At Comic Fiesta 2022, manga artist and author (mangaka) of the popular manga series Made in Abyss Tsukushi Akihito was featured as a special guest.    

During his time at the two-day event, we at Anime News Access had the honour to sit down with the mangaka for a no-holds-barred interview, where he shares his work, inspirations and aspirations, and the impressions of his visit to Malaysia.  

Fresh after meeting and autographing for thousands of fans over the past two days at Comic Fiesta, the first impression the mangaka gave off was his demeanour filled a gleeful and excitable energy. 

We were told beforehand that Tsukushi sensei could be asked anything and seeing his friendly countenance showed his approachability and willingness to discuss freely about his work and himself.

It was later on during the interview, Tsukushi sensei revealed how happy and humbled he was to see his work appreciated by so many. 

It seems that meeting his many fans encouraged him greatly and set the right mood for our discussion.

We started off by discussing his design style. 

At a casual look at his works, one would see a distinct similarity in the character design across several of his works. 

The Nintendo DS game Elebits that he worked on and his other manga Star Strings Yori share heavy similarities in design to the characters in Made in Abyss.

An argument could be made that the similarity in character designs has made his work easily identifiable to audiences. 

We wondered if that was intentional on the mangaka’s part, so we asked him about it. 

Tsukushi sensei told us he was simply comfortable with this style and shared the interesting story behind it. 

The mangaka explained that during his younger days he actually only used to only to draw grotesque creatures and weird uncles. 

However, while he was experimenting with his drawing, a junior of his commented that what he drew was really cute. 

Tsukushi sensei had an epiphany from that experience and realised he really enjoyed drawing cute designs, and that has led to his current design style.

He finished by explaining that ultimately he just wants to draw what he likes. 

It seems that he often takes this approach to his work, as later on in the interview while explaining the manga production process, he shares that he outsources the troublesome stuff to others and only does what he enjoys. 

He referenced choosing to leave the base colouring to other assistants, while he deals with the finishing touches of lighting and shadowing himself.

The conversation then led to the creative process behind his work.  

The original idea that would be Made in Abyss, was born out of the blue after the publishing company Takeshobo asked whether Tsukushi sensei was interested in doing serialized manga. 

From then that idea would grow into the world of Made in Abyss in the rough span of one month.

Learning how it all began, naturally, we wanted to know how the story will ultimately end. 

When we asked Tsukushi sensei, he explained although he has an ending in mind, he betrays his uncertainty as to whether the end would go as he planned. 

He goes on to reveal that none of his story arcs ended the way he initially thought of.

The reason for such, Tsukushi sensei explained is because he “follows the characters’ growth” as he draws. 

In a sense, his characters have taken on a life on their own, and he simply follows their journey.

He continues to explain that when it comes to the story for Made in Abyss, he focuses primarily on making the plot exciting and interesting, with the details and logic only filled in after.

He explained his style is to think up characters, and the characters will have a story of their own. 

So rather than come out with the storyline for them to follow, he thinks about the point of view of his characters; what they would do, and how they would interact with each and the environment and that becomes the storyline. 

He only thinks up the setting and background and plays editor to the ‘interaction’ of his characters; joking that the characters, apparently, have a lot to say. 

With a bit of embarrassed laughter, he apologised for the long wait for new chapter releases.

Naturally, with such an approach to storytelling, there will be some missing details and contrivances as a weakness. 

We wondered if the mangaka ever held any regrets for these lacking elements, so we teased him with a random controversy from community discussions in his work to gauge how he'd react. 

We asked about why a certain character was seemingly resurrected and arguably became a recycled plot. 

On the spot, he drew out several diagrams and began explaining. 

We won’t go into the details because things got quite complex and confusing; however, we can say that he did give a very detailed answer.

From this, we learned that Tsukushi sensei is okay with feedback from fans. 

He tells of how throughout his book signing sessions, he hears people tell him what they like and what they don't.

The mangaka reveals at one point that he actually draws without a concise intention to impose a deeper meaning in his work, being rather surprised that others can find such deep meanings and themes in his works themselves.   

He admits that he tends to fail when he does try to set one, as his approach to storytelling often segues and leads off tangent. 

He tells us jovially that he truthfully draws without thinking. 

When discussing the anime adaptation of his work, he is happy that it made his work easier to understand and digest. 

He jokes that apparently after watching both anime seasons and the movie, he felt it was so good that he actually forgot it was his work.

He was involved production process as a consultant, explaining that he ensures that the dialogue and interaction between the characters are true to his imaginings, and has also added on some material. 

In particular, he tells of how he personally drew and expanded on the death scene of the character 'Maaa' for the anime. 

During the discussion, we asked Tsukushi sensei what types of media he himself enjoys. 

He tells us of a particular novel-turned-manga called Kamigami no Itadaki, with the English title “Everest: Summit of the Gods”, which is a mystery turned grand adventure featuring one of the most dangerous and sought-after places on Earth. 

Tsukushi sensei likes the manga adaptation in particular as he feels that the manga presents what he believes is the best combination of talent; with the novel’s author, Baku Yumemakura's writing and the illustration by Jiro Taniguchi

He tells of how drawn to that manga he was and how he wanted to create something which gave him that same sense. 

The mangaka affirmed that his wanting to instil that sense of 'adventure' was what inspired him in creating Made in Abyss

Tsukushi sensei believes that ‘adventure’ is something that should be encouraged more and more, and he hopes to instil in his own works that same curiosity and sense of adventure in his audience.

We decided to end the interview by asking about his visit.

As someone who enjoys attending events in general, the limits of the past few years of the pandemic, have left him pent-up and he happily expounds that being at Comic Fiesta and in Malaysia was an enjoyable experience. 

He said outright that it was fantastic!

Tsukushi sensei animatedly explained the joyful experience he’s had during his time in Malaysia, highlighting in particular, his enjoyment of the local cuisine. 

He reveals that he has been inspired by the Malaysian food he has tried, and hinted that 'durian' might very be featured in his future work. 

Something for his Malaysian readers to look out for. 

The mangaka shared his firm belief that manga culture will continue to grow and develop in Malaysia, and he hopes to one day very soon read works by Malaysian artists.

He again apologised for the delayed chapter releases and said he’d try his best to draw chapters sooner.

Tsukushi sensei’s ending remarks were a message for his Malaysian audience and words of gratitude and encouragement.

"Malaysia honto ni suki desu!       Arigato gozaimasu."

(I really love Malaysia! Thank you very much for hosting me.)

Written by JC

Exclusive Interview with Made in Abyss mangaka Akihito Tsukushi

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Returning bigger and better after two years!

Over the weekend the biggest Anime, Comic and Game (ACG) event in Malaysia, Comic Fiesta 2022, was held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) on December 17 & 18.

Comic Fiesta made its return after a two-year hiatus with this being their biggest event to date. 

The event saw an attendance of over sixty-five thousand over the two-day event; an increase from the reported estimate of sixty thousand attendees at their previous event in 2019. 

Comic Fiesta attendees outside KL Convention Centre

The event maintained its reputation as Malaysia’s largest and longest-running ACG event, despite having a no onsite ticket sales restriction.

Crowd of 65,000 in attendance at the event 

This year, Comic Fiesta has expanded the popular Creative Market to over five hundred art booths selling various self-made and fan merchandise, and for the first time ever taking over an entire floor of the convention centre making it the largest local creative market to date as well.

Creative Market hosted 500 art booths

Comic Fiesta in action

Comic Fiesta 2022 featured one of Japan's top anime pop star singers, Suzuki Konomi, for a one-night concert

Suzuki is best known for singing the anime opening themes “This Game” from No Game, No Life and “Redo” from Re: ZERO

Suzuki Konomi

The concert was at max capacity attendance with two thousand fans enjoying the performance. 

Also in attendance at the concert was Japan Ambassador to Malaysia Takahashi Katsuhiko. 

Suzuki Konomi concert at Comic Fiesta 2022

This year’s event also featured VTubers from the extremely popular VTuber group Hololive. VTubers such as Takanashi Kiara and Emilia Watson of Hololive EN, as well as Kobo Kanaeru and Airani Iofifteen of Hololive ID, met their adoring fans virtually. 

A singing performance was also done by Malaysia's own Liliana Vampaia and Virion Kisei from MyHoloTV. 

Fan posing with Vtuber Kobo Kanaeru

Another big special guest for Comic Fiesta 2022 was Akihito Tsukushi the manga artist behind the Made in Abyss series, who held a live drawing session onstage and a meet-and-greet and book signing session at the Books Kinokuniya exhibition booth. 

We at Anime News Access had the honour of getting a sit-down interview with the mangaka. (See our Anime News Access exclusive interview with Akihito Tsukushi here)

(Left) mangaka Akihito Tsukushi at live drawing event

Other special guest performances on stage included MiniRi, Rina-Hime and #176

The 60 Seconds of Anything Cosplay Contest made it's return alongside the Comic Fiesta Stamp Rally

The Night Jam, the closing show for the event on the second day, featured Crestfall band, Amelia Khor Band and Mystical Mirage who performed on stage.

Singer Rina-Hime performing on stage 

60 Seconds of Anything Cosplay Contest

With the increase in attendance and much anticipated featured events, this year’s Comic Fiesta saw long lines outside the convention centre which snaked across the park and bleeding into the adjacent shopping mall leading to much frustration among Comic Fiesta attendees and regular visitors to the park and mall. 

Congestion by large crowds of attendees

Attendees often endured a two-three hour or more wait just to enter the venue, with some of that waiting done in the rain due to poor weather conditions. 

A few attendees even began queuing from 3am to beat the long lines for the second day.

Comic Fiesta attendees braving the rain while waiting for entry

The organisers explained that the delay in entry into the venue was due to increased scrutiny because of security concerns and that the procedures were overseen and directed by the venue management. 

When asked about making improvements, the organisers stated their intentions to reorganize the ticketing arrangement and the venue setup for future events. 

However, they maintained that final approval for the venue set-up and entry procedure is decided by the venue management which they must adhere to. 

Inner halls of the convention centre finally opened to attendees due to poor weather on the second day

On the second day of the event, a Meet-and-Great session with Suzuki Konomi was held. 

At the session, the singer got the opportunity to meet with her Malaysian fans and directly hear from them. 

“I was moved by your passion. It was the best night!” shared Suzuki. 

Suzuki Konomi at Meet-and-Greet panel session

Answering questions from fans

Meeting with adoring fans

The Malaysian Digital Content Festival 2022 was held by the Malaysian Digital Economy Cooperation (MDEC) simultaneously with the Comic Fiesta event and was attended by Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

Cosplaying attendees at Comic Fiesta 2022

The Suzuki Konomi concert was part of a joint collaboration with the government of Japan, the Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur and Comic Fiesta as part of the 40th anniversary of the Look East Policy (LEP).

“I sincerely hope that through this event, the mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Malaysia will be further promoted.” said Japan Ambassador Takahashi Katsuhiko.

(right) Japan Ambassador Takahashi Katsuhiko and wife (left) enjoying the Suzuki Konomi concert

Written by JC

ACG Event - Comic Fiesta 2022

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 1st episode to play in theaters in over 80 countries starting on February 3

The special broadcast of Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train ended on Saturday with an announcement that the franchise's upcoming Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Swordsmith Village Arc (Kimetsu no Yaiba: Katanakaji no Sato-Hen) television anime will premiere in April with a one-hour special. In addition, the "World Tour Jōei: Kimetsu no Yaiba Jōgen Shūketsu, Soshite Katanakaji no Sato e" (World Tour Screenings: Demon Slayer: The Upper Ranks Gather and Onward to the Swordsmith Village) screenings will play in theaters in over 80 countries and territories from February 3:

The screenings will include episodes 10 and 11 of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc, as well as the first Swordsmith Village Arc episode.

Update: The World Tour screenings include those in the following cities and regions:

  • Japan: February 3 in 418 theaters, including 41 IMAX screens

  • Tokyo: Special screenings with guest appearances on February 4 and 5

  • Los Angeles: February 18 at The Orpheum Theatre with Natsuki HanaeYūma Takahashi, and a performance by Aimer (Tickets go on sale on January 7 at Ticketmaster)

  • United States and Canada: March 3 in over 1,700 theaters in both English-subtitled and -dubbed versions

  • Paris: February 25 with Yūma Takahashi

  • Berlin: February 26 with Yūma Takahashi

  • Mexico City: March 4 with Natsuki Hanae

  • Seoul: March 11 with Akari KitōYūma Takahashi

  • Taipei: March 19 with Natsuki HanaeKengo KawanishiKana HanazawaYūma Takahashi

Director Haruo Sotozaki, character designer and chief animation director Akira Matsushima, the animation studio ufotable, and the main cast are all returning for the new arc.

The first television anime of Koyoharu Gotouge's Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga premiered in April 2019. Aniplex of America licensed the series and streamed the show on HuluCrunchyroll, and FunimationAdult Swim's Toonami programming block premiered the television anime in October 2019.

The Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train anime film began screening in Japan in October 2020. Crunchyroll and Funimation are streaming the film.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train Arc, a seven-episode arc that adapts the Mugen Train film, premiered in October 2021. The Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc (Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yūkaku-hen) television anime then premiered on December 5 with a one-hour special. Funimation and Crunchyroll both streamed the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train Arc and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc anime.

Gotouge launched the manga in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in February 2016. The manga ended in May 2020. Shueisha published the manga's 23rd and final compiled book volume in December 2020. Viz Media published the manga in English.

Kimetsu No Yaiba (Demon Slayer) Swordsmith Village Arc Premieres 1-Hour TV This April

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Final part consists of episodes 25-38

Netflix announced on Friday that it will stream the third and final part of the anime series of Hirohiko Araki's JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean manga on December 1. The third part will consist of episodes 25-38.

Netflix debuted the first 12 episodes of the anime globally in December 2021. The series also aired on television in Japan beginning in January, and aired the 12th episode on March 26.

The second part consisting of of episodes 13-24 premiered on September 1. The series began airing on Tokyo MX on October 7 at 24:30 JST (effectively, October 8), before launching on other networks.

david production is returning to produce the series. Kenichi Suzuki is returning from Parts 1-3 as the chief director, and Toshiyuki Kato (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable series director, Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan director) is the director. Yasuko Kobayashi is returning from the previous anime to handle the series composition, and Masanori Shino (Black LagoonGungraveNo Guns Life) is the character designer. Shun'ichi Ishimoto (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind chief animation director) is the Stand designer. Yoshikazu Iwanami is returning as the sound director, and Yūgo Kanno is returning from Parts 3-5 as composer.

The manga is the sixth part of Araki's JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, and it continues the story from the previous entries. Netflix describes the series:

Florida, U.S.A, 2011 After an accident while on a drive with her sweetheart, Jolyne Cujoh falls into a trap and is sentenced to fifteen years. She is sent to the state-run maximum-security correctional facility Green Dolphin Street Prison—AKA "the Aquarium." On the verge of despair, she receives a pendant from her father that causes a mysterious power to awaken inside of her. "There are things in this world that are more terrifying than death, and what's happening in this prison is definitely one of them." A message from a mysterious boy who appears before Jolyne, inexplicable events that occur one after another, the horrifying truth told to her by her father when he comes to visit, and the name DIO... Will Jolyne ultimately be set free from this stone ocean they call a prison? The final battle to end century-long fateful confrontations between the Joestar family and DIO begins!

The Stone Ocean arc of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga ran from 1999 to 2003, and has 17 volumes, consisting of volumes 64 through 80 of the overall manga.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean Final Part Releases on Netflix 1st December 2022

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