When people think Japanese pop culture, anime and manga immediately spring to mind. In this respect, Waku Waku +NYC sought to have anime and manga-related content for our event, but we also wanted to give our attendees some rare opportunities. Between our incredible guests, unique performances, and rare screenings, we hope you had a wonderful time.
Waku Waku +NYC featured such popular anime as Kill la Kill, Sword Art Online, and Dragon Ball Z (with Dragon Ball screenwriters Takao and Makoto Koyama doing Q&A afterwards!), but there were a couple of very rare and special works in our lineup. The first was a screening of the 1000th episode of Chibi Maruko Chan, the long-running show featuring Japan’s favorite snarky little girl. Showing what happened the day Maruko Chan was born, the audience was full of people who had heard of Chibi Maruko Chan and its popularity, but had yet to see what the show was really like. During the event we gave out surveys asking what they thought of the anime, and the response was overwhelming: “We want more Chibi Maruko Chan!” We hope we can answer your requests for next year!
The second was a new remastering of Sanrio’s 1970s stop-motion film The Nutcracker, directed by artist and Waku Waku +NYC guest Sebastian Masuda. The only one of Sanrio’s 1970s major animated films to not be licensed for the US, Sanrio fans and fans of classic animation could see the film in exquisite quality. To call it “restored,” would not be doing it enough justice, because it looked even better than it did when it originally showed decades ago!
Voice Actors Justin Cook and Max Mittelman
We also brought two voice actors to Waku Waku +NYC, Justin Cook and Max Mittelman, though it might have been a little unfair to call them only voice actors. After all, both have experience and talent in other areas. Justin Cook began working as an ADR Engineer for FUNimation, helping to record the sound used for dubs, and eventually found himself behind the mic. Max Mittelman’s panel also involved teaching attendees how to beatbox, and if we see a generation of beatboxing voice actors, we’ll know how to thank. One thing that was really great was how willing they were to talk with their fans. I happened to catch Justin Cook waiting for the bus, just chatting it up with a few attendees, including Android 17 and 18 cosplayers!
Takao and Makoto Koyama
As mentioned above, Takao and Makoto Koyama were guests at Waku Waku +NYC, which was their very first event in the US. Takao Koyama is renowned throughout Japan as one of its most celebrated animation screenwriters, with credits on Dragon Ball Z, Saint Seiya, Might Gaine, and more. His son Makoto, who also works in anime and games as a writer, is building up quite the resume himself.
At their panel, Takao talked about some fascinating aspects of anime writing and production, but what perhaps surprised the entire audience was the fact that Takao Koyama explained how he got his first writing job at the famed Tatsunoko Pro anime studio: he lied. Straight from the horse’s mouth, a young Takao told the studio that he had experience writing scripts when the very opposite was true, and after getting hired took a crash course to learn. However, it soon became apparent that he was in way over his head, and it was only through continuous on-the-job training that he got to where he is today.
Another interesting bit of trivia from Takao was the fact that he had written many scripts for the anime Don Dracula, which was canceled after 4 episodes. Based on the work of “god of manga” Osamu Tezuka, the entire series was actually pretty much completed before the sponsors pulled out. However, Takao also had this to say: if Don Dracula hadn’t died, then he probably would have never written for Dragon Ball Z! After all, most of the staff that worked on Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z were alumni from the previous Akira Toriyama anime, Dr. Slump, and Takao only got that opportunity because Don Dracula got canceled. Talk about a twist of fate!
— Waku Waku +NYC (@wakuwakunyc) September 3, 2015
After the event, Makoto Koyama commented on Twitter that he was surprised how much New York anime fans love Android 16 from Dragon Ball Z! What do you think might explain the characters’ popularity? Anime News Network Panels Speaking of Osamu Tezuka, he was one of the many subjects covered by our educational programming track, courtesy of Anime News Network. Author, scholar, and journalist Roland Kelts gave a fantastic presentation about the life and work of Tezuka, about his historical context growing up before, during, and after World War II, and his connection to both classic Japanese art and modern anime and manga. It was a great panel for those who might have heard of Tezuka. Quite helpfully, someone’s uploaded the panel to YouTube for you to watch!
If we’re talking about the biggest anime-related surprise at Waku Waku +NYC, however, it might very well be Shinkansen Robo SHINKALION from East Japan Marketing & Communications. Based upon the ubiquitous bullet trains of Japan that allow commuters and travels to get from one side of Japan to the other in mere hours, SHINKALION is an awesome media property with animations, toys, and more. Waku Waku +NYC attendees were given the opportunity to meet SHINKALION in person, and even though they might not have known who he was before Saturday, they jumped at the opportunity to pose with the mighty robot, including Anime News Network’s Mike Toole, and a certain flute-playing hero in green!
— Mike Toole (@MichaelToole) August 29, 2015
So what was your favorite anime event at Waku Waku +NYC? What screenings would you love to see, and what guests would make your day? This year was awesome, but we want to make things even better for next year!