AnimeFest 2020 Sheraton Dallas Hotel August 16th-19th, 2019 Dallas, TX

AnimeFest 2019 Guests

Studio Chizu is the famed animation studio behind the 2019 Oscar-nominated film Mirai (2018) and many other amazing movies by Director Mamoru Hosoda. AnimeFest is proud to host five incredible creators that will represent Studio Chizu at AnimeFest 2019. Mr. Aoyama, Mr. Yamashita, Mr. Nishita, Mr. Takamatsu and Mr. Saito will introduce us to the world of Director Hosoda and explore his films that are loved by both fans and critics around the world.

Hiroyuki Aoyama
Animation Director, Character Designer
Animation Director, Animator, and Character Designer Hiroyuki Aoyama has contributed to many Studio Chizu works.

He’s been involved in anime production as an employee at Telecom Animation Film and as a freelance animator before joining Studio Chizu. He was a key animator on From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) and animation director on Space Dandy (2014). Among Hosoda’s work, Aoyama was a key animator on Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island (2005), Wolf Children (2012), and The Boy and The Beast (2015). He served as animation director for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Summer Wars (2009) and the Oscar-nominated Mirai (2018).

This is Mr. Aoyama's third appearance at AnimeFest. Please join us in welcoming him back to Dallas!

Takaaki Yamashita
Animation Director, Character Designer
Animation Director, Animator, and Character Designer Takaaki Yamashita has contributed to many Studio Chizu works.

Mr. Yamashita was born in 1967. He joined Toei Animation (then Toei Doga) and worked as an animator on many projects. He had worked on many of Director Hosoda’s works before Studio Chizu was founded. He left Toei Animation in 2014 and currently works for Studio Chizu. He was a key animator on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and worked on layout setting for Summer Wars (2009). He served as animation director on Wolf Children (2012), The Boy and The Beast (2015) and as screen designer on Mirai (2018).

This is Mr. Yamashita’s first appearance at AnimeFest. Please join us in welcoming him to AnimeFest!

Tatsuzo Nishita
Animation Director
Animation Director and Key Animator Tatsuzo Nishita has contributed to many Studio Chizu works.

Mr. Nishita Born in 1979. He used to work for Toei Animation and is currently a freelance animator. He was a key animator on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and Wolf Children (2012). He was animation director on action sequences for Summer Wars (2009) and animation director on The Boy and The Beast (2015). He was also involved in many other theatrical animations including Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013).

This is Mr. Nishita’s first appearance at AnimeFest. Please join us in welcoming him to AnimeFest!

Yohei Takamatsu
Art Director, Background Art
Art Director and Background Artist Yohei Takamatsu has contributed to many Studio Chizu works.

After joining Studio Ghibli, he worked on background on The Cat Returns (2002), Ghiblies episode 2 (2002), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Tales from Earthsea (2006), Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008), The Secret World of Arrietty (2010), and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013). He served as art director on the short animation The Day I Harvested a Star (2006) exclusively shown at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka. He was co-art director on From Up On Poppy Hill (2011) and worked on art for When Marnie Was There (2014). For Director Hosoda, he was in charge of background art on Wolf Children (2012) and art director on The Boy and The Beast (2015) and Mirai (2018).

This is Mr. Takamatsu’s first appearance at AnimeFest. Please join us in welcoming him to AnimeFest!

Yuichiro Saito
Producer Yuichiro Saito helped found Studio Chizu.
Yuichiro Saito, producer at Studio Chizu, was born in 1976 in Ibaraki prefecture.
He joined Madhouse in 1999 following his study in the US. He was mentored by producer Masao Maruyama and has been involved in various animation, co-productions with overseas studios and anime collaborated with live action. He left Madhouse in 2011 to form Studio Chizu with Director Mamoru Hosoda.

He served as a producer on Hosoda’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and Summer Wars (2009). At Studio Chizu, his focus has been planning and producing films for the director including Wolf Children (2012), The Boy and the Beast (2015) and the Oscar-nominated Mirai (2018) .

Please join us in welcoming Mr. Saito to AnimeFest for his first appearance!

Shingo Natsume
Shingo Natsume
Shingo Natsume was born in 1980 in the town of Hachinohe in Aomori prefecture.

After gathering years of experience as an animator, Mr. Natsume served as an episode director in The Tatami Galaxy (2010) and as a key animator in the 2011 full length movie, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos. He assisted with storyboards for Director Masaaki Yuasa’s Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (2017).

His main representative works as a director are the popular 2014 TV series, Space Dandy, the 2015 TV series One Punch Man, more recently ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. (2017) and Boogiepop and Others (2019).

We are excited to welcome back Mr. Natsume for his third appearance at AnimeFest!

Norifumi Kugai
Norifumi Kugai
Animator, Character Designer
Norifumi Kugai was born in 1983 in the city of Urasoe in Okinawa.

At 21, he watched the TV series Noein: To Your Other Self (2005). He was influenced by its drawing styles and became interested in working in the anime industry. He joined the anime production company XEBEC and later became a freelance animator. He worked as a key animator on Space Dandy (2014) and One Punch Man (2015). He was the character designer for ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. (2017). He teamed up with Director Natsume for Boogiepop and Others (2019), being in charge of storyboards.

Other titles he was involved in include the TV series Chihayafuru (2011) and Dragon Crisis! (2012) as well as theatrical films such as The Princess and the Pilot (2011) and Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's Treasure Island (2018).

This is Mr. Kugai’s first appearance at AnimeFest. Please join us welcoming him to Dallas!

Yoshitoshi ABe
Illustrator, Manga Artist, Character Designer
ABe, an illustrator, manga artist, and anime character designer, was born in Tokyo on August 3, 1971.

He has worked on a variety of popular anime, published several manga series and many dojinshi, and his illustrations have been featured in a multitude of art books, novels, and media covers.

In Anime, he was the character designer for serial experiments lain (1998) and NieA_7 (2000), conceptual character designer for TEXHNOLYZE (2003), and more recently the character designer and a script writer for RErideD (2018). His dojinshi, Haibane Renmei, became an hit anime of the same title on which he contributed as original creator and to the series composition.

His manga related work includes story and art for NieA Under 7 (2001), character design for All You Need Is Kill (2004), and story and art for Ryushika Ryushika (2009). Most recently, ABe is creating manga for Kodomo no Gourmet (2017), which is based on a short story by well-known artist and essayist Masayuki Kusumi.

This will be ABe's third guest appearance at AnimeFest. His last appearance at AnimeFest was 12 years ago in 2007. Please join us in welcoming him back to Dallas again!

Leon Chiro
Professional Cosplayer, Model and Influencer
Leon Chiro, an Italian cosplayer and influencer, has been in official collaborations as a cosplayer and an influencer for big videogame companies such as Ubisoft (Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs), Bandai Namco (All Might - My Hero One's Justice) and Square Enix (Gladiolus - Final Fantasy XV), Capcom (honorary mention for his Dante). He’s Currently working for Riot Games as official Cos-Model for the champion Rakan from League Of Legends.

Several mentions and dedicated articles have been appeared on the biggest videogame websites and blogs. He worked for 20th Century Fox on the film Assassin's Creed promotional campaign, stunting and official launch events in Europe. He's also known as one of the most iconic figures in the Assassin's Creed community having been officially recognized as the Italian face of Assassin's Creed.

He’s been invited to more than 100 events in over 45 countries. His cosplays are handmade by himself with the exception of some complicated sewing parts and his specializations are armors, weapons, accessories and make-up. All his cosplays are made with big passion, heart and artistic skill, something that made him become famous his “foment” attitude : being and living full of energy and dynamism.
In order to stay in shape, he’s been training to be a national athlete level.

Leon’s very experienced in cosplay contests in Europe, putting his heart into the interpretations of his characters. That rewarded him numerous cosplay competitions in the main conventions in Italy (ECG selections in Lucca Comics and prizes in Romics) and Europe (Best Cosplay Forge in Japan Expo 2013). Among his wins at many national competitions, one of his career highlights is the ECG Italian representative on the European finals in Japan Expo 2016.

In 2013 Leon started to travel around the world, having been invited, as special guest, to different conventions in Italy and Europe, such as Gamescom, Paris Comics Expo and GamesWeek.

We’re excited that Leon has chosen to come to AnimeFest to spread his “foment” attitude. Please join us in welcoming Leon to Dallas!

Paka-sho is a playful combination of the words "percussion" and "shodo" (Japanese calligraphy). More specifically, Paka-sho is a workshop experience. This workshop was born out of the collaboration between husband-and-wife duo, Hiderow and KO-JU. Creatively blending percussion music with Japanese calligraphy, participants enjoy a unique experience that allows them to focus mind and body to both reflect inwardly and express outwardly in the same session. The workshop also covers the history of calligraphy, music, and percussion instruments, to help everyone deepen their understanding and appreciation. Be sure to join them for a truly one of a kind experience.

Hiderow Nishioka
Nishioka Hiderow 2019 Square
Hiderow was born in February, 1972 in Saga prefecture. While attending Waseda University, he started out as a professional musician.

He plays trumpet and percussion. He has been performing domestically (in Japan) and internationally with four bands, Conguero Tres Hoofers, Venue Vincent, CENTRAL, and Selim Slive Elementz. He’s also performed with many underground labels and major artists alike, such as Magokoro Brothers, JUJU, Saori Yuki, Shinrizumu, KYOTO JAZZ MASSIVE, DJ KAWASAKI, ROOT SOUL, Mano Arriba, and more.

He and his wife, KO-JU, a Japanese shodo-ka calligrapher, have teamed up as a duo called “Paka-sho” (percussion + shodo), a fascinating combination of the two arts.

This will be Hiderow's second appearance at AnimeFest, and his first as part of “Paka-sho.”
Please welcome Hiderow back to Dallas!

Japanese Calligrapher
KO-JU was born in 1971 in Nagano prefecture. She took up shodo, Japanese calligraphy, at the age of 7.

While working various jobs, she continued learning traditional styles of calligraphy while at the same time she also began to explore her own styles of expression. KO-JU focuses on having a tenderness with strong brushstrokes, giving her work a special presence.

Her diverse calligraphy works include everything from haiku poetry to logos and advertising materials for companies and organizations to ink painting illustrations. Her other activities involve live performances and hands-on workshops. In 2018 she conducted a workshop and an exhibition in Thailand for her first overseas event. AnimeFest will be her second overseas appearance and her first appearance in the U.S.

Just like so many others in her generation, KO-JU grew up watching anime and reading manga. She’s excited to attend AnimeFest to see firsthand how Japanese arts such as anime, manga and calligraphy are received and appreciated in America. She is also looking forward to sharing her work with and teaching her craft to AnimeFest attendees.

Please give her a warm welcome to Dallas!

Ginoza Costuming
Cosplay Artist and Prop Fabricator
Brittani Ginoza is a cosplayer and prop maker from Columbus, Ohio. She is well known for her eye-catching painting style and detailed costume construction. Many of her well known costumes center around video games such as World of Warcraft and the Borderlands series. She has even worked with Gearbox Software as well as Blizzard entertainment on some projects over the years.

Brittani loves to compete in her costumes and has even represented the United States twice in International cosplay competitions. When Brittani is not constructing big armor costumes she is always up for talking shop with other makers.

This will be Ginoza Costuming's first appearance at AnimeFest. Please join us in welcoming her to Dallas!

Casey Renee
Award Winning Cosplay Artist
Casey Renee is an award winning cosplayer who focuses on sewing and sewing techniques. She live streams costume making on Twitch and loves sharing her knowledge with others. Her biggest inspirations come from History, Disney and the occasional fan art.

In 2018, Casey Renee won best overall cosplay for her “Amethyst” costume, a creation based on artwork by Sakizou. She put more than 550 hours into this amazing costume and she will be bringing it with her to AnimeFest 2019. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see her craftsmanship up close and talk to her about her work.

Photo by Alexandra Lee Studios

Amelie Belcher
Award Winning Artist, Painter, Comic Creator
Amelie Belcher is an award-winning artist, painter, art instructor, comic creator and pod cast host.

Known for her comedy based art education presentations, she has travelled the world teaching thousands of budding artists the secrets to starting their own journeys down the path to artistic expression with an eye geared toward Anime and Manga styled creations. She is known for her web comics, “Bounty Haunters” and “The Real-Life Adventures Of Ami Chan”. You can read her work on her website

Amelie is also known for her latest artistic adventures including an ongoing series of fine art watercolor and gouache paintings dedicated to the one and only Jeff Goldblum she calls “The Gold Bloomery”. More recently, she has also begun combining a life long passion for painting and theme parks. Follow along with her as she paints her way across the wide world of parks on her instagram ipaintparks.
She and her husband, Levi Castello, also host the popular pod cast “Laser Discotheque”, a show about watching movies on the least convenient format ever produced…Laserdiscs. You can give a listen on the pod catcher of your choice or visit the website at

Amelie has appeared at AnimeFest many times and is always a joy. Please join us in welcoming her back to AnimeFest again!