Toru Furuya at Fanime, a special guest post by RyderHiME!

Konichiwa fellow Moonies!

So, as many of you heard on Moon Chase’s Facebook, Tohru Furuya, the voice of Tuxedo Kamen, was at FanimeCon out here in semi-sunny California over Memorial Day. Being a fan of the site, and noticing the lack of West Coast news, I made a point of going to both of his panels in an attempt to get the community the latest news straight from ToFu’s mouth. (This was actually harder than is sounds because I’m Fanime staff, not just an attendee.)

I will ask your forgiveness right now for the horrible pictures my phone shot. It’s all I have.

To kick off the convention at opening ceremonies on Friday, the Fanime Chair Team presented the Consul General of Japan a symbolic gift of 1000 paper cranes as a representation of our good wishes for Japan after their earthquake and tsunami back in March. After this was a steady flow of our Guests of Honor, which included the band FLOW, singer Halko Momo-i, artist and character designer Mamoru Yokota, and of course, our favorite Tohru Furuya.

Furuya-san is first of all a great showman. He knows exactly what his fans are here for, and immediately started throwing out lines from the various characters he has played in his lengthy career. For those that don’t know, Furuya-san is also the voice of Yamucha from Dragonball, Pegasus Seiya from Saint Seiya, and Amuro Ray from the original MS Gundam. It’s safe to say that the fans went wild as he did this.
I next saw Furuya-san the next day, not at his first panel, but at the invitation-only GoH meet-and-greet called the Yamaga Party. (Called so because it is usually hosted by one of our regular guests, Hiroyuki Yamaga of the animation studio Gainax, although due to an emergency Yamaga-san could not make the convention this year.) How this worked was that each GoH in attendance had their own table, and the invited fans sat with them for about ten minutes each to ask questions and actually talk with the guest. Furuya-san was the only guest that asked for the names of each fan at his table, and when that happens, you get him asking my friend Mike where he got that Italian Saint Seiya shirt he’s wearing. Which I am sure he wore just for that purpose.

Furuya-san’s panel Saturday afternoon was the standard Q&A panel. There were a lot of questions and voice requests from his well known series (mostly Gundam), but I got a few surprises out of him. His favorite role is that of Kyosuke Kasuga from Kimagure Orange Road, which I haven’t seen but happens to be a favorite of some of my older Otaku friends. He also mentioned that his most difficult role was from the Satoshi Kon movie Paprika, where he played the 400+lb Dr. Kosaku Tokita. He said he wasn’t sure he could match his voice to such a large person, but the director said to try and channel his inner child. Apparently his inner child is Amuro Ray, haha.
Of interest to us Moonies, Furuya-san was asked how he got the role of Tuxedo Kamen. The biggest reason was that the studio wanted an experienced seiyu on the cast, of which many of the Sailor Scouts were first-timers. He said that at first he thought that Tuxedo Kamen was a magician:

“Then I asked his name. And it was exactly like it said it was.”

He was also asked about an apparent reunion of the Sailor Moon cast in Japan recently, and if that meant there would be more work on Sailor Moon. He said there may be another reunion in the future, but that he didn’t think there would be much else.

The next panel Sunday morning was a bit different. This was also supposed to be a standard Q&A, but boy was it more entertaining. I should have guessed it would be, since a 10 am panel generally means that the die-hard fans are in attendance. Friends, if there is a Sailor Moon cosplayer in the room, and Furuya-san gets a request to reenact a scene from our favorite series, what you get is a live show in the front of the panel room, complete with bad guy, rose, and “Moon Healing Escalation”. I’ve never had so much fun at a panel.

Later on that afternoon, Furuya-san had a special autograph session before he left the convention. He had been selling a Fanime exclusive (at the time) clear file with his photograph, and part of the sales were to go to relief efforts in Japan. If you bought one (or in my case two) you were invited to this special autograph session where he would personalize his autograph specifically for you on the clear file. That didn’t stop people from bringing other things for him to sign.

From what I heard from our Guest Relations person, Furuya-san really enjoyed the convention and meeting all his fans here. This makes me hope to see him again in the future.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Fanime, I hope this article made up for it. It’s not the best way to enjoy a convention, but I at least hope I transferred some of the awesome I experienced on to you that read this.

– RyderHiME

Comedy series "Franklin and Bash" references Sailor Pluto

Moon Chase is glad to report another Sailor Moon sighting, this one coming from a brand new light-hearted lawyer/comedy primetime show on TNT called “Franklin and Bash”. In the show’s second episode, titled “She Came Upstairs To Kill Me”, there was a reference to Setsuna Meioh/Sailor Pluto, courtesy of Pindar Singh (played by Kumail Nanjiani). The reference occurs about 5 minutes into the episode, with the conversation in the scene quickly turning to the topic of hottest female animated characters:

Jared Franklin: If you met Isabella, you would feel differently. Isabelle is just like Jessica Rabbit – she’s not bad, she’s just drawn that way.

Peter Bash: Jessica Rabbit – hottest cartoon character ever?

Jared Franklin: I prefer Betty Rubble.

Peter Bash: Really?

Jared Franklin: Yeah.

Pindar Singh: Neither of those hold a candle to Setsuna Meioh.

*awkward silence by Jared Franklin and Peter Bash *

Pindar Singh: The guardian of the space and the time door in the Sailor Moon manga?

While Jessica Rabbit and Betty Rubble are household names in the world of comics and animation, special applause must be handed out to the writing staff at “Franklin and Bash” for referencing a character that is likely only known by diehard fans of Sailor Moon. When you consider the level of inactivity associated with Sailor Moon in North America, it is sightings like this one that encourages and reminds Sailor Moon fans just how much of an imprint that the show has had on pop culture in North America (a special thank you to K-Chan for e-mailing this to us).

Breaking News: Sailor Moon says “Salem Kazakhstan!”

Hey Moonies! Breaking on Toei Animation Europe’s website on Monday was the news that the complete Sailor Moon series is on its way to Kazakhstan! The Kazakhstani company Kino Company via the Eastern European Country (EEC) Territory Plus Licens will soon approach free television channels in Kazakhstan to propose the entire series. Though this release was short, it left us with some questions, and we will keep you posted if we learn any more. We did a little digging though to find answers around our answers…

1. What channel might they approach with Sailor Moon?

From what we have been able to learn, free Kazakhstani TV consists of channels owned by the Khabar Agency. These channels have some kind of ruling influence from President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva. We poked around at the program listings and it seems that all animation on this channel is Kazakhstani (or based on their culture). There is no sign of any other cartoons from anywhere else on these channels. These channels are largely devoted to news, sports, and Kazakhstani drama, lifestyle and reality shows. Something tells us these might not be good candidates for the show. We did find another channel digital service provider, and this is Alma TV. Alma TV carries Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Nickelodeon, and others on their “Kids” channel. We could only spot one anime on the schedule, and that is Bakugan. We wonder if this channel will be the one that is approached with the series. At this time we are unable to confirm if this channel is free or part of a paid specialty service. We would love to hear from our Kazakhstani readers or anyone else who knows anything about TV there.

2. Will this be a new dub?

We do not know for sure, but all signs are pointing towards “possibly”. Some shows in this country air in Russian, so there may be a chance that the existing Russian dub will air. Russian is the second most common language spoken in Kazakhstan, so this does not present a problem to the majority of the population. However, we also read that there is now some anime being dubbed into Kazakh, so just like Israel saw Sailor Moon for the first time in Hebrew recently, it could well be possible that a Kazakh dub could happen. Kino Company, is Kazakhstan’s largest film production company. Though they have only produced a handful of films since 1989, many have been critically acclaimed. In 1994, Kino Company produced their first (and only) full-length animation film called “Dragon’s Island” which was based on classical Japanese literature. The movie won an award at the Ankara International Film Festival in 1994! If this company is successful in their pitch and dubs the series, we think that it is in good hands. That being said…

3. Will there be censorship?

Maybe. While there isn’t a whole lot of information about what exactly the Kazakh film censors actually censor, we do know that there does exist some censorship in the country. The government frequently censors news stories. Fans may remember the controversy surrounding the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan from a few years ago. The controversies in the movie caused the government to issue many statements about the inaccuracies portrayed in the film. While the movie was not banned, the government did make a request to 20th Century Fox’s central European distributor Gemini Films, not to distribute the film there. They complied. Many have in turn sought their own copies from other European countries. When looking at the cartoon landscape, it seems mostly male oriented. The only cartoon for girls on Cartoon Network’s schedule is The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. On Nickelodeon, the following shows air: iCarly, Victorious, Dora the Explorer, and Ni Hao Kai-Lan. Now Sailor Moon is a pretty harmless cartoon, all things considered. But the government attitudes surrounding issues of nudity, gender identities, and other perceived controversial issues in the series remains up to debate. We also dug up an old interview from 2008 with Kazakhstan’s Director of the National Art Academy Arystanbek Muhamediuly, where he condemns cartoons like Sailor Moon and Spongebob Squarepants (as well as others by name) and demands there be more cartoons for children based on Kazakhstan’s rich cultural history. It’s a bit of a shaky situation. We invite any fans who know of how productions are censored in Kazakhstan to contact us with what they know!

At the very least, we do know that those in Kazakhstan who have wanted to watch Sailor Moon probably have. We found several Kazakhstani fan-run anime sites that featured episodes and movies streaming for free of the Russian dub, or Japanese version with Russian subtitles. If it comes to their country, it gives them the chance to watch and possibly purchase a legitimate release.

We congratulate Toei Animation Europe, Kino Company, and Plus Licens on this new venture into Kazakhstan with Sailor Moon, and wish them the best of luck on continuing to spread Sailor Moon’s message around the world!

Are You In Saskatoon Tomorrow? We’d Love to Meet You!

Hey Moonies! I apologize first off for not keeping up with the site. There’s been a couple things I’ve wanted to write about but I was hit with an unexpected tragedy last week that has been rough to deal with. I will return soon, I promise! Anyway, Moonie1995 and I will be presenting a Sailor Moon Panel at Saskatchewan’s first ever anime and comics convention, Anime Blitz and Comic Spectacle. This is going to happen tomorrow at 12:45. We will also have a special prize for some lucky fans as well as a chance for you to try Sailor Moon: La Luna Splende for the Nintendo DS. We would love to meet you tomorrow – so feel free to stop by if you are attending!

We ask that fans respect our wishes for no photographs or videos at our panel tomorrow.