If you’ve ever wanted to go back to 1999, you can . . . in virtual reality. Nostalgia1999, which showcases what an otaku teen’s room may have looked like in July 1999, is now available on VRChat thanks to Toei Animation’s ONN’ON STUDIOS, with help from Sony. Each Friday until March 31, “parties” are being offered in the room, and you can also watch 90s anime there. Koichi Noguchi, a creative producer of Toei Animation/ONN’ON project, spoke to Otaku USA about this unique creation.
Where did the idea of Nostalgia1999 come from? Why specifically 1999?
The source of my idea was the book “Made in Japan” written by Akio Morita, Chairman of SONY. At the time when Japan was expanding overseas, anime was also gaining recognition overseas under the name of “Japanimation.” I wanted to recreate the home appliances and anime, the economy and culture of that time. And on a different axis, the “Great Prophecy of Nostradamus,” a prophecy of terror, was also popular in Japan. We, the planning staff, were excited to recreate that time when hope and chaos coexisted in the Metaverse space, and we set the stage for the production in “July 1999.”
What do you hope people enjoy about Nostalgia1999?
First of all, we want visitors to enter the room and feel as if they have stepped back in time. There are many Sony products and Toei Animation animation goods from that era, so we want visitors to enjoy the sense of nostalgia. There is also a puzzle-solving game, which I hope visitors will try to solve.
What can you tell us about ONN’ON STUDIOS?
ONN’ON STUDIOS has been launched as a metaverse project of Toei Animation. The concept of “ONN’ON,” as it goes without saying, is “on and on,” and is to provide a “playground” that continues to proliferate in the metaverse space. As the first project, “ToeiDogaStudio1956,” Japan’s first animation studio, Toei Doga Studio, built in 1956, was recreated on VRChat. The second project, “Nostalgia1999,” reproduced the room of a Japanese high school student in 1999. We are preparing a multiverse world as the third part of the project, and we hope you will enjoy it.
Can you share anything we have to look forward to in ONN’ON STUDIOS and Nostalgia1999?
In fact, we have one more fun trick up our sleeve. In “Nostalgia1999,” a character named Memory dances the “para para” dance that was popular in Japan at a certain time. It is a very impressive dance stage, so please try to dance with her. Just look forward to when it will appear. ToeiDogaStudio1956 has a variety of hidden characters outside the studio, so be sure to look for them.
Did your room look a little like this in 1999?
My room was about the same size, and although I had posters, cassette tapes, VHS, anime merchandise, and appliances, it was impossible to purchase so many Sony products. As for the setup of the owner of this room, he is a high school son whose father works for Sony. I am so jealous! I especially wanted an aibo.
If there is anything else you want American fans to know about, please share.
I feel that a Japanese teenager’s room is not much different from “Nostalgia1999” today. It may be a small one-room apartment, with appliances, manga, and anime goods. Animators’ desks in animation studios are sometimes filled with more character goods. Maybe the same is true for American animators, but I hope that these high school students will eventually become super animators or geeks who design appliances and gadgets that amaze everyone.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.