The festival Space Opera photo album
After celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Japanese animation in 2017, Japan Expo decided to put Space Opera in the spotlight. Impossible to avoid when it comes to manga and anime, Space Opera is a subgenre of science fiction, featuring space journeys, adventure, and battles between heroes or galactic empires. Japanese Space Opera appeared with the first anime belonging to this genre: Space Battleship Yamato (1974). Though it was not an instant success, it lasted to this day with many sequels created afterwards and remains a big influence in Japanese animation.
And one of its sequels, STAR BLAZERS 2202 (Yamato), was part of the titles highlighted at Japan Expo 19th Impact, alongside Cobra and Cowboy Bebop. This was also an opportunity to celebrate the anniversaries of the latter two: the 40th of Cobra, the cult manga created by Buichi TERASAWA which its anime adaptation made famous worldwide, and the 20th of Cowboy Bebop, a series as unique as it is inevitable. Other titles added up to the program to give you the widest insight of Space Opera.
In all, 9 guests came to meet you on many occasions, with no less than 36 signings, meet & greet’s, and photoshoots held. The guests as well as specialized participants also expected you on stage for 16 panels. Japan Expo dedicated over 60 hours of its program to Space Opera, as well as 3 exhibits about iconic works welcoming you at all times. Let’s now get back over this program with more details.
Cobra 40th anniversary
In 1978, Buichi TERASAWA started publishing his major work: Space Adventure Cobra. As Space Opera was the star of the festival, we had to celebrate such a meaningful anniversary. Though Buichi TERASAWA could not attend the festival, having to cancel his coming, a panel was still dedicated to the 40th anniversary of his cult manga, featuring two specialists of Cobra, Stéphane CLÉMENT from Cobraworld.fr and Karim TALBI from isan manga which publishes Buichi TERASAWA’s works in France. A color version of Cobra had been released on the occasion. A Cobra cosplay playlet had introduced the panel, with talented cosplayers from the association CoSA: they immersed the audience into the adventures of the famous space pirate.
An exceptional exhibit, organized in partnership with isan manga, came back over the whole career of the mangaka: Buichi TERASAWA - Aux frontières de l'imagination (beyond the limits of imagination). It invited you to (re)discover the master’s work with manga pages, illustrations, and many explanations about his major works, but also his digital drawing and coloring techniques, which he first used in Takeru, the first entirely digital manga. His innovative methods also unveil in the Gun Dragon Sigma series, the heroine of which is a real top model whose pictures have been added in a futuristic 3D world.
To go still further into Buichi TERASAWA’s work after the festival, an exhibition catalog has been published by isan manga, the first of its kind made for an exhibit at Japan Expo. From his experience with Osamu TEZUKA to his digital drawing methods, this artbook presents every aspect of Buichi TERASAWA’s career, works, and techniques. It features his major works, from Blacknight BAT to Takeru and the inevitable Cobra. Beautifully illustrated, the book also includes the whole story of Sigma 45.
To finish with the events related to the 40th anniversary of Cobra, let’s not forget the screenings of Osamu DEZAKI’s movie Space Adventure Cobra (1982), the first animation work adapted from the universe of Cobra.
Cowboy Bebop 20th anniversary
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cowboy Bebop, a series that marked the history of Japanese animation, Japan Expo welcomed the exceptional reunion of its creators, in partnership with Dybex and Sunrise:
- Toshihiro KAWAMOTO, the chara-designer who brought to life its legendary characters
- Masahiko MINAMI, the producer who permitted the creation of the series
- Keiko NOBUMOTO, the writer who took us into so many great adventures
- Shinichiro WATANABE, the talented director of this unique series
- Kimitoshi YAMANE, the mecha-designer who created the Bebop
The festival offered the attendees many opportunities to meet them and listen to them about their work on the show. On Saturday, a big panel brought all five of them together on stage. Facing them, a full house of fans who had been keen on the series from the start or recently discovered the Cowboy Bebop legend. Toshihiro KAWAMOTO, Masahiko MINAMI, Keiko NOBUMOTO, Shinichiro WATANABE, and Kimitoshi YAMANE were accompanied by Shin SASAKI, studio SUNRISE director. A vote had been organized in the month before the festival to ask the attendees which episode they’d like to see at this panel. It was also the occasion to present French fans’ 10 favorite episodes and for the guests to tell anecdotes about the show. Then came the time to show the number 1 episode: Pierrot Le Fou, episode 20. An episode only the French could have chosen according to Shinichiro WATANABE who reminded the audience that it was inspired from French works such as Jean-Luc GODARD’s eponymous film or Jean-Pierre MELVILLE’s Le Samouraï or Le Cercle rouge. It’s also the first entirely digital episode. To end the panel, the audience asked their questions to the guests.
Other panels invited Toshihiro KAWAMOTO and Kimitoshi YAMANE to make live drawings in front of a spellbound audience, while another brought together Masahiko MINAMI, Keiko NOBUMOTO, and Shinichiro WATANABE to talk about the direction, scenario, and production aspects of the show. For wannabe artists, directors, writers, or producers, the guests shared their experience and knowledge at two masterclasses. In a funnier atmosphere, Toshihiro KAWAMOTO, Masahiko MINAMI, and Kimitoshi YAMANE teamed up with the attendees on stage at a Japan Expo Game Show dedicated to the series.
Last but not least, there were plenty of meetings with signings everyday, a photoshoot with all five guests and a meet & greet which allowed some lucky few to spend some memorable time with the guests.
The 20th anniversary of Cowboy Bebop had also inspired the association Anigetter who dedicated part of their booth to an exhibit of models inspired from the show, with spaceships, its legendary characters, and some jazzy soundtrack.
This program no doubt fulfilled the fans’ expectations and made some curious novices want to watch the 26 legendary episodes. See you Space Cowboy!
Space Battleship Yamato, Japanese Space Opera first anime
Space Battleship Yamato (Uchuu Senkan Yamato) marked the beginning of Japanese Space Opera in the mid-70s. The series has revealed the talent of its two creators: Yoshinobu NISHIZAKI and Leiji MATSUMOTO (Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999).
Japan Expo highlighted one of its sequels, the reboot of the 1978 series, STAR BLAZERS 2202 (Yamato), by welcoming part of its team. Nobuyoshi HABARA, the director, and Chizuru KOBAYASHI and Takumo NORITA, animators, joined the festival, with daily signings. There were plenty opportunities to meet them for the attendees!
The three animators met you at panels, three events during which each of them shared her or his experience and projects, answered your questions, and performed a live drawing. They also got together on stage for a common panel about STAR BLAZERS 2202 (Yamato). They talked about the making of the series and attended the screening of the documentary How to Make an Anime - Season 2 with XEBEC.
Started in 2016, the series of exhibitions and documentaries How to Make an Anime describes the different stages of the making of an anime, from preproduction to postproduction. The first edition of How to Make an Anime featured the movie Harmony, in collaboration with STUDIO4°C. In 2018, to match the Space Opera theme, STAR BLAZERS 2202 (Yamato) had been used to show how an anime is made, directed and produced, in collaboration with studio XEBEC. It showed a great number of illustrations, sketches, and drawings. Yamato fans and novices alike discovered the jobs of animation and could also get in the shoes of an animator as an interactive area invited them to draw.
Some happy few even visited the How to Make an Anime - Season 2 with XEBEC exhibit with Nobuyoshi HABARA, Chizuru KOBAYASHI, and Takumo NORITA during a meet & greet. The guests even took some time to sketch a few drawings with the attendees.
Your Space Opera trip had even more in store for you, taking you into the world of Les Héros de la galaxie (Legend of the Galactic Heroes) too. An exclusive exhibit was organized by the publisher Kurokawa to celebrate the release of the first volume of the manga adaptation by Ryû FUJISAKI of Yoshiki TANAKA’s famous novel. It showed you the universe of one of the most famous Japanese Space Opera sagas.
Another artist unveiled his world full of mecha and spaceships: Hidetaka TENJIN, a talented mecha-designer invited by Wacom. He shared his experience on the anime The Super Dimension Fortress Macross and its many sequels, or else on the Master Grade Gundam models, at a panel he illustrated with a live drawing. He entrusted some of you with his secrets and techniques at a masterclass, holding a demonstration on a Wacom Cintiq Pro graphics tablet. Mecha fans also had a chance to chat with him at meet & greet’s.
Other participants joined in and told you more about Space Opera, like French publishers Glénat, isan manga, Kana, and Kurokawa who talked about their manga about this theme. Associations also had a lot to say and show: AEUG – specialists of Gundam – gave two panels, one about Gundam for beginners and another about space in anime. Their booth too highlighted Space Opera with Gundam models exhibit and workshops. Tengumi organized a quiz about Space Opera and Esprit Ludique invited the attendees to play Space Opera-themed board games.
Space Opera had pride of honor everywhere in the festival, on stages and booths, with the guests and participants. And it had even started before the festival as Space Opera was the theme of our artistic envelop contest, as showed by the winner’s work of the second session.
A LOOK BACK OVER THE 19TH IMPACT: CLICK HERE TO READ ALL THE FESTIVAL REPORTS AND SEE THE PHOTO ALBUMS!