Whenever I do a big project that takes up a lot of my time, I feel the need to “write it off” after I’m done with it. It’s kind of a finalizing action to wrap it up all nicely and move on to other things. I think Friend Rice Event qualifies, since it ended up being way bigger than we expected. You see, there’s something we forgot…
“Do not underestimate anything that involves TIGER & BUNNY.”
We came up with the idea for the event in the middle of the night after watching episode 24. Aki wanted to make fried rice for episode 25 watch even though she had no idea how to cook it, so I said I’d make some too and serve it to Kotetsu and Barnaby and take a picture to post here at Sternbild. Aki wanted to do that too and then we thought it’d be fun if more people would join and send us photos of their fried rice with Tiger & Bunny characters. It really was a total spur of a moment thing that took us less than an hour to draft, make a banner and post. I thought that if we’d get a couple of dozen photos it’d already be awesome. Aki was a bit more ambitious and expected around 50 photos.
I was going to upload the photos and build the gallery only after the time was up, but by Tuesday morning we’d already received over 30 and the submissions were picking up speed. I realized I had to start working on it or it would turn into a mission impossible before we even hit the deadline. (It was a good decision. I’d been uploading and arranging the photos every day, so it only took a few hours after the deadline to get the final batch sorted out. That’s why we could publish the gallery so fast.) Then Japanese fans got interested in the event, too, so I decided we’d take submissions also on Twitter to make it easier for them.
A few people sent in cosplay photos, but we had decided that we wouldn’t accept those – the event was going to be about food and the characters themselves. We should probably have been more clear about this in the post, but since there were so few cosplay submissions, I think the instructions we gave were good as they were. There were a few photos I had to reject – some had food but no characters, some were inappropriate while trying to be funny. All in all, everyone really did their best for the event and it was exciting to see how creative the submissions were.
We received so many emails that we couldn’t respond to them personally. We really wanted to, because so many of you included messages also to me and Aki, telling how much fun you had with the event and cooking the food, picking the screencap to use, setting the table… Some of you even sent photos of yourselves cooking. Thank you, everyone! We’ve read every single message to us and we’re really happy you enjoyed the event so much.
“Expect the unexpected, and unexpected again.”
I know that many fans are following the staff and cast members on Twitter. It has made me see them as people, not just detached names and/or voices on screen – maybe it’s the same with you? Our wish was to show the people behind Tiger & Bunny in some way that we really love the show, and that we appreciate how hard they worked on it, even when they were told to give up. It was amazing to see how many wanted to take part in the event and send in pictures. We knew that getting a reply was a longshot at best, but despite that we wanted to try and reach at least one of the creators of Tiger & Bunny to pass our message and the photos to them.
The response the gallery got when it was published was overwhelmingly positive. It was featured on at least three different otaku news sites in Japan (and I was getting worried we couldn’t endure the amount of traffic we got – roughly 40 times our normal daily pageviews in just 24 hours), but that was just the beginning. Our message was acknowledged by director Satou Keiichi himself, who posted his thanks on Twitter:
We thought that was all, and we were really happy that the gallery had reached Director Satou. But just like in the lyrics of Orion wo Nazoru it couldn’t possibly end there. You really can’t imagine our surprise in the afternoon when I checked the webstats and saw an incoming link from screenwriter Nishida Masafumi’s blog. It felt totally unreal and I think we cried a little, too, when we read his response and how moved he was by all the food everyone had cooked. He had been worried about Barnaby’s line about fried rice in episode 24, so this must have made the response to it even more touching.
That still wasn’t enough, Executive Producer Ozaki Masayuki also responded on Twitter.
I know some Japanese fans who had been playing with the idea for Tiger & Bunny café, and personally I’m happy and excited that they’ll get to experience it. I hope we’ll get to see some pictures from there! (Anime theme cafés are pretty popular in Japan. Some are limited time events, some are more permanent.)
On September 18th, Executive Producer Ozaki posted on Twitter how Tiger & Bunny has fans all around the world, and how the series connects people despite differences in language and culture. Even if we don’t speak the same language well, we can still communicate, and in a way all of us fans are citizens of Sternbild. The event submissions were on the last stretch at the time Mr. Ozaki posted that update, and to me it felt really accurate and touching. The pictures we received were from all continents, after all. I’m betting I’m not the only one who’s made new friends from other countries thanks to Tiger & Bunny, and I’ve heard of Westerners starting to learn Japanese because of it, and of Japanese people wanting to learn more English. We’re proud of being among the amazing group of people that fans of Tiger & Bunny around the world are.
To everyone who took part in the event, whether it was in spirit or by sending photos: you made this happen. Thank you! And again, thank you!