While Fortune Cookie was working hard at Anime Expo, I was at a different convention during the same 4th of July weekend. AM2 Convention held its second year at AX’s old stomping grounds at the Anaheim Convention Center. Yes, the two are competing anime conventions as we’ve briefly discussed during episode 19 of our podcast and it is unfortunate that most anime fans in Southern California couldn’t make it to both.
AM2 had great guest of honors including Masao Maruyama (Studio Madhouse), Sunao Katabuchi (Black Lagoon), Miho Shimagosa (Sailor Moon) and Akihiko Yamashita (Studio Ghibli).
Maruyama is an “old timer” in the world of Japanese animation and said that when he first started in the industry there were only 200 other animators looking for a job. He advices aspiring animators that it harder to actually stay in the business than get in. He talks about his work with Marvel anime and believes that the anime style can translate American comics (or ‘amecomi‘) better when it comes to animation. He says that American animation looses details in comparison to anime style. He briefly discusses working on the Supernatural anime and says he is also a fan of the show.
Katabuchi talks aboutÂ Mai Mai Miracle and the Â different reactions to the film. He says the audience tends to be split: one half tells him they feel nothing happened in the film while the other half says there was too much. Katabuchi believes that if a person finds there are “many things happening” in the film then there is also many things inside that person. It may have been a little lost in translation but I think he meant that people who take away a lot from the film is probably a person who is full of life and emotions. He is a creator who seems to feel strongly for all of his individual works.
Shimogasa started as a cel colorists in the anime industry even though it wasn’t her first choice of work – but she wanted to be in the business “no matter what” that she took any job at the start. She finds American fans and conventions very lively and passionate. She appreciates how “vocal” American fans are about the series she has worked on. She is touched by how much overseas fans love Sailormoon so much and are not afraid to express it in any way. She loves to see the cosplay especially.
Yamashita endeared me immediately with his love confession for Tom & Jerry and Star Trek. He playfully laughed and said that yes, he might be considered a Trekkie. He loves how interactive American conventions are and how meeting overseas fans was rewarding. He also revealed that the biggest difference between Studio Ghibli and other Japanese animation studios is that Ghibli’s environment is much healthier. He says it is more typical for studios to be in small spaces and be dirty. Ghibli, on the other hand, has a lot of plants and greens with a more relaxed environment.
It was rewarding to sit in the panel and listen to these wonderful guests of honors speak. Despite the smaller audience in comparison to what AX panels must have garnered, true fans sat in the chairs at AM2’s panels and asked intelligent questions. It was a great learning experience to hear what these four animation pioneers had to say about their different works.