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Anime Expo 2022
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War -Ultra Romantic- Festival

by Kalai Chik,

Aniplex kicked off its triumphant return to Anime Expo with a fan centered event promoting the latest season of Kaguya-sama: Love is War. Aoi Koga, Japanese voice actress of Kaguya Shinomiya, and producer Tatsuya Ishikawa arrived at a panel filled with booming applause. After a brief introduction, they both expressed how excited they were to be back amongst a sea of viewers.

The panel was a moderated industry Q&A with both guests, along with fanservice moments to engage the crowd, and ending on a few games such as “Guess the Emoji”. Given how the show wrapped up in June, there was low expectations for any surprise announcements. Producer Ishikawa hinted that there may be “some small announcements” later this year, and that hopefully he can share them at Anime Expo next year.

When asked about their time in LA, Koga spoke to the intensity of the sunshine and the “dynamic” nature of the city. She chuckled that her first destination on her sightseeing tour was Trader Joe's and reflected on her time at Universal Studios Hollywood. During another question, she revealed she was successful at one of Koga's goals: to have author Akasaka treat her to yakiniku.

Speaking of Akasaka, Ishikawa divulged the steps into adapting Kaguya-sama for an anime. “First thing we did was read the original comic, then we put out an offer to try and make it an anime,” said Ishikawa. “The second step is to find a producer, and we do a lot of screening to see who is the best fit for that role.” Once the team receives approval from the publisher, Shueisha, and they begin working on the material and then “next thing you know, we're at season 3.” The panelists moved on to talking about the camaraderie amongst the cast. “When we're working, I'd say they're very much like their characters,” said Koga. Ishikawa interjected, “It's true that everyone on the team is very friendly. But my one complaint is that during season 2, the five main characters went to Tokyo Disneyland without me.” He had an exaggerated look on his face and let an exasperated, “Oh my god” out.

Other highlights included Ishikawa and Koga's commentary on memorable moments from this past season from season 3. In the scene between Kaguya and Hayasaka, Ishikawa shared how the special ending of that episode had tapped a talented animator to animate the scene. During a shared clip of Kaguya's internal monologue at the Cultural Festival, Koga mentioned how eagerly she waited for this scene to be animated. “There was growth in both in her feelings leading up to this moment. In the first and second season of the anime, we received a lot of direction from Akasaka but not much for the third season.” For this scene, Koga felt a sense of duty in trying to convey Kaguya's feelings for Shirogane. “I felt this big burden in trying to get this right.”

The last section of the panel moved into a Guess the Slang and Guess the Emoji game. Moderator Aiko mentioned how fans would often tweet out to animation staff and voice actors with American slang and expressed how confusing that is for a non-English speaker. To teach the guests about the American slang, they were presented with examples from the Kaguya-samaanime with the appropriate slang: ghosted, simp, G.O.A.T., and boomer. Once he guessed the meaning of the last word, Ishikawa reacted with: “So I'm a boomer?”

Closing off the panel, Koga and Ishikawa had a brief off-mic conversation, preparing a special surprise for those lucky enough to be there. “How cute,” said Koga in the same bewitching tone as imagined by Miyuki Shirogane. She quickly took a brief look around to get a view of cosplayers in the crowd and asked for everyone to take a picture with them. Ishikawa interjected, “Is it ok for me as a boomer to be here?” before requesting for everyone to do a gyaru peace sign.

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