It was a no-brainer that I'd be attending the live-drawing panel of Noizi Ito, the Haruhi Suzumiya and Shana character designer who's been the target of fanboy squeeing in this space as well as KYAAAAAH~!ing at opening ceremonies. She certainly didn't disappoint, drawing pictures of Kawaii Kon mascots Ai-chan and Nami during the hour-long panel.
I'll post a gallery showcasing more of Ito's drawing process sometime in the (hopefully) near future. It's rare that Ito does hand-drawn stuff in the first place; she usually works in digital media. (The Ai-chan piece would later sell at the Art Auction for the minimum bid of $750.)
But the real surprise in the panel came in the last five minutes, when translator Lisle Wilkerson started talking about a new book of Ito's Haruhi Suzumiya-related illustrations being released May 1 in Japan and Ito took out ... this.
An audible gasp could be heard from the crowd when the color page proof popped up on the screen.
"She is just putting in the final touches on this project, on this book," Wilkerson said. "In fact, you guys are the first -- at this convention -- the first to ever see the final draft of the cover."
She paused to chat with Ito in Japanese.
"In Japan, the three girls, that part has already been seen," Wilkerson said. "But here we see the two boys and also Shamisen, the cute little cat. This has just been added, so people in Japan have not yet seen this."
Applause followed, and the panel ended a little while later.
There's just something thrilling about being in an audience when something's revealed to the world for the first time. The fact that it was something associated with one of my favorite franchises made it all the more special.