Anime NYC 2019, Day One

A very busy start to Anime NYC this year. First of all, the line management seemed to be much better this year, though I do wish they’d let people into panel rooms before the actual start of the panel. The first panel I attended was the Shonen Jump panel, with the creators of Dr. Stone as guests. Since I can’t make tomorrow’s much larger Dr. Stone panel, I thought this would be a good choice.

They started off with some giveaways, notably to those with good costumes. We then got some Shonen Jump announcements. Most of the new titles had already been announced at NYCC, but they did have some new things to promote. Naruto is 20 this year, and Hisashi Sasaki talks about how exciting they thought the original proposal was, and that green-lighting it was a no-brainer.

Jujutsu Kaisen is out soon, and there were early copies of the manga at the exhibit hall. They also announced that the suddenly super duper popular Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba will be getting a speeedup to catch up with Japan faster – monthly releases starting in the spring. They’re also adding chapters to the “Shonen Jump Vault” for members.

Speaking of that vault, there was a passel of digital-only license announcements, all rattled off at the speed of sound. Robot x Laserbeam, Red Sprite, Love Rush!, Hi-Fi Cluster, Yui Kamui Lets Loose (from the Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan creator), The Last Saiyuki, Ne0;lation, Hell Warden Higuma, and Stealth Symphony (from the Baccano! writer). Most of these are 2-3 volume series from the last four years or so of Jump, and they would not otherwise get releases here. It’s nice to see them.

Also mentioned, and previously revealed at NYCC, were the new Bleach, One Piece and Naruto light novels.

After that we got Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi, the creators of Dr. Stone, as well as their editor Honda-san. Riichiro seemed very extroverted, and tried out some English on us. Boichi was more soft-spoken and quiet. Most of he questions came from the Viz team, rather than the audience, which I felt worked very well.

When the editor wanted to team up Inagaki with an artist (he had previously written Eyeshield 21 as well), Boichi naturally came to mind. Inagaki starts with the storyboards, which he calls scribbles but Boichi says are quite detailed. (There was a lot of “you’re the best – no, you are” during the panel, which was very fun.) Both also insisted they had the easiest job.

They were both very interested in science as kids, with Boichi saying he did a high school physics competition. He noted Arthur C. Clarke as an influence. They also discussed favorite scientists, including (inevitably) Einstein, but also Newton, Dawkins, Hawking, Carl Sagan (singled out by Boichi for making science “warm”), as well as the Japanese scientist who discovered Gibberellin, the seedless grape chemical (who is also the grandfather of Inagaki’s wife!).

Honda was asked what the Japanese editor does, and explained it was a lot of support and logistics – tries to make things possible for the creators. They were asked, given the location of the con, if Senku and company would make it to New York, and it was pointed out they would need a very good reason. Pizza? Could be a good reason.

Boichi was also asked about his very detailed art, and discussed how backgrounds and real-life detailed things take a lot of time due to the research, while characters took him less time. Boichi then stunned the room by stating that it took him one to one and a half hours to finish a page. For those playing along at home, that’s VERY fast. Even with three assistants, all apparently excellent artists.

Inagaki was asked how this differs from Eyeshield 21’s writing, and he said that, being a sports manga, he was far more beholden to rules and regulations with Eyeshield – here he can go wild a lot more. The Dr. Stone characters don’t have special powers like a lot of Jump characters, so he has to rely on science – it needs to strike a balanced tone between scientifically valid and fun. (When asked if Eyeshield 21 and Dr. Stone were in the same universe, the answer was a big NO.)

Boichi was asked about Dr. Stone’s memorable “gag faces”. Again, Boichi states they all are drawn up in the storyboards, and he just touches them up – while Inagaki insists his art is horrible compared to Boichi’s. Favorite character to draw? Kohaku, not just in terms of gag faces but all faces. He jokingly says “I don’t care about Senku.”

Asked whether anime will be invented by Senku, “not with the level of tech they currently have” seems to be the answer. Back to Honda, who notes how much fun editing is, mostly as he gets to read everything first. Indeed, with the finished chapter, he reads it before Inagaki! They then talked about the process for the new spinoff, which Boichi is both writing and drawing. Boichi also talked about using the old French-Canadian film Quest for Fire as a reference for the prehistoric landscapes.

Both creators seemed happy to be there, and were very receptive to the American fans.

The next panel was Denpa, who had as special guest TAa, the artist behind Today’s Menu with the Emiya Family. But first we had panel announcements, which included some stuff they’d announced at the previous Anime NYC – this year has been a “learning experience” for Ed and Jacob, but the schedule seems to be firming up now. They did have a copy of the Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji omnibus, which looks highly impressive.

Much discussion of titles out already or out in the next few months followed, including “Fate/Stay for Dinner” and Heavenly Delusion, which had an animated promo. The Girl with the Fierce Eyes also appeals to me, and it will be interesting to look at Shino Can’t Say Her Name and see if it can avoid getting as dark as Flowers of Evil or Happiness.

After mentioning they were close to launching a new website, we did get some new licenses. Baby Bar’s Bakery (a tentative title) is from Shogakukan, and is about a baby bear that also happens to be a master baker. It’s sweet and cuddly, and really big in Japan, collaborating with sweet shops and stores.

Fate/Go Chaldea Scrapbook is another Fate license, a one-volume manga from Kadokawa. It seems to be amusing takes of the FGO franchise – I spotted Mysterious Heroine X among the heroines in the art.

The big license, at least in my opinion, was L’il Leo. This Moto Hagio title from Flower Comics is about a kitten who grows up with a child and then decides that it too can go to school, get a job etc. It’s one volume, and apparently plays to Hagio’s strengths at bending the concept of what is human.

Lastly, we got The Men Who Created Gundam a two-volume series being released as one omnibus here. Part biography, part comedy, this series from Hideki Owada will tell the story of Gundam as it’s never been told before.

After this we had a few minutes to meet TAa, who will also have a livedraw session tomorrow. She talked about how happy she was to walk around New York and admire the buildings, and how stunned she was at the huge poster for her work in the exhibit hall. When asked if American Fate fans were different from Japanese ones, she notes that “all Fate fans are lively”.

After walking about the Exhibit Hall a bit, my final panel for the evening was “?! vs !? – The Great Debate”. Here Zack Davisson and Erica Friedman debated each other on important issues such as Honorifics, romanization, translation notes, localization, and regional accents. The panel was quite fun, mostly as Zack and Erica were mock-attacking each other all the time.

The audience also seemed to be having fun, though when scanlation came up it got a bit grumpy. Needless to say, both Zack and Erica are very pro-official release and anti-scanlation, and almost all the audience quesitons at the end were about that, with most of them being variations on “yes, but this is an exception, so I have to keep reading scanlations”. It did not go over well. Despite that, it was a highly enjoyable panel. Oh yes, and ?! and !? are meant to convey two completely different things. Apparently. Also, when Zack argued that shounen is pronounced “ooo”, when it should be ‘oh’, my first thought was of Seanan McGuire, and I wondered what Seanan Jump would be like.

This was a busy day, but tomorrow is even busier. Hopefully I will be able to give you a lot of news – the lines may be murder.

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