A few weeks ago, the studio I’m working for held a party for the production team. The timing was a bit off for this to be considered a kick-off party and it’s definitely too early to celebrate the end of production. It was explained to me later that they chose to do it at this time as a way to build camaraderie among the quickly-assembled team. As expected, I didn't see any familiar faces there, but the coordinator kindly took his time to introduce me to the main staff and I was able to get some positive feedback on the work I’ve submitted so far. Not all studios can afford to organize parties like this one, so I try to take advantage of it whenever I’m invited. So many great people to meet and so little time!
February 3rd is Setsubun (Bean-Throwing Festival) in Japan, which celebrates the beginning of spring season on the lunar calendar. It is customary to throw roasted soybeans or peanuts to bring in good fortune and drive away the bad. In the recent years, though, the convenience stores put in a lot of sales effort to establish the custom of eating thick sushi rolls called eho-maki on this day, a tradition that originates from Western Japan. Okay - eating sushi rolls doesn’t sound all that bad, right? But there is a guideline one must follow to effectively bring in the good fortune to your household. Each person has to eat an entire unsliced thick sushi roll in perfect silence, facing a particular direction determined by the Chinese zodiac of that year. Unfortunately, this somewhat odd practice never quite appealed to the Tokyoites, who much preferred a more festive way to celebrate. I remember watching the news last year showing the convenience stores discarding a shameful amount of left-over eho-maki. I noticed there was less advertising going around this year probably because of that, but it still looks like a lot of it is going to waste. The only good thing that came out of this mess is that nobody here has ever heard of eho-maki several years ago, but are now more aware of different traditions of Setsubun in other regions of Japan.
A special edition of “Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn)” manga vol.23, accompanied by a 56-page / B5-size illustration book, will be released in Japan on 04/20/17. Mizuho Kusanagi had mentioned on her Twitter that it will feature Yona and Haku illustrations used in Hana To Yume publication, calendars, posters, and some anime-related material. This limited offer is available in Japan through pre-order only, and I have no information on if it would be made available in other countries. So if you’re a die-hard Yona fan, grab your Japanese friend and get your copy through Amazon Japan. The deadline is 03/15/17.