Sunday, February 10, 2019

Localizing anime

The story behind anime localization
Les and Mary Claypool

For the past 10 years I’ve been guesting at anime conventions across the United States. Each one is unique. On the coasts they tend to be larger and older than cons in middle America, with massive crowds and decades of history. But they’ve each become more diverse. Most today report a near 50-50 gender mix, with attendees spanning racial and ethnic spectra.

What’s frustrating, though, is that I hardly ever get to talk with anyone. (I talk to them, of course. That’s my job. But sustained conversations are rare.)

Once the crowds show up, cons are dizzying. Your liaison escorts you to the venue, navigating through clumps of cosplayers. The fans pour in, get their book signed, mutter their thanks and maybe share an anecdote about their favorite show, a trip to Tokyo, or a story you wrote that they read. It’s nice, but brief.

Unfortunately, the same goes with other guests, many of whom are professionals I’m eager to meet. A quick hello in the green room, an exchange of pleasantries at the breakfast buffet. Hello, good to see/meet you, goodbye.

Mitch Iverson (photo: Sean Yates)

I’ve come to appreciate being asked to moderate panels on top of hosting my own presentations. I’ve moderated silly ones (AKB48 in New York stands out), others with rising stars who have now risen (Makoto Shinkai) and some with industry staff who really know their stuff: the sausage-makers working the factory floor.

At Anime Los Angeles last month in Ontario, California, I was lucky enough to be hosting a panel with writing, dubbing and adaptation/localization experts Les and Mary Claypool and Mitch Iverson.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Why Hayao Miyazaki is back

Hayao Miyazaki: The never-ending story

Last week, an NHK documentary chronicling Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement and un-retirement, “Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki” opened in select theaters across the United States. The same day on the other side of the world, his 1988 classic “My Neighbor Totoro” was released for the first time in theaters across China — 6,000 of them.

Next month, Miyazaki will receive the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Career Achievement Award. In 2019, also in LA, the largest-ever exhibition of his work will inaugurate the prestigious Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Tokyo’s Shinbashi Enbujo Theater will stage a kabuki version of “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” Miyazaki’s 1984 sci-fi epic. And 2020 (or soon after) will see the premiere of “How Do You Live?,” his 12th feature film, followed by the opening of a Studio Ghibli theme park near Nagoya.

Miyazaki held a press conference to announce his retirement in September 2013.

“Through the years I have frequently talked about retiring, so many of you are perhaps wondering if this time I am really sincere,” he said. “I am.”

The Japanese anime and film industries were convulsed by the news.

Commercially, no more Miyazaki meant no more bankable nationwide summer releases in Japan for major film distributor Toho Cinemas, or DVD and subsidiary sales overseas for global partners like Disney. Artistically, Miyazaki was the last living master of a craft being trampled by technology — hand-drawn 2D animation. No more him meant the end of an art form.

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