Toonami News from SDCC 2023

Last Updated on by Daniel Limjoco

During San Diego Comic-Con 2023, Toonami revealed new trailers and info on some of their upcoming original productions, including FLCL, Uzumaki, Ninja Kamui, Rick and Morty, and Lazarus.

As someone born and raised in America’s Finest City, it never fails to amaze me how big San Diego Comic-Con has grown. Starting out as a modest convention in the 1970’s, it’s grown to be one of the world’s most premier and attended conventions. With its location along the San Diego harbor, good weather in the hot July summers (compared to most of the nation), and 2-3 hour driving distance from Hollywood depending on the traffic, among other things, it’s perhaps no surprise that San Diego Comic-Con has become what it is today.

Comic-Con isn’t just any comic convention; it’s THE Comic Convention that everyone first thinks of when events like this are in the public eye. And the convention itself has grown to be much more than just about American comics. It’s a toy extravaganza, a Hollywood fair, a mini-Anime Expo, a mini E3, and much more wrapped into one festival. Exclusive toys and merchandising you can get nowhere else (and you bet those exclusives rack up in price on the resale market), panels featuring some of the most prestigious celebrities show up, exclusive autograph sessions, new game demos, the hottest new trailers, and so forth.

Unlike most conventions, Comic-Con doesn’t restrict itself to the confines of the convention center. Because of how big the event is, the festivities spill out into the streets of Downtown San Diego. Companies and groups turn parking lots, hotel lobbies, bars, and restaurants into off-site booths. Hotel walls and windows, buses and trolleys turn into advertising canvases. It’s almost as if all of Downtown is taking part in the festivities. Plus, for many of these events, you don’t even need an SDCC pass to partake in the action.

Convention Attendees crossing Harbor Drive between the Convention Center and the rest of Downtown San Diego.

Whenever I head up Los Angeles for big events like Anime Expo, even experiencing a 100k+ attendee event felt like it was a bubble mostly confined to a few blocks. But for Comic-Con on the other hand, it’s almost like the entire city plays along. Perhaps it’s because San Diego isn’t as big as LA, and events like this don’t come as often to a smaller city. So, it’s no surprise the city pulls out the red carpet for this occasion every year.

The Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, decked out in Comic-Con related ads and decorations.

Comic-Con has something for all kinds of fandom, but it’s not a convention for everyone. Comic-Con may be a celebration of fandom, but it can also be a grueling test of dedication. All the horror stories you hear about “Line Con” can quickly become true if you don’t plan accordingly. While some events can be relatively easy to see and enter, the lines to enter more prominent and popular attractions can feel downright demoralizing due to the long waiting times, some of which are outside in the hot summer heat.

Even getting in the door since the 2010’s requires all potential attendees to take part in a lottery system to get the opportunity to purchase a badge. According to the SDCC Unofficial blog, an estimated million prospective patrons roll the dice for just 110,000 regular attendee spots. And half of those spots are reserved for those who got tickets the year before. The rest are given to Industry Professionals, Press, Exhibitors, Volunteers, Panelists, Children under 13, and Staff to make up the estimated 130,000 attendee limit set by the city’s fire marshals.

And that’s only the beginning. From the long lines, to line caps, and the occasional lottery to have the privilege to get in for something big can become a huge hassle, especially for those with a phobia or fear of crowds. If you don’t think you are up for the challenge, I won’t blame you if you decide to sit this one out and just opt to go for a smaller con. But if you aren’t intimidated by lines, and you have persistence, patience, and some luck, you’ll have memories that can last a lifetime. Just choose your battles wisely, have a plan B if plan A doesn’t work out, and don’t expect to see everything. If you do try, you can run the risk of seeing nothing.

The Toonami Panel on Adult Swim on the Green

Toonami viewers who were lucky enough to come down to San Diego for Comic-Con 2023 had the opportunity to attend their first panel at San Diego Comic-Con for the first time since 2018 (and the fifth time overall) as well as their first panel overall since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel took place on the Saturday afternoon of SDCC weekend, and was located on the “Adult Swim on the Green” offsite event at the bayfront/rear side of the Convention Center. The event was free and open to the public (including non-SDCC badge holders), though nobody under 18 was allowed to enter.

Daniel Limjoco 🟦 on Twitter: “Out at #SDCC2023 representing @ToonamiSquad and the Toonami Faithful community. See you around the convention halls. #SDCC pic.twitter.com/VedAg6msBF / Twitter”

Out at #SDCC2023 representing @ToonamiSquad and the Toonami Faithful community. See you around the convention halls. #SDCC pic.twitter.com/VedAg6msBF

The “Adult Swim on the Green” can best be described as an Adult Swim-themed carnival, where fans could enjoy some fun and games themed around the popular programming block. Some of the attractions included a Water Gun shootout game where fans could win Rick and Morty themed swag, a Salty’s themed Mechanical bull (where instead of a bull, attendees rode a Hot Dog), a Wind Tunnel machine, and some Skee-ball machines. Fans could also get a freshly printed T-Shirt with the option of one of several designs based around an Adult Swim franchise. I personally picked up a My Adventures with Superman themed one.

There was even a booth where attendees could enjoy limited edition Pop-Tarts in fine delicacy.

In the center of it all was an outdoor stage, where Adult Swim hosted their panels on the green. And when there wasn’t a panel, hosted a DJ playing tunes as fans danced the con away. And this is where this year’s Toonami panel took place.

The stage, being set up during Preview Night.

Hosted by Toonami co-creators Jason DeMarco and Gill Austin, the panel focused on revealing sneak peeks and other new details regarding four of Toonami’s upcoming original productions.

Toonami kicked things right off by showcasing the next original production up next to bat, FLCL Grunge, announcing that the upcoming fourth season of the FLCL franchise would be hitting Toonami airwaves this September 9th.

(Grunge Promo cut by Johnny Ray and produced by Del Gato)

Gill had admitted that announcements for Toonami have been pretty slim lately, but promised that “all of the things that we haven’t been able to tell you about, this is the beginning of [us] being able to tell you about all of those things.”

And that wasn’t all regarding FLCL, as Toonami had also brought a “work-in-progress” teaser trailer from FLCL Shoegaze, which will be the fifth season of the franchise. Toonami has yet to reveal a release date for Shoegaze, but this trailer was showcased to the fans to show them “how it’s coming along.” This particular promo was not released to the public, outside of those who attended the panel. Some fans who attended the panel did record the trailer while recording the panel through their camcorders. Toonami would later reveal that the release date for Shoegaze would be on September 29.

(Video by @ExpNoob1988 on YouTube)

The panel shifted gears towards revealing new details on Uzumaki, which has been in production for four years and has since seen significant delays from its original release date, first from 2020, then October 2022 thanks to the pandemic, until Toonami just stopped giving out an ETA release date altogether. Back during the Production I.G panel at Anime Expo 2023, Maki Terashima-Furuta assured the fans that Uzumaki was still being worked on, and progress was being made on the show’s production. She also teased that there would be some new information released at Comic-Con.

In Jason DeMarco’s words, the reason for these delays, among other things, is “Because it turns out it’s very, very hard to replicate Junji Ito’s lines faithfully, but that hasn’t stopped us from continuing to work on it.” Toonami did showcase “a nice, hefty clip” from the first episode.

Junji Ito was attending San Diego Comic-Con to promote some of his manga releases with Viz Media, including the upcoming English release of his anthology, Soichi: Junji Ito Story Collection. There was even an entire art exhibit featuring his work called “Welcome to the Ito-Verse: The Junji Ito Experience.” However, Ito himself was not present for the Toonami panel.

 

Last year, Toonami announced that they were producing Ninja Kamui, a new original series by Sunghoo Park (of Jujutsu Kaisen fame) and his studio, E&H Production, along with Sola Entertainment.

Park has been a pretty on-demand director since the success of Jujutsu Kaisen and the Jujutsu Kaisen 0 movie. Besides Ninja Kamui, he and E&H Production has also announced that they are also working on another original project, Project Bullet/Bullet, which will be streaming on Disney+. Due to Park’s high demand, Shōta Goshozono would take over directing duties for Jujutsu Kaisen season 2.

Park sent a message to the Comic-Con crowd before revealing a new trailer, announcing that the series will be premiering on Toonami in 2024. Shortly before the release of this article, Toonami announced that the show would make its premiere on February 10, 2024.

 

On Friday at the Rick and Morty panel, Adult Swim showcased what will become the opening theme song for the upcoming anime spinoff series, titled Rick and Morty: The Anime. The anime will be a standalone series from the original Rick and Morty series by Justin Roland (before he was ousted from the show amidst domestic assault allegations and charges) and Dan Harmon. Though given the multi-dimensional nature of the franchise, one can’t necessarily say that this is a “standalone” spinoff in the traditional sense.

The Rick and Morty anime will be directed by Takashi Sano (who previously directed Tower of God) and animated by Telecom Animation Film, a subsidiary of TMS Entertainment (which itself is a subsidiary of SEGA) and produced by Sola Entertainment. The panel showcased a message from director Takeshi Sano regarding the process of making the anime, before showing the Toonami audience the opening theme.

“As the director, I would like to assure you that I’m also a huge fan of Rick and Morty. I believe there are many Rick and Morty fans, and I’m truly honored to be chosen to create a new Rick and Morty story out of all of them.”

While some outlets (including the official account for Max) have reported that Rick and Morty: The Anime is schedule for release later in 2023, Adult Swim did not officially reveal a premiere date for the new spinoff during Comic-Con. With even Gill Austin saying, “I don’t believe we’re saying when that’s coming, or Michael Ouweleen’s (president of Cartoon Network) gonna have me killed.”

Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!

 

Finally, just announced during the Thursday of Comic-Con week, Toonami announced a new original production, Lazarus, by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Space Dandy fame. Produced by Sola Entertainment and animated by Studio MAPPA, Watanabe has brought in some notable Hollywood talent to help produce the show. Acclaimed stuntman and film director Chad Stahelski (of John Wick fame) has been brought in to design the show’s action sequences. With music by Kamasi Washington, Floating Points, and Bonobo.

Adult Swim flew out Watanabe and Sola Entertainment CEO Joseph Chou out to San Diego, and following the presentation of the trailer, brought them out to the panel to discuss this new series.

 

Shinichiro Watanabe mentioned that 25 years ago, Adult Swim began airing Cowboy Bebop as part of their inaugural lineup. The show went through multiple reruns over it’s history, most recently in 2022. While some might be annoyed about the constant reruns, given that the show is only 26 episodes with no sequels or spinoffs (other than a live action adaptation Netflix made last year), the success of Bebop did lead to good relations between Watanabe and Adult Swim. This led to Space Dandy premiering on Toonami in January 2014, bringing the advent of the anime simuldub along with it.

Now, Watanabe has taken his relationship with Toonami to the next level with Lazarus, which he mentioned is 100% funded by Adult Swim and Warner Bros. In thanking Watanabe for his enthusiasm for this project and getting the opportunity “working with an artist of his caliber,” Jason DeMarco mentioned that he has been trying to convince Watanabe to create an original production with them for about a decade.

Shinichiro Watanabe and Joseph Chou with Jason DeMarco and Gill Austin.

Watanabe started conceiving Lazarus around the same time he was working on Blade Runner Black Out 2022, a short film in the Blade Runner franchise which was released in 2017. Watanabe said that “I haven’t really worked on a sci-fi action-adventure for a long time and came to that realization. So, one thing led to another, and Jason said “Ok, we’ll invest 100% if that’s the case. So, here we are.” Jason DeMarco added it took three years of meetings and talking for Watanabe to eventually get the green light from Warner Bros.

The panelists showed a slideshow of storyboard artwork, designs and images from the show, to give fans an idea of what to look forward to. This includes the character designs of Lazarus’ main characters, including Axel, Doug, Christine, Leyland, Elena, Hersch, Lin, and Skinner.

As previously mentioned, Chad Stahelski (of John Wick fame) has been recruited by Watanabe to produce the show’s action sequences. Watanabe wanted to make something “very new and different from what came before.” While Watanabe has admitted that hiring an acclaimed live action stunt artist to help produce an anime might be a little silly to some, he was still keen on asking if Chad wanted to be a part of the project. Joseph Chou, who had worked with Chad before, agreed, and they both got a positive answer back from Stahelski.

Chad himself is a big anime fan and was hugely influenced by Watanabe’s work in Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and the like. So, despite that he was quite busy producing John Wick: Chapter 4 when he got the call from Watanabe, he was on board to join the project and give his take on ideas for the show. Watanabe didn’t initially realize it at the time, but he noted that he actually did work with Chad before back in the early 2000’s, when he was producing two different episodes of The Animatrix, as Chad was a stuntman for Keanu Reaves.

Lazarus’ action scenes will be put together with Chad’s stunt team being filmed “acting out” the sequences in live action. Watanabe would then look at those sequences before sending them to Sola Entertainment and MAPPA to interpret them in anime format. The panel showcased a clip of this technique being put into action.

The premise of Lazarus is this: In the 2050’s, there is a global pandemic and a doctor named Dr. Skinner discovers a miracle drug that cures this disease. However, this comes with a catch. Dr. Skinner later reveals that everyone who took this drug would die in three years. A task force called “Lazarus” is called upon to find him so a vaccine can be produced, with the consequences of failing to do being that half the world will die. The panel joked that it’s basically the events of 2020.

Our protagonists are known as “The Lazarus Five”. A group from all over the world with a secret past that have connections to who Dr. Skinner truly is.

Watanabe’s works are well acclaimed for their uses of music, and Lazarus will be no exception. Shinichiro knows Jason DeMarco is a music freak, as he previously led the Adult Swim Singles program and is responsible for finding much of the music artists Adult Swim and Toonami airs during bumpers. Knowing this, Watanabe promises to give Lazarus one of the best anime soundtracks ever.

In regard to a potential release date, Watanabe and Chou were aiming to have the show premiering by 2024, but were not fully committed to releasing it at that window.

Jason DeMarco is pretty hopeful for Lazarus’ potential, tongue-in-cheek proclaiming that “there’s gonna be more seasons, it’s gonna be a big hit!” He clarified that he was joking that the show will be a guaranteed smash hit franchise, but he is regardless hoping for the best. None of Watanabe’s original works have ever gone beyond 26 episodes and, outside of Space Dandy, none of his works have ever gotten a second season. So, while it might not necessarily be a requirement, if Watanabe indeed wants Lazarus to go beyond those milestones, it would be nice to see.

SPIRAL CURSE DEMARCO on Twitter: “I was joking here, hoping for the best. Tongue firmly in cheek. https://t.co/y5qp8H2L0f / Twitter”

I was joking here, hoping for the best. Tongue firmly in cheek. https://t.co/y5qp8H2L0f

 

Following the Toonami panel was the “Genndy Tartakovsky Musical Experience.” For this event Genndy Tartakovsky introduced a full orchestra. They showcased the entire first episode of Unicorn: Warriors Eternal with the entire orchestra playing the show’s soundtrack. Following the episode, the orchestra played a medley of songs from both Primal and Samurai Jack.

(Credit: @muldervillenet on YouTube)

Prior to both this and the Toonami panel, Genndy was also signing Unicorn: Warriors Eternal Posters to fans at the Green.

Genndy Tartakovsky signing Unicorn: Warriors Eternal posters.

A special shoutout to several Toonami Faithful who I ran into at the panel, including @Nerd_Drummer92, whom I first met during the first (modern-era) Toonami panel in San Diego at 2015, and got to hang out at every Toonami panel at SDCC since. As well as fellow colleagues @LumRanmaYasha, @VLordGTZ, and @kiirobon, from Manga Mavericks and ToonamiFaithful.com, the latter I used to contribute to from 2013-2021.

Nerd_Drummer92 on Twitter: “”Ichigo Kurosaki, Substitute Soul Reaper” I’m so glad I got more pictures of my Ichigo cosplay at SDCC this year. I hope to get more soon. #SDCC #SDCC2023 #BLEACH_anime #BLEACHTYBW #BLEACH #BleachCosplay pic.twitter.com/mjBSRsMO8T / Twitter”

“Ichigo Kurosaki, Substitute Soul Reaper” I’m so glad I got more pictures of my Ichigo cosplay at SDCC this year. I hope to get more soon. #SDCC #SDCC2023 #BLEACH_anime #BLEACHTYBW #BLEACH #BleachCosplay pic.twitter.com/mjBSRsMO8T

 

Hollywood and Real-Life Turmoil hits Comic-Con

Of course, the past few years have been rough for Comic-Con and conventions overall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As with all public gatherings during the pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 editions of Comic-Con were canceled as panels (branded as Comic-Con@Home) were hosted virtually online on the SDCC YouTube page. Thankfully as the discovery of vaccines and effective treatments have allowed the state of California and around the United States to gradually lift restrictions, Comic-Con scheduled a fall event for 2021, titled the “Comic-Con Special Edition” which served as a dry run for a full return of SDCC in 2022.

The 2023 edition of Comic-Con saw a return to pre-pandemic conditions for the most part, as mask requirements were lifted. However, this edition came in the shadow of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Hollywood strikes.

The entertainment and tech industries have been seeing some cutthroat spending cuts by Hollywood executives as onslaughts of shows and films are getting canceled and being used as tax write offs (legally rendering them as lost media), due in part to the pandemic alongside the ongoing “streaming wars” turning into a “streaming service bubble burst”. Combined with the lack of compensation and residuals from the current streaming service model, alongside concerns that artificial intelligence could stifle the industry’s creativity and lead to unemployment on a massive scale, Hollywood’s employees have taken to the streets in protest. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) went out on strike for the first time since 2007, joined by the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) striking for the first time since 1980, and the first time both have been striking together since the 1960’s.

SAG-AFTRA and the WGA forbid their members from promoting “struck work”, which meant that many celebrities and other Hollywood figures passed on attending panels and events hosted by Hollywood studios. Some even passed on attending the con entirely.

 

Those in Hollywood who did attend Comic-Con this year did so independently from a studio that was apart of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the union of Hollywood studios and conglomerates during these strikes, and/or came for events that SAG-AFTRA and the WGA were not striking against. SAG-AFTRA has encouraged actors to continue promoting non-struck work to show the AMPTP “what they are missing out on.”

The National Association of Voice Actors (NAVA) did host panels during Comic-Con informing the public and the press on why they were striking in the first place.

Toonami Squad on Twitter: “If you want to learn about the concerns of artificial intelligence in media and why the WGA & SAG-AFTRA are presently striking, we recommend attending the panel “AI IN ENTERTAINMENT: THE PERFORMER’S PERSPECTIVE” hosted by @NAVAVOICES on Saturday at 10:30 am in Room 29CD. #SDCC pic.twitter.com/IV4mfXPDoJ / Twitter”

If you want to learn about the concerns of artificial intelligence in media and why the WGA & SAG-AFTRA are presently striking, we recommend attending the panel “AI IN ENTERTAINMENT: THE PERFORMER’S PERSPECTIVE” hosted by @NAVAVOICES on Saturday at 10:30 am in Room 29CD. #SDCC pic.twitter.com/IV4mfXPDoJ

(Credit: @literaryhype on YouTube)

During the months after SDCC, and shortly before this article was published, both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA would both get deals from the AMPTP that brought an end to their respective strikes on September 27 and November 9th respectively. However, critics and some union members have felt that the offer SAG-AFTRA’s negotiators and the AMPTP have agreed to, doesn’t do enough to satisfy the concerns from the advent of Artificial Intelligence. Given the various ethical concerns that can and will come from the potential usage of A.I. in regular everyday use, I fear that this battle may only just be the beginning.

Not to mention that other Hollywood unions including the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) and the Animation Guild also have negotiations for new contracts coming up in the new year, and if the AMPTP and Hollywood studios don’t address their concerns, we may not be out of the woods yet and potentially see another strike affect SDCC 2024.

Thanks, Kevin Conroy. (Cosplay by @bruceprops_39 on Instagram)

My Adventures with Superman

One panel that the current strikes have directly affected was the My Adventures with Superman panel that took place on Friday morning. In addition to showcasing a new episode, the panel was originally supposed to feature several members of the cast and crew, as they would, according to the panel listing, “discuss familiar friends and foes, plus what else we will see in season one and beyond.” Unfortunately, due to the Hollywood strikes, none of the cast and crew attended the panel. Instead, the panel showcased Episode 4 (“Let’s Go to Ivo Tower, You Say“) for those who didn’t catch the episode the previous night on television. Before showcasing the world premiere of Episode 5 (“You Will Believe a Man Can Lie“), which would air on Adult Swim the following week.

The Panel Room during the My Adventures with Superman screenings.

 

Demon Slayer

Aniplex made their debut at SDCC as they (with the assistance of Crunchyroll) hosted a Demon Slayer panel featuring the English dub cast. YouTube user No Load Time recorded the panel and posted it online, which you can see below.

I personally didn’t get to attend the panel as it was around the same time the Toonami panel took place, but I did spoke with several of the Demon Slayer cast during autograph sessions. While they were in the dark regarding the situation of the show being unable to return to Toonami (as voice actors will tell you, they tend to be among the last of the production crew to learn of any news regarding a project, oftentimes being informed alongside the fans), they seemed to be pretty hopeful that the show would return at some point. Fortunately, later in the year, Demon Slayer would indeed return to Toonami on November 11.

Me with Abby Trott, the voice of Nezuko.

One Piece

Netflix pulled out all the stops in promoting their live action adaptation of One Piece, as the entire first season would be released to Netflix viewers on August 31, 2023. During the show’s panel, Netflix released a trailer for the live action adaptation, which you can see below.

Given the very spotty history of Hollywood adaptations of anime and manga, especially as Netflix canceled their live action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop in 2021 after one season, One Piece fans were understandably concerned that this adaptation would not live up to the quality of the anime and manga. Netflix did release a statement from One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda, whom assured fans that they need not to worry about this live action adaptation.

ONE PIECE(ワンピース) Netflix on Twitter: “Adventure is on the horizon! Let’s all take Eiichiro Oda’s wise advice and have some ☕ while we wait. #OnePieceNetflix pic.twitter.com/hsgtiopEz8 / Twitter”

Adventure is on the horizon! Let’s all take Eiichiro Oda’s wise advice and have some ☕ while we wait. #OnePieceNetflix pic.twitter.com/hsgtiopEz8

As for the One Piece anime, during Anime Expo 2023, Crunchyroll announced that the English Dub of One Piece would be available to stream on the service, after years of negotiating and ironing out licensing complications with Toei Animation. During the Crunchyroll panel at SDCC, they announced that several One Piece films would also be available on their service, including One Piece Film: Gold (2016), One Piece: Stampede (2019), and One Piece Film Red (2022).

Fourth Gear!

Interviews

As the representative of Toonami Squad at SDCCI managed to get several interviews from the festivities, with Veronica Taylor, Evan Michael Lee, Greg Baldwin, and Kayleigh McGee. I also got interviews with Deneen Melody, Sandy Fox, and Lex Lang. All of these will be audio interviews. Look forward to them posted sometime soon. On behalf of my colleagues at Toonami Squad, I would like to thank all of the guests who took the time to talk with me. And we want to say thanks as well to those who also wanted to talk with us, but couldn’t due to other commitments.

The Voice Actors panel at SDCC 2023, which featured (from left to right) Shawn Strider, Deneen Melody, Shara Kirby, Lisa Ortiz, Frank Todaro, Evan Michael Lee, and Kayleigh McKee.

Due to Comic-Con’s success and perhaps due to SDCC reaching the hard limits of its growth, many other conventions have been following suit in an attempt to get some of San Diego’s thunder. Disney most notably has been shifting its focus to the biennial D-23 Expo to cater more to their audience, although Marvel and to a lesser extent Star Wars still has a decent presence at SDCC. New York Comic Con has become the East Coast equivalent of this festival, as with FanX (formerly Salt Lake Comic Con, until SDCC forced them to change their name in a lawsuit) in the Rocky Mountains, and many more like it. And of course, the anime industry has Anime Expo, which is becoming “Comic-Con, but just for anime” in its own right.

Comic-Con and the city of San Diego have reached an agreement to keep the convention going till at least 2024. I expect Comic-Con to renew its contract with San Diego in the next year, but what happens in the long run is really anyone’s guess. There have been proposals of expanding the convention center among other things to increase the 130k attendance cap, however, those proposals have been mired in political red tape as of now. Los Angeles and Anaheim convention officials meanwhile, have not been shy in saying they want the Comic-Con crowds up the I-5 instead, as if taking the Chargers wasn’t enough for the Los Angeles area. Which might be a better commute for Hollywood stars, but potential expansions for both the LA and Anaheim convention centers also are mired in their own political red tape, not to mention said convention centers would need a significant expansion to even marginally increase the attendance cap that would even make a relocation worth it. And even then, could Comic-Con be able to replicate the magic and uniqueness of the con being San Diego, in Los Angeles?

But even as pundits have been proclaiming that Comic-Con’s appeal is fading, it hasn’t fazed the hundreds of thousands who come every year and the millions who wish they could. As long as those crowds are still interested in going to San Diego, I don’t see this festival going away anytime soon.

Bite My Shiny Metal @$$!

Comic-Con also has also just opened a museum in Balboa Park, which replaced the San Diego Hall of Champions which moved to Petco Park. The museum is open year-round and showcases the past, present, and future of the convention in San Diego among other things related to comic books and popular media. Among some of the exhibits featured, Crunchyroll is presently showcasing some art exhibitions including a Cowboy Bebop Art Exhibition commemorating the show’s 25th Anniversary, in addition of a My Hero Academia Installation, featuring a statue of the “Historical Battle in Kamino”, recreating the fight between All Might and All for One in Season 3.

Going to SDCC for over a decade now, it has become a yearly highlight for me both as a fan and a writer. It’s not easy being the only one at the event when there’s a plethora of news to cover and events to attend and one person can only do so much. But with SDCC just two weeks after Anime Expo, and everyone focusing their efforts and budget on covering AX, it becomes difficult to expect everyone to attend. That being said, if any Toonami fan or anyone from Toonami Squad, Swimpedia, ToonamiFaithful.com, or any website that covers Toonami shows wants to try and help me out, see if you can get a pass and let’s team up one of these years.

I Wannna Always be with You, I’ll Give You Everything I Have…

Do I recommend going to San Diego Comic Con? Much like with the likes of the Super Bowl, WrestleMania, the Olympics and the World Cup, going to Comic-Con is a bucket list item for those that are fans of comics and the mediums it has influenced. However, as I mentioned before, it’s not for everyone. If you’re not a big fan of big crowds and don’t have the commitment of waiting in line to see the bigger exhibits, you might want to stay as far away from Downtown San Diego as possible during the event, or at least you’re better off going to a smaller con. Some of Comic Con’s organizers have also organized Wondercon in Anaheim as well as the San Diego Comic Fest, both of which are held in the Spring and both serve this purpose of a smaller comic convention in Southern California. And if you’re only interested in anime and manga, it seems a bit more fruitful going to the likes of Anime Expo, Otakon, or Anime NYC instead, as more members of the anime industry exhibit in those cons.

But for those that don’t mind the crowds, or are even cool with people watching, having their chance at buying some rare items and getting some cool swag, are interested in seeing the big events, and seeing some celebrities and creators (even if how small the chances are of getting the opportunity to shake their hands and getting their autograph, the bigger they are), I’ve never known a more better place to be to experience the popularity of comics and the mediums that it has influenced more than in San Diego in July.

Comic-Con is no doubt an experience anyone who is interested in Comic conventions has to go at least once in their life, and it’s no surprise that hundreds of thousands of people head to San Diego every year for this 4-day extravaganza, and millions more wish to go one day. To experience the very best (and the very worst) of what Comic-Con and comic conventions in general have to offer, I can say no more than to try and get a ticket and go see the experience for yourself.

Daniel Limjoco

Editor of the “Toonami Trending Rundown” a weekly article cataloging Toonami’s social media impact. News editor and social media curator for Toonami Squad. Former news editor and social media curator to ToonamiFaithful.com from 2013-2021.