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Interview With Yuri!!! on ICE Creator Sayo Yamamoto: Part 1

June 30, 2017 12:00am
by Lachlan Johnston

Sayo Yamamoto is, without a doubt, one of the most diversely talented individuals in the Japanese animation industry. She's a woman shrouded in a veil of mystery, cast simply to ensure attention is set on her work, rather than herself as an creator. Set aside a few convention appearances, Sayo Yamamoto has always been one to ensure that her own hard work does all the talking she could ever need to do herself. That's why when the unique opportunity to conduct the first ever English-language interview with Ms. Yamamoto presented itself, there was no way we would turn it down.

Even if you're not familiar with Sayo Yamamoto as a person, it's almost certain that you will be familiar with her works. From "Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine" to "Michiko and Hatchin", all the way to her more recent "Yuri!!! on ICE", it would appear that everything Sayo Yamamoto touches is destined to turn to gold. She started off at the bottom and worked her way to the top, one step at a time. Unafraid to move forward without ever looking back, Ms. Yamamoto is more than just a role model for women, she's a role model for society as a whole. Her signature style would go on to portray women as more than just side characters, but as powerful leaders that could do everything their male counterparts could and so much more.

Conducting the interview was Dai Sato -- an individual who is equal parts a collaborator and friend of Sayo Yamamoto's. In the past, the pair worked together on animated treasures such as "Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine", "Samurai Champloo", and "Space Dandy", amongst a diverse list of other titles. The interview had a distinct air to it, feeling more like a discussion between old friends than the nitty-gritty talks between publication and director. Split up into multiple-parts, you can find the first part of our interview with Sayo Yamamoto below:

Let’s talk about your latest animated series, “Yuri!!! on ICE”, and jump right into the deep-end of it. First off, in the credits there’s a section under the title of “Name (Rough Sketch)”, but what exactly entailed for this position? Both your name, as well as the established mangaka Misturo Kubo are both listed under this “Name” title, rather than the more traditional “screenplay”. Could you tell us why it is that you chose to work under this title?

Well, I originally sat down and thought about the structure and plot of the series; following this myself and Ms. Kubo worked out the details for episodes 1 - 5. From episode 6 onwards however, it was a totally different dimension (laughs). In the Grand Prix, we wanted to have at least six skaters go up against each other. The actual episode of the series ran for about 20 minutes and 10 seconds, with the actual short programs running for about 2 minutes and 50 seconds, while the free programs would run for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

When we ordered the music, we reduced the length of it to about 2 minutes. In a bid to keep all of the elements from the skating program, we had our choreographer Kenji Miyamoto make adjustments to transitions and spins so it would all fit the cut. Even then, we still had to make it shorter; this is where we decided how many minutes each character would skate, we pretty much calculated absolutely everything. Then both Ms. Kubo and I decided on the key elements we wanted to incorporate into each episode, and would write them into the plot. After all these discussions, this was the point in which Ms. Kubo would start writing the names.

When comparing a “name” to a “script”, the sketches are kind of like stage directions. It’s as if each drawing or sketch represented a different movement or scene. As a matter of fact, these “names” were the script. Try not to overthink it though, it’s essentially just the same thing as a regular script… (laughs). Given the nature of “names” however, they actually helped a whole lot when we began drawing details such as facial expressions for the characters.

Generally when an anime is created, it’s based on a pre-existing manga series or light novel, making it a little easier to work with. With “Yuri!!! on ICE” however, there was no source manga to be used as a basis. So the thought of you bringing on board a manga artist to work with you on an original anime was quite revolutionary. Where was it this idea came from?

When I first thought of the project, I was considering working together with a screenwriter, thus taking the traditional route. I quickly realized however that screenwriters are typically working on multiple projects simultaneously, so I felt as though it would be difficult to find someone who could dedicate all their time and think about figure skating as seriously as myself (laughs). Right around that time, I was avidly listening to a radio show called “All Night Nippon”, which featured both Ms. Kubo and Mineko Noumachi. Even though I was just a listener, I always thought I could probably become good friends with Ms. Kubo (laughs).

Eventually I heard her talk about figure skating on the radio, and I thought her perspective was extremely interesting. I knew she had contributed to the 2011 film “Moteki” as a screenwriter in the same “name” format we utilized. However, after doing some further research, I found out she had been writing for “Shonen Magazine” here in Japan for quite some time. It was after this discovery that I started to picture her writing scripts for a TV series. Admittedly, it was also a huge bonus to know that she was experienced in making manga based on novels as well. I had this idea that she must be accustomed to collaborating and creating various projects with others.

Were you acquainted with Ms. Kubo from the beginning?

No, not at all. I had previously made a PV for Japanese singer/songwriter Yasuyuki Okamura, and at the time Ms. Kubo was writing creating special manga boards as a bonus with Okamura’s releases. At a later point, I was invited for drinks with Mr. Okamura, and I mentioned me listening to Ms. Kubo on the radio, where he then mentioned him having her contact information (laughs). I guess you could say that my first real contact with Ms. Kubo was through this discussion with Mr. Okamura.  

“Yuri!!! on ICE” has been met with much praise internationally, and not just because of it’s figure skating theme. It features a diverse cast of foreign characters throughout the anime, and whilst that isn’t exactly very special in and of itself, it’s believed that they were drawn and animated extremely naturally. It isn’t exactly something that is done often in Japan, so was this done with a certain demographic in mind?

Actually, we weren’t thinking about a market demographic at all (laughs). It’s impossible to write about figure skating without depicting foreign characters, which is how that happened. What I always wanted to do was recreate and depict the stories of the top class skaters in each seasons final competitions. So it was kind of inevitable that the setting would take place on a global scale.

I went to the Figure Skating Championships which was held in the Czech Republic this past January and happened to see a spectator in cosplay. They were minding their own business, but I saw them in the hallways dressed like Victor. I accidentally yelled out “Wow! It’s Victor!” and they ended up hearing me, so they asked if I wanted to take a photo with them. I answered yes, and we ended up taking a picture together. I asked if they knew “Yuri!!! on ICE” and they said they knew about the show (laughs). Later on I saw the same person at the station, but this time they were dressed as Otabek… waiting and sitting there, just like Otabek would. It was really cute honestly.

It’s almost like there’s a totally different feeling when interacting with foreign fans, right?

Exactly! It wasn’t like they were jokingly going to the tournament wearing an outfit that just happened to look like cosplay either. I was completely overwhelmed with joy when I realized that people were starting to take interest in the sport of figure skating because they watched “Yuri!!! on ICE”. I’m sure you’re aware, but I’m not necessarily promoting the wearing of cosplay at figure skating tournaments. We wouldn’t want to distract the competitors, would we? (Laughs)

Since this was the first ever anime to revolve around the world of figure skating, there must have been quite a few challenges. After all, animating figure skating would appear to be an incredibly difficult process. Did MAPPA know what they were getting themselves into right from the early proposal stages of the project?

You know, there’s no real guarantee that any original anime will be a success. I realize how difficult it can be just to get a proposal through, but I thought that if I ever made something, I would just throw it out there regardless of how reckless it may seem (laughs). I believe it’s important that when proposing such an idea, you take a moment to think and verbalize as many interesting ideas as you possibly can.

As for whether or not the production staff were aware of the difficulty of the figure skating scenes, we had already given the work orders for the songs and the choreography during the series construction stage, so I’m sure they were aware. There were moments however where I was asked to reduce some aspects during production when the team were struggling to get the work done.  

How was the planning originally decided?

It was around the year 2012 when I started having these desires to make an anime about figure skating. I was previously the director for a project called “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine’, and it was during that process that I decided my next animated project would be about something I truly care about, which was of course figure skating. There were often times when people would approach me and ask if I had any original ideas, and when I would suggest a figure skating anime, they would typically reject the thought (laughs). Usually they’d simply shake their head due to the sheer difficulty of such a project. I’d also get a lot of questions regarding whether it would be a “student figure skating club”.

When talking about modern anime that share similar themes, such as “Yowamushi Pedal” and “Haikyuu!!”, it’s not often that you’ll see professionals of the sport being drawn, but I think that’s just the style of anime. With this work however, you flipped that convention on its head, and I think we all found that extremely interesting.

Thank you very much! When you’re in the process of planning an anime, you get a large amount of pressure to make the main characters young, and if the story is set in a modern time, they inevitably leads to the character being a student. I think that’s why a lot of the people who aren’t interested in figure skating thought this would be about a school club. On top of that, I feel as though people thought it would be easier to simply jump on the bandwagon of previous anime that have found success with amateur sports clubs. I also had a lot of people telling me that the series wouldn’t find success if it wasn’t based in Japan, and that nobody would follow it if the characters didn’t have Japanese names. But my usual reply was “Huh? What’s makes you think that?” (laughs).

Looking back now, I think that “Yuri!!! on Ice” was the result of me ignoring all this “advice”, and simply making an anime that I myself would enjoy watching -- the story of a character who has already matured and is taking on their final skating season, not some story about a character who is just getting started. I feel as though that would make conveying my ideal image so much more difficult. So when I shared the idea of “Yuri!!! on ICE” with everyone, people said “If you have more matches, we’d have to draw more skaters and that’d make things even more complicated!” (laughs). I couldn’t even get a nod or a “That sounds interesting.”, but I was absolutely determined to create something incredible. If I tried creating something that people would simply “like”, it’d end up being nothing but commonplace and mundane.

What kept me motivated through the whole process was the inspiration I received from actual figure skaters while watching their matches. Even when their retirement could be just around the corner, they’d continue to keep fighting and challenging themselves -- that compassion for what they loved really stuck with me. That’s why I first came up with the idea of Yuri and Victor; a skater on the edge of retirement and a world champion who becomes his coach, all while remaining both his hero and rival.

It almost seems like you were on some sort of lifelong mission to turn your passion for figure skating into an anime. Was there any particular moment that triggered this?

During the production process for “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, Japan was devastated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and then immediately after that, one of my relatives passed away. My mental state was a total disaster. Usually as a director, there’s a certain element that drives you to create something interesting based on what you’re given, but I’d lost any emotional capacity to do that. I started to think to myself that it would be impossible to pull anything great out of someone else’s idea. It was at this point I realized I needed to create something from the heart, and for me that was figure skating.

I’ve heard there’s a lot of writers and creators in the industry who are afraid to apply the things they truly like into their works.​

I hear that quite often too, the belief that you shouldn’t bring the things you like into your work. I had actually forgotten all about this, but the reason it was important for me to turn my figure skating passion into an anime was that doing anything else would have been impossible. The process of creating anime has become a really tough operation for me as of late. It was like I was creating, yet at the same time I was beating myself to death over it. My hands moved slow, and I would force myself to stay awake just in order to finish a project on time. So I thought to myself that I needed to work on a topic that I would never grow tired of, something that would keep me awake all day. Otherwise, I don’t think I could have ever made another anime, all while thinking “Someday I’m going to make something I like” (laughs).

A woman talented well beyond her years, Sayo Yamamoto is a model example of just what the Japanese animation industry needs. We continue to expand upon this in the second part of the interview which will be made available in the near future. A preview of the second part is featured in our 'Yuri!!! on ICE' film announcement piece, which was made available here.


Capcom Sees Switch as Home to Previously Unavailable Games

December 13, 2017 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

In a recent interview with Japanese newspaper Nikeii, Capcom's CEO and Chairman Kenzo Tsujimoto discussed his desire to bring more of Capcom's expansive game catalog to the Nintendo Switch, including titles that had not previously been released on Nintendo consoles. The statement came after he admitted that the 'portable home console' nature of the Switch was working better than previously expected and that he would like to port more titles to it. 

With a number of Capcom titles that have never seen the light of day on Nintendo consoles, including that of Devil May Cry, Dragons Dogma, and a number of others, it's certainly good news for the platform. With both Resident Evil and Street Fighter now on the console, as well as the upcoming Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection which hits stores in 2018, we're finally starting to see movement on Capcom's behalf towards Nintendo's monolith console. 

With over 10 million units sold around the world in just nine months, and trajectories suggesting it'll outpace the Wii U's lifetime sales within its first year, it's certainly been a big year for Nintendo. We look forward to seeing what Capcom brings to the console leading into 2018. 


Upcoming 'Pop Team Epic' Anime Receives Two New Promo Videos

December 13, 2017 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

It can be said with very little doubt in my mind that when it comes to the icons at the forefront of modern Japanese pop culture, the faces and crudely drawn middle fingers of both Popuko and Pipimi from Pop Team Epic are definitely up there. In what was almost an overnight revolution, the four-panel manga series went from niche nihilistic commentary on the world to nationwide sensation, remaining consistently relevant throughout the year 2017.

For many, the series is most identifiable by the 2015-released Line stickers featuring the manga's two main characters. For others, it's through the original 4-panel series that offered us wonders such as the classic "God of Eurobeat" panel. In early 2018, however, there's about to be a whole new realm explored in way of the series' accessibility and the fanbase it reaches.

With a January 6, 2018, release date scheduled (lest there be another sudden three-month delay), we're less than a month away from the much-anticipated Pop Team Epic anime. We're of course yet to see just how it'll look in any capacity, but we've finally got our first promo videos.

When it comes to what you'd expect from a promo video for any Pop Team Epic-related material, I don't think there's anything more accurate than these two videos. Shot in the tourist-heavy Asakusa district of Tokyo, we find ourselves watching foreigners screaming very loudly in excitement and explanation for both fifteen-second and one-minute intervals. Cool. There's little explanation needed for the first video, though the summary of the second is that the individual talking is a fan of Japanese seifuku, and they go on to explain that their favorite anime is Basilisk, which results in both Popuko and Pipimi forcing them into the back of a bus. 

We're yet to receive our first glimpse at the anime in movement, and that only continues to raise a few questions. One particular detail that has me pondering is the studio handling it, Kamikaze Douga, have only been known in the past for their work on CG-anime. Does this mean we'll be seeing a full-CG anime to tackle the likes of both Popuko and Pipimi? If you're looking for an idea of what their previous and upcoming works look like, you might be familiar with a few of their previous works including the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OP and the upcoming Batman Ninja film which we got a look at the other day.

Either way, there's a lot of excitement mounting for the upcoming anime series, and we can't wait to see how it turns out. If you're wanting to check out any previous info about the series, be sure to check out our archives, here. Further information can be found via the official website, here.

Images: Pop Team Epic / Bkub Okawa / King Records


'Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1' US Theater Run Announced

December 12, 2017 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

After a world of anticipation following a global-first screening at Otakon 2017, followed by a subsequent Japanese cinema release, "Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1" is finally heading to theaters across the United States via FUNimation Entertainment. The film is set to screen on both February 5 and 7, offering Japanese audio with English subtitles. 

The first of a three-part out-of-this-world experience, "Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1" takes us on an adventure through the eyes of Renton Thurston, riding into the skies and pursuing a simple love in such urgent times of war. Taking viewers deeper than ever before into the mysterious "Summer of Love" phenomenon that happened prior to where the original series kicked off, "Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1" is as visually and sonically charming as it is compelling. 

Calling on much of the original staff from the 2005 animated series, including the likes of Tomoki Kyoda, Dai Sato, and Kenichi Yoshida, we can't wait for audiences in the United States to experience the trilogy's first film. For those of you interested in checking further into the film, as well as the screening locations, be sure to check out FUNimation's official website, here. We've also got a lengthy archive of content related to both the film, as well as scriptwriter Dai Sato available for your viewing pleasure, here.

Photo: FUNimation


Growing Up In One Of Tokyo's Largest Subculture Hubs

December 11, 2017 12:00pm
by Isaac Wong

Once upon a time between an alley leading into Nakano Sun Plaza and a local-branch of Yoshinoya, where a small pharmacist now stands, there used to be a timeless café by the name of Meikyoku Kissa Classic. Its leaning walls, old 78 RPM records, and horribly sweet coffee had been a haven for people wanting a reprieve from the overcrowded streets of Nakano for seventy glorious, long years.

The café was something special for a long list of reasons. Having survived the bombings of World War II and the endless decadence of the early 90’s, however, it was finally torn down in 2005 when owner Yoshiko Mimasaka passed away. (A second generation location has since opened in Koenji carrying over all of the furniture and records. You can look for Meikyoku Kissa Renaissance to find it.)

To this day, Classic is still one of my favorite spots in Nakano -- even a decade plus after its destruction. It represented many of the ward’s defining quirks. Tenacious, obsessive, obscure, mysterious, weird; it was a spot that defied time and space, almost as if it existed in a dimensional warp known only to the savviest of explorers. Nakano houses many of these worlds in its endless corridors and corners. A realm for every obsession, each more bizarre than the last. Nakano was where I was born, and Nakano is where I learned that the rest of the world is not Nakano.

Walking through Sun Plaza into Broadway is like crossing the threshold of the regular human world to that of uncontrollable fantasy. The brightly lit shopping strip at the front is squarely a spot for families and hungry weekenders, unremarkable save for maybe the density of pedestrians in this age of dying shotengais. However, as you reach the end of the strip, you may begin to notice a few fast-footed geeks striding defiantly against the crowd to reach the gates of Broadway.

There is a clear distinction that Broadway doesn’t reside in the same world from the get-go. A giant wall of rare doujins to the right, a used PC parts store to the left, and a general sense of eeriness to the dim lighting. Its still populated with people, but they seem to be here for a wholly different reason than the normals outside. You’ve just entered Broadway, the Holy Land of Subculture.

From the very beginning, the Broadway building was fraught with complications. A whole book can be written on this subject alone, but the long and short of it is that it cost ¥60,000,000 to construct (in 60’s money no less) and had a laundry list of people with a finger in the same pie. One of which was the children of a former Japanese General who committed suicide after the fall of Imperial Japan.

Incurring debt was like breathing air for the people attempting to maintain development, and construction had taken a large hit for it. With the grand design altered to favor both convenience and money for those involved, corridors inevitably turned into unintelligible spaghetti, with most corners leading to painful dead-ends. Storefronts are commonly hidden from pedestrians by random walls, and escalators and elevators are often placed in the most inconvenient locations for workers and customers alike. Its a far cry from what could have been.

This was the late 80’s and early 90’s, a time when money was flowing in uncontainable streams. Shinjuku and Shibuya were booming, absorbing cash flow like a parched sponge, thus sucking up revenue from most of the surrounding areas. No sane business owner would set up shop here, much less make a profit. The chaos within the walls was much too untamable, the world outside much too alluring. That was, of course, until rent prices were so low that one individual couldn’t pass up on the opportunity.

As those fortunate enough to have visited Nakano Broadway before may already know, a good 40% of the location is occupied by Mandarake, a used merchandise, and subculture haven. With a charming Kowloon-esque aesthetic and a penchant for scaring the life out of children, there's a whole lot to be said about the now legendary location.

Founded by Furukawa Masuzo in 1980, the former comic creator-gone-psychonaut entrepreneur clearly envisioned something incredible when he modestly borrowed the initial 6.5 square meter share space that would become Mandarake. Filled to the brim with old comics, signatures of famous creators, and animation cells, the visionary was able to capture the ease of access to creators in nearby locations and bring a bit of their magic to the general public. As patronage increased, the tiny store grew steadily until he was able to incorporate in 1987, spreading like wildfire into the surrounding unoccupied spaces. Once he obtained the main space on the third floor, the entire building breathed a new life never seen before.

I remember it clearly, the first time I went up that escalator to the third floor in Broadway -- it was nearly 20 years ago. The sheer amount of information being presented to me in one moment was enough to give me a fever that night. Since then, I've been totally obsessed with the place. It was a dark portal to every material thing that I’d ever want to be around in life. Mandarake was a catalyst for every niche hobby to find purchase in at Broadway.

Stores that exclusively sold Warhammer 30k miniatures, weapon shops selling faux blades, tacky shirt stores, a dozen different branches of Recomints (now defunct), an arcade dedicated specifically to “poverty” fighting games, fashion doll stores, a real-deal military surplus store, a bookstore filled with poetry and leftist literature, a bookstore filled with really questionable pornography and more. It was the only place you could buy a rare Otomo Hiroyuki compilation comic, cross the path to get your fortune told, go upstairs to look at animation cells, and then go downstairs to the basement to get some bleeding edge Japanese fashion.

The stores were strange because that building was the only place where they could thrive without judgment, not because they had any notion of strange subcultures being cool. Just as that sentiment was starting to turn on its head, however, Murakami Takashi began his expansion into Broadway totally changing what it means to be a nerd in the modern age.

As Meikyoku Kissa Classic was beginning to be torn down, Murakami Takashi was in the middle of his big foray into becoming the pop art legend he is today. His DOB series was a giant success, and his collaborations with figure maker and sculptor Bome regularly netted billions of dollars in the art market. He had rebranded nerddom as profitable, using Superflat aesthetics to validate the previously socially embarrassing past-time. Murakami was a household name in Japan; from Louis Vuitton to Kanye West, he had permeated the zeitgeist of the 00’s in a deep way.

One of the methods he used to retain a sense of currentness was to begin hiring prolific net illustrators and artists such as JNT, ob, and the now independent Chaos*Lounge crew to aid him in creating relevant work. In order to maximize the effectiveness of his new hires, Murakami opened Kaikai Kiki Gallery so that he could feature them and other internet-based artists in a fine art context, suddenly legitimizing an art form that was essentially no-brow. Something neither low for its subject matter or high for its commercial usability. Several new Murakami affiliated galleries and stores would pop up soon after, solidly ingraining his influence in the building. Almost overnight, Broadway becomes a hub for young artists and creators as a place to connect, research, and create.

Nakano Broadway is where I learned to be a creator as well as a consumer. Its a place where subcultures collide and new worlds are born, bringing waves of new appreciators with them. Its a place I sincerely want the best for, and god willing, a long and healthy lifespan. As it stands, the new Murakami developments are bringing in new customers from around the world, all of whom I hope grasped the magic of Broadway. Every dim corridor, every nonsensical corner of this building should be protected, and every weird soul that resides it celebrated.

May Nakano Broadway Live Ten Thousand Years.

Words by: Isaac Wong


Konomi Suzuki - Anime Festival Asia Interview

December 8, 2017 12:00pm
by Russell Medcalf

It comes but once a year; held within the confines of the utopian-like city-state of Singapore, the largest anime convention within its entire region -- C3 Anime Festival Asia Singapore. It's a convention with much to offer, but perhaps the most alluring being the multi-day spanning "I Love Anisong" concert event. This year's event, in particular, was something special; calling on the likes of ClariS for their first international performance, as well as the likes of fripSide, and Konomi Suzuki. We'll get back to that last name in a second. 

Being at the convention under the "press" moniker, I was given the unique opportunity to interview the extremely talented Konomi Suzuki, perhaps best known for her works on the "No Game No Life," "Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World," and the "The Pet Girl of Sakurasou " theme songs. The barely twenty-one-year-old superstar has had quite the expansive career, spanning all the way back to when she won the 5th Anison Grand Prix in 2011 -- a competition designed to highlight the best within the field. 

Sitting down with the anison icon, we discussed a number of topics ranging from her expansive career as a musician, all the way to her advice towards younger musicians looking to get into the field. You can find the full interview below:


It's a pleasure to speak to you today! Firstly, how do you feel about this year’s C3 AFA Singapore?

I went to C3 AFA last year too, so I’m very happy to be back for a second time. Besides this event, Singapore is a city that is very special to me personally; I actually came here as a student on a school trip whilst studying. I'm beyond happy to have the opportunity to perform here!

When it comes to songs you've performed, you specifically stated that "DAYS of DASH," the ending theme to "The Pet Girl of Sakurasou," is memorable to you. Can you tell us a little bit about why this is?

When "The Pet Girl of Sakurasou" originally came out, I was still studying as a full time student. I felt like I could really relate with the characters within the show. "The Pet Girl of Sakurasou" is partly about running towards your dreams, and with "DAYS of DASH" being the second single, I put myself together in with the characters. It had not been that long since my debut, so it really felt like running towards a dream is what I was doing!

When working on the theme song for "No Game No Life: Zero," the incredible "THERE IS A REASON," how did you find the creation process?

When I saw "No Game No Life: Zero," I was actually in the audience with everybody else. On top of that, I was actually crying alongside everybody else. As a song, "THERE IS A REASON" is definitely very different to what I'm used to -- especially being more of a ballad than usual.The song certainly focuses on the love the characters have for one another, so I put a whole lot of raw emotion into the track. 

You are the voice actress for one of the main roles in the upcoming anime "Lost Song." Can you tell us a little bit about your character?

Rin loves singing and she also loves to eat! Throughout the show you’ll see that her dream is to sing in a place called Oto. As "Lost Song" progresses, Rin meets more people and gains more experiences, so you witness a lot of her growth as a person. Please look forward to both Rin and "Lost Song!"

Do you perform any sort of good luck ritual before a concert?

I usually get really nervous before concerts, and it often gets to the point that the night before I can’t sleep and, on the day, I can’t eat. So I alway ask someone on my team to slap me on the back, really hard. That way, all the nervousness can get out of my body. After this is done, I feel like I can focus and do my best during my performance!

In the early years of your career, did you encounter difficulty while establishing yourself in the industry?

When I started off my music career it was very fun, however, there were a lot of hardships too. It was the same for me as it is for anyone starting off on a new venture. For example, when I was recording, it sometimes didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. Sometimes it was frustrating and, sometimes, I did cry quite a bit. But, because of that, songs have been created from all of those kinds of experiences. As an artist, you constantly have to keep up to ensure that you can share your work with the world. It is difficult, but I strive for a good balance.

Drawing from your experiences in the past, do you have any advice for young aspirational artists who want to try and work towards a career related to their creative passion?

If you think about it, realistically, pursuing your passion or dream is something very difficult. The key is to not fear that difficulty, simply put. Keep tackling it, and keep moving forward. When I first became a singer, I found that this was one dream I was able to take control of. But from that, I realised that I have so many more dreams! Pursuing dreams is something that we never stop doing. For those chasing their ambitions, my advice is to never give up. Ask yourself "Do you love what you’re doing?" If you do, then it is special to you and you should keep working on getting to where you want to be.

Finally to cap things off, are there any artists who you would like to collaborate with in the future?

The reason why I decided to pursue a career as an anison singer was because of Macross Frontier. If an opportunity arises, I would love to work with Sheryl Nome (voiced by Aya Endou) because she is someone who kickstarted my career.

I want to give a special thank you to Anime Festival Asia, and in particular for them allowing us to conduct this interview. On top of this, I want to offer my eternal gratitude to Konomi Suzuki for being such a genuine and nice individual while taking the time to answer our questions. If you're interested in checking out any of our previous industry interviews, you can find them here.

Words & Interview: @AnimeRuss
Images used with permission from C3 Anime Festival Asia Singapore


This Very Good Boy Is the New Face of Adobe for 2018

December 5, 2017 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

The highly-competitive landscape of digital advertising is truly a dog-eat-dog world for the mega-corporations that operate within our digital frontier. Companies are seemingly giving it their all to ensure that their brand comes across the sassiest, as shown by the likes of the Wendy's, or even the most creative, as represented by the likes of Arby's. Well, now Adobe is stepping forward with their own take on the social media game, introducing their new chief advertiser: Maru the Shiba Inu.

In celebration of the upcoming Year of the Dog, Adobe Systems has gone ahead and appointed the ever-important role of chief-advertiser to the incredibly Instagram famous good boy. With a little over 2.6 million followers on the Instagram platform, Maru is far from your ordinary dog. Tackling the role previously filled by clearly lesser humans, Maru is the perfect ambassador for more dog roles in the industry. In 2013 the fluffy entrepreneur proudly boasted his job to be enjoying the beach, though now he's clearly stepped it up in the professional business world:

However this ends up going down for Adobe, we're definitely excited to see how it all paws out. To celebrate their newfound employee, they're currently running a design contest for a New Year's card featuring the small friend. By visiting the official website you can download your own template to get right into it. Here's a little picture of Maru being a good friend sitting in on one of the business meetings during the design of his very own New Year's card:

P.S. If my New Year's card doesn't have Maru on it, I probably won't be hanging it up. Sorry. 

Source: Adobe


Capcom Announces 'Mega Man 11' for Next Year

December 4, 2017 2:00pm
by Mike Tamburelli

In a Blue Bombshell of an announcement, Capcom has announced that they are continuing Mega Man's legacy, and that they are doing so in an exciting new 2.5D style. 

The announcement of Mega Man 11 was part of a livestream for the series' 30th anniversary. The new game will feature character designs by veteran character designer Yuji Ishihara. The game will be launching for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC at the end of 2018. Check out the trailer below.

It seems that we can now finally forget about Mighty Number 9, as the true Blue Bomber is back to claim his rightful throne -- even if that is a strange thing to say considering that series creator Keiji Inafune worked on Mighty Number 9 and presumably not on this title.

More information is slated to be revealed next Summer, but the trailer does certainly put some big gameplay tidbits on display, including the all-important powers. That block raining power? Just beautiful!

Finally, in addition to the new game announcement, the company also revealed that the Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC would also be receiving all of the Mega Man X series games, and that the Switch will also play host to a release of Mega Man Collection 1 and Mega Man Collection 2  featuring the classic originals, complete with amiibo support.