Cardfighters and Buddyfighters meet Key Staff up close at Chara Expo 2015: Part 1

It is safe to assume that Bushiroad is perhaps one of the biggest TCG publishers who weave their card games very extensively with animated properties. As such, it has become a common sight for their voice cast, illustrators and key personnel to be invited for major tournaments and conventions as a means to progressively include various people in the TCG fandom and Bushiroad culture as a whole.

This year, during the inaugural Chara Expo 2015 held at the Singapore Expo on 20th and 21st June 2015, Bushiroad was more than eager to lengthen their guest list at their TCG play area and their panels at the Entertainment Stage, an enclosure, which featured talk shows and anisong performances throughout the operating hours of the convention.

The TCG giant held two panels first thing in the morning for both days of the weekend – one for Cardfight!! Vanguard on Saturday and another for Future Card Buddyfight on Sunday.

Cardfight!! Vanguard Special Stage

Speakers

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Tsubasa Yonaga – VA for Aichi Sendou

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Akira Itou – Author of the now-ongoing Vanguard manga and illustrator of several main-character in-game units (Image Source: Bushiroad Nico Livestream)

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Izumi Kitta – VA for Misaki Tokura

Bushiroad-Inc-President-CEO-Takaaki-Kidani

Takaaki Kidani – Bushiroad CEO

(Image Source: Suparobo)

Masami Obari – Animator for Vanguard anime and illustrator of in-game units from the Dimension Police and Link Joker clans (Image Source: Suparobo)

 

 The first day was hosted by voice actor Shin Nitta, who voices himself in the Vanguard anime, and on-site interpreter Misa. The five guests were welcomed on stage warmly by the audience comprising largely cardfighters (the in-franchise term for players of its card game) and fans of the seiyuu (voice actors), some even dressed as the protagonist Aichi Sendou and deuteragonist Kai Toshiki.

A short 40 minute Q&A session followed, in which Nitta asked individual questions directed at each speaker to brief answers. Yonaga began by praising the enthusiasm some of the more zealous listeners for coming as their favourite characters and apologized on behalf of the voice cast for being unable to bring down the seiyuus of the other two major characters from Season 1 of the anime, Takuya Sato (voice for Kai Toshiki) and Atsushi Abe (voice for primary antagonist Ren Suzugamori).

When asked about how Aichi and Misaki matured over the course of the 4 seasons of the original series of Vanguard, Yonaga commended Aichi for becoming more manly and strong as well as becoming more of a leader figure towards the end of the show’s run, in contrast to his initial timid self. His former self was something that harsh or fun-poking viewers associated with being feminine.

Kitta, on the other hand, had to act cool and calm even when Misaki was depicted as being attacked in the anime. Her character became more natural and less cold during the Link Joker arc, a transformation Kitta attributed to”friendship melting Misaki‘s heart”.

When the franchise author Akira Itou picked up his mic, the topic shifted to artistic style. His speech was brief, commenting on a main quirk he inserted into Aichi‘s design: the distinct lone fringe sticking upwards on Aichi‘s hair, an oddity intended to allow younger viewers to identify the blue-haired hero easily in all official depictions of the character. He praised the cosplayers present for spotting and replicating it in their outfits.

Concept art of Aichi in his Season 1 outfit and his various expressions. Notice the aforesaid upwards-pointing strand of hair on the middle of his forehead. (Source: Cardfight Wiki)

Concept art of Aichi in his Season 1 outfit and his various expressions. Notice the aforesaid upwards-pointing strand of hair on the middle of his forehead. (Source: Cardfight Wikia)

Obari ‘s turn saw him explaining how his experience and rapport with his signature mecha style in previous work, most notably the Braves series,  wove its way into Vanguard. Distinguishing from fantasy robots from super robot series, Obari “attempted to make the images look heroic” when illustrating and animating units for the Dimensional Robo archetype in the Dimension Police clan. The feel is perhaps very fitting for a clan that pays homage to many existing super robot series and giant heroes and wielded by good-alignment secondary characters in the anime.

Super Robots from the Brave series, from which many mechanical units from the Dimension Police in Vanguard share artistic similarities with (Source: KuroNekoKawaii)

Super Robots from the Brave series, from which many mechanical units from the Dimension Police in Vanguard share artistic similarities with (Source: KuroNekoKawaii)

“My favourite unit is Daikaiser as it is based on my favourite series,” shared the illustrator over a few screenshots of Daikaiser appearing in-game in the anime to illustrate how he is attracted to his face.

Daikiaser as depicted in the Link Joker arc of the anime

Daikiaser as depicted in the Link Joker arc of the anime

Another piece of trivia was how the villain unit Omega Glendios and his complementary Stride forme, Infinite Glendios, was intentionally drawn to have a slim frame upon direction from higher-ups. The former unit is notorious among cardfighters for being the first to enable its user to win using an effect, and was given a special rarity during its debut that make it extremely hard to obtain multiples of this card to form a deck with in the actual TCG.

Omega Glendios

Omega Glendios (Official card image)

The talk wrapped up with a the Bushiroad CEO thanking his mostly-Singaporean listeners for being their number-one fan worldwide. Indeed, the franchise has held special significance to tabletop gamers in the country rapport-wise as it has come a long way since the days the first five Japanese booster expansion sets were sold to Singapore in 2011 as a test of how an English-speaking market would receive the game before it was translated into English for a worldwide release.

“In Japan, it is still ranks third among the best-selling TCGs”, commented Kidani. “But it is still the first in Singapore.”

The panel ended with enthusiastic Yonaga doing a line which cardfighters are all too familiar with: the iconic ride chant of his character’s signature unit, Blaster Blade, and reiterating his desire to bring the rest of the cast for the 2016 incarnation of Chara Expo.

Blaster Blade on the field (Source: Vanguard anime)

Blaster Blade on the field (Source: Vanguard anime)

– Mikeru

Part 2 comprises the Buddyfight stage and other meet-the-staff events. You may continue reading the article here.

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