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Event Report: Nerima Anime Carnival

posted on 2017-10-17 12:45 EDT by Kim Morrissy

The Nerima Ward in West Tokyo is steeped in the history of anime. It's the home of Toei Animation and the now-defunct Mushi Productions, two of the very oldest anime studios. Today, that history continues to be celebrated with the yearly Nerima Anime Carnival held in fall.

Contrary to what the name may indicate, the Nerima Anime Carnival is a rather low-key affair. The entire event is restricted to a handful of stalls around the north area of Nerima Station. The weather was also poor on the two days that I attended, so things weren't as lively as they could have been. But there were still a number of interesting things you could do there, like listen to live anisong performances and talk shows or get a famous animator to draw your face.

Here are some video highlights from last year to give you an idea of what typically happens at the Nerima Carnival—an eclectic mixture of stage shows, performances, and workshops:

This year's main draw were the stage events showcasing the hit film In This Corner of the World, the anime Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū, and Tatsunoko Production, a classic anime studio celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. Akitaro Daichi (the director of Fruits Basket and Kamisama Kiss) also got to show off his latest project. Here's a brief rundown of what the events were like.

Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū Rakugo and Anime and Manga Stage

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get into this event. I'm a bit bummed about this because not only were the manga artist Haruko Kumota and the voice actor Akira Ishida present, there were also professional rakugo storytellers. It would have been interesting to find out what kind of inspiration Kumota and Ishida took from those professional artists when it came to portraying rakugo through their own work.

In This Corner of the World Film Big Hit Thanks Festival

Sunao Katabuchi, the director of In this Corner of the World, has a strong connection to Nerima. He studied at the Nihon University's College of Art in Nerima, and now works as an instructor there. At this event, he talked about some of the challenges of making In This Corner of the World historically accurate. This included coaching the actresses about the Hiroshima dialect. The stage show showed a short clip of the recording studio, and the actresses talked about how intense those recording sessions were.

One of the producers, Taro Maki, also spoke about the challenges of funding the production of In This Corner of the World. In the spring of 2015, the team launched a crowdfunding project that raised over 20 million yen, but nobody knew from the outset how well the campaign would do. Maki mentioned that he was thinking of contributing himself if the crowdfunding didn't work out. Although the film was also able to secure sponsors through the traditional production committee system, the team of In This Corner of the World wanted to thank each and every backer of the project—hence the title of the stage show.

For more information about In This Corner of the World and its production, you can read ANN's interview with director Sunao Katabuchi here.

Akira Kamiya and Akitarō Daichi's Arbitrary Project

Akitaro Daichi is well known as one of the best comedy anime directors in the industry, so it makes sense that his next project would attract some interest. This time, he has teamed up with the veteran voice actor Akira Kamiya to create a promotional video for a show about a robot Kunoichi.

In Robot Kunoichi Mekage-chan, the eponymous Kunoichi tries to protect her ninja boyfriend in a fight, only for her body to be destroyed. A scientist (played by Kamiya) creates a new body for the Kunoichi, except it's not conventionally attractive at all, and it uses its metallic breasts to beat up enemies. As you can imagine from my description, it's a pretty ridiculous show.

You can watch an unfinished version of the promo video below. It's pretty much the same as the final version screened at the talk show, except the characters haven't been colored.

In addition to screening the finished video, Daichi shared some stories about the production. He plays the narrator in the video, and while he was creating the storyboards, he recorded all of his lines on his iPhone while at home. This rough storyboard version of the video was also screened at the event.

At the stage show, the staff was also giving out free clear files to fans who knew their trivia about Daichi and Kamiya. For example, do you know who Daichi's biggest comic influence was? If you've read ANN's interview with Daichi, you'd know that it's Fujio Akatsuka, the manga artist behind Osomatsu-kun. Lucky lottery winners also received a free badge after the event, although I wasn't one of them.

Tatsunoko Production  55th Anniversary Special Stage

Tatsunoko Production is a legendary anime studio, known for creating a number of iconic anime classics, including Speed Racer, Gatchaman, and PriPara. This event mainly showcased Time Bokan, a show that never really found much penetration in the West, even if the re-imagining of the series, called Time Bokan 24, is available for streaming on Crunchyroll. If you grew up in the 70s in Japan, though, you'll probably have fond memories of Time Bokan. The series is iconic for its trio of lovable and ineffectual villains; they were the inspiration by the Pokemon anime's portrayal of Team Rocket.

This event showed a screening of two Time Bokan episodes: the first episode of the original series, and an upcoming episode from the second season of Time Bokan 24. Hiroshi Sasagawa, the chief director from the original Time Bokan and a consultant for Tatsunoko Production, shared some of his thoughts on how the series has evolved over time.

“The new Time Bokan is like a roller coaster,” he said. “Compared to the laid-back feel of the original anime, the music is very up-tempo.”

There was also some discussion about what makes Tatsunoko shows so immortal. Takayuki Inagaki, the director of Time Bokan 24, suggested that the outfits and designs are compelling, and that they have retained their “cool” image throughout time.

Alongside the second season of Time Bokan 24, Tatsunoko Production is also producing another show airing this season, called Infini-T Force.

Other Stuff

Other shows and events at the Nerima Anime Carnival this year included: an anime business symposium about “The Next Generation of Creators and the Direction of Anime Business.” This symposium was hosted by the publication Anime Busience, the only magazine in the industry that focuses solely on the business side of anime.

Anime researchers Ryusuke Hikawa and Masahiro Haraguchi also did a live recording of a popular internet radio program, called “The Giants of Anime.” For the Nerima Anime Carnival, they talked about several famous creators who are connected with Nerima. On October 15th, they recorded a live program about Masao Maruyama, the anime producer who worked at Mushi Productions before founding Studio Madhouse and later MAPPA. (You can read ANN's interview with Masao Maruyama here.)

The animation workshops also continued this year, with three classes called “How to Make Kids’ Anime,” “How to Make Flip-Book Animation with Only Two Frames,” and “Experiencing Cleanup Animation Work.” These classes were carried about by Kazushige Yusa, Takeshi Hiramatsu, and Atsushi Kawai, all active animators in the industry.

It may be a low-key event, but if you're interested in the history, processes, and the people behind anime productions, the Nerima Anime Carnival is definitely worth attending. Entry is free, but if you want to attend one of the stage events, make sure you apply for one of the raffle tickets on the website beforehand.


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