All posts by Linda

Linda is a life long fan of anime, and dabbles in a lot of things. She writes with a tentative neutral voice.. and as for that three year anime blogging mark, she tries to defy that as she is gaining a voice in other mediums ie: Twitter. Find her at other places online. "They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance." -Terry Pratchett

Yakuza and Shoujo of “Wild Ones” = Love in the Air!

Yakuza Princess meet World and Entities!

Buy Wild Ones, Vol. 1
by Kiyo Fujiwara. Published by Viz Media. 200 pages. 2007. $8.99

Sachie Wakamura never imagined that she would lose her beloved mother, but she did. Since she was a minor, she was sent to live with her maternal grandfather who she has never met. Her grandfather is revealed to be the head of a yakuza gang. So you can imagine Sachie’s dismay as she was assigned a bodyguard, and forced to conceal her family’s business. There are more adventures for Sachie, as she goes through high school, foremost is considering her feelings for Rakuto Igarashi, her bodyguard/caretaker, and any other plot development or character interaction the mangaka writes in.

This is a fairly normal shoujo title variety, with beautiful girls/boys, love triangles, and happy endings for all. Why am I even thinking about recommending this series, for several reasons… some superficial and some profound.

  1. I have been on a slight shoujo kick, so getting to read this entire series was courtesy of Teen Central at New York Public Library.
  2. Hard boiled looking male supporting characters. I love the romantic image of Yakuza… reminds me of specific characters. Quite cute to read through.
  3. Sadistic yet pretty boy male lead, with a clumsy yet sincere female. Plenty of romantic imagery is in the series.
  4. I loved the covers for a majority of this manga series – all with red backgrounds, and nice pose. There are some spoofs with the covers, that warrants a chuckle or so.
  5. This is definitely a female/teen comparison for the more shonen/Great Teacher Onizuka comparison type  for Gokusen, of which there are 15 volumes of manga, 13 episode of anime, and about three seasons of live action. Both series has female heiress to a yakuza group, loving grandfathers,  a need to conceal existence of  group, and all the while trying to see if there is going to be a love story for themselves. (I saw this in the live action, whereas the manga is on my to be read list.)

If you are attracted by this entry, do check out this ten volume series by Kiyo Fujiwara and released as part of Shojo Beat’s line of manga. There’s a preview of the actual manga on the Shojo Beat site.

Yuji Mitsuya Press Conference at Otakon

You may or may not know this veteran seiyuu (voice actor), but Yuji Mitsuya was a guest at Otakon. Many of his roles are of older titles, that you possible could have seen or not. (Ranma 1/2, Saint Seiya, Touch, Stitch! etc.) He also has roles that are outside the realm of anime, such as being the Japanese dub for American films. At this point of his career now, he is the sound director, who’s roles is to cast, and see what type or roles fit for an anime. His well known projects as a sound director include, 5 Centimeters Per Second, Rurouni Kenshin, and Yu-Gi-Oh. These were points mentioned during his press conference.

These are notes from what I wrote down.

Mitsuya’s Take on the field of voice acting.

  • The emergence of idol singers like Nana Mizuki definitely brought awareness of popularity to the voice acting field.
  • The field of voice acting is now much more narrow and compartmentalized, as compared to years earlier, when voice actors were also television actors, now there are people specifically trained to be voice actors.
  • Voice actors used to be nurtured and chosen by the production team of a title, now new voice actors are trained in a school, and there is the norm of “Use and forget.”
  • There is a five year mark for voice acting, once beyond that, then there is an individualized character opportunity.
  • Best to be able to gain as much experience as possible, so Mitsuya advises to act on stage to get a variety of skills.

Mitsuya on dubbing roles.

  • Must understand the original voice actor intent before moving into the role. “Necessity to dub with an intent.”
  • For Japanese original produced work, the seiyuu has the freedom to create something new. But with dubbing roles, there is a role already created, so the work is maintain the original work, but also create a Japanese feel to the project. Or at least that was the case when Mitusya worked on Back to the Future’s Marty Mc Fly’s character, now a change in Japanese dubbing is to just mimic the original actor.

Mitsuya on perspective on roles that he didn’t get.

  • There was one project, Rokushin Gattai God Mars, he auditioned for the younger brother, but got the older brother’s role instead. His role became so popular, the production team resurrected his character, and gave additional projects to Mitsuya.
  • Another role he didn’t get was the dubbing of Jar Jar in the Star Wars movies, so when the anime the Clone Wars came, he got the part of Jar Jar.
  • The motto of these stories are if you want it hard enough, it will come for you.

Mitsuya on transition from seiyuu to later roles as well as sound engineer/director.

  • He was reluctant for his initial role as a sound director, but with experience, and production teams wanting his experience. He fits into the role now.
  • Spoke about empathizing with younger voice actors. Because of his own experience in voice acting, he knows what the younger actors are feeling.
  • Clear difference between being a seiyuu and a sound director, in being a seiyuu – he would only have to worry about his own role’s lines, but as director – he worries about everyone’s lines.
  • Easier being an actor than a sound director, but if Mitsuya would want to work on both roles.

So this is my press coverage on on Otakon 2010, be sure check out Anime Diet’s Flickr for photos from Otakon. Also be on the look out for Jon’s video coverage of this convention.

Before and After – Dealer’s Merch.

Normally the agenda of some convention attendee’s are to probably hit the dealer’s room. So then, what makes a dealer’s wares stand out from the rest of the stores in the room? I was able to go to the dealer’s room, before the room opened on Friday. So, this is the Before shot of one of the dealer’s shop at Otakon 2010.

Fast forward two days later, after a fire drill.. and on Sunday, I came back to the same dealer, to take an after shot.

After - Dealer's Room Stock on Sunday

Yes – a majority of the stock is cleared.. I wasn’t able to take a picture of the entire shop from my angle – and crowds.. but most likely a good haul for this dealer.

Special Guests of the Masquerade at Otakon- a part of X Japan

Whew, made it just in time, before their United States debut at Lollapalooza tomorrow. Part of X-Japan specifically Yoshiki and Sugizo were at Otakon’s Masquerade last weekend as half time guests. They performed at the very end after the 30 skits of the Masquerade was over. (Jon took pictures when that happened…) Yoshiki and Sugizo performed a piano and violin acoustic set of Forever Love and Endless Rain.Definitely some of their iconic songs of what their group is, Forever Love being the theme for X the Movie..

This is a transcript of my notes from the the press conference that was after the masquerade (reorganized for clarity). Jon has video of this event, but let’ s see what happens when he posts it up. I was able to get in some questions..(My questions are going to be bold font).. I found a place with a much better transcription, than what notes I have, so if you want to refer to that, then here is the link.

Can Yoshiki talk about a rumor of reconciliation with Taiji?

He denies it, but they are in talks about a possibility of reunion. Nothing is confirmed though.

What led to the decision to re-film “Rusty Nail” at their Los Angeles appearance?

They have rewrote Rusty Nail as an English release. (Actually for a new project, they are completing at this time, 80% are old songs getting redone in English.)

What is their feeling for what the future of visual kei going to be like?

Yoshiki – Deep Question. Someone has to break into the market and not sure of what will happen. The scene will keep evolving, changing and attempts of trying will happen though.

What is the personal preference in performance..quiet or loud?

Yoshiki – Both.

What is their favorite manga or anime? (What do you expect me to ask? I write for an anime press, Yoshiki’s answer/reaction was quite unexpected and funny. But yes Sugizo was confused when I followed up and asked him which version of Gundum he liked the most..so that’s why I clarified in the answer)

Yoshiki Sailor Moon

Sugizo – Original Gundum, or Ghost in the Shell

What songs are they going to be performing at Chicago? (Lollapalooza)

Mix, depends. Personal fans of X Japan will probably expect to hear Japanese, although they do have many English songs.

What message do you have for American fans as well as people who will see them at Lollapalooza?

Yoshiki – “Something new… something historical” is going to happen. “There are consistent walls between the east and west. Hopefully [X Japan] can smash hole in the wall.” Without fan’s support then X Japan wasn’t able to  reunite and perform. Will do anything to make up to the expectation of fans.

Sugizo – “Music has no boarders” He is very excited to perform with X Japan, since he has looked up to X Japan for a very long time.

Hopefully my summarization/transcription of this press conference isn’t as confusing to look over. What I am very excited for, is the fact that Yoshiki has confirmed future concerts to be held at New York… as well as Washington DC. I have an intention to definitely be there for the New York concert! Trying to not think or estimate the wait though. (>_<)

Following the press conference, we did see Yoshiki and Sugizo exit the premises, I saw Yoshiki sign a fan’s guitar. Yoshiki who is on Twitter now, tweeted this on August 2.

I’m in LA now. I already miss my fans in Baltimore.

As I mentioned, Jon did take more pictures of their appearance, but we are still in the process of putting it up on flickr. So check back on images yet to be posted. I have one more picture of their press conference that was able to be used.

X-Japan Press Conference - 1

Home Made Kazoku Set List at Otakon 2010

Home Made Kazoku, referred to as HMK was Otakon’s Sunday Concert, so this was their United States debut. Anime  fans of Bleach, Naurto or Eureka 7 would have heard of this group, from their catchy endings. To the delight of many screaming fans who were lucky to see them at Otakon this year, they are a great upbeat band to listen to. DJ Micro and DJ Kuro knew English fluently, and definitely knew how to appeal to the crowd. It was a great rousing way to end the concert. This is what their set list was during the concert, and was supplied courtesy from Alyce Wilson at Otakon Press.

  1. Kazoku Sensei
  2. Shonen Heart
  3. We Are Family
  4. MUKAI KAZE
    〜MC〜
  5. Live On Direct
  6. L.O.V.E
  7. JOYRIDE
    〜MC〜
  8. Nagareboshi – Shooting Star
  9. SUPER MAN
  10. Manatsu no Dance Call
    〜MC〜
  11. Salvia no Tsubomi
  12. NO RAIN NO RAINBOW
  13. HOME SWEET HOME
    〜MC〜
  14. Thank You !! (Encore)

Jon, I know was able to grab some photographs from their first four songs. That will be up, and there is still some more coverage left to be posted of Anime Diet’s run of Otakon 2010.

Fire Alarm Evacuates Otakon…convention war story potential.

A fire alarm prompts the evacuation of the entire Baltimore Convention Center, into the muggy heat that was outside. So an estimated 30,000  people walked out of the center. Attendees waited for close to an hour to enter back into the premises.

Otakon Press was quick in dispelling rumors that this incident was not as serious as what rumors were circulating around, like a kitchen fire as I believed. I spoke with Otakon Press and got this quote from Alyce Wilson, “Information given is that it was a false alarm.”

Everything about this evacuation, was done pretty smoothly. The impact of this evacuation was not as big as anyone would think. Why am I even reporting about this, when I wasn’t at the scene, to showcase Jon’s images that’s what. I got some images from height of the evacuation. There are more images, that still needs to be sorted through. So for a convention as this, one can see the scale of how much people were at the scene.

Panels were delayer/restarted and the dealer room hours were extended. On Sunday, I went and spoke with some dealers, and they did mention that some potential business was probably lost, but if the customer was a serious buyer, then they stopped by.  After the convention center opened up again, there was a slight surge in business for dealers before attendees realized that the hours were slightly extended.

Did I jump around a bit? For this article, probably – but as far as convention memories, this is probably going to be in the minds of convention attendees. Something should always happen at a convention other than the scheduled convention event, so for random Otakon 2010 moments, this is a story to be remembered.

There are some more images on Anime Diet’s Flickr.

Yoshida Brothers at Otakon 2010 and onward…

For convention goers, Yoshida Brothers were Otakon 2010’s Friday Concert guests, and for the rest of the world in terms of Japanese anime/gamers hobbies, they would probably have heard of Yoshida Brother from the initial American Wii commercials or even their cover for Disney’s Nightmare Before Christmas Revisted album.

The Yoshida Brothers are a contemporary Japanese duo that is famous for their shamisen music

Prior to Otakon, when I heard that they were coming, let’s just say that this was a highlight of my convention experience this year. Their appearance at Otakon is the beginning of their second United States Tour.  Following Otakon, I was happy and lucky to have seen them perform again in New York, the following Tuesday. I have reported earlier, their Otakon set list, [modified August 5, 2010 with a photo of their set list in Japanese]. This post is a partial summization/transcription of their Otakon press conference, with some recent impressions from their New York concert.

A bit of a history behind the Yoshida Brothers, they have been playing the shamisen for more than 15 years now, starting from the age of five years, to fulfill the dream of their father. They debuted at Japan in 1999, success caught them by surprise and then in the United States at 2003, when they introduced their brand of music to the world. Ryoichiro is the older Yoshida Brother, and Kenichiro is the younger brother. During the concert, they have used this interaction, seemingly to see which brother is the better shamisen player.The Yoshida Brothers definitely broke the image barrier of shamisen music being an aged old-fashion Japanese music.

Where do you get your inspiration of music from?

Kenichiro – World music

Ryoichiro – Hokkaido, where our home town is.

What are manga/anime titles that you paid attention to or read?

Kenichiro – Bleach

Ryoichiro – None

Were there always friendly rivalries between the two brothers?

Yes, mostly because no one in their age group even plays this type of music, so they can either challenge themselves or with one another.

Now which of the brothers is definitely better?

Depends on the fan’s taste. True rivalry is considered of self, where there is issue of competitions difficult, yet it is also important for them to be brothers.

Do they play any other instruments other than the shamisen?

No, the Yoshida Brothers definitely want to master the instrument that they currently play.

Taking the example of Nightmare Revisited, do other see themselves doing something different in the future?

No plans for the future, but there is a desire to do more covers of interesting music. Any collaboration done currently is at the request of the other artists, so the Yoshida Brothers are waiting. Instrumental music like theirs has the important ability to inspire others when going to a different venue each and every time.

Comparing the shamisen music, what western counterparts do they believe is a good counterpart to it?

Shamisen music has a good combination with traditional Spanish or percussion instruments as well.

What is their favorite food and region outside of the Japanese realm?

They like the Spanish tapas since it is in their opinion, the closet to the Japanese taste. The same goes for the Spanish locations that they have visited. [Spain]

How do they feel about their Western audience as compared to their Japanese audience?

Audience is different in reactions. Upon playing the shamisen for a western audience, the brothers have a feeling of being freer in their playing. Whereupon, for a Japanese audience, there is a more standardized responses, such as which part of music that is applauded upon. Shamisen music is in their opinion, the jazz of Japanese. [Upon questioning, other audience members of their concert, a feeling of bluegrass music is agreed upon.]

What are they looking forward on their United States tour?

To definitely showcase what they have been doing from Japan. Since shamisen can be solo music, they strive to go beyond the traditional barrier. They would like to have a full band with them on their U.S. tour.

What message do they have for their fans?

Shamisen is a wonderful instrument, and the Yoshida Brothers have an obligation to spread the sound of the shamisen to everyone in the world.

Now this was the extent of how much I can sum up from my notes of their Otakon Press conference. Following the next Tuesday, I was on my way to see them at the Highland Ballroom at the west end of 16th street. Now a bit of a history of my awareness of this act, at the earlier part of this year, tickets started to be sold for the Highland Ball venue. There were definitely $45 for the front row of position, and the rest of the venue was sold at $25, there was food and drink options. So my friend purchased two tickets, thus we were set for this concert..

Yoshida Brothers Concert

This is an image from their Otakon concert, but it was definitely similar. The set list was the same. The performers were the same, I got to hear more closely, when Ryoichiro was thanking Ippiki, the percussionist. What made this concert different from Otakon,was the amount of people in the room, the products available that were sold after the concert, and the overall ambiance of the concert. I was definitely a bit closer to the stage, so I got to see more people, tapping to the beats of the music, or snapping away with pictures or movie cameras. There was also more Japanese people that were at this venue, what stood them out where the salary man dress, or the Japanese garb of a kimono or a yukata.

The Yoshida Brother’s second tour will have toured New York, Massachusetts, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, by the time their concert is over. I will have my memories of hearing a good band of a traditional Japanese instruments, not once, but twice – what an experience this is.

Masao Maruyama/Hiroshi Koujina Joint Press Conference Transcript

This year, Otakon had the return of Masao Maruyama, founder of Madhouse who has brought the world, Black Lagoon, Chobits, Chi’s Sweet Home, and a lot of other memorable anime titles.  Hiroshi Koujina was also present at Otakon as a first time guest. He has been involved with titles such as, Macross Plus, Escaflowne: The Movie, Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew and currently with Rainbow – Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin. Both of these creative personalities were both featured in a joint conference answering questions from members of the press.

Anime Diet was present at this conference, so I am going to apologize for my bad recording and I will be summarizing some parts on what was the gist of the question. Also because I wasn’t aware of what specific press was there, I can only go with how much I know. Audio posting of this press conference may or may not be provided later.

Questions to Maruyama:

Brad Rice (Japanator)-Have you heard about talk made on the state of the anime industry recently by Dai Sato? [Otaku 2Japanator Discusses] The status of the anime production in the last 15 years and onward, has been shipped out of Japan overseas into China, that there is no new blood coming from the Japanese studios  Is Madhouse doing the same thing or are they actively recruiting people to stay with them?

Maruyama is not aware of this issue at this time, and can not say anything for sure. There is a possibility of some misinterpretation of Sato’s comments. What he does know and is aware on some creative work done in Korea, but not the majority, since there are still Japanese creators around. Maruyama also think that some Japanese companies are lacking in effort to train the new generation. Madhouse is working with Korea, but this is not work-for-hire, where we are hiring just from Korea. We are clearly collaborating to create, it is not simply a work for money, and we’re working as a team. It is a fact that there is a concern for some Japanese companies that there is a lost of energy or there is a decrease in energy or power educate their new generation.

Maruyama’s intention on how to run Madhouse is that there should always be a chance to give opportunity for the new generation to step up. Maruyama has high hopes for the new generation for example Death Note’s Director, Tetsuro Araki who currently does High School of the Dead is a young director.

MC Radio, a Spanish Press, was present and he asked these questions. I was able to get his English translated questions.

Q- Many people consider Dennou Coil (2007) as one of Madhouse’s strongest projects because it demonstrates, in many aspects, the ranges that anime can reach. What does this work mean for you?

The director’s approach was challenging and wanted to show a new way of how to show animation. This project was attractive due to the director’s potential.

Q-There has been a series of 3D film or HD films in the U.S, how much does these new technology or fads echo what Madhouse does, and with new technology, how much does Madhouse do use this in their work?

For creative process, 3D can change the way a story is constructed, and the only thing is that HD production costs more than the SD process, so this is a purchasing issue. Research also costs as well. It depends on if the production team, and if their budget can support the cost of making an HD film. It is not our place to dictate what audience would need to watch HD or not, but if there is a demand, then Madhouse is always ready to answer that need. Then it is just the matter for the cost of production of who should be paying for this, the audience or the investors?

Q-It the simultaneous broadcasting for anime [with sites such as Crunchy Roll], such as High School of the Dead working out, and is this a working solution for the rampant piracy that is out there?  Is this a new model to be used in the future, same day in Japan and the United States?

Since Madhouse is not a distributor, but a creative studio, they can’t answer that question. But from the creative side, Madhouse is happy that everyone in the world can enjoy their shows at the same time. In Japan, there is a different schedule of release times, so what comes out in America comes out later in Japan. Korea is different, they actually release American Hollywood films at the same time, it releases in the U.S., so if there are any movies Maruyama want to go see, then he would fly over to Korea to see, but as mentioned – he is happy that everyone can see Madhouse’s work.

This question was asked to Koujina

Q- What is your director style for Rainbow.

If you watched Rainbow, it is not a series that is happy happy joy joy, it is a serious drama, and there are no dynamic action scenes or battle scenes. It is heavy drama, so he was careful as to how the dialogue would fit in with the scene, and how expressions would be shown on each character.

Question for both guests:

Q- What are you favorite fan moments, in conventions such as Otakon or around the world?

Maruyama – As the creative side of Madhouse, he is happy to see cosplay for series that is done by Madhouse. He’s been to China and Russia and has seen similar sights, where he realizes that cosplay is a phenomenon that can be shared by the entire world.

Kojina – “I have always been told by my studio head, to always take care of fans. For example, when one time someone sent Valentine chocolates for one character I was involved with. I was very appreciative of that. We enjoyed it as a snack.” Kojina is also happy to see people in cosplay, such as a cosplay of Neuro of which he worked on. [Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro] That without cosplayers, then these characters can’t exist without the support of fans.

Another Spanish question directed to Maruyama.

Q-How has Mamoru Hosoda been performing in Madhouse, considering the creative freedom he displayed in productions such as Summer Wars and Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo?

Mamoru Hosoda as a person is quite special, and directors at Madhouse always has something they want to do, and every time they need something, it is always about what they want to do and what the company wants to do.

This part is a question prepared from Anime Diet to Maruyama:

Q- What influences your work methods? Is it a creative idea or the result of research in an area, and then the inspiration strikes? Do you have a philosophy about creating works?

When you work in animation, it is not an individual work, it is a team work. There is always consideration for what kind of director to work with, and how to combine them efficiently with artists. Madhouse has many talented directors, so it is always key to find right chemistry with think this group.

Question to Maruyama:

Q- How has Madhouse Studio changed over the years from when it began, what do you feel is its strength to evolve and what do you miss the most from the old days?

One clear change is that we have more people, and that equates to having more titles, but at the core we haven’t changed much, “Maybe” [mentions Maruyama to the laughter of the crowd].

Questions for both guests:

Q-What do you guys think of the general trend of moé in anime, and overall greatest angle as an individual director whether or not you want to use moé in your works?

Maruyama– Not sure of what the range of moé is, but feels that the trend of moé is decreasing compared to in the recently. In the case of moé, animation itself is a great tool to describe cute girls, so Maruyama always likes to present cute girls in different ways.

Koujina – I have never really worked on a moé series, so I can’t say from my past experiences, but I wouldn’t mind working on it, however I don’t believe moé is limited to just girls. It could be shonen or animals, also if there is a moé point in a series; it is only part of what an entire series is for me.

Q- What was your biggest fanboy moment?  (An OMG, I am working with this director or such an incident of sending chocolate to such a person)

Koujina – His biggest fanboy moment is when he was able to work with Madhouse and Maruyama, for he was a fan since he was a student.

Maruyama– He’s range is so big, that he hopes that Madhouse is gone, so he is free and can work with any director in Japan, but he is very honored to work with Madhouse directors. They [Madhouse] may not like it, but he really wants to work with Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii.

Another Spanish Question directed for Maruyama:

Q- What is the purpose regarding future projects with Marvel – Ironman and Wolverine? Making American heroes closer to Japan? Making Madhouse’s work closer to North America?

Maruyama is a big fan of American comics, and to be specific of how they draw or the quality of it, but when it comes to story – there’s always a story he likes and a story not so much, but the intention is not to have an American hero to be popular in Japan, it is a tool to make an exciting series. The image of a hero in Japan is different in America and for instant if you take Iron Man, he’s really cool in his suit, but when he is Tony Stark – he appalls Maruyama because this rich guy who has everything, because does he have the criteria to be a hero?

Question to Koujina:

Q- You have the ability to leave a message for many people, so with that power – what are you going to do to make the world a better place?

As he comes to United States, he has noticed there are the same concerns and cares for anime and by seeing this, he knows that by seeking what makes a good animation, he knows that it can bring the world together.

Question to Maruyama:

Q- How successful has artistic productions like Kaiba been and how necessary are they to Madhouse studio as a whole?

I am a very challenging man, so I like to change many things, as long as I am able to have the chance, then I like to go for more artistic and entertaining projects. This is according to how other people talk about Maruyama, but when they go up to him, they say the project is too hard for Madhouse and he’ll say, “Well let’s see about that!”

This part is a question prepared from Anime Diet directed to Maruyama:

Q- Of all your works, that Madhouse has currently created, what is your personal stand out work of art? What was the most enjoyable one for you?

Each of the projects that have been worked on by Madhouse is just as precious, because it has been made by staff that he cares about. So he doesn’t overall choose one project over the other, but since what I mention doesn’t really serve as an answer. If I must then it would be Hanada Shonen-shi which isn’t really popular in the United States, but it has strong support from major countries, so he feels strongly to the project.

Question to Maruyama:

Q- Maruyama-san, why did you hire Koujina-san? (Guests/Audience chuckle)

He likes to work with as many talented directors as possible, and as Koujina is already a talented director, fits Maruyama’s type so he continues to work with Koujina as much as possible.

Question directed for both:

Q-For the many interesting exciting intellectual property that is out there, if nothing is stopping you, then what would be the ideal intellectual property to work with?

Maruyama– As I said before, I am a very curious person and try to work with as many projects as I can. If I even start naming the projects, then it would be in the 1000’s to 2000’s, but off the top of my head, it is Shiton Doubutsu – literal translation is Animal Tales, yet there are currently no specific titles, I want to work with now.

Koujina – It has always been his desire to work with original series, because when you work with original series, it is pushing your skills as a director and to be specific with the genere, he wants to work with shonen series, because shonen is for the young generation, so it is a time for when viewers are still maturing as young adults, so he is interested in relying his message of what he wants to say to them.

This concludes the press conference.

[Edit- August 15 2010…This is a Spanish translation of this press conference via MC Radio]

Anime Journalism: The Story Behind the Story Panel at Otakon 2010

This was a panel moderated by Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading, with guest speakers Brad Rice of Japanator and Christopher Macdonald of Anime News Network. This was a panel that was of personal interest for me, since I have spoken on occasion with Ed Sizemore on Twitter, and the topic is of writing interest.

This blog entry is transcribed with questions asked and points made. As a disclaimer, I am editing some of the points to make this transcription readable. Even within the block quotes, please be aware that there are some editing points, that is not the same as the audio. I was recording the audio, so it is also going to be available soon. Ed Sizemore has also graciously provided a podcast of his coverage on the Manga Out Loud Podcast.

Ed Sizemore introduces himself, and mentions the purpose of this panel is going to be on the decision making behind process of  generating a news story. Ed thanks Anime Diet’s own Moritheil, and Johanna from Comics Worth Reading, both of whom were not present at Otakon this year.

Why Journalism for you and what led you to creating an Anime Journalism website?

Macdonald – The answer is not really helpful, it was a hobby. Before the anime industry exploded in America, I decided to take over Anime News Network, which has already been around for two years. Justin Sevakis founded the website to fill a need. That’s a very important part of the answer, seeing something with a demand for, and filling that need.  So we’re not talking about finding a job, but anytime there is a need to do a new business or start/launch a website/publication, the most important thing is to not look at what everyone else is doing, to see what’s popular, but to look and see what people aren’t doing and what kind of interests are being unfulfilled.

Rice -We started from the same perspective of fitting somewhere. From that point and for a totally different reason, we ran with it. Beyond reporting about the news, we try to have fun with it. This is something not really seen in the sphere of anime journalism. [Japanator] is quite like the Daily Show of anime, where we make jokes. We talk beyond anime, and on Japan.

Ed brings out a scenario about receiving unconfirmed leaked information and the speakers’ reaction on it. The company used as an example is Funimation.

Macdonald – Need to confirm it the leak with the people relevant to the leak or the side that has the power. Another issue is a core one for journalism:  A is there benefit, and B is there harm?  Upon leaking someone else’s information, you can harm them. With license negotiation, it is a borderline case, and it is a respectful decision to decide that there is not enough benefit to leak it now to the public rather than wait for a couple of months. With leaking, it may harm the negotiation. As a journalist, one would believe that journalists should be publishing every info they get. Anyone who believes that hasn’t studied journalism at all.

Rice – Same thought process as, yet if the news is unconfirmed, how about going for an exclusive when the news is confirmed. That depends on relations with the company, but at least there was an attenpt made to get the scoop.

Macdonald – When you get a leak, try to turn it into a mutually beneficial agreement.

Rice – The anime market is really small, with 3-4 websites.

Ed then moves on to talking about the confirmation aspect, taking the example of Anime Expo’s current problems with leadership/management. Why both sites didn’t cover this news actively.

Rice – Don’t care about con drama. It just talks about AX, and won’t draw as much interest as a sensational story such as a girl being sprayed with champagne in slow motion would.

Macdonald – Hate con drama, we got the memo. Info can be faked, and with the memo it was from an anonymous source. There are types of anonymity, where the press knows the source and anonymity is from a tip. AX’s case is the latter scenario. We receive some confirmation later, but it was never a source that we could publish or stand behind.

Rice – You definitely have to rationalize the benefit of this scenario. Gossip vs. News.

Macdonald– Someone did post it, and that is extremely irresponsible with no confirmation. I wished it was faked, so that it would be less competition.

Ed brings up a further scenario of a competitor leaking that same news story, that you [speakers] decided not to run. Now what is your stance?

Macdonald– We have to get solid confirmation, otherwise I don’t want to make a fool of ANN. People may complain on how late we are for certain stories, but I rather be the last one correct, than the first one to make a mistake.

Ed mentions the feeling of responsibility on posting a news story. Internet publishing often gets the impression that it is not a real story, but right now blogs are being taken seriously. Comment from the speakers on the responsibility of publishing on the internet.

Macdonald – There are many types of Internet publishing, ANN is old school and looks at the model of traditional newspapers. It is absolutely important that everything we publish is right, and when it is not – then we are responsible to making the correction and let our readers know about it. It is critical, and if we don’t then we have no business calling ourselves the internet’s most trusted anime news source.

Rice – We write to entertain, and when we cover a breaking story where there are unconfirmed spots, we would admit that we will keep readers updated when the news get confirmed. We are similar to ANN.

Ed mentions about how small the anime/manga industry is, with companies that support ads. They are also the exact same companies that will be reported in the news. What steps does your organization take to maintain an editorial freedom from influence, be it news, commentary or editorial? To make sure that writers won’t feel influenced by the company that they write for?

Rice– Easy, we let other people take charge of the ads, money is in one hand and editorial is in other, so there are no conflicts like PB&J sandwich smashing together. Often if our boss said we can run a contest, we don’t mind – since our readers like free stuff.  That’s the closest that these issues mesh with one another.

Macdonald – I wish we can be like that. In theory we should have a wall like that, where we are 110% free from the people handling the money. The ultimate boss of the company shouldn’t be involved with the content of the editorial. Unfortunately at ANN, I am the CEO and the Editor in chief. We try to keep that philosophy, where I don’t bring money issues to the writers. In practice, we are separating money from editorial, but we’re not in that perfect situation yet where no money is crossing over. I am the only person who crosses over, and I wish I didn’t. It is tricky. Funimation is the biggest company in this industry, and they are very understanding. We get the most money from them, and occasionally there are reviews that trash their products. They have no problem with that, but for some other companies – there are complaints and I mention sorry, but we won’t retract what was said. There are minor complaints from marketing people, but PR people will go and tell them to calm down. It is a bit trickier with Japanese press, since their news is so tightly intertwined with the companies. News is dictated and controlled by the companies, and how much money was given to write about the product. We may have lost several ad contracts that way, but I’d rather hold onto my self-respect and respect of my writers than to be censored like that.

Ed – I write without a company, but have there been companies that have come to you, and mention that if you’re going to write a negative review – then don’t post it at all?

Rice – No, Never.

Macdonald – There is a school of reviewing that feels there’s no point in talking about content you don’t like and only talk about the good stuff. Personally that is a load of BS. We have never had any companies that came back to. There are marketing complaints for certain titles, but they don’t have the final buying or spending decisions, so we have never dealt with a situation like that.

Ed- Comment about the common flaws that you see from the people online that call themselves journalists.

Rice – The only thing that gets my goat is anime sites that will blatantly ignore sources. Sankaku Complex regularly does that. I noticed the new editor on Anime Vice doing that as well, completely ignoring [sources]. Such as this example: K-on in Japanese census, we found our source from MyAnimeList as a tip. Anime Vice has it on their site a few days later, with the same links and only sourcing the original Japanese site, so I know that you can’t just stumble upon this same content, so it is being lazy and not being truthful.

Macdonald – I am not repeating what was said, but I am 100% behind what was said, it is a big annoyance. I am not a professional journalist, or at least I am not a professional educated one. Mistakes I see in many amateur journalists are mistakes that I have made ten years ago. Training and experience are worth a lot. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can sit down and write without a journalism education, that with just information, can write proper English and have a website then you’re done, but that’s not true. You can get it through experience or training, but there is a lot you have to know in order of doing it properly, so the mistakes that you see are from people who don’t have the education or training. The understanding of journalistic ethics, the way of treating sources, crediting sources, doing proper research and value-add.

Are you a Journalist or an aggregator? Anime News- 90% is aggregation, and there is a desire to have original content, but upon picking up a newspaper 90% of what they do is aggregation as well. So you can aggregate and copy what someone else did without a source, or you can aggregate and value-add, which is what Japanator did with the K-On story. They took a story, and then added their own content, so that brings value. If not then what was the purpose of adding the original story in the first place? If you’re just repeating what someone else said, then you’re just a waste of space. It is nasty to say, but ten years ago when I had no experience and making the same mistakes, there was no one else around, but now if you’re entering a market as a professional. Many of ANN staff has journalism degrees, people who do the job better than I do. So if you want to enter into this field, you don’t have to get a masters or bachelors, but do take a course or spend a ton of time reading up on it and really learn this subject. Go intern at an existing website, (ANN has hired interns) in a year, and they learn a lot. Guarantee with six months, but if you definitely got the option, go intern at a real newspaper, forget niche market journalism.

Ed – What is the story within the last year, since the last Otakon, that impact guests, whether on a personal level or impact the industry as a whole?

Macdonald – Everything that happened at ADV films had a lot of impact on the industry. The biggest thing going on right now is the fact that the industry is slowly falling apart financially, and this is a slowly ongoing issue. It is not an event that one article can cover, it is an evolution. Ten or twenty years after this, when you read about the history of anime, the period of 2007 to 2010, would be a scenario of what the hell happened here.

Rice– We are having staff discussion, particularly on the Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop) issue. He said that there is no creativity left in anime. It is piece meal with the Japanese, where directors, writers, seiyuu, and above line are Japanese, but the rest is farmed out overseas, and the industry is essentially dying. A similar issue is with the lack of new blood in animation, many of the masters are essentially getting old or how underpaid writers or artists are. It is harder to see this as a news story rather than an editorial. [Rice comments on ANN not having as much editorial stories, so much than news story]

Macdonald – That’s another issue, we’re always driven by time-sensitivity of a story. Presenting it as facts is hard, so there is the issue that you have mention, but if we even try to get facts and names together. It is not easy to be authoritative at this point. We can fall back on the reputation of our name (ANN), but we would rather have a scenario of trusting what another person, particularly an Anime corporation has said, rather than journalists.

Rice – I remember last year’s Otakon, when Yamamoto apologized for the second season of Haruhi Suzumiya, and I remember when people got back to me on not putting it up, but it happened in a public space with people filming.

Macdonald – Going on tangent, since this is a big issue with niche journalism. We’re talking about the company, when even the company doesn’t have a professional outlook on things. People are up at panels, and they say things as if they are in a private conversation. In an industry panel, even the Marketing director of a particular company made a license announcement where the presses are told not to write about it. Regardless of amount of attendees or who they are, that is a public event. Might as well put out a press release, since we’ll cover it – like it or not. Because in niche market, there are people in the company side who don’t comprehend this scenario, so if I don’t write about it….

Rice – Then I will!

Macdonald – Yes, and we got to stay ahead of the game.

This panel ends with some audience questions.

Have you ever been contacted by major media corporation, like CNN or NBC on quoting about anime news?

Rice – Every single day – [indicates Macdonald] Deb Aoki got me once on a local news media at last year’s AX, but my part ended up on the cutting room floor.

Macdonald – That’s often the truth [cutting room floor]. Every single day is a big exaggeration. Journalists will talk with other journalists for an hour, you notice I ramble, but I give them tons of information about their story, and all sorts of info they don’t know. But upon submitting it to the editor, the editor would say space… and end up cutting us. We talk to mainstream press a couple of times a month to be friendly, often if we are quoted, we get cut or not then that’s nice.

How do you deal with a leaked story (Vertical’s Ayako), where it is leaked and not publicly announced?

Macdonald – I wasn’t consulted on this, since the news editor would know how to handle this story.

Rice – Out of respect to Vertical’s Editor, since the story is probably not licensed finally yet, then I wouldn’t run it. But if other sites like Amazon leak the story, and other news site or Kuriosity runs with the story, then I would stay away. There is a fine line of respecting the relationships.

How do you feel on the time when news of Greg Ayres health suddenly happened, and news coverage was made with no confirmation?

Rice –  We didn’t cover it at that time.

Macdonald – ANN completely fucked up that coverage. I wasn’t consulted about releasing this news story at the time. I try to be hard on my staff, but definitely wrong decisions were made. It happens, and is unfortunate; it is a situation when a personal event happens to a public figure. I try not to be tabloids and cover a person’s personal life as much as possible. At that time, friends who weren’t related to the event were contacted, and were told to go contact the family. But the family wasn’t up to coping with the press. We apologized for that time, but it definitely brings up the point about an official unpublished rule on taking down articles, and not talking about it. It comes to when a person’s privacy was invaded, so we will take down the article without showing you the original. But I do need to publish that policy, so that people should know about this policy.

[Edit – August 5, 2010: I got an email back from Brad Rice, on correcting this part of the transcript, so I am editing this for the record. Originally said that Rice said that “ANN completely fucked up that coverage.” when it appears that Macdonald said that statement. ]

Yoshida Brothers Concert Set List

Second day of Otakon.. and my updates will be slightly off, since I won’t be able to process any of my reporting until after my the con, or when I get a steady internet connection, that I don’t need to pay $13 a night for. I was able to attend the Yoshida Brother’s Concert yesterday, and this is their set list. The reason why I think about this, is the fact that Moritheil last year did it with Kanon Wakeshima concert. I will post a more indepth feelings update maybe later, when I have that huge down time in the afternoon.

Set List

  1. Kodo Intro
  2. Aiya (w/Ippiki)
  3. Ibuki (w/Ippiki)
    MC 1
  4. Panorama
  5. Time of Sand
    MC 2
  6. End of the World (Kenichi)
    (Ippiki Solo)
  7. Saiun (Ryoichiro w/ Ippiki)
    MC 3
  8. Blooming
  9. Overland Blues
  10. Oboro-Zukiyo
    MC 4
  11. Tsugaru Jongara-Bushi
    Encore: Kodo

Japanese set list of Yoshida Brothers Concert