Matt's activity and research in the realm of Thomas fandom can go back as 2004, when at the age of six, he discovered SiF and the forums of TV.com. He would read through them and ultimately discovered YouTube in 2005. The following year, Matt had an account alongside MTwillman, HarveySaltyFergus1, which was shortlived. He made a few brief shorts on this channel. They were ultimately deleted upon the switchover to MTwillman, but who knows who could have seen them and got inspired by this that would later inspire us all.
MTwillmanMatt's former channel. It all started with a simple unboxing review of the recently released Stanley of 2008. MTwillman was the primary account of HiroTheJapaneseTrain until the Google takeover of YouTube sometime around 2010, when the account became inaccesible due to its lack of connection with a Google account. The backup account, HiroTheJapaneseTrain managed to continue to be accessed, so it became the primary account. The videos and projects made under MTwillman can still be viewed, as the account is still open. The shaky camera and lack of editing, while a little much to sit through, are a part of Matt's history, and he loves it for that reason.
Thomas Creator CollectiveMatt was approached sometime in the summer of 2016 to join the TCC as a voice actor, to which he accepted the role of Luke in a bonus scene. For a while thereafter he was not called upon again until that December when he accepted the role of Edward, and in January of 2017, Ivan. Since then, he also took on the role of Hugo for numerous TCC installments. As of October 2017, Matt has decided to leave the TCC, but enjoyed his time all the same, and wishes them well in the future.
Personal Life & College
One of the main reasons for Matt's hiatus was the planning behind a live action WW2 short film, The Life of a Soldier, which ceased production due to the destruction of the film site. Only camera tests exist. While in high school, he created a group channel with his friends called DeviousAppleProductions. Few videos came out of it, and eventually production became an individual pursuit on Matt's hand. Working with a film colleague, Nick Menendez, the duo created videos which received a glowing reception from the school, including a WWII film.
On Twitter, Matt can be found tweeting his ideas on TTTE, sharing customs, quotes, or memes. He collects militaria, particularly helmets, and listens to a lot of vinyls. He and his best friend Peter are an inseparable team. Peter has featured in some of Matt's live action films as well as a knockoff Thomas destruction video, and Matt hopes to convince him to become a voice actor for his future projects. Other interests include European history, model railroading, heraldry, quote collecting, vexiology, and writing.
Outside of the fandom, Matt is a college student outside Baltimore at Towson University. He is a history major and film minor, and is having a wonderful time living it up in the dorms; at Towson he is a Men's Choir singer and a member of Towson's College Republicans. He is a passionate enthusiast of his deep-rooted Celtic culture, and plays a tin whistle in addition to displaying Welsh, Scottish, and Irish flags. He is a spiritually dedicated Catholic, and has an INFJ Myers-Briggs Personality Type (Take the test here if you want to know yours! https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test).
Matt is a diehard Ravens, Orioles, and Capitals fan. He has a loving family in the D.C. area of Maryland, and is proud of his state's heritage through and through; he often shows this by putting Old Bay on his fries and putting the MD flag on everything he owns. He can often be founding playing Battlefield 1, working on writing scripts or quotes, or just hanging out with friends.
Friedrich The German Engine
HiroTheJapaneseTrain's first movie! This film will follow the wartime experiences of Friedrich, a German DRG Class 44 locomotive told to a young boy, Hans, in an East German scrapyard in the 1980s. Friedrich details the Second World War as he experienced it, making and breaking friendships throughout the most devastating conflict in human history. He witnesses the downfall of the Third Reich firsthand, and the scars remain within him in the decades since. However, he is in good company with his scrapyard diesel engine friend, Malory, who jeopardizes herself to save him.
The film itself is something Matt hopes will be his magnum opus, and he has been working on it since 2013, when it was conceptualized. Since then, he has devoted great amounts of energy to making the film be as best as it can be. The first round of filming took place between July and late August 2016, and a reshoot of certain scenes or added clips, if necessary, will likely take place over summer 2017. The movie is just the beginning of the world he has created - a sequel is in the works, as well as two short films dedicated to the events of post-Friedrich events, and another relating to the Holocaust are also in early concept work. Matt welcomes any and all fan art of Friedrich content if people are so inclined! :)
Sodor StoriesThe series of HiroTheJapaneseTrain. Starting off slow, and developing throughout its first season--Sodor Stories is a mixture of several ideas, characters and realism all in one channel! Sodor Stories includes 10 episode seasons followed by a special movie event after each season. For Season 1 of Sodor Stories, that would be Friedrich the German Engine, which is currently in production. The future of the show is uncertain, and whether or not the second season will be produced in any eventuality is not likely.
10) The Sudrian Blizzard SEASON 2 Titles (Not Likely to be Produced):
1) Thomas, Percy, and the Battleship
2) Falcon and Smudger
4) North Western Blue
5) The Sleeping Giant
6) Stepney and Bertie
7) A Lesson in Hubris
8) A Celtic Conundrum
10) Bulstrode Returns
Starting out as a side project, Matt's customs eventually became something which has gained him notoriety within the TWRC and TTTE fandom at large. When the Thomas & Friends special "The Great Race" came out, his customs were created at a much faster rate, to replicate many of the international engines Mattel did not make. One can follow on with the latest updates on customs with the Twitter hashtag #HTJTCustoms
- Lord Harry/Patrick/No.6
- LBSC Thomas (Brown and later a Teal one)
- Troublesome Trucks (Several)
- Scrap Engines
- LNER Raven A2 Class
- Ryan 2.0
- RWS Duck & Oliver
- Yong Bao
- Slip Coaches
- Pip & Emma
- RWS Stanley
- Streamlined Gordon
- TGR Diesel Shunters
- Albert (RWS)
Wooden Road & Rail Reviews
The review series in which HiroTheJapaneseTrain takes some items (sometimes random, sometimes new or rare) and give his opinions on the items, rating them and showing them off to the camera! Installments include:
- Aquarium Cars
- Big City Engine
- Flying Scotsman
- Timothy and Gator
- Hiro's Sticky Spill
- BRIO Stepney
- Brendam Bay Shipping Set
- 2016 Bertram
- Roll & Whistle Charlie
Matt has met up with several members of the community as of 2018, and this list will continue to grow. While every meetup has to end at some point, he maintains that it is a departure only in the flesh, but not in spirit.
- Tines Sensathe
- Oliver Duck
- William Politeski
- TrainKing James
- Annie C.
Since his return in 2014, Matt plans to keep a somewhat regular schedule about how he manages his filmmaking. Matt also joined the TWR Community Radio channel with the show Getting With The Times. For a while, Matt's channel name was misspelled, which was a constant source of ridicule from some of his friends like MrMPS2002, but Matt eventually got the channel name changed to the correct spelling.
Journey Beyond Sodor: How it Should Be
In late 2017, Journey Beyond Sodor: How it Should Be was released. This was a collaboration between HTJT, MasterOfTheLemons, TrainKing James, Roman's TWR Empire, Oliver Duck, MultiGreenThunder, and MikeMike 123. This project took over half a year to produce, and received high praise.