Tony Yao has been an avid fan of Japanese pop culture since junior high school. He is currently the Production Coordinator/Writer for Samurai Beat Radioand blogs about the psychological aspects of anime/manga/video games at Manga Therapy. In his spare time, he enjoys exercising, watching sports, hanging out with friends, eating, a lot of sleeping, and obsessing over his favorite anime/manga series, Gintama.
JapanCulture•NYC is happy to have Tony on board for dispatches from last week’s New York Comic Con. Tony attended Japanese-related panels, interviewed guest speakers, and dissected the future of manga. Here’s part two of Tony’s three-part series about NYCC.
With Friday of New York Comic-Con covered, let’s take a look at what happened Saturday!
First up on Saturday morning was “Vertical Inc. Presents: Moyoco Anno,” which was moderated by Ed Chavez, Director of Marketing for Vertical Inc. For those who may not know, Moyoco Anno is one of the most influential mangaka in Japan today. Her josei comics (comics aimed at women) have generated much praise from fans and critics alike. Anno is most known for Sugar Sugar Rune, Flowers and Bees, Happy Mania, Hataraki Man, and Sakuran. She discussed how she got started in manga, her shift from shoujo to josei manga, and the themes from some of her notable series. Ed also talked how Anno being a josei mangaka made her stand out in Japan. A lot of fans (including myself) asked her a variety of questions and Anno gave out great answers to everyone. She has this amazing, graceful, and humble presence that you really have to respect. I mean, check out that kimono she wore.
Immediately after the Moyoco Anno panel, I went to check out the Rose of Versailles screening, hosted by Viki. They basically showed the first episode of the 1979 animated series with English subtitles. After the screening, there was an intensive Q&A session with Christopher MacDonald, CEO of Anime News Network, and Susan Napier, Professor of Japanese Studies at Tufts University and author of a wide variety of books on Japanese culture. Susan discussed the appeal of Versailles in Japan and how it revolutionized shoujo manga (e.g. the first sex scene in shoujo manga happened in Versailles). She even talked about the history of androgyny in Japan (the main character of Versailles, Lady Oscar, was a woman being raised as a man) as well. This was a really informative Q&A as I got to learn more about Japan’s interest in foreign culture and why Versailles is still loved after debuting 40 years ago in the pages of Margaret Magazine.
After a short lunch break, it was off to see “The Japan Foundation Presents: Danny Choo”. I don’t know where to start with this as Danny talked A LOT about his products, his services, his characters, and his programming. The guy is a very intelligent businessman who knows how to promote the spirit of Japanese culture (pop, modern, and traditional) to everyone. He even did a biography of his life as he was once a lonely UK geek who turned to Japanese pop culture to get through the day. The guy is the best positive example of what fandom can do to someone’s life. Danny gave some pointers on how to succeed if anyone wants to get involved in Japanese culture. He reminded everyone to “Discover and live your passion and the rest will follow.” It was a really inspiring panel and you can’t help but respect what Danny Choo has done to get to where he is. He’s an otaku that made it in Japanese mainstream media. Go read his blog right now.
The last notable panel I attended was the “Tiger & Bunny: Insider’s Panel,” organized by the folks of SUNRISE. Tiger & Bunny is a superhero anime series that portrays a world where superheroes fight crimes in a reality TV show. The man of the hour was none other than character designer and famous mangaka, Masakazu Katsura. Katsura-sensei was pretty busy the day before as he signed autographs at VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump Alpha Meetup at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Bryant Park. He was joined by Kazuhiko Tamura, SUNRISE producer of Tiger & Bunny. The two of them would yak it up and delighted the audience with their “ossan” banter. Katsura talked briefly about himself with regards to his art inspirations. He was also asked to do a drawing of one of the characters from Tiger & Bunny. What happened next was adorable. Instead of drawing a Tiger & Bunny character, he drew Batman (which the audience laughed and cheered). The panelists told him to stop fooling around and Katsura drew again. This time, it was young Goku from Dragon Ball. Katsura eventually drew one of the main characters, Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, in the end to satisfy the crowd. Katsura’s day wasn’t done as he attended the “Shonen Jump Alpha” panel immediately after the T&B panel. He discussed more about his manga series (Video Girl Ai, I”s, Shadow Lady, ZETMAN), why he got into manga (to buy a stereo), his love for American superheroes (Batman and Iron Man to name a few), and his conversations with Akira Toriyama (the world-famous mangaka of Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z) at the panel. If you’re interested in seeing Katsura’s works in anime form, both Tiger & Bunny and ZETMAN are up on Hulu.
We’re not done yet as the Sunday of NYCC is up next! Stay tuned for a recap of two really good Japanese culture panels to end the convention and some final thoughts as well! In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of Japanese superheroes at NYCC in the form of Tiger & Bunny cosplayers!
See you soon!