AnimeNEXT 2011: Production I.G

 Lucky for us AnimeNEXT has hosted people from the esteemed Production I.G studio back to back. Last year it was director Kenji Kamiyama and for 2011 key animator Satoru Nakamura along with storyboarder and episode director Koudai Kakimoto visited the New Jersey convention. They are key parts to what makes the studio unforgettable and known for good quality. While they weren’t announced till very close to the con, that didn’t prevent them from being a bright spot in the weekend.

Just like Otakon recently always has someone from Madhouse every year I wonder if we will regularly have a guest from Production I.G at AnimeNext. Production I.G is a great studio so if this remained a trend I would hardly be upset. Satoru Nakamura may not be as flashy a name as Kenji Kamiyama but he has a celebrated career in the animation industry and has worked on titles as diverse as Macross Plus and Steamboy to Hyper Doll and the U.S. cartoon Galaxy High School. Plus we got some amazing news out of the Production I.G panel that put Narutaki into a state of pure orgasmic bliss. One line alone was enough to make it all worth while.

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People Still Watch Anime?: A Guide for Fallen Fans

hisuiconRecently my old friend Ben McGraw, make a post request that we  felt was a brilliant idea for the site. He wanted a list of anime that he could watch as someone who loved Cowboy Bebop but had not watched anime since. Regular readers of the blog may have seen most if not all of these shows. That is because this list is not directly for you. This is a list for your friends, family, and coworkers. We picked 10 newer shows that will appeal to fans who have either fallen out of anime fandom or were never that into it in the first place. Everything on this list is licensed, has a dub, and is easy to obtain so there is no major obstacles to overcome when watching any of the shows below.

I know I certainly have friends who aren’t in on the anime scene anymore, so this list is something that runs perfectly along those lines. They are probably never going to stay up on what’s new each season or even want to spend enough time digging through all the new shows to find the ones for them. While this list is of course not the only shows that we would recommend, they all are good, most even great, and have enough to make the impact on fans who have been down and out for a while. It’s not a bad idea to remind people why they started watching anime in the first place.

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AnimeNEXT 2010: Kenji Kamiyama

A great guest elevates a convention. And a great guest at a smaller con is an opportunity not to be missed. Kenji Kamiyama is that type of guest. There is a level of intimacy present at AnimeNEXT between attendees and guests that you just can’t get with 20,000 more fans milling about the halls. With that in mind and a press badge to boot we got to hear a lot from Mr. Kamiyama over the weekend.

hisuiconThe multi-talented Kenji Kamiyama is a high caliber guest and I was extremely pleased to see him at the convention considering how much I have enjoyed his body of work. AnimeNEXT and Kenji Kamiyama were very accommodating in providing everyone an autograph and Q&A sessions on Friday and Saturday as well and a Press Conference. AnimeNEXT bent over backwards to make him as accessible, this is the real thrill of a well run mid-sized con; you still have the ability to interact with a Japanese guest.

Kenji Kamiyama has filled many roles in the animation industry from background artist to writer but he said the goal was always to direct. And direct he has. After studying under the famous Mamoru Oshii and still working with his mentor from time to time, he has created a modern, intelligent, and growing body of work which includes directing Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East. Production I.G’s great library, and place in my heart, is in no small part thanks to this man. I happily waited in line to wait for his autograph with a crowd that was content and dignified when they approached him. He acknowledged two people cosplaying Takizawa and Shiratori from Eden of the East happily and I saw him chuckle a bit when someone handed him a Tachikoma to sign (I then chastised myself for not doing the same). This open and light vibe was felt throughout the con.

hisuiconWhile he is most famous for his work on Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East, his directorial work on Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit, Mini Pato, plus his various other scriptwriting and assorted jobs in the animation industry are equally remarkable. He is someone who slowly but surely worked his way to the top. I am curious to know if any of our readers could spot how his various roles in the industry have influenced his directorial style. I too regret not bringing something better to sign as I own all of Stand Alone Complex, Moribito, and a Stand Alone Complex shirt. Like Narutaki I got him to sign my program guide which was still a treat.

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