Otakon 2013: 10-minutes with Yuzuru Tachikawa and Michihiko Suwa

narutaki_icon_4040 There was a special presentation at Otakon 2013 about the young animator and director project called Anime Mirai with producer Michihiko Suwa and director of the Death Billiards short Yuzuru Tachikawa. Over the weekend all of the shorts were shown in 3-parts divided up by year.

At this point, most people have probably seen Little Which Academia but may not know it was funded through the Anime Mirai initiative. Many more probably hadn’t seen Death Billiards until Otakon’s weekend. Once you have seen it however, it is impossible to forget. Many are looking forward to what Mr. Tachikawa will do next.

Mr. Suwa has a great history in the anime business as a producer for mega hits like City Hunter and Inu-Yasha, as well as the indomitable Detective Conan. He appeared at Otakon before in 2007 along with director Mr. Kenji Kodoma and presented the U.S. with its first look at Kekkaishi.

Anime Mirai started in 2010 and was renewed in 2012 and 2013. Studios have already been announced for the continuation of the project in 2014, too. Each year studios pitch ideas and are given the funds to make a short anime. These shorts are funded by Japanese government grants in the hopes of promoting innovation and young talent in the anime industry.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #213

As a Type-Moon fan there are a lot of major parts of the company’s works that are relatively easy to find. All of the anime can be found with only minor difficulty (and a good deal of it legally), the visual novels are at least partially translated, and most of the manga has at least a few chapters available in English. But there are still a few rare gems for the truly hard-core. One of them I finally found are some translations of some of Takashi Takeuchi’s old Valkyrie Profile doujinshi Valkyria.

Valkyria, Valkyria 2, and Valkyria NEAV SAGA each focus on a different Valkyrie who follows around a chosen hero in hopes that they might be able to capture their soul to make them their Einherjar before they die. All the heroes are slightly (and often rightfully) worried that their Valkyrie might be tempted to kill them to make sure they can properly capture their soul as opposed to just waiting for them to die normally.

The Valkyrie series is interesting to see for a variety of reasons. The first is that the series is a clear look at Takeuchi’s art style before Tsukihime. While his art style has clearly evolved from this, to this, to this you do not get a full understanding of his journey as an artist until you view his even earlier work. When you realize that Ciel was heavily based on Clobette from Valkyria 2 it is easy to see a straight line of progress.

It is also one of the few times you get to see Takeuchi do his own story and artwork in a manga format. That means you see the stories that Takeuchi would tell without working together with Nasu as well as how he lays out panels when his art is not just character designs and mostly static images in a visual novel. It does make me wonder what a long running manga series from Takeuchi would look like. It also might provide some good clues into what parts of Tsukihime and Fate/Stay Night are Nasu’s and which parts are strongly Takeuchi influenced.

The stories themselves have a distinctly short format. But considering these were sold at Comiket it then makes perfect sense. You have to quickly tell your story to an audience that you may never see again. Therefore all the stories are very self-contained even when they have a slightly bit of a shared story. On the other hand there is an assumption that you have at least a passing familiarity with Valkyrie Profile. But that is a common conceit in a good deal of doujinshi.

I’m not going to pretend this is the greatest work out of what would go on to be half of Type-Moon. The stories are charming but ultimately very light stories. It was nice on the other hand to see the humble beginnings of Bamboo Broom and think about how that would eventually become the larger machine it is today.

sep-books

 I was sent a review copy of the self-published e-book book An Otaku Abroad which is a travel guide for first timers heading to Japan.

There is a great overview in this book from deciding when and how to travel all the way to visiting temples. And a whole section is dedicated to studying abroad which I thought was a very thoughtful piece and a really common way a lot of young people get to Japan, too. This was the author’s ticket to Japan so she had a lot to say on the subject.

Since this book is written by an individual there were some sections that she didn’t have as much advice for such as flying domestically within in Japan. While she did research the subjects she was less familiar with, it might be helpful to have another contributor or two to add to these portions to round things out.

Since it is a digital book, one of the cool things is having links right in the text that can take you to handy supplemental sites. I learned of a few places and added them to my bookmarks for my mythical trip to Japan someday.

Even though the title says otaku, the guide doesn’t really focus on anime/manga related things which I found a little disappointing. There are a few mentions throughout the locations section and a very nice Top Ten Anime Sites list at the end. I’d like to see the anime/manga part of the guide bulked up to really give it that special hook.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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