Student Anime Screening & Discussion with Anime Scriptwriter Dai Sato Review by Tony Yao

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What’s up, everyone!? This is Tony Yao from Samurai Beat Radio. I recently had the pleasure of attending the “Student Anime Film Screening & Discussion with Anime Scriptwriter Dai Sato” event on Saturday, August 22 at Japan Society. It was a wonderful event that displayed short animation films created by 25 high school students in teams of 5, with guidance from famous scriptwriter Dai Sato himself, for everyone to see.

The 25 high school students all attended a two-week seminar called “A*NI*ME: Japanese Animation Production”, which was a vigorous workshop where they learned all the tricks of the trade when it comes to animation with help from a variety of producers, writers, & designers, including Dai Sato, who is well known for his work on Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Eureka Seven, & Samurai Champloo. The workshop began on August 10 and ended on August 21, just before the event. They were handpicked out of a large number of applicants who applied for the workshop back in May.

The program was spearheaded by Kazuko Minamoto of Japan Society. I asked her how she came up with the program and she replied. “Every summer, Japan Society Education Programs offer a theme-based immersion workshop for high school teens. In the past, we offered Theater Production Workshop, Documentary Film Production Workshop,Japanese Cuisine 101, etc, to introduce all aspects of Japan to American teens. This year, we wanted to give animation a try – our first attempt.” Minamoto also said. “While there are many schools that offer animation workshops in NYC, I wanted to offer a Japanese anime production workshop that is unique to Japan Society which cannot be found elsewhere.”

Ms. Minamoto began the event with an introduction along with one of the workshop participants, Denisia Codrington. The students then began to show off 15-30 second trailers of their works for the audience, with Dai Sato, Aaron Hughes, & Ru Kuwahata making comments about each film. An awards ceremony was planned as well.

As stated earlier, all 25 participants were grouped into teams of 5. The students had a chance to play the roles of 5 essential parts of animation production (producer, line producer, director, character designer, scriptwriter) during the workshop. Each team had a name and created their own unique film with their own concepts & ideas. The plots for each film ranged from robots to pirates to horror to even humans born from eggs! All of them were really good, though the one that really caught my eye was “Scindo” by Witch Doctor Studios. It is a horror-themed anime whose plot closely resembles the American horror movie franchise, “SAW”. I personally found it to be interesting if there was an actual anime like Scindo, since the team spoke about how there’s no Western horror themes in Asian horror.

After the presentations, we were all treated to a screening of Samurai Champloo, one of Dai Sato’s works. We got to see Episode 18 of the series and it showcased why it was a immensely popular series. The mix of hip-hop, urban culture with traditional Japanese culture was unique and refreshing. The animation is also very well-done and the main characters were all great. The reception for the screening was positive. It was nice of Sato-san to showcase his work for those who may unfamiliar with him.

The awards ceremony came up and the panelists awarded the following to each team.
Teamwork Award: “Scindo”, Witch Doctor Studios
Character Development Award: “99″, Team Pandora
World View Award: “Floreixen”, Hoshigumi
Creative Award: “Hybrid”, Nani? Studios
Overall Appeal Award (given by Dai Sato): “Casa Dulce”, Onigimmick

  

Overall, the turnout was great. 200 people showed up for the event, including the students’ friends and families. Each team’s storyboards and early drafts were on display in the lobby. Dai Sato’s artwork was also on display as well. Dai Sato was very lively to be around and all the students impressed me with their creativity. The students’ friends & family were enthusiastic and proud of the students’ hard work, which was a beautiful thing to see. When asked about the next workshop and whether it will involve anime, Minamoto replied. “We will offer a summer workshop for high school teens on a different theme – perhaps Japanese Cuisine again.”

I like to give praise to Ms. Minamoto & Japan Society for organizing the program and event. I hope to see more aspiring animators and events such as this in the near future! For more information on Japan Society, you can visit their website at: http://www.japansociety.org.

Samurai Champloo Picture © manglobe/Shimoigusa Champloos. Illustration by KAZUTO NAKAZAWA.
All other photos taken courtesy of Lawrence Brenner.
Special thanks to Kazuko Minamoto for award name clarifications and other miscellaneous information.

                                                                              &n
bsp;                                                                 -Tony Yao

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