Hello from Manga Planet! We’re back with a report on Otakuthon At Home Day 2, which continued to be as jam-packed as the previous day! (Our coverage of Day 1 can be found here if you haven’t already checked it out!)
For the Panels Section, fans got to know more about Japanese culture as panels ranging from origami to figure collecting and hanami were presented to its French-speaking audiences. Professional author and Otakuthon recurring guest, Michelle Franklin, gave a workshop on how to write characters that can connect to the readers.
For aspiring artists out there, Hisayuki Tabata hosted a panel where he sketched while giving advice. During this panel, he self-deprecatingly quipped that those who enter the industry must be a bit crazy for wanting to join an environment with very tiring work.
Onwards to the Main Events section, virtual idol IA hosted a panel on how to perform her moves for dance enthusiasts out there or for those who want to give dancing a chance. IA fans can now dance along with their favorite Vocaloid!
Good Smile Company’s panel consisted of a tour of their famous Akihabara headquarters. Dozens of colorful figures on the walls make this a somewhat elusive mecca for those who love anime figures. They were also kind enough to show their production floor and give us a glimpse on how they make those lovely figures.
For fans of the idol-franchise Love Live!, this panel hosted a tutorial on how to do the steps for “Happy Party Train.” You, too, can learn how to move like your favorite idol!
The next panel was a Q&A with Kiyono Yasuno, who is best known for her role as Megumi Kato, the super-ordinary heroine of Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata. Kiyono talked about her reason for becoming a voice actress, which was that she had anime that she liked. She hoped that her reason for becoming a seiyuu was something that is shared among existing and aspiring voice actors. During her childhood, she was rather fond of Kaitou Saint Tail and looked forward to watching it every week. There was a special episode of Saint Tail, which showed behind-the-scenes footage of the anime, including the voice actors; after watching this, she thought, “I didn’t know a wonderful job where you give dreams to children like this existed.” It was then that she decided that she wanted to pursue voice acting.
Kiyono also talked about her experiences in youseijyo or voice actor training school. She began going to one such school in her second year of senior high school. She went to the school for about half a decade, several times a week, until she made her debut. Even after her debut was decided, she still took lessons for three more years. In terms of the struggles she had to face as a voice actress, she mentioned that no matter what role she played, the characters each have their unique circumstances where they get to shine or where they face obstacles. It’s always up to her, the voice actress, to make sure it goes through. While voice actors nowadays go to a lot of events where they are expected to sing and dance, Kiyono admitted that she’s not very good at dancing. She was given lots of opportunities to sing as she was part of the Walkure unit in Macross Delta. She mentioned that the songs were challenging, but the dance routines were also quite complicated; she had to work hard to balance both so that she could deliver the performances to the audience. She vowed to continue to level up her abilities as part of Walküre.
When asked about how she maintains such a lovely voice, Kiyono answered that her work requires her to use the highest and lowest sections of her vocal range quite often. If she doesn’t use either, her voice won’t come out as clearly as she likes, so she thinks that regularly letting her voice out is very vital. If she doesn’t push herself to use those ranges and comfortably sing within her mid-range, the output isn’t as nice. Switching between both limits and projecting both highs and lows are essential. Before acting or doing an important performance, she takes chicken oil soup.
Kiyono ended the interview with words of encouragement for fans who continue to support the work of animators and voice actors alike. She expressed her gratitude for their continued support. Due to the current situation, the world is facing many difficulties. However, thanks to online platforms, innovations are made on all fronts; anime studios can now function without having the staff all in one place, and those involved with anime production are still going strong. She expressed her hope that fans will continue to look forward to said works in the future.
The next panel, “Otakuthon Idol,” showed several clips of contestants belting out their favorite anime tunes from the comfort and safety of their homes. The winners of the Otakuthon Masquerade winners were announced next.
Hiroshi Shimizu, the character designer for Michiko and Hatchin, walked us through a sketching session that has never been released outside of Crunchyroll Expo in 2017.
For Final Fantasy fans and music enthusiasts who dig the varied tones of Final Fantasy’s music, L’Orchestre portable de jeux video held a mini-concert providing audiences with an eargasmic experience. They finished their concert with a bang, with a rendition of the ever-popular “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII!
Being unable to meet each other doesn’t mean that friends don’t get to connect through music. And Orchestre d’Anime de Montréal proved precisely that, as they provided almost an hour of tunes from beloved anime, such as Carole and Tuesday’s “The Loneliest Girl.”
The next panel about Studio Ghibli was hosted by ghost story author, Hirokatsu Kihara, who worked on Laputa Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Kihara has worked with director Hayao Miyazaki. One of the most exciting tidbits shared during the panel was that the catbus was modeled after Kihara himself. He left a message for fans imploring them to take care of their bodies and mentioned that he hopes he can meet them in the future.
BACK-ON performed some of their hits for the audience, and after that, there was a Q&A session. When asked about their opinion on Canadians, they mentioned that Canadians love their country and that the place is very well-kept. The balance between nature and the city is very good, and it is indeed a place that’s very diverse in terms of nationalities. They left a message stating that it is a difficult situation that we’re currently in, but music will always be essential for our everyday lives. Everybody can overcome the situation with the power of music!
Cyril Coppini introduced the audiences to the art and history of Rakugo and gave us a compelling performance of Rakugo in French.
In Live Panels, voice actors of several of the key players of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The panel featured Zach Aguilar (Byleth), Chris Hackney (Dimitri), Erica Mendez (Bernadetta), Abby Trott (Annette), and Patrick Seitz. They talked about their Fire Emblem experience, how they got involved, and the fans’ warm reception of the game. It was mentioned that they didn’t expect the game to blow up as it did. Patrick noted that part of the appeal of the game was the characters finding their footing in the world, which resonated with a lot of people.
Since a lot of the FE3H guests were Smash fans, we got to see them play a few rounds of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Hijinks ensued as they fought against each other using the various wacky characters in the game.
Eric Roth, known for his work on A New World: Intimate Music From Final Fantasy, talked about the ins and outs of video game music production. He gave his insights on the topic of video game music concerning live concerts and recordings. In the past, pre-pandemic, AWR has focused on live performances of music, and recordings have been an integral part of that scheme. Profits for artists have decreased while corporate entities’ share of the pie continues to grow in the age of recordings. The artists’ income mainly comes from compensation for their performances and their mentorship towards aspiring young musicians. He pointed out that this is not sustainable in the long run for musicians. He noted that there are several problems caused by such a situation; the number of orchestras continues to dwindle while the number of musicians continues to grow, and there are also problems related to lack of accessibility to equipment.
One of the unique things about this digital convention was that they hosted a section where the audience got to voice their feedback about the convention. It was an interesting take on interacting with the audience, and with their comments being addressed live, it indeed lent the credence that the convention staff is actively listening to their sentiments.
A battle of the waifus/husbandos ensued as the contestants battled to find out who knows which waifus are closest to the audience’s hearts. The audience was given a poll to determine who is the most popular waifu based on several categories, and the participants had to guess who won in terms of popularity.
All in all, Otakuthon at Home was a great first attempt for a online version of Otakuthon. The digital platform was well-suited to their content.; that said, there were some duplicate contents where they showed the same panel at different times, with the language of the subtitles shown being the only difference. There was also a number of French-only content, which may have provided a language barrier for non-French speakers, being an event that is accessible audiences worldwide.
How was your Otakuthon at Home experience? Tell us on our Twitter account!
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