So it's been a fornight of WoW-related posts, now for something on the Japanese front. Yes, the other reason I was in Paris was to interview mangaka extraordinaire Obata Takeshi who was in town for a special signing at the Virgin Megastore on Champs Elysee and the yearly Japan Expo.
As anyone who reads NEO will know, I'm a massive Death Note fan so I was really lucky to be offered the chance to interview Obata-sensei last week at Viz Europe's French offices near the famous Paris Opera House. Unfortunately, much to my mortification, I was running late thanks to the pouring rain and a taxi strike and spent a good five minutes apologising in my best Japanese. Nahoko from Viz was kind enough to act as translator and we met in a large room filled with Death Note merchandise.
However, after my fifteen minutes were up, I was keen to take photographs for NEO. Viz had asked I take only shots like the one above that obscured Obata-sensei's face, to keep up the mystery, I suppose so as an excuse I whipped out my copy of How To Read and asked if he would mind signing it in order for me to get a couple of photos.
Well Obata-sensei did one better - as you can see on the right (click on the image to see a larger version) - he not only signed my book but also spent a couple of minutes drawing Light! He was lovely and despite his quiet demeanor, very talkative which is great in an interviewee!
I then headed to the Champs Elysee to do some snooping around - and had to produce my press card as my credentials to boot. There was already a queue of Death Note fans, some of whom let me take photos. I was amazed by the popularity of manga in France with nearly half a floor devoted to manga and comics on the second floor of the flagship store. People where reading Death Note but there was lots of other manga on display and it was a refreshing sight to see so many 'normal', non-geeky teenagers reading and waiting to meet Obata-sensei. Despite the weather, it was an eye-opening day and will certainly spawn somekind of interesting feature soon.
You can see more of my photos from the event by clicking here.