Please give a warm welcome to Kenichi Sonoda as he returns to Chicago for the World Premiere of Episode 0 of BEAN BANDIT to be unveiled for the very first time at #ACen2019! More news and guests to follow!

Kenichi Sonoda was born on December 13, 1962 in Kumamoto, Japan. While attending the Nanba Designer Academy, he formed the doujinshi circle “VTOL” with highschool clubmates, and started self-publishing work. Around that time, he started a part time job at a Kinokuniya bookstore in Osaka, Japan. As word of his drawing skills spread, he created advertisements for magazines, and worked on illustrations for posters and goods from Gainax’s forerunner General Products.

This work caught the attention of a designer at the animation studio Artmic, gaining Mr. Sonoda the opportunity to contribute to the design of Gall Force, a set of model kits and a story serialized in the magazine Model Graphix illustrated with photographs of the models. The success of Mr. Sonoda’s polished designs led to the series becoming an anime, with him as character designer. Moving to Tokyo, Mr. Sonoda worked at Artmic fulltime and became the character designer for the OVAs Bubblegum Crisis/Bubblegum Crash and Wanna-Be’s.

He was the original creator of Riding Bean, as well as director, character designer, mechanic setting designer, and storyboard artist, becoming one of the few mangaka to contribute heavily to the storyboarding of an adaptation of their own manga.

As a guest designer at Gainax he contributed to Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise in 1987, doing some character, mechanical, and scenery design.

After that, Mr. Sonoda turned his attention to manga and creating works of his own, creating Gunsmith Cats, one of his most famous works, later nominated for both Harvey and Tezuka awards. During this time, he worked for Gainax once more to design the characters for Otaku no Video. In 1997 he put Gunsmith Cats on hiatus to launch the manga Cannon God Exaxxion. After the conclusion of Cannon God Exaxxion in 2004, he resumed Gunsmith Cats and created a follow-up, Gunsmith Cats Burst. He is a contributor to the video game Idol Janshi Suchie-Pai. In 2005, he did the conceptual design for the anime Solty Rei. Mr. Sonoda’s style has had a profound influence on the look and feel of anime of the 80’s and 90’s.

Mr. Sonoda is a noted firearm enthusiast, owning several replica guns. In addition to being an artist, Mr. Sonoda is also the 19th-generation owner of his family’s historic Sonodaya traditional candy store in Kumamoto, and created mascot characters for the store. One of his favorite movies is The Blues Brothers.

More recently, Mr. Sonoda has successfully launched his new anime project BEAN BANDIT, and he will be premiering Episode 0 right here at ACen!

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