The host opened with the announcement of Mashima Hiro-sensei’s signing which will be held the next day at 11am with the same 6am ticket pickup. “For the diehard [fans].” It seems to be a convention of swag (moreso than usual,) with the next announcement being that first people who are on the line for the autographs will receive a choice of a shitajiki, character goods including key chains, stickers or notebook. (A raffle of ALL of these items will be done at the end of the panel….) Fairy Tail vol. 16 will be released on Nov. 2011, though there are 100 copies for sale at the Kodansha booth.
Announcements put aside for the time being, the host introduced Mashima Hiro-sensei to the floor. Mashima-sensei pulled out a script and spoke to the cheers of the crowd in English.
- Mashima: What’s up everyone? I am pleased to meet you, my American friends. You know that Japan was hit by one of worse natural disasters in it’s history in March. I will like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you to Americans for all the support and generosity during the difficult we had. I strongly felt that the world is connected. *audience cheered*
Mashima-sensei gave a drawing demonstration with a projector from his drawing board connected to the screens. It was such an honor and truly amazing to watch him draw live. With pencil and then later ink. The character that was created was Natsu.
While he was drawing, the host provided some information about the mangaka. His first published manga was Rave, published in the States as Rave Master. It ran for 35 volumes from 1995-2005. Monster Soul was his second work which consisted of two volumes in 2006-2007. Fairy Tail began in 2006. In 2003, he published a collection of short stories in Mashima-en. From 2007 to 2009, he published Monster Hunter Orage, tie in with the Capcom video game. Kodansha USA is releasing both Fairy Tail and Monster Hunter Orage, the 3rd vol. out in Nov. 2011. Funimation is releasing the English dub of Fairy Tail with the dvd release next month.
Mashima-sensei’s favorite food is pasta. His favorite manga is Berserk and he recently read and enjoyed ‘Batman: The Killing Joke.’ He often draws his inspirations from people in his life. Jason Thompson and the host himself, Dallas Middaugh had appeared in his manga (specifically Fairy Tail vol. 13.
Besides the piece of art that Mashima-sensei completed in full view, he drew 4 other character sketches that day which will also be included in the raffle.
The host inquired if Mashima-sensei would like to make a comment:
- Mashima: Nothing in particular. I’m hard at work right now. This will be a present so I will work very hard. *audience applauds* *pause* It’s very rare for me to draw in front of so many people, so I’m a little nervous. I always draw alone in the dark. *audience laughs* *drawing teeth* Natsu’s teeth is one of the major points of Natsu.
The drawing was completed with resounding applause from the audience. The Q&A session began by the host.
- Q: Why did you decide to become a mangaka?
A: Ever since I was little, I love drawing pictures. Not just pictures, creating stories became my passion. Before I knew it, it became my profession.
Q: What manga inspire you the most?
Q: The process of publishing manga in Japan seems like highly competitive. How did you succeed in getting your manga published?
A: It’s true that it’s very difficult to be published as a mangaka in Japan. At the same time, compared to the past, the entrance way to being a mangaka is expanding. I don’t think it’s as difficult as before, but I always say that once you become a mangaka, it’s very difficult to continue on and making a living out of it.
Q: How much time do you spend on your manga each week?
A: Every week, I usually 6 days a week. 1 day about 17 hours. So in order to come to New York, I had to write a story in advance. In order to come here, I worked 18-19 hours a day. *audience cheers*
Q: When we met in 2008, you were working on Fairy Tail as a weekly manga and Monster Hunter Orage as a monthly. How did you find the time to work on both books simultaneously?
A: Once I finish with Fairy Tail, the little time I had before I went to sleep, I worked on Monster.
Q: How did you find yourself working on Monster Hunter Orage? Are you a big fan of Monster Hunter games?
A: Yes, I have been a very big fan of the original games. It has a very particular world and I just want to depict it as a manga. I asked for the rights and I was successful.
Q: Any other games you are a big fan of?
A: Recently, Gears of War 3. The American players are so strong, that I can’t count how many times my head got blown off. Also, Assassin’s Creed.
Q: Funimation is debuting the English version of the show, episode 3, 4 and 5 tomorrow. First time those 3 episodes are shown dubbed in the US. What kind of expectation do you have for the English dub? How do you think the American market will react to it?
A: The differences between the Japanese and the American are the cast members. The Japanese cast members of the anime are very passionate people and they match my image of the characters exactly. Of course, I have high expectations of the American cast members as well. I wonder what the cast members are like and wonder if they’ll match the characters. It’s also okay if they don’t match because I assume that’s going to be the ‘American Natsu’. Of course, Natsu is a character that shouts a great deal so I’m worried about the voice actor losing his voice. *audience laughs*
- Q: This is your first trip to NY. Is there anything from this trip that is likely to make it into a future Fairy Tail story?
A: Of course, New York is the forefront of popculture so just looking at the cityscape inspires me.
Q: Can you share with us what is coming up in Fairy Tail and any idea how it might end? *audience awwws* I think the audience is asking you to not answer this question.
A: *in English* Ah…secret.
Then came audience questions.
- Q: Why did you decide to do a 7 year timeskip in your storyline? *audience exclaims over the spoiler*
A: The American [release] of Fairy Tail hasn’t progressed to that point exactly, so I rather you look forward to that.
Q: What is your favorite story that you ever written within Fairy Tail
A: I don’t have any one in particular, but I do love drawing the part where all the guild members are gathered at the bar and they are being rowdy and loud.
Q: Who is your favorite Fairy Tail character and why?
A: It is difficult to choose just one since I gave birth to all these characters and I love them all. But if you ask me to choose right now, I guess it has to be Natsu.
Q: I started reading Rave when I was 12 years old and now I’m 20. Do you miss working on Rave? Do you miss the characters?
A: Of course, Haru and Elie are characters that are dear to my heart so I miss them alot. In Japan, there is a special collaboration with Fairy Tail and Rave Master so I hope that the American audience can see it as well.
Q: In the past you had [Yoshikawa Miki-sensei], who drew Yanki-kun to Megane-chan as one of your assistants. What did you learn from her and what did she learn from you? I notice that her reaction shots really show that she was an assistant of yours.
A: Yes, it’s true that she worked as my staff for 3-4 years and I knew she was a very talented writer. We inspired each other, though nothing in particular. Of course, I taught her some of the technical aspects and she always surpassed my expectations and that in itself was a big inspiration for me. *audience applauds*
Q: Are there going to be any more dragon slayers in Fairy Tail?
A: I love to give you an answer, but my editor over there is glaring at me so…. *audience laughs*
Q: Will Gray come back to the story?
A: *hesitates* Uh…yes.
The host request that the questions be restricted to the volumes that are already released in the US. Spoiler free questions…. Even with that warning, a few people inquired about the releases recently put out in Japan which prompted the response from Mashima-sensei: “Please look forward to it!”
- Q: What inspired you to create in the genre you currently write in?
A: The genre is about magic and it’s full of dreams. Ever since I was little, I always wanted to use magic so I wanted to depict a world that is full of magic.
Q: Haru means ‘spring’ and Natsu is ‘summer’. What gave you the idea in two of your works [Fairy Tail and Rave], the two main characters are named after seasons?
A: This is a technical story. The magazine that I write for at the time, this genre of fantasy manga is pretty rare. They asked me to come up with a name that is a western name with a Japanese element to it so I came up with Haru. And of course Natsu comes after Haru so there is sort of a sequence there. In my project, there is also a character name Aki and Mafuyu which respectically means autumn and midwinter so I don’t what will come after that so I’m a little troubled. *audience laughs*
Q: Before you drew Lucy, did you know that she was going to be similar to Elie?
A: I had no intention of making them similar, they just ended up that way since the type of women that I think are cute tend to be similar.
- Q: At the end of Fairy Tail Festival Arc, there was the big reveal with Gajeel…will that also lead to a rematch between Natsu and Gajeel?
A: Of course, Gajeel is a very popular character as well. You can probably expect them to fight again or perhaps collaborate…so you just have to look forward to it.
Q: In Rave, you mentioned that when Haru passes, a third Rave Master will come along, but you never mention who. Is there any we can figure out who it is?
A: I guess it was a little hard to tell, but it was suppose to be Elie. It was not clear in the story, but if you read the guidebook that was published exclusively in Japan it saids that…. *audience laughs* *in English* Sorry….
The host presented vol. 13 via the projection screen…flipped to the page where he was a character. “Now my life is complete.” The four sketches were also shown on the screen: Erza, Loki, Lucy and Natsu with another Natsu being the one sketched at the beginning of the panel. Mashima-sensei drew the 5 winners and personalized the pictures.
More raffles promised for the end which included 10 tickets for the autographs and the toys…so people would be inclined to stay. Mashima-sensei exited the room as people applauded him out.
Time for Kodansha announcements! Kodansha began with the releases of Akira a few years ago, but recently started the full lineup with Sailor Moon and Codename: Sailor V in Sept. 13. Since the response was so huge for the title, they had to double their print run. The second volume of both series will be released on Nov. 16 with future releases on a bimonthly schedule. The omnibuses for Genshiken will be released on May 2012 with Kitchen Princess on June 2012. Shouts of ‘Overruled!’ sounded throughout the room as sequel to Phoenix Wright appeared on the screen, Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney which will be out May 2012. A “Monster hit in Japan”, Attack on Titan by Isayama Hajime sold over 5 million copies.
Kodansha Comics iPad App, their first step into digital manga. With the launch, all Fairy Tail manga will be $2.99 (for two weeks) and msot of other books at $4.99. The raffles was done followed by the Q&A.
- Q: How does Kodansha determine what titles to release?
A: There are alot of books in the Kodansha catalogue. We do our best guess by looking at the market and decide what will sell.
Q: Is there an Android App?
A: At this point, we’re just focusing on the iPad App. We’ll have future announcements in the coming months.
Q: Have you ever considered simultaneous releases? Especially now that there is an iPad App?
A: I think it is a wonderful idea, but I don’t have anything ncements today. Logistically, the most difficult thing with that is that we’re on vol. 16 while they’re 8-9 volumes ahead of us in Japan. It’s a great idea, but it’s not something I can comment on today.
Q: Are you interested in licensing GetBackers?
A: GetBackers is not on our list.
Q: Monster Soul was released a long time ago. Is it possible to release it in the US?
A: Yes, it is possible.
When asked about when people can start lining up for the autograph tickets for Mashima-sensei, the host quipped that he had no idea. “I’ll be asleep then.” lol The conclusion of the panel was pretty messy considering that people started to leave right after the raffle. It was obvious, natural and everything, but still pretty rude, noisy and it was hard to obtain good answers even at that time.