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Anime Central 2015: Fun Event to Meet Friends

• The biggest anime convention in the Midwest, “Anime Central 2015”, was held May 15 to 17 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and the neighboring Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont. Since its inception in 1997 Anime Central has grown bigger, and 81,325 people have come to the convention, including 29,675 cosplayers last year.

• The joy of the convention is not only wearing costumes, but also participating in concerts, shows, and parties. This year, a girls band SCANDAL, Final Fantasy composer Naoshi Mizuta, 07th Expansion of “Higurashi When They Cry”, fashion designer Mika Takeuchi, boy-style model AKIRA, DJ Taku Takahashi, and other artists came from Japan as special guests.

• Cosplayers in Anime Central

• Sarah Madura from the Chicago area was wearing a costume of Saruda in Final Fantasy XIV. She interpreted the character design and created the costume from scratch. It took her two months to complete it.
• Madura started cosplay 12 years ago and has attended Anime Central every year since she was 13 years old. This year, she opened her artist table in the exhibit hall.
• Regarding the charm of the convention, she said, “The people. It’s just really the people. I come here and meet so many new faces, and I share so many stories with them and keep in contact with them.”

• Ellen Merecki from Michigan started cosplay three years ago after her friend had introduced it to her. She said, “Since then, I’ve just snowballed.” She has 15 costumes now.
• This year, she made a costume of Lesser in Fire Emblem from scratch, and it took her one year to complete.

• Sisters Alexandra and Elizabeth Schutt participated in Anime Central from Rockford.
• Elizabeth started cosplay three years ago after her friend had introduced it to her, and was inspired by characters in many video games. She said, “It is a magical thing to dress up and do this, especially when you make your own costumes.
• Alexandra was influenced by her sister and started cosplay. She said, “I found it as a way of escape and to become somebody else for a little while. I wouldn’t try the world (of cosplay). You can’t pay me enough money to do this. I just love it.”

• Arthur Garcia from Chicago was enjoying cosplay with a costume of Ruby Rose from UWBY. He said that he started it in 2005, and this was the 11th year of participation in the convention. He has a veteran’s status.
• He said, “Cosplay is something that everybody wants to express. For me, I just want to express my interest towards everybody. I think that cosplay is something very amazing. You can learn a lot from it. It’s a great experience.”

• An Interview with SCANDAL

• SCANDAL is an all-girl-Japanese band that formed in August 2006 in Osaka. Since their major debut in 2008, the group has surged to the tops of the Oricon charts and became the fastest girl band to perform at the Nippon Budokan.
• After releasing their new album “Hello World”, SCANDAL has embarked on a world tour in 2015, visiting the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Mexico.
• Besides their original pieces, the group has performed many anime themes including Pokemon, Brotherhood, and Star Driver.
• Because of their popularity, the press room at Anime Central was packed with media to cover their stories.

• Q: How has the world tour been?

• SCANDAL: We’ve performed at an anime convention in Paris seven years ago, but this time we performed in a club with live music. Besides our fans in Europe, patrons of the club were interested in our girl band, so we were very pleased. Besides, the audience was excited with our new pieces rather than anime music.

• Q: Do you enjoy your tour in the U.S.?

• SCANDAL: We had an American tour with another Japanese band seven years ago. This time, we are alone, so we are very excited.
• After releasing our album “Hello World”, we started a tour in Japan, and we are delighted that the tour was extended to overseas. Our dream came true.

• Q: How is the American audience different from Japan’s?

• SCANDAL: We had a concert in Rosemont yesterday. We’ve recognized that the American audience is excited before we get on the stage. On the other hand Japanese get excited after our appearance on the stage.
• We think that the American audience enjoys the whole atmosphere of a concert hall with our sound. When we watch the audience’s face, we also get excited. We really feel that we are making a concert together, that we are making a space together.

• Q: What kind of anime music do you want to play?

• SCANDAL: We didn’t watch much anime, but the people from the anime industry approached us to collaborate with our music. When we write a piece for anime, we studied about the anime deeply. We love to play anime music; especially, we are proud to perform the Pokemon song because we watched it since we were children.
• For now, we have no intention to play anime music in the future.

• Q: What was the breakthrough when you made a success in Japan?

• SCANDAL: When we formed the band, we performed on the street, but had no audience. We never gave up because we wanted people to watch us and wanted to improve our performance. We were always making every effort to be successful, so we could overcome the situation.
• After our official debut, we were not seen as musicians or a music band because we didn’t write our own pieces. We wished to make our own and made the effort. As a result, we were able to make “Hello World.” We made it because the four of us were always positive and walked toward the future.

• Q: Have you encountered hardships as a girl band?

• SCANDAL: We haven’t encountered any hardships in Japan.
• We go abroad every year, but we don’t see any girl bands, and that surprises us. There are no girl bands, which has gone on for decades.
• We know that an all-girl band has many difficulties continuing for years, but if you see our lives and want to try it, please do so. Let’s make a new era together.
• In Japan, girl bands have gained popularity, and we think that such girl bands are becoming a part of Japanese culture. Now we have been on a world tour and really want you to do whatever you want during your precious lifetime.

Sarah Madura

Sisters Alexandra and Elizabeth Schutt

Arthur Garcia