Anyway, Monday was our most exciting day at Anime Expo, so let's tell you about it!
After Saturday, I decided it was too much of a waste of time to change costumes and too much of a hassle to carry our clothes around, so we decided to forget all our inhibitions and just wear our costumes on the bus. This turned out to be a much better plan. Monday was the day of the Kodansha panel, so normally we would have worn our Kodansha-related costumes, but! it was also the day of Miyu Irino's panel, so we prioritized that and went as Donald and Goofy.
The schedule was going to be especially tricky, because Irino-kun's panel started half an hour into the Kodansha panel. We told our Kodansha people about it on Saturday, and they were understanding about it, too. We actually decided this could work in our favor, because the reason they call it "fashionably late" is that, by coming in after everyone is already there, you catch everyone's attention. So our plan was to start by going to the Kodansha panel, and then leave at some point (maybe wait for the panel to be over), and catch the rest of Irino-kun's panel. The downside, of course, was that however late we were to Irino-kun's panel, that's how much of it we would miss out on.
The other tricky thing about it is that the Kodansha panel started at ten in the morning, and if we happened to catch the bus without having to wait too long, we were still looking at about two hours of commuting, and of course we wanted to make sure to get there earlier than starting time, because when you plan to get somewhere on time, you are almost inevitably late. What I'm saying is, we had to get up early. It worked out pretty well, though, and we had about forty-five minutes to kill once we arrived. We started by checking the autograph ticket line to see if we could get some autograph tickets for Miyu Irino. They started selling them at eight that morning and they were already gone, so the guy there told us to try again tomorrow, but we'd have to be there reeeeeally early. We had a hard enough time getting there at nine-fifteen, so we weren't too keen on this idea, but we kept it in mind.
The Kodansha panel was pretty good, but a bit low on energy. First they announced a bunch of new titles, but nobody seemed to get very excited about anything. I wonder if it's because it was the first panel of the morning. I think the most excitement was for the Card Captor Sakura sequel, and also there was a stirring when they announced that Hiro Mashima would be at New York Comic-Con. After the announcements, they turned the time over to the special guest from Japan, Yumi Sukemune, editor of Princess Jellyfish, who had prepared a presentation on the creation of the same. She started by introducing herself, and then she explained that when the author of Princess Jellyfish started on it, she said she wanted to do a classic shoujo manga. That being the case, Sukemune-san wanted to explain what it exactly shoujo manga is. The main point of it is transformation. Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura both have transformation as a major theme, and so does Princess Jellyfish--just not the same kind of transformation. Sukemune-san also explained that originally, it was usually a hot guy who would trigger the transformation, maybe by saying, "Oh, you're pretty," or something to motivate the girl, but in modern days, the trend is more for the girl to be self-motivated and to work to transform herself through her own efforts.
I think that was about when we were getting a little antsy to get to Miyu Irino's panel, so off we went. Fortunately, the panel was close by, so we didn't have a long trek ahead of us. We went to the next room (practically) and went right on in. We got there just as Irino-kun was answering a question about Spirited Away. (The panel was presented by Funimation, which I think is probably a good trend, because it indicates that Funimation realizes that not all of its fans are interested in only the English dub voices. But it was a little bad for us, because it meant the main focus was going to be on anime...which also is not really a problem, except for the fact that our favorite role of Irino-kun's is Sora from Kingdom Hearts. Anyway, the point is, Funimation had prepared a bunch of questions.) He was saying that he didn't realize at the time that he was working with such a world-famous director, but looking back on it now, he realizes how cool it was.
Our timing turned out to be pretty perfect, because the next question was about Kingdom Hearts. Well, sort of. It was, "You were in Kingdom Hearts. Do you like to play video games?" Before he answered the question, Irino-kun said yes, he was in Kingdom Hearts, and then he said (in English), "I saw some Kingdom Hearts cosplay. It was lovely, thank you." We like to think he was referring to the Donald and Goofy cosplayers who had walked in mere moments before, especially because when you consider the choice of the word "lovely," it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for most Kingdom Hearts cosplay. Maybe Kairi or Namine. But! if you realize that "lovely" is not an uncommon dictionary entry for "kawaii," it does make sense for maybe some Donald and Goofy cosplay. Regardless, we can be pretty sure he did notice us, because whenever he wasn't answering questions, you could see that he was scanning the audience rather intently.
As for his answer to the question, yes, he loves playing video games. When he was a kid, he would play eight, twelve hours a day, hiding from his parents. He played everything--action-adventure, RPG, puzzle, fighting games. He just recently got a PS4 with a Kingdom Hearts cover on it, and we were so jealous.
Here I will admit that I only half paid attention to the rest of the questions because I got lost in my own thoughts. And a lot of them were about anime that we hadn't seen. They asked him about Seraph of the End, and he said he didn't put a lot of thought into the acting for it because it was pretty much just typical shounen fantasy, so that was his main concept for the character. But the fun thing about that question was when they asked him about it, he was like, "Oh, I saw someone!" and he started searching the crowd again, and pointed out a group of Seraph of the End cosplayers, and said, "You!" (or "Yuu," because that's his character's name in it, and one of the characters that was being cosplayed).
He said that Anohana and A Silent Voice are both titles that are good to show to people who aren't anime fans, so show it to all your friends. And speaking of that sort of thing, it was really cute because, for example, when they asked him about working with Makoto Shinkai (on Garden of Words), he said something about the e-conte, and then he seemed to think that word was too jargony, so he tried to describe it, and I was sitting there like, "Come on, we all know what a storyboard is." Later, he mentioned having to match the kuchipaku ("lip flaps" is the official English term), and then backtracked and changed it to matching the picture. It was very cute.
Of course they had to bring up Osomatsu-san, and he mentioned how he's thoroughly confused as to why that would be popular anywhere outside of Japan (because it's so very Japanese), to the point where he stopped one of the people asking questions (at the Q&A, when people got up from the audience to ask questions) and asked her what she liked about it. Unfortunately, she hadn't seen it.
A little more on A Silent Voice. He said the themes are hearing impairment and bullying, but ultimately he thinks the main, hidden theme is the connection/relationship between the two main characters. I'm not sure why I think that's important enough to make a note of it here, but I'm doing it anyway.
Someone asked in the Q&A session if he ever had any disagreements with the director on how a character would say a line, and how he deals with that, and he said it happens all the time, so the ideal situation is that they can talk it out and come to an agreement, but ultimately the director is in charge so he follows what the director tells him to do.
...And I think that's about all I remember worth writing about. ...Oh wait, I'm remembering more. He talked about his character in Gundam 00, and how everybody thought he was kind of pointless until the end of the first season. His main regret about that character is that he didn't get to ride a Gundam, but he did get to pilot a plane that would attach to the back of the Gundam vehicles, so he still got to be in the video game. It was a relatively easy job, because he didn't have to do any yelling.
The other important thing to note is that at one point during the panel, a Sora cosplayer walked in late, and Irino-kun saw her come in and just stopped what he was saying for a few seconds, then said to everyone (indicating the Sora), "Kingdom Hearts cosplay," and got back to the panel.
And that reminds me of another important thing! Someone asked him what his favorite types of characters to play are. He said he doesn't really have a favorite type; he just likes getting to put himself into so many different kinds of characters. But if he had to say, his favorite would be Sora, because Kingdom Hearts has been going on for 15 years now (that's more than half of his life, by the way), and it's a very unique experience to get to play the same character for so long.
Okay, now I think that's all I want to say. Funimation announced that he would be at their screening of the Code Geass OVA, along with the English dub voice of his character, but it happened to be going on at exactly the same time as the Silent Voice screening, and if we had to pick which movie we were more interested in, it would be the latter. That, and the Code Geass thing was in a different venue and we didn't want to search for it.
The overlapping of panels continued, and so we went to see if we could get in to the Official Sailor Moon panel. That room was full to capacity, so there was a standby line where people were allowed in as other panel-goers decided to leave early. We didn't care that much, so we went to the dealers' hall to see if there was anybody to talk to. And to get an ocarina grab bag. One booth was selling bags for $25 that each contained two random ocarinas, and we wanted one very badly, but we didn't get one on Saturday because our budget was very tight and we wanted to make sure there wasn't anything else we wanted. In retrospect, what could we have wanted more than surprise ocarinas? But the damage was done, and when we got back on Monday, the bags were sold out. This was very disappointing. On top of that, only one of our editors was around and he seemed really busy, so we didn't have anyone to talk to. So after some wandering, we went to the industry lounge to read the latest chapter of UQ Holder!, which we would have to go home early to work on. It was a super cute chapter, but we were still feeling pretty sad and lonely.
But! by using the industry lounge's internet, we were able to receive a message from Cecille letting us know she was in the Sailor Moon panel. So we got some lemonade and then went to the Sailor Moon panel to see if we could catch her on her way out. We did, and discovered that she had won some autographs from the dub cast. She wasn't exactly thrilled about the dub, but since she won the autographs, we all figured she might as well get them. So off we went in search of the autograph signing area. We got caught by someone wanting a picture just as they let her into the exclusive line, and they wouldn't let us in without a ticket, so it was time to part ways. We went back to the dealers' hall and wandered around some more, still failing to find any of our friends to talk to.
That's when we realized that Irino-kun's signing session was scheduled to still be going on. So we went back to the autograph signing area and ate some Pocky while we waited to see if we could maybe see him walk by after he finished signing things. But when we finished the Pocky, we did some more recon and realized he had finished long ago and wasn't even there anymore. So we gave up on our silly dreams of...you know, like all those anime where the girl imagines "accidentally" bumping into a hot guy or whatever... And we went back to the dealers' hall to continue our wanderings.
As usual, we went to the Kodansha booth first, and still the only editor we really knew seemed too busy to chat, so we wandered to the other side of the booth and tried to decide what we wanted to do next. We might have also stopped at the nearby Pony Canyon booth to look at their schedule (maybe that was when we saw the Sound! Euphonium cosplayers playing the trumpet and tuba... that was pretty cool), but the point is, we were back at the Kodansha booth, looking half-heartedly at the manga-to-anime art gallery they had set up. I noticed somebody who seemed extra interested in the art, who had a group of about three associates with him. Something about his hair looked very familiar...and so did his profile. You guys. It was Miyu Irino. Standing right there, about two yards away from us, posing with the CLAMP-autographed Sakura sketch (he played Syaoran in Tsubasa Chronicle).
We didn't know what to do. We were absolutely stunned. We thought about saying hi, but we didn't know if it would be okay. I mean, surely it never hurts to say hello, but some companies guard their talent very, very strictly, and most of all we're shy and had no idea what we would say after, "Oh my gosh, it's YOU!" So as we tried to figure out what to say and work up the courage to say it, we did what any normal person would do: we stalked them. ...Not really. Only sort of. Like, they would go one way, and we would be like, "Okay, they're going that way, and that's going to come around over here, so we'll just go this way and we should cross paths again." That worked, as far as crossing paths, but not as far as actually talking to him.
We saw him pose in front of a Naruto statue with a couple of little kids who were there with their dad. It didn't occur to me until later that we could have jumped in to the picture. It did occur to me that we maybe could have taken a picture ourselves, but that seemed to be crossing a line, especially with the random little kids there. (Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why that would have made it worse. Maybe because they're not celebrities? And it's kind of part of Irino-kun's job to have pictures of him circulating.)
Eventually, a Sora cosplayer spotted him and asked for a picture, but his entourage very apologetically said no, and at that point we figured he wasn't allowed to mingle that much, so we stopped following him. I will say that there were a couple of times he seemed to side-eye us in a, "I see you and know what you're doing," kind of way. That memory makes me think that maybe he, too, wasn't sure if it was "okay" to talk to people, and we were all in the same boat, and it makes me feel a little better.
At any rate, we did pose with the Sora cosplayer and take a picture, and then we were like, "Seriously, we need to find somebody to talk to, because that was ridiculous." We were pretty close to the Yen Press booth at that point so we headed over there, and our editor still wasn't around, so we kind of stood there and stared for a while. One of the new editors saw us and asked if we wanted Kingdom Hearts buttons. We were like, "Do we!" and now we each have a cute Roxas button. We told him about what happened with Irino-kun, because we had to tell somebody, and he said, "You know we publish the novels and the manga!" and we were like, "We translated the manga!" And that's how the new editor got to meet us. I don't remember catching his name, though... He told us to come back at three and our editor should be there.
So we continued our wandering. Just around the corner, we passed by someone who called out, "Donald, Goofy, did you find Sora?" And I was like, "Oh boy, did we find Sora!" and now I had to tell him all about it. And I think after that we finally got to talk to some people at Kodansha. Then we went back to the Yen Press booth to talk to our editor there, and then we remembered that oh yeah, people line up for stuff. If we want to see A Silent Voice, we should maybe get going.
And off we went to find the line. We found the line and asked a staffer if that was the line, or where the end of the line was, and they said, "We're at capacity." And we were like, "That's a bummer." But we still didn't want to search for the Marriott to go to the Code Geass thing, which we figured was likely to also be full, so it became a question of do we stay for the Princess Principal premiere, or do we go home and work on UQ Holder!. The day had been pretty eventful and we were kind of tired and just a little discouraged, so we decided to just go home. And we got half of UQ Holder! done before we decided our brains weren't working properly anymore and we should go to sleep.
Today I'm thankful for getting to go to Miyu Irino's panel, being pretty sure he noticed our cosplay, surprising encounters in the dealers' hall, the kindness of random strangers in listening to my wild stories, and Haagen Dazs Trio ice cream.