Nov. 9; and 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10.

* Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1 Carter Plaza.

* Tickets: $40 three-day pass, $30 two-day pass, $20 Saturday only, $15 Friday or Sunday only.

* Information: www.animeblastchattanooga.com

Anime fans immediately recognize the name Johnny Yong Bosch, but call him by his alter ego -- Black Ranger of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers -- and almost everyone knows who he is.

Bosch is headlining a lineup of more than a dozen voice actors, cosplayers (a form of performance art where people dress and act like a favorite character) and gamers who will be interacting with fans at the third Anime Blast Chattanooga, which starts Friday, Nov. 8, and concludes Sunday, Nov. 10, in the Chattanooga Convention Center.

Michael Miller and Nick Young, both members of Scenic City Anime and More and co-chairs of the anime con, say they started planning it the day after last year's event ended. They've developed a three-day schedule of nonstop action that includes workshops, concerts, gaming tournaments and cosplay contests.

In addition to his role as the Black Ranger, Bosch has also voiced video game characters such as Nero in "Devil May Cry 4" and Bumblebee in "Transformers: War for Cybertron." When not acting, he's lead singer and rhythm guitarist in the band Eyeshine, which will play for Anime Blast on Saturday night.

Cherami Leigh, who voices Lucy in "Fairy Trail," is also coming to Anime Blast. Among other guests on the weekend's schedule are The Man Power of Nashville, a comic book rock'n'roll band; Laugh Out Loud improv troupe from the University of Georgia; and geek pop band Chris Davis and His K-Pop All-Stars.

"We're excited to be working with Iron Gaming Co. for Anime Blast," said Miller. "They are running a gaming room with video game tournaments throughout the weekend. We're also partnering with Epikos, who will run our Tabletop Room, which also has games."

Cosplay is an anime fan's way to show love for a specific character. Cosplayers Envel, Kohalu and Trixie Valentine will lead workshops on how to create specific looks and character features through wigs and makeup. Saturday's cosplay contest will give participants the opportunity to show off their work to a guest judge who will award prizes.

Throughout the weekend, visitors can dine at Anime Blast's Maid and Butler Cafe. Miller said food prepared by the convention center is served by cosplay maids and butlers.

"Each year we have a different theme and this year it's Alice in Wonderland. Maid and Butler Cafe is hugely popular, so we try to add more to it each year. In addition to food, this year we have games on Friday and Saturday," he says.

All the action is free with the price of a ticket. The only additional charge, Miller said, is whatever an individual buys to eat at Maid and Butler.

"Year One, we started Anime Blast with about 450 people. Year Two, we had 700," says Miller. "We've grown by about 300 people each year, so we think we will hit 1,000 this year. We already have somebody coming from Washington State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but the core group is fans from across the Southeast."

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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