It does not take much effort to be aware of the influence that Japanese idols, characters, and visual media have in the western world. Whether you find the growing trend of Pokemon characters and Japanese fashion interesting or not, big-eyed, hyper-colored imagery is here to stay. Although animation and dime-a-dozen teen idol groups seem to be as easy to create as they are to fall out of popularity, there is a new type of trend that is emerging out of the heart of the Otaku culture. One that encompasses everything from comics, to music, to live performances.
Kaminarikozo has been a project two years in the making by character designer, and all-round great guy, Dice-K Jacksun. As a freelance designer and producer in the Japanese television industry, he is currently investing most of his efforts with the debut of a new character series he created himself. We had the chance to sit down with Dice-K, and one of his colleague/characters, Osiris, to talk more about the project and where its heading.
Hello again, Dice-K, we had the chance to meet you at your last event, but not so much time to talk! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
DJ: Sure! Thanks again for coming to the event. Let’s see, I grew up in Osaka and have always been interested in character design and illustration. Back then there was a huge character boom in Japan and a lot of characters and mascots (especially from kid’s snacks) turned into their own televised series. I was a big fan of Bikkuriman [ link ], which was a character that did just that.
After being really interested in pro-models [plastic models] , anime, and games, I started to grow more curious about foreign TV shows like Jim Henson’s Seasame Street, which was aired in Japan in English as a children’s show. I really liked the idea of real characters interacting with real people.
After moving to Tokyo to pursue a career in design when I was around 18, I set my sights on working for Disney (this was way back when they still mostly hand-animated).
When you finally got overseas did you find that the experience changed the way you approached your own work?
DJ: Nope, not really. I was there for 6 months and it was an interesting time in my career, but the only thing that really stuck with me was “Man, pizza is cheap!” It was really fun to be in a new country and of course I had the chance to meet a lot of great people. At the time the whole Dragonball and Pokemon thing had just started to become really popular and Disney was losing to Pixar. By the time I got back to Japan, I had a lot to catch up on.
Speaking of Dragonball, you are working with the original voice actor for Piccolo from the series, Toshio Furukawa [ link ], who has voiced other famous characters like Gundam, Fist of the North Star, and One Piece, just to name a few! How is it working with such an established professional in the industry?
DJ: Mr. Furukawa is amazing! Being able to work with him is a dream come true, and having him be the voice for one of my characters is really awesome. Of course, I have to consider that his name carries a lot of weight through working with him on this project, but at the end of the day any decisions still come down to me. Mr. Furukawa is a real professional in the way that he respects that.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Kaminarikozo project and how it came together?
DJ: Let’s see…Working as a freelance designer in Tokyo, I was able to make a lot of great, lasting relationships in the industry that I have always kept going. A lot of those I made through working on an anime called Macross Robotech which was a great experience. However, after working on stories which ended with definitive plots and characters, I thought it would be more interesting to have a series were the characters were more alive. I really liked the idea of creating a character that fans can see and interact with in the real world. The events that we have done so far have proven that it is something that people are looking for. We are all really excited for what we have planned next.
Could you tell us a bit more about Osiris from Kaminarikozo?
DJ: I would, but it’s probably best you ask her yourself…
Hello, Osiris. Sorry to keep you waiting!
O: Hello! No problem at all! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me!
So we understand that you are not exactly from around here. Can you tell us a bit more about who you are?
O: Well, it’s a bit hard to believe but I am a cosmic ninja from a place called Hot Jupiter. I came to Nagoya to learn more about anime (some of my favorites are City Hunter and Ranma 1/2) and I really, really like sweet foods! Everyone in this city is super nice and is always inviting me to try new local foods and visit interesting places. Have you tried this thing called 揚げまん棒 ”a-ge manbo” ?! It is made out of deep fried sweet red bean paste and is served on a stick, a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!
We’re glad to hear you are enjoying your time here…on earth. We are also glad to have had the chance to meet you at your first live event, which was great! How was it to be in front of so many of your fans for the first time?
O: It was fantastic! Of course, I was a bit nervous, but seeing everyone there having fun and interacting with the performance was great. And Mr. Furukawa, wow! He is such an amazing person. It’s so cool being able to work with him, the voice of Piccolo! There are so many other people who are a part of Kaminarikozou that make every day really fun and exciting.
Is there anything you would like to say to your soon-to-be and already fans out there?
O: Yes, of course! For those of you who came out to the last event, Thank you! And for those who couldn’t make it, I am looking forward to meeting you next time! I hope to travel all over Japan, and then the world, so wait for me! I’ll see you soon, and until then, check out my blog here! [ link ]
Kaminarikozou Events are filmed live against a green screen using live actors and audience participation. The finished footage is then edited and streamed through radio broadcasts and produced into a TV show. For more information about the events please visit the website here [ link ]