Sunday, May 17, 2009
Namba Hirosuke Talk Night
A few weeks ago, manga artist Tori Miki mentioned on his blog that he was going to be a guest at the "Rock & SF & Trains Talk Show" at Tokyo Culture Culture (TCC), in Zepp at Odaiba, Tokyo. Odaiba is part of the reclaimed lands in Tokyo Bay, and is the home of Big Sight. Tokyo Culture Culture is a bar that serves some food, and has a small performance stage. Since we really like Tori Miki's manga, we decided that the 2300 yen per ticket price just to get inside was worth it for the chance of seeing him in person. I didn't know who the rest of the bill was, so I didn't know what I was getting into.
(Odaiba skyline, from Wikipedia. TCC is at the base of the Ferris wheel.)
The event was held Saturday night (May 16), from 6 to 9, so I took the evening off from work and got out to Odaiba at 5:45. TCC is right at the base of the Ferris wheel, so it's hard to miss. Seating is first-come-first served, and all of the good seats were gone by the time we arrived. Even so, we still managed to get a table facing the stage, rather than being off to the side and having to just watch the little monitors on the tables. The food was ok, but the drinks were good. The total tab came to $53 for the two of us.
(The two co-hosts are on the left and center, Namba is on the right.)
The evening was broken up into 3 parts, and photos were only allowed during the first part, which consisted of one of the hosts running a slide show of some old Japanese trains. Some of the shots included Hiroyuki Namba, the star of the evening, shown riding around on the trains. Later, Hiroyuki joined the co-hosts on stage and proceeded to give an internet-based slide show of some of his earlier albums.
(Keyboardist Hiroyuki Namba, right.)
Interspersed were some videos of his TV performances, both as a variety show co-host, and as the keyboardist for the Japanese progressive rock band, "Sense of Wonder". One video included an interview and performance by Billy Preston with Namba on back-up. Namba's been in the music industry for a long time, and has created music used in various video games and anime, most notably "Dallos", "Starship Troopers", "Burn Up W" and "Armitage III".
(A younger Hiroyuki from one of the video clips.)
The second part of the show consisted of Tori Miki and Kenji Ohtsuki joining Namba and the two co-hosts on stage to relate various anecdotes about their times together with Namba. Turns out that when Namba was still in the university, he was a member of the group of manga fans that formed what later became the Komiket doujinshii market. Tori Miki had contributed stories that were printed by Namba's group. Kenji Ohtsuki is a musician and award-winning writer; his songs have been used in "Welcome to the N.H.K." and "Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei". Tori Miki brought some of the pre-Komiket manga with him to show on the projection screens, and had even created a hilarious strip about Namba being a vampire.
(More of the slideshow.)
The third part of the show was a trivia quiz regarding Namba's music career, and a rock-papers-scissors contest to see who would win some rare, signed albums and singles (I didn't win anything.) This was followed by the highlight of the show - a live song with Tori Miki on guitar, Namba on keyboard, and Kenji on vocals. The song was probably Kenji's "Sweets". The group rocked the house.
(The lighting was turned down, so my photos are grainy. Sorry.)
Between the breaks, Tori Miki and Kenji would disappear into a back part of the restaurant. Fortunately, when the show was finally over, we were able to ask Tori Miki to come out for a few minutes and I spent an amazing half-hour-plus talking to him while the rest of the crowd stood in line to buy Namba's CDs and to pay their bar tabs. Tori Miki is an incredibly nice person, and willingly let me ask a bunch of questions of him. The important highlights are that there will be more "Frozen Food Agent" and "Anywhere But Here" stories; that he doesn't mind my translation of the one FFA chapter; and that there will be a new one-shot story in Shonen Champion in the next month or so. Then he signed my copy of FFA and posed for a couple of photos, After that we left for the long trek back through Shinjuku to get home.
(Me and Miki at the end of the show.)
While the audience was mostly younger fans of Namba's, and this was kind of like a fan-club tribute to him, it was a blast. I just hope that next time, I don't have to go all the way out to Odaiba again. It's almost a 2-hour train trip one-way...
(The Japanese reads: "Curtis H. Hoffmann-san, Tori Miki")