[I lifted, (un)graciously, all the photos for this post from Jenn's site, THE BITTERMELON]
On June 26, I had the pleasure of being invited (along with my buddy Jenn Yin) to attend an award conferment ceremony and reception honoring the work of translator/author Frederik Schodt! Fred received the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his extensive work promoting Japanese popular culture in the United States. As anyone reading this blog knows, it'd be impossible to overstate the importance of Fred's work on the development of manga fandom outside of Japan. Fred's a generous and cool guy, and someone I deeply respect, so it was great to be a part of this event.
The award ceremony was held in San Francisco at the Official Residence of the Japanese Consul General, Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine. The award is given on behalf of the Japanese government, and signed by the Prime Minister and emperor. Check out the other wild & crazy folks to be awarded this, for some context. The full statement on Fred's work can be viewed on the Japanese Embassy site here [PDF].
The event was fancy but not as formal as I expected, featuring a number of speeches honoring Fred's work-- first as a translator, then later as an interpreter and finally (& most importantly) as a pioneering author introducing manga to English-speaking audiences. One crazy self-indulgent highlight for me was that Consul General Nagamine used an anecdote about Fred working as an interpreter at Sunkist headquarters that was straight from my long 2008 interview with Fred in Electric Ant #1!
The crowd there to honor Fred included his longtime translation partner Jared Cook, president of Tezuka Productions Takayuki Matsutani (who was super festive and flew over from Japan), Viz president Seiji Horibuchi, and assorted publishers & manga editors like Leonard Rifas (Educomics), Ian Robertson (Phoenix), Andy Nakatani (Pluto), Colin and Ron Turner (Last Gasp) and many others. In addition to drinks & dinner (YES), there were lots of interesting tidbits for us manga nerds. Like the fact that Blast's edition of Hideshi Hino's "Panorama of Hell" was the first ever non-flopped English manga publication. (Well, whatta ya know?)
Consul General Nagamine, Fred's nephew, Fia's son, Fred's rad wife Fia, and Fred.
Obligatory nerdy fanboys shot of me & Jenn, with the older and cooler Fred & Fia.
And of course, no official award reception is complete without a band of old buds jamming out to Ue wo Muite and the Todai fight song..
For a video clip of Fred's band playing (with the Pres. of Tezuka Production singing, and the Consul General dancing), check out Jenn's post.
UPDATE: As I was writing this post, I saw that Fred has posted notes from the speech he gave on his site. Enjoy!