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Special Guests 2009

The Otafest Team proudly presents this year's special guests! Come join in on the fun as we make 2009 the best Otafest celebration yet!

Johnny Yong Bosch

You’ve asked for years now, and we’ve finally been able to do it! Ladies and Gentleman, Otafest is very pleased to present Johnny Yong Bosch as our headlining guest for 2009! You know him best as Adam Park in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but Johnny is also the man behind the voice of some of your most beloved heros of all time, including: Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach), Vash the Stampede (Trigun), Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass) and Nero (Devil May Cry 4)!

Johnny is a frequent guest at anime cons, having appeared at over 50 conventions, and Otafest 2009 will be Johnny’s first con in Calgary! Be sure to check out some of Johnny’s panels, including informal, acoustic performances of song by his band - Eyeshine!


There are few names as well known as ‘Applegeeks’ in the wide world of webcomics and last year, Otafest had the extreme pleasure of presenting Mohammad “Hawk” Haque, and Ananth Panagariya of Applegeeks for their very first Canadian con! They had such a good time, they’ve decided to come back a second time!

Applegeeks is the fantastically popular webcomic featuring the misadventures of “Hawk”, a college student with an unnatural fondness for Apple products, and his aspiring writer friend Jayce. Applegeeks have routinely been guests at such cons as Anime Central, Otakon and Katsucon and we are very pleased to be have Applegeeks back at Otafest!

For more information about applegeeks – check out their website!

The 404s

Theeeeeey’re back! The 404s are a touring group of improv performers based in Alberta, Canada. Presenting their own brand of improv comedy at events across Canada and in the United States, they combine heavy audience participation with their own witty charm, and leave every show with a bloody trail of busted guts and teary eyes in their wake. Perennial favorites at Otafest since Otafest 2005, we are very pleased to have the 404s return!

For a schedule of the 404's performances, check out their website here!

Midnight Taiko

Midnight Taiko is a group of taiko drummers, spreading their love of the art of Japanese drumming in Calgary. The group is so named because they are very passionate about good taiko and would gladly stay up all night playing! Midnight Taiko has played at Otafest the last 3 years, and due to their unique brand of audience participation, they put on a show you are sure not to want to miss! For more information on Taiko, check out Midnight Taiko’s website here!

Dr. Antonia Levi

Dr. Levi is an early scholar in the area of Asian popular culture studies, having studied at Tokyo University and Standard, and taught at Amherst College, Loyola Marymount University and Portland State University. She is the author of Samurai from Outer Space: Understanding Japanese Animation and has previously been a guest at Anime Evolution and Sakura-con.

Lately, she has been involved in numerous workshops with teachers, helping them to incorporate anime and manga into the classroom! Otafest 2008 was Dr. Levi’s first time with Otafest, and she had such a great time that she’s agreed to come back for Otafest 2009! In addition to her infamous ‘Yaoi! Zowie!’ panel, be sure to check out her impressive scholarly slanted panels as part of our Anime Academia panel lineup!

Dave Rathnow & Shin Ken Kai Nobara

Iaido is the art of Japanese sword practice done with a live blade. Dave Rathnow has practiced the art for 14 years, and has given regular demonstration and talk on Iaido at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens in Lethbridge. Be sure to check out his demonstration and mini-lecture on this exquisite art!

Iaido is a non-combative martial art that involves no direct physical contact or combat with other individuals in the dojo. Practitioners perform patterns, called "kata", that represent confrontational situations where he or she is attacked by one or more opponents. Almost all patterns are solo; that is, there is no physical enemy. There are some two-person kata, but these are choreographed, with one person defending against a pre-defined series of attacks. Solo kata involve drawing the sword, making one or more cuts, cleaning the blade, and returning the sword to the scabbard with concentration and focus.

For more information on Iaido, check out Shin Ken Kai Nobara's website here!

From their humble beginnings as grumpy ceiling-dwellers, waiting for their big break to drop and crush passing heroes, THWOMP have rocked the airwaves with the sounds of video game nostalgia. Drawing on influences from the golden age of console gaming, from composers such as Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy), Koji Kondo (Super Mario Bros), Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger), Yumiko Kanki (F-Zero) and others, THWOMP speak to the inner child of a generation of gamers.

You probably know the music but you've never heard nor seen it like this. Cranked at 115 decibels through screaming amps with even screaminger guitar solos, it's 16 bits of sonic bliss. It doesn't stop there: THWOMP are known to wear eccentric costumes, evoking everything from mad scientists in lab coats to sword-wielding heroes. The audience joins in the fun too: gamers in the audience are often invited to play the very games THWOMP is rocking out on vintage consoles on-stage.

For more information on THWOMP, check out THWOMP's website here!