The NekoCon Diaries 2016: Aniplex and Guest Panel Recap

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Alright look.  I KNOW it’s been a while since I did the last one of these and that NekoCon has been over for almost three months now.  Things got… complicated after the convention, and that coupled with the Holiday Season means this was put on the back burner for a while.  I’m getting to it now though, and hopefully my memory as well as my notes can bring you a proper look at the guest panels I was able to attend!  Anyway, let’s start with the big one!

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Aniplex Industry Panel

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Ah yes!  The good ol’ runner up in the anime biz!  Sadly there was no Funimation Panel this year which is a shame considering the one they put on last year was very professional and actually got me interested in some shows as well as their streaming service.  Compare that to what Aniplex shat out in 2015 and there was no contest.  It was just a viewing of one episode a show and then they randomly handled out swag at the end.  Now thankfully they seem to have taken a page from Funimation and managed to put together an ACTUAL presentation of their upcoming releases which is preferable to… whatever the hell they did last year.  Now that being said, when I name the anime I love it usually comes from Funimation, while Aniplex had… I don’t know, that Fullmetal Alchemist series that I actually still like but everyone seemed to turn on when Brotherhood came out?  Well, you never know!  Maybe they’ll surprise me and show something that’s an ACTUAL must see!  Let’s see what they had to show us!

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Your Lie in April

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Trailer

Right off the bat, there’s this which seems to be all about this one dude who’s talented and sad being cheered on by a girl who’s talented and sad; the former on the piano and the latter on the violin.  I don’t know what to tell you, the trailer was one big pep talk to this guy who doesn’t seem all that interesting and there’s nothing in here to elicit the tiniest bit of interest for me.  If there’s one genre I’m just so freaking tired off, aside from cruelty gore fests, is the overwrought school drama.  Hell, if it was for occasionally awesome comedies like Nichijou, School Rumble, or Lucky Star, I’d be happy to never see another freaking show set in a school ever again.  It’s just not an interesting place to set anime at this point because of how overdone it is and I’m just sick to death of everything this show seems to be.  If I were to give this many praise, it looks like the animation is done well, particularly in the performance scenes which look really smooth and carefully choreographed.  I highly doubt they were rotoscoped, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were modeled after records of someone actually playing those instruments.  However, that’s still not enough for me to even bother with this so… I guess check it out if you’re not as jaded as I am.

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Plastic Memories

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Trailer

So apparently the reason I should give a shit is because this is from the same studio that did Steins;Gate which is a… thing that exists, I guess.  Alright, for a moment let’s try to be positive.  You’ve got a guy going to work at some sort of office building, so it’s not set in a school… even though his partner looks like she’s twelve.  The premise seems to be (at least from what I could tell in the trailer) basically if Bladerunner wasn’t so violent; in that our heroes collect old robots once they start to break down which seems to be a relatively conflict free process unlike when Deckard is called in to do the same.  That could work for a sci-fi series, but the show looks like it delves WAY too heavily into harem stereotypes which frankly I just cannot stand.  You’ve got the Tsundere who’s clearly threatened by our hero as well as a twelve year old looking Kundere who I’m guessing is one of those robots that die after a few years, so presumably she’ll be the centerpiece of the big heartbreak episode.  Oh, and of course our hero is a hapless idiot who’s constantly afraid of the women around him instead of… you know… being someone with an ACTUAL personality.  This is a total skip for me, even with the sci-fi premise.

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Whatever Monogatari

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I know I’ve been a total wet blanket so far, but unfortunately I can’t stop that just yet.  I know people who are into this series or franchise or multimedia empire, or whatever the fuck it is, but I just do not care.  I think I saw one episode of one of the series, and my big take away was that it was BORING.  The show felt lifeless as MAYBE there were three people total inhabiting the WHOLE WORLD in the episode, and then at least half the episode was  that awful final episode of Evangelion where they said FUCK IT and did a completely pointless slide show with voice overs.  I don’t know which series they were talking about but if you’re not already a fan of this, then you’re really not gonna care and the fans aren’t gonna first hear it from me.  Enjoy the damn thing if you like it; just leave me out of it.

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The Asterisk War

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Trailer

Still trying to stay positive!  Okay… um… it looks like what Freezing would be if it wasn’t misogynistic garbage, so that’s something!  So the trailer throws a WHOLE bunch of names and terms at you without much context, but from what I can gather we’ve got another school here (ugh…) set in the future where teenagers are training to kick ass with weapons they can summon out of thin air and energy blasts they can conjure up.  It’s not clear if this is some sort of tournament situation (“The motive for battle – a chance to have one’s wish granted.”) or if the WAR in Asterisk War refers to an actual war, but the fighting looks well animated and from what they show it’s not really FOCUSING on cheesecake and panty shots which is a plus in my book if for no other reason than to shake things up by NOT focusing on teenagers as sex objects.

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Charlotte

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Trailer

Now this is one that I think has some potential.  Sure, it’s ANOTHER god damn school show and our hero looks like he’s a prick, but there’s an interesting (if a bit worn out) premise here.  Basically, it’s an X-Men story where these kids in high school have super powers and are keeping it secret from the rest of the world.  Our presumptive hero Yu can possess people (presumably for a short amount of time) and uses it become the most popular kid in school.  That is until other X-Men come out of the wood work and try to recruit him for… something.  I don’t think they’re super heroes so they won’t be fighting crime, but there’s indication that the BIG BAD GOVERNMENT is gonna hunt their asses down and experiment on them for vaguely defined science.  Side note: I know there’s been a PRETTY bad history of scientific experiments being done (*cough* Tuskegee *cough*), but why has science become such a short hand for THEY WILL TEAR YOU OPEN AND SUCK OUT YOUR INTERNAL ORGANS?  Why do the creators of these kinds of shows ALWAYS assume that biologists and shits are incapable of running experiments without killing their subjects!?  Anyway, the only real problems I have with this show is that they seem to be over complicating things.  Some of the powers seem pointlessly limiting (some dude can teleport but can’t control where) and I think one character simply has Dissociative Identity Disorder which I didn’t think was a super power but whatever.  That, and there’s a random line thrown out about how they only have these powers during adolescence so presumably they will go away once they’re out of school; once again confirming the tired anime notion that school is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVAR!!  I don’t think I’ll end up checking this one out unless there’s something more there to hook me in, but at least I wasn’t annoyed by this one.

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Doukyusei (Sincerely Slowly Falling in Love)

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Trailer

Okay, this is the first one I’m LEGITIMATELY interested in as it at least seems to be doing something different.  The art style is a lot like Princess Jellyfish (so much so I bet it’s the same studio, but I’m too lazy to check) and it LOOKS to be a non-Yaoi Yaoi story; by which I mean it doesn’t look like it’s a gay romance that doesn’t seem to be couched in tragedy.  Actually, more so than Princess Jellyfish: I get a Saint Oniisan vibe from it which I don’t THINK was ever made into a full series; just an OVA.  Both seem to be slice of life stories that focus on dudes without being bro-tastic or lascivious. Now if we could just get more of THAT I’d be happy, but this seems like a perfectly acceptable substitute only with the added bonus of an intriguing enough love story to go along with it.  I’ll stay optimistic about this one and hopefully I can get around to it at some point.

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Erased

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Trailer

Now THIS one looks REALLY good.  It’s not entirely clear from the trailer, but it looks like it’s a story about a person who finds a way to travel through time.  While the obvious anime comparison would be The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but from the trailer I’m getting more of a The Butterfly Effect feel from it which is actually a pretty underrated movie.  Now it’s not QUITE a perfect comparison as the tone in this feels closer to a David Fincher film, but the premise is intriguing where this guy has to stop a serial killer by going back in time (somehow) and stopping him from killing someone he know long ago.  The only problem I see with this is that I don’t really know how this works as a series, even if it’s only twelve episodes.  Something like that doesn’t call for a lot of filler, and stretching it out too long could destroy the momentum which would kill my interest in the series right away.  Still, it’s definitely the most interesting series they’ve presented so far; even more so than Doukyusei.  Maybe they were just saving the best for last, and we’re gonna close this out on a high note!

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Fate/Zero / God Eater / Persona 5

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God EaterPersona 5

No.  The answer is no.  They close the panel out with three anime series based on video games, and I can’t muster up the energy to care about any of them, to the point that I don’t even know which Fate/Zero series they ACTUALLY showed.  I’m ASSUMING it was Fate/Grand Order considering that was posted pretty recently to Aniplex’s YouTube page, but if I haven’t seen the previous dozen series or play the bajillion games by now, I hardly doubt this one is gonna get me into the spirit.  Same goes for God Eater which admittedly has a smaller learning curve (as far as I know, it’s a pretty recent game series and this is the first anime adaptation), but honestly I’m only gonna be interested in an adaptation if I’m a fan of the games, and I haven’t played God Eater either.  So wait, does that mean I’m excited about the Persona anime?  After all, Persona 3 and 4 are two of my favorite games of all time!  Well… no.  I never got into the anime adaptations of those games either, and the fact is that I would much rather play Persona 5 before I watch an anime about it.  It used to be that games would be adapted from anime, but in recent years that line has been blurred so that we have Hyperdimension Neptunia, BlazBlue, Corpse Party, Danganropa, and PLENTY more to choose from.  I guess this makes a certain amount of sense considering that video games are a huge part of the Otaku scene along with manga, and those have been IP farms for decades now.  Still, the problem I’m noticing with a lot of video game adaptations that isn’t as big of an issue with manga ones are that they’re so much more insular.  For the most part, they seem to wait until a game series has gotten to an absurdly convoluted state before adapting it so that, at least to me, it ends up being too intimidating to try and jump into the anime; leaving it as something that can only be marketed to fans of the games in the first place.  Now there’s definitely a place for that, but the ramp up in recent years to grab up every moderately successful game series and turn it into an anime is starting to remind me of the grim and gritty era of comic books in the nineties where the industry decided that they would cater to the audience with the most disposable income rather than trying to build new ones.  Maybe I’m over thinking things, and I’m sure not everyone is gonna have a viscerally negative reaction to a video game adaptation the same way that I would.  Still, I think it’s something to think about.  I mean, are those anime figmas REALLY any different from the Todd McFarlane action figures?

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And that was it for the Aniplex industry panel.  Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with what they had to offer considering it all looks to be the same thing over and over again, but maybe I’ll check out those few that seemed to be doing something different.  That’s all I want!  WHY IS EVERYTHING SET IN HIGH SCHOOL!?

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NekoCon Game Show

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Brought to you by the Virginia Lottery (because THAT doesn’t sound the slightest bit gouache!) comes the one and only NekoCon GAME SHOW!!  I imagine sitting through this is not all that dissimilar from sitting through an ACTUAL game show; namely that you’re watching other people have fun and win fabulous prizes.  Sure, the production values aren’t as high as you’d find on The Price is Right or whatever, but the same concept applies.  Well, except that most game shows hand pick their contestants while these were just people from the audience, but my luck being what it is means that I was not chosen for any of the games.  There was one in particular that I REALLY wanted to do and would have cleaned house on it.  In fact, I even have evidence to back that up!  It was simply a game where they would show you a movie and you would have to guess its box office, and I NAILED IT!  Well… at least I would have done better than the people chosen.  WHY DIDN’T THEY PICK ME!?

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The ONE TIME my skills were marketable!

Other than that, it was… fine.  The crowd seemed to enjoy the antics, and some people got free stuff, so it was a net positive experience all around.  They better pick me next year though!

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Mike McFarland Q and A

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Alright, so you’re gonna have to bear with me on this one.  Mike McFarland, the legendary voice actor and director of several classic Funimation series like Dragon Ball Z, Attack on Titan, and Yu Yu Hakusho, came to NekoCon and had his own Q and A panel where he took questions from the audience!  To the best of my abilities, I tried to copy down every question that was asked and every response he gave; something I learned to be much more difficult than I thought would be.  I managed to get ALMOST every question written down as well as his responses, but I’m working from my poor handwritten notes when writing this, and I may have unconsciously injected a bit of my own interpretation into some of the responses he gave as I was writing them down, so… take these with a grain of salt I guess?  Oh I’m sure I did fine!!

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Q: When you’re a director on a show and you’re also one of the voice actors, do you have an assistant director?

A: For the most part, he does not.  He’s got someone in the booth when he’s recording, but he’s still in control of what to use, what needs to be redone, etc.  I imagine that was how it went with Spielberg and Tobe Hooper on the Poltergeist set.

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Q: Do you have to go to an emotional place to do some of the extreme emotional moments?

A: Not really.  He’s been acting since elementary school and just needs to get into character.

This response actually reminds of that Mike Myers and Steve Martin bit from SNL called Theatre Stories.  Of course that ended with Steve Martin crapping his pants, and I’m PRETTY sure that didn’t happen here.

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Q: How are simul-dubs produced differently from the original way of doing it?

A: They try to read the manga first to get a leg up on the series if one is even available, but there’s still the issue of less time to ACTUALLY record it, and less context since they don’t always know where the show is going.  What could be the seed of some later revelation could get lost of the actor doesn’t quite know what the character may be planning.

Now I’m curious as to how this is different with the Japanese voice cast.  Do they always know where the story is going?  Are the shows planned out that far in advanced that they can read the whole season of scripts before they start recording?  It seems kind of unlikely to me, and I imagine the simul-dubs are actually closer to the experience the Japanese voice actors have than how dubbing is usually handled stateside where they not only know exactly what’s going to happen as they dub it AFTER the season has aired, but with the state of anime in the US now, there’s almost none of them that actually need to hit broadcast deadlines.  I probably should have asked him about that when I had the chance…

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Q: Have you seen Team Four Star Stuff?

A: He has.

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Q: Say a Master Roshi line from DBZ Abridged!

A: He does.

Side note: To me, that just comes off as SUPER obnoxious.  I wouldn’t go up to Alex Trebek and ask him to do Will Ferrell SNL bits.

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Q: What’s the most difficult show you’ve worked on as a director or actor?

A: DBZ, Evangelion, and Attack on Titan had a lot of yelling which can be very draining.  Tokyo Ghoul was particularly rough because not only was he directing the simulcast for season 2, he had to dub the complete season 1 in between.  The Mamoru Hosoda movies (wolf Children, Summer Wars, etc ) were challenging as well considering they had to be done seriously rather than ANIME!!!, but it was definitely worth the extra effort.

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Q: What is a trial or tribulation in your career that has had the most impact?

A: Nothing particularly comes to mind.  Family Members have died, etc; but that’s not something that has uniquely defined his career.  The key is to set mental goals for where you want to go and work towards that.

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Q: What advice do you have for those who want to get into voice acting?  Where to start?

A: Most places are gonna have theater programs to improve speaking and acting skills, while Improv helps quick decision making and building the confidence to try.  What directors are looking for are trained actors even if they don’t have much experience.  For anime specifically, you need to be near the studios which are mostly in California.  They don’t want to use Skype (or other similar technology) on new actors, or even experienced ones for that matter.

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Q: Does putting yourself into the characters help with voice acting?

A: Sure I guess?  You take your imagination with you.  With anime (that isn’t simulcast), you have the completed product to reference which is not always the case with other mediums.

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Q: Does the studio dynamics change depending on the tone of what show is being done?

A: For the most part, anime is done with one person in the booth at a time so the actors aren’t really playing off each other.  It can affect the director/actor interactions, but the tone tends to be a minor influence when compared to the rapport built up between the director/actor over time.

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Q: How do you find the voice for your character?

A: You don’t get a lot of information when you audition, but that also means the director has flexibility to make changes and find that voice among the entire cast.

The way he describes this is actually kind of interesting.  Apparently they have sheets of paper (I imagine them stuck to some sort of bulletin board) with a brief description of the character, what they want from a voice actor for that character, and I assume at least a picture of who the character is.  I just imagine all the voice actors crowding around the board once the new series have been announced and calling dibs on the ones they want to audition for.

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Q: Were there any shows that you wish you were a part of, or are there any upcoming projects that you’re interested in? (Oh hey!  I asked this one!)

A: He’s not looking at anything in particular for the future.  The guy already gets enough work as it is and on some very high profile shows!  Any project he would love to have been a part are ones that are already perfect and he wouldn’t want to mess with that.  The specific example he gives here is Wolf’s Rain.  I think I saw an episode of that once.

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Q: What was it like working on Wolf Children?

A: He was glad to work on Mamoru Hosoda movies, including Wolf Children.  He had to work with some new actors which posed a challenge, but he also got to work with others who he has a long history with.

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Q: Any projects you regret or have issues with?

A: Even if the show was bad, the experience of making it was worth it.  He doesn’t list any examples here, but I guess there’s no point in him burning any bridges.

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Q: What’s a character you struggled with at first but then mastered?

A: No examples come to mind.  He’s pretty good at getting into characters, even extreme ones such as Ryoji Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club.

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Q: Do bad anime dubs hurt the industry?

A: Less of an issue since the 90’s.  He can’t speak for other directors but he always does the best in his work.  Not really sure if it hurts the industry.

If you want MY opinion (and why wouldn’t you?), quality control as far as voice acting didn’t seem to be a deal breaker when the market was so small in the 90’s.  Now that it’s a buyers’ market with so many choices, fans can be a bit more discerning nowadays about what they’ll tolerate as far as bad dubbing.

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Q: What was the longest and loudest scream that you did yourself or directed someone to do?

A: Probably a Sean Schemmel scream from Dragon Ball Z.  He couldn’t pull up the specific example, but estimates it at about 18 seconds.

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Q: When doing a sequel/reboot/etc for a show that’s already done by another director/studio, how do you work with that?

A: Think of it like Sherlock Holmes.  Core components are present through all iterations, but it’s more important to do what’s right for the specific material rather than to try and replicate what’s been done before.

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Q: What is the oddest direction you had to give to an actor?

A: Probably Jerry Jewell playing Barry the Chopper in Fullmetal Alchemist (not sure which FMA series he was referring to), considering he was directing the guy to be more like a serial killer.

Hey, Bryan Fuller managed to pull off with Mads Mikkelsen in Hannibal, and neither one of them are cannibalistic murderers… right?

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Q: Any recommendations to practice voice acting?

A: Best idea is to read copy out loud.  Read a book out loud.  Singing is a good warm up as are tongue Twisters.  Practice makes perfect.

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And that about does it for this panel!  If I got any of this incorrect Mr. McFarlane, please don’t kick my ass!

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Crossplay 101 with the Ormiston Twins

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So if you don’t know who Kim and Misty Ormiston are, they were the Leeg twins in that last Hunger Games movie (which I didn’t watch) as well as a small role in Meet the Spartans (which I DID watch), but they’re also avid cosplayers and are PHENOMENALLY good at crossplaying.  I honestly didn’t get much out of this panel as far as this being a 101 on crossplaying, but I got a whole lot out just finding out whom these two are and seeing some of the fantastic cosplay they’ve done.  You can check out the pictures on their Facebook page to see examples of their work, but they’re skills with makeup is unmatched and are particularly good at crossplaying as late eighties bad boys; including David and Michael from The Lost Boys, an assortment of Johnny Depp characters, David Bowie, and many more.  There’s not much else to say about the panel; just… you can do SO MUCH with drawn on stubble and thicker eyebrows!!

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And that’s the end of the Guest Panels that I got to see at NekoCon!  Now we still have a few more pieces to left with the next one discussing a couple of panels I went to that were specifically about feminist theory and examining sexism in the Anime we consume, so tune in next time for that!

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2 thoughts on “The NekoCon Diaries 2016: Aniplex and Guest Panel Recap

  1. Bell Lectar

    Always enjoy reading your articles<3
    Maybe to clear a misunderstanding about Monogatari being lifeless, it only rare and odd episodes that do it, some others are so busy it hurts to watch it.
    I guess that's from the difficulty of assinging a certain number of episodes to a written novel so it doesn't end up too eventful vs too stretched out.
    That series has a very uneven tone that's a bit of everything.
    The thing about "only 3 people inhabiting the whole world" because the novels are written from the first person perspective.
    That series is one of my favorites. Each story arc takes long to build gravitas and sometimes feels like verbal diarrhea, but the climax is always masterfully written. If I had to describe it in one word, it'd be "witty".
    And BTW, they announced next season for Sailor Moon Crystal. No date said but I'd assume 2 arcs in a single season late this year, to synergize with the autumn musical.

    Like

    Reply

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