Interview with Anime Play's Robert Silva

by Bamboo Dong,
Big changes have been happening over at Anime Play, the first North American anime magazine to supplement its material on DVD. After three issues, they decided to revamp the magazine, change the content, and give it a new look. In an interview with Robert Silva, the new Editor in Chief of Anime Play, the changes to the magazine were discussed.

According to Silva, “It's a completely new magazine.” You take the DVD and how it is and go with it.” He said that prior to this issue, the magazine seemed like a package to house the DVD. Instead, he wanted a combination that would perfectly offset the pros of each medium, both dynamic and print.

“I tried to make it so that the DVD is almost a complement to the magazine itself. All the stuff you see on the DVD is stuff that you couldn't have on the magazine. The DVD holds strongly on its own. The magazine holds strongly on its own. They complement each other.” Silva said.

Examples of this were pointed out in the new issue, such as the feature on Last Exile. The interview with character designer Range Murata and subsequent article were backed up by an extensive image gallery on the DVD. He also cited the role of the DVD in creator interviews, using Jim Mahfood as an example. The creator of manga works like 40oz Comics and Grrl Scouts, the American artist also performs in hip hop concerts and co-directs hip hop videos and uses much of this background for inspiration in his works. This added aspect of visual experience was something that Silva wanted to add to the magazine.

“There's no way to show that in a picture or magazine,” he said. “It's really a lot more impressive seeing them doing they're work.”

Integrating the footage with the magazine, Silva hopes to be able to create a balance that will combine both words and visuals.

“The stuff in the magazine best works in the magazine format. There are certain things on the DVD that wouldn't work on a static image in the magazine,” said Silva.

When asked about the amount of interviews in every issue, he said that they were an important part of magazine and allowed fans to catch a glimpse into the minds of the creators.

“There's no better way to really get to know someone than to ask them questions and see what their responses are... I'd rather just go to the heart of the source to see what motivates them,” Silva said. “Our magazine will be focused on not only people who like a cool-looking anime, but also the people behind the anime, like creators and the people behind the screens.”

Letting people go behind the scenes and seeing the people involved would allow readers to get insights into the minds of the creators. Silva said that it was all part of getting to know the creators, to understand their motivations, and to see “what's driven them to create beautiful pieces of anime and manga.”

He said that it was a similar mindset for the creation of the review section. The staff wanted to create a “quality critical review section that goes in depth of what makes things work.” Although the magazine had preview pieces for some of the interactive DVD titles that were to be released by Hirameki International, Silva said that there would most definitely be reviews for the titles released by other companies. It was their intention, he said, to alert people to “the best animation and comics available from other companies out there.”

The DVD also includes a cosplay section that features 40 two-minute interviews with cosplayers. Silva said that there really was no other way to portray the three-dimensional costume and personality behind the people creating the costumes.

“A lot of magazines do a short two page feature on cosplay. There's no way to capture the energy and funkiness of people in costume on a page in pictures other than a video.”

Silva also discussed the importance of placing trailers on the DVD. The magazine itself contains preview sections to “give people a good sense of what's available from a wide variety of companies.” The trailers are linked to the reviews to give readers a companion medium to experience the animation for themselves.

As Robert commented, “Animation in general is something that's meant to see in motion. Comics are still and can be put on a page, but for animation is different. You really can't see the quality animation unless you see it moving.”

Regarding his inspirations for changing the magazine's format Silva exmplained, “I just wanted to make it a cool looking magazine. The reality of it is, there are so many different ways to present material to people. In a place like the United States, [the people have been] kind of been spoiled. There's so much high quality visual stuff like Hollywood. The way you present material to people is crucial. If something's not visually appealing, they tune it out.”

Using this as a driving force, he said that he wanted a magazine that “embraced the fan aspect of anime.” Rather than having something that felt like a “fanboy magazine,” he wanted something that was “polished.”

“You could give it to anyone and it would make people appreciate it,” he said.

He also expressed his desire to give everything a focus. According to Silva, “there are a lot of beautiful anime magazines, but they're overwhelming. Each page is packed with info.” Instead, he wanted to let readers focus in on something that let images stand on their own. With the way that the DVD was designed, it would let readers already know where they were going, with clear information to help guide them through it.

In Part 2 of our Interview (to be posted on Wednesday), Robert Silva talks about the entirely new staff for Anime Play Issue 4 and the magazine's readers.

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