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Bubblegum Crisis Sonoda Designs Family Confectionery's 1st New Product in 115 Years

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

Kenichi Sonoda's character designs were a mainstay in late 80s and early 90s anime scene. He worked on GAINAX's Otaku no Video, Bubblegum Crisis, Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise, and of course his own manga Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats. His work then slowly faded; he did some design work for the Solty Rei anime in 2005 and launched the manga Bullet the Wizard in 2010 in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine. The manga wrapped after four volumes with no other anime or manga work immediately in the pipeline. So what's Sonoda up to?

The manga creator and character designer brought fans up-to-date at Sakura-Con last year where he announced he'd taken over the family confectionery. The shop has been in Sonoda's family for 19 generations with 400 years of history. When Sonoda's father's health began waning, the manga creator packed up and moved to Kumamoto to become the proprietor of "Sonoda-ya" and continue the family tradition of selling chōsen ame. The sweet is a traditional candy associated with Kumamoto and the Sonoda family. History says that Sonoda-ya founder Takeeto Sonoda invented the rice-sugar sweet in the 16th century and it would eventually make its way to Korea.

For centuries, only Sonoda-ya was allowed to produce and sell chōsen ame, but that is no longer the case today. Despite competition, Sonoda-ya allegedly is still the home to the highest quality chōsen ame candy. This sweet isn't the only available at Sonoda-ya, but suffice to say the shop is picky about its products. A new item was just added, and it's the first new candy added to the store's selection in 115 years. Lemon ame (lemon candy) debuted in August and is currently only available at the main shop and via mail order.

Lemon ame is a new spin of the shop's old classic and adds lemon peel to the recipe. 55-year-old Kenichi Sonoda led development on the new sweet and designed the packaging.

Sonoda has designed mascot characters for his shop's sweets in the past and published a dōjinshi sharing the shop's iconic candy's name.

Sonoda is also getting back into the anime and manga scene. The creator has offered new artwork rewards for the Kickstarter campaigns of his old works, Otaku no Video, Riding Bean, and Gunsmith Cats. He's scheduled to appear at Anime Central in Chicago on May 17-19 alongside the the world premiere of Bean Bandit episode 0. The new Bean Bandit anime project was successfully crowdfunded in 48 hours and Sonoda is directing the project.

Source: Sonoda-ya Official page, Asahi Shimbun Digital

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