Robert Woodhead is the founder and CEO of AnimEigo, the oldest surviving anime company in North America.
30 years ago, two nerds had a dumb idea – to subtitle anime and release it on videotape. Can you believe it? They actually thought people would buy such a thing!
Normally, they would tell a few people about their “stroke of genius,” get loudly mocked, and that would be it. Unfortunately, one of the nerds happened to know Toshio Okada, one of the founders of Gainax.
Okada also knew a dumb idea when he saw it, but he had a twisted sense of humor. If this foolish gaijin was willing to fly to Japan and humiliate himself, he was going to “help” as much as possible. So he not only arranged appointments at a bunch of anime companies but hired an expert interpreter to accompany him, to ensure that all the people he met could properly appreciate just how deluded he was.
Unfortunately, he made a crucial mistake – he forgot to include the interpreter in on the joke. She thought this was actually serious business, and so she did her very best to translate the nerd’s confused babbling into coherent Japanese, with great success.
And so it was that Natsumi Ueki and Robert Woodhead spent a week schlepping around Tokyo. But at the end of their time together, she made the greatest mistake of her life; when he asked her out on a date, she said yes.
30 years, 2 children, and hundreds of hours of anime and live-action films later, she remains singularly focused on her goal: preventing a goofball from going bankrupt! So far, despite his best efforts, she has succeeded.
A longer and allegedly accurate version of this origin story can be found here.
AT THE CON
AnimEigo’s Robert Woodhead and Natsumi Ueki will host panels and present a special screening of MADOX-01.