With Christmas in the rearview mirror and 2011 looming on Saturday, it’s time to put a big red bow on the year that was 2010 for anime and manga, both here and abroad. And what a year it was.
We certainly weren’t starving for entertainment here. Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada kicked off her "In the Flesh" tour in Honolulu at the beginning of the year and ended the year resting comfortably somewhere in Japan, taking her first hiatus from music in 12 years. Kawaii Kon brought "Bleach" voice actors Masakazu Morita and Hideo Ishikawa and "Vampire Knight" voice actor Daisuke Kishio to their first U.S. convention. The Hawaii Entertainment Expo Experience, or HEXXP, had a few flaws in its debut but built a foundation as a possible second convention option for the future.
It was also a great year to watch anime in local theaters. "Summer Wars," two "Evangelion" films, "Redline," "Welcome to the Space Show" and "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya" all made stops here, many under the umbrella of the Hawaii International Film Festival. (There was also "Tales From Earthsea," but whether that counts as a highlight is debatable.)
Elsewhere it was mostly a year of goodbyes. CMX, Go!Comi and Aurora disappeared from the manga-publishing landscape, as did Imagi, the animation studio that produced the computer-animated "Astro Boy" and was planning an adaptation of "Gatchaman." Another manga publisher, Del Rey, was largely gutted when Kodansha announced it would take over publication of its series in the U.S.
Then there were the industry figures we bid aloha to for the final time, including:
» Peter Fernandez, the English voice of Speed and Racer X in "Speed Racer" and writer of the show’s theme song lyrics
» Amy Forsyth, translator for a number of ADV Films, anime and manga from Tokyopop and Yen Press
» Umanosuke Iida, director of the original "Hellsing" anime series
» Shunsuke Ikeda, actor who played Ichiro, the trumpet-playing android who transforms into Kikaida 01
» Tadashi Kadashima, manga artist who drew "Alive: The Final Evolution" (published stateside by Del Rey)
» Peter Keefe, "Voltron" producer
» Tanie Kitabayashi, actress who was the voice of Granny in "My Neighbor Totoro"
» Satoshi Kon, director of the anime features "Perfect Blue," "Millennium Actress," "Tokyo Godfathers," "Paprika" and "Paranoia Agent"
» Carl Macek, "Robotech" producer and co-founder of Streamline Pictures, an early anime distributor, translator and publisher that brought such films as "Akira, "Robot Carnival," "Vampire Hunter D," "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" and "My Neighbor Totoro" to American audiences for the first time
» Yoshinobu Nishizaki, producer of "Space Battleship Yamato"
» Jun "Nujabes" Seba, hip-hop producer and composer of the "Samurai Champloo" soundtrack
» Takeshi Shudo, creator of "Minky Momo" and writer for the "Pokemon" TV series and the first three movies
» Robert O. Smith, the English voice of Genma Saotome, Ranma’s dad, who transforms into a panda, in "Ranma 1/2"
» Keiko Tobe, manga artist who drew "With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child" (published stateside by Yen Press)
It looks like 2011 is already shaping up to be a busy year; check back next week for my look at the trends to watch.