My AWA 2017 write-up which, like all of my posts, uses many words to describe very little.
Anime Weekend Atlanta 2017 marks my second out of state convention ever and like Otakon, this is a convention I had wanted to go to for probably 5+ years or so after having heard great things about it from the Anime World Order podcast. Since I’m not a student anymore I don’t have homework to prioritize. Hence these trips are doable for me now. If one of my primary reasons for visiting Otakon was to meet my anime fandom heroes (Anime World Order) and check out their panels, then it would not be a stretch to say that one of my primary reasons for visiting AWA was to do the same but for American anime fandom legends Dave Merrill (writer of the excellent Let’s Anime blog), Neil Nadelman (anime translator veteran), and anyone else who’s made rounds at the American anime convention circuit circa the 80s/90s.
I was initially wary once the schedule came out. What’s with all this fashion stuff? Isn’t there a bit too much emphasis on cosplay? Are people THAT into Japanese confectionery? What does this panel about video game streaming have anything to do with Japanese cartoons? Where’s the panels about arcane anime topics I was expecting? Indeed, my ideas of what AWA represented were perhaps 5+ years out of date. It appears the focus of the conventions had been shifting as of the recent years to areas more popular with the anime fandom at large. There was only one Japanese guest I was actually interested in but unfortunately his Q&A was scheduled opposite of Anime Hell which was one of the panels I really wanted to go to.
Seriously if I didn’t have Dave and Neil’s panels to look forward to, the panel experience would have been pretty lame for me. I do realize that this is more a consequence of my theoretical nostalgia for older anime stuff. As much as I would love the following to be the case, it’s just not a reasonable expectation to have panel programming for an anime convention in 2017 be dominated by focus on anime from the early 90s and before.
Even though I would say the overall panel experience was stronger at Otakon, the social experience at AWA was definitely stronger. I roomed with Dustin from the Anime of Yesteryear podcast, who contacted me a week before the convention to ask if I was interested in splitting my room costs. This ended up being beneficial for me beyond just financial reasons. I am bad at approaching people with whom I don’t already have some kind of pre-established acquaintanceship. Dustin on the other hand is a lot more socially capable than I am, so it was easier for me to ride on that and join him in a crowd of people some of whom I recognize, even though none of those people know me. I am probably overthinking this but in my head I’m always cautious about taking up too much time of other people, whose only chance to see their anime fandom friends are once a year at an anime convention. I tried to respect that as much as possible, both at Otakon and AWA.
AWA started officially on Thursday but I arrived Friday morning. As far as I could tell from Anitwitter, the best part of Thursday was the Super Happy Fun Sell event where people sell off their personal collection of anime/manga/etc. product that they no longer want. People were buying LDs and VHS tapes in 2017! Alright, onto the actual day-by-day breakdown. Get ready for tons of superfluous text.
So by the time I got to the convention I was extremely sleep deprived (operating on 4 hours of sleep) and remained that way for the whole day.
Everything You Know is Tatsunoko
This was the first panel of the convention for me, and the sort of panel I was expecting there to be more of before I looked at the schedule. I don’t any first-hand experience with the series Tatsunoko produced but I am aware of some of their early titles important to American fandom (Mach Go Go Go and Gatchaman, known as Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets respectively in America). In fact, my direct experience with anything Tatsunoko is me really liking the intro (outro?) to Gatchaman and singing it karaoke style in bunch of a front of engineering faculty and graduate students at Tokyo University. Apparently I left an impression on them. I guess the graduate students had no idea what Gatchaman was and the faculty did not know what to make of some undergraduate kid from America in 2013 singing an opening to an anime from their childhood, in the 70s.
This was definitely not an introductory panel. It was like listening to the AWO podcast for the first time, where I’d be lost in a sea of name drops with little to no explanation or contextualization. Okay I wasn’t THAT lost during the panel but I would have gotten a lot more out of it with more knowledge beforehand, and actually having slept properly. I should have taken down more notes (which I could have on paper because for some reason every seat had an accompanying notepad and pen) to look up stuff later. This isn’t a knock against the panelists at all. In fact, I commend them for catering to more of a hardcore crowd. I want MORE of those kinds of panels at any anime convention. Without being able to name specific titles, they seemed to cover some stuff that even the audience members who were more familiar with Tatsunoko didn’t know about so in that regard I’d say they did a good job. The message that the panelists emphasized was just how ahead of the pack Tatsunoko was for a lot of anime which would then get imitated later on.
Also before the panel started I recognized Dave in the room and not-subtly-at-all said aloud “is that Dave Merrill?” to confirm that it was indeed him. I was wearing my stupidly conspicuous Carlton shirt so he knew I was karageko from the Old School Otaku forum. After a brief introduction he graciously signed my Colony Drop Patlabor fanzine, but the panel began soon after so the socializing was postponed to later.
Dealers Room (i.e. Otaku Joes)
My expectations for dealers room stuff that would be relevant to me was appropriately low. However there was a booth from a vendor called Otaku Joes that surpassed my expectations because they actually sold old school anime product. By that I mean vinyl LPs, Laserdiscs, and old anime art books. I was tempted to pick up a bunch of Goshogun related LPs (sadly none of which were the GoShogun: The Time Étranger soundtrack; I really wish someone would put up that whole soundtrack online) but I refrained seeing as I don’t have a vinyl player and I really don’t want to get one. In fact, the only thing I picked up at the Dealer’s Booth was a Crusher Joe art book for $25 (tip: look up prices on Amazon US for art books because oftentimes you’ll find price + shipping cheaper there; I avoided purchasing many an overpriced art book this way).
Nobutoshi Canna Q&A
This is not a voice actor I’m terribly interested in but I decided to go to the Q&A anyway out of curiosity. It seems a lot of people were there because of his credits in Fate stuff (a franchise I lost interest in long before it became huge), Macross 7 (which I have yet to watch), and Berserk (a series which I regrettably still have an interest in despite its never-going-to-end-satisfactorily manga status). There was some pretty neat biographical tidbits at the beginning of the panel.
Growing up it was easy for him to play by himself; he had no friends around his age (there were kids older and younger) so he got used to playing around in isolation. He eventually worked as a child actor and his boss asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He responded, “an actor”. His boss then told him then he should go to school and study properly, and fired him promptly.
This was the first time Canna has visited to the states. He explained that his image of America when he was growing up was that it was a fantasy land that existed only in movies. He thought that even the colors in America were different. When he finally landed in America he found out that in fact the colors you see in America are no different from Japan, so it was indeed the effect of film medium all along.
I didn’t take many notes for this panel but probably the most amusing moments were the several extremely nervous fan girls who had trouble breathing and Canna would say in English “breeeathe breeeathe” to help them overcome their nervousness. Some Japanese girl asked (in Japanese) if he could say some line from some otome game and after he said the line she dropped to her feet in what I can only assume was extreme bliss. The fujoshi thirst must have been strong.
I wasn’t going to enter the group photo at the end originally since I’m not a super huge fan of the work this guy has been in, but I decided to join anyway so at least there’d be more people in the photo. I should have jumped to the front so I could get Carlton in there too.
Daoko Concert ft Teddyloid
I bummed around in the dealers room for a bit more and but my sleep deprivation coupled with a headache was killing me at this point. I had to take a nap somewhere so I decided to go to the Main Events hall to nap before the next panel I was really looking forward to, Totally Lame Anime. When I got in I was pretty surprised by how the room was almost packed entirely of people waiting for Totally Lame Anime an hour and a half early. I found a seat and started napping and then 10 minutes later very loud music started booming and I found myself in the middle of a concert. Ah, so I was not in a room flooded with fellow lunatics excited for some hilariously lame old anime after all.
I don’t have a lot to say about this other than I wasn’t really a fan of this kind of music (look, I’m a guy in his early 20s that loves melodramatic enka music and energetic songs about how damn awesome some giant robot is). Amazingly enough I was able to still nap through a lot of the concert, which probably describes just how exhausted I was. I did find out later Daoko and Teddyloid did the music for the ME!ME!ME! music video which I do actually like, even if I don’t care for the music itself. At least there was actually an anime connection there.
Totally Lame Anime
It’s kind of difficult to write about panels which are essentially clip shows; it would be a lot more effective to just show the clip instead of put this stuff into words. Nevertheless, here goes.
This was one of the big panels I was looking forward to, run by none other than Neil Nadelman. I thought it was kind of funny I left Boston and traveled to another state to attend a panel run by someone who is local to me, but that doesn’t matter. I forgot to take down notes of things shown but there was a bunch of Chargeman Ken (streaming on Crunchyroll as of this recording) which had been trending a decent amount over the Anitwitter crowd I follow due to its actual official release recently by Discotek being a thing (and it was translated by Neil himself). Also shown was the infamous The Dog Who Yelled “Blargh” clip. There were also clips of the absurdly named Naikaku Kenryoku Hanzai Kyosei Torishimarikan Zaizen Jotaro (Government Crime Investigation Agent Zaizen Jotaro), which I am familiar with only because of the AWO episode covering it. Apparently the series beyond the first episode is sadly not quite DA BOMB. The last quarter or eighth of the panel mostly covered some weird Harmony Gold compilation of a TV series (turns out it’s a Tatsunoko production) into two movies called The Brave Frog (amazingly the full movie is uploaded to YouTube here) and The Brave Frog’s Greatest Adventure. From what I saw they seem like cartoons children really need more of, which is to say cartoons that feature lots of sadness and death. Apparently Neil had been looking for a long time for the second movie, and he could only find some UK listing that would not ship internationally for it. Luckily he was friends with Helen McCarthy who helped received it in the UK and then ship it to him when she visited the states for a convention. Thanks to that level of desire to obtain terrible cartoons, a huge audience at AWA was able to see some glorious murdering of underwater creatures.
Quickly after Totally Lame Anime was Dave’s Anime Hell panel. This was the 20th anniversary of this panel; 20 years of a nutty anime-related clip show, wow! I honestly didn’t know much of what to expect at this panel besides that it was a decent amount of bizarre clips related to anime that may potentially make my brain melt while I laugh. In other words, something I would enjoy greatly and that I did. My headache was pretty bad at this point (potentially brain melting material is probably what you shouldn’t be looking at in this condition) and since I forgot to take notes I’m gonna rattle off from my poor memory here.
I don’t know why but I grabbed a bunch of these from the walls of AWA.
One of the earlier things I remember was a clip from Clutch Cargo, which I had never heard of, featuring the cost cutting technique of recording live action lips moving and slapping them onto pictures to create “animation”. When I think of slapping on live action moving lips onto static pictures, I think of the annoying orange series which I don’t actually find funny. In any case, the low budget-ness of Clutch Cargo was quite entertaining.
At some point the Patlabor REBOOT short and the Devilman Crybaby trailer were shown. I had seen both recently (the former because of going through all of animated Patlabor recently and the latter after it was announced). This was actually not what I expected to see at Anime Hell because these are basically just things that are actually cool that everyone should check out. But I’m glad that it is being brought to more people’s attention. I do have my reservations about Patlabor REBOOT but I am looking forward to more animated Patlabor.
Then there was the commercial portions of Anime Hell. A series of commercials shown basically featured a bunch of office workers reflecting on how great of a manager Mazinger Z was (who in these commercials was of human size scale). I was really hoping that when Mazinger Z returned home to his wife it would turn out to be Aphrodite A or something but it was just an ordinary caring Japanese woman.
The next series of commercials Nissan ads featuring Heidi of the Alps of World Masterpiece Theater fame. I’ve yet to see the show but damn Heidi is annoying in these commercials. It was amusing but perhaps this segment ran for too long (keep in mind I was also battling my desire to nap).
Afterwards Midnight Madness ran but I decided to bow out 15 minutes in and Dustin called me over to a group of people including Dave and Daryl Surat. I used that opportunity to get my Colony Drop Patlabor fanzine signed by Daryl, talk to Dave a bit more, and thank him for a great Anime Hell experience.
I spent most of the time here again looking through the vinyl LPs, Laserdiscs, and art books of Otaku Joes again. At some point I got ambushed by a terrifying monster but then became friends with it afterwards.
OH YEEZUS IT’S TERRIFYING
Friends in the making
I had no idea this was a car freshener so my room smells like Bananya now
At The Movies
This was the most informative panel of the weekend for me, run by Dave. It was essentially an overview of anime films theatrically released in the US from the 60s to 90s. The panel started with a question about drive-in theaters, which is how many of these things were there? Apparently back in the 60s or so there were about 3500 drive-in theaters, whereas nowadays there’s about 100. Forget growing up during the time when drive-in theaters were out of fashion, I grew up in Hong Kong where drive-in theaters were NEVER in fashion (there’s also not exactly space for this sort of thing). As far as I can find online, the first and only drive-in theater to ever exist in Hong Kong was in 2007 for about 8 months before closing. So my awareness of drive-in theaters largely comes from scenes in older American live action film that shows these “mysterious” locations. The concept always seemed fun to me but I’ll probably never experience it first hand.
Around the 60s was the time when Toei was trying to be the Disney of the Orient, and would produce extremely aesthetically Asian films not for a Western audience but clearly for a Japanese one. Eventually several of these movies did screen in the US (and did poorly at the box office across the board), such as Panda and the Magic Serpent, Magic Boy, Alakazam the Great, and Bold Adventure: The Littlest Warrior. I had heard of the first and third of these by name but had never seen actual clips of them so it was great to be able to see short clips of almost all the titles mentioned at this panel. A lot of these titles had more of a classic 2D Disney quality to them as far was the animation was concerned. It felt much more like full animation than limited animation to me (the first Astro Boy TV series aired in 1963 so timeline seems consistent here). When I tell people I’m into old anime and have to qualify it by specifically saying around the 80s, that’s basically the present to my lunatic mind. What real OLD anime is to me is stuff from the 60s. Of the early 60s anime films Dave covered, he sincerely recommended The Little Prince and the Eight Headed Dragon the most so I will have to watch that at some point. Without look up much about this, based on the names of characters alone it seems like they’re pulling from early Japanese mythology.
There was a bunch more covered and the panel ended with Robotech the Movie and Akira, but before that there was also the trailer for the Galaxy Express 999 movie which is one of my favorites. After the panel I chatted with Dave a bunch about my experience of encountering this movie and sharing it with my friends. Interestingly, the Galaxy Express 999 was one of the first anime movies that was just marketed as a (science fiction) film and not as a cartoon. I feel like many an unappreciated anime could reach a wider audience by catering to a non-anime audience than the anime audience (Legend of the Galactic Heroes being the obvious example of this although it is much more appreciated now than it used to be).
Chatting with Rick and John (friends of Dave)
After the panel Dave introduced Dustin and me to two of his friends that were chatting with him outside the room. I don’t know if they would want their full names on the internet associated with anime so I will suffice with using their first names. I spent most of the time chatting with Rick because I noticed during the panel that he actually reads manga in Japanese, so I figured I could get the names of some interesting titles that may not reach a Western audience. I also finally figured out why he wouldn’t just specifically name titles when people would ask him because he would run into the same problem I would: what do you call a manga that has never been released in the West? Just say the title or try and translate it? Eventually he finally realized that I also read manga (although not too much recently) in Japanese so he was very excited to talk to someone else that could read Japanese, since like me he doesn’t really have real life friends who can do so. It’s a bizarre experience talking to people outside the insane online learning communities for Japanese (of which I am definitely a member) or classmates in Japanese classes. I pretty much swore off ever engaging in any of the ridiculous arguments regarding Japanese learning in either of those two groups, so it was interesting to meet someone who learned Japanese completely detached from any of that. I felt kinda bad that I couldn’t name too many specific manga titles since I’ve been focusing more on anime recently but he seemed to be much more into comedic manga which I don’t have as much familiarity with. Hilariously enough he kept calling what he reads “trash” and I kept replying “hey man don’t call it trash if you like it then that’s all that matters”.
Although I didn’t talk with John as much I am glad I did. Actually, the first thing he said to me is that once he realized what was on the shirt I was wearing he couldn’t un-see it and I burst out laughing. FINALLY someone noticed Thomas the Terror Engine. He regaled me with the tales of the old convention times, a subject that I actually find very interesting. He went over his experience back in the day running into Walter Amos’ panel about science in anime and yelling “HOLY CRAP THOSE ARE LORENTZ TRANSFORMATIONS?!” and Walter yelling “WHO WAS THAT!?” and thus began a beautiful friendship. Of course, there is only one anime that could have anything to do with Lorentz transformations and that is the amazing Gunbuster, one of my favorite series of all time. I had watched Gunbuster a second time around junior year of high school after learning about relativity for the first time so I was really blown away by the use of time dilation as a crucial component of the emotional thrust of the series. Walter’s panel back then of course was to try and figure out if the time dilation was actually accurate in Gunbuster and according to John amazingly it turned out to be so. Man do I wish there were other crazy nerds around me who would sit down and geek out about this stuff to the point of computing physical quantities. John also mentioned that unlike the middle aged crisis of most middle aged men who go and get a trophy wife, he would instead go and collect very old calculators which his wife reminds him is incredibly lame. For what it’s worth I said “well, to me the calculator thing is way cooler” (which I meant sincerely because I am typically more in favor of NERDY things). He appreciated this very much.
Again I seem to have a much better experience talking to folks much older than me than people around my age. Such is the struggle of theoretical nostalgia I suppose.
Stupid Video Panel of DOOM!
Daryl didn’t run this panel at Otakon so this was the one I went out of my way to check out. The short summary of this is that it is basically an concentration of viral meme shorts and clips over a 2 hour block. Every now and then I can find meme stuff amusing but in general I don’t find that stuff constantly hilarious so while there was indeed amusingly stupid things shown, watching that stuff for 2 hours straight was not really up my alley. The crowd loved it though so the panel achieved the goal of entertaining the people. What I found most amusing was the level of effort people will put into creating absolute lunacy for the internet. Putting aside the panel content, there was an extremely annoying person behind where I was sitting who had to yell out her commentary for every single clip that was shown. This made the whole experience a grade less funny for me.
Anime’s Craziest Deaths
So I elected to go to this even though I already went to the panel at Otakon 2017 because at Otakon it was covered over a one hour block whereas at AWA it got a two hour block. So I figured Daryl would get more time to let clips run for longer and show more clips. At best honestly there was probably an eighth of content that I hadn’t seen already at Otakon so I should have just gone to the It’s MANIME! The Manly Anime Panel! next door. I don’t blame Daryl for how it turned out since he literally had no power for something like one to two weeks due to Hurricane Irma so he wasn’t able to make new clips for the AWA version of the panel. Either way, it was still fun to sit in the panel room and enjoy the audience reaction to these nutty clips although I think the acoustics in the room made it hard to hear some of his jokes told during the clips being shown. It is a CRIME how many people have not seen Baoh.
Introduction to Anime Studies
I came here mostly only being aware of names of people who write about anime, and of Mechademia, which as far as I knew was the only peer reviewed English language academic journal about anime. A bunch of the panel sort of covered what kinds of scholarship is done about anime and that usually you can tie them to some other more general category of major since there is no specifically anime studies major in any institution.
I wasn’t aware of the first journal article on manga, but I am aware of Frederik Schodt’s book and of Susan Napier’s name.
The panelist apparently was on the editorial board for Mechademia so I got to ask him some questions about Mechademia. The first question I asked was how they got scholarship from Japan translated (for example, did they hire a translator). He said “it depends on what you mean by hire a translator” and explained basically that Mechademia is a lot of volunteer work so sometimes they would ask the panelist hey how good is your Japanese and he’d say “well I can sort of do conversation okay and if I have a lot of time then I’d be able to struggle through and translate something maybe” and then they’d be like “okay cool can you translate a bunch of this stuff for us”.
The other question I asked him was about how much English language scholarship refers to scholarship from Japan, whether it’s stuff that cites translations of Japanese papers or stuff that refers to the papers directly. He said the latter was far more common than the former simply as a consequence of most of that stuff being untranslated, and that hopefully ten years down the line much more of that stuff will get translated and that there can be more of a discussion.
There was also some guy that was insisting really hard that the Girls und Panzer was an amazingly accessible film that surpasses several of Miyazaki films. I get the feeling the panelist was face-palming inside of his head (as was I) since he diplomatically kept his comments to that there was too much check boxing off several tropes and fanservice in Girls und Panzer so he couldn’t get into it. It’s astounding just how oblivious anime fans can be to the fact that sexual fanservice elements in anime are just not accessible to a wider Western audience.
Chie Nakamura Q&A Panel
Like the Nobutoshi Canna Q&A Panel this was not a voice actor I was that interested in but I had nothing to do so I decided to stop by; I took a bunch of notes for this one. This is the voice actress for Sakura from the Naruto TV anime series, which despite being my gateway anime series is something in which I have long lost interest. So most people were there for that reason. Unfortunately the room was fairly empty but that could just be a consequence of this being a Sunday panel.
Like Nobutoshi Canna, this was Chie Nakamura’s first time in the states. Most of her exposure to western stuff was listening to music that her dad liked such as Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. She grew up liking Dr. Slump and Doraemon (basically as all Japanese children did back then). When talking about food she noted that there is LARGE amounts of MEAT in Atlanta. The portion difference between America and Japan is one of the usual points of culture shock for someone from Japan visiting America for the first time so this was not surprising.
She was originally interested in theater and musicals but she was bad at dancing and stuff like that so her sister suggested voice acting since she had a good voice. Someone asked if she still has to audition for parts or if directors will go and request her specifically. Although she occasionally gets requests, she still has to audition for parts. An interesting tidbit is that unlike the states, the whole cast together does the voice recording over there. She said later on that she feels she doesn’t do well in auditions so the interpreter asked her if she has any advice for auditions and she reacted “I want advice!” Apparently there is a saying in Japanese where if you get nervous imagine everyone as pumpkins and then asked the audience if there was an equivalent of this in English. The first thing that came to mind is that weird thing about imagine everyone else in the room is naked but I opted not to bring this up.
Someone asked if she does the physical motions when voice acting to match what is happening in the scene, and so the interpreter added “for example would she punch someone in the studio to imitate Sakura’s punch” and she quickly said “nonono” while laughing. They are encouraged not to move too much since they want the microphone positioning relative to the voice actors to remain stable.
Although most people were there for her role as Sakura, I looked up her voice roles and found out that she voiced Mia in Ace Attorney (known in Japan as Chihiro in Gyakuten Saiban). I don’t like the Ace Attorney TV series because the material is really designed for the video game format, but that’s not a knock against her performance. So I asked “Were you familiar with the Ace Attorney series before playing this role and what do you think about the character?”, also making note of the Japanese equivalents of the name since I assumed (correctly) that the interpreter was not familiar with this franchise. It was a good thing I did since Chie Nakamura noticed when I said the Japanese names while the interpreter accidentally referred to the English names when asking the question in Japanese. It turns out she was already familiar with Ace Attorney so she was very excited to get the part. Although she was a fan she didn’t want to let that seep into her performance too much and she made sure she took it seriously to do it properly. I then asked her what her favorite game in the series was and she after deliberating she said the third one (i.e. the RIGHT answer) because it showcases Mia and her weaknesses before she became the stronger character later on.
Someone later on also asked about Ace Attorney and asked how much of her performance her interpretation of Mia’s character and how much of it was shaped by the vision of the director. It turns out that the original game creator Takumi Shu basically was in the studio all the time giving her very specific instruction on his vision of the character and so it was largely shaped by his vision, which I thought was a cool tidbit. The same guy also asked this question (in simple Japanese because somehow according to him, he could not figure out how to word it in English; this guy for the record was clearly a native English speaker and not Japanese) “What does it feel like when you say Objection!” and she basically said it feels awesome. You could basically just swap out “Objection” there as “Igi Ari” (the Japanese word) and ask that same question in English the way I phrased it above but somehow this is too complicated to phrase in English. Anyway, apparently this line was also part of the audition for the character.
Of course, one of the Naruto fans in the audience asked a question that basically amounted to I feel like I grew up with Sakura these past 13 years blah blah do you feel the same way, not seeming to realize that this voice actress was a grown woman when she played the part of Sakura. Funnily enough she did say, “well I was an adult already when I played her so not really in that respect” but diplomatically added “however it was one of my earlier roles so I did grow up as a voice actress”. She also noted that she got to play a role in Doraemon later on which was very exciting for her since she grew up with that anime.
At the end Nobutoshi Canna and Kazuhiko Inoue of course shuffled up to the microphone to ask questions. The interpreter joked with Canna and said “please, in English”. So he basically asked what is your favorite color (answer: red). Then in Japanese he asked “I am a voice actor too. What advice do you have when you can’t get a line out properly?” and Nakamura was embarrassed, saying “I can’t believe my sempai is asking me this!” She then gave an example of kabuki lines she would use to practice (the interpreter noting the closest equivalent is tongue twisters in English), and gave some example demonstrations. Canna then also gave an example demonstration that was supposed to continue whatever line she said, saying “no fair” because she already said the part he was familiar with.
Kazuhiko Inoue asked “I’m also a voice actor, you are very hard working and you probably also practice even in your house. How much do you practice before going into the studio?” She responded that she practices quite a lot, especially when there are lines she feels like she can’t get quite right. She’ll basically do it until she feels comfortable with the line. She never counted the number of times she reads the scripts but she also said if you practice too much you get too absorbed into the character’s world and miss the bigger picture. A follow up question was then asked: “So if you practice at home do you have problems with the neighbors?” She said “Yeah the neighbors will be scared sometimes and think something happened”.
Her final message to close out the panel was that she was worried that before coming here people may not know her work but she found pleasantly that that wasn’t a case. Then she took a photo with the audience. She apparently doesn’t use Twitter so I don’t know if the photo will be put up anywhere online; if I can find it I will put it here.
CHARGEMAN KEN! IS HERE!
Alright this has been the butt of jokes on Anitwitter this last couple of months and was the main panel I was looking forward to on the last day of AWA. Honestly, you can experience the madness for yourself right now as it is streaming on Crunchyroll but Neil selected some of his favorite moments of the madness that is Chargeman Ken. Dave was also on the panel to give his own commentary and thoughts. An interesting thing he noted was that Japanese TV networks back in the 70s did not have huge national networks like the US, so if for example a baseball game was running late due to rain, you could just put on an episode of Chargeman Ken (each episode is 7 minutes in length). Chargeman Ken would make great TV programming filler material, that’s for sure.
Oh boy that NECK (from episode 3)
The whole DVD set of Chargeman Ken was actually uploaded to Nico Nico at some point so there was a bunch of MAD remixes of it. I don’t normally think of the Japanese as having the same kind of “it’s so bad it’s good” appreciation of things as Western audiences do, so it is really cool that there is an appreciation there for this hilariously awful cartoon like there is here.
Neil also mentioned that he tries to look up transcriptions for anime where he is not given a script since it can be hard to make out words from audio alone (it is seriously a relief to hear that even a veteran professional translator can struggle with this because I can empathize very much with this problem). Some insane human being apparently transcribed every single episode of Chargeman Ken, which he used to help him churn out these translations.
They also showed a bunch of pictures of various Chargeman Ken merchandise that you can still find on Amazon Japan right now, like a hilariously bad cosplay outfit and a derp face pillow.
After the panel I went up to Dave and thanked him for the panels he put up since they made my weekend, and also for taking the time to chat with me. Dave was very approachable; I thought there’d be a lot more people just going up to him and chatting with due to his awesome work on his blog among being a name in American anime fandom, but there were plenty of opportunities for people to chat with him if they wanted. It was a lot easier to approach panelists whose work I follow online at AWA than at Otakon. Rick was also there so I said my goodbyes to him and promised I’d keep in touch.
Of course, no concentration of anime maniacs can remain forever. As my plane landed in Boston, the lyrics of the song I was listening to articulated my bittersweet feelings.
SAYONARA, sweet memories
SAYONARA, don’t look back
Don’t ask why
The time to come will come
And you will go alone
Keep to your heart
And so my friend
Now it must end
Now you are grown
I can’t stay on
Think of the memories we’ve known
Carefully feeling your way
You’re getting stronger each day
How can I find words to say
I’ll miss you