This is a backup of existing posts I’ve made elsewhere, detailing my experience at Uezu Makoto’s signature Bonklive event.
<May 29th, 2016>
I attended Bonklive in Asagaya on May 29th, 2016. Essentially, this was an even MC’ed by anime writer Uezu Makoto and containing about 3 separate anime staff talks, the first from Uezu and director Kishi Seiji, the second with the director (Ando Masaomi) and producer of Gakkou Gurashi, and the third with the staff of Konosuba: Uezu, the music producer, Kadokawa producers, and Fukuyama Jun (Kazuma) and Takahashi Rie (Megumin). Lasted about 3 hours total and was great fun, though my brain’s busted from focusing on Japanese for so long.
Here’s a lot of random notes on stuff I picked up with my imperfect Japanese.
1. Uezu and Kishi
-Kishi recently saw both Zootopia and Civil War. He and Uezu commented on how both managed to balance themselves for different audiences, with Zootopia wiring in themes of discrimination into a family-accessable movie. In Civil War’s case, he and Uezu came into it from different perspectives, as Uezu had actually read the original CW storyline in the comics whereas Kishi was behind on his marvel movies, so Uezu enjoyed it for the plot and Kishi for the action.
-When talking about major influences for them as anime creators, Uezu mentioned Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Jubei Ninpou Chou), Kuroda Yousuke (Infinite Ryvius and s-CRY-ed), and Code Geass as a series. Kishi said for him it came down to Patlabor, and that his goal as a director was to essentially make something that good.
-Uezu and Kishi, who actually bonded early on over a shared love of author Masami Yuki and Patlabor in particular, joked about how Oshii always ends up tearing up Tokyo in his series. Kishi added, somewhat jokingly, that the end of Ranpo Kitan was his take on that tendency.
-Uezu was originally scouted as a scenario writer in the 1990s because of his blog, mimicking public diaries of the sort Kuroda Yousuke often does.
-On creating an impactful scene, Uezu and Kishi agreed that the key for them was having as specific a goal as possible in terms of what reactions/impressions they wanted to leave viewers with. Kishi sees camera placement as a big key in that process.
-On what’s most important for young creators to have, the two named the number one thing as communication ability, as animation is a 100=person endeavor and being on the same page both creatively and in the workplace is vital. A lot of people can make it without exceptional skill if they’re good communicators, but only the very best can make it without good communication skills.
-Uezu also said it was important for younger creators to try to read the consensus best works from series they didn’t like, to broaden their worldview and enable them to do more things.
-When taking a break during creative slumps, Uezu favors overseas trips (mostly to other Asian countries), and Kishi prefers to visit onsen/hot springs when he has time.
-Kishi mentioned he felt like a kid when coming to Baltimore for Otakon because of how different the toilets were, among other things.
-Uezu joked that the production schedule of Arslan season 2 was so rough they might actually have to resort to doing weekly swimsuit episodes.
2. Ando Masaomi
-Ando Masaomi was there, signing Gakkou Gurashi books one could buy for 10 dollars. I got two, one for me and one for my lovely SO.
-The producer giving the second talk with Andou had an Ansatsu Kyoushitsu branded tablet. One with S.A.A.U.S.O. on it.
-Ando introduced himself as the weakest Ando in anime. A pun off of the title of Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut, and the fact that there are a lot of people with the name “Ando” in anime.
-Ando and the producer’s talk boiled down to them browsing through the character designs of Bahamut and Gakkou Gurashi. For Bahamut, they somewhat commented on how Kurosawa Keiko’s experience as a woman helped with the finer points of character design but mainly made an uncountable number of dirty jokes.
-Ando, the producer, and a third Lerche staffer who got dragged up front, talked about how their voices were used in Gakkou Gurashi (as part of the zombie hordes). They referenced Nabeshin from Excel Saga as an example to aspire to for people wanting to put themselves into their anime.
-The whole time through the Gakkou Gurashi slides they were just dicking around by calling it a happy slice-of-life anime. This started out a bit stale but got really funny when they got to the slides with zombie Megu-nee and Taroumaru in them.
-Evidentially Ando is a huge Metal Gear fan and marathoned a good deal of one of those games after finishing Gakkou Gurashi. He said jokingly that next time he might marathon the MCU movies straight through. He said he’d start with Iron Man, forgetting the Hulk movie existed until the producer reminded him.
-At the end of this talk the producer mentioned Lerche was working on a new magical girl show to air this October with Hashimoto Hiroyuki, director of GochiUsa. I think that’s probably already out there by now, tho.
-Before the Konosuba talk started, Takahashi Rie and Uezu went up on stage for about 10 minutes to talk about her earlier work with Lerche as Kobayashi in Ranpo Kitan.
-Takahashi joked that she had a weird experience pretending to be popular in Shirobako and then actually becoming popular with Megumin and other recent roles of hers. When they asked if anyone there had seen the show, probably 2/3 of hands shot up.
-When auditioning for her recent roles in KonoSuba and Mahoutsukai Precure, Takahashi evidentially was auditioning with a bit of a wide net. She auditioned for the Aqua role in KonoSuba before landing the Megumin one and both the Riko and Mirai roles in Precure. Apparently with KonoSuba she got a chance to try Megumin and really nailed the scene at the end of episode 2 where she’s begging her way into the party.
-Related to that, in the Konosuba panel she mentioned how it was funny that the voice of her partner in Precure was also the voice of a character she casts magic with together in the last episode of KonoSuba.
-Takahashi did do the Megumin voice one time (specifically “Yamero~~~!”)
-Uezu changed clothes for the KonoSuba panel, coming out in a “Bakuretsu-dou” hakama with a megumin eyepatch printed on the front. I want one.
-This event was taking place at a bar, so at one point a hundred people raised a toast to Takahashi’s “EXPLOSION!” It was pretty great.
-Uezu said he and director Takaomi, who worked with him on Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? both read and immediately felt compelled to adapt the work when the production committee was fishing for names. The scheduling for the two originally looked pretty tough, but they made it work.
-When one of the Kadokawa producers mentioned how the light novel went from sales totals of 400,000 to 2,000,000 after the anime, Uezu commented on how news on anime sales was sad more often than not for him, so it was nice to hear something outright happy.
-The light novel author apparently ignored the casting for the anime *except* for the succubi in episode 9, which allowed the staff to make some creative casting choices.
-The staff started lobbying people to fund season two as soon as they saw how people reacted to Megumin in episode 2.
-Commenting on the punctuation in Uezu’s scriptwriting, Fukuyama Jun noted how Kazuma’s dialogue was basically no ’!’ and all ’…’
<November 5th, 2016>
Bonklive is a sometimes-event that happens in a small basement in Tokyo every so often, MC’ed by anime screenwriter Uezu Makoto and heavily starring Studio Lerche and others he’s connected to. This November it was close to his birthday, so he pulled in some people from various projects and they dicked around while commenting on their work in front of a roughly 100-person audience. I literally got the last ticket in when preordering, and it was super-fun.
Below I’ve listed some highlights. My notes are by no means complete, I’m just trying to list what I both understood and found interesting with my incomplete listening skills.
-Every guest on stage had either draft beers or Coronas until later on at night, when one person picked up a cola to avoid being too drunk.
-There were custom sketches up on the walls of the bar. Two were of Ranpo Kitan’s Kobayashi (with a birthday cake for the 1 year anniversary, and cosplaying Kurumi from Gakkou Gurashi) and one was a comic celebrating the Kuzu no Honkai anime.
-I sat at a table next to someone with an Akechi Kogoro phone case.
-During one of the breaks, Kishi was hanging out in a gathering of fans out for a smoke and animation staff. This was a highly enlightening window into how the Lerche crew chats. They have a very fraternal style, and the conversation, from what I could hear, was largely jokes based around current industry stuff – Sunred’s production, the surge in small and large-scale anime movies in theaters, and Kimi no Na wa in particular. I could see a good portion of how he tells good jokes – at one point he was using his Corona bottle to impersonate an elderly person in an ongoing spiel about Kimi no Na wa’s broad appeal.
–Kishi more joked about it, but there was some real back-and-forth talk in the scrum about how a Sunred movie might go if it were made.
Ranpo Kitan bit:
-Uezu and the playwright for the stage show, who had met Uezu 12 years ago as a voice actor in a minor role on Amaenaideyo, talked about the editing process condensing the TV series into play form.
-They talked about how sudden the production was, effectively half a year of time for writing.
-Uezu still seems quite keen on continuing the series, mentioning the stage play as a way to connect to a second season/movie or even just a special.
–This led to mentions of the Zegapain and Fafner movies – the prevailing attitude seemed to be (even among professionals) that “If Zegapain can get a movie, anything goes!”
–This produced the first of many quips about the potential for a sequel to Astro Fighter Sunred and/or Seto no Hanayome.
-More was made of The playwright Suzuki’s career transition. He did the script for a theme park hero show, Hero a-go-go, at age 30, which, along with his connection to Uezu, led to his present role.
-Plenty was made of how perfect VA Takahashi Rie was for the role of Kobayashi.
–This was also the first of many times they poked fun at the ‘scary’ parts of the industry – talent offices and publishing companies.
-Halfway through the bit, Kishi Seiji showed up in an old-fashioned robe and hat, a sort of Ranpo cosplay. After he came, it was mostly jokes to the end.
–The last part was a more serious plea to buy the Blu-Rays if you wanted a continuation – or at least watch it via legal streaming.
-The s2 PV was shown and got a lot of laughs from the audience.
-The guests for this part were a producer, Ogura, and a veteran editor attached to the KonoSuba title, Sasao.
-A second season really wasn’t close to being a thing until the first Megumin ep, which really shifted mountains with its fan reaction.
–Uezu said it was the soonest he’d had to prepare a quick sequel since Qwaser II.
–Even at the recording wrap party, the author was talking about making as many memories as possible because s2 probably wouldn’t happen.
-The editor Sasao had a Megumin-themed ‘Bakuretsu-dou’ T-shirt on. The producer Ogura had an Aqua shirt.
-Uezu and Sasao both noted that the whole ‘Isekai’/’sent to another world’ genre seemed old-fashioned to them at this point, mentioning the LN competition that banned those sorts of stories.
-According to Sasao, he constantly advises authors to make a firm choice between wanting to sell and wanting to write what they’re most passionate about, rather than trying to straddle the line.
-Uezu joked about how certain LN authors “fall into darkness” after their works are adapted into anime, becoming much less productive.
-One of the tricks of adapting LNs, according to Uezu, is that even if the author is very permissive with changes, 80% of fans want as faithful an adapatation as possible.
-Koda, the music composer for KonoSuba, has been writing a bunch of new tracks for season 2.
-When Anime Style interviewed the staff, they focused heavily on grilling them over episode 9’s contents.
-This bit was done with two Lerche producers commenting on their recent works.
-I missed the intro to this bit because I was being a groupie for Kishi in the hallway. Scored a genuinely epic autograph.
-When I got in, they were talking about how different series were made with different image colors in mind. Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, for example, is pink.
-They showed off some cute sketches of the DR3 cast, with the ill-fated trio from Zetsubou-hen sleeping back to back and Ruruko trying to feed her sweets to a dead Seiko.
-The producers joked about how they’re trying to shake their image of being the ‘killer Lerche’, but just keep ending up with projects where lots of characters die.
-Currently, the production team on MSIK is becoming extremely hectic as it heads towards the climax, hence why no animation staff from that project were in attendance.
-They showed a photo of Kishi carrying a ‘dead’ Uezu after the latter was forced to help with an all-nighter on the storyboards for the Ansatsu Kyoshitsu compilation movie.
-The second half of the bit was all Kuzu no Honkai – they brought out the manga author, Yokoyari Mengo-sensei, to talk about how the initial production was going.
-Uezu commented that it had been a long time since he last worked on a serious romance series.
-Recordings for the Kuzu no Honkai anime have already began. Mengo-sensei had a hard time greeting the actors, being shy about it.
-When Square Enix first told the author about the anime, they did it in a roundabout way, saying “We have something we need to talk about.” As a result, she first wondered if she was going to get yelled at for something.
-Andou is trying to direct the Kuzu anime like it’s a manga.
-Apparently, Andou Masaomi is a super-freak in private, though he’s very professional about his work.
-When asked about her favorite anime, Mengo mentioned Kabuto Borg, which drew laughs from the audience, as well as noitaminA shows like HachiKuro and Psycho-Pass.
-Towards the end of the bit, Mengo pushed a lime into her drink in truly ghetto fashion.
-The entire staff is enjoying the title of the series a lot, making all sort of puns about it at the event. Also of note, the official staff LINE chatgroup name is “Kuzu-domo” (“Da Trash”).
-Sometime in all of this they talked about having all of Lerche’s directors fight for supremacy in some sort of “Super Kantoku Taisen”.
-Since the last Bonklive in May, Kishi and Uezu have seen Kimi no Na wa and High&Low:The Movie.
–Kishi commented he really wanted to make an anime like High&Low. (Presumably in the sense of it being a visually stylish action movie)
-The bulk of the final bit was Kishi and Uezu riffing on Kishi’s phone pictures and a production/audition notebook the director called a “Death Note” (because Voice Actors whose names are written in it all fail their auditions).
–This book included a good deal of production notes, on Ranpo Kitan and the upcoming Ansatsu Kyoshitsu movie, which were shown on a projector, though Uezu joked the handwriting was too poor to make out anyway.
-Episode 6 of Ranpo Kitan was officially a bottle episode, made entirely with recycled background art.
-Yuuki Yuna and WaSuYu, with more anime in the pipeline, came up. Kishi showed several rough character sketches for the WaSuYu anime on his phone.
-One photo on Kishi’s phone was a dead Koro-sensei with the words “Satsujin wa Kishi–” (“Kishi is the killer–”) written out beneath him. Apparently people in the Lerche staff trolled him by circulating it around.
-Uezu and Kishi mentioned they worked together less this year than in previous years, which led to them talking about wanting to make more anime.
–When asked which anime they should make next, they mentioned (more in jest) the possibility of a Seto no Hanayome 2.
–Uezu and Kishi were fiercely unanimous in their desire to be the ones to make a poptepipic anime, if it ever got greenlit. Imo, that is exactly the kind of anime this combination exists to make.
-Uezu/Kishi turned the question “What should we make?” over to the audience, and got the following answers:
–the continuation of Ranpo Kitan
–A Kishi-directed Gundam series (the director commented the figures for such a show would probably suck)
–Astro Fighter Sunred: 2017
–Kamisama Dolls: The Conclusion
–Nogi Wakaba wa Yuusha de Aru
–Kirikumas (my suggestion)
–Kakegurui (a gambling manga)
–Golden Days (a time-slip manga)
-At the end, the staff brought out a birthday cake for Uezu, and the crowd cheered for him.