This year, Otakon had the return of Masao Maruyama, founder of Madhouse who has brought the world, Black Lagoon, Chobits, Chi’s Sweet Home, and a lot of other memorable anime titles. Hiroshi Koujina was also present at Otakon as a first time guest. He has been involved with titles such as, Macross Plus, Escaflowne: The Movie, Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew and currently with Rainbow – Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin. Both of these creative personalities were both featured in a joint conference answering questions from members of the press.
Anime Diet was present at this conference, so I am going to apologize for my bad recording and I will be summarizing some parts on what was the gist of the question. Also because I wasn’t aware of what specific press was there, I can only go with how much I know. Audio posting of this press conference may or may not be provided later.
Questions to Maruyama:
Brad Rice (Japanator)-Have you heard about talk made on the state of the anime industry recently by Dai Sato? [Otaku 2 ; Japanator Discusses] The status of the anime production in the last 15 years and onward, has been shipped out of Japan overseas into China, that there is no new blood coming from the Japanese studios Is Madhouse doing the same thing or are they actively recruiting people to stay with them?
Maruyama is not aware of this issue at this time, and can not say anything for sure. There is a possibility of some misinterpretation of Sato’s comments. What he does know and is aware on some creative work done in Korea, but not the majority, since there are still Japanese creators around. Maruyama also think that some Japanese companies are lacking in effort to train the new generation. Madhouse is working with Korea, but this is not work-for-hire, where we are hiring just from Korea. We are clearly collaborating to create, it is not simply a work for money, and we’re working as a team. It is a fact that there is a concern for some Japanese companies that there is a lost of energy or there is a decrease in energy or power educate their new generation.
Maruyama’s intention on how to run Madhouse is that there should always be a chance to give opportunity for the new generation to step up. Maruyama has high hopes for the new generation for example Death Note’s Director, Tetsuro Araki who currently does High School of the Dead is a young director.
MC Radio, a Spanish Press, was present and he asked these questions. I was able to get his English translated questions.
Q- Many people consider Dennou Coil (2007) as one of Madhouse’s strongest projects because it demonstrates, in many aspects, the ranges that anime can reach. What does this work mean for you?
The director’s approach was challenging and wanted to show a new way of how to show animation. This project was attractive due to the director’s potential.
Q-There has been a series of 3D film or HD films in the U.S, how much does these new technology or fads echo what Madhouse does, and with new technology, how much does Madhouse do use this in their work?
For creative process, 3D can change the way a story is constructed, and the only thing is that HD production costs more than the SD process, so this is a purchasing issue. Research also costs as well. It depends on if the production team, and if their budget can support the cost of making an HD film. It is not our place to dictate what audience would need to watch HD or not, but if there is a demand, then Madhouse is always ready to answer that need. Then it is just the matter for the cost of production of who should be paying for this, the audience or the investors?
Q-It the simultaneous broadcasting for anime [with sites such as Crunchy Roll], such as High School of the Dead working out, and is this a working solution for the rampant piracy that is out there? Is this a new model to be used in the future, same day in Japan and the United States?
Since Madhouse is not a distributor, but a creative studio, they can’t answer that question. But from the creative side, Madhouse is happy that everyone in the world can enjoy their shows at the same time. In Japan, there is a different schedule of release times, so what comes out in America comes out later in Japan. Korea is different, they actually release American Hollywood films at the same time, it releases in the U.S., so if there are any movies Maruyama want to go see, then he would fly over to Korea to see, but as mentioned – he is happy that everyone can see Madhouse’s work.
This question was asked to Koujina
Q- What is your director style for Rainbow.
If you watched Rainbow, it is not a series that is happy happy joy joy, it is a serious drama, and there are no dynamic action scenes or battle scenes. It is heavy drama, so he was careful as to how the dialogue would fit in with the scene, and how expressions would be shown on each character.
Question for both guests:
Q- What are you favorite fan moments, in conventions such as Otakon or around the world?
Maruyama - As the creative side of Madhouse, he is happy to see cosplay for series that is done by Madhouse. He’s been to China and Russia and has seen similar sights, where he realizes that cosplay is a phenomenon that can be shared by the entire world.
Kojina - “I have always been told by my studio head, to always take care of fans. For example, when one time someone sent Valentine chocolates for one character I was involved with. I was very appreciative of that. We enjoyed it as a snack.” Kojina is also happy to see people in cosplay, such as a cosplay of Neuro of which he worked on. [Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro] That without cosplayers, then these characters can’t exist without the support of fans.
Another Spanish question directed to Maruyama.
Q-How has Mamoru Hosoda been performing in Madhouse, considering the creative freedom he displayed in productions such as Summer Wars and Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo?
Mamoru Hosoda as a person is quite special, and directors at Madhouse always has something they want to do, and every time they need something, it is always about what they want to do and what the company wants to do.
This part is a question prepared from Anime Diet to Maruyama:
Q- What influences your work methods? Is it a creative idea or the result of research in an area, and then the inspiration strikes? Do you have a philosophy about creating works?
When you work in animation, it is not an individual work, it is a team work. There is always consideration for what kind of director to work with, and how to combine them efficiently with artists. Madhouse has many talented directors, so it is always key to find right chemistry with think this group.
Question to Maruyama:
Q- How has Madhouse Studio changed over the years from when it began, what do you feel is its strength to evolve and what do you miss the most from the old days?
One clear change is that we have more people, and that equates to having more titles, but at the core we haven’t changed much, “Maybe” [mentions Maruyama to the laughter of the crowd].
Questions for both guests:
Q-What do you guys think of the general trend of moé in anime, and overall greatest angle as an individual director whether or not you want to use moé in your works?
Maruyama- Not sure of what the range of moé is, but feels that the trend of moé is decreasing compared to in the recently. In the case of moé, animation itself is a great tool to describe cute girls, so Maruyama always likes to present cute girls in different ways.
Koujina – I have never really worked on a moé series, so I can’t say from my past experiences, but I wouldn’t mind working on it, however I don’t believe moé is limited to just girls. It could be shonen or animals, also if there is a moé point in a series; it is only part of what an entire series is for me.
Q- What was your biggest fanboy moment? (An OMG, I am working with this director or such an incident of sending chocolate to such a person)
Koujina – His biggest fanboy moment is when he was able to work with Madhouse and Maruyama, for he was a fan since he was a student.
Maruyama- He’s range is so big, that he hopes that Madhouse is gone, so he is free and can work with any director in Japan, but he is very honored to work with Madhouse directors. They [Madhouse] may not like it, but he really wants to work with Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii.
Another Spanish Question directed for Maruyama:
Q- What is the purpose regarding future projects with Marvel – Ironman and Wolverine? Making American heroes closer to Japan? Making Madhouse’s work closer to North America?
Maruyama is a big fan of American comics, and to be specific of how they draw or the quality of it, but when it comes to story – there’s always a story he likes and a story not so much, but the intention is not to have an American hero to be popular in Japan, it is a tool to make an exciting series. The image of a hero in Japan is different in America and for instant if you take Iron Man, he’s really cool in his suit, but when he is Tony Stark – he appalls Maruyama because this rich guy who has everything, because does he have the criteria to be a hero?
Question to Koujina:
Q- You have the ability to leave a message for many people, so with that power – what are you going to do to make the world a better place?
As he comes to United States, he has noticed there are the same concerns and cares for anime and by seeing this, he knows that by seeking what makes a good animation, he knows that it can bring the world together.
Question to Maruyama:
Q- How successful has artistic productions like Kaiba been and how necessary are they to Madhouse studio as a whole?
I am a very challenging man, so I like to change many things, as long as I am able to have the chance, then I like to go for more artistic and entertaining projects. This is according to how other people talk about Maruyama, but when they go up to him, they say the project is too hard for Madhouse and he’ll say, “Well let’s see about that!”
This part is a question prepared from Anime Diet directed to Maruyama:
Q- Of all your works, that Madhouse has currently created, what is your personal stand out work of art? What was the most enjoyable one for you?
Each of the projects that have been worked on by Madhouse is just as precious, because it has been made by staff that he cares about. So he doesn’t overall choose one project over the other, but since what I mention doesn’t really serve as an answer. If I must then it would be Hanada Shonen-shi which isn’t really popular in the United States, but it has strong support from major countries, so he feels strongly to the project.
Question to Maruyama:
Q- Maruyama-san, why did you hire Koujina-san? (Guests/Audience chuckle)
He likes to work with as many talented directors as possible, and as Koujina is already a talented director, fits Maruyama’s type so he continues to work with Koujina as much as possible.
Question directed for both:
Q-For the many interesting exciting intellectual property that is out there, if nothing is stopping you, then what would be the ideal intellectual property to work with?
Maruyama- As I said before, I am a very curious person and try to work with as many projects as I can. If I even start naming the projects, then it would be in the 1000’s to 2000’s, but off the top of my head, it is Shiton Doubutsu – literal translation is Animal Tales, yet there are currently no specific titles, I want to work with now.
Koujina – It has always been his desire to work with original series, because when you work with original series, it is pushing your skills as a director and to be specific with the genere, he wants to work with shonen series, because shonen is for the young generation, so it is a time for when viewers are still maturing as young adults, so he is interested in relying his message of what he wants to say to them.
This concludes the press conference.
[Edit- August 15 2010...This is a Spanish translation of this press conference via MC Radio]