Anime fans rejoiced last weekend when the third annual Anime Banzai took place at the Sheraton City Center.
People from across the nation joined forces to share their love of anime-style films, TV shows, DVDs, video games, costumes and music.
Cosplayers (costume players) dressed up as their favorite characters, including Alucard from "Hellsing," a bunch of "Naruto" characters, Optimus Prime from "Transformers," and Pikachu, from that little show called "Pokemon," just to name a few.
Also on tap for the event was voice actor Michael Richard Dobson, who can be heard on various video games, and animated films and television programs, including "The Godfather" video games, various "Transformers" and "Krypto the Superdog" TV series, and the Japanese anime "Inuyasha."
One person who caught my eye and ear was Warky, the keyboard-playing Chocobo.
While he wasn't really dressed up as a chocobo (one of the big yellow birds from the "Final Fantasy" franchise), Steve Nunez, armed with a Casio keyboard, entertained the audience with his meticulous covers of various video-game and anime music.
His sets featured the concerto-worthy "Realm's Theme" from "Final Fantasy VI," a moving medley from the various games in the "Legend of Zelda" series, the heartfelt "Bratja" from "Fullmetal Alchemist," and, of course, the "Chocobo" music from the "Final Fantasy" games and movies.
Nunez has played in other U.S. anime conventions, but a friend, known to the gaming and anime world as Piano Squall (a k a Michael Gluck) was instrumental (no pun intended) in securing Nunez for Salt Lake City. "My friend Piano Squall was suppose to play this festival but had a scheduling conflict, so he referred me to the organizers," Nunez said.
Although he's from New York, the 27-year-old, single Nunez relocated to Orem a few years ago. "I don't know why," he said with a laugh. "I think it was because of the lifestyle here. And I like the girls." He added that he "likes long walks on the beach."
Nunez said his first love was music video-game music. "I heard a lot of classical music growing up, and it was nice to hear, but all the classical music has been done over and over again. But when I started playing video games, I liked the atmosphere the music gave the games, and I wanted to do that."
Nunez doesn't read music, but he did take a music-theory class in college in New York. He plays by ear. And he's pretty good. "When I took the music-theory class, I came up with a piece for my final but couldn't write it out. So I had a friend write the notes of the arrangement out. I got an A."
So far, Nunez has about 50 songs in his repertoire, but he's always looking for more. "I have an e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) where people can write and request songs for upcoming performances. And sometimes between sets, I go to a piano and try to figure out some requests from a previous set."Right now he's planning to record his own CD. But instead of game music, Nunez who is a member of the LDS Church has a stash of Mormon parody songs. "I'd like to get those onto a CD in a few months. My mind is always coming up with things. And I need to keep it all under control."