2019 marked the Golden Anniversary of one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious comic book and pop culture conventions. Starting modestly in 1970, San Diego Comic-Con has grown to be one of the world’s most premier and attended conventions.

Comic-Con isn’t just any comic convention; it’s THE Comic Convention that everyone first thinks of when these types of events are in the public eye. And the convention itself has grown to be much more than just about North 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 merchandise 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, and so forth.

Unlike most, 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 takes part in the festivities. Plus for many of the events, you don’t even need an SDCC pass to partake in the action.

Comic-Con has something for all kinds of fans, but it’s not 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 hot heat.

Even getting in the door in recent years requires all potential attendees to take part in a lottery system. According to the SDCC Unofficial blog, an estimated million prospective patrons roll the dice for just 110,000 regular attendee spots. 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.

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. I wouldn’t necessarily blame you if you decide to sit this one out (even if it’s on your convention bucket list). But if you aren’t intimidated by lines, and you have persistence, patience, and some luck, you’ll have memories that could 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 run the risk of seeing nothing.

Some of the cool Toonami-related swag showcased at SDCC 2019

Unlike the previous four years, the Toonami crew didn’t have a live panel of Toonami Pre-Flight this year. Jason DeMarco mentioned before Comic-Con: “Not this year, but we should have plenty of stuff to talk about at the next one!” The Toonami Faithful did receive news from several Toonami-aired anime franchises during Comic-Con week. Funimation hosted panels for both Dragon Ball and My Hero Academia, plus the announcement of a new show in Fire Force joining the better cartoon show. Also, Warner Bros. announced that Batman Beyond would be getting a remaster.

Dragon Ball

Following the success of the Dragon Ball North America Tour 2018, Toei alongside their partners organized another booth tour, the Dragon Ball World Adventure. The first stop of eight significant conventions around the world, with scheduled stops including Mexico City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Cologne, New York, Barcelona, and Japan. The tour was an outdoor booth located right by the Waterfront at the Marriott Marquis hotel next to the Convention Center.

During Preview Night of Comic-Con, I was invited to attend a press preview of the San Diego stop of the tour. Among the many things showcased at the World Tour, there were plenty of toys, video game demos, and other attractions from the Dragon Ball franchise.

The booth showcased some cool action figurine sets for fans to collect. They showed some created dioramas of some of the big fights during each saga. Plenty of swag was given out, and they had some collectibles available for purchase. It included exclusive figurines such as one on Goku Black, and SSJ Blue Goku doing a “Kamehameha”.

Demo booths of the most recent Dragon Ball video games as well as the card game were on hand for fans to try out. Of particular note was the demo of the upcoming game Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. It is scheduled to be released in 2020 on all major gaming platforms except for the Switch.

The booth had some photo opportunities as well. It included replicas of character statues including Goku, Vegeta, and some of the villains, and objects in the Dragon Ball universe, including a cool Capsule Corp bike. There was also an animated GIF photo booth, where fans can take photos of themselves in the Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) universe.

There was also a treasure hunt for fans to participate in; as attendees could fill up a booklet with stickers at each of the booth’s attractions. If completed, fans could trade the booklet for Dragon Ball themed swag, including wristbands, posters, lanyards, stickers, fans, and Saiyan Hair Set headbands.

Following the press preview, hundreds of Dragon Ball fans, press, and organizers  gathered at the booth for a momentous occasion. Sean Schemmel led the crowd to participate in a Guinness World Record attempt of a record amount of people performing a “Kamehameha” at one place at the same time. Official representatives (from the Guinness Book of World Records) were there to supervise and accredit the event. Every single person who participated was counted and split into groups of 50 before receiving a free toy scouter and gathering around an open area where press and officials recorded the events.

Over 800 people arrived at the booth to attempt the “Kamehameha” stunt. According to officials, a handful of people were disqualified as they did the “Kamehameha” too late, too early, or other reasons. The official count, in the end, was 786 fans successfully performing the attempt, beating the previous record of 250. I was among the crowd, taking photos and participating at the same time. To be a part of an event that will go down in the history books was an amazing experience. Seeing firsthand the continued support of Dragon Ball and Toonami shows to me that neither intends to go away anytime soon.

The following day, Funimation and Toei hosted the Dragon Ball Z 30th anniversary panel. 2019 marked 30 years since DBZ first premiered on Japanese television (on Fuji TV on April 26, 1989), 21 years since Toonami first started airing Dragon Ball Z (on Aug. 31, 1998), and 20 years since the current dub cast of the Dragon Ball franchise began performing their roles.

The panelists consisted of Sonny Strait (Krillin and Bardock), Monica Rial (Bulma), Chris Sabat (Vegeta, among others), Sean Schemmel (Goku among others), as well as Mohamed Sanu, an NFL player who currently plays for the Atlanta Falcons.

The actors talked about some of their experiences with the Dragon Ball franchise, from before they were cast, to after.

Sean Schemmel, funny enough, didn’t realize that he was voicing the main character until two weeks into recording. That was when Chris Sabat told him: “You realize that you’re the main character, right?” to which Sean replied: “Really?” Sean and Chris didn’t realize how much they had to scream voicing the show. Over 9000 sessions later, their vocal cords have evolved to be pretty accustomed to it now, much to the surprise of their doctors. Being a face of Dragon Ball over the years, Sean has witnessed the franchise’s growth firsthand, and he compared the franchise’s popularity like Goku’s power level. “It’s just getting bigger and bigger.”

Long before she was cast to voice Bulma, Monica Rial often visited Spain when she was young. Along with her brother, the two would often catch DBZ dubbed in Spanish. She would help translate the lines into English for her brother, imitating the various characters. As she grew up: “Two things followed me from Spain: Dragon Ball and the macarena. I was happy about Dragon Ball – Not so much about the macarena.” When Monica was still a fledgling voice actor, her father doubted that she would be able to go anywhere having a job as a voice actor. And despite that she had booked many anime roles, her father shrugged it off, saying that it is not a “real” job. That was until she was cast as Bulma. Nowadays, she says that her father tells people: “I know the Balls of the Dragon, and my daughter is Bulma.”

Sonny Strait has also been with the series since the beginning. “This is gonna make me sound old. Blockbuster Video had this strange show about a kid riding on a cloud.” Formally known for being Goku’s sidekick, Krillin is known for being the butt of all DBZ jokes nowadays. Usually, as among the first to get himself killed every arc, something which even Sonny has admitted. “I voice a hero…probably not a good one though.”

Mohamed Sanu was invited to the panel being a major DBZ fan in the NFL. Mohamed getting into the franchise as a kid is a story echoed with many DBZ fans and Toonami Faithful. Coming home every day after school to looking forward to watching DBZ on the block. “When I was hoping for my mom to be late picking me up after school for practice so I could finish an episode [of Dragon Ball Z]…that’s when I knew it was for real.” When asked how DBZ inspires him in his day to day life, Mohamed responded: “My mood, or however I’m feeling that day, Dragon Ball Z inspires me to channel my inner Saiyan.”

The panelists shifted gears to their current experiences recording Dragon Ball Super. With Toonami coming down the stretch with airing the Tournament of Power saga, the cast recalled some of their favorite moments and aspects from these 131 episodes and three movies.

Sean has admitted that Goku has been a bit of a “doofus” in getting Universe Seven and others into life-threatening and ending situations. All because of his thirst to overcome difficulty and be the strongest fighter. Fortunately, Goku has done quite well-getting everyone out of a bad situation, with Sean saying: “Goku may be a bit doofy, but he plans things out in the long term. Also, a lot of hair colors.”

While Vegeta still aspires to surpass Goku one day as the King of all Saiyans, Chris has approved Vegeta taking a more human side of things. Now he tries  to be a family man, taking care of Bulma, Trunks, and Bulla, compared to “being angry all the time.”

Krillin has gotten his shining moments every now and then during Dragon Ball Super, mainly in his determination in raising and protecting his daughter Marron and his wife Android 18. In that aspect, Sonny mentioned that Krillin’s strength now comes from his family, to protect them.

Although Bulma has been sidelined during the Tournament of Power as she raises her new daughter Bulla, she has played critical roles in the Super era. Monica said, “I love that Bulma has this sass and takes this maternal role as the momma bear of the cast.”

Whether it was from Toonami, streaming, or physical media, the Dragon Ball franchise has and continues to create many generations of fans. Chris mentioned that he has witnessed fans grow up continuing to love DBZ and some of which have even passed down their fandom to their children. Sean mentioned that some fans named their children after DBZ characters.

There wasn’t any formal announcements or news from the panel as fans continue to anxiously await what is coming up next for the Dragon Ball Super beyond the Tournament of Power saga. The actors are just as eager to find out what Akira Toriyama and Toei are working on next, and Sean said: “This is only just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”



My Hero Academia

Ever since My Hero Academia (MHA) joined Toonami over a year ago, we’ve seen this franchise grow in popularity. With Season Four on the horizon, fans were massively excited about what would be next for our heroes in training. Last year, the MHA panel was in room 6A, and many fans, including myself, couldn’t get in due to the low capacity compared to the higher than expected crowds. But this year, Comic-Con officials put the panel in the much larger room 6BCF.

Fans who attended the panel received both a Bakugo pin and a Deku pin.

The panel included Justin Briner (Deku), Clifford Chapin (Bakugo) and Kellen Goff (Overhaul). Funimation invited two NFL players to the panel, Adam Gettis who recently signed with the Falcons for this upcoming season and Marcus Davenport from the New Orleans Saints.

There has been an increasing presence of anime fandom among pro athletes, especially in recent years. We’ve seen that a lot among NFL players, from celebratory dances to wearing anime and pop culture gear when not in uniform. JuJu Smith-Schuster from the Steelers has done “Rasengans” and “Kamehamehas” as part of his touchdown celebration dances. Mike Daniels (who just signed with the Detroit Lions this season), is a huge Toonami Faithful and DBZ fan and Crunchyroll created a documentary about his fandom. Plus teams such as the Patriots and Packers have their own anime clubs.

Marcus can relate to Deku liking to study his opponents and other heroes. In the NFL, players and coaches alike have to study their opponent’s techniques before and during the games to outplay them.

Adam Gettis often reps anime-themed gear and clothes during team meetings, and he says that his teammates often approach him to talk about it; either as fans themselves or out of curiosity. He continues to help push for anime’s growth among the sporting community, saying: “In sports, anime is still a bit taboo, but we’re changing that. It’s becoming really big. Sports and anime are going to be huge and we’re going to do it together.”

The panelists discussed some of their favorite moments both as actors and as fans of the show. They would talk about their favorite quirks, their favorite moments in the past three seasons, and what they’d love to see in Season Four and beyond.

Being the voices of Deku and Bakugo respectively, Justin Briner and Clifford Chapin have been with the franchise since the anime was first released in 2016. To see it continue to grow shocks them, but are glad to see it succeed. “I’ve always identified with this show. It’s special. It’s profound to see the impact it’s had on pop culture” says Justin. Justin cites series creator Kohei Horikoshi’s writing and the construction of the lore, characters, and the story as to why the franchise continues to impact many fans across the world. Kellen Goff was cast into the show late in Season Three to voice Overhaul. Kellen was a big fan of My Hero Academia long before he got involved. While the franchise continues to be among the top anime shows this decade, Kellen feels like there’s still plenty of room for My Hero to grow in popularity, saying: “My Hero Academia is big big big right now, but I want to see it become big big big big.” 

One of the big talking points during Season Three was Bakugo and Deku trying to settle their rivalry during Episode 61. As the voice of Bakugo, Clifford is excited to see where the  competition goes in the future. Clifford also mentioned that he is anticipating seeing Bakugo in his winter outfit animated. Some manga readers did note that the event might be too far ahead in the manga to be animated for Season Four. Kellen has been researching his character by reading the manga and called himself “the Tom Holland of the panel” because he knows things anime fans have yet to see.

The big reveal from the panel was the release of the English Dub trailer for the highly anticipated fourth season of My Hero Academia, which you can see below.

Fans that attended the panel saw some preview clips of the first episode, unlike the fans at Anime Expo, who got to see the full episode. The crowd was electric from what they saw, and perhaps Adam says it best: “If that doesn’t get you hyped for Season Four, I don’t know what will.”

As the panel came to an end, the panelists thanked the crowd for their support and told them to look forward to Season Four beginning Oct. 2019.

I later got interviews with Adam to talk a bit more about the growing crossover between the sports fandom and anime fandom. I also spoke with Kellen as we spoke about voicing his character Overlord (which will be published as soon as possible).

Fire Force

Fans anxiously awaited what would be coming up next as Sword Art Online went to its “off-season.” On the Friday morning of SDCC week, Toonami posted the bombshell on their Facebook account that Fire Force would join the block. I can’t officially confirm that Funimation also announced it at their panel on Saturday, as I was busy with other commitments at the time, but considering that such announcements are usually announced at conventions, it’s safe to assume that it was. The show made its premiere the following week after Comic-Con; on July 27 at midnight.

Created by Atsushi Okubo, the creator of Soul Eater, and animated by David Production, the animation studio behind JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Fire Force is one of Funimation’s Simuldubs, dubs which have been released at the same time or several weeks after the Japanese broadcast, joining the likes of Attack on Titan, Black Clover, and Dimension W in doing so. Fire Force’s dub was premiered in Anime Expo, and our friend and media partner Siddharth “LumRanmaYasha” Gupta created a review of it, which you can see by clicking here.

I was a big fan of Soul Eater when the show aired on Toonami back in 2013 and considering that show to be a big hit among the Toonami Faithful it came as no surprise that Toonami picked up the creator’s newest hit as well. Unfortunately, the events of the Kyoto Animation arson and fire, which happened at the same time Preview Night of SDCC was going on, put a damper on the celebrations. Episode Three of Fire Force was held off for a week on both Japanese broadcasts and streaming out of sympathy for the victims. Since the broadcast is two weeks behind, the Toonami broadcast aired without any issues.


Batman Beyond

During the Batman Beyond 20th Anniversary Reunion Panel, it was announced that the Kids WB and Toonami classic Batman Beyond will be remastered to commemorate the occasion. The series will be released digitally on Oct. 15 for $49.99 USD, while a Blu-ray will also be available for purchase on Oct. 29, retailing for a $99.99 MSRP.

According to IGN, the Blu-ray set will be “Comprising 1,500 minutes of Batman Beyond across four discs, the set will also include two discs of bonus content. That would include a remastered version of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and 15 featurettes about the series. Four episodes of the core series will also receive audio commentary from executive producer Bruce Timm and members of the production team. The physical release also includes a Batman Beyond Funko Pop with chrome paint and four lenticular art cards.”

All 52 episodes of the series will be included in this remaster, with 41 of them being fully remastered from the original 35mm film. The other 11 episodes had to be “Smart Rezzed”, or an up-conversion, due to damage to the original films over time. According to IGN, the 11 episodes affected include “Eyewitness,” “Final Cut,” “The Last Resort,” “Armory,” “Sneak Peek,” “The Eggbaby,” “Zeta,” “Plague,” “April Moon,” “Sentries of the Lost Cosmos” and “Speak No Evil.”

Batman Beyond creator Bruce Timm mentioned that if the Blu-ray sells well, another season of the show could perhaps be in the cards.



Cosplaying is a popular tradition during comic and anime conventions, and I saw plenty of cosplayers during San Diego Comic-Con week. Here are some of the cool cosplays I saw going around the convention center halls and through the streets of downtown San Diego.


As the representative of ToonamiFaithful.com at SDCC, I managed to get five interviews from the festivities, with Adam Gettis, Robbie Daymond, Darrel J. Delfin, Kellen Goff, and a follow-up interview with Steve Blum. All of these will be audio interviews. Look forward to them posted sometime soon.

As someone born and raised in America’s Finest City, it never fails to amaze me how big San Diego Comic-Con has grown over the years. Going to SDCC for nine straight years 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 ToonamiFaithful.com, Toonami Squad, 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.

On behalf of everyone at ToonamiFaithful.com, 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. Also, a special shout-out to reader @Nerd_Drummer92 for noticing and saying hi after the My Hero Academia panel. Always good to see you around the halls. And for everyone who represented the Toonami Faithful community at SDCC this year, we hope you had a great time and see you again next year.

Stay tuned for our various interviews from San Diego Comic-Con 2019 coming soon. If you missed it, feel free to check out my Highlights and Musings article from Anime Expo 2019.