If you don’t know who Justin Cook is, allow me to pull the rock from over your head and enlighten you.
Justin Cook is a producer, line producer, ADR director, engineer, and voice actor at Funimation. He’s been with Funimation since the early 90’s, and has the baddest set of sideburns ever to dawn any man’s face. Some shows he’s worked on include the Dragonball series, Mushi-shi, Yuyu Hakusho, Eden of the East, Soul Eater, and more. It’s become almost a game whenever a Funimation dub is released, my wife and I bet on whether or not Justin Cook’s name will be in the credits.
Justin was not a guest or panelist (to my knowledge) at Anime Expo, but he was there, helping out behind the scenes.
I saw Justin Cook countless times during AX this year. I ran into him on my way to the 11th floor elevator a couple times, I ran into him multiple times in the hotel lobby, once on my way out I saw him chatting with Goku himself (Sean Shemmel), he was at the Dragonball Super panel helping set things up, and he was at the Funimation autograph booth helping set up there, as well. Someone even started asking him about how the autograph sessions work without even realizing who he was.
But the most memorable moment of the entire con for ME was when I actually met Justin Cook. No I don’t have any proof, photos, or autographs to show for it…but that’s ok. You’ll see why.
It was July 3rd, about 10PM or so, and I was standing at the hotel bar waiting for my sazerac, when Justin Cook just shows up and stands next to me waiting for the bartender to take his order. The bar is packed and busy, so the bartenders are hustling around.
When Justin approaches, we exchange a quick look, and proceed to wait for the bartender.
The bartenders are still hustling behind the bar, Justin stands quietly and patiently with a very very serious look on his face, while I stand next to him with a bright orange “Drangoball Z” shirt as if to scream “BOY OH BOY DO I LOVE ANIME!”
Needless to say I’m a bit nervous. Here’s this guy who’s had a huge impact on my life standing literally one foot a way from me. I want to say hello, but I’m a huge introvert!
Besides, this is a guy who is at the con helping out with things – he’s not part of any panel, he’s working behind the scenes. And he looks SO SERIOUS! Maybe he doesn’t want to be bothered.
I figured this was the only chance I’d get to say hello to has had such an impact on my life, so I gathered up what nerve I have inside this introverted insecure personality of mine, turned to him, and say “Just wanted to say, I’m a big fan of your work, thank you for everything you do.”
Justin then looks directly at me, and this serious, borderline angry facial expression immediately lights up into this friendly smile as he says “Aw thanks man! I really appreciate that! What’s your name?” extending his hand to shake mine.
He proceeds to ask me what anime I’m watching these days, elaborates on the cast in the shows I mention, and we begin discussing localization, and how he and the folks at Funimation approach things differently now than he did in the 90’s. We went on to talk for about 5 minutes as our drinks were being prepared.
Once we got our drinks, I signed out of the conversation with a quick “It was great to chat with you, thanks again for everything you do!” And he responds with a “Well, I really appreciate that, David!” And we make our way back to our tables.
I’m not sure if these guys realize it or not, but they play an important role in our lives. This guy is in large responsible for anime even being a part of my life. The anime I watched growing up taught me so much about life. So needless to say, it means the world to us just to see them in panels from a distance.
But when I said “hello” to Justin, I honestly didn’t expect anything; hell, I half expected a “Thanks, sorry, I’m a bit busy at the moment” or “Hey I’m just trying to get a drink here” – which would have been totally fine and understandable.
Instead, he took the time to make a connection with a fan, and that sense of community means more to me than any panel or autograph.
So, no, I take a selfie with him, or ask him to sign my shirt, or anything like that. The fact I have this memory is priceless, and it’s mine! Those kinds of moments are far more meaningful than ink on a paper, or photos on instagram.
Anime Expo cost me around $400 to attend, but the highlight of my entire week, likely the entire year, happened for free at the hotel bar.
So thank you, Justin Cook, for making this trip to LA more meaningful than I could have imagined!