AnimeNEXT 2011: Kanon and Sakurai Q&A

Sakurai Takamasa-san sat up front welcoming people into the room which brought some laughter from the crowds. “Good morning…cosplayer.” After everyone was seated, Sakurai-san started with talking about the Cosplay Burlesque which they saw yesterday. “No matter which cosplay it was, they’re always stripping.” Then he turned the time over to us. “Today, you’re the main cast. We’re just the players so you guys keep on asking the questions.” What a wonderful transition into questions!

    Q: How is like working with Wakeshima Kanon?
    Kanon: I have never had a working conversation with her yet. (Me: Perhaps he means he doesn’t have time to even speak with her…?)

    Q: What is the main differences you find in countries on cosplay?
    Kanon: Everyone is so bold.
    Sakurai: Isn’t that because we saw the Cosplay Burlesque yesterday?
    Kanon: Maybe so.
    Sakurai: There is no Cosplay Burlesque in Japan. It was alot of fun.

    Q: What music and musicians inspired you?
    Kanon: During middle school, I started listening to different music. I was inspired by J-pop musicians.

    Q: What do you think about the Vocaloid softward and the huge influence that it has?
    Kanon: It might take long explaining this thought. It really turned around the music world. It made a whole new generation. I don’t know why it wasn’t so well known before since it was out for a long time. I think from now on, it’s going to be even better.
    Sakurai: As a journalist, I write alot about Vocaloid. I also write alot about Vocaloid in English. Next week, on wednesday, I’m going to have another page on the site, Asianbeat so you can take a look. It’s about Asian music. If you go on the site, ‘Asianbeat’, it will show up on the J-pop culture site.

    Q: Are you wearing ‘Alice and the Pirates’ today?
    Sakurai: Yes. Do you know, ‘Baby the Stars Shine Bright’? This is their second brand, ‘Alice and the Pirates’. This is not on sale, I tailored it myself. Do you like ‘Baby’? *audience applauds* Have you seen ‘Kamikaze Girls’? For those who never seen it, it’s a really great Japanese movie so I recommend it alot. For those who watched it, please explain it to those who didn’t. Have you seen it, [Kanon]?
    Kanon: I’ve seen it once. It’s very fun.

    Q: Which is your favorite concert?
    Kanon: In 2009, I had a outside concert in Yokohama. Even in the rain, it felt really good.
    Sakurai: Have you seen AnCafe’s live? Where have you seen it?
    Fan: In California.
    Sakurai: Is everyone from California? *audience responses with different states* Has anyone seen it in Japan? *a hand goes up* Your mother is a professor?
    Fan: Yes, a music teacher.

    Q: Where is your favorite place to perform?
    Kanon: Anaheim. There is a live house near Disneyland. It was very interesting. I even got a Disney pass.
    Sakurai: Do you like Disneyland?
    Kanon: I go every 3 months.
    Sakurai: Do you wear the Mickey Mouse costume?
    Kanon: No…. *audience laughs*
    Sakurai: Mickey Mouse is Mickey Mouse, there is no one inside.

    Q: Even though I love anime, I am drawn towards to tokusatsu genre. Is that still considered cosplay?
    Kanon: Its still considered cosplay. When I was a child, I admired those hero series.
    Sakurai: Cosplay is being someone else, another character. It doesn’t have to be anime.
    Kanon: You can even cosplay a doctor, the police. It’s still cosplay.
    Sakurai: I go all over the world. I see alot of AnCafe cosplayers.

    Q: Most of us here are young and I see that you’re pretty old…. *audience starts laughing* Not old, but what experience have you gained when you travel around the world professionally?
    Sakurai: So everywhere in the world, there are alot of people that looks like Kanon. *audience laughs* There are people who look like Kanon going out with another person looking like Teruki. They’re all the same to me. About 2 weeks ago, I was teaching at a class in college. Afterwards, Kanon-san and Teruki-san have a drink and I was there with them. Teruki and his Chinese friend was saying that its not possible to not know about Fullmetal Alchemist. Teruki saw the whole series in 3 days. He was saying later, there are not so many changes with the world, because everyone is doing the same thing. Kanon was reading his tweets and saying, ‘Why is he watching it now?’
    Kanon: Nothing really changes except for the travel time.
    Sakurai: For those that haven’t received the pamphlets, you can have them for free. Its a pamphlet about a guide to Tokyo. There are illustrations explaining about our favorite places in Tokyo. This is Kanon’s page which he drew himself. This is my page. I’m different from Kanon since I don’t have any drawing skills. Therefore, I asked my friend who is a young voice actress and a model who draw it for me. It’s in Harajuku. Please take a copy and visit Japan! Who wants to visit Japan? *hands go up* Who is visiting Japan pretty soon? *not so many hands* For those who are flexible, please put this in your suitcase.
    Fan: Please bring me back with you!
    Sakurai: As a doll? Maybe its okay to cosplay. “It only moves a little.” (I’m assuming it’s his comment to the airport staff over a living doll.)

    Q: Which is your favorite anime?
    Sakurai: It’s a difficult question.
    Kanon: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
    Sakurai: The first season of Fullmetal Alchemist…no it’s Evangelion. I like the new manga by the mangaka of Honey and Clover called, 3 Gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion.) This time its not a shoujo manga. The main character is a boy who actually plays shogi. It is really interesting.

    Q: Which is your favorite cosplay and what is your favorite cosplay to see?
    Kanon: The characters that I like to wear are those with really bright hair. I like to see cosplays with knee socks.
    Sakurai: As a person whose part of the World Cosplay Summit, I cannot say a favorite cosplay. Its a secret. I love every cosplay.

    Q: Sakurai-san, next week, you’ll be at Kintoki-Con. What will you be doing there?
    Sakurai: First I’ll back to Japan, then I’ll go to California. I might do a comedic act with Teruki-san, kind of like a Saturday Night Live.
    Fan: We’re going to go.
    Sakurai: Thank you. I’ll practice very hard. Maybe Teruki-san will be very sad if I don’t take him since I always bring Kanon with me.

    Q: Since you travel around the world, what are your different reactions on cosplay?
    Sakurai: It’s always different in each country. In Japan, it’s normally done by one person, and they’ll get alot of different people to take pictures of them. On the otherhand, the Chinese cosplayers look very similar to Japanese cosplayers, but they like to gather in groups and take pictures. Not just one. In Vietnam. the cosplayers actually do it in musical style. They actually dance with the cosplay. In Spain, the cosplayers like to be in couples, have a passionate, romantic cosplay. There are lots of couples that actually met by cosplaying. It’s very interesting for the different countries to have different ways in cosplay. In Asia, the cosplays go by very fast. In Asia, not just Japan, the anime that is airing now, that’s what they’re cosplaying at conventions. Like Madoka Magica. *Madoka cosplayer stands up* This is the most popular cosplay in Japan right now. Does anyone know Madoka Magica? *lots of hands go up* What do you think of cosplays, Kanon?
    Kanon: Its very pleasing to my eyes.
    Sakurai: Do you mean Cosplay Burlesque? *audience laughs*

    Q: Do you prefer reading manga or watching anime?
    Kanon: I think it’s anime for me. When they turn the manga into an anime, sometimes I get a little disappointed. But even watching the anime and reading the manga afterwards, it’s fun that way too. It’s always different for people when they read manga and watch anime.
    Sakurai: I don’t want alot of people talking about anime since I go to all these different places and I don’t have time to watch anime. Definitely, everyone here watches more than me. On the other hand, I can read manga on the airplane and while traveling. It helps in that way. On the airplane, I saw Summer Wars 6 times and I cried every single time. To everyone who saw it before, I cry every time during the scene where the German kid saves Natsuki.

    Q: Were any of you affected by the earthquake?
    Sakurai: It’s still very hectic. I wasn’t in Japan during the earthquake. I was in China during that time. When I went back to the hotel, that’s when I noticed it. And from all over the world, I received lot of e-mail messages. Everyone was worried about it. Right now, China can’t use twitter. Kanon and Teruki was tweeting that they were fine, but since I couldn’t see that, this girl sent to me Kanon and Teruki’s messages. The earthquake affected the eastern side very much, even today, it’s pretty bad over there. I’m very happy that people all over the world volunteered to help Japan. Even though we’re Japanese, there are lots of false information around. In Tokyo, its back to normal with the same lifestyle. Alot of people left Japan because of the earthquake. But afterwards, people started coming back because it’s alot safer. For those people to come to Japan, it’s alot of support for Japan. I’m very happy that there are alot American musicians to come to Japan and to perform concerts in the area. For those who were worried, thank you very much. We’re working very hard.

    Q: Do you know about ‘Pray for Japan’ and cosplayers who supported that?
    Sakurai: Yes, I know about the cosplayers who supported the cause. There were alot of different ways to support Japan and I’m happy with any way that was used.

    Q: There was a PV that was shown yesterday. When they are making a music video, is Kanon-kun involved in production of the PV? Also, what kind of reactions here were different from Japan?
    Kanon: The reactions of the US wasn’t very different from Japan so I’m very happy about that. In the music video with people turning their heads, that is an image I have. For the animation, I told them the style that I wanted. The background is something added afterwards. During the filming, they were acting in a lime green stage. Everything else was added afterwards.
    Sakurai: Does anyone like Wakeshima Kanon and her style? *nods in the crowd* Kanon will tell her about that. There are many musicians named ‘Kanon’ any they’re all very good. In the music world, there are lots of talks about this Kanon and that Kanon…I have no idea who they’re referring to. There are 5 at this moment! I really don’t know! In those 5 musicians, 3 of them are under Sony! And when spelling it out, it’s always ‘K-A-N-O-N’. The kanji is different though.

    Q: Who are your musical inspirations?
    Kanon: In Japan, it’s GLAY, Mr. Children and L’arc en ciel.
    Sakurai: I’m actually in love with American music. As I grew up with American influence, it took me awhile to get to America since I was hesitant about actually explaining the Japanese culture to America. The people here probably watched more anime than me! As far as the 70’s music, I probably heard more than you! From the west, I like Jackson Brown, and in the east, Bruce Springsteen. Before I came to NJ, I heard Bobby Jean hundred times. But here, I’m talking about Madoka Magica and Hatsune Miku. But if there is an event for American music, I will talk about it nonstop!

    Q: What do you think about American music now.
    Sakurai: Most recent American band that I’m interested in is Red Hot Chili Peppers. *audience applauds* That is the most recent that I got into. What should I listen to?
    Fan: Lady Gaga.
    Sakurai: I know. Even in Japan, there are video clips of her everywhere.

    Q: How is it like making Pinky Distortion?
    Kanon: It was the first time producing an app for the Iphone. There was alot of work and alot of new things that I had to work through. They told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do, but while I was working on it, I realized that it was alot closer to AnCafe style.

    Q: Do you like Vocaloid? Which character do you like?
    Kanon: I like Miku. In July, there will be a Miku live and I really want to go see it, but I’m also in a live. *audience awwwws*
    Sakurai: They’re doing it at the same time. It’s very unfortunate. If I was in LA, which one should I do? Well, I can see KanonxKanon all the time…maybe Miku…. *audience laughs* Well, I’ll just think about it when I get there.