Category Archives: TKN Exclusive

KAZHA | Hard Rock Band Making Headlines at Anime Cons

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Anime Los Angeles has been bringing top hit musical guests such Stephanie Yanez, Raj Ramayya, and Lolita Dark in 2019 followed by, Japanese electronic dance music duo FEMM in 2020. This year’s musical guest was KAZAH!

​Kazha is a rock band founded by Japanese singer-songwriter Kazuha Oda and guitarist Hideki Matsushige in 2009. Since the release of their first album, Overture (2010) they’ve been touring around the U.S. making headlines in U.S. Anime Conventions such as Nan Desu Kan and Anime Los Angeles.

Guitarist Hideki Matsushige & singer-songwriter Kazuha Oda

Kazha has also shared the stage with national artists such as George Lynch, Tracii Guns, LA Guns, Y&T, Tantric, and Trapt. Moving their base of operations to Memphis, TN in 2015, they’ve been featured on local broadcasts such as WREG News Channel 3, Channel 24, and WMC Action News 5.

We had the honor of interviewing lead vocalist, Kazuha Oda, and hearing her story behind the formation of KAZHA!

BELLE | Should You Watch It?

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Mamoru Hosoda at Animation Is Film Festival 2021

Known for his emotionally touching and visually captivating films, such as Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Summer Wars, award-winning film director Mamoru Hosoda is back with his ninth film, BELLE.

Now playing in theaters, Belle is a modern adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast and could be considered a spiritual sequel to Hosoda’s 2009 film, Summer Wars, as it also deals with a virtual world.

Synopsis

The film starts with Suzu Naito (Voiced by Kylie McNeill), a shy 17-year old high school student living with her father (Voiced by Ben Lepley). She lives haunted by the memory of her mother’s death at a young age. Since then, Suzu has been living in her shadow, having almost no close connections and no self confidence. At least, until one day, with the help of her one close friend Hiroka Betsuyaku (Voiced by Jessica DiCicco), she discovers the online virtual world of ‘U‘ where over 5 billion users log on daily. When Suzu logs in for the first time, U automatically creates a beautiful, freckled, pink-haired avatar based on her biometrics, and she nicknames herself “Bell” (鈴 = Suzu is Japanese for Bell).

Suzu logging into U for the first time. Bimetic readers in her ear.

Enjoying her newfound life in anonymity; Suzu, using her voice and overcoming her trauma, develops Bell into a world-famous singer among U. Rapidly gaining popularity, Suzu holds events and concerts as Bell in U, and fans come to dub her as ‘Belle‘ (French for “Beautiful”) However, during one of Belle’s online concerts, she is interrupted by an avatar named only as “The Dragon” (Voiced by Paul Castro Jr).

“The Dragon” avater appears for the first time, during BELLE’s concert.

Intrigued, Suzu & Hiro embark on a journey to discover the person behind The Dragon. Along the way, Suzu realizes the real power of being anonymous online and the many reasons why people like her escape to U from their own lives. 

What type of story is BELLE?

The film seems to be confused about what type of story it wants to tell; whether it is an action-adventure story, as Suzu begins to discover the virtual world of U as Bell, or a romantic story, as the plot depicts the ‘forbidden’ nature in the relationship between Bell and The Dragon and Suzu’s determination to help The Dragon. One thing is for sure, the film is a musical feature. Unlike a Disney film, where characters spontaneously spring into a musical number often without warning, the film does a great job in coordinating the music with the imagery that’s on screen.

“Lend Me Your Voice”

The film touches on several sensitive topics and themes, such as overcoming personal trauma. The film successfully portrays one’s desire to escape real situations for a glamorous, anonymous lifestyle; a secret, secondary life where real-life issues are nonexistent. Additionally, many viewers find themselves connected to the main character as the film dives into the psychological impact of dealing with a personal loss and its effects on a person’s daily life. 

The Music

The music in this film is captivating and leaves the viewers in astonishment, undoubtedly worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation. Kaho Nakumora (Suzu/Belle in Japanese) and Kylie McNeill’s vocal performances are phenomenal and are presented with a profusion of emotional appeal. Kylie’s vocals perfectly embody Kaho’s performance as BELLE and, with Ludvig Forssell’s creative songwriting skills alongside Mamoru Hosoda and actress Kaho Nakumora, make exquisite lyrics. 

BELLE sings “Gale of Songs” as she enters U for the first time.

“Should I Watch it?”

Though the film may contain some unnecessary subplots, it makes up for its visual presentation and musical and vocal performances. The film portrays Suzu with relatable qualities that speak to the viewer, whether you have experienced personal loss or not. If the above mentioned is not convincing enough to watch BELLE in theaters, consider that this film was worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation during the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Perhaps cast members, Kylie Mcneill and Paul Castro Jr can convince you through our exclusive interviews. Watch as Kylie & Paul share behind the scene stories and their experiences working on BELLE.

Interview With Kylie McNeill

Interview With Paul Castro Jr

We also included a brief Interview with Mamoru Hosoda we conducted during the 2021 Animation Is Film Festival in Hollywood, CA.

Interview With Paimon – Anime Los Angeles 2022

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Join us as we explore Corina Boettger’s voice over career and journey voicing Paimon in the hit mobile game, Genshin Impact!

This marks our first, in-person interview, since Febraruy 2020. Corina has other character roles such as, Tatsumaki (One Punch Man), Naoko (Dino Girl Gauko) and Mizuki (AI: The Somnium Files). In September 2020, she became known for providing the voice of Pimon in Genshin Impact.

~GIVEAWAY~

Enter for your chnace to win an autographed Paimon wall scroll and acrylic standee signed by Corina Boettger. For more details, watch our interview above!

Patrick Imbert’s ‘The Summit of The Gods’ premieres at Animation is Film Festival 2021

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The newest adaptation of Jiro Taniguchi’s manga, The summit of Gods had a special screening at the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood on October 22nd. initially announced in 2015, the film went through different creative hands before it made its way to award-winning, French animator, Patrick Imbert in 2020.

The Summit of the Gods revolves around two hikers, Makoto Fukamachi, a young Japanese reporter, and a mysterious mountain climber named Habu Joji. Fukamachi believes, Habu is in possession of George Mallory’s camera.

George Mallory is a mountain climber who, along with Andrew Irvine, attempted to climb Mount Everest in 1924 and were never seen again. The camera might reveal if Mallory and his companion really were the first to climb Everest. 27 years later, Fukamachi and Habu find themselves, cooperating to climb to the peak of Mount Everest.

Imbert is known for his work in Ernest et Célestine, April and the Extraordinary World, and his award-winning film, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.

Patrick Imbert at Animation is Film Festival 2021

Using 2D animation and produced by Folivari and Mélusine Productions, Patrick Imbert’s The Summit of The Gods has been praised for his realistic animation of the iconic Mount Everest.

The film is based on the manga of the same, written and illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi, itself is an adaptation of Baku Yumemakura’s 1998 novel of the same name. Yumemakura’s work has had various adaptations, including a live-action version, starring Junichi Okada, which was released on March 12, 2016. The live-action version was directed by Hideyuki Hirayama (known for, School Ghost Stories).

During the Animation is Film Festival 2021, we had the opportunity to speak with film director Patrick Imbert:

Netflix will air the film in theaters in the United States starting on November 24, 2021, and will start streaming the film on November 30, 2021.

Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE At Animation Is Film Fest 2021

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For the first time, outside Japan, Mamoru Hosoda’s newest film BELLE had a chance to capture western audiences’ hearts during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood!

In 1999, Mamoru Hosoda began his journey with Dejimon Adobenchā (Digimon Adventure) as his first anime directorial debut; since then, Hosoda has developed this craft and quickly became one of Japan’s most predominant figures in Japanese animation. In 2011, Hosoda founded his own animation studio, Studio Chizu.

Photo by AIF | John Salangsang

Hosoda developed his own unique and highly influential animation style, which can be seen and felt throughout his work. His works are heartfelt, beautifully animated films and convey a sympathetic aesthetic element, often relatable. In 2019, his adventure fantasy comedy film, MIRAI, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. His most recent film, BELLE, premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a 14-minute standing ovation.

Mamoru Hosoda at Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood, CA

In BELLE, Hosoda visually transforms the internet, as the popular virtual world known as ‘U’. In a plot where characters face personal turmoil, isolation, a sense of belongingness, and the need to pretend to be someone else, Hosoda effectively exploits the ability to remain anonymous online and how anonymity can have its benefits and disadvantages on its users.

We had the opportunity to briefly speak with Hosoda during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 regarding his newest work and his thoughts on MIRAI’s Oscar nomination:

*The video below may contain SPOILERS* After the screening, Hosoda addressed the audience members and answered fan questions:

The film pays homage to Beauty and The Beast (specifically Disney’s version) and is composed of tantalizing visual animation with extraordinary, captivating music tracks. In addition, Hosoda mentioned working with veteran Disney animator Jin Kim as Belle’s lead character designer earlier this year. (Below are some of Kim’s BELLE concept Sketches).

One of many scenes in which the ‘ Beauty and The Beast‘ elements can be seen
Jin Kim (김상진)

Kim has worked for Disney since 1995 and is credited in over 30 Disney titles including, Zootpia, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and his most recent work Raya and the Last Dragon. Adding to Kim’s involvement, Studio Chizu also teamed up with Irish animation studio Cartoon Salon to produce the background art for the popular virtual world, ‘U’.

Get ready to dive into the beautiful world of U and watch BELLE this spring! Gkids is set to release BELLE in theaters on January 14th, 2022. For more information, visit GKids.com.

Exclusive Interview with Stephanie Southerland – Jean Gunnhildr -A Genshin Impact Interview

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As Genshin Impact continues to gain more and more players, we continue to bring you more exclusive Genshin Impact voice actor interviews, to get to know those favorite characters you all love and adore. This time we had the opportunity to interview Stephanie Southerland, the voice of Grand Master, Jean Gunnhildr!

Get to know the voice behind Grand Master, Jean Gunnhildr as we take you behind the scenes with voice actress, Stephanie Southerland! Pst! Stay tuned to the end of the interview to learn how you can win an autographed print from Stephanie Southerland!

Exclusive CODE LYOKO Interview I – Barbara Scaff

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Many animation voices have touched our hearts during our childhood, but for those who grew with with Code Lyoko, these voices still keep on living in our hearts.

Code Lyoko, created by animators Thomas Romain and Tania Palumbo, is French animated show that. The series was the child of two short films, Les enfants font leur cinéma (The children make their own films) and Garage Kids.


The series gained attention due to its unique combination of 2D and CGI animation. It first premiered in the U.S. on Cartoon Network in April 19, 2004. It became extremely successful in both its origin country and in the U.S. as well as other parts of world.

The success behind the show was not its unique style of animation but its dramatic storyline and character development. As the series progressed, we begin to see characters evolve and thus are more relatable. Bringing these amazing characters to life are of course, the cast of Code Lyoko; Sharon Mann (Aelita Schaeffer), Matthew Géczy (Odd Della Robbia), Barbara Weber-Scaff (Ulrich Stern), Mirabelle Kirkland (Yumi Ishiyama), and David Gasman (William Dunbar/XANA) to name a few.

Odd Della Robbia, Aelita Stones (Schaeffer), Jeremy Belpois, Ulrich Stern, Yumi Ishiyama & William Dunbar

In an exclusive interview we had with Code Lyoko star voice actress Barbara Scaff, reveals her experience working on the series, afterthoughts, her opinions on the follow-up series, Code Lyoko: Evolution and much more! Stay tuned till the end of the interview for a VERY special announcement!

GIVEAWAY!
A have chance to win this RARE Code Lyoko Ulrich figure! Originally released by Marvel Toys, this is a very RARE figure that has now been discontinued since 2009. Don’t miss your chance, enter now! Here’s how:

  1. Subscribe to our channel
  2. Comment your favorite Lyoko Warrior and your reason why ON the video’s commnet section (not here)
  3. DONE! It’s that easy!

Deadline: 4/17/2021

Thank you for the memories, Barbara!

Exclusive Genshin Impact Interview: Amber (Kelly Baskin)

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Miyoho’s release of Genshin Impact was one of the most anticipated mobile game releases of 2020. With over 10 million pre registered users, it quickly gathered popularity among anime fans. Shortly before its release, MiYoHo’s official Genshin Impact Twitter page announced its English voice cast.

We’ve made it a mission to interview each every Genshin Impact voice actor as possible!

Join us in our VERY first and exclusive interview with Kelly Baskin, voice of Amber. Watch as speaks Kelly goes through her career origins, her roles in Disgaea 6 as Melodia, Genshin Impact as Amber, and so much more!


–Giveaway–

TWO (2) Lucky Amber fans have a chance to win an autographed Amber print signed by Kelly Baskin! Or be even luckier and be our Grand Prize Winner (1) and win an autographed Amber print PLUS a Barron Bunny Plush!

—How to Enter—

Comment your favorite Amber quote (on Youtube’s video comment section) AND subscribe to our channel! That’s simple! Make sure to publicly subscribe to our channel!

Deadline to Enter: 4/02/21

**Winners are selected RANDOMLY and announced 48 hours after the deadline. Only ONE (1) Grand Prize Winner will be selected. Please read our terms and conditions BEFORE entering: https://thekitsunetwork.net/giveaways **

Exclusive Interview | Emi Lo voice of Rinku Aimoto (D4DJ)

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Bushiroad is known for its popular card games, idols, and rhythm games. D4DJ is a semi-new series created to appeal to the DJ community, and although the game to set to be released in the US this spring, it gathered a very big fanbase. Like BanG! Dream, this game features different types of bands with different genres.

Recently, Bushiroad released an anime series based on the D4DJ game on their official D4DJ Youtube channel. The channel also features D4DJ LIVE performance concerts, D4DJ music tracks, and seiyuu videos.

We recently had an interview with the English voice of D4DJ’s protagonist Rinku Aimoto, Emi Lo. Emi’s voice can also be heard in Higurashi: When They Cry, Love Live Sunshine, Kemono Friends, and Appare-Ranman! Join us as Emi Lo speaks on her career and her experiences voicing anime characters, as always stay tuned after the interview for a giveaway opportunity!

Click here to see more upcoming interviews!

Interview with Author & Voice actor, Joe Zieja

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Voice actors normally have a theatre or radio background and in fact, most of our guests we’ve interviewed state this during our interviews. Joe Zieja differs from this, as his background involves the U.S. Air Force and writing; authoring three SciFi comedies, The Epic Failure series.

Watch our interview with Joe Zieja below to learn more about his career and his his journey to become a prolific voice actor. Zieja has been featured in Fire Emblem (Claude Von Riegan), Star Fox (Fox McCloud), Fate/Apocrypha (Achilles), Zoophobia (Zill) and most recently in Phantom Breaker: Omnia video game!