Category Archives: Fanime

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.

Nerd Courting at Fanime 2013: The Power of an Insulated Imagination

It's kinda like that...
It’s kinda like that…

At FanimeCon this year, there was a panel that had just about every nerd’s attention in the convention. People packed into a large room to hear one man talk and then they couldn’t stop talking about what he’d shared with them during the panel the next day —and I was one of them.

It was on a hot topic that has perplexed and perturbed many a nerd: nerd courting, i.e. how to interact with people you find attractive.

Photo by Carolynn P. Sullivan
Photo by Carolynn P. Sullivan

That’s Adam Cullen, a guy who majored in dating and a nerd who knows what it’s like to try and date other nerds. His friend Eric Jacobus was also there with him, and he assisted in fielding questions from the audience during the panel. Nerd gals and guys definitely had a lot of questions on their mind concerning this topic, so many that not all of them were able to be answered during the panel. But two questions in particular stood out. They were asked back to back, yet both received almost the same answer.

Nerd Girl: “What if you’re trying to date someone from a different nerd class and they’re into different things than you’re into?”

Nerd Guy: “I’m a competitive gamer and I’m having a hard time finding a girl who is into games as much as I am. How can I find someone who’s as competitive?”

Paraphrasing here, but you understand what they’re asking: how do I relate to nerds who are a different kind of nerd than me?

Cullen explained that the nerd arena is huge now. If we apply the same analogy he used in the video, sports, it makes sense; there’s a lot of “sports” you can choose to be nerdy about today. You can’t know everything about all of it, but you can at least be open to learning a little about what you don’t know. He suggested you share things with each other. Introducing someone to something can be a great bonding experience. His example: he had never watched Doctor Who, until a girlfriend convinced him to give the show a try. Now, he’s getting a tattoo of Doctor Who next to his One Piece tattoo. And they’re still friends who can nerd out over Doctor Who together.

I managed to record the first 10 minutes of the panel’s introduction, so please enjoy the video before reading on. Sorry for the shaky hands.

Topics like the friend zone (“b.s.”), dating within your friend group (“why not?”), sex (“TALK”), and how to flirt (or how to tell if someone is flirting with you…) were discussed with many a hilarious and touching story from his own experiences. It was an honest panel room that asked their questions too, from “why do guys not give bigger girls a chance” to “I feel like my girlfriend wants to take things further, how do I tell her I’m not ready.” Open communication, Cullen stressed, is key to any kind of relationship.

And if you’re asking this question in your head: so should I not be fantasizing beforehand? Don’t worry, your imagination is not the problem. An audience member actually stood up and asked that same question. And Cullen told him no way, that’s the best part about being a nerd. So don’t try and suppress it. That was the best takeaway for this writer.

The greatness of this panel cannot be discussed in one go, but you can definitely send a message to the man himself if you wish to ask him about a problem or questions you have in this area. He made it very clear that anyone can friend him on Facebook and shoot him a message; he’s open to communicating.

If any of you are going to Anime Expo this year, definitely make it a priority to go listen to the Nerd Courting panel there.

Here’s all his media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adam.cullen.50
Forum: http://www.fictonia.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=courting
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Fictonia
Tumblr: http://fictonia.tumblr.com

Fanime 2013: Then and Now

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So the first time I attended Fanime was back in 2007. A lot of things have changed for this convention since then, one being how many people actually like anime enough to go to a convention like this, which makes it more fun and just a little more frustrating not to ragequit when you want to see certain panels or events.

California Republic of Bronies
California Republic of Bronies

Every year, FanimeCon, or simply Fanime if you please, is held in San Jose, California. It’s run by the Anime Resource Group (ARG) and it’s the largest anime convention in Northern California. They’ve got all the usual con goings-on. This year, Anime Diet interviewed some of their guests of honor; notably Takahiro Omori, director of Hell Girl, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Durarara!!, and others, along with Yumi Sato, his producer for those titles and more. We also talked to Hiroyuki Yamaga, who’s been attending Fanime before any of us had ever heard of it. He works for GAINAX, so he’s kind of a big deal and you probably like most of the anime he’s worked on. That interview will be relevant to your interests.

And do you like Power Rangers? Because we also talked to Tsuyoshi Nonaka about mecha and Iron Man’s suit design. Check out those interviews, which will be posted soon. Fanime receives some pretty impressive guests of honor every year—that much has not changed since I last attended.

Didn’t see them at the dance, which is unfortunate, they’d have given the raving furries a run for their money.
Didn’t see them at the dance, which is unfortunate, they’d have given the raving furries a run for their money.

What has changed is the number of panels and the topics their panel guests cover. Adam Cullen, whose panel “Nerd Courting” was hands down my favorite, is definitely a new panel guest that started around 3 years ago and has been a popular returning guest. I didn’t even notice it was 3 hours long; neither did the packed room. I’ll be talking about his wise words and my experience with speed dating at a convention in a separate article, so keep your eyes out for that if you’re curious.

One of the more interesting things about Fanime is that it seems to have incorporated more variation in their panel topics, not necessarily related to anime, yet still within the scope of an anime convention. There was a panel called “Diversity in Cosplay” that looked interesting; it covered convention sociology and diversity within the cosplay community. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to that one, but if any of you did, tell me how it was in the comments. The cosplayers who attend Fanime are the best I’ve ever seen IRL; it seemed like more than half the con was cosplaying. I also noticed the new phenomena of “crossover cosplay,” where two anime characters are combined in one costume. Example: Sailor Moon crossed with Pyramid Head (who we caught dancing in the game room).

Does this count? I think so. Photo credit: Michael Santa Maria, @robotmikephotos
Does this count? I think so. Photo credit: Michael Santa Maria, @robotmikephotos

Some of the things I remembered were still there, only they’d been upgraded: the 24 hour rooms showing anime were still there, but now there were categories from nostalgic titles, new ones, and “you have to see this one.” The karaoke rooms were still there, but now there was a maid cafe! And Yaoi Bingo now had one for the young bloods and one for 18+. The late night dance parties still happened, only now there was a line to get in. With bouncers. And Artist’s Alley was so big, it was now in a separate building. Everything was now bigger, and better. Which meant lines. Womp womp.

When artists are inspired by oldschool art, you get some awesome results. Artist: Jennifer Cox
When artists are inspired by oldschool art, you get some awesome results. Artist: Jennifer Cox

My only complaint: a separate network for press would have been nice. As I was trying to do my social media thing throughout the day, I was having problems uploading pictures and tweeting, to the point I just gave up. #pressproblems

Yet this convention is still my favorite I’ve ever been to, and I think it’s because the people in attendance are the best part. I talked to a lot of people who said they’d been coming for years. Even though it has grown massively in the past couple of years, they still love being there, even if there are now lines for everything. That’s a fan.