Comic Party - The Life of the Party
By Judy DeFrieze, Assistant Producer, 2004
Well folks, it's finally here - Comic Party has arrived! And just like how doujinshi (fan comic) artists work hard to make their comics shine, we here at Right Stuf also put our noses to the grindstone to bring you the best release possible for this amazing anime/manga parody. One particular feature that took a lot of work (but was also a lot of fun) was the massive amount of liner notes that go along with each volume.
For Comic Party's liner notes, our goal was to be able to point out every parody and homage in the show. That's no easy task – there're parodies of everything from modern shows like Evangelion and Steel Angel Kurumi, all the way back to classic manga like Cyborg 009 and Stop!! Hibari-kun. Although we'd all like to think we're the most knowledgeable otaku out there, Comic Party's liner notes were a huge collaboration from everyone involved in this project. We collected notes from all the folks in the production department, our translators, our subtitle timer, even the dubbing staff! And as for myself and Kris (Comic Party's producers), we kept a spare notepad to jot down "parody sightings" every time we went through another draft of the show... Reviewing the dub? Jot down notes. Checking the subs? Jot down notes. Going through artwork? Jot down more notes.
Sometimes, something would show up that we just knew was a parody, but we weren't sure what it was a parody of. In those cases, we had to search endlessly to find the answers (and let me tell you, Google is my new best friend). Some of the ones that I remember the most were: learning that Mizuki's dramatic collapse at the end of episode 1 is actually from the live-action movie Virus; identifying a cosplayer as Pluie from Wedding Peach, literally one day before sending the booklets off to press; and – after days of searching – finally discovering that the posters outside the CosMIX café were from Ginsou Kikou Ordian! The show's name was written on the posters, but it was way too blurry to read. And yet, the posters show up quite a few times scattered throughout the show, so we knew they were significant! It was pretty late at night when we finally made the Ordian discovery, but I seem to remember there was singing and dancing...
Unfortunately, even with as much information as we packed into the booklets, we also know that there are a lot of things that still aren't in the liner notes. Sometimes, no matter how hard we searched, we came up empty-handed. For instance, as you watch the show, you'll notice that the background music changes to sometimes teasingly familiar songs. That's because a lot of them are from other shows, but we just couldn't make them out... Or maybe a character would make a gesture that was imitating something else, but we didn't know what... (please, if anyone knows who Taishi is imitating when he puts his hair up in a point in episode 13, let us know, 'cause it's driving me crazy!). Also, there are a few little parodies that we didn't spot before deadline. (Here's an insider tip that's not in the liner notes! In episode 12, you can spot a fake issue of Jump magazine - labeled in Japanese as "Champ".) So in other words, keep your eyes open! There's an astounding amount of references to anime culture in this show, all blended seamlessly (and sometimes shamelessly) into both the audio and visual backgrounds. And for you dub lovers, we even snuck a few parodies in the English dub too!
Oh, and one more thing about these lovely liner notes - each of the four booklet covers is a special hand-crafted parody, and we think you'll really get a kick out of 'em. Parodies of what, you ask? Well...it wouldn't be any fun if I just gave away the surprise, now would it?
So, in the end, just know that a lot of people who love anime have done their best to bring you an awesome release that you'll be proud to call your own. After all, if there's one thing that Comic Party teaches us, it's that the best part of fandom is the fans! Cheers, and see you in the fall issue!
Do you do anything special to prepare before you start acting for the day?
JACK (KAZUKI): I try to wake up early, run four miles and take a long, hot bath. Then I begin my two-hour warm-up period, gargling with salt water and doing vocal exercises taught to me by the famous Russian voice over artist, Vladamir Goro. Just kidding. Actually, my preparation consists of eating chocolate and watching TV before leaving my apartment at the very last possible moment to make it to the studio on time. Call me lazy.
LIAM (TAISHI): Well, when possible, I prefer to watch the show ahead of time. I know there is some debate about whether it's better to see the show ahead of time or not. Some VA's don't like to see things ahead of time, which I think is a little odd. I mean, if I'm gonna do Hamlet, I'm not going to stop reading the play after Act 1. I wanna know what the hell happens in Acts 2, 3, 4, and 5. That's gonna tell me what to do while acting Act 1. I think an actor is in a better place to make decisions about his or her character if the WHOLE ARCH of the story is known. Of course, that's often not possible. Usually I just get thrown into the booth, and we do our best to improvise. What else do I do..? Try to get a lot of sleep the night before.
What was your first impression of your Comic Party character?
JACK (KAZUKI): My first impression of Kazuki was that he was a lot like me! Kinda slow, doesn't really know what's going on around him, naïve…but EXTREMELY TALENTED.
LIAM (TAISHI): "SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL, I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT WITH THIS GUY!!!"
What's the hardest thing about acting out your character?
JACK (KAZUKI): Kazuki says "Huh?" about 5,000 times throughout the series. It was a challenge to make every single "Huh?" slightly different. Some became "Eh?" or "Oh?" or even "Hunnhhh??" but I tried not to make the same sound twice.
LIAM (TAISHI): Taishi was a plumb role, but let's face it; all he does is flip out like a maniac. That's a lotta fun, but a hard days work.
What's the most fun thing about acting out your character?
JACK (KAZUKI): The most fun part about playing Kazuki was listening to Taishi's lines and trying not to laugh too hard. He is insane. Truly.
LIAM (TAISHI): Well, he was just nutz. The only way to do this one was to jump in and let it fly. It's fun to do subtle characters too, but I'll take the raving lunatic any day. I was always happiest when recording was shut down by hardcore giggle fits.
What was your favorite episode of Comic Party?
JACK (KAZUKI): The bath-house episodes. I like feeling clean.
LIAM (TAISHI): I recorded all the episodes in three days (flew back east from LA), so I'm a little hazy on episodes. But Joe DiGiorgi (the director) and I laughed hysterically while recording a scene involving a bun. If you can't bust up your coworkers, what's the point?
If you could be friends with one of the Comic Party characters, who would it be and why?
JACK (KAZUKI): I think Kazuki. He's a very nice, earnest guy. He would be a great friend. Plus, for some reason I feel like he would loan me money without being a pest about paying him back quickly.
LIAM (TAISHI): That cosplaying girl, cuz she's a fox.
Describe Taishi in five words or less.
JACK (KAZUKI): His mind is on fire
LIAM (TAISHI): Attention Deficit Disorder Poster Child
What message would you like to give to your fans?
JACK (KAZUKI): Hey there, Joe. You're my only fan, so I guess I'll just send this message out to you. How's it going? Oh, I'm fine, thanks for asking. Anyway, I appreciate you being my only fan. It must get lonely, but in the end I hope you find it rewarding. If you ever wanna hang out sometime, send me an email!
LIAM (TAISHI): Well, I really hope the fun we had recording Taishi comes across as you watch Comic Party. I love the fact that I work on these shows- and the only reason there are so many of them to work on now is because of you guys. Muchos muchos gracias.