I’m really loving these live sketches! They allow the guest to further elaborate on their discussions and show a bit of playfulness. Slightly different from the other two live sketch panels, Sonoda-san requested questions involving some type of visual he could draw while answering the question.
Similar to my reaction to Shiki Douji, Kenichi Sonoda’s appearance surprised me a bit since most of his more famous works aired in the 80s and 90s. Of his anime, I am familiar only with BubblegumCrisis. He is also well known for Gunsmith Cats, Otaku no Video, Riding Bean, and Gall Force.
I was frankly surprised to see Shiki Douji listed as a guest at this year’s Sakura-Con, given that Full Metal Panic! last aired with a sequel in 2006. However, upon further research, I see now that there is a new work coming out later this fall. I feel that the convention could have promoted this new work a bit more, or at least should have highlighted Shiki Douji’s appearance more so old fans and possible new fans could unite at her panels. Then again, I was unable to sit in on her first panel, so perhaps that drew a larger crowd than this second session.
Douji-sensei was very sweet and took her time answering each person’s question. She saved her live drawing for the end, so was rushed for time during that segment. It was nostalgic remembering my love for the anime as I listened to her, and I’m excited to see the new show later this year. And yes, Fumoffu! is the best!
Chikashi Kubota is perhaps most recently known for his character design and animation work on One-Punch Man, though I am personally more invested in his work on Shinsekai Yori. This was a straight Q&A, where audience members came up to the mic.
I believe Kubota-san may have been one of the younger Japanese guests in attendance, and it was endearing seeing his exuberance in chatting with his American fans and describing his experiences in Seattle. As he works in animation, I would love to see him visit again and do some live drawing. I became a bit spoiled from the other panels that did this!
Something new at this year’s Sakura-Con, and to any convention I have personally attended, was the live sketch format. For almost all past panels, the main format included some type of Q&A with lecturing, as well as the occasional promotional video or full screening.
This live sketch Q&A involved Yasuhiro Irie having prepared live models from attendees in advance for him to draw while simultaneously answering questions from the audience. His ability to multi-task with rough sketching and talking set the bar high for future panels of this nature. He not only answered questions and directed the models, he also did so with a cheery demeanor that maintained a positive atmosphere for the session.
Kicking off my Sakura-Con panels for 2017 was “Hiroshi Nagahama and His Love for American Comics,” where Nagahama-san gushed on for the full hour, showing us classic American comics and figurines on the overhead projector.
Nagahama-san is well known for his directing in shows like Mushishi, Detroit Metal City, and Aku no Hana, as well as his key animation in Fruits Basket (OP/ED), Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Birdy the Mighty (episode 1). In addition to discussing American comics, he also touched briefly on his upcoming work with Stan Lee, The Reflection.
Despite the majority of the panel running in the style of a lecture, I greatly enjoyed witnessing his exuberance for the topic. His passion shone through his voice and gestures. He did answer a couple of questions at the end of the panel. If you enjoy this transcription, please be sure to come back and read my coverage of his panel on The Reflection.
Spring time means not only new shows, but also Sakura-Con! I will be attending the Seattle, WA convention for all three days. If you plan on visiting this year, please feel free to say hi–I can be reached on Twitter. Below is a list of the events most interesting to me:
Hiroshi Nagahama and His Love for American Comics; Making of The Reflection
(Director of Mushishi)
Black Butler The Movie Washington Premiere (dub)
Live Drawing with Yasuhiro Irie
(Director of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and most recently Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume)
Chikashi Kubota Q&A; Panel 2
(Animation director for Space Dandy, One Punch Man, and Shin Sekai Yuri)
Seattle Video Game Orchestra Performance
Shiki Douji Live Sketch Q&A
(Character designer for Full Metal Panic!)
Kenichi Sonoda and His Artist Career; Kenichi Sonoda Live Sketch Q&A
(Manga author of GunSmith Cats; Character designer for Bubblegum Crisis)
World Premiere of Shinjuku Satomi Hakkenden with Yaushiro Irie (sub)
I typically prioritize Japanese guest panels since I appreciate their time and attention in flying over to the U.S. and sharing our enjoyment for their works. As a whole, the guests I’ve seen in past years of this convention have been engaging, with the exception of some translator and technical hiccups. I’m particularly excited this year for the handful of live sketches; this will be my first time experiencing this type of panel. Per usual, I will try to transcribe or summarize the panels I attend for you in my coverage later in the week.
If you are attending, let me know what you’re most excited about! As a local, I’ll also be happy to provide any recommendations for food and activities in the area.
In the hopes of shedding my winter gear and moving into the spring, I’ve decided to continue on with this second part of my season wrap. I may or may not give my final thoughts on Tales of Zestiria the X after the last episode airs at the end of the month (05.13.17 edit: Zestiria review can be read here).
Overall, this winter season treated me remarkably well, with a couple of gems I would include in a top-30-of-all-time list. It’s not often that a series comes along I can definitively say exemplifies the possibilities of anime as a medium for storytelling, or that transcends its art style in such a way that anime skeptics can still appreciate. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka are two such titles.
In addition to these pillars, there are also several shows that have already become cult classics, such as Kemono Friends and Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon. These anime understood and executed their roles perfectly, capturing the hearts and loyalty of their audience almost from the beginning. Maybe I can’t provide a synopsis about either to a non-anime viewer without raising some eyebrows, but that doesn’t change the fact that these characters had a powerful impact on me. Shows like Kemono Friends remind me to see the best in myself and others no matter how bleak the surroundings. That’s a particularly important reminder these days.
ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
Kuzu no Honkai
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season
I stumbled across yet another Netflix gem in the form of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, a continuation of a popular Japanese live action series with three earlier seasons and two movies. I had actually seen a bit of the first season, Shinya Shokudo, several years ago with FoxyLadyAyame, but I cannot recall if we ever finished it. This realization didn’t hit me until I started watching Tokyo Stories and many of the setting and character details felt familiar. You do not actually need to watch any of the prequels to appreciate the 4th-season Netflix original, as the stories are episodic in nature. You can even watch them out of order if you like, though I do think the last episode perfectly wraps up the sentiment of the show and the bar where everyone intersects.
I’ve started to notice blossoms along the path I take when walking my dog, and I haven’t had to adjust the heater for a few weeks now, so I guess winter is finally coming to an end. As much as I detest being cold, I hate heat even more, so it is with mixed emotions that I say farewell to the winter season. There were a number of gems this time around that I am sad to see end, namely 3-gatsu no Lion, Demi-chan, and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. They each impacted me in unique ways and left me thoughtful of my own relationships and contributions.
This anime season seemed to fly by even more quickly than usual, perhaps due to me actually keeping on schedule for the first time in a long while. I have decided to split my season review into a couple of posts, largely because Tales of Zestiria the X announced a delayed final episode. If you don’t see one of your favorite shows listed immediately below, see if it is included in my list at the end of this review.
As promised in my 12 Days post on playing Tales of Graces f and Symphonia, I picked up another Tales of game and finished it within a few weeks. Tales of Xillia is a 2011 title that came to America in 2013 on the PS3 and, like most of the titles in the series, includes combat co-op. The story runs along a clear line, battle allows for interesting combinations, and many dated and irritating qualities of older titles are removed. Long-time fans, however, will likely knock Xillia in several fields: story, setting, combat, and missing elements that are signatures of the franchise. On the whole, I enjoyed the game and would recommend it as a possible entrance point for new players to the franchise.