Nabeshin in Houston

by Zac Bertschy, May 24th 2007

ADV's Nabeshin event was held May 15th at the Alamo Drafthouse in Houston, Texas. The director – most famous in America for his comedy series Excel Saga – was completing the last leg of an extended visit to the states after attending Anime Central in Chicago, Illinois.

Wantanabe – who goes by the nickname “Nabeshin”, which combines the last part of his last name and the first part of his first name – was in town visiting ADV Films’ Houston offices. A special event was planned at the Alamo Drafthouse in his honor; a screening of his latest show to hit America, Nerima Daikon Brothers, was scheduled, as well as a one-on-one interview hosted by Chris Ayres, the ADR director for the series.

As the audience – which began lining up outside the theater hours before the event began – was lead in, a promo reel highlighting the director's work was played on the theater's  projection system. The MC, Brett Weaver (the English voice for the Nabeshin character that pops up in all of the director's shows), gave the audience brief instructions on what to do with the roughly 250 Halloween Afro wigs placed on their seats.

With much fanfare, Wantanabe was introduced and brought onto the stage in pitch blackness while the audience hurriedly put on their wigs, as a tribute to the director's trademark look. As the house lights came up, the enthusiastic director bellowed his greeting, but didn't seem to notice the wigs – likely because he was wearing sunglasses.

After a brief introduction, an episode from the final volume of Nerima Daikon Brothers was shown in English; following that, Chris Ayres took the stage along with Wantanabe (and his translator) for a one-on-one interview. Ayres’ questions were simple, but revealing; the director mentioned that he always goes for the “big laugh”, and that he became Nabeshin because “God himself came down and told him “YOU ARE NABESHIN”, all to much laughter and applause from the audience. Ayres also pointed out the ocean of afro-ed fans in front of him, to which the director replied with shock: "I've never seen so many afros!".

Ayres began discussing Wantanabe's next project when another special guest was announced – John Ledford, CEO of ADV Films. Ledford joined Wantanabe on stage and together they announced ADV's license of the director's most recent Japanese project, The Wallflower, based on the bestselling manga by Tomoko Hayakawa. The Wallflower follows four impossibly pretty young men as they're tasked by a wealthy woman to clean up her bizarre niece's act – a task they eagerly take on, having been offered a free place to stay at the opulent estate where her niece lives, rent-free.

Following some confusion on behalf of Brett Weaver, an announcement was made that the director would then be taking photos with the cast of the English dub and the afro-wearing audience members – an announcement cut short when Weaver was told they'd be screening a subtitled copy of the first episode of The Wallflower for the audience. After the show, camera crews descended on the stage for a series of elaborate photo ops. The director – after about 40 minutes of flashing cameras – was lead out of the theater, where he was once again mobbed by appreciative fans seeking a photo op.


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