Jeremy lives in the Redondo Beach area. He was first introduced to anime with heavily edited versions of Mazinger Z (aka Tranzor Z in the US), GoLion (aka Voltron) and Macross (aka Robotech) while growing up in the 1980's. Since then his tastes have evolved into a fairly eclectic mix of anime with a soft-spot for underdog shonen stories, psychological/cyber-punk stories and select love comedies.
Jeremy is also the head organizer of Anime Souffle anime club. It was at an Anime Souffle meeting where he met Michael Huang and eventually was invited to join as a guest co-host for Scattered Cells Podcast episode #6 in February of 2007. He since then has become a regular part of the Anime Diet crew.
My Hero Academia: Two Heroes premiered at Anime Expo 2018 and Anime Diet was on-site to review the film.
Fans of My Hero Academia were thrilled to hear of a movie coming out with more adventures of their favorite heroes. The events of the movie, billed in Japan as “revealing the secret past of a major character,” took place after the Final Exam arc of the TV series. From the official synopsis:
Deku and All Might receive an invitation from a certain person to go overseas to a giant artificial moving city called I-Island. This island, a kind of ”science Hollywood” that gathers the knowledge of scientists from around the world, is holding an exhibition called I-Expo showcasing the results of Quirk and hero item research. In the midst of all this, Deku meets a Quirkless girl named Melissa and remembers his own Quirkless past. Out of the blue, the impregnable security system the island boasts is hacked by villains, and all the people on the island are taken as hostages! Now, a plan that could shake hero society has been put into motion! The man who holds the key to it all is the number one hero and Symbol of Peace, All Might.
Familiar U.A. students had a chance to shine again in this My Hero Academia animated film. With an energizing soundtrack, visually pleasing and exhilarating fight sequences along with well-acted character voices, the movie was a solid and fun ride for the returning MHA fan. Live audience participation made the movie that much sweeter, as anyone who has been at a premiere with hundreds of screaming fans can attest. However, the pacing during the first half of the movie was slow and the overall storyline was not inventive.
It was apparent that writers for Studio BONES (known for Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Soul Eater) were not trying to introduce any drastic changes in the movie, opting instead to play off the things that worked well for and made people love the series in the first place. All the classic elements of My Hero Academia stories were present: friendship, teamwork, sacrifices, moving beyond your limits, and even a somewhat unresolved redemption story.
Arguably, these conservative plot choices showcased the studio’s mastery of animation. Even in a fairly risk-free storytelling, there were surprises and delights. Production values remained high, with fight scenes remaining fluid and well paced, and decompression used to great effect. Many points of the movie moved the audience to cheer, laugh out loud and even experience the “feels”.
My Hero Academia: Two Heroes is a must watch for the die-hard MHA fan. Those new to the MHA universe may wish to watch other parts of the series first, to build a connection to the characters and appreciate the significance of certain events when watching the movie.
Anime Diet had the privilege of interviewing the director and producer of the current anime version of My Hero Academia, Kenji Nagasaki and Wakana Okamura, at Anime Expo 2016. This was an extensive discussion of the inspirations and process behind the creation of the hit show.
Jeremy Booth conducted the interview. This interview was translated by Nami Kodama, and was edited for clarity and concision by Michael Huang. Photos and video subtitles by Lily Huang.
How did you get your start in the anime business and what is your most memorable moment as an aspiring young worker in the anime field?
Nagasaki:When I first saw the movie “Castle in the Sky (Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta) ” by Studio Ghibli, I hadn’t watched an anime until then. The film inspired me very much and showed me the possibilities for artistic expression in anime, and led me to join the industry. I started by working for “MADHOUSE Inc” [even though] it didn’t make that film!
Do you have any other influencer besides Hayao Miyazaki that you would like to tell about?
Nagasaki:Another director I was inspired and influenced by is Kon Satoshi, who was at Madhouse at the time. When I first saw Perfect Blue I thought that he told the story almost like a live action film. But, at the same time, the anime actually does add extra expression than live action, so I really enjoyed working on that at Madhouse.
When you were a child, did you ever dream about a superhero? If so who?
Nagasaki: I grew up with reading “Dragonball”. So, every week when “Shonen Jump” came out, I rushed to a store to buy it. Goku was my hero. Everybody liked Goku at the time.
Okamura: Usagi-chan, the main character of Sailor Moon, was my hero. Generally speaking back then, boys liked , and girls liked Sailor Moon. We (girls including myself) used to play with popular toys like stickers.
What was the most challenging part of adapting this anime from the manga?
Nagasaki: The original story is very passionate. So, we really paid close attention to capturing the original story’s worldview, using sound and music [as well as drawing]. This is probably the most difficult part of interpreting from the manga to the anime. I worked hard on it from start to finish.
Okamura: The main focus was trying to keep the fans happy, because they have strong followings. So, that was probably the most challenging part, by using art and music (as the director just mentioned) attractive as anime. Bringing that special essence into the anime was challenging.
But also, at the same time, we wanted to reach beyond the fan base and gain more fans to make them happy. That was probably [another] challenging part.
How closely did Kohei Horikoshi, the manga creator, work with the project?
Nagasaki: Basically he left us in charge of that. He extended help where we needed some extra background/setting art and/or specific characters that we asked him to help us on.
Okamura: Horikoshi was very excited about the anime and was supportive. One of the reasons why he did was that Nagasaki was director and that it was being done by Studio Bones. So, he was very excited and often tweeted about special episodes and more about the anime; he was personally and emotionally involved.
There is a clear message of never giving up in My Hero Academia. However, is there any else that you hope fans take away from the show?
Nagasaki: The story is not only about how Deku tries to “not give up”. Through the relationship between All-Might and Deku, I hope that the fans would get the sense that though Deku did not have any powers, he became responsible while growing up. I want fans to see that Deku works hard toward his goals and be encouraged by his example.
Okamura: Nagasaki’s eyes were glued on Deku’s growth.
Was All-Might’s character based on any other real person or American superhero already in existence?
Nagasaki: Probably only the original author knows.
Okamura: Horikoshi is really a big fan of American animation. He often refers to the American animation in his drawing, so he took some of the essence of American animation to create All-Might.
If you were able to have a Quirk, what would it be?
Nagasaki: I’d like to fly.
Okamura: If I were to have a power like Toru Hagakure’s, I would like to sneak into the studio to make sure if the director is working! (laughs)
Who would you like to see All Might face off in a fight? Nagasaki: The Hulk. I would think (hope) that All Might probably wins. Okamura: I would like to see that All Might involved in something like the Marvel Civil War.
Do you have any routines in your creative process/good-luck habits? Could you share any stories, if any?
Nagasaki: In the process, when I read scripts I am always consciously thinking about music, about where would I put certain types of music in to fit the scene–and how much and how long to make the anime sharper. This is what I am always thinking about.
Okamura: Each director has own way to create a work. Nagasaki is probably the best director, among the ones I know, who consciously thinks about music. He always has his vision from the beginning.
As a producer, when I look at the story I decide which stories are well-suited when turning into the anime. As a process I always look at the attractiveness of the character. The most important thing I care about is that the anime can be better than the original manga. This is the essential process that I am always thinking about….I never want to let the audience down by giving them that negative impression: “the manga was so much better, the anime was really boring.” It’s not always the case that the same style from the original manga can work well in an anime. Anime and manga each have their own best way to depict stories.
How did you become aware of My Hero Academia when you decided that I really wanted to do this?
Okamura: When I first saw the first chapter (I didn’t even know how the story was going to turn out), I was instinctively sure that this could be a great anime. The first chapter was enough to feel that way, because that chapter told me that the story was great. Deku met All Might and then the story began to illustrate how Deku works hard to achieve his goals. That first chapter touched me, and I felt that the story had a very strong emotional power and would impress not only children but also adults. The story further introduced many characters who support Deku.
As I said earlier, the attractiveness of characters is very important for me. That was the my decision making point.
Could you tell me about the process how you became involved in the production?
Nagasaki: A producer from Studio Bones told me to work with this anime, and then when I read the original manga I said yes, because it was very interesting.
Okamura: For the producer side, while we were in discussion, we believed that we needed someone who could serve as a director and who had skills and experience to create an anime not just for otaku but also mass audiences. Then we came up with Nagasaki, who had successfully made great anime such as Gundam Build Fighters.
Are there any characters whom you most identify with?
Nagasaki: For me, it’s Deku. This is his hero’s story, but it’s not only about the hero. This can translate to any circumstance where you are working hard to achieve your goals. I always try hard to attain to my big goals, and I found a similar attitude in Deku, who is always trying to make that happen. The story is not just limited for children who dream about becoming heroes, but it’s for everyone who is working hard to make their dreams come true.
Okamura: For me, it’s the girl characters. In this story, girls are not only supporting roles but are heroines. I feel this story is more modern that way: girls aren’t just side actors but are reaching their own goals. The girls even fight against the boys. Among the five boy characters, the girl is also a heroine and is trying to save the world. I want to grow old like Recovery Girl!
What is your ultimate goal?
Nagasaki: My own goal is to make each anime I make better than last one. I want more people to enjoy anime.
I thought you were going to say “taking over the world” or something.
Okamura: (laughs) But, our anime is watched by many people around the world. This is another way to say “taking over the world”, and he is probably trying to take over the world by the anime coming the U.S.
Is there anything you are looking forward to seeing besides the convention center in Los Angeles?
Nagasaki: The atmosphere is pretty good, and I really like it. I think I don’t have enough time to sightsee this time but want to visit here again on a private trip. If I have time, I want to go Santa Monica, which is a different side of LA.
Ayano Mashiro is a young singer who has come onto the anisong scene in just the past year. She is best known for doing the first OP to Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, “ideal white,” as well as the OP to Gunslinger Stratos, “Vanilla Sky.”
We interviewed her at Anime Expo 2015. Jeremy Booth conducted the interview except as noted.
How was your trip here to the US?
I took a flight out of Sapporo to Narita [Airport, in Tokyo] to LA, so that was quite a long flight–probably the longest I’ve ever taken. The last flight I took overseas was to Singapore, and it was only an hour’s [time zone] difference…but from Tokyo to LA I believe it’s a 16 hour difference, so I was really scared about the jet lag. But here I am!
What made you decide to become a singer?What was the moment where you decided, “I really want to sing”?
I’ve loved to sing since I was little, but I was taking piano lessons when I was a kid. At my piano recital, I was a weird one–I had my piano teacher play the piano while I sang. This made me kind of think “this is fun!” being on stage, singing lyrics to an audience. It was a mind opening moment.
It’s a good feeling being on stage, isn’t it?
Actually I do get nervous on stage, but I’m more hyped than moved being on stage these days.
Talk to us about your hometown, Sapporo. Is there anything that you really miss and look forward to get back to when you travel, like food or something?
Where I’m from, the seafood is very famous, and I like sashimi…so I miss fish in that way. The second thing is ramen, and I’ve only been to two overseas cities, but I Googled to see if there were any ramen places nearby….I was surprised at the portion sizes and how large they were. I had fish and chips last night and it was humongous.
Who do you think has influenced you most in your music?
Growing up, I listened to a lot of anime songs, and my sempais like Eir Aoi, Maon Kurosaki…I listened to a lot of their music. But I like to listen to a lot of genres to expand my musical palette.
Talk a little bit about any other hobbies or talents that people may not know about or expect.
I’m a big fan of spicy food, and I like to challenge myself on how far I can push the limits of spiciness!
Yes! When you listen to the lyrics of the show’s song, it fits into Onoda’s character…it’s like he’s working towards his dream, sacrificing anything for what he wants to achieve. That’s what I like about him.
Since you are here in LA, are there any famous actors or celebs you’d like to run into if you had the chance?
I’m a fan of Avril Lavigne so if I met her on the street that would be awesome. I also like Selena Gomez.
If you weren’t a musician, what else could you see yourself doing?
I actually don’t know…I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Tell us a little bit about working with and spending time with LiSA. Any funny stories about her?
I asked LiSA, “do you get stage fright?” She said, “Yes I do,” and that was memorable…so every time I see her on stage, she gives her all, and it makes me feel like I can do it too.
[Michael] Tell us also about your times with Maon Kurosaki too…
Are you a big fan of hers too? (Laughs) She’s actually a very friendly person and really cool, but she’s more girly when off stage So that gap is interesting.
So far, what do you think your greatest achievement is, and what do you want to achieve in the future?
I don’t know if this is an achievement, but when I’ve gotten to play a lot of concerts since I started. And I’d like to play bigger and bigger venues in the future.
We had the privilege of interviewing Japan’s biggest idol group currently, Momoiro Clover Z! What kind of pets do they have? Which one of them has an “infinite sneezing technique”? And what anime crushes do they have? Find out in this exclusive video interview!
Video game designer Daisuke Ishiwatari is best known as the creator of the fighting game series Guilty Gear. A multi-talented artist, he not only serves as a video game designer but also as a score composer, having written the score for BlazBlue. He also provided voices for characters in Guilty Gear.
Jeremy Booth interviewed him at Anime Expo 2015. This interview was edited for clarity and concision. Question help provided by Dan Campisi.
You were born in South Africa, is that correct? What was your family doing there?
Yes, in Johannesburg. They were there for work.
How long did you and your family live there?
I’ve lived there twice: the first time when I was born, and right after that we immediately returned to Japan. Then I was there again from the fourth year of elementary school to the second year of middle school.
So are you technically South African-Japanese then?
At the time, I had dual South African/Japanese citizenship, but when I was taking my tests for college, I got a conscription notice from the South African army. I threw away my [South African] citizenship then.
How would you describe the culture in South Africa compared to Japan and here? Do you have a lot of memories?
First of all, when you hear “Africa” you don’t think “big city,” but [Johannesburg] is a very big city. We were Japanese, but since we were living mostly with Caucasian people, it felt kind of like England.
Moving on to your gaming work, you’ve done a lot of jobs from music creator, character designer, voice actor, director…what would you say your focus has been in the past few years? Which role is your favorite?
What I’m doing now hasn’t really changed much from the past, but one thing has changed: I used to do a lot of the graphics [myself], but now I hand that over to the lead artists. In terms of favorite–I like everything.
I also understand you’re a big fan of western RPGs like Diablo and Fallout. What is it that you like about them?
I love them. I haven’t been playing them too much recently, but when I first put my hands on them, one thing that really clicked with me was the sense of freedom you got from those games.
Kind of a sandbox environment where you can do a little of everything?
Your expertise is on focusing on being the best at fighting games. Where do you see the future of fighting games heading?
For me personally, if the genre were to change anymore, it would no longer be “fighting games.” For instance, there’s Super Smash Bros, and if you were to ask me if that was a fighting game, I would say it’s not–it’s different. But, that being said, I think that within the genre, there are things that haven’t been discovered or invented yet, and discovering those things is part of our mission.
In 2012 you said in a Gamasutra interview that you wanted to see that the genre kept evolving. How has your thinking changed since then?
It’s a really difficult question, but for a long time, I’ve really wanted to see a game where players used their own physical strength inside the game. But maybe if that kind of thing were to happen, it may no longer be the same thing.
In Guilty Gear, there is a character called Bridget. Bridget is considered one of the first transgender character in games. What was the process of creating Bridget, and what inspired you to make the character transgender?
I guess I couldn’t pin the inspiration for the character on any one thing. But when we are making new characters, we are always looking for some new element to add to the character to make it interesting and fun, and while we were making Bridget, that was the element.
Did you realize it was a milestone when you did it?
I wasn’t thinking about; I didn’t realize.
There’s a fan debate on how to pronounce “BlazBlue.” What is the correct way to pronounce it?
So in Japan, we pronounce it “Blay-Blue.” In other countries, the pronunciation is “Blaze Blue.” Mori [Toshimichi], the gentleman who worked on BlazBlue, he really liked the sound of “Blay-Blue”, but when it came time to localize to other countries, he was told there was no way that would work.
Kazutaka Kodaka is a writer and director of video games at Spike Chunsoft. He is best known as the creator of the Danganronpa series, which features elements of mystery, survival horror, and anime-styled whimsy. He has also been involved in localizing non-Japanese games for Chunsoft such as Hotline: Miami. We spoke to him at length about his influences and inspirations for the unique series and approach he takes to gaming.
This interview was conducted by Jeremy Booth at Anime Expo 2015.
First of all, how was your trip to LA?
I loved Hooters! I just went straight there.
What inspired you to get into the gaming industry? What was the moment you knew you wanted to go into designing and making games?
I was originally going to write scenarios for films, but I was asked if I wanted to join the game industry instead. So that is how I got in.
So you went from just telling stories to making more interactive stories?
You’ve said you are a fan of movies like Cube, Saw, and other survival horror. Are you interested in any other horror movies or films, and have they influenced your mindset?
I like Twin Peaks. I like sequels…I wanted to create games where once the first chapter ends, you’d want to see the second [installment].
You mentioned Twin Peaks. What other David Lynch films do you like?
Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart….all of them!
You also said you were influenced by a game called Illbleed. Anything stand out from that game that really stood out to you?
It’s very particular, but I like the fact that the healing items will disappear if you don’t use them.
Any other games you are inspired by now or in the past?
Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which was made by Rare. A squirrel has a gun and just starts shooting…I think the comedy and parodies are awesome. It’s cute but it has a very aggressive and violent tone…one of the characters [a piece of poo] even sings opera! I can never see what’s coming next.
Are you familiar with Five Nights at Freddy’s? It feels like an American take on something similar to Danganronpa.
Yes, it’s true, the concept and a lot of things do seem similar. Even though it’s similar, it still has its own different individual character.
What do you remember most about working for the Konami Group?
The company is really strict. I was debugging games part-time.
I liked how cruelty is turned into entertainment through 8-bit art styles…I also like how the music and soundtrack, and the fact that the game is only written by two people. There are games that are so famous or big that you don’t know who’s creating them. I prefer games where there’s a small group of people making it so I can see what kind of people they are.
What do you look for when you want to bring American games to a Japanese audience?How do you localize a game like Hotline: Miami?
I didn’t want to change that much…I don’t mind if not that many people buy it, only the few people who would love that game who would be entertained by it. Same goes with Danganronpa.
It’s an interactive story, as interactive as possible. The situation is similar in Dangonronpa where you have to kill a character at a time. Instead of showing you a character to kill, you make the player choose who to kill.
What direction can we expect for the Dangonronpa series?
When I release something to the public, I want to surprise the audience. I don’t just want to release the same old thing, rather something where you say “you’re doing that?” Still, the core component is mystery.
JAM Project, one of the biggest anisong “supergroups” in the industry, was founded in order to further the genre of anime songs specifically. Consisting of a number of veteran anisong singers, today it now comprises founding members Masaaki Endoh and Hironobu Kageyama, as well as Masami Okui, Hiroshi Kitadani, and Yoshiki Fukuyama, who all joined between 2002-2003. They are best known for songs for shounen action shows such as Cardfight Vanguard, Nobunaga the Fool, GARO, and New Getter Robo, as well as video games like Super Robot Wars. Their operatic rock seems to fit those genres especially well.
Unfortunately, the audio for our transcript recording was sometimes fuzzy so not all attributions were 100% clear. Apologies for lack of clarity on those questions and answers.
We started by asking Masaaki Endoh about his famous predilection for bringing instant noodles with him on tour.
Endoh-san, what kind of instant noodle did you bring this time?
Masaaki Endoh: Six different flavors of mini-sized ramen! But I don’t have a water boiler due to luggage weight limits, and unlike in Japan, they don’t have hot water dispensers in every room.
Your stagecraft and style of music is very theatrical and almost operatic. Is that a reflection of the sort of anime that you do music form or is that your natural style?
Hironobu Kageyama: Actually it is influenced by the type of anime the songs are for. So if it’s anime that has robots, like Super Robot Taisen where there’s a lot of fighting and energy, the songs will be influenced by that.
How do you think your style has adjusted over the past 15 years?
Kageyama: We don’t so much change our style as look for something new to do.
So would you ever do a song for a moe anime?
Kageyama: If someone ever asked us to, sure. We have girls in the band. [looks at Masami Okui] But we don’t ever get asked to do that sort of thing…
How do you relax when you’re off jam project? Individually? Or collectively?
Kageyama:We always like to talk together sometimes. Outside of music…well, we always thought about making our own jam. Jam Project jam!
What flavor of jam?
What secret hobbies or hidden talents do you have?
Kageyama: I’m the oldest, so working out is my hobby. Recently I’ve been cycling and scuba diving. And this year, I’m challenging myself to train for a short distance triathlon. Hiroshi Kitadani: The fans on twitter probably already know this, but my hobby is cooking. I do it every day, and when I make my own dish and drink alcohol, it’s very relaxing and therapeutic.
What’s your favorite dish?
Kitadani: Oden! It’s easy to make. Masami Okui: As for [my hobbies], in Japan or all over the world, I like to visit “power spots”–places with spiritual energy. In Japan, that would be shrines or temples I love. When I’m off work, I go there a lot. This year, though, I want to go to Mt. Shasta. Yoshiki Fukuyama: I have no hobby. So my hobby now is to look for a hobby. Endoh: I love animals, so I have a lot of pets. It’s a dream that I want to be surrounded by animals in a big place.
Kageyama-san, you said last year at Anime Boston that you started the band when anisongs were in decline . Do you think the anisong industry has revived since then? Where do you see it going?
Kageyama: Anime songs are much more popular popular in Japan compared to 10 years ago. There are a lot of live events and concerts now and the audience has increased a lot. And variety of artists have shown up. So, it has changed a lot over the course of 10 years.
Who is the first musical artist that grabbed your heart?
Kitadani: I love Kiss. Kageyama: I love Motley Crue. Fukuyama: I love Deep Purple. Okui: I love Kageyama’s vocal band, Lazy. Endoh: I love the Beatles.
You’re all at Las Vegas now, do you plan to gamble and do you feel lucky?
Okui: Living is a gamble. Kageyama: I don’t feel the urge to gamble. But if I was, I’ll pull a slot machine handle once. Kitadani: It’s a little scary, but I would like to try roulette. Try betting on black. Ehh, really but what about red? You can split it 50/50, like your hair! [Laughter–ED: Kitadani had colored half his hair red, as in the picture at the bottom.] Fukuyama: I never tried gambling, but I have seen it a lot in movies, so I like to try it like they do it in the movies. Endoh: I like hitting the jackpot.
You’ve done a lot of songs for sentai series. What are your sentai colors?
Kitadani: [points to Kageyama]: He’s red. Kageyama: Oh, I’m red, huh? Okui: I’m pink. Endoh: I like red, but red’s been taken, so I’ll be green. Fukuyama: I’m blue. Kitadani: I’m yellow.
The interview was conducted by Jeremy Booth with additional questions by Michael Huang. Rome Yamashita, Raymond Hu, and Linda Yau translated from the audio for this transcript.
We had the privilege of speaking to Natsume Yuujinchou, Hotarubi no Mori e, Durarara!!, Baccano!, and Kuragehime director Takahiro Omori along with Brains Base producer Yumi Sato at Fanime 2013. Below is a transcript of our interview with them. Questions were asked by Jeremy Booth; transcript translation by Rome. Video (shot by gendomike) is forthcoming —gendomike
Jeremy: do you have particular works you like that you’ve been involved in? Why?
Omori: I like all of them, [but] the one I worked really hard with challenge with the sense of achievement was Baccano.
Sato: I also like all of them, but the first anime that got approved as my project that I submitted was Natsume Yujincho. So, it is Natsume.
What is like working on a project together, day by day?
Omori: If we are making something together, we fight, and there are a lot of hard feelings. It is pretty common. (Laughs) But if we finish perfectly and get good reviews, then that is great.
What happens when you have differing opinions? Do you decide with rock-paper-scissors (jank-ken-pon)?
Omori: (Laughs) We don’t do jankenpon, but we do discuss a lot. If we have to decide in an either/or situation, then the final decision will be mine, but of course we talk a lot.
What are some points of conflict?
Omori: Well, regarding the story, the scenario writer will be the center of the discussion, A lot of people are involved, so it’s not about conflict between me and Sato. The discussion between us is more about staff to choose for production and work processes, arrangement.
You’ve often directed two works by the same original author.* What keeps you coming back?
Omori: First, we get good reputation from works, and original manga writer and editor that arranges original manga writer function as a same team for production, so it’s already established the team work. For Hotarubi, it was Sato-san, she had a strong desire to do this work.
Natsume and Hotarubi are about people being friends with spirits/yokai. What’s appealing to you about stories with yokai?
Omori: Through spirit and yokai, we try to depict what happens in real human life. So for me, it is that point when i try to depict that.
Sato: For me, I think it just happens to be a interaction between human and yoke, like these interactions, they get sad and happy, these emotional interactions are just this time happen to be yokai, and i was very touched by that part, and in me, it just touched my koto (japanese string instrument) string.
Which character(s) did you feel a connection to or felt were most important? What did you gain from that experience?
Omori: Isaac and Miria from Baccano!. I made them, but I think they gave me more than I gave to them…of course, they are already defined in the original novel, so I didn’t create them initially. But as I was adapting them into anime, they grew as characters by themselves. I didn’t think they would end up holding the whole series together, until I finally realized that they held the key to almost every story. When I understood that, I was convinced: “this is it.”
Sato: For me, it’s Natsume-kun, but he was very difficult character: how do you choose his clothing, his word choices? Those can makes a huge difference in the viewer’s impression…and how does he interacts? I paid close attention to this character, and I think that was also the case for Kamiya-san, who played Natsume, who was giving the attention while reading the script at the same time. Actually, once, Takada-san, the character designer, got into a huge fight with Omori over that performance. “Natsume is not like this! This is not his personality!”
Omori: If a character is growing, it means that he can’t stay in the same place forever.
Which is more important, the artistic/visual style or story?
Omori: Both story and visuals are important. But fundamentally, it’s important that a character’s personality, visuals, and role in the story not be a mismatch from the original story. So, it’s a balancing act.
What’s the most challenging part of adapting manga to anime?
Omori: As much as possible, I want to recreate the original manga’s “taste.” It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but I want to recreate its atmosphere. That job is more for the character designer though, and my role is just to give a judgement. Rather my struggle was—in manga, it depends on the readers where their mental impression of the work comes from. Especially like Natsume or other shoujo mangas use multiple visual expressions: in the same frame, a character can express two different emotions. But on the motion picture, because the time axis is continuous, I have to cut one of the expressions out. Or, we express those multiple emotions by changing the dialogue. We do that often, and that balancing act is where we always have struggled.
Sato-san, tell us about your first experience as an animation producer.
Sato: My first work as a producer was actually Kamichu!. I had gotten into a fight with the owner of the anime studio, and he assigned me to do this work: “Do this!” And that become actually my first produced work, but I didn’t know what to do. So my first experience was one filled with desperation.
What was the challenge?
Sato: I didn’t know too many things. Everything was the first time for me, so I didn’t know what I did was right or wrong, and that was the toughest. I wasn’t confident, so I couldn’t really lead and direct my staff, and that was the most painful part.
You’ve came a long way since then.
Sato: Ever since I started working with Omori-san, I’ve developed a really thick skin.
*Omori directed Natsume Yuujinchou and the short film Hotarubi no Mori e, both whose manga were written by Yuki Midorikawa. The light novels of Baccano! and Durarara!! were written by Ryohgo Narita.
The movie will not be officially released till February 11, 2012 in Japan, so there may not be a clear verdict yet. Nonetheless, recent trailers circulating the web for this adaptation of the popular video game and manga series have given us, the jury, something to ponder. Notable aspects taken from the game, as shown in thetrailers, are the inclusion of several major and minor characters from the franchise as well as a few notable story aspects from the series. Also, there appears to be demonstrated an incredible attention to detail in character costuming down to the zany hair styles that would generally defy real world physics.
However, costuming and character design alone do not an epic film adaptation make. So it might be worth noting that this film does have one going for it in that it is directed by veteran director Takashi Miike. Mind you, this is a double edged sword. Actually it might even seem like an odd choice if you consider that his initial rise to fame was partly due to the controversial film Ichi the Killer. In fact it was so controversial, due to the high levels of graphic violence, that it was heavily censored in many of its international releases. Furthermore, it was so over the top gory that the attendees at the film festivals where it was first shown were offered movie branded vomit bags, just in case. Also, of concern is the fact that in many of his works, Miike seems to even show a penchant for scenes of the extreme macabre, ultra-violent, overtly bizarre and deeply twisted. It is not surprising that he has cited admiration for directors such as David Lynch and David Cronenburg.
In his defense, however, Miike has seemed to become somewhat of a reformed man in recent years. Lately, he has been directing films which are live-action adaptations of anime and manga series such as Yatterman, Salaryman Kintaro and even the family friendly Ninja Kids. All of these show a softer side of Miike with scenes of unabashed zaniness in place his normal dark scenes of the macabre. While the trailer for the Phoenix Wright movie may seem a bit dark and brooding, as compared to the light–hearted tongue in cheek video games, it may or may not ultimately be indicative as to the overall nature of the movie. This of course, is all conjecture on my part and by no means admissible in court, so to speak. However, it will be interesting to see exactly which part of Miike’s personality directed this work; or if in fact it skates a fine line between the darkly disturbed and deeply wacky. Either way, this juror is prepared to do his civic duty in sitting through the entire hearing when court is marked to be in session.
Anime news outlets have been all a buzz with talk that anime distributor Funimation is said to be developing a new division devoted solely to the distribution of hentai anime and games. All titles are said to be released under the branding Funimation Exxxtreme (which pundits have already labeled F-ckimation Products). While most marketing analyst agree that hentai is a staple form of anime entertainment in Japan, many have speculated that the market share in the United State would not be as large as Funimation might desire. Some pundits have been quoted as saying that the market here is simply relegated to “…a few lonely tissue wielding otaku cradling their favorite dakimakura”. When asked about concerns of limp sales projections in a down thrusting ecomony, recently appointed hentai marketing analyst Hugh G. Rection stated, “It’s true that the competition is stiff in the hentai market, however, if Funimation goes forward with these plans they will make rock hard efforts to get their products into the bedrooms and the hand’s of every warm blooded otaku.” So far the company has released no official statement, however, we will report more details as they pop up.
Recently I attended a gem of a convention tucked just beyond the Rocky Mountains in Denver, CO. Nan Desu Kan has been in operation for about 14 years now and has progressively grown in attendance every year. (So much so that I foresee them moving to a larger venue before too long.) Currently Nan Desu Kan is hosted at the Marriot Denver Technology Center, which suits their needs nicely at their current size. However, a rather crowded Saturday showed signs that this convention will eventually need a bigger home if this growth keeps going.
Nan Desu Kan maintains much of the charm and intimacy of smaller con, but includes elements that are generally only gleaned from the clout of big conventions. Staple events here include all the basic necessities: anime viewings, AMV contests, panels, games, and industry guest appearances. Among other very respectable guests and events this year, the cream of the line-up in my opinion was an appearance by famed mecha anime director Yasuhiro Imagawa and the bands Kazha and Echostream.
All around I found Nan Desu Kan to be a very entertaining and enjoyable convention. Video showings were smaller but pleasantly intimate. Hordes of dedicated cosplayers from almost every genre and series imaginable were present, and scores participated in a fairly professional contest with a fantastic halftime show by Echostream. Panels were informative, fun and generally well executed. This was all topped off with rooms for table top gaming, video games, a nicely set-up artist hall and a sizable merchant exhibit space to shop for the anime goodies you just can’t do without.
Unbeknownst to many of us here west of the Rockies, anime fans may well now have a reason to travel to just the other side of those mountains to participate some anime-related fun as well as take in some nice scenery while there.
Be sure to check out more video and pictures from this convention as they will be posted in the near future.
Apparently, it has been confirmed that famed anime director Satoshi Kon , director of such works as Perfect Blue and Paprika, has in fact died at the age of 46. Initial statements were made over twitter by founding member of Gainax Takeda Yasuhiro earlier today, followed by an apparent confirmation from Madhouse president Masou Maruyama. Details are still unclear but apparently he died this morning around 2 a.m. in Japan. More details to be posted as they are released.
Satoshi Kon, the director of numerous works at MADHOUSE including Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Tokyo Godfathers and Millennium Actress, passed away due to pancreatic cancer early in the morning of Tuesday, August 24.
He was 46.
With regards to funeral services, a private service will be held for family members only.
We are respectfully and deeply grateful for your kindness during his lifetime.
Finally, pre-written statements were also posted to Kon’s website on his behalf
May 18 of this year, an unforgettable day.
My wife and I received the following prognosis from a cardiologist at the Musashino Red Cross Hospital:
“The pancreatic cancer is terminal and has metastasized to the bone. You have at most a half year left.”
As to the fate of his final film, Yume-Miru Kikai Kon relates this conversation with Masao Maruyama.
When I conveyed my concerns for Yume-Miru Kikai to Mr. Maruyama, he said, “It’s fine. Don’t worry, we’ll do whatever it takes.”
I cried aloud.
His statements were ended with these word’s
With feelings of gratitude for all that is good in this world, I put down my pen.