Otaku USA Magazine
Yamato X Tokyo: Two Great Tastes in One

Walter Amos, Tim, Matsumoto, Gwyn Campbell, Anton Kholodov, and Patrick

Sword Takeda, Patrick Macias, Gwyn Campbell, Walter Amos, and I convened in Shinjuku on the evening of December 4 and blasted off to Oizumi Gakuen, the Matsumoto-themed train station near Toei Studio in the Nerima Ward. There we snapped photos with the memorabilia, and the Galaxy Express 999’s conductor welcomed us into the Leijiverse. Russian Matsumaniac Anton Kholodov joined our ranks and we set off for a good half-hour walk through Nerima with Patrick recording it all for a podcast.

The Galaxy Express conductor
at the local train station

After what seemed like far too long a walk through an eerily unlit suburb (in which we were assuredly the most dangerous thing around) we spotted the green light of the navy watchtower that lit up Matsumoto’s compound. No other term seemed appropriate; his house was notably larger than all the others around it and a metal fence surrounded what in Tokyo terms must be an enormous yard.

We were welcomed inside by an assistant, traded shoes for slippers, and hung a left into the famous interview den seen for many years in video clips and magazine articles. We milled around for a few moments playing musical chairs until the man himself stepped in to greet us.

This time there was no mistaking him. At that moment we all wondered how we could have accepted any substitute even for a second.

Outside Matsumoto’s compound

We got down to business right away. I’d solicited questions from friends before coming here and had four dense pages to get through. I took the lead with the questions and the sensei took them into directions of his own choosing. After 15 minutes, we were still only on question #2 and trading worried looks. This had the makings of a long night. Sword picked up on this and got Matsumoto back on point, and after a few more minutes the ship was sailing in a straight line.

It became evident to me that he was resorting to pre-fab answers to questions I hadn’t asked, which I’d hoped he wouldn’t do, but he had no idea what we knew or didn’t know about him and obviously felt the need to run through a routine. Once we got past this, time was fading and Sword wisely chose not to interpret everything since it was all being recorded. When he later delivered a full text translation, it was as new to me as it will be to you when you read it.

Matsumoto with Gwyn Campbell and Anton Kholodov

I settled back when my part was over and let the others have their turn. Looking around, I recognized plenty of props and models from interview photos taken in this same room, and stared in wonder at the enormous number of boxes and packages stacked and piled up in the other half of the room. It was probably his only available storage space, which would not have made it my first choice of rooms to accept guests. On the other hand, it helped to make him more human and kept the gawky celebrity worship to a minimum.

Matsumoto sketches Captain
for the 12,000th time

We were occasionally interrupted by an assistant delivering tea and Matsumoto’s wife Maki Miyako (herself a famed manga artist doll designer) who asked at one point, “can they leave?” She wasn’t referring to us. His assistants were waiting around for him to finish some penciling for them to ink. We were actually stopping Matsumoto manga from being made.


After discussion came photos and autographs, which were given generously and received gratefully. Most of the others got original character sketches. I contented myself with a signature in my copy of Yamato Great Chronicle, which now contains the autographs of both Matsumoto and Hideaki Ito.

Finally, the time came for us to make our exit. I was the last one out, since I had my laptop to pack up. This meant I was the last one to tie my shoes as Matsumoto stood staring at me, the most (if only) awkward moment of the evening. No matter what, I simply couldn’t get those shoes tied fast enough. I feel like I’m still tying them now.

But this made me the last one to shake the hand from which all the magic had flowed. I said, “Thank you, Captain,” and was answered with, “See you again.”

Leiji Matsumoto and Patrick Macias

The walk back to the Matsumoto-themed train station seemed to take no time at all, since we yammered non-stop about the experience into Patrick’s podcast recorder. Anton had been the hit of the evening, tagged by the sensei himself when asked who he’d cast as a live-action Harlock. And after the misery following our first failed attempt at this interview, Sword glowed like a proud father.

If you’ll remember, I predicted that night that the mishap would result in a better interview, and it went way beyond that. We were granted almost three hours from a man we’d all idolized for decades. For nearly three hours, the river stopped flowing for our exclusive benefit.

Keep your eyes on both Otaku USA Magazine and starblazers.com for the full interview with Leiji Matsumoto.

Concluded in Part 4 >>

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