And now, back to Seki-san!
We didn't get to sit in the front row of Toshihiko Seki's panel, but we did get to sit in the second row, directly across from where he sat up... on... stage? I don't know what they call that. It was neat, because he kept looking in our direction, so we got to pretend he was looking at us. Whee!
He came in wearing his Momotaros shirt. Come to think of it, he was wearing something different for like everything he did. I'm not sure about the details of Momotaros, but I do know he's a character in the latest (I think the latest, anyway) Masked Rider series, and apparently he frequently shouts, "Gomen nasaaaaaaaiiiiiii!" The panel started with someone asking him to do Momotaros, so he said one thing, and the group of Japanese fans behind us shouted, "Gomen nasai wa? (Say you're sorry!)" I think we might have to get ourselves some DVDs of this series. We'll have to consult our wallet.
Let's see what all I can remember. Someone asked how he got into voice acting, and he explained that he originally wanted to go into theatre, but the agency he got into hired out a lot of voice actors, and he kept getting more and more of that kind of work, so it just went from there. (Speaking of which, before he introduced him, the moderator (whom I will from henceforth refer to as Moderator Guy) showed us his two single-spaced pages listing Seki-san's roles and pointed out that those weren't even all of them.) Someone asked how long he would be in the States, and Seki-san said he arrived on July 1st and he would be going to see Wicked that night and then leaving the next day. The Japanese fans behind us all went, "Eeeehhh?" to which he responded in his Momotaros voice, "Gomen nasaaaaaaaaiiiii!" After saying it more sincerely, of course. This guy is like super nice. In all the Saiyuki voice actor interviews, the rest of the cast said he was the most onii-san of all of them, and we can totally see it.
Someone asked him how he's able to play the really psycho characters like Rau Le Creuset in Gundam Seed. This made for an interesting moment as Translator Guy tried to figure out how best to translate "psychotic" into Japanese. Eventually he got it, and Seki-san was like, "Crazy, ne?" Then he explained that to play those characters, he has to throw away his humanity. So later someone asked if he preferred the crazy characters or the nicer characters, and he said that the crazy characters are good for relieving stress, but the nicer characters also encourage him and are kind of heartwarming, and make him just feel good for having played them, so he likes both. Speaking of which, when asked about his favorite Sanzo line, he talked about how Sanzo does all kinds of unpriestly things, but he also has some really good things to say, so he likes playing him. He especially likes the encouraging lines, so the line he gave us was the "muichimotsu" thing from the Chin Yisou stuff. (If you don't know it, check out the manga!)
The best was close to the end when someone came up and said they really liked Seki-san's work, and please don't be offended, but do people often ask him if he's related to Tomokazu Seki. Translator Guy translated (er, interpreted), and he laughed, and said, "Oh, because we're both Seki! Well, I haven't heard anything from my mother about us being related, but if all men are descended from Adam and Eve, then if you trace it back, I'm sure eventually you'll find a relation."
People asked him to sing songs, and he was much more accommodating than the other Seki-san (who pretended to have a sudden case of pneumonia), but couldn't remember the lyrics to any of the songs. For one song (Flower... something, sung by Luva) he pointed out that he's recorded over a hundred songs, so it's really hard to remember them on command, but if people told him the lyrics, he would sing for us. And he did sing in those cases, and he has a really nice voice (which we already knew). Of course someone requested a "makai tenjo," and he laughed because he gets that request all the time at events. A girl dressed as Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koroni asked him to say one of his character's (the doctor's) lines. He was really surprised that we'd heard of Higurashi over here, and when she pointed out that she was dressed as Rika (we're not sure if he doesn't pay attention to characters' clothes or if it's just that Rika's costume is too normal looking), he said, "Rika-chan! Made in heaven!"
The other best was at the end of the panel when a girl was very nervous but very happy to see him. She was almost crying as she explained that she really liked Luva. For those of you who don't know, Luva is his character in Angelique, a series of love-sims. And she asked him to say "I love you" in his Luva voice. He did right away, and then he asked for her name so he could call her by name and say, "Shiawase ni narimasu you ni (I wish you happiness)."
At the time, we were like, "Awww, he's so awesome!" But now that I have a clearer head, I'm like, "Now why didn't I think of that?" But that's okay. It was awesome enough as it was.
Now that we knew he would be leaving the next day and that his autograph sessions were both that afternoon, we realized we needed to go back to the hotel to get our stuff so we could get it signed, as well as getting the booklet of Duo and Sanzo roomie comics that we had translated and promised to give Seki-san on behalf of our friends who couldn't make it. We had originally planned to give it to him at the Meet the Guests Reception, but since he was leaving the next day, we weren't sure at that point if he would even be at it. So we figured that we could give it to him at the autograph session, and maybe if he had time to look at it, he would recognize us and comment on it at the reception if he was there. So back to the hotel it was!
We picked up our stuff and went right back to the convention center to wait in line, since apparently the signing area was in the farthest reaches of the center. And indeed it was. We got in line, but alas, we were too late, and he left before we got to him. But don't fear! they said. He will be back in half an hour. And indeed he was. And this is where things got really scary.
See, it's one thing to talk to people in English. It's one thing to hand somebody something, have them sign it, and take it and squee over it since they shooed you away and won't let you talk to them any longer anyway. It's another thing entirely to hand somebody something, explain it came from your friends who couldn't make it, and apologize in case the translation is weird or messed up all in Japanese to somebody you reeeeeeeally want to make a good impression on, all the while being afraid that you're holding up the line. So we were kind of freaking out. It didn't help that we were holding the stuff we wanted to get signed, and really afraid that our nerves would cause our fingers to sweat all over it.
When we got to the front of the line, we asked the staffers if we could go up together, because we did both work on the translation, and there's strength in numbers. She said we should probably go one at a time, but I could stay there and wait for Athena off to the side. And that's just what we did. I got the booklet to our Sanzo song album signed, and waited a little to the side while Athena brought the cover to the Sanzo Burial DVD. He signed it with a shiny silver pen, and then it came time to hand him the booklet. I'd been rehearsing the lines in my head all day (and some of the day before), but it was still extremely nerve-wracking. So we took advantage of the interpreter and said in English, "This is from our friends who couldn't make it." He took it and the only reaction we got from him was to look at the cover page and ask, "Why is it in Japanese?" (Athena had made a cover page; we took a picture, so theoretically everyone will get to see it eventually.) So I took the line I'd been rehearsing all that time and said, "Watashi-tachi ga hon'yaku shimashita node, moshi nanika hen na nihongo toka arimashitara... douka... oyurushi o..." (We translated it, so if there's any weird Japanese or anything... please... forgive us...)
He laughed, and then he did a double take and asked if we were twins. And we said yes to him and gave each other looks that said, "Kya, he noticed us!" And then we ran off to put our CD booklets and DVD covers back in order while we regained our ability to stand up. (In Japan, they have a saying, "koshi ga nuketa (the hips have gone out (left))," which describes that feeling very accurately, I think.)
Shokotan happened to be arriving for one of her autograph sessions soon, so we figured we might as well get in her standby line. They have a ticketing policy for autographs, so if you go to a guest's panel, you get a ticket that gives you priority in line, but we missed Shokotan's panel because it was right after Toshihiko Seki's, and we reeeeeally wanted to make sure we got to see him as much as possible. We talked to the guy behind us and his friends, one of whom wanted to get David Hayter to sign her breast and then get the autograph tattooed there, but we were too late, and there were no Shokotan autographs for the Twins. But we had fun hanging out, anyway.
Now it was finally time for us to check out the dealers' room. Our mission: go to the Kinokuniya booth and see if they had volume four of minima!. They didn't. Our mission: failed. But we did see some very shiny stuff. We got there pretty late, though, so the place closed and we went in search of other things to do, read: wandered the halls to see if there were any cosplayers we wanted to photograph. I think that's when we saw the beat-up Sanzo Ikkou. We don't normally take pictures of Saiyuki cosplayers that aren't us (jealousy), but their Sanzo had the Maten sutra all flying around and makai tenjou like, so we had to.
We stopped in at a panel about anime and manga in academia that was kind of interesting (apparently there was an article about teaching biochemistry through manga in some hardcore biochemistry magazine?), but we were searching for the Otaku Parliamentary debates, so off we went again to find them. We got there when they were taking a break between rounds, and the moderator and someone from the audience were discussing something that... apparently they were debating but the moderator's spiel didn't seem connected to the first guy's at all, so I don't know. I also don't remember what it was about, but I do remember him saying something about how video games have to be made harder when brought to the States, because Americans want a challenge, while the Japanese are happy being entertained by the story.
Eventually the debates started up again. The first match we saw had the topic "Anime saves lives: yes or no." The pro team started out by saying that anime helps you out spiritually by making life easier to deal with, but they made the mistake of saying right away that it can't save you physically. The con team pointed out all the people they knew who failed out of college because they spent too much time watching anime and not enough studying, and of course pointed out that Gungrave, for example, isn't going to come take you out of your car right before you get in an unavoidable accident. They listed a bunch of things that do save lives, like paramedics and stuff. The other team came back by saying that anime is what keeps one of their team members from doing drugs with his friends, which was of course countered by pointing out all the drug addict friends the con team had. So the con team totally destroyed the pro team, which was sad, because AX itself gave the example where anime has physically saved people's lives, and we knew about it the whole time and couldn't say anything. I didn't know the details, but the moderator cleared it up afterwards: a lot of manga was donated to the Children's Hospital of Orange County and they made a manga library. It gives the cancer patient kids a reason to get out of their beds and walk, and that helps them get better. We also wanted to argue that anime can inspire people to become paramedics and firemen and other life-saving types, but again, we weren't on the debate teams.
The next round was about whether or not all game-based anime sucks, but we didn't hear most of it, because one of the audience members was a mother of twins and she saw us and came to talk to us. Her husband is a total otaku, but she was never into it until she married him, so I think she needed to talk to someone about non-otaku stuff. Kind of ironic that we were the ones who served in that role, but it was nice talking anyway. She introduced us to her husband after the debates, and told him that we translate manga, and he thanked us. It wasn't until after we parted ways that Athena realized, hello, this guy spent time in Iraq. We should be thanking him We fail. Ah well, Epimetheus and all that. But we also got to hear that one time when someone asked them if their kids were twins, he said, "They used to be triplets, but they ate the third one." I think I'm mostly amused by that.
As for the rounds that we only caught snippets of, the team arguing that all game-based anime does NOT suck pointed out the business aspect of it, and then they brought up Advent Children and that was the end of that. The next round, which I think our conversation partner's husband participated in, was about whether or not Sephiroth is the coolest villain EVER. The team against the argument was like, "First of all, he's not the coolest ever. Second of all, he's not the coolest villain in that series (I think they mentioned Kefka). Third of all, he's not even the coolest villain in his own game! (pointing out the Turks)."
After that, we headed back to our hotel and, since we didn't have minima! 4, we worked on Big Project, and then went to bed.
Today I'm thankful for having time to get our stuff for autographage, getting to talk to fun new people, fun debates, getting to go to Toshihiko Seki's panel, and oh my goodness we talked to Toshihiko Seki!!!