1. First off, tell us more about yourself and what you do!
Matt: I am a full time sword maker. I spend my working hours grinding 95% of all blades that come out of BKS. I enjoy comic books and movies. I have been a hardcore gamer my whole life. I am the leader of the oldest FPS gaming clan in the world (CYBA). I am currently playing CS:Go and League of Legends primarily.
Ilya: I started doing swords and armor professionally when I needed a job in graduate school studying philosophy. I primarily focus on competition grade, high end armor for Battle of Nations. When the Man at Arms project came around, I found the idea of making anime, pop culture, and video game weapons and armor for the viewer’s entertainment to be a dandy idea.
2. What’s your favorite thing about Japan? Do you have a favorite anime?
Matt:My favorite thing about Japan is the craftsmanship that goes into smithing and other artistic avenues. My favorite Anime at the moment is the Fate series. I am more of a gamer then Anime fan, but I dabble.
Illya: Ink painting and the food are my two favorite things about Japan.
The choice for my favorite anime is between Inuyasha, Kamisama Hajimemashita, and Nisekoi.
3. How did you get involved in blacksmithing? What’s your favorite piece that you’ve done on the channel?
Matt: I started down the blacksmithing path when I was in high school and needed a job. It fit with all of my artistic and engineering training and I never have done anything else since. My favorite piece that we have build on the show so far is the scissor blade. It’s the piece that changed everything for us. Once we stepped up the game on that episode we raised the bar and have had a high-level difficulty in at least two builds a season ever since.
Ilya: I got involved because of my medieval reenactment background. My favorite piece is Saber’s Excalibur, with the Skyrim helmet being a close runner up.
4. Can you tell us more about one of your panels?
Both: Our panels are unique. We really open ourselves up to the crowd and field a ton of questions. We don’t shy away from anything. Ilya and I have very contrasting perspective on things and keep the crowd lively with our banter. Our goal is to give the attendees a unique look into the challenges faced with bringing huge, wacky and sometimes poorly designed arms and armor into real life. We also give an in depth look at how we choose the builds for the episodes and some background on the craftsmen. We bring several pieces that we have made and talk about them in detail.
5. Finally, what are you most excited for at Anime USA?
Matt:I am most excited about connecting with the fans. We don’t come to make money. I am slo excited to meet the cast of Cowboy Beebop and other guests. Of course I am always excited to see what crazy cosplays the community comes up with.
Ilya: I’m most excited for the Host Club.