The second day of Anime Expo 2008 brought a lot more interesting things for the visual novel fan. Circus held a mini-concert in front of their booth, featuring Cy-Rim rev. and Aina Kase and also presented a panel on their games later on, announcing the future availability of Da Capo and Suika AS+ in English. Okashi Studios presented a panel introducing the audience to ren’ai (romance) games. On July 5, 2008 at 8PM PDT we will be holding a live feed from the JAST panel.
At their booth in the exhibition hall, Circus held a miniature concert featuring artists who sang for their games. The first to be on stage was Aina Kase, the artist who performed the opening and ending songs to Sora wo Tobu, Mittsu no Houhou (空を飛ぶ、３つの方法。), an upcoming game published by La’cryma. Next on stage was Cy-Rim rev., the band who performed the main theme song for D.C.P.K. Da Capoker (ダ・カーポーカー), a fandisc featuring characters from both Da Capo and Da Capo II published by Circus. The CEO of Circus, tororo (also called tororo-danchou), who handles production, planning and song creation, and illustrator Yuka Kayura led the audience in some jubilant cheering during the performance. Two cosplayers at the booth also passed out promotional materials from Circus, including a sampler disc from MangaGamer that includes a trial version of Edelweiss, opening movies to Da Capo and Suika AS+ as well as a “What’s Dating Sim Games?” video.
Later on during the day, Okashi Studios presented a panel titled “Romance 101: Introduction to Ren’ai Video Games” where they introduced the audience to romance games. They invited two audience members to voice act in their presentation, which ran on their game engine. Highlights of the panel included heated shouts in the audience at points in the presentation when there were choices available for the progression of the “game”. One of the panelists pointed to the rise of visual novels on the Nintendo DS and the large amount of games oriented towards girls available.
Finally, the main event of the day for the visual novel fan was Circus’s 18+ panel on their games. Convention staff had rooms reserved to seat attendees waiting for the panel to start. 10 minutes before the panel, they had already filled one of the small waiting rooms and had to overflow into another. By the time the panel started, more than two hundred attendees had filed into the panel room.
Shizuki Yamashita, the moderator and translator for the panel introduced the audience to Circus. First up was the producer, promoter, composer and self-proclaimed “Steve Jobs of the bishoujo game industry”, tororo. He introduced himself as being from Saitama and introduced Circus as a company that creates moe games and is interested in creating games not only for Japan, but for the US and worldwide markets as well. When he asked the audience if they knew of Circus’s game, Da Capo, the audience replied with a fervent cheer of “YES!” He then proceeded to also tell the audience that Circus is starting to make games aimed at women, to which the mostly male audience gave a delayed applause. Jokingly, he said “Good response from the women, but…”
Next up in the introductions was Yuka Kayura, who drew art for Da Capo II, including the character designs for Otome Asakura, voted #1 character of the game in G’s Magazine. She’s also currently has a manga adaptation of Suika being serialized in G’s Magazine Comic Festival.
After Yuka Kayura, Cy-Rim rev. (pronounced sigh-lyuum revolution) introduced themselves. The lyricist and vocalist of the group is miru and the composer and guitarist of the group is MASA. Their name derives from the term the Japanese use to refer to glowsticks: sairyuumu (from cyalume). The term is familiar to a lot of Japanese and furthermore, their songs take on color themes. MASA then tells the story of how they met.
One day, MASA was in Ueno and he was walking down the street with a piece of bread in his mouth. Then, at an intersection, he collided with a running miru and dropped his bread. At that time, tororo-danchou shows up and asks “did you drop the golden bread, or the silver bread, or the normal bread?” And that’s how Cy-Rim rev. was created. The audience erupted in laughter.
Next up was Aina Kase, who introduced herself as being a kouhai (younger colleague) of Cy-Rim rev. The reason she came to Anime Expo 2008 was because she sang songs for the upcoming Sora wo Tobue, Mittsu no Houhou and wanted to talk about the game. This is the first time she came to the US and she was really amazed at how big and beautiful the US was. In the short amount of time she’s been here, she’s visited Hollywood, Santa Monica, and even a strip club. She joined her label this March and is releasing a single in September. Before her debut, she had attended the dwango School under their seiyuu and talents division.
Sora wo Tobu, Mittsu no Houhou is a game from La’cryma coproduced by Broccoli and Circus. The game is labeled as a “love flight adventure.” There are two very known ways of flying in the sky. One way is to use your imagination and one way is to use machinery, like an airplane. The point of the game is to find the third and final way to fly in the sky, a way of using only one’s own power.
The big announcement, as everyone had guessed by now, was that they will be publishing games officially in English through MangaGamer, a Dutch operation. They proceeded to show a video introducing the viewer to bishoujo games and the games available from Manga Gamer. Featured were Da Capo, Suika and Edelweiss. This is the same video available on their sampler disc.
During question and answer, one person asked what MASA’s answer to the bread question was. MASA answered “I said yakisoba bread, but red bean bun is pretty good as well.” When asked about future game publishing and whether they’re putting out all the random Da Capo game titles, Circus replied that they’ll probably considering putting out Da Capo Plus Communication or Da Capo II next. The last question was on why Circus chose download distribution as opposed to packaged distribution, since a purchased download is not much different from illegal downloads in terms of benefits for the user. They responded that it is very difficult to create, print and ship packaged games and they wanted to gauge the market using a download-only distribution method. However, they are open to suggestions as to what format and what titles.
Circus concluded the panel with a raffle and a rocks-papers-scissors battle for a signed item.