The King Records industry panel at Anime Expo this year featured multi-talented creator and DJ Jun Inagawa, who spoke on his beloved animated series Magical Destroyers (aka “Magidesu“). During his Q&A, he also concurrently did a live drawing session.
Inagawa first designed the concept of the Otaku Hero during high school. As a self-professed otaku and anime fan, he grew up watching anime and reading manga, but as he attended school between the ages of 12 to 18 in the United States (San Diego), he only had one other friend who shared this interest. Inspiration struck and he thought, “What if otakus got banned, if pop culture got banned. If self-expression was rejected, if anime, music, all got banned.” This gave rise to the concept of the Otaku Hero.
Inagawa would spend hours drawing during high school, to the point where he’s now able to sketch the Otaku Hero in just 10 seconds flat, which he demonstrated live at the panel. He began drawing as a child, inspired by Yusuke Murata, creator of Eyeshield21 and One Punch Man.
Inagawa confessed that at one point, he did attempt to pitch the Otaku Hero concept and script to a manga publishing company in Japan but was ultimately rejected for his inexperience, and so, he returned to the US to “find himself.” Because he grew up only watching anime and reading manga, he figured he needed to explore a bit more and learn about what was out there. He ended up discovering skating subculture and hip hop, and took inspiration from all the different and new things he learned about and chaotic state of mind.
Admitted that he had originally presented the original script of Otaku Heroes to a publishing company in Japan, but they rejected it and said he needed more experience. So he came back to the US, to “find himself.” Because he grew up only watching anime and reading manga, he figured he needed to explore a bit more and learn about what was out there.
He moved to Los Angeles after high school and confessed he lived out of his car at the time because he had wanted to make connections and promote himself. He ended up discovering skating subculture and hip hop, which he had no idea about at the time. In LA, Inagawa said people would just come up to him to network and he’d constantly be meeting new people; it felt like his mind was constantly in a chaotic state from information overload, and he used that to fuel his inspiration in Magical Destroyers.
Inagawa was also very inspired by the very popular classic FLCL, particularly in the very chaotic energy of the series. He also quoted Charlie Kaufman’s films Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as inspirations also.
Eventually, upon working for King Records, Inagawa was asked to do a new character design, but upon revealing that he already had a storyboard in mind, the company allowed him to pitch his idea. This was the start of Magical Destroyers. Inagawa ended up working on the project around 40% of the time as a concept director, and allowed free creativity for the scriptwriter and producer, which in part contributed to the chaotic nature of the series itself. Inagawa admitted that even he was taken aback by the chaos when he watched episode 1, though ultimately he liked it. He also professed that “watching Otaku Hero is like watching his past self,” and sees the character as his figurative son and the girls in Magical Destroyers as his sisters.
In addition to all his work with art and Magical Destroyers, Inagawa also spent his time learning about music and DJing. He said he “sees music also as a form of art. It’s a different media, but it’s all about self-expression.” Inagawa recently started making music last year, and described making music and drawing as using the same type of “equation.”
As a last message to all his international fans, he said, “Love what you love. Stay passionate. Don’t give up. Life is beautiful. Magidesu looks like a joke but at the same time has a message of self-expression and tells you to love yourself.”