Otakuthon at Home 2021 was a three-day virtual event hosted by Otakuthon. Held last August 20-August 22, 2021, it was a bilingual convention with several panels in French. The virtual event had three sections: Main Events, Live Events, and Panels. VODs of most of the panels were also available for those who might have missed one of the concurrent panels. Here’s our report!
In the Live Events section, Joe Zieja, best known for his role as Claude von Riegan from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, answered fans’ questions during the session. He mentioned some of his favorite anime soundtracks that he used to have on his playlists, such as Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Escaflowne. He’s a huge Yoko Kanno fan and loves every series that she composed. On the topic of his most challenging voice acting role, Joe said that Oingo from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders was one of the most challenging on his voice. His voice was strained because he did a voice that was hard to maintain for around 3 hours.
When asked if he had any memorable or funny incidents while recording, Joe recounted that during a Fire Emblem session, he had to stop because of the hiccups and that he found it rather goofy that they had to stop over it. When asked if he had any voice actors in the industry that he looked up to, he mentioned that he really enjoyed how Roger Craig-Smith did his voice work. He also mentioned Fred Tatatiore for his positivity and Jennifer Hale for being extremely smart.
In the Panel section, idol enthusiasts and those intrigued by idols were given a glimpse of the idol life as the segment Idol 101 dealt with the basics of idols.
Heading on over to the main panels, veteran voice actor Ryotaro Okiayu (known for his roles as Treize Khushreneda from Gundam Wing and Hisashi Mitsui from Slam Dunk) had a Q&A session. On the topic of what made him want to become a voice actor, he mentioned that during his time, a lot of people that liked anime aimed to become voice actors, many of whom were Gundam fans. However, he really wasn’t a fan of the series, but he was a big fan of the next series that Tomino (Gundam’s director) produced, Space Runaway Ideon. It was thanks to that anime that he discovered the profession of voice acting in the industry. The anime was broadcasted when he was 10 years old, and he noted that for someone that young, the series might have been a tad hard to understand and that the ending didn’t really resolve quite right. He recounted that he may have gone through many auditions when he was just starting, but the audition that made the biggest impression on him was when he accepted his first major role, Franz Heinel, in Future Grand Prix Cyber Formula. He said that he was actually auditioning for another anime, but the company he was working for received multiple offers from Sunrise during that time. The series had its 30th anniversary recently, and the 30th anniversary DVD included the remastered versions of the songs he performed for Cyber Formula. Cyber Formula was so instrumental to his career that he thinks he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for the series. He was attached to his roles when he was first starting, since that was when he got to experience many firsts, such as when he first played the main character Meisuke Nueno in Jigoku Sensei Nube.
On the topic of difficult roles, he mentioned that even if it’s in the same role, his capability and mental state varies and that there would always be challenges, so he can’t exactly pinpoint just one. When asked about the differences in recording, Okiayu mentioned that Japanese and Western recordings are quite different. In the Japanese industry, the cast used to do all their recordings in one place for hours, but thanks to globalization, the international style where actors don’t have to record at the same time/place are becoming more common. He also mentioned that back in the day, when video games were starting to become capable of recording audio, the dialogue wasn’t very lengthy, and all the cast members could record their parts within the day. Nowadays, since there are many dialogues, the recording has started to shift towards recording their parts individually. Okiayu mentioned that he finds Masako Nozawa, the voice actor of Goku, incredible. Considering her age and gender, to voice a powerful character such as Goku, it’s very impressive that not many male voice actors can match her powerful voice. He last visited a Dragon Ball recording studio 5 years ago and was amazed that Nozawa could still produce such a strong voice at her age. When asked if he had any roles he wanted to redo, he said that there were roles that he performed quite poorly due to being young and inexperienced, but it was thanks to these roles that made him who he is now, so he wouldn’t want to re-record those. He also mentioned that he does enjoy anime a lot. He watches anime that have long run-time or those where he was involved in. He recently watched Godzilla SP and Back Arrow.
Okiayu also talked about his role as Treize Khushreneda, since this was before the period where they could produce lots of Gundam series, and it was his first Gundam role. He was excited to hear that there would be a new Gundam series. He recalled being very happy that his senpai in the company, Hikaru Midorikawa, got to play the main role and that there were also experienced actors such as Toshihiko Seki, so he was very motivated to get as much experience from his time there and that the series is indeed very close to his heart. He also talked about his roles as Byakuya from Bleach and Tezuka from Prince of Tennis, where he played a 14-year-old Tezuka. He also talked about Marmalade Boy, one of his earlier works, and found the story unique.
Of course, there were also virtual contests, such as Anime Name that Tune, for fans keen to show off their anime theme knowledge!
Manga Library services Manga Planet and futekiya hosted an industry panel where Emma Hanashiro (Editor-in-Chief) and Gladys Angala (Producer) talked about the service. The highlight of this segment was the upcoming title announcement which included 5 new BL titles from Taiyohtosho, including Kaoru Kemono by Ameshiro and Ai to Hanaji by Rose Shiomi. Emma mentioned that working with Taiyohtosho had long been in the works, and it was something that they had to keep secret for quite some time.
In the next panel, Japanese indie VTubers Asano Ruri, Maizuru Yokato, Kurokiri Aria, Hanakoto Igusa, Japanese Seiyuu Inoue Suguru, and Japanese comedian America Zarigani Hirai talk about their collective experience as virtual Youtubers. They shared the trials and tribulations they faced when they were just starting and how their experience brought them to where they are today.
The panel 2020 Anime: Year in Review talked about how the pandemic has affected the anime industry, and fewer anime was shown during this period. At first, they discussed the criteria they used to decide which anime to review: 1) It must have a MyAnimeList score > 6.0, 2) The first season should have aired in 2020, or for movies, the English release should have been in 2020. Each show discussed was given a minute to be in the spotlight as the reviewers tried to dissect each show in the given timeframe.
On the 2nd day of Otakuthon, the panel Inspiring/Uplifting Moments in Anime talked about some anime scenes that caused them to re-evaluate and change how they viewed anime. For example, Haruhi Suzumiya no Yuutsu had Kyon, who one would consider an all-around average person, unlike Haruhi, who was anything but average. The uplifting part was when Kyon ended up changing little by little thanks to Haruhi and her friends’ influence. Also worthy of note was Yomiko Readman (from Read or Die) humming Ode to Joy after setting up a date, which is quite a feat for someone as socially awkward as Yomiko. Overall, this panel was a feel-good one and definitely different from the usual anime reviews that focus on badass scenes.
The next panel, Otaku Culture in Higher Education, was a panel by Dr. Kazunori Sugiura. Dr. Sugiura, a big Touhou fan, was cosplaying as Reimu while he delivered his lecture. During his early teaching years, he stated that he was focused on Internet Technology, where people can share various information and content via the internet. But he has another facet to him, since he also teaches an otaku culture class, with most international students, in university. One of the most intriguing things about him is that he aims not to wear the same cosplay within a certain number of years and that students shouldn’t see him in the same cosplay. This allows him to keep on being creative as he makes his kigurumis and costumes by himself. As of 2021, he had 1010+ costumes and 90+ kigurumis which is quite astounding. He also talked about a series particularly close to his heart, Touhou, and how it graduated from a doujin game, created single-handedly by Zun, to a multimedia franchise that appears in modern consoles. He also delved into the various types of otaku: consumer otaku and creator otaku. He also defined otaku as “a person who understands, experiences, and enhances one’s literacy, furthermore, sharing it among others to re-innovate aesthetic creativity.”
Square Enix fans test their mettle as they compete to test who knows Square’s franchises best, based on the music. In Sounds of Square, a short snippet is played, and players have to identify the who, what, when, and where based on that short clip.
The Washoku panel is a glimpse of Japanese gastronomy, with Osamu Izawa, Consul General of Japan in Montreal, and Mr. Murakami, the chef of the Consul General’s official residence. Mr. Murakami showed the audience how to make Yaki-buta which is Japanese braised pork. In this panel, one thing to note is that Mr. Izawa mentioned that unlike eating Italian pasta, when eating Japanese ramen, one is allowed to slurp to show appreciation for the food.
For Pokemon masters out there who want to prove that they’re the very best that no one ever was, the Pokemon challenge tested their knowledge of the series as they battled it out against other trainers.
Fans of Cowboy Bebop’s music get a treat as the Cowboy Bebop panel showcased some of the series’ most iconic beats. Anime and video game music fans’ ears were also blessed as Laurence Manning masterfully played various themes on her piano.
Yuko Minaguchi, the voice actor of Sailor Saturn in Sailor Moon, hosted a Q&A session. On what made her want to become a voice actor, she initially was part of a children’s theatre company that was involved in various voice works. When she was 19, she was invited by a voice actor company, and it was then that she decided to try it out for a year or two, but in the end, she ended up doing it for around 35 years. On the topic of whether she wanted to redo some of her voice work if she were allowed to do so, she mentioned that she probably wouldn’t want to redo any of them, though she’s the type of person who wouldn’t be able to do so to rewatch her past voice works. Ms. Minaguchi lived abroad for quite some time, and she mentioned that she stayed in New York for 1 ½ years due to the large earthquake in Japan in 2011, which made her remember her childhood plan to live abroad. She also recalled that since she was not very fluent in English, there were difficulties, but New York people were very patient with her. She managed to make friends with people because she took her pet Shiba Inu for a walk, which prompted strangers to come up and talk to her. Her starting for over a year in a foreign country gave her some confidence because she overcame that kind of obstacle; she’s able to do anything. On special memories, she had to play Hotaru Tomoe, and she mentioned that near the end of the filming for Sailor Moon, the series had a lot more serious scenes, especially with Hotaru and her relationship with her father. She fondly remembers thinking that she wanted to do her best and help the series become even better with her role.
Popular music producer beatMARIO graced Otakuthon with his Vtuber persona and answered questions from fans. He talked about how his name was inspired by his favorite rhythm game, BEATMANIA, and Nintendo’s Mario. One of the interesting bits of the interview was him recounting how he met his wife Amane and started making music together. They met at a gaming center and bonded over their similar tastes in games, and when he heard her sing in karaoke, he really liked her voice and singing style, so he wanted to work with her. He also talked about Zun and how he thinks that Zun is god-like. After the Q&A session, he had a mini-concert of sorts where he got to sing some of his favorite tunes.
Ever wanted to learn about photography and are into cosplay? Cosplay Photography 101 is the session for you. Scott Okuna talked about cosplayer safety, equipment and lenses recommended for beginners and setting up a photo.
For fans of cosplay, cosplayers get to strut their stuff while at home during the Masquerade section. The contestants showed off their talents with a brief video of them doing their thing while in costume.
NIJISANJI EN’s Pomu Rainpuff, Elira Pendora, and Finana Ryugu review the dankest memes found in their official Reddit. Hilarity ensues as they laugh their way through the entire session, looking at Nijisanji-inspired memes.
Think you know everything there is to know about Pokemon? The Pokemon central talks about anything and everything Pokemon, from where it started as a series of video games on the GBA to the upcoming Pokemon Legends Arceus.
After holding a concert in Otakuthon, HIZAKI, the guitarist of popular Visual kei power symphonic metal band Versailles, was interviewed. When asked what he is currently fond of eating, he mentioned that he had always loved sushi, but he recently tried to avoid eating meat and wheat products. He mentioned that the thing he liked the most about the field of music was when he had completed composing a work and being able to share the joy that he felt with fans at a live concert. He is a fan of Saint Seiya and wondered whether it was also popular outside of Japan. Bishojo manga was also something that he favored since he really likes the beautiful drawings. He also talked about the video he found the most memorable, Phillia, where they filmed it in rather frigid conditions. On the topic of plans, he plans on doing regular video uploads so that fans worldwide can watch them. He also has plans for live streaming sessions and hopes that fans will enjoy those sessions.
On the third day, Keith Silverstein, currently known as Zhongli from Genshin Impact, held a Q&A session. When asked if he wanted to voice any other character besides Zhongli in Genshin, he mentioned that he usually gets pretty attached to the said character when he plays characters. He said that maybe Childe, but he didn’t really play the game because he was afraid he’d immediately get addicted to it. When asked if he ever played any of the games he acted in, he mentioned that while he loves video games, it’s just that the lack of time to play is what’s hindering him from playing.
The Orchestre d’Anime de Montréal (L’OAM) performed various anime and game songs, such as Bad Apple from Touhou , Grandma from NieR Replicant and Blumenkranz from Kill la Kill. The performance was a treat for those looking for a little more orchestral oomph from their Animusic.
Kenji Nojima, best known for his roles as Eiji Okumura from Banana Fish and Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon Crystal, recounted that he didn’t originally aim to become a seiyuu. His initial dream was to become a singer and an actor. Since his father was also an actor, he asked his father if he could get him a lead role with his connections, and his father told him off for being so naive. He got into an actor training school that a voice acting agency created, and it was then he discovered the infinite possibilities of being a voice actor. During his Q&A, he also discussed how he prepares for the role; as much as possible, he’d try to experience whatever his character is supposed to do, whether it be aiming to become a better cook when the character he’s playing is a cook, or he’ll go swimming when the character he’s playing is a swimmer. As Kita from Haikyu, he mentioned that he found it tough to play such a rigid character. He also had to learn about Kansai word usage as Kita did not use standard Japanese. When asked about his role as Albedo in Genshin Impact, he said he wasn’t aware initially that Genshin Impact was that popular, and he was pleasantly surprised when several people called him to ask about his character. Seeing that the character was that popular, he said that he’s glad that he managed to play him naturally.
For fans of video game music and heavy metal, Lame Genie performed heavy metal renditions of both old and new video games, from Mega Man to Fall Guys.
Overall, Otakuthon at Home 2021 was a very enjoyable convention experience while in the comfort of one’s home. They’ve definitely improved on the previous year’s offerings and gave fans a bigger and better Otakuthon. We’re definitely looking forward to more from these guys!
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