Anime Expo: New ‘Dragon Ball Z,’ ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’ and cosplay

July 02, 2014 | 3:59 p.m.
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People dressed up as anime characters attend opening day of the Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center on July 3, 2014. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Twenty-one-month-old Aria Chan, from San Francisco, dressed up as Chun-Li from the video game "Street Fighter," and Jonathan Hernandez, 21, of North Hollywood, dressed up as Peter Pan. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Derek Fu, 20, of Diamond Bar, dressed up as Fujitora from the anime show "One Piece." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Artist Sylvia Shi, of Baltimore, displays her art that is for sale at her booth during the opening day of Anime Expo. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Hope Donovan, left, of San Francisco, dressed up as Rin from the anime show "Free!," adjusts the scarf of friend Cyrene Cruz, of Los Angeles, dressed up us as Haru, a character from the same show. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Kim Zak, left, of Los Angeles, dressed up as Elsa from Disney's "Frozen," gets help with her gown from friend Tyler Amano-Smerling, of Los Angeles, dressed up as Ursula from Disney's "Little Mermaid." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Kimura U, right, the Ambassador of Cute, makes her way inside the Los Angeles Convention Center. She was appointed by the Foreign Ministry of Japan to promote Japanese culture abroad. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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A fan is dressed up as the male version of Ahri from the video game "League of Legends." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

1915075 et anime expo cosplay1 mam Anime Expo: New ‘Dragon Ball Z,’ ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’ and cosplay

Kevin Nakashima, left, of Whittier, dressed up as Colossal Titan from "Attack on Titan." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Justin Boaz, right, of Vista, dresses up as Tuxedo Mask. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Klaura McKelvey, 15, dressed up as Aradia, a character from the web comic series, 'Homestuck." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans gather inside the Los Angeles Convention Center during Anime Expo. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Mikaylee Collins, left, dressed up as Grell Sutcliff, and Jenny Joboyan dressed up as Angelina Dalles, both characters from the anime series "Black Butler." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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From left: Renee Wallin, Danielle Smith, Lily Kim, Emily Tran, and Alex Tanguay, all from Arizona, pose for pictures. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Emily Moreno, 6, dressed up as Satoko from the anime show "Higurashi When They Cry," shows her new stuffed animal to Katie Ehrlich, 18, left, dressed up as Raven, and her friend Liza Woythaler, dressed up as Starfire, both characters from "Teen Titans." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Elyse Campos, 25, of Glendora, wears an original character she designed and named Allen, a white German shepherd. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Dakota Dennis of Woodland Hills, wearing the titular mask from the "Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask" video game. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Johnny Yang, of Corona, portraying Gray Fullbuster from the anime show "Fairy Tail," walks around with his ice cannon. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Joshua Gainey, left, of Chino, dressed up as Kurloz Makara from the web comic series "Homestuck." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Tiana Jellum, of Los Angeles, dressed up as Stocking from the anime series "Panty &Stocking with Garterbelt." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Avery Perez, of Ventura, holds his bed foam and cardboard creation that he made in the likeness of Bad Batter, a character from the "Off" game. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Nathalie Urrutia, left, and Joseph Escobar, both of Burbank, dress up as characters from the puppet video series "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Devin Izmirian, of Colorado, dressed up as Rem from the anime show "Death Note." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The 23rd Anime Expo, the largest anime and manga convention in North America, is opening Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center for four days of exhibits, panel discussions, concerts, commerce and, yes, cosplay (take a peek at the gallery above for duds from 2014).

After feedback from last year’s attendants, the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, which organizes the expo, has expanded the role of costume play in the event, creating more sets where cosplayers dressed as their favorite anime (animation) and manga (comics) characters can take photographs.

“Anime Expo draws a lot of people who get into costume, and we wanted to provide an area for them to be able to take some really good pictures. We have a lot of really cool sets,” said Meg Amo, the society’s brand manager, citing a Japanese garden and a tearoom, among others.

The event will draw 60,000 people from various countries and cultures, Amo said, typically within the age range of 18 to 25. They look to meet people with an interest in anime as well as see the latest premieres and products.

In addition to a record 280 exhibits at this year’s expo, two classic franchises will receive a spotlight: “Sailor Moon” and “Dragon Ball Z.”

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” marks the anime series’ first theatrical feature in 17 years. The film premiered in Japan last year and starts a limited theatrical release here Aug. 5. Goku, the hero of the series, faces off against Beerus, the god of destruction, to save Earth in this English-dubbed continuation of the story, produced by FUNimation. The red carpet premiere is at the nearby Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Thursday, followed by a panel with voice actors and crew from the English version of the film on Saturday at the expo.

“I would say safely that ‘Dragon Ball Z’ is the largest of all animes in the last 20 years or more that have come out of Japan,” said Justin Cook, FUNimation’s director of production.

Since 1996 FUNimation, which will have a booth at the expo, has created English dubs of “Dragon Ball Z” animation developed from the Japanese manga series by Akira Toriyama. Chris Sabat, voice actor and voice director for the English dub, said fans who followed the show at its peak popularity in 1999 and 2000 have brought new generations to the series.

“When I’m making an appearance or whenever I meet anyone, it’s ‘Man, I ran home from school every day to watch that show, and I’m introducing that show to my kids,’” Sabat said. “I think it’s going to have a large impact because there’s such a wide demographic of people who were watching it when it was originally popular and people who are watching it now that it’s popular again.”

Amo said the ’90s anime series “Sailor Moon” is also getting a revamp in the form of the new series “Sailor Moon Crystal” — available for streaming on Hulu and Viz Media’s Neon Alley starting Saturday — and a new dub of classic episodes from the series. “Crystal” retells the start of the series, when heroine Usagi Tsukino first discovers her powers.

On the premiere date of the new series, the expo will present a panel featuring the show’s voice actors, a screening and a meet-up for cosplayers sporting the signature blond buns of Sailor Moon or other looks in the series.

Cosplayers already have begun previewing their attire for the upcoming expo on Instagram. Ariane Brandt, 25, of San Diego, has attended the Anime Expo for the last seven years, devoting extensive time and money to her costumes before stepping into the convention center.

A “Sailor Moon” fan, she worked with nine friends to re-create the outfits of 10 “sailors” of “Sailor Moon” for this year’s expo. She spent more than 30 hours sewing five of the 10 costumes. The payoff? Wearing the outfits to cosplay meet-ups and drawing attention from other attendees.

“You always want to see your work appreciated. You don’t want it to sound like it’s a popularity thing, but it kind of is,” Brandt said. “At the convention, it’s always the most fun when you have a lot of people taking pictures, asking for pictures, asking how did you make something or how did you put it together. Talking about the craft is one of my favorite parts of cosplay.”

Brandt’s Instagram account showcases the fruits of her labor, and on Thursday — a day off from her job as tech support for radiology software — she’ll have a chance to put on a show for the thousands of other expo attendees.

– Haley Goldberg |  @LATHeroComplex

Anime Expo 2014

Where: Los Angeles Convention Center

When: Thursday-Sunday

Tickets: Four-day admission $25-$75; one-day admission $40; Thursday-Saturday, entry to exhibit hall only is free after 4 p.m.; parking is $20

Information: anime-expo.org

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