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As the hours of Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2014 drew on, cosplayers began lining the snazzy corridors of Suntec Convention Centre, posing with a certain grin of satisfaction, just like how their characters did in their respective anime.

One cosplayer was dressed as a character from the immensely popular show Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. Her eyes were fixated on the cameras around her. She failed to notice, however, the small group of Japanese being escorted down the same corridor.

Decked out for a media interview, the production team of Fate/stay night accompanied the show’s lead seiyuu (voice actress) into a conference room beyond said cosplayer. As they made their way through the crowd, the lack of recognition was mildly perplexing.

AFA 2014 may have been quite the hit with cosplayers and anime fans, but it would have not happened if not for the makers of the anime themselves.

UrbanWire met the makers of this year’s top anime at AFA 2014 – producers, directors and seiyuu – and experienced the delights and hardships of anime production vicariously through their sharing sessions.

‘Love Live! School idol project’


Initially starting out as a poll-voted, crowd-determined story concept of 3 girls becoming idols to save their school from closure, Love Live! School idol project was reified in the form of magazine illustrations and original idol songs. The project then received its own anime in 2013 when its popularity surged.

Today, Love Live! is one of the most popular idol anime in the subculture. Speaking at AFA 2014 for the Love Live! series were prominent seiyuus Sora Tokui (voice of Nico Yazawa) and Suzuko Mimori (voice of Umi Sonoda), both of whom were outfitted in Japanese school uniforms perfectly complementing their voice roles. Tokui-san was part of μ’s (pronounced ‘muse’), the idol group of the series, for 5 years.

Now into its second anime season, Love Live! has evolved into a multimedia project that houses manga, iPhone games, PlayStation games, novels, and even an upcoming film. “My dream is finally fulfilled,” Tokui-san affirmed with a triumphant grin.

When asked by another reporter about how their voice acting sessions went thus far, the duo gleefully confessed that they actually look forward to gathering around and working with each other. Mimori-san elaborated in giggles, “When 9 girls (the cast) come together, we talk about fashion and make-up. A lot of girl’s talk in general.”

‘No Game No Life’


Originally penned by Brazilian-Japanese artist Yuu Kamiya, No Game No Life, in its anime incarnation, had burst onto the scene in all hues of vibrant colors. It has grasped the attention of anime fans firmly with its unique take on game-focused anime.

No Game No Life is about hikikomori brother-sister tag team Sora and Shiro, an invincible pair of gamers who are mysteriously whisked away to another world that is completely governed by the outcomes of games – coincidentally the siblings’ godly forte.

The summer season’s entry from respected anime studio Madhouse has garnered acclaim for its splendid visuals, gripping battle showdowns and playful dialogue. Producer Sho Tanaka, director Atsuko Ishizuka and screenwriter Jukki Hanada (below, from left) were at the AFA grounds to chat about the production.


We learnt from director Ishizuka-san that hers wasn’t an easy job. While focusing mainly on the storyboard, design and artwork, she still has to cover all the processes of producing the anime. The director spoke about the process: “Whenever I create the storyboard, I always picture the music to go along with it. When I draw, I imagine the music.”

Screenwriter Jukki Hanada, albeit taciturn in his outward demeanor, has actually written scripts for many popular anime like Steins;Gate and Love, Chuniyo & Other Delusions. His recipe for a winning script is to emotionally invest in the characters.  He explained, “I feel like I’m the character itself and I don’t think about the story first. I think about the character first – the story comes later.”

‘Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works’


“Are you my master?” declared Ayako Kawasumi, the voice of Saber from the Fate series, in front of hundreds of raucous fans at AFA 2014’s main stage. Her spirited reprisal of Saber’s iconic tagline was met with roaring applause.

Joining producer Atsuhiro Iwakami, the seiyuu of Fate and Nodame Cantabile fame turned up at AFA 2014 to share about Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, the latest instalment in the long-running Fate series (below, from left). Originally a visual novel, Type-Moon’s fantasy war epic has since maturated into a media collective featuring manga, films as well as numerous critically-acclaimed anime series.

Producer Iwakami-san admitted that the team couldn’t retain all the elements of the anime as they were in the visual novel. He explained, “While the anime was originally a visual novel, we couldn’t keep everything the same. But we tried our best to bring the excitement of playing the visual novel to the anime.”

2015’s Fate/stay night is, in a sense a reboot of the 2006 original, which detailed the battle between magical servants who are being controlled by their respective masters, each vying to have their hands on a limitless wish-granting chalice known as the Holy Grail.

The series has been praised for its action sequences, extensive storylines and drop-dead gorgeous visuals – the amalgamation of which has spurred fans to bestow upon it the nickname, “Unlimited Budget Works”.


According to Kawasumi-san, Saber’s character had a very intriguing origin. She spoke of how creator Takashi Takeuchi conceptualized Saber: “Imagine having to drink sweet drinks or sugar-added juices for every single day of your life. Then, one day, you finally get to taste pure water. That feeling – that’s the essence of Saber.”

The 3 anime are all part of AFA 2014’s roster of featured anime, in line with other titles like Psycho-Pass 2, Sword Art Online II, THE IDOLM@STER and numerous others.

Much like the legion of fans behind their creations, these makers of anime have also derived their passions from their love of the medium. Ishizuka-san said that she never really watched anime as a child, but the one show that really stuck to her was Doraemon. Today, she helms the director’s chair for one of summer’s most popular anime.

The reciprocal nature of the industry – from the authors and studios giving back to the fans, and vice versa – is an endearing trait, and it’s festivals like AFA that give this trait its deserving recognition.

Convention images courtesy of Anime Festival Asia

Fate/stay night image courtesy of

No Game No Life image courtesy of

Love Live! image courtesy of

All other images courtesy of Jerry Soong