It’s finally here!!! I’m so relieved to have made it through almost half of my winter anime now that Sakura-Con is over and the spring season looms ahead. This season didn’t strike in my target zone as frequently as ones previous, but there are still a handful of series worth noting.
Every year, Sakura-Con is held during Easter weekend–a busy time of year that brings together a widely celebrated holiday, the ending of the anime winter season, and the beginning of the anime spring season. To add to the already hectic schedule, Seattle also hosted presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rally and the Washington State Democratic caucus. Somehow KWoo and I survived yet another year of the convention, bringing back with us a good handful of merchandise, plenty of cosplay pictures, and a few choice panel transcriptions.
My Sakura-Con coverage this time around will be structured slightly different, particularly with the panels. In the past, I’ve varied between doing multi-day coverage and single-post coverage. I’ve decided to strike a balance between the two by discussing the general convention in this post, while dedicating individual posts to each of the guest panels whose discussions I transcribed. These more detailed panel posts are linked in this entry, as well.
After the The Anthem of the Heart screening, this panel was probably my favorite to attend because of the materials shared and the quality of guest and audience interaction. This was the second panel for Hiroyasu Kobayashi and Shigeto Koyama of Studio Khara. The Japan Animator Expo short, “Obake-chan,” played while we entered and through the start of the panel. Since I had missed out when they were available online the previous year, I was excited to see some choice excerpts here.
Unlike their previous panel, where an overbearing translator for the official, newer Eva works continually interrupted the convention translators, this one had an English translator and a Japanese translator who seamlessly kept the talk going.
The opening of this second panel for Toshihiro Kawamoto and Rie Matsumoto focused more on their roles in the anime industry as opposed to their works. It was a more laid back environment than their first panel, where Matsumoto had largely looked bored and as if she had drawn the short end of the stick to attend. Here, she actually animatedly answered questions and smiled from time to time.
My only issue with this panel was that between the two translators, the woman translator for Matsumoto was not very good; the other translator had to pick up the slack whenever she was unable to keep up with Matsumoto’s long or complicated explanations.
Another panel to focus on a franchise popular in recent years, guests Reki Kawahara and abec of Sword Art Online sat in with one of the larger audiences I saw this con. I did not attend the movie event before this panel since I was content to wait for its release further down the line in the U.S.
Kawahara Reki is the original creator of the Sword Art Online novels, as well as Accel World. He is still working on SAO installments, and was present at Sakura-Con for a second time to promote the upcoming film.
abec is the original character designer for the illustrations of SAO television series and movie.
This giant Owari on Seraph panel was a joint effort between Funimation and WIT Studio. It honestly baffles me how much this anime series is getting promoted, but I was curious to see what else they might say about the anime and future installments. Present WIT staff included Joji Wada, Ayumi Yamada, and Masashi Koizuka.
WIT Studio has been prominent at Sakura-Con for a few years, with big titles like Attack on Titan and Seraph of the End. I was curious to see what they had in store for their future. Last year’s push on The Rolling Girls was a visual delight, but ultimately an overall failure for me in regards to storytelling. They also repeatedly promoted Seraph of the End, which was visually appealing, but utterly lacking in most other aspects for both its seasons. I was in that series solely for one character, who ended up changing for the worst by the end of the most recent series.
Kawamoto Toshihiro and Matsumoto Rie were two of my most anticipated guests for this year’s convention due to their recent work with Studio BONES on Kekkai Sensen, a.k.a. Blood Blockade Battlefront.
Kawamoto Toshihiro’s arguably best known work was as character designer and animation direct of Cowboy Bebop. He also did the character design in Kekkai Sensen. He was the more animated of the two in this panel, and seemed comfortable in front of a crowd–this was his third time as a guest at Sakura-Con. He is also the founder of Studio BONES and is currently a board member.
Matsumoto Rie’s works include PreCure!, Kyousogiga, and Kekkai Sensen, where she covered various positions as director, assistant director, storyboard, and even series composition.
The panel opened with their introduction and a short promotional video of Kekkai Sensen, followed by some discussion by the guests. Photos were not allowed during this panel.
*Any transcription below is provided first through a translator’s words, then paraphrased as needed by me.*
You can thank my new-found passion for X-Files and rekindled love for Agents of Shield for my month of silence. This has been a period of American television series and hitting the gym, and my progress of spring anime has ground to a near halt. But if there’s one thing I was able to complete, it was the 4-episode-long Tabi Machi Late Show, which ran for the first four weeks of this anime season.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this show were to drop under a good majority of people’s radars. Surface-wise, the episode count and art style leave much to be desired. If others are like me, their plates are usually overloaded with what each season has to offer, and reasons to cut shows out are always welcome. One of the easiest decisions are made based on art style; this is why it took me so long to finally try Ping Pong the Animation, as well as The Tatami Galaxy. Then there’s the combination of episode count and duration—each are extremely short. I find it hard to justify spending time on a show so inconsequential as to lack the time needed for fully rounded stories and characters. I already have a difficult time justifying including full single-cours shorts in my weekly viewing! Regardless of these obstacles, Tabi Machi Late Show vaulted cleanly towards my affections. A new story with new faces was introduced each week, but the underlying themes remained the same: “good byes and journeys.”
Happy Valentine’s Day! Today’s the day of love, and what better way to celebrate it than with this season’s Ojisan to Marshmallow? This 12-episode series, each a short three minutes in length, follows Wakabayashi Iori and her affections for coworker Hige Habahiro, a large man who has eyes for nothing but his favorite brand of marshmallows. A delightful extra to the anime is the inclusion of simple, 34-second-long recipe instructions after the ending credits of most episodes. They’re the kind of treats that people of all ages with very limited equipment can make, like marshmallows on toast and marshmallow apple pie.
Taking inspiration from these recipes, I present to you chocolate marshmallows dipped in dark-chocolate and sprinkled with crushed pretzels! Props to Dessert for Two for the main recipe, which is super easy. I encourage you to give it a try!