Almost 2 months ago, (July 21st and 22nd, 2023), San Antonio was home to the biggest anime nightclub event in Texas, taking place over 2 heartpounding nights as HakubiVerse and Music Around the World presented San AnTokyo 5: ULTIMA NIGHTS. Night 1 featured Hard Dance, Hardstyle, and Happy Hardcore with the King of AnimEDM, Sephi Hakubi; in addition, Night 2 featured Progressive EDM, Trance, and House, headlined by the Queen of Dance Songs, JES.
Every year, San AnTokyo works to bring innovation to their raves every year. Although San AnTokyo takes pride in being San Antonio’s original otaku rave, the anime nightlife party finds a way to evolve every year with new aspects. Starting its humble beginnings as a local event at Web House with Dropbeat Mafia showcasing House, Drum & Bass, and Japanese Hardcore; then continuing with Hard Dance Texas adding new AnimEDM and HandsUp at Fitzgeralds and Limelight respectively and ultimately bringing its first major headliner at the 3rd year, Zoe VanWest; then at last but not final, bringing the world famous Jimni Cricket to San Antonio’s rave hotspot, 800 Live. Although HakubiVerse formed in 2020 and didn’t officially manage San AnTokyo until its 3rd year, the constant of San AnTokyo’s illustrious success was brought from Sephi Hakubi’s vision and the efforts of his team whether they’re in Hard Dance Texas or HakubiVerse.
Growing up, I felt that anime and raving were each other’s catalysts to what would become my identity for the rest of my life. I grew up with both at the same time and I hoped when I got older that I could find the spaces to celebrate both; however, I found that those spaces eventually lacked in San Antonio and many of the gatekeepers of the scene were incredibly out of touch. I’ve been wanting to build platforms to prove the status quo wrong and through destiny I was brought into a group with Dex Lopez/Timebomb and some others and formed Hard Dance Texas. We simply did our thing and with our first San AnTokyo, we ended up selling out the place. We knew we had a great thing going with AnimEDM raves and we continued to bring the real anime rave experiences to San Antonio and eventually introduced world-class Hard Dance and AnimEDM headliners. It’d seem that 2020 would have been our final year considering I was retiring from being a booker at Hard Dance Texas and then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, but I wanted to keep San AnTokyo alive despite things. Eventually we came back in 2022 with Jimni, which I thought was San Antonio’s best anime rave overall; so then I was wondering, how do we even begin to top that.Sephi Hakubi on San AnTokyo 1 through 4
The evolution continued as HakubiVerse paved the way what seemed to be San Antonio’s first-ever 2-part rave event, a 2-night San AnTokyo. Although San AnTokyo was historically dominated by Hard Dance music, the 5th San AnTokyo featured two separate nights to completely celebrate Hard Dance (Hardcore, Hardstyle, Drum & Bass) and EDM (Trance, House, Electro) in their own respective nights. Furthermore, HakubiVerse teamed up with Music Around the World and Sleeping Giant Music to bring JES, a world-class performer, to main-event the 2nd night at 800 Live filled with dance music lovers.
I’m a big fan of professional wrestling and it has inspired a lot of my storytelling, production building, and event planning. Since 2020, I’ve seen events like Wrestle Kingdom and Wrestlemania take place over two days. I’ve considered San AnTokyo our flagship rave, the Wrestlemania of anime raves in Texas, and I had the wild idea to make it 2 nights. As much as I would love unity in San Antonio’s rave community, I figure I’d like to try out having separate nights having their own theme so there wouldn’t be major extremes in genres and everyone would know what to expect. I also suggested on bringing an international Trance artist to headline one of the nights and we would have the opportunity to bring JES from Motorcycle, who I’ve been a big fan of for pretty much 2 decades. I missed an opportunity to meet JES back in 2004 when she played at Peacock Park in Miami on the 4th of July, a day before my 18th birthday. I felt this was serendipitously sweet that almost 20 years later I would be allowed the chance to make up missing that opportunity to see her live by opening direct support for her. I’ll admit with full disclosure and accountability that I might have some influence making this perfect chain of events to take place as I did lead the project for San AnTokyo 5, but I also answer to people in HakubiVerse and I am thankful for the blessings of my peers to allow my vision to come to fruition and know that my friends both inside and outside the team are very happy with how this event turned out. It was the most work we’ve ever done, but this was a perfect way to celebrate my 37th birthday and possibly was my best birthday ever.Sephi Hakubi on the vision of San AnTokyo 5
San AnTokyo 5 featured a double-massive lineup of DJs and musicians from all over America. Besides JES and although most of the lineup consisted of San Antonio’s locals and current San Antonio resident Sephi Hakubi, Alice of Sin from Seattle, Washington and Night of Fire 2022 headliner, was also brought back to take part in Texas’ AnimEDM super show, not only playing HandsUp on Night 1, but also returning on Night 2 replacing DJ Cosmic and Cilla Marie due to Cosmic’s sudden COVID-19 illness (Cosmic and Cilla are currently in amazing health and we hope to work with them again for another massive rave). a_c_a_b. who debuted with HakubiVerse at Another Dimension 2023, also returned from Austin, Texas to officially kick off the whole San AnTokyo 5 event on the main stage. Other DJs performing were DKBean, Eduardo Serrano, Brandon Legacy, Tynam0, Raulie Smilez, Timebomb, Eric Monster, Prblmz, TYK, and Shawn Jackson. Currently, plans for San AnToyko 6 or additional HakubiVerse events have not been discussed, yet HakubiVerse remains involved in the development and promotion of AnimEDM in Texas and beyond.
San AnTokyo 5 was also part of what informally became the “Summer of Sephi”, a sudden series of events that featured the RAVEmaker which culminated into a tour, which started at Anime Sekai in Abilene, then FHAZE 1 in San Marcos, Okashicon in Pflugerville (Austin), and finally San AnTokyo in San Antonio (opening for Weird Waifu in San Antonio would have been included in the tour yet Sephi would be infected with COVID-19 at that time). Sephi will conclude his “Summer of Sephi” tour this Saturday, September 9th at Anime Oklahoma at the Grand Casino Hotel and Resort at Shawnee, Oklahoma.
In the meantime, check out Sephi Hakubi’s sets from San AnTokyo 5, both Night 1 (Hard Dance) and Night 2 (EDM).