I Work in the Anime Industry and Everybody Hates Me!
A few months after all of the exciting events between Joy and Liam, Toon Motion Studios had finally begun working on the localization of the show Justice Hero Knight Lancer that had debuted at All-Out Anime Festival. Joy had been given the task of timing the subtitles for the simulcast. After all the buzz from the convention, it had been a huge hit. Of course, there was little wonder that it was. The manga was already very popular, so it only stood to reason that the anime would be, too.
On one particular afternoon, the production manager Ryan called Joy into his office. What he was about to propose to her was bigger than anything she’d ever been involved in during her last several years of working with Toon Motion.
“Say Joy, have you heard about this upcoming anime, The Legend of Kick Fist?”
“Oh, yes actually, I have! Chris wouldn’t stop talking my ear off about it a few months ago. He said the manga was really popular, so based on his recommendation I started reading it in my free time. It really is just as good as he said it was!”
Ryan grinned at Joy’s enthusiastic response. “Oh, well that’s perfect then! ‘Cause I’ve got something really exciting I want to let you in on. Actually, we’re hoping to acquire the distribution rights to the Legend of Kick Fist anime.”
Joy was floored hearing this. “No way! This is a huge license, though! You don’t think another studio like Ramen Media is going to come in and scoop up the rights?”
“Well, it’s true that they have a lot more money than we do. However, we’ve been seeing some pretty amazing success and high praises from the way we’ve handled Justice Hero Knight Lancer. We’re in the middle of putting together a portfolio right now to hopefully woo the rights holders into trusting us with the Kick Fist license.”
“Wow, sir, do you really think they’re going to go for that?”
“Hard to say. Hell, it might not even be likely! But that’s why we didn’t want to take any chances. Usually, this is just something we’d conduct through business calls and e-mails. But we’re so serious about this license, we’re arranging meetings with the rights holders in Tokyo in person.”
“Oh, no kidding! You’re gonna have face-to-face meetings with them in Japan?”
“That’s right. And we were hoping we could get you involved as well.”
Joy was confused. What did she have to do with obtaining distribution rights?
“Sir, I don’t understand. You know I don’t work in acquisition.”
“No, but I know you’ve had quite a bit of interest in slowly learning bits and pieces of other parts of the localization process, haven’t you? You’ve been with us nearly four years now, just doing the same old things. And you’re really good at it! But I think you could get a lot of good experience by trying some things you’ve never done before.”
Joy looked down at her hands in her lap. None of this made any sense. “Sir, I really appreciate your faith in me, but a license like The Legend of Kick Fist? That’s way too important to put somebody new to work on.”
“Joy, if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t even be working on Justice Hero Knight Lancer at all. You tackled a thief in the middle of the street before he could leak our secure media to the public, and we haven’t heard of any other mischief from him ever since. If rights holders know that we have someone like you protecting their product overseas, there’s no telling how much that would be a boost in our favor.”
“Are you really sure, sir?”
Ryan smiled at his nervous video team member. “Well, it’s certainly not like we’d be sending you on your own. Nicole has been handling quite a bit of our licensing discussions as of late, so she and Minato would be joining you as a team. Nicole will be handling most of the business aspects of things while Minato translates and interprets. All you have to do is be our trump card, and I’m sure you’ll pick up a thing or two about how we handle business.”
“Wow. That’s a lot.” Joy thought to herself in silence for only a few moments. “But it’s definitely something I’m extremely interested in. Thank you, sir! Please, send me whatever details you can.”
As the day came to a close, Ryan and Joy walked in tandem out to their own separate vehicles in the parking lot. Joy thankfully had been able to scrape together just enough money to get some engine repairs done, so now driving herself home was no longer an issue. Unfortunately, it also meant that she was now flat broke all over again.
“Thank you so much for the talk today, sir! I’m so excited about the business trip!”
“You bet, Joy. Stay safe! The Legend of Kick Fist is too important, so get some good rest before our flight next Tuesday.”
“Yes, sir. See you tomorrow!”
Both employees got in their separate cars and drove their separate ways. Meanwhile around the corner, Liam was still quietly keeping tabs on what was happening at Toon Motion Studios. Did he overhear them correctly? Joy would be flying somewhere to talk about The Legend of Kick Fist? Unacceptable! Liam had been unable to prevent Toon Motion from working on Justice Hero Knight Lancer, but there was no way he was going to let such an important anime title like Kick Fist get the filthy westernization treatment.
The following Tuesday came, and Joy was picked up at her apartment by Ryan, who was also driving the project manager Nicole and the translator Minato in a carpool to the airport. Little did they suspect that Liam was following along closely behind them in a dingy old blue Suburban.
After parking their cars, Liam followed the group in through the sliding glass doors to the ticket counter. Once again, Liam had become a master of disguise, cleverly masking himself in a trenchcoat, oversized hat, glasses, and a fake mustache, carrying nothing more than a duffel bag full of essentials with him. He could overhear Ryan giving his team one last pep talk before leaving them there.
“Well, guys, the future of Toon Motion Studios is in your hands. No pressure, huh?”
Joy chuckled nervously. She wouldn’t say it out loud, but actually she was feeling quite a lot of pressure.
“Don’t worry, sir,” Minato replied. “We’ll come back with those rights to The Legend of Kick Fist. You can count on it.”
“Heh, I know you won’t, Minato. All right, you guys have a safe flight to Tokyo!”
“Thank you, sir!” Joy replied. With that, Ryan left the three employees in the lobby to begin their check-in process.
That was it, the last missing piece of the puzzle. It was all that was left for Liam to hear for him to make his move. With a quickness, he approached the nearest ticket counter and spoke to the clerk at the desk.
“Hello, sir! How can I help you today!”
“Hello miss. I need one plane ticket to Tokyo, please.”
“Sure thing! We have two flights available today. The first one is—”
“All that matters to me is that it gets there as quickly as possible. What’s the soonest flight you have?”
“Oh, no problem. Our earliest Tokyo flight is in an hour and a half.”
“Great, I’ll take it.”
“Wonderful, sir! May I see your passport, please?”
Liam considered himself lucky that he had planned so far ahead. After all, he was a genius.
Joy and her party had gotten through security long before Liam did, but he paid it no mind. He knew he had to run into them again eventually. He managed to pay for his flight and his baggage and get through security with plenty of time to start the boarding process. He still hadn’t quite pinpointed his opponents out, but he still wasn’t concerned about it. This was an enormous international flight, after all. They all eventually had to end up in the same place. Liam figured his best bet was to simply cover his face with his hat, close his eyes, and sleep through the flight.
Joy, Minato, and Nicole enjoyed a completely uneventful flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo and were greeted by a business partner in the lobby at the airport after leaving customs. For them, their new adventure and exciting adventure was just beginning.
Meanwhile, Liam stood in the Tokyo airport lobby, spending his very first moments in Japan looking for the people he’d been obsessively tailing for months. Why could he find neither hide nor hair of Joy and her crew? He thought he surely would have seen them at the baggage claim when their flight’s luggage came spilling out.
Unfortunately for Liam, despite the fact that he considered himself to be a super genius, he had neglected to learn some very basic information about Tokyo. What would have been most useful for him to know before jumping on a flight was that Tokyo in fact had two international airports. Joy, Minato, and Nicole had landed in Haneda. Liam, however, had landed in Narita. They had never been on the same flight.
Liam did not yet realize it, but Joy had already begun the earliest stages of working towards the acquisition of the newest and hottest anime of the season, while he would soon be lost in a city he had never researched, surrounded by people who spoke a language he did not understand.
Liam was screwed.