Midessanime kicks off at Marriott Hotel

Anime fans from all over the state and country made their way to Odessa this weekend for the second edition of Midessanime.

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

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

The weekend-long convention will feature a cosplay contest, live action role play, Q and A sessions with celebrity voice actors and plenty of shopping as vendors and artists had tables set up all over the floor.

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

“We’re so excited to be back at the Marriott conference for year 2 of Midessanime,” Wilson said. “I’m a huge anime lover who grew up in West Texas. I got 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.”

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

The success from last year’s Midessanime led to a slightly bigger convention this year.

“For this year, we’re bringing back more of people’s favorite voice actors from some of the top shows,” Wilson said.

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

“There’s a whole level of celebrities waiting to meet anime fans for autographs and photos. We have a huge vendor overhaul that’s filled with plushies and toys and action figures and swords, all the things that anime fans love.”

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

“These are basically my vacations at this point,” Chiplock said, who is from Los Angeles and does voice acting work for video games and anime. “Whenever I’m at home, I’m either recording or doing auditions or doing freelance work and I love all of these things for different reasons but they’re all working in different formats. There are many days where my free time starts at 11:30 at night and I’m not exaggerating at night. When I come here, I get to interact with fans. It’s nice to relax and focus on one or two things on a given day instead of hopping between 12 things on a single day.”

Midessanime attendee checks out the swords Friday at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. (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.

Gibis, who is known to be selective with anime conventions, is excited to be in Odessa for the first time.

“The facility is awesome,” Gibis said. “Everyone here has been great. This is such a nice convention. It’s laid back and very cool. Everyone’s pretty cool here in Odessa.”

Gibis started as an actor in 1987 after graduating from college at Minnesota State Mankato.

“I worked for the 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 go into voice acting for anime.

“I did Digimon,” Gibis said. “From Digimon, I was able to do Shinzo and then next thing I knew, I got to audition for Naruto and that’s been running for 17 years. It’s been 17 years of fun.”

Gibis also talked about what he loves about doing voice acting.

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

But there’s also a downside because of the lack of interactions with other actors. That’s one of the reasons why he’s grateful for anime conventions.

“You’re just working alone in the booth and may not get to meet other voice actors,” Gibis said. “But that’s why opportunities like this exist. It gives us a chance to interact with people. That’s why these conventions are so important. It’s not just to meet with the fans but also to meet 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, who is from Clovis, NM, was in attendance Friday at Midessanime.

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

I noticed that it’s not every day that an anime convention takes place in West Texas.

“When I was searching, I saw that there was also one in Lubbock but that’s a college town,” Vitella said. “Here, it’s more oil. I was surprised when I found out that there was one here in Odessa.”

The convention has also attracted local artists.

Olivia De La Garza gets her stand set up 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 featuring plushies and key chains as well as tails and ear sets.

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

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

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

The convention will continue throughout Saturday and end on Sunday.

If you go

  • What: midsanime
  • When: Now-Sunday.
  • Where: Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center (second floor).
  • Where to purchase tickets: tinyurl.com/mvzc6vfk

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