Anime NYC 2019, Day Three

My first and last panel for Sunday was the joint Kodansha and Vertical panel, featuring Ben Applegate and Misaki Kido from Kodansha Comics, Tomo Tran from Vertical, and Megumi Kitahara as the Japanese guest – she’s an editor at Dessert magazine. This is the 10th anniversary of Kodansha Comics as a label.

Vertical’s announcements came first, starting with a Chi’s Sweet Home complete boxset, with the whole series in four volumes. The rest of the Vertical news was all Nisioisin. They confirmed they’re doing Zoku-Owarimonogatari in July, the “final” book in the series (yes, they are aware there are more after this). They also had the cover for Owarimonogatari 2, which surprised me as I was unaware they’d shown us the art for Owarimonogatari 1 yet. 2 features, as readers might guess, Gaen and Shinobu. (1, which I did see at the Vertical VOFAN artshow booth, has Ougi and Sodachi.)

They also announced a new Nisioisin title unrelated to Monogatari… no, not Zaregoto 4. The first in the Bishonen Series was licensed! Pretty Boy Detective Club (Bishounen Tanteidan – Kimi dake ni Hikari Kagayaku Anmokusei) is, as you can see, a mystery series with pretty boys trying to help a girl find a star that only appears once every ten years. It’s from the Kodansha Taiga label, which markets towards readers in their 20s and 30s. It has five volumes total in Japan, though, as with Zaregoto (and Monogatari at first), only the first book is announced.

We then moved on to Kodansha Comics print releases, starting with Whisper Me a Love Song (Sasayaku You ni Koi o Utau), which is a yuri manga from Comic Yuri Hime that has a bubbly girl and a reserved girl, and also involves a band. Blue Period is a seinen manga from Afternoon, from the author of She and Her Cat. A young man decides to pursue a career in the fine arts, then finds out how hard it can be.

Life Lessons with Uramachi-oniisan (Uramichi Oniisan) is from Comic POOL, Ichijinsha’s digital magazine, and is about the guy who hosts the morning calisthenics show they have in Japan and his comedic attempts to give children watching REAL life advice. It’s apparently a savage parody of children’s TV, and has an anime coming soon. Lastly (for print), Heaven’s Design Team is making the jump to the big leagues. It’s still running in Morning Two.

And now we get a monster pile of digital-only titles. To Write Your Words (Kuchiutsusu) is a 3-volume josei series from Kiss magazine about an author asked to write a racier novel than her usual, and the inspiration she gets from… a dentist? Ex-Enthusiasts: Motokare Mania is also from Kiss, and has a TV drama in Japan. A girl who broke up with her ex five years ago is startled to run into him again at the workplace.

Watari-kun’s **** is About to Collapse (Watari-kun no xx ga Houkai Sunzen) is a seinen title that started in Kadokawa’s Young Ace then moved to Kodansha’s Young Magazine. It’s an ecchi comedy with siscons and yanderes. They’re also doing the sequel to Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Tokyo Tarareba Girls Returns! Will they finally get married? Eeeeehhh…

Two series from the same author follow. Atsuko Nanba gives us To Be Next To You (Tonari no Atashi), a 10-volume series from Betsufure, and That Blue Summer (Ao Natsu) is 8 volumes from the same magazine. Both seem to be very much “standard shoujo”, but again, that does not mean it’s bad, only that it’s not revolutionary.

The big surprise for me was GE: Good Ending, a 16-volume shonen romance from Weekly Shonen Magazine, from the author of Domestic Girlfriend. If you enjoyed that one, you’ll definitely like this one, and I recall that when it was running in Japan a lot of guys were arguing about who was best girl, was the ending good, etc. MabuSasa is a shoujo manga from the Palcy online app, about a girl who discovers that a hot guy… is reading BL?

Let’s Kiss in Secret Tomorrow (Ashita, Naisho no Kiss Shiyou) is a Dessert title featuring a couple who are already dating but hide it when they enter high school… except he’s suddenly hot and she’s not getting the same attention. The Dorm of Love and Secrets (Koi to Himitsu no Gakuseiryou) is also Dessert, a 4-volume series about a commoner girl who, by circumstances, is now living in a dorm with “elites”.

I’ll Win You Over, Senpai! (Senpai! Ima Kara Kokurimasu!) is a five-volume series from Nakayoshi, has a girl who is used to love confessions going her way (because she sets them up that way) meeting her match… and finding that she can’t simply take the rejection and go away. Lastly, there’s I Fell in Love After School (Houkago, Koishita), also from Dessert, about a girl with very little presence who becomes the volleyball team’s manager and is dazzled by one of the boys.

After this Megumi Kitahara spoke about her work with Dessert magazine as an editor. Kodansha releases a lot of titles from Dessert, which caters to women from their mid-teens to mid-twenties. Most shoujo is for girls who have never fallen in love – Dessert is for girls who have already fallen in love and know the pain that can follow.

We then get a guide to the process of producing a monthly chapter, in this case the fourth chapter of Living-Room Matsunaga-san, already coming out from Kodansha Comics digitally. We see some of the original concept art and sketches, then a storyboard, the rough layout, and then the final product. She also discusses how hard it is to tell an author “this isn’t interesting”, but it is necessary to have the title succeed. Especially if, like the chapter we saw at the panel, it’s one at the end of a volume.

And that ends my Anime NYC for 2019! The con had a large number of improvements this year, particularly in regards to security and line management, and was entertaining from beginning to end. I can’t wait for 2020.

Anime NYC 2019, Day Two

Saturday started with a live drawing from TAa, the author of Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family. Denpa’s panel Friday did not have much time to introduce her, so this was very welcome. She loves Fate, and her art is excellent – throughout the panel she drew Saber smiling and holding a rice bowl.

TAa started doing Fate fanart as a hobby, then was asked to do a chapter for an anthology, which is how she got a foot in the door. She was then approached to do the EMiya Family manga as a one-shot, and then when it was successful it got picked up as a series. She did that plus her day job for a year and a half, then this became too much, and now she draws manga full time.

She has assistants now, but did not at first, which shows how much work she was putting into the series. As for Fate itself, she got into the series through Fate/Zero, then bought the FSN game and became totally obsessed with it – this is why she started to draw art. She also loved Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, FSN’s sequel game, though notes it’s very hard to find these days. (One of the Emiya Family chapters with Assassin was almost an adaptation of a scene from Ataraxia.)

Ed Chavez, who was the moderator of the live drawing, talked about how cute and soft the anime was, and also the time and budget that UFOTable put into it. When she first heard about the anime, TAa thought she was being pranked! It was a rapid production from inception to release date – possibly as the company is so familiar with the Fate characters. She also got some new ideas discussing things with the anime staff.

When thinking of a new idea for a chapter, usually the food idea comes first, then she thinks of the characters that best suit that food. She also incorporates a lot of seasons and holidays. Type-Moon has almost no involvement at all – this is all her.

We then got some Q&A. She enjoys Japanese food as her comfort food, says obviously she’d want Shirou to cook for her if she had a choice. She and the editor do eat the meals that are in the manga – a tonkatsu was her favorite, though that chapter is not published yet. She was then asked what her favorite characters are to draw – she loves long-haired characters, particularly Rider.

Someone asked if we might see Bazett, the star of Fate/Hollow Ataraxia, and someone else asked if the mysterious robed figure hanging out with Gilgamesh is Caren rather than Kirie. She hedged on the second, but definitely has Bazett in mind for a future chapter if she can think of a good way to introduce her and incorporate the food. Someone also asked about New York City food in the manga – Shirou buys bagels for everyone?

It was agreed that the flashback episode with Shirou and Kiritsugu was the best of the anime episodes. She tries to keep the series very kind and “happy in life” – since Fate was a big battle game originally, she wanted to see more of the day-to-day life. As such, don’t expect a lot of Zero characters or the Lancer “hot dog” joke from Ataraxia. This series is too nice and sweet for things like that.

This is considered the right time for a series to come out – not because cooking manga are new in popularity – in Japan, they’ve always been popular – but because of the popularity of Fate, which ten years ago was not as high. She was also asked her favorite heroine, and the audience tensed – it’s a dangerous question. She likes them all, but picked Saber.

My next panel was Square Enix, which was doing its first Anime NYC panel. After quite a bit of audio difficulty, we started with a video showing off SE’s most famous properties. Tanya Biswas (formerly with Yen) and Leyla Aker (formerly with Viz) are the people behin things in America, with Masa also on the panel as the Square Enix rep. Masa has been to this con before, notes how fun it always is.

They did a recap of prior licenses, and trailers for two of them. Most of these have been talked about before – A Man and His Cat, Cherry Magic and Soul Eater’s Perfect Edition got the most talk. They also gave away A Man and His Cat merch, including a fantastic plushie. We then got several new announcements.

Ragna Crimson is a dark fantasy title from Gangan Joker. A man sets out to get revenge on the dragons who destroyed his partner. The Apothecary Diaries (Kusuriya no Hitorigoto) is probably the title I was most interested in. A woman working in the palace and trying to keep a low profile is found to have knowledge of herbal medicine, and after saving a royal heir, she’s promoted and ends up involved in palace intrigues. She’s apparently quite eccentric. This runs in Big Gangan.

Beauty and the Feast (Yakumo-san wa Edzuke ga Shitai) is a May-December romance, sort of, as a 28-year-old widow finds herself cooking for her 16-year-old neighbor, and food (and possibly romance, but mostly food) follows. It runs in Young Gangan. The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! (Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai!) is a Gangan Joker title about a former demon villainess who’s now in modern Japan and also a cute little girl. Can she get her poweres back? Can her frustration stop being cute? Likely no to both questions.

By the Grace of the Gods (Kamitachi ni Hirowareta Otoko) just had its novel licensed by J-Novel Club. It’s from SE’s MangaUP! app and stars a reincarnated salaryman reincarnated as a boy with magic powers, who discovers that slimes are more valuable than you’d expect. Finally, we get the only novel of the panel, NieR Automata – Yorha Boys. It’s a prequel to the game, and another novel in a series which has already had some novels released by Viz Media.

Next up was Yen Press, who had a ton of new books and also a ton of light novels. The biggest surprise came first – High School DxD, whose manga was licensed in 2014, finally is getting the light novels released. This was a constant request, right up there with Date a Live and Gamers!. I recall not liking the first manga much, but suspecting I’d be more interested in a prose version. Now I get to see if I’m right.

They alternated between manga and novel announcements, so next was Bestia, a Shonen Ace series about a boy who goes to London to discover his past and finds magical beasts and adventure. We then got another surprise LN – High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World, whose manga started coming out in 2018, from the creator of Chivalry of a Failed Knight, also recently licensed.

Lust Geass is a Young Ace title that will play well with fans of ecchi manga, the story of a boy who finds a spell that will cause women’s sexual desires to explode. Restaurant to Another World has already had a manga release digitally via Crunchyroll, but Yen are now going to be releasing it in print. And another light novel, The Demon Sword Master of Excalibur Academy (Seiken Gakuin no Maken Tsukai) which combines demon lords and magical academies – two hot genres in one!

A monster girl harem manga came next, To Save the World, Can You Wake Up the Morning After with a Demi-Human? (Sekai wo Sukuu Tame ni Ajin to Asa-chun Dekimasenka?). It turns out our hero is destined to father the hero who will defeat the demon king… and so everyone wants to sleep with him. (When did Yen Press become Seven Seas?) Another light novel follows, more on the slow life side: Banished from the Heroes’ Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside (Shin no Nakama ja Nai to Yuusha no Party wo Oidasareta node, Henkyou de Slow Life suru Koto ni Shimashita), a Kadokawa series whose title is its premise.

Sadako at the End of the World (Shuumatsu no Sadako-san) is a post-apocalyptic Sadako manga, where she finds that those who watched the videotape are delighted to see her, as she’s another human being in this wasteland. It sounds fun, is complete in one volume, and ran in Comic Gene. Another light novel, In the Land of Leadale (Leadale no Daichi nite), about a girl with injuries who ends up in a game world. Judging by the cover, this is also a slow life series.

A yuri manga is next: I Love You So Much I Hate You (Nikurashii hodo Aishiteru). A Kadokawa manga, it’s an office life yuri title with adult concerns and problems. The last novel announced is a one-shot, Three Days of Happiness (Sugaru Miaki), a dark fantasy about a young man who sells his lifespan for cash. It’s apparently quite interesting. Lastly, Yen has licensed the Carole and Tuesday manga, based on the anime, which runs in Young Ace.

Q&A then started, but remembering how excruciating that was last year, I left early.

My last stop was J-Novel Club’s panel, with Sam Pinansky and Aimee Zink introducing a giant pile of new
series. They started with two new print announcements – Sexiled, which has had huge buzz ever since it came out, and My Next Life As a Villainess!, which is also getting an anime next year. (More villainesses are coming later in this panel.)

Kodansha has a new imprint called Legend Novels, and from it JNC licensed five new novels. (No new manga announcements this time, these are all novels.) The Economics of Prophecy: Avoiding Disaster in Another World (Yogen no Keizaigaku) seems to be along the lines of Realist Hero, as a reincarnated economics whiz and a princess with prophetic abilities try to save the world.

Kobold King features a gentle man who was very powerful and respected in his time trying to quietly relax and befriend the local kobolds… who are very mistrusting of his powerful self! Outer Ragna (Game Jikkyō ni yoru Kōryaku to Gyakushū no Isekai Kami Senki) doesn’t have the Japanese protagonist, a livestreamer, enter a game world himself – instead he possessed the female lead! Her Majesty’s Swarm (Joō-heika no Isekai Senryaku) has a girl ending up in a game as an evil queen, and unlike a lot of villainesses in these sorts of books, seems to embrace her evil. Also, spiders warning for this one.

Isekai Rebuilding Project (Isekai Saiken Keikaku) was touted by Sam as the first North American book with “isekai” untranslated in the title. It’s about a Japanese man who is called to “fix” worlds where the isekai’d hero has saved the world and gone home… but left too many cultural issues that can’t be put back inside Pandora’s box. Also, the hero has a friend who is a dragon. Seems to be a slow life title.

A new partner for J-Novel Cliub, Pash! Books, gives us the next few series. Teogonia was described as “what if a Ghibli movie was a light novel?”, and he notes this is pure Japanese fantasy about a booy who awaken old memories and discovers the real rules of the world. The World’s Least Interesting Master Swordsman (Jimi na Kensei wa Soredemo Saikyou desu) sounds like a cross between One-Punch Man and I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years, as a reincarnated boy practices his sword skills for 500 years and is the strongest around… but his techniques are boring!

We’re then told about a new label, J-Novel Heart, that will be publishing shoujo light novels! This has long been requested by fans. (By the way, My Next Life As a Villainess!, which is a shoujo LN in Japan, will switch to this new label in print.) The first book is called Tearmoon Empire, which features a spoiled brat of a noble who ends up getting killed because of her family. She ends up redoing her life, and (despite still being spoiled) tries her hardest to avoid getting killed again.

The Tales of Marielle Clarac (each book will be called “The _______ of Marielle Clarac”) isa romance and mystery book, as the rather plain noble girl tries to figure out why the super perfect man of her dreams wants to marry her – is there an ulterior motive? It’s a good book “for wallflowers”. The Bibliophile Princess (Mushikaburi-Hime) is another book with mystery, conspiracy and intrigue, and (as you might guess) has a book lover as the main character.

I Refuse to Be Your Enemy! (Watashi wa Teki ni Narimasen!) is another in those “my reawakened memories tell me I’m actually a villain who gets killed off” sort of books, only instead of trying to fix things with the various handsome young men this girl tries to flee from everything. That won’t go well. Fukushu wo Chikatta Shironeko wa Ryuuou no Hiza no Ue de Damin wo Musaboru, which has a tentative but unapproved English title of The White Cat’s Revenge as Plotted from the Dragon King’s Lap, has the best friend of the heroine abandoned in a forest, then turned into a cat. We follow the friend as she tries to get revenge on the “heroine” who abandoned her.

The final license was the biggest surprise: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Isekai, a doujinshi light novel collaboration between six light novel authors, including those behind Tanya the Evil and Re: Zero. It’s a short story anthology, essentially, that began when the authors asked themselves what they’d do if they were isekai’d. This is licensed directly from the authors – no company involved! It’s also pretty short, so should be available soon.

That was the final announcement, and I then headed out to get dinner and type all this up. Tomorrow we get one big panel, and that’s about it. Surprise me, Kodansha and Vertical!

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.