Category Archives: Conventions

Videos: Ami Koshimizu and Ryoka Yuzuki Fan Panel @ Anime Expo 2014

Ami Koshimizu and Ryoka Yuzuki–the voices behind Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill La Kill, respectively–took the stage at their fan panel at Anime Expo 2014 and gave a highly entertaining, energetic look at their work. We captured most of the panel on video!

Ryoka Yuzuki was especially lively, gladly doing her Satsuki voice as well as other characters such as Neco Arc from Carnival Phantasm. Most infamously, she repeated her “pigs in human clothing” line from Kill La Kill to the delight of masochistic otakus everywhere:

She also obliged a fan who always wanted to know what Satsuki would sound like if she had Neco Arc’s voice:

Ami Koshimizu, in turn, was also the voice of Maou in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, and she happily provided her voice for a fan:

Here are some more things we captured–like Yuzuki declaring she likes doing it “soft and hard”:

And a couple of clips, one in which they declare that they woud like to see a Gurren Lagann and Kill La Kill crossover:

Interview: Yoshiki Sakurai @ Anime Expo 2014

We had the privilege of interviewing anime screenwriter Yoshiki Sakurai at Anime Expo 2014! Sakurai is perhaps best known for being one of the screenwriters for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, but he’s also done work for many other Production I.G. titles such as Seirei no Moribito and xxxHolic. More recently, he’s done screenwriting for anime films such as Redline and Giovanni’s Island, the latter which received the Jury Distinction Prize at the Annency Animation Festival.

Sakurai, trained as an economist and media environment scholar at Tokyo University, brings a genuine depth to his talk with us about the ideas behind “Ghost in the Shell” and other works, along with his thoughts about cyberpunk, the Singularity, and why the movie “Her” is so unoriginal! He also talks about his latest project, Giovanni’s Island, and how that film may help bring about the future of animation.

This interview was conducted in English, which Sakurai speaks with near-native fluency.

Yutaka Yamamoto (Yamakan) Press Conference: Tweet Digest

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Yutaka Yamamoto, aka Yamakan, got his start as one of the directors of Kyoto Animation’s The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the director of the first four episodes of Lucky Star. After leaving KyoAni, he established his own studio, Ordet, and went on to make shows like Kannagi, Fractale, and most recently Wake Up Girls!

Yamakan was frank about his opinions of the anime industry, and some additional thoughts about controversial statements he made around the time he made Fractale. Read tweets from his press conference here!

Keiji Inafune Press Conference: Tweet Digest

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Keiji Inafune, the famed game designer who worked at CAPCOM for years developing Mega Man, Street Fighter II, and many other legendary games, is now an independent producer. His latest work is a Kickstarter-funded game called Mighty No. 9, which is forthcoming. Inafune spoke about that as well as his past work with Mega Man and other games to the press at Anime Expo 2014.

He sure looks like a butcher, doesn't he?

Gen Urobuchi/Nitroplus Fan Panel: Tweet Digest

Gen Urobuchi and the CEO of Nitro+ and one other person were on hand to talk about Nitro+’s work and answer a few–only a few–questions. There are no pictures in this stream because of a strange policy where press–not attendees–were forbidden from taking pictures or video. Also, my mobile internet was not working for much of the time, so this is an incomplete record. There was at least one question about birds in Kamen Rider Gaim that still makes no sense to me.

Ami Koshimizu and Ryoka Yuzuki Fan Panel: Tweet Digest

We had a great time at Ami Koshimmizu and Ryoka Yuzuki’s fan panel, which was lively and full of laughter, voice acting, and horrible translated puns. This record is not 100% complete due to gendomike being in line for a question, which isn’t recorded here. However, we have a video record coming very soon! Stay tuned.

Kill La Kill Production Team Press Conference: Tweet Digest

This is the press conference by SUSHIO (character designer and animation director), Kazuki Nakashima (screenwriter), and Yousuka Toba (producer) of Kill La Kill. A full translated transcript will come soon! We were able to ask a good number of questions, including about the controversy over the objectification of female characters and where their throwback influences come from!

Maid Cafe

Katsucon 2014: Cherry Tea Maid Cafe

Maid Cafe

Bamboo is really, really intelligent. There’s a thoughtful demeanor about him that conjures some mystery. He spent practically the entire time listening to my colleague Mori, rarely speaking unless a question was posed towards him. He was perfunctory.

That’s not to say he was a bad butler. In fact, just the opposite. He immediately sensed Mori’s gregarious nature and proceeded accordingly, serving the role of an engaged audience making succinct comments when suitable.

All proceeds from the Katsucon Cherry Tea Maid Cafe go to Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society. Even if it did not, I was perplexed by Mori’s reluctance to pay $1 per game. The maid cafe is the place where one visits to indulge. It’s silly to have money as an objection.

I played four games of Connect Four with Bamboo thanks to the generous funding from Mori.* Bamboo showed no pretense of letting me win. He won twice and we stalemated once. That was the highlight for me. The one raffle ticket from my sole win was just an added bonus.

Maid Cafe

The food proved better in appearance than taste but that’s never the focus at the maid cafe. The exorbitant prices mean the charity of choice benefit handsomely.

Katsucon changed venue from the bar restaurant upstairs to the Pienza located in the atrium of the Gaylord. The notable change in lighting may hold the most impact. Warmer and darker, it provided a more intimate ambience compared to the upbeat brightness of last year.

Unfortunately, the space seems to have shrunk. Located in the rear section of Pienza, it comprises roughly a quarter of all available tables. No doubt the parent establishment wanted to ensure it will not have to turn away regular customers. The section occupied by the Maid Cafe is fairly well hidden. Shrubbery blocks sight of the busy walkway infront while architecture elements does same from the rest of the venue.

The Katsucon Maid Cafe continues to exercise good judgement in requiring an advanced reservation. This allows the maid or butler to provide undivided service to the patron. It’s magical to have your very own servant all to yourself for an hour. And I am grateful that they honored our reservation, even when we were fifteen minutes late. That said, I was disappointed that we were not offered a choice of servant like last year. I really preferred a maid. Bamboo is still great though!

It’s a shame I only visited on Friday. Katsucon Cherry Tea Maid Cafe remains a mandatory stop for any attendee.

More pictures here.

Maid Cafe

 

 

 

* I had no cash on me.

An example of Terada's "rakugaki" doodling style, taken from his sketch Tumblr.

Katsuya Terada Interview (SDCC 2013)

An example of Terada's "rakugaki" doodling style, taken from his sketch Tumblr.
An example of Terada’s “rakugaki” doodling style, taken from his sketch Tumblr.

Katsuya Terada is a Japanese illustrator and character designer, perhaps best known as the character designer behind Blood: The Last Vampire and also an illustrator for Nintendo Power‘s early issues. He spoke to me at San Diego Comic Con 2013, as he was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Painter and Multimedia Artist that year and also had a 10 year retrospective of his work .

The interview was done courtesy of Dark Horse Comics, and was conducted at their booth at SDCC.

How does it feel to be nominated for the “Best Painter and Multimedia Artist” Eisner award this year?

Frankly, I’m surprised…just the mere fact that I got nominated for it is an honor. If I don’t win, it doesn’t matter, but the mere fact that I was nominated is enough. [ED note: the winner for that category that year was Juanjo Guarnido, another Dark Horse artist.]

What inspired you to do a darker version of the Monkey King/Journey to the West (Saiyuki) story, and what do bring to it that’s special or different?

Everyone grew up with the tale of Saiyuki; even Osamu Tezuka did his version. When Son Goku is put in a cave…someone who’s been crammed up for years in a mountain is naturally going to tend you towards violence—a natural reaction to that situation. I don’t think that’s really been depicted before.

You have a philosophy of illustration called rakugaki (short illustrations or doodlings wherever you go). How have you developed that philosophy over the years?

It’s an impulsive thing…I’ll take a pencil and think, “that’s a cool thing,” and especially being able to depict things to exist or don’t exist that are or would be three dimensions in a two dimensional way. That excites me, being able to go around and say “I can depict that, I can depict that.”

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Recently a 10 year retrospective of your work was released. How have your thoughts about art changed over the past decade?

I haven’t changed that much…maybe I couldn’t draw as much 10 years ago, perhaps, not because I was a worse artist, but there were things I couldn’t depict then that I can now. I do feel more satisfied with my art now, personally. I want to be able to look at things 10 years from now, 20 years from now, and be able to say to myself, “I’m impressed.” A lot of what I do, especially the rakugaki work, is for my personal entertainment, but I want to be able to draw things that I can show to other as well.

You are perhaps best known in the US as the character designer behind Blood: The Last Vampire. Have you been approached by other anime studios to do other designs, and is that something you’d like to pursue further if given the chance?

I did character designs before and after Blood: The Last Vampire, for games and anime. I don’t think I would gravitate toward doing just character design…ultimately character design is just drawing pictures, and that’s always just part of my work. There’s some work that perhaps you may not have heard about, like for Korean games that you might not be able to access in the US…but it’s just a part of drawing pictures for me.

A Legend of Zelda illustration from Nintendo Power by Terada.
A Legend of Zelda illustration from Nintendo Power by Terada.

You’re also well known for doing illustrations for the older Nintendo Power issues, and they were very impressionistic. What do you see the role of a game illustrator being in a time when video game graphics have become so sophisticated?

It’s still very necessary. Back in the day, due to the limited graphics, you were kind of projecting the characters from the art onto the game…now, the process is just more direct, but it’s the exact same thing in many ways. It’s like in the movies where the graphics are so good that you can’t tell the difference anymore. It’s like the importance of having a movie poster.

What would you give as advice for aspiring artists and illustrators?

When you are young, you have all this ambition, you can’t think you can fail. But when you get older, sometimes all you can see is where you’re lacking, which is kind of unsatisfying. So when you’re young, find out what’s out there, find out what needs to be done, and pursue that.