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Anime Expo - Thursday Report

By Andrew Tei     July 05, 2002

Opening Ceremonies





















































The cell phone rings....I glance at the clock and see its 8:30, who dares
disturb my slumber. Its wolve, he's arrived at the convention and decided to
wake me up. I know who I'm gonna lock today. After getting prepped for the
rest of the day, I notice that the other two AOD reporters are still asleep
so I head off to opening ceremonies to meet up with wolve.



Wow, the line for the opening ceremonies is huge! Much better than I remember
from last year. I guess there's an advantage of having your opening day on
the fourth of July. But wolve and I slip into the separate press line and
enjoy a nice 3rd row seat, where I talk with Trisha from Sequential Tart until
AX starts letting in the crowd. As the crowd files in, there is a cello
player and a violin player on stage playing music from various anime and
video games. Evangelion OP, White Reflection, Fushigi Yugi OP, Escaflowne OP,
Zelda, and Mario themes were greatfully received by the audience. Finally, at
the end the player, Kimberly and Michele Kwan graced the audience with a
selection of Kenshin music.



Stephanie then started opening ceremonies by Puffy AmiYumi coming on stage to
mention that they are beginning a US tour. Next up was singer Yoko Ishida,
who was a guest of Pioneer Music which will be releasing Para Para Remix CDs
in the US. Ms Ishida then sang a selection of remixes for the audience that
included Eva OP, AMG OP, and another AMG song.



Next, we had video footage from the two Guest of Honors who would not be able
to make opening ceremonies. Koichi Mashimo, the director of Noir and
.hack//sign sent in video footage for the inside of the studio he works at,
Tsukasa Hojo, the creator of City Hunter. made a hilarious video of the
workings of Raijin Comics.



Hiroaka Goda, the director of the AMG series was first up, followed by
Hidenori Matsubara, the animation director for the AMG movie and the
character design for Sakura Taisen. Maria Kawamura, the voice actress of Naga
the Serpent from Slayers was next, who demonstrated the wonderful laugh that
Naga does several times. Hideyuki Kurata, the creator of Read or Die was next
and had a memorable quote after finding out US fans actually knew what Read
or Die was. "Watch it by any means possible." Don't take that too literally
though. Koji Masunari, the director of Read or Die, an dMasashi Ishihama, the
character designer for the Read or Die anime were next. Toshiharu Murata, the
mecha designer of Blue Submarine No. 6, and the car designer for eX-Driver.
Mamiko Noto was next,t, who is best know for being the voice actress of
Kotori Monou from X, and Rin from Inu Yasha. Last but not least, Nobuhiro
Watsuki, the creator of Kenshin was brough out, who being of large statue,
felt a bit timid in front of so many fans.



So after all of that, it was time for another song performance, this time by
Maria Kawamura as she performed the theme song for Naga. Again, we were
graced by Naga's laugh.



The Nippon Technical College was next with some students from their voice
actressing classes performed a live dubbing of Galaxy Angels for the
audience.



And finally, Goda, filled in the left eye of the daruma to start Anime Expo!
Only running about 45 minutes late at this point.


Well, its off to panels! Be sure to check back in the evening for Thursday's
reports.



Studio Gonzo




Shoji Murahama and translator (perhaps Yoko Kawahara) were present at
the panel.


**NOTE: Apologies in advance for any errors / omissions. The
translator had a very strong accent and was difficult to understand.



Shoji Murahama did a presentation via Powerpoint slides and some video
promo clips. He started off by showing video clips of a few new/newer
anime shows. The first clip was from Saikano, Murahama did not mention
much about it. Next was a trailer of Gonzo's upcoming Yukikaze anime.
This show is being created using 3D CG animation techniques (think Blue
Submarine 9) and is currently in production. The first R2
dvd is out on 8/25. I was impressed by the animation and feel it's
something like a mix of Blue Sub 9, Full Metal Panic and Macross Plus. The
third and last promo video was one for Hellsing which seemed similar to
the one on recent Pioneer R1s (probably the same).


Murahama then quickly went over a list of titles that came out in the
past year. These included Full Metal Panic, Real Bout High School,
Final Fantasy: Unlimited, i-wish you were here, and Vandread: 2nd Stage.


New titles coming out from Gonzo include the following:


  • Gad Gad - Murahama showed some character designs/sketches on his
    laptop

  • Gravion - project from Masumi Obari, mecha anime series

  • Kiddy Grade - project from Keiji Gotoh, hard sci-fi anime

  • Exile - project from Range Murata, the production designer is
    Mahiro Maeda

  • Yukikaze

  • Gatekeepers 21 - 2 episode is done, director of 3rd ep is "Sato??"
    (I most likely got the name wrong)

  • Saikano - project from Mitsuko Kase (director of Gundam 0083), main
    character is a girl in high school.



After going over this list of upcoming titles, Murahama opened the
floor to questions. Here's a run down of some of them:


  • Q) Why was GK 21 ep 2 delayed?
    A) Murahama apologizes for the
    delay but does not give a straight answer.

  • Q) Someone asked about Yukikaze's storyline
    A) Murahama went
    into a rather long explanation, most of which I did not catch (I didn't
    understand much of what the translator said)

  • Q) Will there be a sequel to Hellsing?
    A) Murahama said he would
    like to make one, but it might be hard to.

  • Q) How many eps will Gravion be?
    A) 26

  • Q) How many eps will Exile be?
    A) 26

  • Q) How many eps will Saikano be?
    A) 13

  • Q) Now that Gonzo has expanded quite a bit, how do they plan to
    expand in the future?
    A) Gonzo finished expanded this year and is now
    aiming to increase the quality of their current & future titles. They
    are planning to make a movie and do 5 TV series per year.



Report by Jason Yeh(Wolve)




Animeigo



Scott Carlson, Mike Morton, and Natsumi Ueki were present.


They do not have any new titles to announce, however they had a written
note from Robert Woodhead starting that they could not confirm or deny
the existence of Animeigo, Japan, and various other things.


They are working on producing some Samurai Films, with some titles
expecting for late summer. These are Lone Wolf and Cub 1 & 2 and
Zatoichi.


Crusher Joe is being released on a DVD10 with one side containing movies
and the other containing the OVAs.


Urusei Yatsura Boxset #4 is being produced and will contain motion
menus.
Urusei Yatsura Movie "Only You" is being dubbed and will have a
bilingual DVD.


You're under Arrest Boxset #1 is on track for a October release with it
stressed that this is tentative at best.
You're under Arrest Boxset #2 is expected for December with the same
caveat.
You're under Arrest OVA's are being treated as the first 4 episodes of
the TV Series, Animeigo says that they are essentially the same as the
original tv episodes with minor differences in positions of fadein/out
among other things.
They will not be redubbing these episodes, but they are retaining most
of the important voice actors from the OVAs.


KOR Reauthoring with proper openings should be completed by the end of
July with replication being done by the end of August.


Animeigo will likely do polls on new titles to acquire on their website.


On another note, Shin Kurokawa left Animeigo about 2 months ago and his
last project at the time was production on You're Under Arrest.


Report by Daniel Hong(Merliwolf)



Newtype

























































John, Mr. Sugi from Kadokawa, Watanbe Newtype Japan editor were present at the panel.



Kadokawa is 50 years old, started with novels and info magazines 15 years ago. Now also he is also involved in animation and feature films. Japanese producres have become conscious of foreign markets in recent years. Several foreign companies were interested in foreign versions of newtype(recent Korean version)



Mr. Watanabe then took over the panel. New Type is 18 years old in Japan and it is still the best selling anime magizine there. It covers all moving images. Newtype is LONG (page length, better layouts), plus quicker than most others to cover things. Direct interviews with creators lead to better articles. DVD can include an ep of Patlabor and interview special deals with the magazine. At AX, we got the ADV catalog as an extra DVD in magazine. The new Gundam should be covered in August Japanese NewType issue.



John Ledford says there will be fair and unbiased reporting on all companies. Japan will be covered, the US, UK, Europe, and Austrailia. It will be Japanese bound, mean read from right to left. One Newtype USA difference will be a centerfold (John's turning red). A DVD will be in almost every issue, and not just material from ADV.



ADV will be handling the distro for it, and you will be able to order it from previews. The newsstand price hasn't been set yet, but it will probably be between $10-$12.



Notes by Mariela Ortiz(Sapphire), edited by Andrew Tei(Reikun) and Jason Yeh(Wolve)




Media Blasters



































































































Meredith Mulroney (Queen) ran this panel - which started late due to several panels before it running late.



While not anime related _all_ their Tokyo Shock titles will have a theatrical release. Also they now have . . . Kaiju Big Batle. For those who don't know, this is a group of people who dress up as very messed up "giant mosters" and wrestle and detroy a "city". It's priceless - and engrish filled.



The titles they announced are, 7 of Seven, Iria (from CPM's lost license), Tales of Eternia, Seraphim Call, Sentimental Journey, and Yume de Atera(defintely TV, Queen was unsure about the OVAs



Virtua Fighter . . . someday . . . just not priority, with 12 titles total a month and only 4 video people and 3 graphic designers. The 2nd season of it might not be dubbed (which is funny since the VHS has been dub only so far) most likely in sets like Zenki.




The ex-D disc (which is in the dealer's room I'm told) has many extras, and the second disc will have more. Included over the course of the release are things like a bonus clip of the cast and crew going go-carting, interviews with the cast and and the cast using RC cars. They don't have the movie yet - its an option for the future.




Berserk doing well - but some people not just not getting the box and disc 1 idea, they get confused and ask where the rest of the discs are.



No kenshin box . . . this year. After? Maybe. For all we know, they may stick the speicials in a box . . . but nothing on any of that till 2003.
Stellar Buster Miko begins this fall.



Weiss Kruez is selling better than she wishes. Its outsold Mezzoforte to her shock.



When it comes to a title that had an adult AND a general release the versions sell about the same - or AW version sells better.
Should Berserk 2 happen - MB does not have a say in it.



Someone is planning on making a live action US Kite film, but she didn't know which company. They got Iria because the licensor like what they did with Zeriam 2. So we'll be seeing Iria packaged with other Zeriam things, but there aren't too many details - too often even finished deals can be reneged so they have to be careful. Deals can be pretty strange. A recent one covered a great amount of titles and "one to be named later" Its almost like a baseball trade.



There is so much adult anime in Japan, that it is very easy to get new titles for Kitty titles, so there will always be more titles there.



Report by Mariela Ortiz(Sapphire)




Urban Vision



































































Rhona Medina Marketting manager, ran the panel.



There is no new information on the Ninja Scroll TV series yet. There will be at least 13 episodes.



Since Bloodlust got a Japanese audio track in Region 2, guess what? Urban Vision will be releasing a director's relase of the dvd with the Japanese audio, possible DTS, and other extras, including more storyboards. This will not be released until earliest next year.



Rhona mentioned a line call Lil'Vision from Urban Vision aimed at kids. One title on the line include Strange Dawn VHS edited down.



About the Strange Dawn editing, apparently Urban Vision was having "timing" issues with it, and that's why they inserted new audio.



About the back catalog, Urban Vision doesn't have DVD right for a lot of them, and that includes Final Fantasy.



Also, Urban Vision prefer production to aquisition as they get more input in the product.



Notes by Mariela Ortiz(Sapphire), report written by Andrew Tei(Reikun) and Jason Yeh(Wolve)




Shoujo Manga/Anime











This is type of panel I rarely get to go to these day - not an industry panel, not a guest panel - a fan run panel to discuss a topic. In this case, shoujo anime and manga. And what a time to be discussing that. The panelist were Alex Lau (who basically founded this panel as an AX tradition), Jerry (whose last name I never got) and Mandy and Emily from Okashina Okashi. Emily is also known for her Random Shoujo Manga Page.










This was a pretty well attended panel too! Some of the industry panels had much less people. And apparently a lot of returning folks from years past. My co-reporter being one of those who returned. The discussion from the last year consisted of Alex and Jerry showing clips of old 70's and 80's shoujo with commentary on the themes and history of these shows.










A lot of the discussion this year was on the world of shoujo post Sailor Moon. Because while Sailor Moon's influence on shoujo in the US cannot be disputed - it changed a lot in Japan as well. It changed how shoujo was marketed (suddenly product placement because the new game - anyone who has seen Marmalade Boy can attest to that), and it raised the stakes. It also altered the magical girl formula by fusing it with sentai. To the point where in the US older magical girl shows that lack fighting seem abnormal. Of course since the ante must be upped - the joke was that the successor to the short skirts of SM were the garters of Tokyo Mew Mew.










Also discussed were the current crop of shoujo anime on TV in Japan right now. Not surprising to me is that the ones brought up represent the Big Three in Shoujo. Full Moon wo Sagashite (Ribon), Tokyo Mew Mew (Nakayoshi) and Mirumo de Pon! (Ciao). These are all aimed at a similar age group (Mirumo skewing a little younger), roughly ages 8-14. The plan had been to show samples - but the panel room was one of the ones that lacked A/V.










Full Moon is about a young girl who wants to be a singer, but because of illness can't. In fact she isn't supposed to use her voice at all. But in the middle of trying to go try out in a contest anyway, she stumbles across two Shinigami (death gods literally) who let it slip she's going to die in a year. Oops. So to make it up to her they let her transform into an older version of herself (turns out she was too young for the contest anyway) and now she has a chance to be a singer. Yes, if you are thinking some sort of morbid Fancy Lala - you weren't the first. Its based on a manga by Tanemura Arina - of Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne fame.










Tokyo Mew Mew is often compared to Sailor Moon - and one can see why. Magical transformations, skimpy outfits, five girls . . . Our lovely heroine's life of school and schoolgirl crushes is interrupted by her involuntary injection with cat DNA. From an endangered mountain cat even. Really. This ends up granting her new powers, and an embarrassing tendency to sprout a tail. She's eventually joined by four other girls with their own endangered animal powers and so they defend earth from ALIENS. They also work in a dessert shop in cute maid like outfits. Gee, not trying to attract guys at all are we?










Mirumo de Pon was not so easy for the panelist to describe. While a young girl is a prominent character - the main character is actually a small, pudgy, lazy fairy - Mirumo. He's supposed to get sent to Earth to finish up his training, but doesn't want to. Well he gets sent anyway, and a young girl ends up buying a "magic cup" and getting him instead. So you see, she has a crush on a boy but can't tell him. But Mirumo isn't helpful - though he does eventually get her the seat next to the boy. But a rival girl gets the seat on the other side - thanks to another fairy . . . Chaos will probably ensue.










Amusing (to me anyway) was the fact it was a comment from me which lead to the next big topic - defining shoujo anime. I mentioned a missing shoujo title from the list - Juuni Kokki. This was met with some confusion - after all it has no manga, its based on novels. But as I found out (in my usual weird ways) - its a shoujo line of novels. In fact there are two versions - one aimed at older girls one aimed at younger girls. So a spirited discussion on the meaning of shoujo - the fact it isn't a genre per se - rather a marketing designation, and anime's cross over appeal ensued. I'm afraid there isn't much support for calling Strawberry Eggs shoujo. ^_^










Another title mentioned was Angelic Layer, which is shounen, but gets confused as shoujo considering the content and the fact it is created by CLAMP - an team known for their shoujo manga. AL has their fingerprints all over it, which leads to confusion, but running in Shounen Ace pretty much kills the discussion after a while. Some panelists were mostly trying to make a point that a show's content doesn't necessarily coincide with whether it is shoujo or shounen. A highly violent anime can be shoujo. A love story can be shounen. Also it was mentioned that some shows have both a shoujo and shounen manga and therefore technically count as both. (Or at least the creators where very much selling to both groups!) Prime examples being Escaflowne and Mahou Tsukai Tai. Of course, Kadokawa just loves to confuse this issue. Why Bebop gets its two manga run in a shoujo magazine, we'll probably never know.










This was also my first chance to see the Gonzo system of prize giveaways - jan ken po. Which is, pardon the pun, a gonzo way of giving things away. All in all, a rather enjoyable panel. It will be interesting to see how the panels at Shoujocon compare.










Danny : I've been to the panels for two years running and had great time learning more from some true shoujo addicts. They bring some really friendly personalities to the panel and make it a fun experience for everyone.










Written by Mariela Ortiz(Sapphire) with contributions from Danny Hong(Merliwolf)













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