All posts by Michael Huang

Jeremy lives in the Redondo Beach area. He was first introduced to anime with heavily edited versions of Mazinger Z (aka Tranzor Z in the US), GoLion (aka Voltron) and Macross (aka Robotech) while growing up in the 1980's. Since then his tastes have evolved into a fairly eclectic mix of anime with a soft-spot for underdog shonen stories, psychological/cyber-punk stories and select love comedies. Jeremy is also the head organizer of Anime Souffle anime club. It was at an Anime Souffle meeting where he met Michael Huang and eventually was invited to join as a guest co-host for Scattered Cells Podcast episode #6 in February of 2007. He since then has become a regular part of the Anime Diet crew.

Interview: Takahiro Omori (dir. Natsume Yuujinchou) and Yumi Sato

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We had the privilege of speaking to Natsume Yuujinchou, Hotarubi no Mori e, Durarara!!, Baccano!, and Kuragehime director Takahiro Omori along with Brains Base producer Yumi Sato at Fanime 2013. Below is a transcript of our interview with them. Questions were asked by Jeremy Booth; transcript translation by Rome. Video (shot by gendomike) is forthcoming —gendomike

Jeremy: do you have particular works you like that you’ve been involved in? Why?

Omori: I like all of them, [but] the one I worked really hard with challenge with the sense of achievement was Baccano.

Sato: I also like all of them, but the first anime that got approved as my project that I submitted was Natsume Yujincho. So, it is Natsume.

What is like working on a project together, day by day?

Omori: If we are making something together, we fight, and there are a lot of hard feelings. It is pretty common. (Laughs) But if we finish perfectly and get good reviews, then that is great.

What happens when you have differing opinions? Do you decide with rock-paper-scissors (jank-ken-pon)?

Omori: (Laughs) We don’t do jankenpon, but we do discuss a lot. If we have to decide in an either/or situation, then the final decision will be mine, but of course we talk a lot.

What are some points of conflict?

Omori: Well, regarding the story, the scenario writer will be the center of the discussion, A lot of people are involved, so it’s not about conflict between me and Sato. The discussion between us is more about staff to choose for production and work processes, arrangement.

You’ve often directed two works by the same original author.* What keeps you coming back? 

Omori: First, we get good reputation from works, and original manga writer and editor that arranges original manga writer function as a same team for production, so it’s already established the team work. For Hotarubi, it was Sato-san, she had a strong desire to do this work.

Natsume and Hotarubi are about people being friends with spirits/yokai. What’s appealing to you about stories with yokai?

Omori: Through spirit and yokai, we try to depict what happens in real human life. So for me, it is that point when i try to depict that.

Sato: For me, I think it just happens to be a interaction between human and yoke, like these interactions, they get sad and happy, these emotional interactions are just this time happen to be yokai, and i was very touched by that part, and in me, it just touched my koto (japanese string instrument) string.

Which character(s) did you feel a connection to or felt were most important? What did you gain from that experience?

Omori: Isaac and Miria from Baccano!. I made them, but I think they gave me more than I gave to them…of course, they are already defined in the original novel, so I didn’t create them initially. But as I was adapting them into anime, they grew as characters by themselves. I didn’t think they would end up holding the whole series together, until I finally realized that they held the key to almost every story. When I understood that, I was convinced: “this is it.”

Sato: For me, it’s Natsume-kun, but he was very difficult character: how do you choose his clothing, his word choices? Those can makes a huge difference in the viewer’s impression…and how does he interacts? I paid close attention to this character, and I think that was also the case for Kamiya-san, who played Natsume, who was giving the attention while reading the script at the same time. Actually, once, Takada-san, the character designer, got into a huge fight with Omori over that performance. “Natsume is not like this! This is not his personality!”

Omori: If a character is growing, it means that he can’t stay in the same place forever.

Which is more important, the artistic/visual style or story?

Omori: Both story and visuals are important. But fundamentally, it’s important that a character’s personality, visuals, and role in the story not be a mismatch from the original story. So, it’s a balancing act.

What’s the most challenging part of adapting manga to anime?

Omori: As much as possible, I want to recreate the original manga’s “taste.” It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but I want to recreate its atmosphere. That job is more for the character designer though, and my role is just to give a judgement. Rather my struggle was—in manga, it depends on the readers where their mental impression of the work comes from. Especially like Natsume or other shoujo mangas use multiple visual expressions: in the same frame, a character can express two different emotions. But on the motion picture, because the time axis is continuous, I have to cut one of the expressions out. Or, we express those multiple emotions by changing the dialogue. We do that often, and that balancing act is where we always have struggled.

Sato-san, tell us about your first experience as an animation producer.

Sato: My first work as a producer was actually Kamichu!. I had gotten into a fight with the owner of the anime studio, and he assigned me to do this work: “Do this!” And that become actually my first produced work, but I didn’t know what to do. So my first experience was one filled with desperation.

What was the challenge?

Sato: I didn’t know too many things. Everything was the first time for me, so I didn’t know what I did was right or wrong, and that was the toughest. I wasn’t confident, so I couldn’t really lead and direct my staff, and that was the most painful part.

You’ve came a long way since then.

Sato: Ever since I started working with Omori-san, I’ve developed a really thick skin.


*Omori directed Natsume Yuujinchou and the short film Hotarubi no Mori e, both whose manga were written by Yuki Midorikawa. The light novels of Baccano! and Durarara!! were written by Ryohgo Narita.

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Phoenix Wright Live Action Movie – Objection??!!!

The movie will not be officially released till February 11, 2012 in Japan, so there may not be a clear verdict yet.  Nonetheless, recent trailers circulating the web for this adaptation of the popular video game and manga series have given us, the jury, something to ponder.  Notable aspects taken from the game, as shown in thetrailers, are the inclusion of several major and minor characters from the franchise as well as a few notable story aspects from the series.  Also, there appears to be demonstrated an incredible attention to detail in character costuming down to the zany hair styles that would generally defy real world physics.

However, costuming and character design alone do not an epic film adaptation make.  So it might be worth noting that this film does have one going for it in that it is directed by veteran director Takashi Miike.  Mind you, this is a double edged sword.  Actually it might even seem like an odd choice if you consider that his initial rise to fame was partly due to the controversial film Ichi the Killer.  In fact it was so controversial, due to the high levels of graphic violence, that it was heavily censored in many of its international releases.  Furthermore, it was so over the top gory that the attendees at the film festivals where it was first shown were offered movie branded vomit bags, just in case.  Also, of concern is the fact that in many of his works, Miike seems to even show a penchant for scenes of the extreme macabre, ultra-violent, overtly bizarre and deeply twisted.  It is not surprising that he has cited admiration for directors such as David Lynch and David Cronenburg.

In his defense, however, Miike has seemed to become somewhat of a reformed man in recent years.  Lately, he has been directing films which are live-action adaptations of anime and manga series such as Yatterman, Salaryman Kintaro and even the family friendly Ninja Kids.  All of these show a softer side of Miike with scenes of unabashed zaniness in place his normal dark scenes of the macabre.  While the trailer for the Phoenix Wright movie may seem a bit dark and brooding, as compared to the light-hearted tongue in cheek video games, it may or may not ultimately be indicative as to the overall nature of the movie.  This of course, is all conjecture on my part and by no means admissible in court, so to speak.  However, it will be interesting to see exactly which part of Miike’s personality directed this work; or if in fact it skates a fine line between the darkly disturbed and deeply wacky.  Either way, this juror is prepared to do his civic duty in sitting through the entire hearing when court is marked to be in session.

Funimation To Start a New Hentai Division?

Anime news outlets have been all a buzz with talk that anime distributor Funimation is said to be developing a new division devoted solely to the distribution of hentai anime and games. All titles are said to be released under the branding Funimation Exxxtreme (which pundits have already labeled F-ckimation Products). While most marketing analyst agree that hentai is a staple form of anime entertainment in Japan, many have speculated that the market share in the United State would not be as large as Funimation might desire. Some pundits have been quoted as saying that the market here is simply relegated to “…a few lonely tissue wielding otaku cradling their favorite dakimakura”. When asked about concerns of limp sales projections in a down thrusting ecomony, recently appointed hentai marketing analyst Hugh G. Rection stated, “It’s true that the competition is stiff in the hentai market, however, if Funimation goes forward with these plans they will make rock hard efforts to get their products into the bedrooms and the hand’s of every warm blooded otaku.” So far the company has released no official statement, however, we will report more details as they pop up.

What Con? Nan Desu Kan!

Recently I attended a gem of a convention tucked just beyond the Rocky Mountains in Denver, CO.  Nan Desu Kan has been in operation for about 14 years now and has progressively grown in attendance every year.  (So much so that I foresee them moving to a larger venue before too long.) Currently Nan Desu Kan is hosted at the Marriot Denver Technology Center, which suits their needs nicely at their current size.  However, a rather crowded Saturday showed signs that this convention will eventually need a bigger home if this growth keeps going.

Nan Desu Kan maintains much of the charm and intimacy of smaller con, but includes elements that are generally only gleaned from the clout of big conventions. Staple events here include all the basic necessities: anime viewings, AMV contests, panels, games, and industry guest appearances. Among other very respectable guests and events this year, the cream of the line-up in my opinion was an appearance by famed mecha anime director Yasuhiro Imagawa and the bands Kazha and Echostream.

All around I found Nan Desu Kan to be a very entertaining and enjoyable convention. Video showings were smaller but pleasantly intimate. Hordes of dedicated cosplayers from almost every genre and series imaginable were present, and scores participated in a fairly professional contest with a fantastic halftime show by Echostream. Panels were informative, fun and generally well executed.  This was all topped off with rooms for table top gaming, video games, a nicely set-up artist hall and a sizable merchant exhibit space to shop for the anime goodies you just can’t do without.

Unbeknownst to many of us here west of the Rockies, anime fans may well now have a reason to travel to just the other side of those mountains to participate some anime-related fun as well as take in some nice scenery while there.

Be sure to check out more video and pictures from this convention as they will be posted in the near future.

Anime Director Satoshi Kon Has Died

Apparently, it has been confirmed that famed anime director Satoshi Kon , director of such works as Perfect Blue and Paprika, has in fact died at the age of 46. Initial statements were made over twitter by founding member of Gainax Takeda Yasuhiro earlier today, followed by an apparent confirmation from Madhouse president Masou Maruyama. Details are still unclear but apparently he died this morning around 2 a.m. in Japan. More details to be posted as they are released.

*Updates:

According to Anime News Network, Kon’s widow wrote on his website on Wednesday about his death.

Satoshi Kon passed away due to pancreatic cancer on August 24 at 6:20 a.m. He was 46.

His funeral service will be held for family members only.
We are respectfully and deeply grateful for your kindness during his lifetime.

Furthermore, MADHOUSE had this to say,

Satoshi Kon,  the director of numerous works at MADHOUSE including Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Tokyo Godfathers and Millennium Actress, passed away due to pancreatic cancer early in the morning of Tuesday, August 24.

He was 46.

With regards to funeral services, a private service will be held for family members only.

We are respectfully and deeply grateful for your kindness during his lifetime.

Finally, pre-written statements were also posted to Kon’s website on his behalf

May 18 of this year, an unforgettable day.

My wife and I received the following prognosis from a cardiologist at the Musashino Red Cross Hospital:

“The pancreatic cancer is terminal and has metastasized to the bone. You have at most a half year left.”

As to the fate of his final film, Yume-Miru Kikai Kon relates this conversation with Masao Maruyama.

When I conveyed my concerns for Yume-Miru Kikai to  Mr. Maruyama, he said, “It’s fine. Don’t worry, we’ll do whatever it takes.”

I cried.

I cried aloud.


His statements were ended with these word’s


With feelings of gratitude for all that is good in this world, I put down my pen.

Well, I’ll be leaving now.

Satoshi Kon

Trigun – Badlands Rumble – English premiere at AX (First Impressions)

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This year at AX brought many things, including some exciting guests, shows, and the first ever English subtitled screening of the new Trigun movie! It was introduced by Japanese producer Shigeru Kitayama and brought to AX by Funimation.

The story brings all of the well known characters from the Trigun anime to the big screen. As I sit here in my luckily obtained front row seat, I am blown away by scenes of Vash’s trademark shinanagens with the accompanying crew of Milly, Meryl and Nick Wolfwood in what is appropriately called a badlands rumble.

The story takes place somewhere in the middle of the original anime’s story. It introduces a new villain to the screen by the name of Gasback and a new female bounty hunter named Amelia as Vash’s love interest (whose humorously unique allergy creates terrific comic material).

Fans throughout the showing erupted in laughter, cheers and then sat in contemplative silence as the story carried them through Trigun’s familiar comedic tropes, over the top action scenes and brief moody dramatic moments.

The screen was filled with guns blazing, explosions erupting during action filled shootouts, chases ensued and rioteously funny comedic moments played on the stage of the badlands with abundance.

When it was all said and done it was not a complex movie, but it was to be expected. It was, however, a delightfully fun romp though the desert wasteland with some very entertaining old friends.

My only complaint was that the sound in the auditorium was piercingly loud. So much so that I had a headache at the end. However, in all fairness it was a headache not unlike one you have following an overly enjoyable night of drinking.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! A Night With The Pillows.

A short while back, the Japanese rock band The Pillows finished their Delicious Bump tour with all girl rock band the Noodles. While they were here in Los Angeles we stopped by to catch their show and have a brief chat with them.

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