On Tokyo: Part 2

Part 2 of my adventures in Tokyo – click here to read Part 1.

The view from our karaoke room.

A good portion of our time in Tokyo was spent wandering around, hanging out in bars and restaurants and generally enjoying the ambiance of the city. Tokyo is incredibly cosmopolitan and we found all manner of shops and eateries, including a great Spanish restaurant in Jinbocho – Tokyo’s book district – and an Indian place by the hotel that had quite possibly one the best curries I’ve ever had. However, my favorite thing about going out in Tokyo was that every time we ordered whiskey on the rocks (although presumably you would get this whenever you order anything on the rocks) it comes in a glass with one single “rock:” a perfectly spherical, frosty ball of ice, upon which the shot is poured. It looks incredibly fancy.

Whiskey on the "rock." (Photo courtesy of Chaz Moneypenny).

When we weren’t drinking liquor with fancy ice in it, we had some opportunities to meet some industry people and talk to them about Japanese comics and animation. We were very fortunate to be given a tour of TMS Entertainment, an animation studio responsible for all kinds of stuff. It’s not often that animation studios let people in, because concerns about intellectual property theft are pretty substantial – so this visit was really special. We were able to walk through quietly, trying not to disturb the group of animators hard at work at makeshift cubicles made from cardboard taped up around desks. Most of them were there in slippers and comfortable clothes – it was clear that they were spending a lot of time there. They were all pretty young also. It was kind of amazing to witness. It was great of them to let us in there when they were all so clearly trying to get work done! They even let us watch a clip that they were working on, which was outstanding.

The principles of animation explained at TMS. (photo courtesy of Chaz Moneypenny)

We also got to visit with Takeshi Miyazawa, a comic book artist who has worked on Runaways and Spiderman and a whole mess of other stuff. He talked to us about his career, and working with Marvel, and we got to look at a bunch of his originals. His work is an interesting fusion of Western and Japanese visual language, and he inks using really thin, precise lines, which was kind of interesting to look at close up. I always love seeing people’s original artwork. It was great of him to come talk to us like that, and at the end we all drew some layouts and he critiqued them. He was a really nice dude, and I suggest checking out his work.

Interior of Lost Planet: Bound Raven #2. (Art and photo © Takeshi Miyazawa).

We also did some less art-related touristy stuff, including going to several museums: the Edo-Tokyo Museum (a history museum housed in a building with an incredibly futuristic design), the Tokyo National Museum, the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum (really cool), and my personal favorite: the National Science Museum. I always love science museums, and this one had all the typical stuff like dinosaurs and rocks and fun interactive exhibits. They also had what they called a 360˚ theater, which was basically a huge sphere where you stood in the center, watching an informative sciencey film projected onto its entire interior surface. It was crazy.

Diagram of the 360˚ theater (from the Tokyo National Science Museum webpage).

We also went to the zoo, where we found the following hilarious signs:

And also this:

This frog has a face for a butt! (Photo courtesy of Chaz Moneypenny).

In the coming weeks I will post my third and final (I promise) post about Tokyo, as well as other posts about projects I’m working on and possibly even some comics. Also, soonish I will be posting my con schedule for 2012, so keep your eyes peeled for that and find out if I’m coming to a town near you!