Midessanime starts at the Marriott Hotel

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Anime fans from all over the state and country came to Odessa this weekend for the second edition of Midessanim.

The event started on Friday and will continue until Sunday on the second floor of the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

The event attracts hundreds of anime lovers and numerous voice actors are in attendance.

The weekend-long convention features a cosplay competition, live-action role-playing games, question-and-answer sessions with celebrity voice actors, and plenty of shopping, as vendors and performers had tables set up all over the floor.

Fandom Events and Midessanime owner Josh Wilson, who is no stranger to West Texas, spoke about how good it feels to have Midessanime back for its second year.

“We are very excited to be back at the Marriott conference for Midessanime’s second year,” said Wilson. “I’m a huge anime lover who grew up in West Texas. I was really tired of having to drive long distances to conventions so my friends and family decided to do one here. We thought we’d bring it here.”

Fandom Events and Midessanime owner Josh Wilson speaks to reporters at Midessanime Friday at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. (Michael Bauer|Odessa American)

The success of last year’s Midessanime led to a slightly larger convention this year.

“This year we’re bringing back more of the most popular voice actors from some of the top shows,” Wilson said.

These shows include Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, and Pokemon.

“There are quite a number of celebrities waiting to meet anime fans for autographs and photos. We’re having a huge supplier overhaul that’s filled with stuffed animals and toys and action figures and swords, all the things that anime fans love.”

Sean Chiplock, one of the voice actors in attendance, talked about how amazing it feels to be at an anime convention.

“This is basically my vacation at this point,” said Chiplock, a Los Angeles native and voice actor for video games and anime. “Whenever I’m home I’m either recording or auditioning or freelancing, and I love all of those things for different reasons, but they’re all working in different formats. There are many days when my free time starts at 11:30 p.m. at night, and I don’t overdo it at night. Coming here allows me to interact with fans. It’s nice to be able to relax and focus on one or two things on a given day instead of jumping back and forth between 12 things in a single day.”

Midessanime attendees view the swords at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center on Friday. (Michael Bauer|Odessa American)

Tom Gibis is another voice actor who is at the convention this weekend.

Gibis is best known as the voice of Shikamaru Nara from Naruto, Takumi Nomiya from Honey and Clover, and Mushra from Shinzo.

Known to be picky about anime conventions, Gibis is excited to be in Odessa for the first time.

“The facility is fantastic,” said Gibis. “Everyone here has been great. It’s such a beautiful convention. It’s relaxed and very cool. Everyone is pretty cool here in Odessa.”

Gibis began acting in 1987 after graduating from college at Minnesota State Mankato.

“I worked for Disney Cruise Line,” Gibis said. “I did commercials and trade shows for Apple computers.”

It was around 2001 when he said he got the opportunity to work as an anime voice actor.

“I made Digimon,” said Gibis. “From Digimon I was able to do Shinzo and next I came to audition for Naruto and it’s been going on for 17 years. It was fun for 17 years.”

Gibis also spoke about what he loves about voice acting.

“First you can do it in your pajamas,” Gibis said. “But even during the pandemic this was one of the few things that hasn’t been shut down because I work alone in a booth with a director and an engineer behind the glass. We never stopped. Many people work from home in their own sound booth. Talk about working in your pyjamas.”

But there is also a downside due to the lack of interactions with other actors. That’s one of the reasons he’s grateful to anime conventions.

“You’re just working the booth by yourself and you might not meet other voice actors,” Gibis said. “But that’s exactly why opportunities like this exist. It gives us the opportunity to interact with people. That is why these conventions are so important. It’s not just about hanging out with the fans, it’s also about hanging out with other voice actors.”

Cosplayers participate in an activity at Midessanime Friday at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. (Michael Bauer|Odessa American)

Matt Vitella from Clovis, NM was present at Midessanime on Friday.

“I’m pretty excited,” Vitella said. “It’s been a decade since I’ve been to a convention. I was looking for the next anime convention and this was the next. I bought the ticket about three or four months ago.”

He noticed that there isn’t an anime convention every day in West Texas.

“When I searched, I saw that there was one in Lubbock, too, but that’s a college town,” Vitella said. “There’s more oil here. I was surprised to find out there is one here in Odessa.”

The convention has also attracted local artists.

Olivia De La Garza sets up her booth at the start of Midessanime Friday at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. (Michael Bauer|Odessa American)

Olivia De La Garza, who lives in Odessa, had a table set up with stuffed animals and keychains, as well as tails and ear sets.

“I draw and I sew and a little bit of everything,” De La Garza said. “I sell tails and ear sets. Sometimes I make custom heads and stuffed animals. My sister-in-law crochet.”

For her, meeting new people, including new vendors and artists, is her favorite part of Midessanime.

“People are very friendly out here,” De La Garza said.

The convention will last all Saturday and will end on Sunday.

when you go

  • What: Midessanim.
  • When: Now-Sunday.
  • Where: Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center (second floor).
  • Where tickets can be bought: tinyurl.com/mvzc6vfk

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