Day 1 was a pretty busy day for us splitting ends and going to industry panels, and as a result hearing and seeing some exciting stuff. Watch our short roundup video and then catch Marc and Patrick's takes after the jump.
Marc's Day 1
Hi everyone! Day 1 of AX 2017 was a pretty busy one for us, and also relatively split down the middle in terms of everything we experienced. Here’s a rundown of everything I saw.
Production I.G. Industry Panel
As with all the Production IG panels I’ve been to in the past, this was led by Maki Terashima- now promoted to the post of President at Production IG. Joining her were a few producers, including Kazuto Nakazawa and the president and CEO of WIT Studio, which is a partner of IG. There wasn’t a whole lot of new stuff announced here, with most of the new information relating to their Netflix collaborating, which used to be called “Perfect Bones” but is now apparently called “B: The Beginning”. A brand-new PV was shown, featuring a lot more of the story and breadth of characters. From what I can tell, the show will be about a special detective agency combatting the main character “B” who is eliminating evil people using some sort of set of superpowers. I got a lot of Ghost in the Shell/Psycho-Pass vibes from the trailer, and was very happy to see that the main character was being voiced by Yuki Kaji. Another trailer that was shown was for Kenji Kamiyama’s “Ancien and the Magic Tablet”, from IG’s digital studio Signal.MD. It came out in Japan back in March but I don’t remember ever hearing about it, which is sad because it looks great. Kind of similar in look and tone to another Kamiyama series, Eden of the East. Other than that, that’s about it for IG’s rather unremarkable panel. Maki was surprisingly honest about the lukewarm-negative response to the Ghost in the Shell live action movie, and one of the producer teased a possible pirate adventure show in the studio’s future.
Sentai Filmworks Industry Panel
I came in late on this one, but it looks like the worthwhile announcements were at the end anyways. Sentai announced dubs and bluray releases for Haikyuu, Sakamoto desu ga? and Flip Flappers. Haikyuu finally coming to home video in the states is very exciting for me and I’m very glad to see something like Flip Flappers given the treatment it deserves in the west.
Viz Media Industry Panel
Viz’s panel was, simply put, a waste of time. The only announcement they really had was a dub for Terraformars, featuring the likes of Cherami Leigh, Christina Vee, Robbie Draymond, Todd Haberkorn, Kyle Hebert, Patrick Seitz, Max Mittelman and more.
Yuri on ICE!! w/ Sayo Yamamoto and Mitsurou Kubo
This panel was insane. Crunchyroll announced bringing these two to AX very late in the game, but that didn’t stop attendees from filling the room to capacity and filling it with an energy usually reserved for only the hottest panels like Studio Trigger. The panel began with a screening of “Welcome to the Madness”, an extra routine featuring Yurio included on the series’ final Japanese bluray release that the crowd predictably went wild for. Finally, Miles and Tiffako of Crunchryoll who hosted the panel as moderators, brought out Kubo and Yamamoto-san to thunderous applause. Throughout the questions asked by the two hosts, Yamamoto was characteristically quiet and reserved, while Kubo spoke the most for the two of them. Still, Yamamoto rarely makes public appearances so this was definitely a rare treat to see. What follows is a rough and somewhat cleaned-up transcription of the questions and answers said during the panel.
CR: What inspired Yuri on Ice?
Yamamoto + Kubo: We wanted to reflect real-life men’s figure skating as much as possible, and wanted to expose the world and people who don’t know too much about figure skating to the sport. Modern-day skaters like Yuzuru Hanyu were definitely an inspiration to us when creating the show.
CR: What feeling did you want the viewers to have while watching?
Yamamoto + Kubo: We wanted viewers to have the same feeling watching our show as they did watching real figure skating. We’ve noticed a big response from people watching our show and then wanting to watch real figure skating because of it, and that makes us confident that the message of our show was properly received.
CR: What role does dancing and figure skating play in the story of Yuri on Ice?
Yamamoto + Kubo: It’s easy to animate people figure skating, but it’s quite hard to do it correctly and realistically. I think because of this skating plays such an integral part of the story.
CR: Are there any stories from production you can share with us?
Yamamoto: One of the interesting things about figure skating is its constant evolution. By the time our show came out, all the “record” scores we had made up in our show had already been broken by people in real life. Figure skating evolves and grows so fast, so it was interesting to see that reflected both in our show and in real life.
Kubo: During the broadcast of the show, my twitter followers went from 40,000 mostly Japanese to over 400,000 of every nationality. I’m still quite surprised by it.
CR: Now for a very important question. Is Maccachin a boy or a girl?
Yamamoto: That’s a very interesting question. I think she might be a girl because she’s very sweet. On the other hand, it’s ambiguous for a reason, probably because we didn’t want to say.
CR: Who are your favorite characters?
Kubo: It’s hard to pick just one for me, because when writing the show I tried not to pick just one favorite at the risk of becoming biased. You could say I couldn’t afford to because our show has so many characters, I wanted to represent them all equally.
Yamamoto: I’d have to say the same. I’m rooting for all of them.
CR: Yamamoto-san, how was directing Yuri on ICE!! different from your previous works like Michiko + Hatchin or the Woman Called Fujiko Mine?
Yamamoto: This one is hard to answer, because usually when producing a show I’m very in the moment. I guess the biggest difference between Yuri on ICE!! and my previous two is that my previous two were both offered to me, whereas Yuri on ICE!! was entirely my idea. Nobody asked me to do it, so I just did it myself and made it happen. I’m still surprised at its success.
CR: Kubo-san, can you give us some insight into your drive as a writer?
Kubo: Well, Yuri on ICE!! was a collaborative effort from the beginning as Yamamoto-san asked me to do it with her. I had never actually seen figure skating before I was asked, but as soon as I was signed on I studied skating a lot and soon became a big fan. I’ve been working as a mangaka for over 20 years, but I’ve never done something like this. I can say for sure that nobody expected such a huge reaction from our work.
CR: It’s often said that skaters are expressing their emotions through their routines. Do you think you’re also expressing your emotions through animation?
Yamamoto + Kubo: This might not be an exact answer to the question, but we’ve actually received numerous letters from real life figure skaters expressing solidarity with the emotions and situations expressed in the show. So I think in that respect we’ve succeeded in expressing the accurate emotions of figure skaters through our work.
CR: How were the locations fleshed out for the show?
Yamamoto + Kubo: Hasetsu is actually based on a town in Kyushuu prefecture not far from where Kubo-san grew up. We wanted to set the show in a place that isn’t steeped in figure skating culture, but then from episode 6 on all the locations portrayed are the real cities Grand Prix events are held in in real life.
CR: What anime do you like to watch?
Kubo: I like…South Park! (This was a big hit)
Yamamoto: I don’t really watch anime, to be completely honest. I find that usually the type of stuff I want to watch is just the stuff that I’m making anyways. (laughs)
CR: This is more of a fun fact, but the google search results for “katsudon” have doubled in the west since the show came out. How do you feel about that?
Kubo: I really like that I made katsudon so popular, I guess. I’ve heard many stories from foreigners visiting Japan and eating katsudon and loving it, but you must know it’s not healthy! So don’t eat it all the time.
CR: Do you have any final messages for our audience?
Kubo: Now that we’ve made this show, we really want to go to the American National figure skating competition. Maybe now that it’s so popular we can afford it! (laughs) (She then rattled off an extensive list of famous American figure skaters)
Yamamoto: While I’m here I’d really like to see ice dancing. There’s so many talented ice dancers from the United States.
Kubo: There are! There was a lot of real-life inspiration for Yuri on ICE!! in the United States. The more love for figure skating there is from the US, the better the next bit of Yuri on ICE!! will be. We’re actually working on trying to get a movie made, possible after the 2018 Olympics, so perhaps that’s something you can all look forward to. (She dropped this quite nonchalantly, but this is obviously news to me!)
That concluded the raucous and somewhat messy but very fun Yuri on Ice panel. Yamamoto and Kubo then gave several guests some presents and bade us adieu.
This panel was pretty much all rapid-fire announcements so I’m going to use a bulleted format to get them all out here.
-They’re working on a new Playstation app (thank god) that features a better UI and better quality video among other things
-A new PV for the second half of My Hero Academia Season 2 was shown
+Amazarashi is doing the opening theme
-New simuldubs for summer 2017 were announced
+A Centaur’s Life
+Classroom of the Elite
+Restaurant to Another World
+Knight’s & Magic
+Saiyuki Reload Blast
+Lupin III Pt. 4
-They talked about some current and new theatrical releases
+Part 3 of Project Itoh
+July 12+13 nationwide
-Fairy Tail Dragon Cry
-Eureka 7 Hi-Evolution
+This is the first of three new Eureka 7 movies coming next year probably
+Showed a new PV that looked incredible
+Brought out Masahiko Minami, President of Bones, to talk about the film and show some exclusive clips
+Looks like new Bones doing old Eureka 7, in the best way
-They also announced some new home video releases
-Dragonball Super Part 2
-Space Dandy Season 1+2 Box Set
-Testament of Sister New Devil
+Part of their Crunchyroll partnership
+Part of their Crunchyroll partnership
+Standard and limited edition
-D.Gray-man Season 3
-Speed Racer Complete Collector’s Edition
+Comes in a box that looks like Speed’s head, makes noises
+Includes American and Japanese releases
-Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans Season 1 Part 1+2
+Season 2 coming 2018
+Comes with limited-edition Barbados gunpla only available with this
-Rosario + Vampire bluray release
-Your Name Special and Regular edition coming this year
Patrick's Day 1
Hello! Day 1 has successfully ended and with it came some interesting insights into the development of both Welcome to the Ballroom and Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc. Day 1 was relatively sparse compared to what I expect days 2 and 3 to be so let’s hop right into it.
My day at the convention began with the Pony Canyon Industry panel. The panelists were three producers, a Pony Canyon… hypewoman? I didn’t catch her name but she was great and fluent in Japanese and English, and an interpreter.
The panel began with an explanation of what Pony Canyon is: a leading publisher of anime and manga in Japan that has opened a branch in USA to more directly interact with fans and consumers. After the explanation of who they are and what they do they ran some footage of popular anime they have released in the west, including Kuromukuro and Yuuki Yuna is a Hero.
The next section was the producers sharing a bit about each of their upcoming anime: Welcome to the Ballroom, Clean Freak Aoyama-kun, and Sanrio Boys. The producer for Ballroom, Tetsuya Kinoshita, spent his time explaining that the story is about a troubled youth overcoming his confidence issues through sport more than anything else. He also doubled down on the idea that it’s a classic sports anime, despite the idea that ballroom dancing might be seen as less intense than other popular sports.
For Aoyama-kun, producer Yasushi Ohshima also stressed the importance of the sport aspect. All the promotional art for Aoyama-kun depicted him in a janitorial get-up with a mop and gloves so I didn’t even know the soccer aspect of the show. The producer talking about it and the humorous new trailer they showed knocked it up a few notches in my ‘excited to watch this season’ notebook.
The last show, Sanrio Boys, was described as a bunch of high school guys who are obsessed with cute things (presumably Sanrio mascots) having to deal with undermining what society expects them to like. That sounds like a heavy matter but I’m pretty sure the show is just going to be cute anime guys fawning over cute mascots and that sounds A-ok to me.
The Q&A session was very short and full of asking if these shows were BL (all three got an emphatic no from their respective producer). Only one question asked had a meaty answer (full disclosure: I asked it…). I was able to ask about the music production in Ballroom. Long answer short, Ballroom will use Yuki Hayashi’s score for background tracks but the competition scenes will use music that’s commonly used in real life competitive ballroom dancing. Score!
From there the plan was go to the Aqours viewing and talk session but it filled up early and I was unable to get in. Sad face. Instead my time was spent wandering the exhibition hall, too scared to enter any of the lengthy lines for fear of missing my next event, the Cardcaptor Sakura premiere.
The CCS event began with a producer (Kawazoe-san I believe) talking about why revive the series now, after 20 years? The answer was almost as endearing as the prologue episode itself: they felt that since Sakura is so beloved all these years later that the new generation of readers and watchers should get to enjoy it in the same way. Of course, them being Japanese, it was said in a less self-serving way.
The premiere itself was everything I’d hoped for. Madhouse managed to capture all of the emotions from the original show absolutely perfectly. I felt like Tomoyo the whole way through screaming (mostly internally) with glee.
After the episode, they announced that the first volume of the Clear Card Arc is available on Bookwalker today! And that they will be publishing them more closely with the Japanese release timings in the future.
That was more or less it for my Day 1. Here’s to Day 2!