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New York Comic-Con 2018: Sanyo Presents Akira Himekawa Art Production's Debut Project: Marin

Anime News Network's coverage of New York Comic-Con 2018 is sponsored by Good Smile Company's Grand Summoners.

Fans who attended Friday's Sanyo Presents Himekawa Art Production's Debut Project: Marin panel at New York Comic Con were treated to the world premiere of famed manga duo Akira Himekawa's latest project, an adaptation of Japan's most popular pachinko game, Sea Story (also known as Umi Monogatari). Sea Story is turning 20 next year and to celebrate, parent company Sanyo is bringing their most popular character, Marin, to life through a brand new manga in spring of 2019.

For those not in the know, it was explained that pachinko is a pinball-like game stretching back 70 years that has been the most popular game in Japan for the last 20 years. There are many different characters that have been made popular by the game and vice versa — in the past few years, in addition to original characters, many popular anime and manga characters have graced pachinko games. Marin falls into the former category; she was an original character created for Sea Story who is now, through the artistry of Akira Himekawa, making her way out of the game and onto the page.

Akira Himekawa first got involved in the project with a call from Sanyo to create a character for the U.S. market based on Sea Story. A.Honda and S.Nagano, the two women who make up Akira Himekawa, were surprised by the request, but they were excited for the opportunity. However, according to S.Nagano, there were some challenges in recreating a 20 year old character.

Sea Story is so loved and well known, so the question was how we would draw her in our own image, because this is an American debut. So we came up with this female character,” S.Nagano explained.

A video clip was shown of A.Honda drawing in-studio to illustrate the series coming to life. First she drew a sea turtle, then a squid. Afterwards, the producer commented that the audience may have been surprised to see sea creatures, but explained that these are Marin's friends, who fans will learn more about as the story develops.

S.Nagano had brought along several sketches and full color drawings of Marin's sea creature friends to share with the audience. As they toggled through each, she explained that several of the creatures were drawn by A.Honda and remarked specifically that the octopus “turned out quite cute, we were surprised ourselves to meet it.” She also explained that the shrimp was one of the characters they struggled with drawing. “We didn't know how to create it,” she confessed, and then joked when a crab was revealed that she had eaten one the night before.

“What we're asking Himekawa to do is breath life into these creatures,” the producer told the audience. As S.Nagano and A.Honda draw them, Sanyo plans to share the characters on social media to let fans see how the project is evolving. After the debut, they will release music videos starring Marin, also on social media. So far there are two planned: the first around the holidays and a second in spring of 2019. Afterwards, Sanyo plans to have a Marin mobile game available, either in spring or summer 2019.

It was pointed out that S.Nagano has been coming to the U.S. a lot, so she must like the country. Would she ever consider starting a studio here?

The answer was an emphatic “yes!” Besides the climate, which S.Nagano finds to be less humid than Japan, she explained that “I want to draw here. It would feel different and give me a different outlook.”

No word on whether that dream will happen any time soon, but in the meantime, fans can check out the Sea Story social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see how Marin is developing.

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