Super Sugoii Con was India’s first foray into a digital convention catering to local fans of Japanese pop culture. The convention was meant to address the Indian otakus’ need to access legitimate Japanese pop culture experience amidst a pandemic.
Held last September 27, 2020, Super Sugoii Con was a one-day event filled with panels ranging in length from 15-30 minutes. Unlike other digital conventions where the entire convention could be accessed via a single link, Super Sugoii Con went the road less traveled and hosted each panel under a separate link. The setup had its drawbacks with the constant need to load pages; given that the panels were relatively short and there were many panels, it wasn’t the most audience-friendly arrangement.
The convention started with talented artist Haruya Kimura, who performed musical numbers as tributes to Indian and Japanese cultures.
A panel by Jamil Homavazir, the creator of India’s first award-winning webcomic The Beast Legion, followed, where he talked about his experiences in webcomic creation. He recounted how he got started on The Beast Legion when he was still in college and how winning an award for the webcomic was a stepping stone for him joining the industry. He also discussed the reasons behind him choosing the manga style, the primary reason being he was really inspired by Naruto.
The next panel was by the youngest director in the Indian film industry, Saurabh Rawat, talking about how his fondness of anime such as Dragon Ball Z had brought him to where he is today. His quest for perfecting his cosplay craft definitely helped in his artistic pursuits in the film industry.
Tomoko Miya, former Director of Cure/World Cosplay, talked about her cosplay journey and gave viewers a glimpse of the games by her current company, Flamebait Games. Their first game, Passpartout: The Starving Artist, depicts the struggles of an artist trying to make it big in the French art scene. The next one Verlet Swing is a fast-paced psychedelic shooter.
The next panel gives us a glimpse of what goes on in a game development studio with Goutham Dindukurthi (Founder/Director) and Vijay Sinha (Lead Game Designer) of Holy Cow Productions. The Bangalore-based studio is an indie game studio dedicated to providing games for all consoles – yes, that includes the Xbox! They talked about Zenith, which was their first attempt at games. They also spoke about their interactive storybook game for mobile devices, Bad Dream Brigade. It was an experimental work where they attempted to bring the traditional world of tales into an interactive format.
The next section was a performance by the Minichestra from Japan. Fans enjoyed an ensemble performance of Anime songs, such as the ever-popular Unravel from Tokyo Ghoul by Ling Tosite Sigure.
Professional lifestyle and movie author Sharon Alphonso talked about how anime such as Flame of Recca, Naruto, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Pokemon played such an integral part in her childhood and inspired her to make the trip to Japan. During her panel, she talked about some tips when planning for a Japan trip; one of the most important advice pieces was to be punctual at all times since Japan is a nation that prides itself on being timely.
Fenix D’jon, whose likeness was used as a reference for Carole and Tuesday’s Crystal and the rotoscope actress for Flora, talked about how an honor it was to work with Shinichiro Watanabe; his work Cowboy Bebop was one of her favorite anime. Her panel was on cosplay and self-esteem, which aims to foster a loving cosplay community in India. She called for members of the cosplay community to be a hero to other people by inspiring others via cosplay and by cosplaying responsibly. One of the key points of her presentation was that love should be the center of people’s cosplay, which would bring more positivity into the cosplay community.
Manga has been known to bring joy to people by providing endless hours of fun and entertainment, but focus on the next panel by Kodansha’s Yoshiaki Koga was manga’s ability to bring social change and empowerment. He gave us a brief overview of Kodansha’s 110-year history as a publisher. One of the panel highlights was when Mr. Koga revealed that Kodansha is set to release their licensed digital content to India in 2021 to aid in the empowerment of women through their manga. He also talked about how he has visited India several times in the past (50 visits!) and stayed in Hyderabad in 2010 for the production of an anime. When asked why he believed that Kodansha’s manga could be a catalyst for change in Indian society, he replied that manga is an effective medium that can convey difficult themes into something easier to digest. Manga can also educate various people while entertaining them, and manga has this “slice of life” element, which allows readers to relate to them a lot. Manga, being a visual medium, will enable people to share scenes with other people easily. He aims to address the lack of content with strong women protagonists in India by bringing over manga with various female protagonists. He hopes that such manga will inspire Indian women to keep on working for a more socially advanced nation. Kodansha plans to bring over 2,500 English-translated manga to India by 2021, with the idea that these mangas are “informative but fun” and would aid in women’s empowerment. Mr. Koga also expressed his hopes that his company would publish an original manga work from an Indian female mangaka in the future. Kodansha aims to address manga’s availability issue in the Indian market by allowing legal access to their manga at an affordable rate. As such, a digital platform such as Manga Planet is ideal.
Kodansha’s panel was followed by Manga Planet’s panel. Hiroki Kurihara (President of FANTASISTA Inc., the operating company of Manga Planet), Emma Hanashiro (Editor-in-Chief), and Gladys Angala (Producer) started by introducing the manga streaming service to the audience. The highlight of the panel was the Q&A section. On the topic of what makes manga stand out from anime, Mr. Kurihara mentioned that if a manga has an anime version, it means that the manga is well-loved. He then explained that there are many excellent titles that may not appeal to the masses; these include UtsuNuke by Keiichi Tanaka, which talks about the author’s struggle with depression, and Mamora Gouda’s Samayoi Zakura, which talks about Japan’s death penalty system. These may not appeal to everyone, but the impact it has on certain readers is hardly irrelevant. Emma thinks that if people want to experience the anime differently, it’s good to read the manga as the mangaka and the anime team may have differing viewpoints about the same story. Thus, reading the manga broadens and complements the anime. Gladys pointed out that manga’s vast content is difficult to contain in a 12-episode anime.
When asked what they liked about the Indian audience, Mr. Kurihara mentioned that Indian fans were really hyped about cosplay and that they were really passionate about manga and anime, which brought about the decision to have the English manga brought over to India. The project hopes to be the bridge between Indian fans and creators and let creators know that a group of people are passionate about their work from the other side of the world.
They also talked about Manga Planet India; Mr. Kurihara mentioned that he noticed that manga was hard to come by and very expensive when he went to bookstores in India. There were titles aimed at children being sold at a price that was unaffordable for them, and as such, the company wanted to bring down the prices as much as possible. By making Manga Planet accessible, he hopes that it will be a good entry point for people who have never read manga before. Manga Planet also wants to bring attention to genres besides the popular action manga. Genres such as health manga or self-development manga will also be given a turn in the spotlight.
If you missed our panel at Super Sugoii Con, you can now watch it below or on our YouTube channel!
Emma and Gladys also introduced futekiya on a different panel, where they talked about Boys’ Love (BL). They started with a brief introduction to BL and introduced the futekiya subscription service, which hosts dozens of BL manga. Ranging from super fluffy titles to spicy hot ones, BL’s depth is showcased in the futekiya Library.
Gladys and Emma answered some questions, such as how to differentiate yaoi manga from BL manga. Emma mentioned that it’s just a matter of usage; “yaoi” is most often used in the west as a term for all things BL, while “BL” is the preferred term in Japan. They also recommended some manga found in the futekiya library that they thought that people would like, such as Faded Picture Scroll, Born To Love You, and Here and There and Us.
For aspiring cosplayers, helpful workshops such as Cosplay Make Up by Purple Paw and Cosplay Prop Making by Scythe Skunkworks were also shown, which were followed by Q&A sessions. These masters show us secrets behind their craft and give us an interesting view of their working process.
For fans of Japanese music, performances by Win Morisaki, Asianz, and Daisuki Cosplay Band brought revelry to the event with their musical numbers, while the Kyarakuta Dance Crew showed us their dance moves to the beat of Jpop songs such as Yoshitate Kyounosuke’s traditional Japanese version of Senbonzakura.
Food is huge part of Japanesee culture and of course anime! For fans interested in the art of ramen making at home, Sushi and More showcased the method for making that yummy bowl of Ramen with steps that are very easy to follow.
Former cosplayer and media personality Madhu shared her experience in Living in Japan during the pandemic. Throughout the video, she ate various fall-inspired food bought from convenience stores. It was an eating show panel filled with hilarious commentary on the food she ate throughout the video.
All in all, Super Sugoii Con was a good attempt at a first digital convention. Of course, there will always be space for improvement, but it’s a valiant effort at bringing Japanese pop culture to the Indian market!
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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.