Day 2 began with several fandom creators going head-to-head in an anime quiz.
The next panel was a tete-a-tete between two prominent figures in the anime distribution industry, Jerome Mazandarini, CEO of Manga Entertainment, and Andrew Partridge, CEO of All The Anime. In this panel, they mostly talked about their experiences in the business, discussing topics like what determines whether a project is licensed and how manga sales are usually driven by the anime version’s popularity. When asked how the pandemic has affected their businesses, Jerome Mazandarini noted that while physical video sales were negatively affected, there was a massive spike in digital video rentals and subscription service sign-ups. He also said he believes that the anime distribution industry is well-established and creative enough to keep on growing even if there will be a recession.
Next up was Manga Planet and futekiya’s panel, where Emma Hanashiro (Editor-in-Chief) and Gladys Angala (Producer) talked about the beginnings of these two digital manga services.
Both of these websites were created to showcase the diversity of manga since many Japanese manga titles don’t get picked up by the bigger manga licensing companies in the West. It also aims to make manga more accessible, as regions like Southeast Asia don’t really have easy access to physical manga. Gladys mentioned that some of the smaller companies really do not have the resources to translate their offerings for the Western market and that even though there are a lot of manga applications being released, the fans’ wants are not being met; a lot of those apps use tickets/coins, which is another obstacle for fans who want to view their manga immediately. Due to lack of accessibility, there are people who resort to reading the manga via illegal means. Emma mentions that both of the services actually started from a Facebook page which researched people’s manga consumption behavior. And based on this research, they decided to build a service that’s convenient, and futekiya/Manga Planet officially started in 2018.
Currently, Manga Planet has 25 titles and around 400+ chapters, including Kia Asamiya’s My Favorite Carrera EV; it aims to release 500 titles by the end of 2020. Some of the titles that will be released are the adorable cat-related mangas from the publisher Home-Sha Inc. Missile Bird, a badminton manga, has been released on June 15; surprisingly, the English version of the manga is chapters ahead of the Japanese release of the manga.
The team capped off the panel by announcing the service’s upcoming releases. Firstly, Nobuyuki Fukumoto’s works – Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji, The Legend of the Strongest Kurosawa, and Gambling Emperor Legend Zero – are getting added to the Manga Planet library by June 22.
For futekiya, the following manga will be released in the near future: You’re My Sex Star Volume 2 by Tamekou, Zoku Pornographer Playback by Marukido Maki, One Room Angel by Harada, and Momo to Manji by Sakura Sawa.
In the next panel, Koei Tecmo’s Nathan Mills talked about the development of Fairy Tail and how ecstatic he was that a Fairy Tail game was being made. He noted that at first there was a confusion of what type of game it was going to be, but in the end it was decided that Fairy Tail’s world suits the JRPG genre pretty well. The highlight of the panel was the preview of the gameplay, which definitely mirrored the spirit of adventure the original work had.
The next section was an interview with the President of Polygon Pictures, Shuzo John Shiota. Shiota recounted the various ups and downs of the CG animation industry – from the mid-90s where Pixar dominated due to Toy Story’s popularity, to the time when Japan’s reaction to CG animation was very frosty due to Final Fantasy The Spirit Within flopping. One of the things that kept Polygon afloat was their iconic work on Ghost in The Shell 2’s opening. Shiota had to go to America so that Polygon could get their break there since Japan’s reaction to CG anime was far from warm. It was in America where they rose to fame, due to their work in Tron Uprising and Transformers. In 2013 they managed to reach Netflix with their work on Knights of Sidonia. Shiota praised digital platforms such as Netflix and stated that it created a huge number of slots for anime to penetrate the Western market.
In relation to Shiota’s interview, the next panel had Polygon’s Jack Liang as a guest. The highlight of this panel was Liang talking about how their studio has been constantly polishing the look of their CG because they wanted Polygon to stand out from other CG studios. He mentioned that Polygon creates a lot of in-house proprietary tools to ensure that they have a distinct style in terms of CG.
Bandai Namco’s panel focused on gameplay videos of two of their games, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris and Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS. Maxiboost ON, which were presented by their respective producers.
The next panel had Yasuhiro Kamimura of GroundWorks as a guest to talk about Neon Genesis Evangelion’s licensing. Kamimura attributed Evangelion’s strength as a brand to it coming from relatively small source material. When prompted about what draws people to Evangelion, Kamimura’s answer was that, besides the graphics and the characters, people are drawn to the fact that Evnagelion is quite open to each viewer’s personal interpretations.
Kamimura pointed out that, in a way, Evangelion is a fashion brand. The Evangelion-inspired clothing went beyond the need for having characters printed on the apparel and therefore changed anime fashion. Since 2010 Kamimura has focused on NGE licensing under GroundWorks, since he felt that a neutral company dealing with the licensing would be best for GAINAX and Anno. When asked about what comes next for the movies, he replied that due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, he is wondering as much as the rest of the fans.
Cloud Matsuri ended with a bang by having a much-anticipated Keep Your Hands off Eizouken panel with Eunyoung Choi (CEO of Science Saru), character designer Naoyuki Asano, and opening sequence animator Abel Gongora.
Choi mentioned that Eizouken was a project that reminded them of the pleasure of making animation. That said, Gongora pointed out that the journey was not without a plethora of unique obstacles. One of the examples he cited was that, as one of the animators of Eizouken, he really didn’t fully understand what was going on with the hijnks of the Eizouken girls, since he couldn’t read the Japanese source material. Points were made that, since Eizouken is a show about animation, they had to show some rough and in-progress panels to make the show believable, so there were times when it was tough to estimate how much refinement a picture needed to have for the anime stills.
Eizouken’s bopping opening sequence was very popular even overseas, but Gongora, the man behind the animation, was awed by the popularity it gained. Asano praised the memetic sequence as a good introduction to the anime due to its fun movements and popping colors.
Asano then talked about how they went about designing the protagonists based on the author’s very unique blend of realism and chibi-style. They added a bit more to the designs to make it easier for the audience to tell each of them apart. Asakusa became a bit rounder, Kanamori’s figure became more elongated, and Mizusaki became more angular.
As the panel came to a close, Asano mentioned that he related more to the ever-pragmatic Kanamori (aka KANEmori, due to her love of money); due to his long work in the anime industry, he’s lost the naive enthusiasm that both Mizusaki and Asakusa have.
And that’s it for Cloud Matsuri! We had tons of fun participating in this online convention, and we certainly hope you enjoyed reading our coverage on it!
Did you attend Cloud Matsuri? What did you think of the panels? We’d love to hear about it on our Twitter account!
About Manga Planet: Read manga, support artists
In 2012, Manga Planet started as a joint project between Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and FANTASISTA, INC. to research and explore the ways manga is read throughout the world. With the goal of bringing new manga to fans from all over the world and support artists and the industry, Manga Planet pushes for affordability and access to manga through a subscription-based service.
Readers who subscribe to Manga Planet and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.mangaplanet.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.