Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour 2019 Panel Report

On February 23rd and February 24th, Aniplex launched the Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour 2019, an exclusive event in downtown Los Angeles, California. Thousands of Fate/Grand Order enthusiasts from all over the world gathered at this event to experience an interactive exhibit hall, witness brand new content for the upcoming Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front anime, and meet guest stars Satoshi Tsuruoka (VA: Gilles de Rais, Arash, Caligula, etc.), Noriko Shitaya (VA: Sakura Matou & B.B.), and Yosuke Shiokawa (Creative Producer of Fate/Grand Order).

For those who were unable to attend the launch, the Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour 2019 will have booths at several convention sites over the course of 2019. Please refer to the official website for more details.


February 23rd (Pre-Show Night):

Entrance: Upon entering the venue, the Masters were immediately gifted a party-hat featuring the God Pillars enemies found in the game. The hats were a humorous touch that elicited a couple chuckles from the attendees. But as they slid on their party hats, their eyes were suddenly drawn to the main attraction in front of them: the Fate/Grand Order Memorial.

One of the highlights of the event

A life-sized version of Mash’s shield was erected in front of them. It’s dark color scheme was highlighted by a beautiful background of glimmering lights, crumbling columns, and a twilight-esque sky. Nostalgic background music from the game accompanied this memorial, allowing the attendees to have a feeling of respect and gratitude toward the piece. 

According to the production team, the idea behind the memorial was to “show the Masters a brand new sky”, a sky that was perceived as impossible to achieve without their help in restoring humanity. Masters who have completed the game were no doubt completely overwhelmed by memorial, as they tearfully captured pictures of this wonderful moment and lingered around to cherish the moment.

Exhibit Hall: Moving up to the 13th floor, or the “penthouse” of the venue, the Masters stepped into a large exhibit hall themed after the famous Route 66. A painted road runs throughout the exhibit, mapping the entire terrain and all the attractions Masters could go experience. Live-sized cardboard cut-outs of famous Servants dotted the course of this dusty route, encouraging Masters to pose for a quick selfie and to try out all the attractions the Tour had to offer.

The first of the attractions were a series of Noble Phantasm replicas. Masters could stand, pose, and take pictures of these replicas, such as Ea, Aestus Estus, and Luminosité Eternelle. The most notorious of them all was the live-sized version of Satoki Kintoki (Rider)’s Golden Bear. Many of the Masters hopped onto the opportunity to sit in driver’s seat of the Noble Phantasm and rev  its engines, relieving the “awesome” moments in the game before Kintoki eliminated his opponents with his bike.

Rider (Sakata Kintoki’s) Golden Drive – Good Night

Next up were the virtual photoshoot sessions. Kiosks lined up at the side of the road, offering Masters a chance to personalize images of themselves with exclusive FGO U.S.A Tour stickers. Behind the kiosks, Masters queued up to have a chance to become an actual servant by holding a semi-holographic version of Excalibur or Excalibur Morgan and posing in front of the FGO servant card.

The signs at the crossroads guiding you through the exhibit

Further into the exhibit, Masters encountered the FGO Message Board, the FGO Duel stage, the VR stations, and the interactive cosplay stage. At this point, and depending on their preferences, Masters scattered about to visit as many of their most desired attractions as possible. All of the attractions were full to the brim with eager Masters who wanted to immerse themselves further into the world of Fate/Grand Order.

At the end of the road, Masters were reminded of the game’s trials with a display of the gameplay’s timeline, and a combined mural of all the summonable Servants and CE cards from the game. Nothing was left out, and a couple Masters found themselves dragging their friends to show off their favorite Crafty Essence or favorite Servant. At the exit, Merlin and Caster Gilgamesh cutouts bid the Masters goodbye, but their smug faces implied that there was so much more to see and experience at the Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour launch.

Buster Stage: As evening fell, Masters rushed from the exhibit hall and merchandise line to catch an exclusive late-night panel with Satoshi Tsuruoka. Here, the enthusiastic and vibrant voice actor answered questions from the host of the panels, Albert Kao, and interacted with the audience. Many of these questions were related to how Tsuruoka-san managed to keep his characters distinct. He claimed that the best way to portray a character was to become the character. Case in point, playing as Caligula meant embodying the phrase “Love, Smile, and Oppression” and playing as Gilles de Rais (Caster) meant being theatrical yet somehow noble at the same time.

Toward the end of the panel, Masters were given a special message by Rie Takahashi (VA: Mash Kyrielight) and Minami Tanaka (VA: Nitocris) from the Chaldea Broadcast Station. For the raffling, masters had the chance to win one of two hand-drawn pieces by Namie, the illustrator of the Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour’s promo image. Each illustrated piece contained Tsuruoka-san’s signature. Finally, Masters got to see Takeuchi Takahashi’s illustration of Jean d’Arc congratulating the masters for saving humanity. Many of the Masters laughed with glee at Tsuruoka-san’s ardent desire to keep the Jean d’Arc picture for himself.

February 24th (Main Day):

On the main day, Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour featured three Buster Stage panels, along with the Exhibit Hall and the Memorial. The panels included exclusive guests from Japan and brand new content for the public. Due to time constraints, Anime Trending was only able to attend two of the Buster Stage Panels.

“Absolute Demonic Front” Special Panel:

Before the panel officially began, Aniplex delivered to the audience a correspondence from Kana Ueda (VA: Rin Tohsaka). She thanked the audience for coming to the event and apologized for not being present due to her health. But Ueda-san promised that once she recovered, she will fly to America and meet us all eventually. The Masters, touched by her message and knowing she had been hospitalized, let out a sympathetic chorus of “Aww”.  

Soon after, the Fate/Grand Order game trailers rolled through and Tsuruoka-san was invited to the stage for a live Q&A session. He answered questions regarding his experience from the Pre-Show Night and his overall impressions of the Camelot and Babylonia chapters. Most of his impressions were very positive, which helped segue into the showing of two special message videos: one from Ayako Kawasumi (VA: Fou) & Rie Takahashi (VA: Mash Kyrielight). Both voice actresses congratulated the Masters for completing the game and expressed their excitement for the upcoming Babylonia movie.

Ancient Babylonia Gilgamesh & Enkidu promo posters at the event

After the message videos, the president of Aniplex, Atsuhiro Iwakami, was invited to the stage. Alongside Tsuruoka-san, Iwakami answered questions about the development and production of the Babylonia movie. Iwakami introduced to the public brand new visuals of Merlin and Ana, which had the crowd erupting into a raucous cheer. Iwakami calmly proceeded to describe the character concept art behind each character, encouraging people to follow the official page and the Twiter for more updates.

At the end of the panel, a raffle was held to give away one of two autographs from Tsuruoka-san and Iwakami-san. Tsuruoka-san exclaimed that he too wanted Iwakami-san’s signature because it was so cute.

Special Guest Panel:

Immediately after the “Absolute Demonic Front” panel ended, more Masters filed into the room, all more eager than the last. Tsuruoka was re-invited back to the stage, followed closely behind by Noriko Shitaya (VA: Sakura Matou & B.B.). Upon entering the stage, Noriko greeted the audience with her classic Sakura line “Good morning Senpai!”, which had the Masters hollering in pure ecstasy. Eventually, the two guests settled down for another round of Q&A with Albert Kao. 

At the very beginning, it was revealed that this was the first time Tsuruoka-san and Shitaya-san had appeared on stage together. Because of their separate roles in Fate/Zero, they never had the opportunity to work directly with each other. Both of them had dreamed to interact with each other at one point, and Fate/Grand Order U.S.A. Tour 2019 happened to be the place. Though, Tsuruoka-san remarked that “I’m so glad Giles de Rais and Sakura didn’t get together”, earning a deep laugh from the audience.

For most of the Q&A, it was a lively entertainment session. Both Shitaya-san and Tsuruoka-san had a fantastic time: laughing at the jokes made by the host and praising each other for their respective roles in the Fate franchise. At one point, the Q&A session ended and the two voice actors were requested to recite certain lines as their characters. The Masters got to participate in this by voting for their favorite lines. Shitaya-san got the opportunity to recite B.B.’s dialogue from Fate/Grand Order, and some of Sakura’s notable lines from Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel. Meanwhile, Tsuruoka-san was tasked with Gilles de Rais and Spartacus’s lines from the game, and of course, chanting Arash’s Noble Phantasm.

(Source)

The most notable moment from this segment was when Shitaya-san performed her lines for B.B. She remarked that she was extremely honored, but also very nervous as well. This was apparently the first time she performed B.B.’s lines to a live audience and profusely thanked the audience for the opportunity.

At the end of the panel, two more autographs were raffled off to the audience. Both of the autographs was signed by either Tsuruoka-san or by Shitaya-san.  

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