Tohru Furuya (the original Tuxedo Mask and Gundam’s Amuro Ray) and Yuko Minaguchi (the original Sailor Saturn), appeared together for a Q&A session at Anime Weekend Atlanta. They had a lot to share about the old days of voice acting and some really interesting stories about Satoshi Kon and Yoshiyuki Tomino in particular appeared. Minaguchi was also charmingly blunt about some of the things she sees around cons.
Mobile Suit Gundam celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and creator Yoshiyuki Tomino (富野 由悠季) was the guest of honor at New York Anime Festival. Anime Diet recorded his keynote address.
(Edit, 9-30, 10:13 AM: the progress bar and time are now working. Plus, the video is watermarked, for the convenience of all the video thieves out there.)
Tomino was very dignified throughout his appearance at the convention. In keeping with his professional demeanor, he made a great effort to be polite. Even when asked directly, he refused to say anything bad about his experiences working with Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム). It has been widely observed that in the early days, Tezuka’s budget was tight and his deadlines were brutal, which many have speculated may have led to a hostile working environment. During the Q&A session following his speech, Tomino suggested that anime creation in general creates friction, noting, “If working together with others was easy, I would have produced thirty more works like Gundam.”
In person at his autograph signing, Tomino was charming and playful, joking with fans, posing for pictures, and drawing smiley faces alongside his autographs. However, his patience was tried by a poor translator, who was unable to keep up with him despite stopping him a few times to request clarifications. A bit of checking revealed that the translator used for Tomino had prior experience in translation, but almost none in live translation. The translator apparently wanted the honor of handling the keynote address, and Tomino assented, a decision that he later regretted. At just over nine minutes into his speech, Tomino’s staff issued a statement that “a proper translation will be available later,” causing a strong reaction from the frustrated audience.
To be fair, Tomino’s discussion became very complex. I was not able to follow it all myself. Essentially, his rhetoric went along the lines of, “A picture may be beautiful, but that alone does not make cinema. A story may be excellent, but it alone does not make cinema. What is it, then, that elevates work to the level of cinema? It is only through the synthesis of disparate elements from different creators that cinema is produced.”
It was an attempt by one of Japan’s finest creative minds to give a deep discussion of art, and I truly appreciated being in the presence of a genius willing to share a glimpse of how he viewed his work.
In our roundtable discussion on whether or not anime is art, Ray brought up an excellent point about that infamous scifi-fantasy-loli-pantsu fanservice vehicle, Strike Witches. To wit, though the show has actual fodder for intellectual discussion, the mere fact that it shows school girls in a permanent pantyshot state renders this moot for the vast majority of viewers. You cannot rehabilitate such a thing, the argument goes. No amount of light will overpower this darkness.
Nevertheless, with licensing confirmed for S1 and a second season reportedly on the way, an attempt should be made to see just what is good about this show. And so, with both eyes open – fully cognizant of the anti-intellectual properties of the show – let us try to find some spark of creativity inside.
From the New York Times:
After years of fretting over coming shortages, the country is actually facing a dwindling number of young people entering engineering and technology-related fields.
Universities call it “rikei banare,” or “flight from science.” The decline is growing so drastic that industry has begun advertising campaigns intended to make engineering look sexy and cool, and companies are slowly starting to import foreign workers, or sending jobs to where the engineers are, in Vietnam and India.
It was engineering prowess that lifted this nation from postwar defeat to economic superpower. But according to educators, executives and young Japanese themselves, the young here are behaving more like Americans: choosing better-paying fields like finance and medicine, or more purely creative careers, like the arts, rather than following their salaryman fathers into the unglamorous world of manufacturing.
Mike’s Take: how can the Japanese build a Gundam now? Are all the techie talents too busy writing Clannad viruses than actually, well, building a tech economy? Japan is doomed I say. DOOOOOMED! The Holy Empire of Britannia will take them over with their Knightmares.
I say this as a person, in many ways, who fits the profile described in the third paragraph. I have a computer science degree, but also an English degree, and after two unsatisfying years as a programmer, I’m studying theology now. Computer science at the University of Maryland was often grueling and for me overly challenging, and about half of my classmates dropped the major by the time I graduated. Engineering and comp sci is hard, and it will always be so unless you are naturally talented at it; I felt like quitting many many times throughout and desperately wished, like Zhong also does, that I had magic powers that would suddenly fix my programming projects and retroactively hand them in on time without memory leaks. I never really had a head for it, so I ended up doing something else.
One wonders if the note that many are pursuing the “arts” instead really means pursuing a career in the anime and manga business: the new destination for geeks. Instead of actually having to design things that work, with all that pesky math and science…you can just imagine them! As a fantasy writer myself, believe me, I understand the appeal. One is much easier than the other.
As for making engineering “sexy and cool”: good luck, fellas. Those are not the two words I would use to describe my classmates in computer science–I got along with them well, don’t get me wrong. We were nerds, and we were proud of it. And since the only kind of person anywhere who would actually want to go through the ordeal of becoming an engineer in Japan is a nerd, I’m taking bets the recruiting poster will look something like this:
That should attract the right people to the profession! Japan: get moving. Or else the glorious future full of giant robots, ass-kicking stoic cyborgs, and android maids who look like 15 year old girls will never come true.
Man it’s been a while! This was recorded on Thanksgiving weekend, hence the Turkey Bowl and the Thanksgiving references, but I was unable to find time to edit due to school, the plane not having plugs, and most consequentially, a family medical emergency this week. But here it is…our sweet 16 episode, in which we take on Death Notes in Virginia, Pizza Hut in anime, and Odex all over the world (snicker). Our roundtable “Turkey Bowl” talks about the year’s projected winners and losers, including Gundam 00, Claymore, Lucky Star, ef-a tale of memories, Hayate no Gotoku, Ghost Hound–just to name a few. And Monty Python references.
I wanted to include more sound effects, but I don’t have the time…it’s also my first time using Soundtrack Pro rather than Garageband to put this one together. Soundtrack Pro is a sweeeeet piece of Apple software, and it makes certain editing tasks so much easier. I’m still learning the ropes, though.
- OP: “Sora ni Saku (宇宙(そら)に咲く)” by Lisa Komine (Rental Magica OP)
- ED: “STAR RISE” by Ryou Hirohashi, Megumi Toyoguchi, Sachiko Kojima, Houko Kuwashima & Rina Satou” (Bamboo Blade ED)
- All Monty Python sound clips are from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- The story about the Virginia Death Note can be found at Anime News Network (1). See the electronic Death Note site here (2).
- The story about the Marimite Pizza Hut promotion can be found at ANN (3). See our exclusive interview with Yukana here (4).
- The story about the Odex international incident is here at ANN (5). See a backup of the hacked website here (6).
…the Ministry of Defense is! From Anime News Network:
The Technical Research and Development Institute in Japan’s Ministry of Defense has posted on its website the program for its Heisei 19 Research Paper Presentation: Defense Technology Symposium 2007 on October 29, and the November 7-8 symposium’s schedule includes a ground equipment exhibit titled: “Towards the Realization of Gundam (Advanced Personal Equipment System).” The exhibit runs alongside another one for a “Miniature Robot (for Reconnaissance and Data Gathering).”
Mike’s take: LOLOLOLOL so life really does imitate art sometimes! My guess though that this is the Japanese equivalent of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the US, the Pentagon subagency that gave us the Internet, Total Information Awareness complete with a creepy Illuminati logo, and is currently looking into autonomous robots themselves right now (they have a robotics competition every year). They even once had a head who was literally called Poindexter! The US army is also working on personal exoskeletons for soldiers too. But this is robot-mad Japan. If anyone can do it, or think it, it would be them first. They have so many models, plamos, and garage kits to work from after all. And a very willing population in Akihabara to help them.
To the Japanese Ministry of Defense I wish them a successful Gundam ikimasu! May you recruit dozens of angsty young teenage boys to work for their researcher fathers soon and reconsider the meaning of war and violence.
Wait, that kind of music!!!???
Between the three bloggers on this site, it looks like we’ve covered pretty much every major show except Shana 2 (none of us have seen season 1). This is my opinion on shows we’ve already covered: Blue Drop, Dragonaut, ef-a tale of memories, Gundam 00, Genshiken 2, and Mokke. You can read Ray’s articles in the links provided.
Now that’s more like it. If there was ever a show that was calculated to make me swallow yuri, it would be this one. :) It’s the only show this whole season that to me as any degree of genuine aesthetic beauty–beautiful music, beautiful imagery, emotional nuance (with one slight misstep in an unnecessary slapstick scene near the end in the cafeteria). It is slow, though, slow on the edge of boring, but given my tastes for European art film, I didn’t find it unbearable in the least. Mari is already an interesting character, though Senkouji, the alien girl, is still a rather blank personality so far (despite her sudden KILL ALL HUMANS activation program or something). The flowers were also a bit much, I think, a bit too shoujo-y for even my taste, and certainly all the hint we need that sometime soon there will be wink-wink-nudge-nudge-saynomore going on. Lovers always start by fighting. But I found the birds around Senkouji in the start to be rather beautiful. Gonzo did a good job animating that scene.
I am keeping a close eye on this one. I need some seriousness in my diet too, you know.
Continue reading Mike’s Fall 2007 Remainder Roundup
ANN reports that six of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries employees were caught and reprimanded for updating Gundam articles on Wikipedia. Ministry offcial Tsutomu Shimomura publicly stated that “the agriculture ministry is not in charge of Gundam,” in case anyone had thought otherwise.
Ray’s take: I really wish I could call this the “fake news”, but it’s not. I mean, this confirms my suspicion that there’s a secret government funded weapons development project code named “GUNDAM” underway under the building of the the Ministry. I mean, who would’ve guessed that the secret weapons factory is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries??? However, this “information leak” may very well cause the Zeon military from Side 3 to launch an attack…
Check it out, the characters actually acknowledge their hypocrisy! It’s like people in Gundam Wing actually wake up and say, “hey look, we’re starting to war to end a war??? As in, we’re fighting to stop fighting? What type of fucking idiom is that?”
That, my friends, was enough to impress me.