Event Reports

Event Report: Anime Expo Lite Day 2

Last week, we covered (most of) the Day 1 panels at Anime Expo Lite. Let’s now move on to Day 2, where Manga Planet and our sibling service futekiya, had our very first industry panel at Anime Expo!

Day 2 of Anime Expo Lite began with Funimation’s panel. Funimation announced several new anime, including the ecchi comedy superhero anime Super HxEros, and that Naruto is coming to Funimation on July 6. One of the highlights of the panel was the announcement that Funimation is coming to Mexico and Brazil, and the first anime that they will localize is Tokyo Ghoul: Re with the Spanish dub.

The next panel was a short demo on How to Draw Anime with MINOMIYABI. He advised that the sketching stage is a brainstorming stage where you can doodle without getting too bothered by details like perspective. Then comes atari, where you draw rough guidelines, and after comes the part where you start working on the perspective. As you come closer to finishing your drawing, you then create the linework and during the shading part, you decide where the light source is positioned.

The next panel was a Q&A and a short demo with famous artist Yoshitaka Amano, who is well-known for his work on the art of the Final Fantasy series. When asked what his drawing process is like, he mentioned that he starts with sitting in front of a desk and that he really doesn’t plan much. The first image that comes to mind is the most important, and he goes from there. His favorite part of drawing is drawing the face, and he admitted that he can be quite fussy about that step.

On coming up with the details, Amano-sensei noted that in detail work, personal touches are the most important. He also mentioned that he can only draw things that he likes so that whatever the world thinks about his work, there is at least one person who likes it (aka. himself). His favorite medium is the pencil, which he still starts drawing with; and if he had to choose, he really likes drawing cool characters. He then mentioned that he found it much easier to draw for video games because he just has to create it once and then somebody else tweaks it for the game. On the other hand, when drawing for anime, he has to draw the characters at least three times. On difficult characters to design, he talked about how extreme characters are easier to grasp and that making characters out of average people can be difficult. Amano-sensei then ended the panel by drawing two daruma versions for Anime Expo Lite. The first daruma was on the cuter side, while the second had intense lines and a sterner look.

The next panel was an interview with Akira Himekawa, a mangaka duo unit consisting of A. Honda and S. Nagano, who have worked on several manga for The Legend of Zelda franchise. They mentioned that they love incorporating animals in their work so much that Ms. Honda made sure to add a lot of wolves in their stories. They recounted that, during their younger days in the Showa era, it was normal for kids to read manga; it was then that they were inspired by Osamu Tezuka and his works. Manga was a dream for all the kids back then.

For their creative process, they read some manga and get an image of what they want to create. After that, they start sketching and deciding on the who, when, where, what and how. They then translate it to something more understandable before they hand it off to their editor. There is a lot of back and forth involved in the creation of manga. In addition to that, they mentioned that not a lot of people realize how much effort it takes to make manga. Their idols in the manga world would be Osamu Tezuka and Shotaro Nishinomori. In fact, they were over the moon when they learned that they will be penning the Legend of Zelda manga because Nishinomori also worked on previous manga installations from the franchise. When asked about dream projects, they mentioned that they have managed to do this when they worked on The Legend of Luke Skywalker and they showed their art to the audience.

For aspiring artists out there, they mentioned that it’s important to keep on reassessing whether or not you truly like writing stories, because there are times when it really gets rough and that’s the only thing you can hold on to. As a special treat, the duo gave the audience a view of their studio.

In the next panel, Pony Canyon discussed their latest anime Adachi and Shimamura with Director Satoshi Kuwabara and Character Designer Shizue Kaneko. The highlight of this section was Shizue Kaneko drawing one of the characters.

Kodansha’s panel was filled with announcements, of which one of the highlights was several CLAMP manga getting collector’s editions this fall, including the sci-fi manga CLOVER and rom-com CHOBITS. Also, several spin-offs from Cells at Work will be making their western debut.

The next panel definitely made the most of our situation where everybody needs to wear masks;  the Mask-querade featured cosplayers donning masks.

The next panel brought Studio Orange into the focus with two of their CG works. The first section involved Shinichi Matsumi, the Director of BEASTARS, and Hyuntae Kim, the Producer of BEASTARS. Matsumi discussed how he found the manga really interesting and that he wanted to avoid changing it wherever possible. He noted that the author was a young woman in her early 20’s so the sense of wonder she has is quite different from his. If he simply did an interpretation of her work,  the appeal of the original work would vanish; as such, he was very careful that the original work’s appeal came through, even though it was quite difficult. Hyuntae addressed the fans, who were eagerly looking forward to season 2, and mentioned that the 1st season’s theme was about how the different characters matured in the view of the world, while in the 2nd season, both carnivores and herbivores search for their own meaning in the world.

The next section brought in the staff members who worked on the latest MV of popular idol mobile game (and anime) IDOLiSH7, which is titled “Mr.AFFECTiON”. The Director Kensuke Yamamoto, Character Designer Hitomi Miyazaki, Art Director Hiroko Akagi and CGI Director Maiko Iketani had a lively interview about the creation of the MV. Yamamoto mentioned that he had heard of IDOLIiH7 prior to working on the project but didn’t know what it was about, so he had to think about how to go about it. He mentioned that Iketani was a very hardcore fan of the series and was his IDOLiSH7 mentor.

Miyazaki talked about the days when they didn’t have the music yet; they assumed that they were making the PV for another song, “Hatsukoi Rhythm,” and were surprised when they received a hardcore song. They were told that the song was for Black and White and was initially told the setting was Northmeir, but ended up making a video set inside the VFX studio. Miyazaki decided to immerse herself and played the game – it was then that she realized that she was involved in something huge.

Since there were game designs, anime designs, and Arina Tanemura’s designs for the characters, it was quite difficult to decide which one to focus on. As such, she decided to take elements from all 3 designs, using Fukagawa’s design as the base with additional elements from Tanemura’s design, all the while taking Iketani’s request to make it closer to the game cards’ illustration. She mentioned that she really had a hard time drawing their hair. About 8 animators were involved with the project and motion-capture was used to capture the dancers’ moves.

Yamamoto mentioned that in the teaser they used an aurora as they decided that the setting would be a lake. Iketani went to Canada for vacation and Akagi asked for reference pictures but was disappointed to learn that auroras can’t be seen without the assistance of a lens.

The next panel was the Manga Planet and futekiya Panel, which had Hyoe Narita (Chairman), Emma Hanashiro (Editor-in-Chief) and Gladys Angala (Producer) as speakers.

The chairman Hyoe Narita talked about his 25-year career in the manga industry. Some of his achievements included being the former President of Viz Media in Europe and the first Editor-in-Chief for US Shonen Jump.  In 2002, he launched US Shonen Jump – the first issue featured Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z on the cover and was read from right-to-left. Narita recalled that in 2002, the standard way of reading comics was left to right, which was the opposite of how manga was read in Japan, so many of the bookstores placed US Shonen Jump on the shelves backward. He mentioned that he was part of the history of manga in the West, but that the future must be led by the younger generation. So he joined the Manga Planet and futekiya team in 2019 because he wanted to support them and believed that they will be the future of manga.

Narita discussed the fact that, even though Japan’s population is a third of the US, the manga market in the US is 1/20th of Japan’s and he surmised that this was caused by several factors. One of these factors was that not all manga get picked up for translation because producers have to determine what sells due to their limited resources, and that manga prices in the US are double that of Japan’s. Because of these,  manga fans resort to piracy, which in turn means that creators don’t get paid. Gladys then talked about Manga Planet and futekiya’s cooperation with the government for the “STOP! Piracy” Campaign.”They work with CODA (Content Overseas Distribution Association) and will be releasing the English version of manga by 16 creators drawn specifically to tackle the issue of manga piracy on the Manga Planet and futekiya websites.

On upcoming releases, Manga Planet in cooperation with SOZO Comics will release several titles, which include: Enchanted Racer by Akira Itou, Marin, illustrated by Himekawa Art Pro, Prince of Lan Ling, written by Yoshiki Tanaka, and ZAN, which features original art by Yoshitaka Amano.

They also announced that they are releasing Kia Asamiya’s Silent Möbius digitally in English on the Manga Planet platform. They showed a teaser and a brief message from Kia Asamiya, encouraging fans of the work to check out the world of Silent Möbius once again and for new readers to give the 30-year-old work a try.

When asked about manga recommendations, Narita mentioned that his favorite was Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk and had read it more than 200 times. Emma recommended independent creator Ayu Yamane’s works on futekiya.

If you missed our panel, you can now watch it below or on our YouTube account!

Anime Expo Lite ended on a high note as the LisAni! Live LA brought several anisong artists together in one concert!  Featuring Maya Uchida, ELISA, and GRANRODEO, this concert had fans bopping to the beat of their favorite anime songs.

All in all, Anime Expo Lite has been a marvelous romp and we are looking forward to attending more events like this one.


How was your Anime Expo Lite experience? Tell us about them 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. Aiming to bring 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. By the end of 2020, subscribers will have unlimited access to at least 500 titles. To subscribe, please go to read.mangaplanet.com and create an account. More information is in our Guide.

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