I released the images I took at Sakura-Con 2015. Please use the links before to access the images.
I released the images I took at Sakura-Con 2015. Please use the links before to access the images.
Overall, I had a great time at Tsukino-Con. It was the first con, in a while, where I decided to just relax and enjoy the con.
From here, enjoy the images I took while attending Tsukino-Con 2015.
Hello Julie and Kari. Let’s start off on the latest collaboration you two worked on.
Julie: At first, I wasn’t sure about it, because I think I knew about it really, really early, like when the editing still needed to be done. So then I was handed this script really early. Then I kind of read it over, and I think Kari read it over, because he wanted the feedback because he knew we were into anime and video games and he needed somebody to bounce that off of, so then we gave our feedback. So, it just seemed like it could’ve been a really cute story at the time, like “Oh, this is kinda cute! I think this is kinda fun!” So that was the initial reaction, and then it was a really long time before I was told that they were doing auditions for it, so I was thinking “Oh, yeah! That project!”
Kari: I was really excited for the initial project, I mean it was such a unique story and just a unique concept that hasn’t really been done before. I mean, the idea has been thrown out there of what would happen type thing if this character came out, but nothing’s really been actually made into a live-action film, so I was thinking “Oh, that’s such an awesome idea! I would love to be a part of this!” and it took a while for the script to go through all the editing processes and the interviews and the casting, so it took a while to get into the actual filming.
Julie: So I guess the surprising thing or the thing that I didn’t expect was it to be in so many film festivals. I was not expecting how many film festivals it would be in after it was shown.
Kari: And how well-received it’s been, really. It’s all over the world, and we’re getting all this feedback from India, and all these places. India really loves us for some reason. Ryan’s great with the marketing and promoting.
Julie: He markets like no other. It’s like, a hundred plus festivals and conventions around the world.
Kari: It’s been shown pretty much everywhere.
Julie: Everywhere. Every continent.
Imran: Even Russia. That’s impressive. To get into Russia, it’s pretty tough, so that’s…
Kari: But we can’t get into some of the local ones.
Imran: That’s the thing!
Julie: Our own town rejects us! Oh! Oh, it hurts!
Kari: It’s just funny!
Julie: Antarctica has seen it! The penguins!
Imran: Ha ha ha, the irony of things, as they say. Let’s move on.
Imran: So, after you two worked on Game Companion, have you noticed a change in your cosplay crafting techniques?
Kari: I’ve definitely been able to work more with actually fitting other people, because before, I just worked with myself. I know my own body, I know how to fit a costume to myself without really trying it on too much, I just kind of know. This was a new experience because I had to fit it to other people, so getting some people over to my place and measuring them all, and that was kind of a unique challenge, and that was fun. I had to fit a bunch of different people, and then get their feedback on what would you like your character to be like, and then I could take their input and put my input and just work together on that. It has definitely made me appreciate what costumers go through in film, because I’m thinking, “Oh, this is easy for myself! This is fine! Oh, man… On film, there’s a lot more people to costume!” It kind of gets overwhelming, but it was fun!
Julie: “How many months? Oh, okay!”
Kari: And then the whole last-minute “By the way, we have three more characters to throw in there!”
Imran: Oh, dear God…
Kari: But it’s just the fun that happens on film and stage.
Imran: Part of it.
Kari: Yeah, part of it. It’s kind of like working last-minute before a convention, you know, you’re going all-night, “Convention’s in the morning! Convention’s in the morning!”
Imran: I do not want to experience that… What about you, Julie?
Julie: My costume experience since Game Companion? Or making costumes?
Imran: Let’s say after Game Companion.
Julie: I don’t think that my costumes have changed, per se, because we’re always evolving even since before the show.
Kari: Every costume is a unique challenge.
Julie: Yeah, there’s a different challenge, like I had never done wig-wefting before until I did this one, because his hair needed to be full, like, FULL, but I’ve never done that before, so that was a first experience since the show, but I would have done it anyway, regardless. Working with the costumes for the set and stuff, I have done that before, but with sidekicks, so that is a huge challenge. It’s a huge challenge to have twenty people to costume and to have it done within so many months, that’s…
Kari: We actually have a deadline. We have a deadline that Rick mentions, but usually, you know well ahead by about a year or something, like “Okay, this convention is on this weekend” type thing, but with film, it’s just like “Okay, once the script goes through all the processes, then we’ll get to the interviews and the casting, and then we’ll plan some shoot dates”. But it’s all those steps first, and then you find out “So, filming will be on this day, at this time, since this is what we could get for the booking.” “That’s like, a month away!”
Julie: “And how many people working to get stuff together?” It’s nice to have a crew, though, to help, because we had also Leela helping.
Kari: We had a lot of good help on our hands.
Julie: I helped where I could, and you did most of it – sorry, honey.
Kari: Well, for Game Companion, I think Leela did a lot of-
Julie: She did a lot of the thrifting.
Kari: She’s like our thrifting guru. She would just go into the thrift store and buy a whole bunch of stuff.
Julie: It helps that she lives so close. She lives within walking distance from a thrift store, so she goes over all the time.
Kari: So, anything that actually has to be made from scratch, like some of my stuff from Game Companion, I’ve glued that stuff up but then anything else that needs to be altered or taken in, I can do that. So it’s definitely a good group effort involved, which is amazing.
Julie: Yeah, I cut fabric!
Imran: It’s all in teamwork, and being organized!
Imran: Yeah, a huge sweatshop, oh God!
Imran: Now, throughout your costuming career, from 2000, what have been your favorite materials to work with?
Kari: I have the most knowledge with fabric-based costumes. It’s just recently, say a while ago, when Wonderflex was really big, I worked with that, and that was really fun. It was unique, and it was fun to play with. I think I made some Zelda armour out of it and that. But then I was getting into the craft foam and Worbla now, kind of mixing those two and seeing what I can get. I mean, I’m still new with the Worbla, but it’s definitely fun and I really do look forward to finding more costumes that I can incorporate armor and other things into, other than just fabric, clothes, and that.
Julie: Me, it’s definitely working with different fabrics. There’s certain fabrics that I don’t like, like some of that stuff that-… I forget what it’s called…
Julie: Spandex can be difficult on its own, but it’s also not so bad if you know how to shape yourself. Because I’ve made the tight Spandex stuff before, and you can always take it in, make it slightly big, try it on, and then you pin and all that stuff, and then it’s done. Even if it’s a little small, it’s okay, because it’s stretchy. It’s forgiving. But there are some materials that fray like crap, and you’re cutting it, and it’s fraying as you’re cutting it and it’s not cool.
Kari: Cheap polyester, mostly.
Julie: It’s the cheap polyester, but I don’t know if it’s Viscose or not…
Kari: Viscose is a rayon.
Julie: A rayon? Okay, maybe it’s the really cheap polyester that’s really difficult.
Kari: Viscose has a few different things at first. But yeah, the fraying fabrics are definitely horrible, because then you have to fray stuff as you go before you can actually hem it.
Julie: Before you can actually do anything? Yeah. But yes, I’m definitely enjoying Worbla as well. I’m hoping that that I’m going to end up doing the She-Ra costume. And learning to work to make more weapon props and stuff like that.
Kari: Props are fun. I love having costumes that I can have a prop with. That’s the best thing ever, because then you have something else to pose with, too, and then it just gives it more variety than just simple…
Julie: Than just standing there? Yeah…
Imran: Your announcement, the Magic Knight Rayearth that you guys were planning I think for Kawaii Con? Or was it a later con?
Kari: Magic Knight Rayearth, we’re going to have for… Revolution? No…
Julie: No, it was going to be for InCON, and then possibly for Anime Revolution, maybe.
Kari: Depending on how much room we have to bring more costumes over, we might be able to bring them with our big swords.
Julie: They are in the works, I’ve got some material for it now, so…
Kari: I’ve started working on some of my armor pieces, and it’s coming along really awesome.
Imran: My experience working with it Worbla was literally with Foxfire Ahri. I had guidance from Andrea from Forever Dreaming Cosplay, and after her guidance. I have confidence working with Worbla and doing so many things with it.
Julie: A lot of it is just trial-and-error, because I did make some armor pieces, such as a little chest thing and all the way down the leg. But now that I’ve worked with it once, I know now things that I will do differently after working with it and actually wearing it and walking around and thinking “Ohhh, this is how it feels, and this is how it’s not tight” and all that stuff. I also had arm pauldron-y things too, and then that shifts when you’re walking and it was secured, but it was also a cape-y shawl thing. So, the shawl was moving everywhere, and I was thinking “Ugh, I thought I fixed that!”
Kari: A lot of it is just trial-and-error.
Julie: Trial-and-error, really, just figuring it out. Now I’m going to try different things like putting magnets inside, so that it just stays on and goes right through the fabric so then you don’t have to poke holes or sew anything.
Imran: Or hot-glue, or super-glue…
Julie: Yeah, and it just looks really bad after.
Kari: I would like to hope that we’re past the hot-glue and the safety pins, although we’re not…
Julie: Every once in a while, you have to, though!
Kari: There’s always the one part of me that thinks “Oh, I won’t have to use it! I can sew everything!” No, you can’t sew everything down! Sometimes hot-glue is the way!
Imran: Julie, you were talking about the magnets, hot-glue and safety pins?
Julie: I would like to actually sew magnets inside an arm-strap or something that is part of the costume, and then you put a magnet on the armor piece, and then you just go “Click!” and it stays. Then, when you’re walking around, if it pops off, you can just stick it back on. That is something that I would like to try. My husband has these earth magnets that he gets, and they’re really powerful so he uses it for figures because he plays tabletop games, so some things have to come off and then go back on. I think I got the suggestion from him and also other sources, and I thought “Why am I not doing this? This is something I should be doing!” So that sometimes takes a little… You [Kari] often give amazing advice, so I’m thinking “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”
Imran: Yeah, it’s all teamwork.
Julie: Teamwork! We do a lot of stuff together. I often go to her house, and we just do sewing sessions and stuff like that, watch a lot of anime while we’re sewing.
Kari: Of course, and then we get distracted.
Julie: Yes, we totally do!
Kari: “Oh right, we’re sewing!”
Imran: Who doesn’t get distracted? That’s the thing. But that’s cool, the magnets idea, I’ve heard it works really well. Kamui Cosplay from Germany, she does it, and for a lot of North American cosplayers working with Worbla or Wonderflex, it works wonders. I have contemplated using it for my Foxfire Ahri cosplay, but because of the magnets, I’m worried if my cellphone’s near it, and I thought “Nope! I’d better not!”
Julie: Well, you can always make a separate cellphone pocket on the inside of something where you could just tuck it on the inside, and hide it away from magnetic things, so then the chance of it going to something magnetic would be pretty slim if you’re sliding it into a hidden pocket. You’re [Kari] someone who likes making hidden pockets all the time and you’re awesome with that.
Kari: I love making hidden pockets! I hate when my cosplay doesn’t have pockets! And then you’re trying to fish them up and not actually look like you’re…
Julie: I mean, some costumes you can’t, because it’s a skirt, and it’s supposed to be tight, and you’re thinking “I can’t put a pocket in there! Unless I’m sticking a card, like, one whole card. I can’t put loose change in there…”
Imran: I know that feeling. You guys announced that you’ll be going to Kawaii Con in Honolulu, Hawaii?
Julie: That is her.
Imran: Ahh, so Kari’s heading there, what are your thoughts? What do you anticipate when you are there?
Kari: I don’t know what to anticipate! I’m super excited, and I think I’m just going to try to look for different elements because I’ve never been to Hawaii costumed, so after doing Sakura-Con and California, that kind of thing, I want to know what the environment is like in Honolulu. I’ve seen some of the pictures and they look amazing, and I’m totally stoked, but I’m not going to have my bestie with me…
Julie: I know, I know! I’m sorry…
Kari: So I have to coordinate my costumes and try to bring down the Summer-y costumes, and not bring down something that’s ten layers and end up thinking “Well, I can’t wear this!” Because even the walk from the hotel the convention centre, it’s not too bad, but if you’re covered up in costumes and wigs and everything, it’s going to be… yeah… And then I’m worried about Worbla too, because it’s heat, and heat will probably… But it will be fun, though! And I’m really excited to host panels down there, and check out the contests there, and I’ll be one of the judges for the costume contest down there as well, so that’s kind of exciting. Not “kind of”, but really exciting!
Imran: I checked out their convention centre when I was down in Honolulu, and I thought “Oh my god, it looks so nice!”
Kari: I’ve seen some of the locations for some of these photos to shoot, and I was thinking “I want to meet some photographers and I don’t know anybody who’s going there yet!” Why aren’t you [Imran] going?! Would he fit in my luggage?
Julie: You can fly the plane there, can’t you?
Kari: Yeah, totally!
Imran: Uhhh… I have the ratings… I just have to do the proper training on the right aircraft. It’s doable.
Kari: We’ll go down with you!
Julie: Yeah! Just jump on a plane. Just… get in our Gundam and fly on over.
Kari: Oh wait, you don’t have a Gundam…
Julie: Depends on when in the story! Hello!
(ha ha ha)
Imran: This is going to go into your experiences from when you guys started. From what I’m aware, you guys started in the year of 2000?
Kari: I started in 2001.
Julie: She started earlier than I did. I didn’t start until… well, 2006 was my first convention. So then, my cosplay experience would probably be more 2007? Even though I did make a costume for it, it was just a Kimono, because I did not know what to expect. I honestly thought I was going to walk into a room full of basically guys who were really into- I didn’t know! I had no idea! When I walked in, I thought “THERE’S GIRLS!” I was so happy! “It’s like, 50% girls! WOOHOO!” So I was elated, but a little bummed that I didn’t have this extravagant costume, while my husband actually made a costume, and he was Ichigo from Bleach. That was the same year where Bleach. Was. Everywhere. You know? So everybody loved him. It was just before Bleach was everywhere, so everybody still loved him.
Kari: Must’ve been hard to clean up afterwards with all that Bleach…
(ha ha ha ha)
Julie: So 2007 would be my start. It’s a little bit after hers, but it’s still a while, so that’s my beginning. The earlier costumes, I’m trying to think… Well, I did Winry. That one was really good.
Imran: Full Metal Alchemist?
Julie: Yeah. It was really easy to make. Black tube-top and coveralls. I did wear that in 2006. That one was Winry. But I just made the tube, and Matthew had coveralls. “Alright, Done!” I’m trying to think of some of the other ones… We knew each other a little later.
Kari: We met at this first convention. Well, not at this first convention but…
Julie: It was the last year that Kei-Kon was Kei-Kon… No, that’s when I saw you! When Tsukino-Con was first… The first Tsukino-Con!
Kari: But you saw me at this first convention, but you wouldn’t talk to me!
Julie: Well, I knew of you, I just didn’t know you. So then I guess our first costumes together were from Rune Soldier, our first go.
Kari: And then we entered the contest. First off, we thought “You know what? Since we’re friends now, we might as well enter the contest together!”
Julie: “Do you wanna do this? Yes I do!” I think we became best friends that way! We barely knew each other!
Kari: We didn’t kill each other for the entire practicing, so that automatically made us best friends. We survived each other practicing…
Julie: Doing all the crazy stuff!
Kari: I started in 2001, and my first costume was Cardcaptor Sakura. It was made by my grandmother mostly, because I didn’t know how to sew very well, and it didn’t really resemble her, but it looked close enough that when I went to my very first convention, it was still recognized! My dad made me a little staff thing with wood and some tubing, it looked really cool! I loved it, it was so much fun! And I met so many people that way. But looking back at the photos, I thought… “That… that never happened…”
Imran: I know how you feel. There are two cosplays that, when I look back on them, I think “Oh wow… why did I do this?”
Imran: Now, throughout your times when you started cosplaying, have you noticed any changes in the community from then up to now?
Kari: Huge changes.
Julie: I would say so, yeah. More acceptance for people wearing costumes. Well, the community has definitely grown. I know that this convention has grown a lot since when I first came, but I think that even other people who don’t cosplay are starting to accept it more. There are still going to be those, “I don’t know what this is, guys, you guys are weird” kind of people, but most people are just accepting of it. I can tell other adults that yes, I dress up, I go to panels, I do modeling photoshoots, and us being published in the book, so then everybody is thinking “Oh, cool! It sounds fun!”. I don’t know if they’re just being nice, but I think it’s a bit more accepted now than it was before.
Kari: When I first got into costuming, when I first approached my parents, I said “I want to do this! I want to go to a convention, and I want to dress up!” And their reaction was “Dressing up? That’s not Halloween, it’s for children. Children can dress up. They can get away with it, but you’re a teenager now. You shouldn’t be doing this.” “But… but I want to!” And then finally, they decided “Okay fine, go do it. Whatever. It’s a phase, they’ll get out of it soon enough. Let her go embarrass herself. Whatever.” But best time of my life doing that, and I never went back!
(Ha ha ha)
Kari: There’s that, and then you tell other people, and their reaction is “That’s… that’s really weird… Why would you- so you’re like a Trekkie?” No, not a Trekkie…
Julie: Another thing that I’ve noticed is that it’s gone from closet cosplay. Where you’re just putting stuff that we’re wearing right now, where it’s just your jeans, or black pants, stuff you’ve just had in your closet. It’s gone from that to spectacular. There’s big wings and props and things that glow, and you’re practically thinking that they can jump off the roof and fly away! Glowy things and electronics, and it suddenly exploded into incredible costumes that looked like they came out of a movie.
Kari: It definitely went from whatever you could find lying around your house that happened to look like it to just making everything from scratch and just making it accurate, and they just bring it! All I could think of was ,“Wow!”
Julie: Trying to keep up with that!
Imran: That’s the other thing I’ve noticed . Their progression of how people are doing more advanced techniques, it’s insane.
Julie: It’s insane. Absolutely insane. But even then, even though I know that my particular skills are not going to match theirs. I don’t care. I still want to do it because I like it and I’m having fun doing this. Even just putting on clothes that we have out of a closet, it’s putting it together, buying a wig, it’s because we enjoyed the Anime, we enjoyed the characters, that’s doing it for the fun, really. It’s all about doing it for the fun. Completely 100%. So I don’t care if my skills don’t match so-and-so like, big-big name, then that’s okay, because I’m doing it just for fun. Yes, I think my skills are changing and evolving, and I’m growing, and I’m learning new things, and I’m making things better, and I know how to hide seams and things like that, and I’ve learned over time. Just do it. We’re not shy about having tea, out wearing costumes, and just because.
Kari: In the middle of the year, no conventions around, wanna do a photoshoot? Just outside? Or wanna go for tea or something in costume? Yeah, okay, let’s do it! And then people’s reactions are “Oh, you look so cute! Aren’t you all fancy! I wish I could’ve done that in my younger days!” And you’re thinking “Yeah, it’s awesome! You could totally do it now! You don’t have to be our age, just do it!”
Imran: And have fun with it!
Julie: Just have fun!
Kari: I mean, some people have the money to put into their costumes, which is fantastic if you have the money, which I don’t.
Imran: Most of us don’t.
Julie: We do everything as cheaply as possible! Every once in a while, there’s a little bit of that splurge, because it’s just perfect.
Kari: Like, a dream costume that you can actually put hundreds of dollars into, but most of our costumes don’t really cost all that much in comparison, since you can wait until the good sale days, and you can get all the fabric and everything to make it, but it’s a labour of love.
Imran: Any closing words that you want to say?
Julie: For people getting into it or are just into it, just keep doing it, just have fun, really. All I can really say is just have fun. Get some friends together, and create your own little thing. Have a picnic. We had even done that picnic thing where we just said “Hey, people in our area! We’re having a picnic at this time! Join us!”
Kari: Find an excuse! Make an excuse! If there are no conventions at that time, but you’re really going through some withdrawals, make an excuse! Make a reason! It’s my birthday! I wanna go dress up! Drag your friends out and make them dress up too!
Julie: That’s what we do!
Kari: Cosplay is for everyone. No exceptions.
Julie: It’s for everyone if you want to do it. If you don’t, you don’t.
Kari: Thank you so much!
Julie: Thank you!
Imran: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us at Cosplay Victoria and coming down to Tsukino-Con!
Interview transcribed by Adrian Simeoni
Photography by D.I.S/C Photography
With Jessica Nigri’s return to Anime Revolution. Here are three questions and answers, one of them was asked by a fan.
You have seen various cosplay communities around the world. Is there or are there any communities that have caught your attention or is your favourite?
You guys are gonna think I am just saying it but, Canada. I think it’s because you guys are nice people, to your core. Do you feel that way, that your community is nice to the core? Generally, I don’t really hear very much drama from Canada. It’s mostly from Arizona or Atlanta is all the drama. I really like the Canadian community. I just recently did a Battle Disney Princess group and the girls were; come be a part of our group and I was like ok. I have never been in a group before and that’s nice.
*Mrs. Nigri noticed D.I.S/C Photography cosplaying as Battle Bunny Riven, from League of Legends.*
You look lovely by the way.
You have done many outfits, which is your favourite outfit and why is it your favourite outfit. What did you learn from your outfit?
I really like my Mad Moxxi from Borderlands 2. I love Mad Moxxi because she is kind of insecure. She is this girl who puts herself out there. She always has her chest out. She makes funny sexual innuendos but she is not confident in the way she does it. It’s kinda funny because it kind of reminds me of myself. You can tell she has issues and I have issues. So, we are alike and I really like her costume.
Last question, this comes from another cosplayer; Miyuki Cosplay. What is your workout regiment?
I love to run, I train for half marathons. I usual run 6 miles a day or 5 times a week. It’s good, it’s great, and also, laughter is wonderful. Also it’s really weird but if you are sitting and playing video games, or whatever. Tightening your core for like 30 seconds at a time, while you play, it’s weird but it works.
Ahhh, yah I have heard about that.
Yah~ thighs, butt. Legs.
That’s all I have, thank you.
*Takes a few shots, and some shenanigans happened.*
Let’s start off with the first question.
You have travelled around the world, because of cosplaying. Have you noticed a certain country where the best works stands out from the rest? Read the rest of this entry →
I don’t believe in superlatives or the best of anything. Being a fan isn’t about doing their best. Each country have their own mentality and I think that is very interesting. If you go to South America, it is about the performance and presence on stage, and not so much on craft emphasis. That, to a lot of people, is the epitome of cosplay but when you go somewhere like Germany. It’s almost 100% craftsmanship. It’s all about sewn craft and the details. They are still developing, they have their own history of cosplay and how they are pushing to main stream. Cosplayers, in Germany, are not yet accepted and people laugh and call cosplayers freaks. It depends on the different country. I like to go to different countries and see what people do. Even though at times you don’t speak the same language. You share cosplay as a common and you have that commonality. I find that you have the same types of cosplayers in different countries. You have the ones who are about the mecha armour, and ones about the stage props. The world is a huge place but it is a tiny place and we’re able to connect with each other.
You touched on the similarities of the various cosplay cultures around the world. Which country would be similar to North America?
I think North America, as a general community for cosplay, has the most range and freedom. We have a lot of media outlets that cover cosplay. We are the country that is actually pushing for shows about cosplay and we have the most range in North America. Depending on where you go, geographically, different cities or hubs for cosplay will handle cosplay differently. What I noticed is the different mentalities within North America. For example, in Canada, every comic conventions are run similar to comic conventions in the US. In Canada, there are craftsmanship judging for the costume contest that goes by the international costumers guild rules or guidelines. Versus in America, there are a lot of comic book conventions that just go; “free for all, everyone just walk on and whoever looks the flashest gets a prize”. I think that is an example of the difference. It’s about finding the group you fit into and finding your way for cosplaying.
Any favourite materials you like to work with?
I have a lot of favourite materials. I really like feathers, silk taffeta, luxurious fabrics, craft foam, eva foam, and worbla. I have used worbla in every costume, since I started using worbla a couple of years ago. You have to be able to use different materials.
For example Sharon Apple from Macross Plus, it almost encompassed all of the materials you liked.
Man, I made Sharon a long time ago but I learned a lot. I got to learn a lot of unconventional things and style that wig. Hopefully I can make another costume like that sometime.
Your Sharon Apple cosplay is what lead me towards you, (really~) and I look forward to it.
I really like Macross. I am a huge Macross Plus fan. Thank you.
– D.I.S/C Photography: I hope you enjoyed reading this interview with Yaya Han. Hopefully next year I will interview Mrs. Han again with your questions.
With the popularity of Sword Art Online (SAO) TV. It was no surprise Sword Art Online TV would return as SAO II, with a bang. Last year at Sakura-Con 2013, the creator of SAO, Kawahara Reki attended Sakura-Con. We were given the opportunity to meet and interview Mr. Reki. The questions posed to him was interesting and at times thought provoking. For this year, Sakura-Con 2014, we were given the opportunity to interview Tomohiko Ito, Shingo Adachi and Shinichiro Kawashida. I hope this interview will give you more insight to the production of Sword Art Online and their line of work.
Tomohiko Ito (left), Shingo Adachi (Middle), Shinichiro Kashiwada (Right)
Author note: I hope this interview article allow you to feel as if you were in the interview room with me. – Narmi
General question, what would you work in if you had a career in a different field?
Tomohiko: Before I became an animator, I was in seafaring school, so I would have been a sailor.
Shingo: I went to film school, but it’s not that easy to become a film director even after going there. I was looking into going into a small TV production company, perhaps to become an assistant Director, but I come from a generation of the baby boom and competition was pretty fierce to get a job. That’s when my Senpai from the anime industry recruited me into anime. At the time, I was seeking jobs in TV production as a TV assistant Director and also in various video game companies such as Konami and Capcom. I did not make it into any of them, so I ended up in Anime. Shinichiro: I always wanted to become a police officer and that is what I could have become, but I never liked to study, so I would have never passed my civil servant exams. I actually studied engineering in school, so I studied something that has no bearing on what I do today.
Sword Art Online explains the gaming terminology pretty well. Did you go to experts in the terminology? Were there a lot of gamers on staff? How did you flush out the information?
Shingo: Before SAO, I was very much addicted to a game called Final Fantasy 11 and it was to the extent that it was affecting my job performance. You can actually say I did my research for SAO long before the show started. It was my wife who scolded me, and so I had to make the bitter return to Real Space. Around the time when the author of SAO, Kawahara Reki was addicted to Lineage, I was pretty much playing the other Korean MMO Ragnarok Online, so both of us were pretty familiar with the current online gaming lingo.
This is for Tomohiko Ito. You stated Neon Genesis Evangelion inspired you to be an Anime Director. With the “You (Can) Not” movie releases, what are your thoughts on the execution of the movie series?
Tomohiko: You know me well (laugh). Once you become professional in the anime industry, it’s hard to watch other anime from a fan perspective. Despite that, Evangelion is one of the animated titles I would very much like to watch as a pure fan. I really don’t look at how it has changed between the old Evangelion and the new movies.
What challengers were there in adapting original stories that were self-published online versus adapting an established story that was from a manga, game or light novel?
Shinichiro: The challenges of animating, that was not so different, granted before SAO was published as a novel. It was self -published online, but I’m pretty sure ASCII media Works pretty much knew that and it was pretty much popular back then. That is why they picked it up to publish it. Unlike say videogames, SAO always was something that had appeal not just to the Japanese audience, but to the world. That was the hook, we had to grab it and animate it.
Shingo: This wasn’t just SAO but my previous show Working!! also has it’s self-published Doujin roots and I think it has come to be that a lot publishers are looking at pre-existing works. Written by authors not for a livelihood but more as a work of passion. That tends to help create diversity in the genre, you can say that with Hatsune Miku as well on the music side. I think this trend will just probably continue.
This is a general question. While working on SAO, what sort of challenges did you face, do you remember?
Tomohiko: Back then this would have been 2012, we wanted to pose the question, “what would be the new fantasy world?”
Shingo: Back when I was in high school, very much the Euro-Western fantasy was the rage. It was very popular, with shows such as Record of Lodoss Wars and I was certainly one of the fans of the genre but eventually the audience started to get bored and the popularity of the genre started to die down. We thought if we followed the same formula, we would end up the same way. So, what the producer told us was not to go with that, but go strictly with the created world of the video game fantasy world, not the now online fantasy world, and to take it from there.
Shinichiro: This is more of personal view. In SAO, one of the characteristic premises is that “Game Over” means personal death, but you compare death in a live action to animation. I always thought it was hard to beat the realism of death in animation but, if you look at other recent shows such as Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyoujin), the desperation of the character is no less unrealistic, so I thought it was something that is fairly “depictable” using the anime media.
The first season of SAO is very popular internationally, do you feel any pressure for season two (Sword Art Online II).
Tomohiko: Yes. (chuckle)
Shingo: In SAO, when you move into a new series. The characters looks have to completely change. We can’t use the character designs from the previous production and carry it on to that. That is very different from my previous show Working!!, where you can just continue on with the previous character designs. In SAO, you have to come up with new character designs from scratch for the next season, and that is a tough thing to do as an animator. But if you look at the previous characters, Kirito and Asuna, you can see how time has changed them. They have grown up a little and that is something we can look forward to seeing.
Shinichirou: Well, for me, I do not have the pressure, but it was so in season one and it still is so in season two that we’re blessed with a good director, character designers and there are good staff people in Japan. I know that we can do it and I know that I can trust them. In season one, this was a world where all the combat was sword vs. sword. In season two, it is sword vs. guns and so this is a new world. It won’t be the same as season one and this is something to look forward to.
I have a couple of numbers I want to feed to you all. 7.1 and 5.8. These are your ratings on Toonami here in America which are very good. The highest rating is 8. Did you ever expect that popularity?
All three: “Ehhh”
Shinichirou: First to hear it.
Tomohiko: The producer doesn’t tell us numbers that much. That is a surprise to hear.
Shingo: Glad to hear that.
This question is for Shingo Adachi and Tomohiko Ito. Since your debut works, (Tomohiko: Death Note & Shingo: Rockman) what changes do you see in the production process?
Shingo: As a character designer for Rockman, it was my first, but I have been an animator for a decade before that. The biggest change in work was going from cell to digital work on PCs today.
Tomohiko: Another change is the executive animation direction system. Each episode would have its own animation director but the episodes would be overseen by the executive animation director, so that became a bottleneck, but it does allow the character designer and executive animation director to make all the cells consistent, and give a consistent feel to the entire series. It does depend on the talent of one single artist but it has been a change for the good.
Shingo: For me, though, I wish the system was not in place. Japanese fans tend to be demanding and they really want consistency in style through the entire series. I think the business model, where they want consistent sales in all the volumes of DVD and Blu-Rays, tend to encourage the system. It does make work in the studio a tougher environment.
Tomohiko: My debut should probably be Monster instead of Death Note. Going from Episodic Director to Series Director, you do have better influence for the entire production. Since I am not an artist, I have to figure out where to apply the controls to make it a better show. That might be working with the screenplay, or perhaps the sound director. Those are areas I can apply myself to. In addition to what Mr.Adachi said, when you’re allowed to do a lot of things with digital production, you end up being forced and compelled to do everything just because you can. Digital production allow you to be more efficient and doing things with a shorter amount of time. You end up doing a lot of things.
This question is for Mr. Ito. Previously you worked with Gen Urobuchi, for the story board of Puella Magi Madoka Magica episode 11. If given the opportunity, would you like to collaborate an original anime with Urobuchi-san?
Tomohiko: That is very specific of you. I only worked on one episode with him and it was not full walking of the horns. There are so many people who want to collaborate with Gen Urobuchi, I think he has plenty of suitors. (chuckle in the room)
When you are discussing the adaption of a work with the original creators. How much input do they have and at what point do you take the reigns from the author?
Shinichirou: There is the reading and in the case of SAO, all 25 episodes. The beginning and ending of the show was read to the author and it was determined with his presence. One of the format constraints of anime is that we have a fixed timeframe. There would be elements of the original story that need to be cut out. Those are usually done with the consent of the original author. This is in the production style that all studios labeled do. By doing this we can avoid situations later where the author would later say, the production staff did not understand the intent of the story and, problems can be avoided.
Adachi: As an animator, when I am given pre-existing works to do my work on, you may have popular books and titles that are already in the book stores, stacked up for everyone to grab, but there is also the part of the population who has not grabbed any of those books and don’t know of the existing work. I think it is my task to take the art style of the original books and to stylize into something that is more accessible to everyone else. No matter how great a show might be, if you don’t grab them on episode one, actually, if you don’t get them to watch episode one, it doesn’t start. I think as a character designer, it is most important to come up with the key visuals that would entice the potential audience to actually try episode one so that they would be sitting down in front of the television when episode one is broadcasting. That would be all pertinent to my key visuals.
A general question, most memorable moment while working on Sword Art Online?
Tomohiko: Perhaps the fact that I was dumped during the production of SAO, but it was actually after the show was done. It was not during the production.
Shingo: When I was working on episode 25, the final episode, I was at work for two weeks consecutively and wasn’t home to see my wife. She told me after work, she was considering divorce after that point.
Shinichirou: This is something to say about SAO production that I learn from real life from Mr. Adachi and Mr. Ito. There are certain ways we anticipate the audience’s reactions, such as the point where Kirito proposes to Asuna. You can anticipate there would be a lot of viewer frustration in that episode and that was pretty much anticipated. That is what we intended and I am sure those frustrations were projected to production staffs such as Mr. Ito and Mr. Adachi, when they were working on it.
Shingo: While I was working on SAO, viewer/fan popularity wasn’t something that I consciously removed from mind while working on it. I was later happy to learn that Blu-Ray sales were going well and there was a second pleasant surprise to hear that there was an American audience who enjoyed Sword Art Online. That also leads to being invited to places, like here in Sakura-Con. You can say I had more memorable moments with SAO after production.
I have a question for (Shingo) Adachi. As a character designer what personal touches and details do you add to your work in order to make it special and stand out?
Shingo: It’s difficult to see my own work in an objective fashion. I always try to respect the style of the original work but there seems to be something that is my own character that I can never remove from the art. Whether that is considered my own character or whether that is something undesirable, I can’t really tell or perhaps because of that, that is why I kept on getting work. I am still not sure if I should completely remove that or retain that.
Today is day two of Sakura Con 2014. What are your thoughts of the convention? Also, what are your thoughts about anime being big in the US and people paying so much attention to your work?
Tomohiko: It is my pleasure.
Shingo: I am happy to see fans here and to actually be here. At the same time, I still have a hard time believing that it is all here too. When I work on a show, I really have the Japanese viewers and audience in mind, and those are the sensibilities I draw on. There are certain styles of art that is popular in Japan. To see that get accepted overseas is something I find very incredible because I always thought that perhaps, the style of American comics, the style of Marvel would be the only thing that is popular here and to see other styles be accepted is a discovery for me.
Tomohiko: My observation isn’t specific to Sakura Con but looking at cosplayers I see a lot of longevity of the popular shows. I am really hoping 10 years from now that there will still be Kirito cosplayers. You can still see plenty of Sailor Moon cosplayers and Cardcaptor Sakura, which was very cute.
This question is for Adachi-san. Do the expressions of the characters come naturally for you? Does it just come to your mind?
Adachi: The character’s expressions seem to come pretty naturally to me when you look at the storyboard and visualize the scene. You go through it so many times in your head that the expressions come pretty naturally. However, all artists can identify that when you drawing a character with a certain expression, you tend to be mirroring that a lot and so when doing a sad expression, you look sad as an artist. As a smiling character, when you are doing a smiling character, you are also grinning and look pretty. I often look at myself that way as well.
Shifting to recent/current projects. Tomohiko-san, you are working on Silver Spoon, which is an agricultural-based series. Adachi is working on Galilei Donna. Can you please tell us a little bit more of those projects?
Tomohiko: Silver Spoon is based on a manga by Full Metal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa. Unlike Sword Art Online, it takes place in a special school, an agricultural school and so the story is very subdued. As a show to work on after SAO, it was a very refreshing change and saved me mentally and physically.
Shingo: Galilei Donna was a first for me because this was my first very first original title. We started from no artwork to base any character designs on. They are original shows where the concept area may have been done by a famous illustrator but for Galilei Donna, we really started, fully, from scratch.
Adachi: I will be repeating myself but versus when I started from scratch, titles such as SAO and Working!! are based on already popular titles, so you can already see what kind of audience you will be hitting and what kind of audience you want to grab. But when I have to start from scratch, I have to come up with key visuals that will be grabbing people to try out episode one. That is, pretty much, where all of my effort went into. I really put a lot of effort into the jacket art for the Blu-Rays of Galilei Donna, so if you can even just Google the jacket and look at them, there are six of them, from volumes one to six. I might be very happy if you can look at that and think of what I did.
To start off Sakura-Con 2014. I wanted to attend the opening ceremony however, after 2 hours of getting into my cosplay. I missed the opening ceremony. With this set back, I decided to roam the convention in my cosplay and was stopped quite a few times for photos. After roaming the convention floor, I sat in on the Aniplex panel followed by the Sword Art Online (SAO) and Magi Directors panel with Ito and Masunari. In the Aniplex panel, we were given updates on releases under Aniplex and a project to bring in new voice acting talent into the anime industry. For the SAO and Magi Directors panel, the main focus was on the director’s experiences working as directors. Read the rest of this entry →
After the Directors panel ended. I spent the rest of the day enjoying Sakura-Con while in cosplay and went to the Exhibitors’ Hall & Artist Alley for a quick look through. The night ended with me completing a few emergency repairs to Foxfire Ahri. The repairs ended just as the sun started to rise. The time… around 6:00 am…
For day 2, I had a group interview to do followed by ELISA’s concert. Again I got into my cosplay and walked through the Exhibitors’ Hall & Artist Alley before the interview. For this interview I decided to be in cosplay because of the League of Legends shoot that was happening during the interview.
It was interesting being in a complex cosplay during the interview. It was uncomfortable and quite a challenge to take photos during the interview. If you are up for punishment, go for it but if you aren’t into punishment, I recommend you don’t do what I did. After the interview ended, and I gave my contact cards.
My initial plan was to finish the interview and to hopefully join in on the shoot just before it wrapped up. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. I missed the league shoot but managed to catch up with a few friends. Luckily I had some time and I forced myself to take photos of cosplayers that caught my attention.
After hanging out and doing various things. I needed to change out of my cosplay and prepare for ELISA’s first North American concert.
To say the least, the concert was amazing and an encore was asked by the audience. ELISA responded to the audience’s request for an encore by singing Oboete Imasuka (Do You Remember Love), from Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. With the end of the concert, I walked out the concert area and soon enough. A cosplay group caught my interest.
After the Xenosaga shoot, I decided to spend sometime with a few friends and play Cards Against Humanity. Unfortunately I could not go to sleep due to repairs my Foxfire Ahri cosplay needed. After completing the repairs to Foxfire Ahri, I managed to get at most 3 hours of sleep…
Day 3 morning, I had a shoot with my cosplay and the experience was amazing. If you are wondering how amazing. I was set on fire. The photo will explain my feeling from the morning.
After the morning shoots, I decided to do another sweep through the dealers’ area and ran into a few friends. With the end of the morning of Day 3. I had to get ready to do a photoshoot with a cosplayer. I made my way to my hotel room to changed out of Foxfire Ahri. After changing out of Ahri, I left the room and was on my way to the meet up location.
With the last hours of Sakura-Con 2014, I spent that time doing the shoots and decided to skip the closing ceremony. Thus why I do not have any closing ceremony coverage. The day ended with me catching up with as many friends as possible and getting ready to leave on Monday morning.
Overall thoughts, Sakura-Con 2014 was an enjoyable time for me. For all three days I was in cosplay as Foxfire Ahri for the majority of the time. Even though I did not attend as many panels as I would like to. It was an interesting experience balancing my press duties and being in cosplay while doing my best not to hit people with my tails. For Sakura-Con 2015, I might do another cosplay while doing press. This time the cosplay won’t be as complex, troublesome and will allow me to take more photos next year… I hope…
Just over a month has passed since Tsukino-Con 2014, and I have finally uploaded all the videos I shot during my time staffing there! Mind you, that was my first time ever filming with that camcorder, so the results are not exactly ideal quality. Still lots of learning to do for me!
Click the YouTube icon on the right-hand side of the page to check out our channel, and our recent videos from Tsukino-Con 2014!
After watching the Sword Art Online (SAO) Extra Edition, on Daisuki.net. Here are my thoughts on the Extra Edition (episode) and the teaser we were given.
With the Extra Edition being over an 1 hour and half long. I had a good time watching SAO Extra Edition. Even though a good chunk, of the Extra Edition, was recap of the animated Aincrad and Fairy Dance Arcs. The pacing was executed in a timely fashion. We were introduced to new characters who will be in Sword Art Online II. Along with this, we did get a little more back story between a few characters with a new side story.
Overall, as a fan of Kawahara Reki’s Sword Art Online, I am quite pleased with Sword Art Online Extra Edition. The excitement I had for the Extra Edition was met and I feel quite satisfied. With that, the small teaser we were given at the end of Sword Art Online Extra Edition was marvelous. It was short simple and sweet. The teaser had me with my hands in the air in excitement. With this teaser announcement. I am even more excited for what is to come.
With this, a new year has dawned upon us and 2014 will begin. Many things have happened in the year 2013. Along with the undesirable moments that are inevitable, I can not wait to experience opportunities and good times I will need to find.
あけましておめでとうございます (Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu) / Happy New Years.
For this year, I had the opportunity to see ORIGA live and interview Yamaguchi Kappei, Furuya Tohru. If those names didn’t get your attention. Yamaguchi Kappei is the voice of Ussop in One Piece. Along with that, Yamaguchi has voiced Ranma and Inuyasha. For Furuya Tohru, think of Gundam, and now think of Amuro Ray. Yes, THE Amuro Ray from the Gundam Universe. If that didn’t interest you, what about Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask or Pegasus Seiya from Saint Seiya? Either way, it was great being able to meet Yamaguchi and Tohru. To ask a few questions and have the opportunity to have a photo with them. Along with that, just like any other convention I attend, there will be cosplay photography.
After the opening ceremonies I decided to check out Jessica Nigiri’s panel and the Q&A panel for ORIGA.
After the panels, I had some time to see a few of the cosplay contest entries.
With many thanks to Ms. Nigiri, we managed to get some time for a shoot. There is one thing I can say about the shoot, it was fast and I was furiously aiming for the shots. If you want to see more head over to my Facebook page D.I.S/C Photography.
After the shoot, I decided to focus on cosplay photography and was invited to a shoot for the Official PAX Prime 2013 RWBY team.
With the shoot over, the swimsuit contest underway, I decided to check it out and end the day.
For the majority of Day 2, I spent the day doing more press coverage. Checking out the Aniplex Industry panel, Yamaguchi Kappei’s autograph session, and ORIGA’s concert.
Even though the amount of information about the series is limited. I am excited for Kill la Kill. After the panel, raffle ticket door prizes were given out, and we were told of a promotion for checking out the viewing of the Sword Art Online (SAO) episode 1 and 2 dub. Even though I saw the world premier of SAO episode 1 and 2 dub with Kawahara Reki, Luna Haruna and Eir Aoi. I wanted to see the episodes again but I had press materials to attend too.
Oh my goodness, Sakuyamon.
After ORIGA’s live concert in the evening. Called it a day and prepared for Day 3.
For the final day of Anime Revolution 2013. In cooperation with SUTORAIKUanime, we interviewed Furuya Tohru & Yamaguchi Kappei in the morning hours. After the interviews, I decided to enjoy the rest of Anime Revolution 2013 by browsing the Dealers/Artist Alley, and cosplay photography before the closing ceremonies.
A change from Anime Revolution 2012, even though the location was at Canada Place. I was pleased they decided to have the panel areas in separate rooms. Overall, I had fun at Anime Revolution 2013.