Topic: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview  (Read 5629 times)

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How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« on: October 31, 2012, 10:24:40 am »
Not too long ago, a good friend of mine recently went to Japan to take a vacation and decided to go site seeing. But on one faithful night while traveling through Akihabara with another web comic artist, wah__ of Mistake of Youth fame.

The two decided they would go to a gaming bar where they would end up meeting face to face with the creator of Touhou himself…ZUN (seen in the right in the picture below)!
Meet Konstantin Koptev (left), a good old friend of mine that I’ve known since the days of the Tsunami Channel. To explain, Konstantin was a Russian who moved to the US and attended CMU in Pittsburg where he met a Japanese man named Akira Hasegawa who the two would work together on ideas for comics until Akira later created the Tsunami Channel.

I would eventually come across this web comic series and then meet the two of them online and eventually became good friends and kept contact with them ever since. (I even have my own blog spot on there if you look back a few pages in the Tsunami Channel, the same for Konstantin).

Sometime after the Tsunami Channel came to a halt because of Akira's life changing when he returned to Japan, I began to take my interest in Touhou and later found out Konstantin was into it as well. Thus, the two of us would become involved in Touhou.

Eventually Konstantin moved to the West Coast where he would make a living and on occasions take trips to Japan. And as mentioned earlier, on the day of October 25th, 2012, he managed to do something I didn’t think most of us would do.

Sit down, and actually talk face to face with ZUN (as seen right of picture)….

I have asked for permission from Konstantin to share his story and picture to the community and was told that he even asked ZUN if it was ok for him to do the same, so in the end I have been given permission to provide you this interview.

As of October 31, 2012, at around 1 AM Central time, I was able to meet up with Konstantin and have a talk with him about his adventure in Japan and discuss with him about the event of him meeting up with ZUN.

As of this point of the discussion, I will proceed to our interview where I talked to him about that night…

Quote
Totaku: Alright, I guess before I begin, I was kind of curious if you wouldn't mind me sharing my story with the community since they may find this interesting.

Konstantin: Sure thing, though I'd like to reiterate that I was pretty intoxicated throughout the encounter, and got progressively more so as it went along.

Moreover, my Japanese is not exactly fluent, so What I think was said and what was actually said may not be the exact same thing.

Totaku: Something tells me I figured you must of gotten pretty drunk while hanging with ZUN.

Konstantin: Well, we did meet at a bar

Totaku: Anyways, I guess I’ll began by asking about how you two ended up meeting.

Cause I kind of wondered how you managed to spot him while at a bar. I'm surprised he wasn't busy with a meeting or at an interview at the time since I hear sometimes when he goes to bars is while discussing matters with fellow staff members.

Konstantin: Met up with wah earlier that night, and mentioned that I've been a fan of his blog and comic and have been meaning to buy him a beer. He suggested a couple of bars in Akihabara (since that's where we were), one of them being The A Button.

Since the idea of a gamer bar was extremely appealing to me and extremely Akiba, we settled on that. So we're sitting at the end of the bar, drinking, occasionally chatting with the bartender, who's a big-time gamer, naturally, when I notice that among various game paraphernalia strewn around the bar, there are quite a bit of Touhou stuff.

I congratulate the bartender on his taste in decor, and mention that I'm a huge Touhou fanboy.

At that point, wah mentions that ZUN actually drinks there occasionally, and that he met him there earlier on. At this point I'm pretty fuzzy whether it was wah or the bartender, but one of them looked at the table in the corner, right next to the end of the bar where we were sitting, and mentions that that's ZUN sitting right there.

I look over and it, in fact, was him! Minus the hat, but definitely looking like ZUN and wearing a ZUN shirt

Totaku: I bet you were quite excited!

Konstantin: After the initial holy crap wears off, I check with wah whether it would be appropriate to buy ZUN a beer, and, getting a positive answer, proceed to do so. I keep on drinking and chatting with wah, trying not to stare too hard, and eventually the beer makes it to the table, the bartender talks a bit to ZUN, and he turns around and takes notice of us. This develops into about an hour-long on-again off-again conversation between me, ZUN, wah, the bartender, and the guys at ZUN's table.

Totaku: Makes me kind of curious, what did you talk to ZUN about?

Konstantin: Various stuff.

Totaku: Anything fascinating in particular.

Konstantin: First off, the obligatory “I'M A HUGE FAN OF YOUR GAMES” fanboy drooling. Followed up with thanking him for his general contribution to doujin culture, which led to a discussion of the difference between doujin and indies, Touhou fandom in the West, the scope of the fandom, and what different people find attractive in Touhou.

Also random asides about cultural and linguistic comparisons between Japanese, American, and Russian stuff.

At one point he mentioned being interested in what a Western con was like.

Totaku: Oh, that’s actually very fascinating! Because someone from the Maiden of the Kaleidoscope crew was interested in wanting to someday see if they could get him to come here to the US to attend a con.

Konstantin: And I _think_ suggested that he'd be interested in visiting AWA at some point (at which point I plugged Sakura-con, and Seattle in general, as a hub of US Touhou fandom)

I also mentioned that I've purchased all of his games, often paiying $30-40 for the privilege. To which he remarked that they should have been in the $10-15 range.

Totaku: Yup, import costs are really expensive.

Konstantin: So I think if the case could be made to him that people abroad want his games and are getting ripped off due to lack of a legitimate licensor, he could be persuaded to consider some sort of Western release. Though he made no indications that he was actually considering such a move, or was, in fact, open to such.

Totaku: Figured as such.

Konstantin: It did come up that there are fan translations out there, and that the fans are sufficiently able to understand most of the cultural references.

Pretty much I did my best to try to express my thanks for the whole massive thing he spawned, to convey the fact that there's a large Western fandom following the whole phenomenon, and to lobby for catering to that fandom.

Totaku: But anyways, I guess ZUN was quite impress to know that western fandom is out there.

Course when I think about it, he's been exposed to Walfas, and some westerner have come out there, to try to meet him, but approaching him directly has been pretty hard to do. You're probably one of the few from the West that actually had a chat with the man himself.

Are there any other interesting points or view ZUN brought up based on your chat with him?

Konstantin: Aside from that, there was also some discussion of his trip to Europe and beer in general.

Totaku: This brings up a very fun question one fan mentioned he was curious about.  Any mention about his favorite brand of beer?

Konstantin: He seems to consider Kirin lager to be one of the smoother beers, and thus tends to prefer it, though he doesn't really have a favorite beer.

Totaku: Mmm is that so? Oh and since you brought up about the US, have you mentioned about the micro breweries we have here?

Konstantin: Not really, though I did mention that I've been to a Belgian pub with over 400 local beers at one point. Not sure if I told it to ZUN in Japanese or wah in English, though. I was pretty tankered at that point.

Totaku: Hahahaha I imagine so, I wonder how well ZUN handles his beverages? Anyways, Did he also mention anything about Whiskey in his discussion?  Another fan brought this up since he said he noticed ZUN had a thing for Whisky based on a twitter pic he found.

Konstantin: Not really, or at least not that I can remember. Wouldn't be surprised, but I never asked. Plus I know nothing about whiskey anyway…

Totaku: Did you two talk about any kind of comparisons on your and his views on Touhou fans and their interest?

Konstantin: Did explain to him the concept of secondary fan, to which he supplied an equivalent Japanese term, which I can't for the life of me remember

Totaku: Did mention anything about his married life in particular or is he still his same old productive self?

Konstantin: He seems to be working. He did mention he was going to an upcoming music-oriented con. I think M3

Totaku: Ah I see. I also heard he's going to the beer festival that's taking place later this year as well. Or at least he supplied his new art piece of Beer-ko for the event.

Konstantin: Anyway, I should really be trying to get some sleep, jet lag not with standing.

Totaku: Ah ok well, I think you answered enough questions for now. If I may ask, may I use your photo you taken as well?

Konstantin: Sure! I specifically asked him if it was OK for me to publish the photo on the Internet.

Totaku: Anyways, thanks a lot for the time!

Konstantin: And I guess I should really de-lurk and join the english-language fandom at some point

Totaku: I’ll post you the link when I get it fixed up.

Konstantin: In my defense, I didn't even know ZUN was a customer at that bar when I picked it. Anyways, have a good night!

Totaku: Yes sir, good night to you too!

That concludes the discussion I had with him that night about the event.

I’m going to see if I can get him to talk some more about the event in the course of the next few days.  But as for now I thought it be best to share with you what I did get to learn about his time ZUN since he allowed me to share it with you all.

We both had hoped to one day meet ZUN in our lives, but we had no clue that one of us would meet him up and talk with him!

The interview was done via instant message and I do have the discussion saved if needed. Konstantin also has a twitter if you want to see more facts regarding this.

Anyways, hope you enjoy this interview. I hope he can provide me more for you all to listen to since he doesn't mind sharing his story to you all.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2012, 10:27:42 am by Totaku »
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 10:31:00 am »
That was... actually a neat interview. Thanks for writing it up!

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2012, 11:08:32 am »
That is a very good interview. Makes me happy (and sad) to hear he might be thinking about going to a US con. I mean, most of you guys would get a chance to see him...

Whilst I sit here cursing my location and lack of money. >>

But yeah, that was a lovely little insight. Good job~
And good timing on your friend's part. Bet he won't be forgetting that moment anytime soon. XD

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 12:37:35 pm »
Although I'm positive ZUN is fully aware that a western Touhou fanbase exists, it's interesting that the specific point of what western fans pay for the games was brought up - and that he said we're being charged double. I would love to see an interview with him that delves into the subject of the WTC more.

A fun read overall. Also, way to plug west-coast cons to the guy. Why you gotta hate on Otakon??

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2012, 04:04:25 pm »
Whoa, very interesting! Quite the moment of a lifetime.

Also, way to plug west-coast cons to the guy. Why you gotta hate on Otakon??

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2012, 05:25:04 pm »
and that he said we're being charged double.
Yeah, Japanese store prices for the games are somewhere in the 1000-1500 yen range, which would be the 10-15 USD approximately. And from what I've heard the 30-40 USD form import stores is without shipping even.

Anyway, interesting read. I've always wondered why there was that longstanding myth of Zun not caring at all about the west, seems more like there was just never any attempts to show him around the WTC so he can actually form an opinion.

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2012, 06:23:48 pm »
Yeah, Japanese store prices for the games are somewhere in the 1000-1500 yen range, which would be the 10-15 USD approximately. And from what I've heard the 30-40 USD form import stores is without shipping even.

Anyway, interesting read. I've always wondered why there was that longstanding myth of Zun not caring at all about the west, seems more like there was just never any attempts to show him around the WTC so he can actually form an opinion.

That was one thing that baffled me at first before I really learned about doujin games was why some cost so little compared to others. To be honest, I think people take ZUN rejecting some previous requests from importers as evidence and Sanaku Complex just runs with it from there. Always bugs me how some fake ZUN as some western hating greedy person even though there's very little to prove it. It's kinda like we have our own tabloid service...

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2012, 07:04:11 pm »
Obviously you need to bring ZUN to the US, supply him a whole brewery, and the next day he will wake up with a slight headache and all the Touhou games already on Steam. :P

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 09:52:24 pm »
Well, if he ever feels like coming to Sakuracon, we'll do all we can to make this happen.  :D

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 09:57:12 pm »
That was one thing that baffled me at first before I really learned about doujin games was why some cost so little compared to others. To be honest, I think people take ZUN rejecting some previous requests from importers as evidence and Sanaku Complex just runs with it from there. Always bugs me how some fake ZUN as some western hating greedy person even though there's very little to prove it. It's kinda like we have our own tabloid service...
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2012, 01:45:20 am »
That's Konstantin of Tsunami Channel? Yes, I totally remember Tsunami Channel and the web comic alliance it's a part of. I'd never expected to hear about them in this place, together with wah__ and ZUN in one post.  :D
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2012, 12:56:34 pm »
Heh, meeting ZUN? No big deal. :smugaya:

But that's pretty cool about him wanting to go to a western con. Hope someone can make it happen.

Also, if I remember correctly, he didn't actually go to M3, but his wife was on staff, according to one of his tweets.

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2012, 05:18:17 am »
That's Konstantin of Tsunami Channel? Yes, I totally remember Tsunami Channel and the web comic alliance it's a part of. I'd never expected to hear about them in this place, together with wah__ and ZUN in one post.  :D

Yes, that's indeed him. It's quite magnificent what you learn when you're closely connected with a group you helped out in a community (even if it's ages ago, I still talk to him very often). I do feel like I want to answer the other questions but I may leave that for Konstantin to do. (He's decided he's going to come here to talk...or... maybe lurk??? But I know he's registered cause I had to help him through some complications.).

I've also been getting plenty of responds both here and IRC which pleases me. : ) So I look forward to having him come here to talk sometime.

I did try to interview him some more, but unless you want to hear Konstantin talk about finding the Japanese equivalent to "God damn you!" and some other non-sense there isn't much else I can share.

Either way, I'm glad I could provide you all with some useful information.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 07:05:50 am by Totaku »
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2012, 01:13:44 pm »
But that's pretty cool about him wanting to go to a western con. Hope someone can make it happen.

At least this shows that ZUN is willing to move west a bit instead of keeping his brain child Japan exlusive-ish. Who know what great things can come from that. The western Touhou fandom is an entity of it's own, so it'd be nice if it got some attention.
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2012, 10:01:57 am »
That was an interesting read, and I am glad he took the chance to approach and have a chat. Again here it shows that language brings you closer to people. Not just ZUN, I would prefer to have a chit chat with quite a lot of artists/people on this planet. Doesn't have to be just the doujin/manga/anime corner.

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2012, 06:00:06 am »
It would be awesome if we can bring ZUN to the US to attend a con as a guest (and if we do, then it goes without saying I'll attend that con regardless of the cost and location XD). Me and my friend were once considering kick starting some kind of project to invite ZUN to the U.S., but he dropped out of it. I'm still interested in seeing if we can invite him... As a matter of fact, if I manage to run into him this winter I would like to ask him :D (although this is only possible if I have some monstrous amount of good luck like Konstantin in this post here lol)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 06:02:23 am by DeltaSierra4 »
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2012, 12:24:59 am »
It would be awesome if we can bring ZUN to the US to attend a con as a guest (and if we do, then it goes without saying I'll attend that con regardless of the cost and location XD). Me and my friend were once considering kick starting some kind of project to invite ZUN to the U.S., but he dropped out of it. I'm still interested in seeing if we can invite him... As a matter of fact, if I manage to run into him this winter I would like to ask him :D (although this is only possible if I have some monstrous amount of good luck like Konstantin in this post here lol)
But that's if he says yes, which is probably the hardest part. He may be showing an interest in the west, but that alone may not be enough.
But you never know what might happen :] If you ever succeed in bringing ZUN this side of the world, I'm pretty sure the attendance at the con would shatter records  :D
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2012, 08:26:17 pm »
But that's if he says yes, which is probably the hardest part. He may be showing an interest in the west, but that alone may not be enough.
But you never know what might happen :] If you ever succeed in bringing ZUN this side of the world, I'm pretty sure the attendance at the con would shatter records  :D

lol true :D Results are not guaranteed but I think it's still worth giving a shot (given that I have any chance at all to run into ZUN in a bar like that XD)
if ZUN comes to Katsu or Otakon or something, I wonder how many people would attend XD
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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2012, 08:07:43 am »
Exciting read, neat to see a bit of ZUN's perspective on the western fandom.

Also despite being a west coaster myself I'd be perfectly fine with ZUN attending AWA because it's a pretty great con (I've flown to Atlanta two years in a row to meet up with friends there) and it seems to have a pretty visible Touhou fandom (not sure about how other cons rank there, I haven't been to any others since Touhou became a Thing in the west).  :V

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Re: How a Good Friend of Mine Managed to Meet ZUN : The Interview
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2012, 12:08:37 am »
It's pretty cool that your friend got to meet ZUN in person, indulging in his quirky pastimes to boot...

On the note about coming over to U.S., though, I think it's a good thing that I commit to Artists' Alleys regularly, then. That kind of job already grants me the incentive and access to visit various conventions across the U.S., so regardless of which one ZUN might pick in the future (if he ever does legitimately agree to such a thing), I'll probably be there anyway~ :3

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