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.
The 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.
While 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.