Anime fans celebrate their fandom at local comic exhibition

Ruben Perez, Reporter

Bak-Anime once again thrust itself into the arms of local anime and manga fans at The Double Tree Hotel on April 22.

People from all over Bakersfield, and even some from out of town, came to this event.  Heidi Bailey has been coming to Bak-Anime ever since it started.

“I come for the people,” she said. “A lot of my friends go, a lot of the artist people and the retailers and all of that, are here every year and it’s a lot of fun to talk to them too.”

The convention had vendor booths, card game tournaments and Q-and-A panels with different people in the anime and comic book business. The vendor booths sold items for costumes and anime related products that you wouldn’t find at a typical store. Local businesses Leeters Gaming and Paladins Game Castle were also present.

The first panel was for “Hetalia”, an anime series, where fans got to ask people dressed as characters about the series and just general, fun questions. The “Hetalia” panel consisted of local people that had seen similar panels and wanted to do their own. The main panel was a Q-and-A panel with voice actors Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey, who have worked on shows such as “Full Metal Alchemist,” “Blue Gender,” “Dragonball Z,” and “Bleach”.

For an hour, fans were able to ask Willingham and Bailey questions about the shows they have worked on, any possible plans to revive some fan favorite shows, and to do voices from some of their characters, which they gladly performed.

After the panel, fans were able to meet both of them and get an autograph. Brandon Jefferson, who waited in line for 40 minutes to get an autograph, was elated about meeting Bailey and Willingham.

“I love anime and they’re so cool about it,” said Jefferson. “I told her [Bailey] that “Blue Gender” was my favorite anime and she was so happy because that’s the second show she ever worked on. She even signed my DVDs.”

The last panel was a Q-and-A panel with Billy Martinez, owner of Neko Press Comics, about how he got started in the comic business, and he also gave advice to people just starting out or toying with the idea of being a comic book writer.

It would be remiss to not acknowledge the amount of cosplay at the event.

A woman who wanted to be referred to by her character’s name dressed up as, Mello from “Deathnote,” shared her opinion on the cosplay.

“It’s authentic to dress up at these events and you don’t feel out of place,” she said.

People dressed up in a variety of characters ranging from Pikachu and Link, to Pyramid Head and the “Team Fortress 2” Pyro.

The event coordinator Steve Wyatt was glad at how the event turned out and is going to be holding another anime convention this November.

“It’s a two day show, so more rooms, more events, and some overnight also,” he said.

If you want to stay updated on the next Bak-Anime you can register your email at their website,  Bak-anime.com.