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Interview

Interview With Yuri!!! on ICE Creator Sayo Yamamoto: Part 2

July 28, 2017 10:30pm
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 for greatness. 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 second and final part of our interview with Sayo Yamamoto below:

-- Sayo Yamamoto, it’s an honor to have you here with us. Before anything else, I’d like to ask what experiences lead to you becoming an anime director?​

When I first entered the industry, I worked as a production manager at Studio Madhouse. That was around the turn of the century. From my very first day working there, I was driven to eventually become a producer. To do that however, I had to start as a production manager. Though, I didn’t really think that the job of production manager suited me very well. Managing schedules and wrangling people was not suited for me at all (laughs). I was thinking that if I had any breaks, I could try out some of the duties of a producer. I kept telling myself  “You can do this!” While performing production manager duties, I was also drawing storyboards - I was assisting in producing.

-- So what project did you first do storyboarding for?

At the request of my art director, Hideyuki Tanaka, I started working on some animations which were used as live visuals at a SMAP concert. The character designer and producer was animator Takeshi Koike. I was put in charge putting the storyboards into clean copy using Tanaka’s directorial notes and memos. Prior to this, I’d never actually storyboarded, yet I somehow manage to learn simply by watching others. 

Because I went to an art college, I was familiar with programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. It seemed like everyone at the Studio wanted me to make use of these skills, so I began studying key animation illustration so I could assist in those areas. I worked on Koike’s "TRAVA," "World Record" from "The Animatrix," and "Redline."

-- After that, what was your first project as an independent producer?

The first story I produced was an OVA called ‘Trava: Fist Planet, episode 1’ for a DVD magazine known as "Grasshoppa!". I was doing storyboarding and producing, but Takeshi Koike was director on top of doing all of the series key animation, there wasn’t much I could actually “produce” (laughs). Koike made most layout timing decisions when he reviewed them, and even when it came time for editing, most of those decisions were left intact. There wasn’t much left for me to do because the degree of completion on those layouts was already very high. 

-- You continued to have a good relationship with Takeshi Koike after this, and even did some more projects with him, right?

That’s right; I took up more jobs at Takeshi Koike’s side. During that first project, I felt like I had seen something quite amazing. Koike truly is a genius.

-- Following this, you moved from Studio Madhouse to Studio Manglobe, if I remember correctly? 

I wanted to continue honing my production ability by getting used to handling television series, but there weren’t many opportunities for me to do so at Madhouse, especially since I was asked to serve as an assistant director on one of their new film projects. If I were to continue being employed at Madhouse, I wouldn’t have much control over my workflow, so I started to consider my options. It was around this time that I first met Watanabe Shinichiro.

-- It would seem that you meeting with Watanabe Shinichiro would go on to shape a large portion of your career. What was it that lead to you two first meeting?

A fellow animator and acquaintance of mine was working at Madhouse at the time doing key animation for "Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door," who was invited to work on "Samurai Champloo." Around the same time Watanabe was looking for someone to fill a production role, where I was introduced shortly after. I believe that was sometime around the Autumn of 2003. I quit Madhouse and switched over to freelancing. As a freelancer, I joined with Studio Manglobe, and participated in "Samurai Champloo" as an episode director.

-- After this you would take on many more episode directorial roles, with your first full directorial work being the animated series Michiko and Hatchin. Before that however, I’d like to take a step back and ask about some other things. What anime influenced you, and was there any series in particular that prompted you to begin working towards a job in the industry?

There really wasn’t any series in particular that prompted me to work towards the industry. However while I was an art student, there was this Mac program called "Director." It was basically this presentation software that allowed you to animate things in 24 frames per second, which is the same as anime. Around this time I came across some still-shots of "Yojimbo" at school. (laughs)

-- Akira Kurosawa’s "Yojimbo"?

That’s the one. Especially the scenes in which Toshiro Mifune drew his sword and slashed people. I watched all those scenes and thought they were really cool. I tried drawing and animating the scenes myself in ‘Director’, and that was probably my first real inspiration for working in the anime industry. 

-- It was quite the coincidence that you would get to work on ‘Samurai Champloo’ then, wasn’t it?

Of course, at the time I had no idea that I would ever be doing that. (laughs) Looking back on it, I think that if I had seen pictures from Akira Kurosawa’s other work, "Ikiru," instead of "Yojimbo," I may have never even thought about trying out animation. 

-- So it was around the time you were in art school that you started to think about working in the anime industry? 

That’s right. At the time, Japan was undergoing some sort of employment recession, which made things quite difficult. Art school students already didn’t seek employment in traditional ways. If you were a graphic design student, then it would be common for you to join a design company, but for people like illustrators and painters, it’s not common to go job hunting. I was into environmental design, so I was in a similar situation. Many others lost the motivation to continue job hunting and decided to simply start their own businesses. I didn’t have that kind of confidence though. 

I was under the belief that having no job would be the equivalent to being homeless, and this led me to think that if I didn’t do something with momentum, I’d be stuck in a rut after graduation. However, I also didn’t have any distinct qualities as part of my artistic nature, so I figured I needed to hurry up and join some kind of organization or else I’d be in trouble. 

-- Since you mentioned your “artistic nature,” I’d like to discuss that briefly. In your directorial works "Michiko and Hatchin" and "LUPIN the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine," the protagonists were women who can, in many ways, be seen as both cool and strong in nature. However in your latest work, "Yuri!!! on ICE," this seems to change completely with the introduction of a mostly-male cast; and while there are some strong-willed women involved in the anime, the show still largely revolves around their male counterparts. To me, this seems to be your biggest artistic change. Would you mind explaining the reason behind that? 

For me, my artistic nature and the gender of my protagonists have no relation. In the case of Michiko, it was more the president (of Manglobe) saying that he wanted to do an action-battle show with a female protagonist. Since I had worked with Koike in the past, I suspect that I was seen as having a knack for a more “American Comics” style... Of course, in terms of my work, I can more or less tackle drawing (the depiction of) women, but really I had no strong interest to do so (laughs).

I think I was sometimes also seen as being skilled at drawing woman because I was a woman myself. But if you do watch my works, you’ll realize that I haven’t drawn women all that much! Requests for specific character traits like “lovers” or “family” are just that -- requests. Sometimes, I feel that to be a bit stifling. I like to depict whomever I please, regardless of age, race, and gender. With “Yuri!!!”, I was able to depict relationships and bonds without creative influence from others. This time, I wanted to create an impactful depiction of Men’s singles in figure skating in anime form! It wasn’t so much a matter of “I’m definitely going to draw men this time.” I had a love for figure skating that could not be suppressed, and since I did not have any orders from above, I planned the project with an attitude rather of “I’m definitely going to draw figure skating this time!”

-- The Japanese anime industry is often considered to be a place where women don’t really have the opportunity to flourish. Do you think that bias exists, even now?​

It was true that there were few women on production staff in the industry. When I was first looking for work, it was like that as well. And because there were few women on production staff, it was the men who moved up from those roles to become general producers and directors. But even in the past, I don’t think there was any huge split in the number of male and female animators.

-- Do you think this is changing?

I think so. I’m currently working at MAPPA, and most of the people who come on to projects are women. 

-- What do you think changed?

Although I’m not really interested in defining people in rigid terms of two genders… I feel like girls are more likely to get the job these days. That’s really all there is to it. (laughs) There’s a lot of diligent women, and there’s a lot of men who drift around a little too much. Perhaps men have gotten used to an easygoing lifestyle -- but that’s just life. 

I think it’s just because they can continue doing what they love at work their whole lives. Women on the other hand; they get married, have kids --these are critical junctures that place a limit on what they can do throughout their lives, and they realize that they don’t have time to rest on their laurels as much. As soon as you realize that, it’s difficult to live that easygoing lifestyle. Before I originally began looking for a job, I knew an assistant stylist who was in her 50’s. She once told me that “idiocy is only forgiven until age 26.” And “If you only do as well as a man, you’ll never be recognized.” She probably lived quite a tough life to have said that. She originally started working in the 70’s, and I felt a really persuasive tone from her. It really got me thinking about a lot of things.

-- She must have lived through a much crueler time, right?

I agree. That’s why I ended up leaving Studio Madhouse when I was 26 years old. I believed that I had to become a producer on my own, and it was at this time I became involved in the aforementioned "Samurai Champloo."

-- Not only women, but now more and more foreigners are getting involved in Japanese animation. Do you think the industry will accept such changes in the future?

I think that it’s best that we embrace this. I don’t think there is any difference between Japanese and non, besides our nationality. If one has a vision of what they want to create, then as an industry, it’s best for us to work together. If you are motivated, then I urge anyone to get involved in the industry regardless of race.

-- Going back to your first directorial work, "Michiko and Hatchin," what aspects of your workflow and planning have changed significantly leading up to your more recent works? ​

The director creates while imagining what they want to make. The director can embody the image of the project while sharing what they can say "is the most interesting" with their staff... as I had imagined. It is completely different.

-- As you mentioned earlier, you were a young lady working to manage on your own in the animation industry, which meant your first work was a turning point.

Yes, and even though I don’t like to place a whole lot of focus on my being a woman, of course being tasked with directing was a huge turning point.

-- Are there ever times that you look back on your previous works?

I don’t do that at all, actually. (laughs) When you start to look back on previous works, doesn’t it all become a bit scary? I start to think “Aren’t I going to die soon?” thinking about the years passed since. I feel like when I’m working on something, I’ve already checked it to death in the process. I always work to the absolute best of my ability on everything, so I really don’t need to look back on it anymore. (laughs) 

This became especially apparent when I became a director and began creating plots myself. When those plots became screenplays, I checked them. Even when someone else created the storyboards, I was always checking them. I’ve seen it all so much (laughs). So I always give priority to making new things. And now, even though I am working on the theatrical version of "Yuri!!!", my head is pretty occupied with the current figure skating season too. The Olympics only come once every 4 years!!!

An exemplatory talent well beyond her years, Sayo Yamamoto is without a doubt an individual who was born to make history. Through her progressive mindset, we're offered a peak into the innerworkings of the anime industry, that only she could offer. It was shared yesterday that her animated series "Michiko & Hatchin" is also now available on Crunchyrollwhich is excellent news. With the anticipation leading into the Yuri!!! on ICE film reaching it's peak, we couldn't be more excited to share the second and final part of our interview with Sayo Yamamoto with everyone. If you're interested in checking out the first part of our interview, you can find it here

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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. 

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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

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'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

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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

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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

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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

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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. 

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