Yu-Gi-Oh! Animators Shuji Maruyama, Junichi Hayama at Youmacon 2018

November 9, 2018 at 11:00 pm | Posted in 5D's, Duel Monsters, Japanese, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh!, ZEXAL | 2 Comments
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Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama at Youmacon 2018 opening ceremonies
Shuji Maruyama (left) and Junichi Hayama

Fans of anime, manga, and Japanese culture descended upon Detroit, Michigan, last weekend for the annual Youmacon convention. This event would be a very special one for animation fans because the convention welcomed four animators straight from Japan, including two highly respected and beloved Yu-Gi-Oh! animators.

Making his first ever appearance in the United States was Shuji Maruyama, a very prolific Yu-Gi-Oh! animator and animation director who has worked on Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, 5D’s, ZEXAL, ARC-V, Bonds Beyond Time, and The Dark Side of Dimensions. Maruyama is probably best known by fans as the character designer for 5D’s. More recently, he has worked on Fuuka, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, and Hanebado!.

Returning for his second appearance at Youmacon was Junichi Hayama, who has served as an animator and animation director for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters and as a key animator for The Dark Side of Dimensions. Hayama is well known for his mastery of the brush pen and has most recently been working on Golden Kamuy.

Joining Maruyama and Hayama were two more talented animators: Mamoru Yokota, who has worked on Death Note, Naruto, and Gatchaman Crowds; and Shigefumi Shingaki, who works full time at Toei Animation as an animation director for One Piece.

Over the weekend, all four animators participated in live drawing events, where cameras were homed in on their paper and pencils to get an up-close view of their artistic process, and in Q&A panels where they tackled burning questions from the audience.

But there was one very special panel that was not to be missed by any Yu-Gi-Oh! fan: “Draw of the Cards.” Moderated by Anthony “Kroze” Kresky of Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged fame, Draw of the Cards was dedicated entirely to all things Yu-Gi-Oh!, with Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama offering insights about the Yu-Gi-Oh! series they’ve worked on and delighting the audience with their illustrations.

This post contains a full transcript of the Draw of the Cards panel and also highlights the Yu-Gi-Oh! artwork that Maruyama and Hayama presented at Youmacon 2018.

Transcript: Draw of the Cards, a discussion about Yu-Gi-Oh!

Kroze: I’d like to start this panel by talking about what goes into animating and drawing a show that’s highly based on just people playing cards against each other. How do you make that exciting from an animator aspect?

Hayama: That’s something that the author of the source material really thinks of so I really don’t have any say in that.

Maruyama: This is a work with an actual proper source material so I make sure a lot of the elements from the source material are not lost in the adaptation.

Kroze: Since it’s coming from manga source material that already exists, has there ever been any difficulty adapting something over into the animated show that was easier to tell over in the manga?

Maruyama: I want to really keep the elements from the source material intact so I make sure to use the same “image.” So I really want to make sure I preserve the touches, the styles, the expressions, and the angles that are from the manga and convert that into an animation style.

Hayama: Exactly what Maruyama said. Adapting from manga to animation — they seem very similar but they’re actually very different in a lot of components. In manga, most of the time a lot of the motion and feelings are all condensed into one single image. Whereas in animation, you have to keep in mind that it is in motion and you really want to have fluidity in the entire content. At the same time, knowing how to make sure that the essence of the source material is intact while converting that to a fluid motion is what separates amateurs from veterans.

Kroze: Do you ever look to the cards for art inspiration when adapting some of the sequences into animation?

Hayama: We don’t actually take inspiration directly from the cards. There are dedicated people that deal with the monster designs so that they can be adapted from the cards to the animation. [Takahiro] Kagami is one good example of them. He is known among the fan community as one of the best animation directors in the production team.

Maruyama: Kagami did a lot of the earlier monster designs as well as the God Cards’ monster designs.

Kroze: Yu-Gi-Oh! has had a lot of great characters over the many years. Is there any character that you take pleasure in animating and drawing?

Hayama: I don’t have a particular favorite character because I make sure that plot lines and story lines are intact, and so I see value in all the characters.

Interpreter: Is that genuinely your answer? Or are you saying that because you don’t want to answer the question?

Hayama: No, seriously! Every single one has an important role in the story line.

Maruyama: Just from the ease of drawing, I really like to draw Yusei because I draw a lot of him, so I’ve got a lot of practice for him. But my particular favorite is Bruno from 5D’s. I like his role in the story and his design.

Kroze: Because Yusei is simple for you to draw, does it make the action scenes a lot easier to create? Does it let you be more dynamic because you don’t have to concentrate that much on Yusei?

Maruyama: Hmm…

Hayama: The more you draw, the easier it gets. You have the image of the picture revealed in your mind, so there’s one less thing to deal with. So sometimes even the smallest details like how his fingers appear, the more you draw, the more you memorize how they actually look. So in other words, practice makes perfect. At some point, it becomes a habit as opposed to a task.

Kroze: All of the Yu-Gi-Oh! shows have so many action sequences in them. Are there any particular ones that stand out that you had a lot of fun animating?

Hayama: I don’t remember. Sorry.

Maruyama: It’s not an action scene, but one of my favorite scenes is in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters when Yugi is dueling Joey while he was being controlled by Marik. I love that, especially the scene where, after the duel is over, Yugi jumps into the water to try to help Joey. That’s one of my favorite scenes because it really allows me to reidentify, to reassure that their friendship just goes above and beyond what friendship really, truly is.

Kroze: At this point, I’d like to take a couple of questions from the audience.

Audience member: You’ve talked about which characters you look forward to drawing. Which characters are the most difficult to draw?

Hayama: Actually, monsters were really hard to draw. In Duel Monsters, there’s that black magician wearing some sort of belts fighting against Pegasus.

[Audience members shout out the name — Magician of Black Chaos.]

Hayama: When I saw that character design, I was like, you’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me.

[The audience laughs.]

Maruyama: A lot of the dragons in 5D’s were really hard to draw because a lot of them were 3D designs, even though some of them, like Black Rose, were drawn most of the time. Including that, there are a lot of dragons that were designed from the get-go through computer graphics as 3D models. They didn’t consider animators at all during that design process so I struggled with that.

Audience member: Have you ever played the card game itself?

Hayama: I don’t have a clue about it.

Maruyama: Recently, I’ve been playing Duel Links.

Audience member: Of the different summoning mechanics — Normal summoning, Xyz, Synchro — which is the most difficult to incorporate into an action sequence?

Hayama: I don’t understand all the different summonings so I just try to have fun without caring about them.

Maruyama: Summonings and the transformation portions are probably one of the most inspiring, appealing portions of the anime so I make sure to use some variations so there’s not all the same recycled motions. I have fun trying to come up with different kinds of animations.

Kroze: Are there any transformation sequences from other shows that you’ve look to for inspiration for some of those summoning sequences?

Maruyama: Not really. Not any one in particular.

Audience member: Which of the Egyptian God Cards is the hardest to animate?

Hayama: I don’t know. Which one’s are the God Cards again?

[Maruyama lists them off for him.]

Hayama: Which one’s the blue one? That’s the hardest. All of them are hard to illustrate.

Audience member: I was assuming it would be Ra because of all the scales and everything. The yellow one.

Hayama: I try to forget about bad memories.

[The audience laughs.]

Maruyama: Back when God Cards were the thing in Duel Monsters, I was still just pretty new, so I struggled with all of them.

Audience member: Are there any other series’ animators who you respect and who you draw inspiration from?

Hayama: Once we go down that rabbit hole, there’s no end to it.

Maruyama: True, but…

Hayama: I worked on Fist of the North Star. During that time, the character designer, Masami Suda, was like my mentor figure. A lot of my work has many elements that I learned from him. At the same time, when I was someone who just enjoyed anime not as a professional but as a viewer, I believed some of his touches are kind of reminiscent of the original Gundam series.

Maruyama: I learned a lot of things from [Takahiro] Kagami, one of the animation directors from Duel Monsters. A lot of my works are similar to his style.

Kroze: Is there anything in Yu-Gi-Oh! that you haven’t worked on that you want to work on? Like GX.

Hayama: As long as I get paid, I don’t care.

[The audience laughs.]

Maruyama: If I get asked to, I will be happy to do it.

Audience member: Are there any American series that influence your art?

Hayama: I watch The Simpsons. I also watch a lot of American comic series, from Marvel and DC. I watch them just for fun, but if I see something interesting, like certain layouts or designs, I might get inspiration from them.

Maruyama: I watch Pixar for fun, but I don’t think it really inspires my work because the styles are completely different.

Audience member: Have either of you worked with the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Kazuki Takahashi?

Hayama: Nope.

Maruyama: I just said hi to him once.

[The audience commiserates with him — “Aww.”]

Hayama: I would like to meet him for a very personal reason. Takahashi worked on a spin-off manga of the anime Go-Q-Choji Ikkiman by Toei Animation. I was a fan of the show so I want to meet Takahashi just for that personal reason.

[Note: The Go-Q-Choji Ikkiman anime and manga aren’t available in English. According to the Go-Q-Choji Ikkiman Japanese Wikipedia entry, the manga was serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine in 1986 and was compiled into two graphic novel volumes. Takahashi worked on it using the pen name “Kazuo Takahashi.” -ravegrl]

Audience member: When you’re not animating, what’s your favorite thing to do at home?

Hayama: Rest assured, I don’t work all the time. I watch movies and drink a lot. The usual things.

Maruyama: Same.

Audience member: How did you get into the animation industry?

Hayama: Back when I was in high school, my friend’s brother was involved in an anime production. I mentioned to my friend that I might want to be an animator some day. “Oh, you want me to introduce my brother to you?” So I met him and asked if there’s a special school for this. “No, don’t do it. Don’t do it.” Two months later, I find myself introduced to a new company. After five minutes of introductions and a simple interview, they were like, “When are you going to come?” I started in April and the rest is history.

Maruyama: I went to a special school for animation. From there, I met the first company that I worked for, and now I’m here.

Kroze: Seeing as how this franchise has had a lot of people work on it, is there anything that either of you feel like you’ve contributed that you hope makes a lasting impression on the franchise as it moves onward?

Hayama: I will leave that to the viewers and the audience’s discretion.

Maruyama: I hope the character designs will stay intact as long as the series does continue.

Audience member: For Maruyama, you’ve talked about how you’ve drawn inspiration from animation director [Takahiro] Kagami. Do you know the story behind why, in so many of Kagami’s episodes, Joey is often shown making a tough-guy pointy-chin face?

Maruyama: Kagami really likes Antonio Inoki, who is a well-known pro wrestler in Japan. Kagami is a fan of him and so he played around with the thought that maybe Joey really likes pro wrestling. So in certain scenes, he added some references to some pro wrestlers in terms of their facial expressions or emotions or playfulness.

Audience member: Apart from the card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! known mostly for the hair. Which character’s hair is the most difficult for you to draw?

Hayama: Tristan. Tristan has a distinctive pointy hair style. What makes it difficult is that it really depends on the angle it is seen pointing. [The subsequent explanation is inaudible because of the excessive laughter from the audience.] That makes it difficult because the angle really changes his hairstyle. I saw the character design and was like, you’ve got to be kidding me.

Maruyama: The character Vector in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL. His hair is very hard to draw. Similar to Tristan, the angle really dictates how the hairstyle looks. In the show Ashita no Joe, the main character has a very interesting hairstyle as well. Depending on the angle, the hair goes on one side or the other. Even if he looks straight forward, it still goes a little to the left or right. Likewise, for Vector, I really have to think about how, if I am looking straight at him, how the hair would look.

Audience member: If you have the chance to create your own monster card or Yu-Gi-Oh! card, what ideas would you have for it?

Hayama: I won’t know until I try.

Maruyama: I will try to design a cute girl, like Dark Magician Girl.

Audience member: In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, the final villain, Z-One, has a really interesting design. Where did the idea for his design originate?

Maruyama: I didn’t design him so I have no idea. But the first time I saw that design, I said that looks really tedious.

[Note: The actual designer of Z-One is Shinichi Miyazaki, who is credited in the endings of episode 65 and onward for his “Concept Design Cooperation.” Miyazaki recently tweeted an early design sketch and character concepts for Z-One. -ravegrl]

Audience member: Did you enjoy working on ZEXAL more or 5D’s? Which one was more fun?

Maruyama: I had more fun with ZEXAL because it was a little more colorful and playful. In 5D’s, very early on, the main character gets arrested. That sets up the tone of the show to be kind of dark. I think it’s not my actual output that is dark, but that darkness is something that I have to keep in the back of my mind when I’m actually illustrating.

Kroze: Speaking of 5D’s, the show, like you said, has a very dark tone. While manga is always black and white, 5D’s definitely has a very prominent “color” to it that makes its darkness feel entrenching. Is there anything that you looked at that inspired how you approached the darkness there?

Maruyama: There are actually dedicated people that deal with the color tone and the director and the people that handle this idea. They handle the tone of the colors and they make sure it’s all consistent with the story and throughout the series. So I didn’t have much of a say in the actual color.

Audience member: In the Dark Side of Dimensions movie, Kaiba and Mokuba don’t have their lockets on. Do you know why their lockets aren’t included in the movie even though they always wore them in the TV anime and manga?

Maruyama: I have no idea. I was given the designs from the directors. There’s nothing that took place in the background that we know of or any theories we can verify.

Audience member: Was there ever a time you had to animate something where you said no, you couldn’t do it, or had to change the way it was animated because it was too difficult to create?

Hayama: There were many occasions where I’ve thought it’s impossible to do a certain thing within a certain given schedule. Before I decide to accept the job, I make sure it’s something that I can finish. Because if you do accept the job that’s nearly impossible to do, you will always experience something bad.

Maruyama: No comment. [Laughs.]

Audience member: Do you have any favorite old American action movies?

Hayama: Escape from New York.

Maruyama: Back to the Future.

Interpreter: Is it a sin to have never watched that movie?

Kroze: What?! Are you serious?

Hayama: You’re joking! How sad.

Audience member: In Duel Monsters, Noa’s story arc wasn’t in the manga. What is it like drawing something that doesn’t have a source material?

Hayama: Even during Noa’s arc, I was just an animator, so I wasn’t part of the actual major staff. The director and the scriptwriter are the ones who make the decisions about the details. But, having said that, I did feel that it was kind of different than usual, that it was kind of weird. But a job is a job.

Maruyama: What Hayama said.

Kroze: I have a final question for both of you. This is a little bit of a silly one, but the phrase “the heart of the cards” is used many times in the series. What do you believe the heart of the cards means?

Hayama: Sorry, I have no idea.

Maruyama: I’ve never heard of that.

[The audience laughs.]

Interpreter: “Kādo no kokoro wo shinjiru” — “To believe in the heart of the cards.” [The interpreter places his index and middle fingers on top of his wrist, as if he were pausing before drawing a card.]

Hayama & Maruyama: Aaah!

Hayama: It’s a fully mental thing. Probably a full mental hypnosis.

Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Illustrations at Youmacon 2018

While the animators were answering questions during the Draw of the Cards panel, they were also busy putting pen to paper. What were they drawing? This panel was technically a Q&A panel, not a live drawing panel, so there were no cameras set up that pointed at their papers. So, the audience would just have to be surprised.

At the end of the panel, Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama revealed what they had been working on and invited the audience to approach them and take photos.

Maruyama wowed the crowd with his Yusei Fudo and Jack Atlas:

Yusei Fudo and Jack Atlas illustrations, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Yusei Fudo in an illustration drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Jack Atlas in an illustration drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Hayama’s Seto Kaiba and Yami Yugi left the audience awestruck:

Seto Kaiba and Yami Yugi illustrations, drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Seto Kaiba in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Close-up of Yami Yugi in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Needless to say, everyone was astonished by the works Maruyama and Hayama managed to turn out while they were casually chatting with the audience. They are both truly masters of their craft.

These are the only two Yu-Gi-Oh! pieces that Hayama drew the entire weekend.

Maruyama, however, created more Yu-Gi-Oh! illustrations at other live drawing and Q&A panels that weren’t specifically dedicated to Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Here is another take on Yusei and Jack by Maruyama. This photo is from fellow animator Mamoru Yokota (@yokotamamoru).

Yusei Fudo and Jack Atlas together, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 2, 2018

Seto Kaiba was a very popular request for Maruyama. He drew Kaiba and Blue-Eyes White Dragon twice using two different styles at two different panels:

Seto Kaiba drawing a card with Blue-Eyes White Dragon, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 3, 2018

Seto Kaiba standing with Blue-Eyes White Dragon, drawn live by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon on November 4, 2018

All of these illustrations by Maruyama and Hayama were given away to lucky audience members.

On Facebook, Yu-Gi-Oh! voice actress Erica Schroeder, who was also a guest at Youmacon, shared a story and photo of how she had the great fortune of running into Shuji Maruyama in her hotel lobby. After Maruyama learned that Akiza Izinski is her favorite character that she has played, he whipped up an original illustration for Erica in minutes.

Erica Schroeder, Shuji Maruyama, and Maruyama's illustration of Akiza Izinski

Truly a moment she won’t ever forget!

At Youmacon’s Artists Alley, the animators had their own table set up where they accepted a very limited number of commissions over the weekend. When they weren’t attending panels or sightseeing in Detroit, they were busy drawing at their table. Youmacon attendees could commission an original piece of monochrome or full-color artwork on a shikishi — a hard paper board often used in Japan for autographs, paintings, and calligraphy.

Shuji Maruyama displayed two sample shikishi at the table — one with a color drawing of Yuma Tsukumo with Astral, and another with a monochrome drawing of Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba standing back to back.

Yuma Tsukumo, Astral, Yami Yugi, and Kaiba illustrations on two shikishi by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon 2018

Yuma Tsukumo and Astral illustration on a shikishi by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon 2018

Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba illustration on a shikishi by Shuji Maruyama at Youmacon 2018

Throughout the weekend, all of the animators held autograph sessions where they each offered posters to fans that featured original illustrations from anime series that they’ve worked on.

Junichi Hayama’s print showed Saichi Sugimoto and Asirpa from Golden Kamuy. But Shuji Maruyama’s print was this masterpiece of Yusei Fudo, Jack Atlas, and Yami Yugi:

Shuji Maruyama's original print with Yusei Fudo, Jack Atlas, and Yami Yugi illustrations

Want to see Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama at more events? Contact your nearest anime convention’s guest relations staff and let them know!

Follow Shuji Maruyama on Twitter, @masyuu_nemunemu.

And follow Junichi Hayama on Twitter, @hayama11.

* * *

If you enjoyed hearing from Shuji Maruyama and Junichi Hayama, check out my coverage of Youmacon 2017, where Hayama made his first American convention appearance. At that event, Hayama spoke in greater depth about his background, techniques, and the animation industry.

(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and readability.)

Yu-Gi-Oh! Animator Junichi Hayama at Youmacon 2017

November 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Japanese, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Junichi Hayama at a live-drawing panel at Youmacon on November 4, 2017

Junichi Hayama, one of the most popular Yu-Gi-Oh! animators and animation directors among fans, was a special guest at Youmacon in Detroit, Michigan, this past weekend. Not only is Hayama a veteran of the Japanese anime industry with over 30 years of experience, he is also a gifted artist in his own right and has published some famous books cataloging his acclaimed brush illustrations.

Junichi Hayama served as the animation director for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters episodes 94, 124, 161, 167, 173, and 179. He also worked as one of the key animators in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. Outside of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Hayama is probably best known for the 13-episode JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure OVA from 1993, where he served as the series’ character designer and one of its animation directors.

At Youmacon, Hayama shared the stage with Mamoru Yokota, a younger animator who has worked on series like Death Note, Naruto, and Gatchaman Crowds. Together, the pair held one Q&A panel and two live-drawing panels where they offered a rare look at their creation process and fielded numerous questions about their careers and the anime industry.

This post compiles all of the Yu-Gi-Oh!-related questions that the audience asked Hayama during his panels and highlights some of his more interesting opinions and responses about his background.

Katsuya Jonouchi, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 4, 2013
By @hayama11 (October 4, 2013)

Meet Junichi Hayama

How did you get started in your career as an animator?

I used to draw a lot of manga and show them to many producers to try to see if I could get them sold. But reading my own manga, I felt like they weren’t interesting or funny enough. So, I felt that I couldn’t become a manga artist myself, that I wasn’t good enough for it. When I graduated high school, I wanted to do something similar so I went into the anime industry instead.

Did you go to school for animation?

No, I went directly to an animation company.

How much freelance work did you do before you entered the animation industry?

I’m still classified as a freelancer, even now. I’m not tethered to any one company.

What was your first job?

Gu-Gu Ganmo.

What has been your most cherished and favorite thing you’ve worked on thus far?

Fist of the North Star. It’s not the project that I like the most but rather is the one that has left the strongest impression on me. This was where I learned a lot of the basics and standard kinds of jobs. It was kind of my stepping stone in a sense.

Is there a person who has been a major inspiration for you?

Masami Suda, from Fist of the North Star, when I first started working in the industry. Suda was an animator who worked on the characters in that project. He was a great animator and had a very cool way of drawing that was very inspirational for me and that led me to where I am today. His work is the standard on which I base my own work today.

Are there any anime or manga that you enjoyed when you were young that inspires your work today?

On the anime side, something that I felt was kind of cool and awesome was Combattler V. The character designs by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko still inspire me today. A lot of my drawings are very much related to his. On the manga side, there’s Chojin Rokku. It’s one of the manga that I used to read. Yuki Hijiri, who worked on that, is someone who’s still inspirational today.

What has been the most challenging project that you’ve worked on so far?

Shonan Bakusozoku. I worked on one of the OVA episodes. This series features a lot of motorcycles and bikes, and there are a lot of fight scenes and gangs in the episodes. In particular, I didn’t know how the structure of motorcycles worked. I never rode one myself and I never really understood how they worked. I spent about two weeks all like, “I don’t know how to draw this. I don’t understand this.” I spent a very long time scratching my head over this. I decided one day I was going to buy a classic model motorcycle to understand the structure. So I bought two plastic models from my part-time job. One of them was a full-fairing version and another one was a very popular version at the time. So, from building these, I was able to finally understand the structure and felt like I was able to fulfill that job. But while I was struggling with that job, I felt like I was never going to finish it and felt a little bit hopeless at the time.

What’s the hardest thing for you to draw?

Things that look like Pretty Cure.

What’s your favorite thing to draw?

The design process of the characters. Drawing them from different angles. That’s the most fun to draw.

When you were a young animator, did you ever think about becoming an animation director?

Yes, I definitely wanted to try it.

How did you feel the first time you worked as an animation director?

I was really nervous. It’s a lot of responsibility because there isn’t anybody else who is checking things over or fixing them for you. You’re the final word, so I was nervous. I was looking forward to it and it was fun, but still nerve-wracking.

Yami Yugi, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama Talks Yu-Gi-Oh!

Are you enjoying Youmacon so far?

Yes, it’s very interesting. [Hayama points at a couple cosplaying Kaiba and Mokuba sitting in the audience.] They’re one of the interesting parts.

How did you first get to work for Studio Gallop?

I kind of happened to be in between jobs. I got a hold of my friend’s company and kind of asked, “Do you have any jobs or anything that I can work on?” And he’s like, “Well, we have this Yu-Gi-Oh! TV series that we are working on. So why don’t you work as an animation director for it?” And that’s how I got involved with it.

What was your favorite character or scene to draw for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions?

I actually haven’t seen the finished project. I really liked the first half of the movie when Kaiba and Yugi duel each other. Process-wise, I was kind of only involved in the first stage or so, so I wasn’t able to complete the project with them. It’s a little bit of a sensitive subject.

In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, did you get to draw Aigami?

Who’s Aigami?

[Hayama is taking requests during a live-drawing session.] Can you draw Marik?

[Hayama puts his face in his hands then pretends to cry. He won’t do it. It’s too difficult.]

[Hayama is still taking requests during a live-drawing session.] Can you draw Dark Magician Girl?

Ehh?! No, I can’t!

Who is your favorite Yu-Gi-Oh! character to draw?

Hmm, it’s tough to say.

Seto Kaiba, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama Talks Art and the Anime Industry

What art supplies do you currently use?

Mechanical pencils. Pentel Art Brush pens. I think there are around 16 colors.

How do you decide which colors to use to accent your art?

I don’t use too many colors. Using just a few colors has more impact.

Do you ever do any digital work? Have you felt any differences with the shift to doing more digital work in the industry?

Yes, I’ve used it. About ten years ago, there was a remake of Gaiking and I had to use digital back then too. So I’ve been using it for quite a while now. [Hayama searches for video of the first Gaiking ending to show some of the digital art he did there.]

What do you think of artists who only know how to draw digitally?

They can do as they want. I don’t have a strong opinion about that.

Is it possible for Americans to work in the Japanese animation industry?

Yes, it’s possible, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it because the work-life balance isn’t great and you don’t really have any free time.

Some of the productions you have worked on are based on manga. How often do you interact with the creator?

It’s not impossible to get to meet with creators and manga artists. There are a few occasions. But the majority of the time, I’m usually working with the director. So working with the director and having meetings and such where we can talk together.

What tips would you give to artists who are just starting off?

Just draw what you like. When you’re doing it as a job, you can’t just draw whatever you want so it becomes a little bit more difficult. So when you’re a beginner, just enjoy it.

Are there any changes you would like to see in the anime industry?

The animation industry is known for its very, very long hours and its poor life balance without a lot of free time. I wish that everybody could have an easier time with a more balanced life and enjoy themselves more.

Katsuya Jonouchi, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama’s Likes

How much do you know about Western animation?

My knowledge isn’t super extensive, but I do like some American animation, in particular The Simpsons.

Are there any current shows that you like?

The American shows Arrow and The Flash. [Hayama searches for illustrations of Green Arrow and the Flash on his phone that he previously made and shows the audience.]

What’s your favorite anime, in general?

Ashita no Joe 2.

What’s your favorite food and drink?

My favorite food is tofu. My favorite drink is Wild Turkey.

What’s your favorite sake?

Wild Turkey.

What kind of hobbies do you have?

Drinking.

What’s your favorite genre?

Action.

What’s your favorite color?

Vermilion.

What’s your favorite movie?

Back to the Future.

Mai Kujaku, by Junichi Hayama, dated October 17, 2014
By @hayama11 (October 17, 2014)

Junichi Hayama Draws Live

Junichi Hayama draws with brush pens. These pens have a reservoir that holds ink, like a fountain pen, but have a tip that emulates the look of traditional Japanese brushes. Hayama’s artwork is so well known that he has published some books focusing solely on his brush techniques and illustrations. At Youmacon, he showed off artwork from two such books: Brush Work and Animation and Design Techniques for Anime Characters.

There are said to be two different types of artists in Japan: method drawers and talent drawers. Method drawers are artists who can consistently draw the same thing over and over again for everyone. If they practice their method, they can draw very fast. Hayama is a talent drawer. He has an image in his mind, which he translates directly to pen and paper.

This talent of Hayama’s was on full display throughout the live-drawing panels. Not once did Hayama ever sketch out his drawings with a pencil first. Instead, he drew completely freehand. He began each piece by waving his pen over his paper, creating an invisible outline of the image he has visualized in his mind, then immediately started inking. This process makes his illustrations all the more incredible.

Hayama created seven illustrations during his two live-drawing panels. Only one was a Yu-Gi-Oh! piece, but it was a particularly outstanding one featuring Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba:

Illustration of Yami Yugi and Seto Kaiba, drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2017

Close-up of Seto Kaiba in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2017

Close-up of Yami Yugi in an illustration drawn live by Junichi Hayama at Youmacon on November 3, 2017

Fellow animator Mamoru Yokota, who has not worked on Yu-Gi-Oh! before, showed that he has the skills to be hired for the next Yu-Gi-Oh! project by offering his own take on Yami Yugi:

Illustration of Yami Yugi, drawn live by Mamoru Yokota at Youmacon on November 4, 2017

In Japan, animators normally only sell their works in books. But at Youmacon’s Artists’ Alley, Hayama offered attendees something that Japanese fans never get: the chance to commission a piece of art. Not only that, he was willing to draw anything, not just characters from series that he has worked on. Asking animators to draw for them is considered a faux pas in Japan. There aren’t really events like the ones he participated in at Youmacon, said Hayama.

Yami Yugi and Yugi Muto, by Junichi Hayama, dated May 31, 2015
By @hayama11 (May 31, 2015)

Follow Junichi Hayama on Twitter, @hayama11.

And follow Mamoru Yokota on Twitter, @yokotamamoru.

(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and readability.)

Update (November 9, 2018): Junichi Hayama returned to Youmacon in 2018, together with fellow Yu-Gi-Oh! animator Shuji Maruyama. The two held a panel dedicated solely to Yu-Gi-Oh!, answered fans’ questions, and showed off plenty of amazing illustrations. Check out my write-up of the event!

Yu-Gi-Oh! Manga Editor Yoshihisa Heishi at NYCC 2017

October 12, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Duel Monsters, Japanese, Series 1, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Yoshihisa Heishi at the Weekly Shonen Jump panel at NYCC 2017

In Japan, manga editors are more than just people who know the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry. Editors work intimately with manga creators, exchanging story ideas and guiding the creators to success, and even look after the creators’ health and well-being. When Kazuki Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! manga was first serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan, its founding editor was Yoshihisa Heishi. Heishi eventually rose through the ranks to become the magazine’s editor in chief, and today still works at Shueisha’s shonen manga department as its director.

This past weekend, Heishi attended New York Comic Con where he was a guest at VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump panel. He offered some tidbits about Yu-Gi-Oh! and Takahashi during a brief Q&A.

“How did Egypt become such an important theme in the story?” asked Urian Brown, an editor at VIZ and the panel’s moderator.

“Before the manga started, Takahashi-sensei was really interested in Egypt and Egyptian culture,” explained Heishi through his translator, English WSJ Editor in Chief Andy Nakatani. “The Millennium Puzzle was originally not supposed to be used. It was going to be a different item. But since he ended up using the Millennium Puzzle, Egypt became a more important part of the story.”

“What was it supposed to be originally?” asked Brown.

“I can’t say,” Heishi laughed.

“What was it like working with Takahashi-sensei?” Brown continued. “Can you give us any details about his creative process?”

“When Takahashi-sensei was making the manga, I didn’t really see him having trouble or questioning himself when he was creating the manga,” replied Heishi. “He would go through the struggle unseen, not out in the forefront. Every week, they’d be playing card games and video games and things. He would play every week with his assistants. […] The ideas came from that.”

“Did you try out any of the dangerous Shadow Games in the manga, like yo-yos on the roof or the nitroglycerin air hockey?” asked Brown.

“No! Kids, please don’t do this at home.”

* * *

Check out video of the full panel for discussions and insights about even more Shonen Jump titles, like Rurouni Kenshin and My Hero Academia.

Related posts:
‘Spotlight on Yu-Gi-Oh! & Creator Kazuki Takahashi’ Panel at SDCC 2015

Video Interview: Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld on All Access

May 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld in an interview on Film.Music.Media: All Access
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez (left) and Freddy Sheinfeld

Last week, Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld, two members of the Yu-Gi-Oh! music composition team, appeared on All Access, a video series that features in-depth interviews with composers. The program is produced by Kaya Savas of Film.Music.Media, a website dedicated to the ins and outs of the film music industry.

Álvarez and Sheinfeld, both originally from Venezuela, talk about how they met in the United States and started their own company and how they dove into the world of composing for animations like Yu-Gi-Oh!, from the Pyramid of Light to The Dark Side of Dimensions and everything in between. Some of the topics they discuss include:

  • Their musical backgrounds and how they discovered film music.
  • How they define the sound of a show and their approaches to thematic writing.
  • What it’s like composing with each other and what happens when there’s a disagreement.
  • How their approach to composition differs when writing for narrative fictions and nature documentaries.
  • The aspects of a movie or show — whether the cinematography, script, characters, or story itself — that draw the first note out of them.
  • The negatives of the film composition industry, like the decay in appreciation of quality film music and the need for composers to follow popular trends.
  • The positives of the industry, like the influx of new directors, fresh content, opportunities to grow.

There are numerous funny and enlightening moments in this interview. Álvarez and Sheinfeld got a good laugh remembering when they first met in the U.S. at a conducting class. At the time, they didn’t realize that they were both from Venezuela. They only spoke to each other in English, each thinking that the other was Greek or German.

Álvarez explained how, when composing for Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, they enjoyed going “really dark” with the scores because it was such a change in style for them compared to the previous series. Unfortunately for them, they never got anywhere with this new sound. After writing close to an entire episode, the producers asked them to dial it down a notch. It was “too Nine Inch Nails meets Yu-Gi-Oh!” laughed Sheinfeld.

A show’s sounds sometimes develop organically and in unexpected ways. Sheinfeld reminisced about writing Yu-Gi-Oh! GX’s rock-oriented score and how the music he submitted was really similar to the ones that he used to play with his college rock band. As luck would have it, the producers really liked this style, so writing for that show became like a jam session for him and his style was integrated with the sounds of the show.

Give this interview a listen to hear more great moments like these!

(h/t Freddy Sheinfeld)

Related posts:
Composer Elik Álvarez Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! Music
Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Talk The Dark Side of Dimensions
Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Interviewed on Soundtrack Alley Podcast

Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Interviewed on Soundtrack Alley Podcast

April 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Other Stuff, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 1 Comment
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Photos of Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez (left) and Freddy Sheinfeld

On Friday, Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld, two members of a team of talented composers for the many Yu-Gi-Oh! series and movies, appeared on the most recent episode of Soundtrack Alley, a podcast that celebrates the love of movie soundtracks. In a 40-minute interview, the duo speak with podcast host Randy Williams about their work in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions and other recent projects. This post includes a few highlights from the interview.

Adding a New Flavor to an Old Favorite

Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld are both composers originally from Venezuela who are now working out of Los Angeles. Their involvement in Yu-Gi-Oh! began with the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, Pyramid of Light, which led them to work on season 3 of the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series and, eventually, every season and spin-off since then. For Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, the pair tried to move away from the style of music seen in the TV series in an effort to make the score a little more cinematic, explained Álvarez.

“How [do you] make it more cinematic?” asked Álvarez. “Well, you just do. That’s what you do as a composer. You are able to switch gears when they need to.”

One of the things that the two composers really pressed for in The Dark Side of Dimensions was the inclusion of more choirs.

“That doesn’t mean we haven’t used choirs in the rest of the series, but not as much probably as we do in this one. We really pushed hard for that one,” Álvarez added. But the most challenging aspect of scoring wasn’t actually the composition process.

Álvarez continued: “What is difficult is to have people who oversee the music — the music producer, the producers, the writers, whoever is listening to the score — this movie is a little bit different because even people in Japan were listening to this, people in Konami, I believe. So the difficult part is to convince them, ‘Listen, let’s try to do something different.’ They are so used to listening to a certain style of music. To propose something new takes time and persuasion and things like that. But to switch gears, in my opinion, is something that comes very natural to us.”

Sheinfeld noted that the their experience with Yu-Gi-Oh! has come full circle. The pair began with Duel Monsters, which had a certain style of music. They then moved on to other series, each with their own unique sound; GX was a little more rock-oriented and 5D’s had electronic industrial elements. Now, after more than ten years, they’ve returned to the original Yu-Gi-Oh! and needed to approach it with a fresh perspective.

“We kind of came back to some of the original ideas as far as the themes that we needed to use because those are characters that everybody knows,” said Sheinfeld. “But at the same time, we wanted to do, like Elik said, something fresh, something more cinematic. And somehow, the way it worked, to sound a little bit more cinematic was actually going a little bit old school.

“It’s funny because in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, if you listen to the music, there’s a lot of electronics going on. A lot of electronic percussion, a lot of techno stuff combined with an orchestra. But [for The Dark Side of Dimensions], we were a little bit more pure. We tried to avoid that just a little bit just to sound a little bit more modern, which is weird but it kind of worked that way. A lot of those sounds [in the original Yu-Gi-Oh!] now sound a little bit dated if we use it, so to sound fresh, we avoided it as much as we could. We were for a more traditional sound. You know, still mixing some of the modern electronic sounds that we use these days to still have that modern feel. But overall, it was a little bit more traditional orchestration approach to this film.”

Getting the Style Just Right

Both Álvarez and Sheinfeld gave a lot of credit to Mike Brady, 4K Media’s music producer, who offers them lots of freedom to compose to picture. Brady doesn’t give the composers a temp track — a sample piece of filler music that editors and producers use to set the mood of a scene.

“We just get plain animation with dialog and rough sound effects and sometimes rough dialog, and we just write music to it,” explained Álvarez. “So that’s a very, very important point I want to make. We’re pretty lucky with this because temp tracks sometimes could be a big help, sometimes they don’t. So one thing for this is we don’t get any temp tracks. He just sends us picture with dialog, and that’s it. There is no music there. So we really create from scratch.”

“I think the producer, Mike, is very good at what he does,” Sheinfeld said. “Like Elik says, he doesn’t give a temp track, but he has a very specific idea of how the show works. It took a long time to understand it but now it’s a matter of trying to understand what is important, what you need to accomplish with the music, and on the other side, what you can add to it as far as being creative. So it’s always that balance. You want to make it work and you also want to make it as cool as possible. There’s a lot of work involved. As far as making things work, it’s funny because it’s even though it’s an animation, I think the level of thought that goes behind each detail is much more deeper than a lot of the dramatic films that I’ve done in the past.”

After working on Yu-Gi-Oh! for more than ten years, Álvarez and Sheinfeld have a good feel for what the producers are looking for and what style of music works well in the anime.

“We understand the language pretty well of these types of animations,” said Álvarez. “I gotta tell you, it’s very, very complex. It’s very complex. Sometimes, on TV, you don’t really listen that much to the music. There is a lot of dialog. They don’t mix the music that loud. But it’s very complex what we do over here, and it took us quite a few years just to nail down the style and not to be afraid.”

And getting the style just right really is the key, since the music dictates so much of how characters and scenes are perceived by the viewers.

“As Freddy said, each of the characters over there, they have their own personality and we need to make sure that people can understand that,” Álvarez said. He elaborated on this point using Kaiba as an example, explaining that when composing for this character, Brady emphasized not to treat Kaiba as a bad, evil guy but also not as a good, heroic guy.

“These characters are complex. And you know, people don’t realize that,” stated Álvarez. “And again, when you see it on TV, and there is a lot of dialog going on all the time. But we’re behind that trying to make sure that people don’t perceive Kaiba as an evil guy because he’s not. So how do you make that balance?”

Teamwork, Inspirations, Future Projects, and More

Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld discussed several more topics with Randy Williams, including how they have honed their skills from working together, how they met fellow Yu-Gi-Oh! composer Joel Douek, what types of film music they enjoy, and what some of their future project include. It’s a smart and enlightening interview, so give it a listen! Be sure to listen all the way to the end because they share a few of their full-length pieces from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions and other works.

Related posts:
Composer Elik Álvarez Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! Music
Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Talk The Dark Side of Dimensions

Yu-Gi-Oh! Composers Álvarez, Sheinfeld Talk The Dark Side of Dimensions

February 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 1 Comment
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Yu-Gi-Oh! music composers Freddy Sheinfeld, Joel Douek, and Elik Alvarez in a studio
Yu-Gi-Oh! composers (left to right) Freddy Sheinfeld, Joel Douek, and Elik Álvarez in a studio. Photo from Film.Music.Media.

Today, longtime Yu-Gi-Oh! composers Elik Álvarez and Freddy Sheinfeld offered some insights into their participation in writing the music for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. In a press release coming out of their home base of Los Angeles, California, the duo offered some tidbits about their songwriting process and what they and the directors wanted to impart on the audience.

“The main themes we carried from the TV series were the Yu-Gi-Oh! transformation, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and the friendship themes,” said Sheinfeld. “We haven’t used those themes for a while, so it was a lot of fun to use them again, but with a more modern and cinematic approach.”

“We wanted the audience connecting again to those themes and at the same time we needed to adapt them to the tone of the movie and the style of the score,” Álvarez added. “Many times we also found ourselves deconstructing those themes and including them in our cues. Sometimes they were very obvious, sometime[s] they were ‘hidden’ somewhere within the orchestration.”

Álvarez and Sheinfeld have been writing music for the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime since the 2004 film Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie. In scoring Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD, the duo were joined by fellow L.A.-based composer Matt McGuire and N.Y.-based John Angier, both of whom are also longtime composers for Yu-Gi-Oh!.

On Twitter, Yu-Gi-Oh! music producer and editor Michael Brady expressed the possibility of publishing Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD’s soundtrack.

For more insights about the music composition process in the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, check out my write-up of a June 2015 live interview that Álvarez participated in, as well as a 2011 Reddit Ask-Me-Anything with Brady.

This week is the final week that Yu-Gi-Oh! DSoD is playing in theaters in the U.S. and Canada. If you haven’t already done so, visit yugiohtickets.com to find your local theater and showtimes. And if you have already seen it, why not see it again?

Yu-Gi-Oh! Producers Guenego, Murakami Talk The Dark Side of Dimensions

January 27, 2017 at 1:00 am | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
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Shane Guenego and Arthur Sam Murakami in a behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions
Shane Guenego (left) and Arthur “Sam” Murakami

Ah, looks like there’s more behind-the-scenes content for Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions after all! Crunchyroll has posted an exclusive interview with Shane Guenego and Arthur “Sam” Murakami, longtime Yu-Gi-Oh! producers and writers at 4K Media, who describe their excitement in getting to work on a new story that comes straight from Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi. The anime’s original voice actors — Dan Green (Yugi), Eric Stuart (Kaiba), Wayne Grayson (Joey), Greg Abbey (Tristan), Amy Birnbaum (Téa), and Ted Lewis (Bakura) — all make a brief appearance in this video. Check it out.

The number of theaters listed on yugiohtickets.com is still growing. As of this writing there are 579 theaters in the U.S. and Canada screening the movie. Have you bought your ticket yet? Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions opens today, January 27. Don’t miss it!

Previously:
Dan Green (Yugi Muto) Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

Dan Green (Yugi Muto) Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

January 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Dan Green in a behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

For its final behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, 4K Media today posted an interview featuring Dan Green, the voice of Yugi Muto. Dan offers some insights into the evolution of his character, what it feels like to return to an old friend, and what the events of this movie mean to Yugi and his future.

Have you bought your ticket for the movie yet? There are now over 500 theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada listed on yugiohtickets.com. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions opens this Friday, January 27.

Previously:
Daniel J. Edwards (Aigami) Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

Daniel J. Edwards (Aigami) Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

January 17, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 1 Comment
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Daniel J. Edwards in a behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

What kind of character is Aigami and what are his goals? Actor and singer Daniel J. Edwards tells it like it is in this second behind-the-scenes interview promoting Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. Daniel also talks about what it’s like being a part of such an iconic anime series that he enjoyed years ago in middle school. And once again, there are many new clips from the movie!

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions premieres January 27 in the U.S. and Canada. Ticket sales and theater locations are available at yugiohtickets.com. The site now has over 430 theaters listed, and new locations will continue to be added up to opening day.

Previously:
Eric Stuart (Seto Kaiba) Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

Eric Stuart (Seto Kaiba) Talks Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

January 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Posted in English dubbed, Konami, The Dark Side of Dimensions, Yu-Gi-Oh! | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Eric Stuart in a behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions

What does voice actor and musician Eric Stuart think about returning to play Seto Kaiba after all these years? Check out an interview with the man himself in this first behind-the-scenes look at Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. Eric talks about his initial impressions of the film, his connection to Seto Kaiba, and how he is portraying the character in this movie. Plus, there are lots of new clips from the movie!

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions opens January 27 in the U.S. and Canada. For theater locations and ticket sales, visit yugiohtickets.com. There are 380 theaters listed as of this writing, with over 500 total theaters planning to screen the film. New locations will be added up to the release date.

If you don’t see your local theater listed, don’t be afraid to reach out to them to ask them to play the film. Theaters want to play movies that people want to see, so hit them up on Facebook, Twitter, or even with an old-fashioned phone call and show them that there’s interest!

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