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.*
My third year back at Sakura-Con, I again went with KWoo for all three days. This year, I spent more time in panels and less time running around the Dealer’s Hall / Artist Alley and taking cosplay pictures. I’m not sure the reason for the shift in attention, but I found myself more interested in listening to the guests from Japan discuss their works and process than on throwing down more money on dust collectors. This years guests covered a few major franchises: Blazblue, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV), and Sword Art Online. A big surprise was the amount of time spent on WIT’s recent show, Rolling Girls, which received its own panel on top of the industry panel.
Note: I originally planned to transcribe the panels I attended, but due to the poor audio quality of my recordings, I decided to skip unless specifically requested by readers. Please let me know if there are any particular panels you would like me to transcribe.
My first year to be an official registrant at the Seattle Sakura-Con, this is also the first convention I have attended with someone else by my side–while I do make a point to meet up with various blogger and Twitter friends at each convention, I have never traveled to and spent the majority of my time with one particular person. Thanks to KWoo for being my convention buddy!
As usual, I will be compiling all my thoughts and experiences into one massive blog post. Panel summaries will be arranged in order of attendance, with both questions and answers being paraphrased for conciseness. If you were present at any one of these panels and understood the questions or answers differently, please let me know. I’ve also placed the panels at the bottom due to their lengthiness.
So here’s the thing. I made up my mind the week before that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the convention since family obligations cropped up for that same Easter weekend. That and my full-time job shot down a good majority of the activities I would have wanted to do on Friday. BUT! As miracles and awesome bloggers would have it, I popped by after 5PM Day 1 to say hello to fellow bloggers and twitter folk, including Inushinde, Avvesione, ToastCrust, and Shinmaru, and (no naming names here) was bestowed a lovely opportunity to attend the rest of the convention. While I missed out on some of the evening activities, I still had a blast getting to meet quite a few people and attending panels in the morning and early afternoon.