2023 Guests

Featured Guests of Honor

Aaron Campbell

Guest of Honor

Aaron is a film and voice actor with 15+ years of acting experience, and an M.F.A in Acting from Southern Methodist University. You may have heard his voice in one of more than 200 different anime titles.

He’s voiced Peregrine (Lord of the Wings), Raizo Kurima (Revenger), Madoka (Chainsaw Man), Jingo Raichi (Blue Lock), Majestic (My Hero Academia), Bondman (SpyXFamily), Kyoichiro (Dr. Stone), and Hikaru Zaizen (The New Prince of Tennis). Among many, many more!

Marissa Lenti

Guest of Honor

Marissa Lenti, best known as the voice of Moze (Borderlands 3), is a voice actress who you can also hear in anime roles like Malva (Pokémon Evolutions), Cocotte (Dragon Ball Super), Libra (Fairy Tail), Yuna (Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear), Arue (Konosuba), Gray Wolf (Kemono Friends), Momoko Hyakushiki & Kuu (NANBAKA), Chiaki Hoshinomori (Gamers!), Mikado Ryoko & Marron (To Love Ru), Mistress Sadie (One Piece), Ilse Langnar (Attack on Titan: Junior High), and Atago & Z1 (Azur Lane), among others! 

She’s also appeared in many other video games, like Genshin Impact, Brawl Stars, SMITE, Yandere Simulator, HuniePop 2: Double Date, Freedom Planet 2, A Hat in Time, MechWarrior 5, My Tamagotchi Forever, and more.

When she’s not acting, she’s casting & directing for Sound Cadence Studios, with some of her recent projects being: directing the English dubs of the anime Kemono Friends, Kageki Shojo!!, Arte, Adachi and Shimamura, and B’t X; as well as casting for Rooster Teeth’s RWBY, gen:LOCK, Red vs Blue, Death Battle!, and more. 

She’s also an ADR Writer, providing the scripts for anime like Bloom Into You, Tada Never Falls In Love, City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes, Record of Ragnarok, Actors: Songs Connection, and Love Stage!!! to name a few.

Ry McKeand

Guest of Honor

Ry McKeand is a voice actor and Twitch streamer from Dallas. Growing up as a big fan of anime, video games, and most things nerdy, Ry decided on wanting to become an actor in his mid-teens, going on to perform in theater throughout his time in college.

Having gotten his start in voice acting through online forums at a young age, he moved from South Florida to pursue his long-time dream of becoming a professional voice actor at the age of 20.

Ry has had the privilege to have provided his voice to many different anime and video games, including characters from shows such as Miya Chinen (SK8 the Infinity), Shuichi Kagaya (Gleipnir), Rito Yuki (To Love Ru), Pica (One Piece), Udo (Attack on Titan), Tyrrell (Final Fantasy Brave Exvius: War of the Visions), and more!

When Ry isn’t acting, he’s streaming over on his Twitch channel, where he plays video games and interacts with his followers in all sorts of fun and goofy ways, or playing video games or watching anime in his spare time.

Bonnie Gordon

Guest of Honor

No stranger to the world of science fiction and geek pop culture, Bonnie is an actress, singer, and voiceover actor who prides herself on being a “professional nerd.”

Her VO credits include cartoons, video games, and anime including: Star Trek Prodigy on Nickelodeon/Paramount+ (Ship Computer and various other roles); Street Fighter V; Fire Emblem Echoes/Three Houses; Cartoon Network’s Mighty Magiswords; Muhyo and Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation; Battlestar Galactica Deadlock; MegaMan 11; Ikki Tousin; Code Vein; and many more! She might also be recognized as an original paladin from the fantasy show on ABC called “The Quest” (now rebooted and streaming on Disney+!).

Bonnie can be found taking the helm as Ensign Lark Sage on the Geek & Sundry Star Trek TTRPG show, “Shield of Tomorrow!,” as well as rolling dice and starring/guesting on many other TTRPG shows on Twitch channels such as HyperRPG, Queutimes, DnDBeyond: (Callisto 6; Clear Skies; Barony of Olives; Disco Does DnD, etc.)

She has traveled all over the world singing and guesting at comic cons with her nerdy parody band The Library Bards – taking top 40 hits and transforming them into nerdy, geektastic tunes about sci-fi and fantasy fandoms!

She has put together a solo musical act to promote her new solo album, Con Artist!

Follow her @BonnieBellG & @LibraryBards.

Steve Warky Nunez

Guest of Honor

Steve Warky Nunez is an award winning Jack-of-all-trades in the entertainment industry.

Hailing from New York, he started out narrating audiobooks for the blind, and from there he branched out into all facets of media. He is widely known for his work on, “The Yaoi Xmas Carols”, “Sonic The Hedgehog”, “Ishida and Asakura”, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”, “The Titan’s Bride”, “Ant-Man”, “Yandere Simulator”, “Aphmau”, “Henkei Shoujo”, “Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger Ix-2”, “Camp Buddy”, “Fire in His Fingertips”, “Everything for Demon King Evelogia”, and “Anima: Gates of Memories”.

Warky looks forward to what the future has in store for him and hopes there will be singing and dancing along the way!

Wendy Pini

Guest of Honor

Eisner Award Hall of Fame inductee Wendy Pini has been drawing literally since the age of two, and has worked for Marvel, DC, First Comics, Comico, Ace, Berkley, Tor Books, and many other publishers. She is the co-creator, writer, artist, and colorist for the long-running fantasy graphic novel series “ElfQuest,” widely acknowledged as “the first American manga.” She wrote and painted two “Beauty and the Beast” graphic novels, based on the original TV series, as well as a critically acclaimed 400-page dark, futuristic reimagining of Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death,” currently in development with an award-winning team as a thriller for the musical theatre. Most recently she story-edited scripts for Season One of Dagaz Media and Realm.fm’s 10-episode Audio Movie adaptation of the first ElfQuest novelization, “Journey to Sorrow’s End.”

Anime Banzai 2023 Cosplay Guests

Jez Roth

Cosplay Judge

Cirque du Soleil. Celebrities. One Piece. EDC. Red Carpets.

Jez has won Best in Show 16 times with tailored costumes and heavily choreographed skits. He shares unique events that educate and involve the community (such as Lip Sync For Your Cosplay and PROJECT: Cosplay!) and has restructured and organized cosplay events for conventions in his goal to make the competition scene more streamlined.

He’s also the founder of the very first School of Cosplay, @cosplayvegas. Jez believes that the world of costuming is an endlessly fascinating pursuit—from armor to gowns, giant puppetry to monsters.

This is the TL;DR version. Jez is kind, capable, talented, and experienced. And he’s always still willing to learn to add to his arsenal of qualifications. Most of which I was unable to add to this post.


Cosplay Judge

Merkurrie is an award-winning, mostly self-taught cosplayer who got her start in the early aughts. With no signs of stopping you’ll normally find her roaming convention halls or tearing up the Masquerade stage (Or these days cheering her lungs out).

She’s originally from the East Coast, now living on the West Coast with occasional visits to the vast middle of the states. Merkurrie is always excited to see or be in cosplay and is thrilled to meet you!

Maria of Oz Costumes

Cosplay Judge

Maria of Oz Costumes carries a Masters in Costume Design & Technology from California State University Long Beach. She has been sewing professionally in the theater industry since 2019.

With 15 years of cosplaying under her belt, she has won multiple Best In Show and Master Division awards throughout the Southwest, including Best in Show at Anime Banzai 2021.

Maria’s core belief about cosplay is that everyone has the capability to learn and grow and that all skill levels should be celebrated. But most importantly, cosplay is for fun! Currently, she lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and many pets.

Performance Guests

Gabriel Holmes

Performance Guest

Gabriel Holmes performed for Nike, Best Buy, Ohio State, Columbia University, University of Minnesota & hundreds of high schools and fundraisers. Gabriel has performed over 1600 shows to date all over North America over the last 17 years. He received his undergraduate from Bucknell University and his hypnosis training in Boston. Gabriel’s high energy and fabulous imagination creates an unforgettable show that audience members will truly love.


Kenshin Taiko

Performance Guest

Kenshin Taiko is a Salt Lake City based group of drummers who help to keep the spirit of Japanese culture and drumming alive.

No Nice Things

Driven by ADHD and Caffeine, No Nice Things spans a wide range of high energy dance music, mixing inspirations from Anime & VGM into modern dance music. Unrestricted by genre, No Nice Things curates dynamic playlists to move crowds and spark some nerdcore nostalgia. With original works released on Occult Cats Records, Firaga Records, & Game Grooves. He’s been featured on officially licensed remix albums of “VGM Essentials: Pokémon Remixed” and “Milk Bar: an EDM Tribute to Majora’s Mask

The Taiyō Maid Cafe

Performance Guest

Hey guys! We are the Taiyō maid cafe from Boise, Idaho. We love to provide fun memories for our guests. Card games are our specialty, so come and challenge a maid to a game!

Clockwork and Gears Vintage Dancing

Performance Guest

Clockwork and Gears Vintage Dancing started with a basic waltz and a hat full of interest. At SteamFest in 2013 with a few acquaintances who quickly became like a crazy family, it was decided that they wanted to continue learning these “old-time dances”(1500AD-1950AD).

Since then, the repertoire has grown to include dances barely heard of to iconic dances from movies like Pride and Prejudice. Members have been finding, teaching, and performing these period pieces for audiences at Anime Banzai, SteamFest, Winter Faire, and Utah Renaissance Faire, to name a few.

Industry Guests

Bryan Young

Industry Guest

Bryan Young (he/they) works across many different media.

Their work as a writer and producer has been called “filmmaking gold” by The New York Times. He’s also published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics. They’ve been a regular contributor for the Huffington Post, StarWars.com, Star Wars Insider magazine, SYFY, /Film, and was the founder and editor-in-chief of the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot!

In 2014, he wrote the critically acclaimed history book, A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination. They co-authored Robotech: The Macross Saga RPG, has written two books in the BattleTech Universe: Honor’s Gauntlet and A Question of Survival.

His latest book, The Big Bang Theory Book of Lists is a #1 Bestseller on Amazon.

They teach writing for Writer’s Digest, Script Magazine, and at the University of Utah. Follow him at www.swankmotron.com.

Sam Sawyer

Industry Guest

Sam Sawyer is an independent illustrator and creator with a decade of experience in comics, creation, and conventions.

Sam has created 5 different tarot decks, two oracle decks, and a playing card deck. She has years of experience in creating a business based on art.

Keith R.A. DeCandido

Industry Guest

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written novels, short fiction, and comic books in more than thirty licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, including TV shows (Star Trek, Doctor Who, Supernatural), movies (Cars, Kung Fu Panda, Serenity), games (World of Warcraft, Resident Evil, Dungeons & Dragons), and comic books (Spider-Man, Thor, the X-Men). He’s also written bunches of work in milieus of his own creation, including fantastical police procedurals in the fictional cities of Cliff’s End (Dragon Precinct and its sequels) and Super City (the novel The Case of the Claw and a mess of short fiction) and urban fantasy in the somewhat real locales of New York (the Bram Gold Adventures) and Key West (the tales of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet). And he’s been writing pop-culture commentary for websites, magazines, and essay collections since 1989. 

His recent and upcoming work includes Phoenix Precinct, the latest novel in his fantasy/police procedure series; the Star Trek role-playing game adventure Incident at Kraav III (with Fred Love); Feat of Clay, Book 2 of the Bram Gold Adventures; the Resident Evil comic book miniseries Infinite Darkness: The Beginning, a prequel to the Netflix animated series; the urban fantasy short story collection Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet; and short fiction in Star Trek Explorer magazine as well as in the anthologies Weird Tales: 100 Years of Weird, Sherlock Holmes: Cases by Candlelight Volume 2, Joe Ledger: Unbreakable, Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2022Phenomenons: Season of Darkness, A Cry of Hounds, and The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny, as well as in two anthologies he also co-edited, The Four ???? of the Apocalypse (with Wrenn Simms) and Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups (with Jonathan Maberry). He writes regularly about pop culture for the award-winning webzine Tor.com, for his Patreon, for collections published by Sequart, Becky Books, and Crazy 8 Press, and for the Outside In, Subterranean Blue Grotto, and Gold Archives series. 

Keith is also a fourth-degree black belt in karate (he not only trains regularly, but also teaches to both kids and adults), a professional musician (currently percussionist for parody band Boogie Knights), and a professional editor of more than 25 years’ standing (though he usually does it sitting down). Find out less at his mediocre website: DeCandido.net.

Mary Claypool

Industry Guest

Mary Claypool is a veteran ADR, script, and publication writer who began her anime writing career in 1994 under the banner of L.A. Hero. Her first English script adaptation was episode three of Giant Robo.

From there, Mary went on to write hundreds of dubbing scripts for Anime features, series, and games including Armitage III (OVA), Armitage: Poly Matrix and Dual Matrix movies, Battle Athletes, Big O, Bushido Blade, Castle of Cagliostro, Code Geass, Cowboy Bebop, Devil May Cry, Dot Hack, ElHazard, Ghost in the Shell, GitS: Innocence, Solid State Society, and Stand Alone Complex (52 episode series), Kekkaishi, Keythe MetalIdol, Laws of the Universe Part 0 (Co-Writer), Legend of Black Heaven, Silent Bomber, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Tsukikage Ran, and Wings of Honneamise.

Mary has also written English dubbing scripts for foreign live-action projects released by various companies, including Disney and Netflix.

Les E. Claypool III

Industry Guest

Les Claypool was the owner/operator of Magnitude 8 Post from 1989 to 2016. In January 1992, he was approached by U.S. Renditions and L.A. Hero to provide audio services for their new joint venture of dubbing anime into English.

Early “garage studio days” projects include episodes of Orguss, Guyver, MacrossII, Ambassador Magma, and Giant Robo.

Quickly outgrowing the garage, Les’ facility eventually grew to encompass multiple rooms and two locations.

Anime and game credits include Ace Combat, Akira (2001 Version), Ambassador Magma, Appleseed, Armitage III (series & movies), Big O, Blackjack, Black Magic MY66, Castlevania, Castle of Cagliostro (1999 & 2015 ), Catnapped, Code Geass, Cowboy Bebop (5.1 Remixes), Devil May Cry, DotHack, ElHazard, Fist of the North Star, Giant Robo, Ghost in the Shell, GitS: Innocence, Solid State Society, and Stand Alone Complex (52 episodes), Gundam 0080, 0083, and MS08th Team, Guyver: Dark Hero (music score), Serial Experiments Lain, Legend of Black Heaven, Macross Plus, Ninja Scroll, Orguss 02, Street fighter II: The Animated Movie (1995 & 2015 versions), Trigun, Wings of Honneamise, and Wolf’s Rain.

Les is currently working on a number of historical panels for convention appearances.