My very first trip to Japan, back in May, 2000, our Tokyo hotel had pay TV. No,no not that kind of pay TV. We literally had to put in 100 yen before we could turn the TV on. So we shilled out what coins hadn’t gone in to vending machines, and watched a few shows when we weren’t out and about. At one point, there was an animated show that aired between two episodes of Pokemon (one of which was in English, oddly), and a voice came out of the TV and caught my attention. My ability to recognize seiyuu (voice actors) was quite nascent at the time, but i recognized one of my favorites Seki Toshihiko (still one of my faves, all these years later).
The show turned out to be Gensoumaden Saiyuuki, a very loose take on the Chinese classic book, Journey to the West, adapted by Japanese manga artist Minekura Kazuya. The anime may not be a classic, but I became completely infatuated with it for several years, watching the show, reading the manga, collecting animation sketches. And, as luck would have it, seeing five of the show’s voice actors at my very first voice actor event in 2003. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the manga’s first publication, and to celebrate, Minekura’s publisher announced a two day festa, which would feature artwork, original goods, and two stage shows by the four main actors.
My friend Diana and i were lucky enough to get tickets to the stage events, so I ponied up for an event ticket for the festa itself. And I’m glad i did. I may not be as big a fan as I was back then, but I am still a fan, and seeing all the artwork, enjoying the voice actors, getting to hear the first two opening songs performed live … it all made me quite nostalgic. I have my doubts that the characters will ever actually attain their goal and make it to the west, so who knows, Minekura’s health willing, there may be a 30th or 40th anniversary.