Otakon 2011 Puella Magi Madoka Magica Premiere and Q&A
by Lynzee Lamb, Jul 30th 2011
Aniplex of America's English subtitled premiere of Puella Magi Madoka Magica was shown in HD and filled to almost complete capacity. Filing the crowd into seats caused a 20 minute delay in the panel. Before the premiere began, Aniplex of America's USA localization agent introduced producer Atsuhiro Iwakami to the crowd. Iwakami is also known for his work on Bakemonogatari and The Garden of Sinners movie series. He's currently working on the Fate/Zero TV series that airs this fall.
Iwakami expressed how happy he was to see so many American fans and cosplayers as well as seeing Madoka Magica on such a large screen. The first three episodes of the series were played before breaking into a Q&A session with Iwakami.
A fan asked if working with composer Yuki Kajiura on Madoka Magica influenced Iwakami to work with her again on Fate/Zero. Iwakami replied that this was his second time working with Kajiura, as he worked with her previously on the Garden of Sinners movies. Kajiura is also friends with Gen Urobuchi, the writer of the series, who specifically requested her involvement.
A fan asked what it felt like to produce the best anime ever, in which Iwakami simply replied "Thank you."
When asked what the inspiration for Madoka Magica was, Iwakami discussed that he asked Urobuchi to write a series with a heavier tone that also featured deaths and Madoka Magica was the result. He clarified that his job was to assemble the team to work on the series and this was the result of the staff and cast working at 100% of their capabilities. He felt blessed to have such a great staff and cast to work on the show.
A fan asked about the gender roles of Madoka's parents in the series as they are reversed from traditional gender roles. Iwakami replied that one of Urobuchi's strong policies was for Madoka's character to have a family background. This is why her mother was chosen to play such an important figure.
Some of the striking visuals within the series are during parts that include the witches. When asked if this was gained from experience working on Bakemonogatari, Iwakami replied that the visual designer Gekidan Inu Curry was responsible for the witch sequences and he also worked on Bakemonogatari and Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei. He also mentioned that the labyrinth scenes were originally going to feature a giant tentacle-like monster but gradually developed into a labyrinth instead.
The music in Madoka Magica features a Latin-esque language. A fan inquired about its origins and Iwakami revealed that it is not an actual language but a "Kajiuran" language that he made up and has used for a long time in his other works.
When asked if he had expected the worldwide appeal that Madoka Magica has received, Iwakami replied that since it was not based on a previous work, its success was not guaranteed; however, he felt that the show spoke for itself.
The character Hitomi's purpose was questioned, especially when it seemed as if she was only there to agitate the character of Sayaka. Iwakami clarified that all the characters have a purpose but he is partial to Hitomi despite the fact that she was often lampooned by Japanese fans as well. The contrast of the art style and genre versus the dark undercurrent of the show was also revealed to be intentional.
Mami's room in the broadcast version was much more bare than in the video release and the version that was shown on the screen. Iwakami said the series director, Yukihiro Miyamoto, asked for enhancements to be made to the series for the video release. This included more background in Mami's room as well as increased production values for the last episodes of the series. There are also unscripted scenes such as Mami drinking the tea cup that a witch drops in episode 2, and he hopes that fans look for those small scenes within the show.
Iwakami stated when asked that the voice actors for the series were surprised with the dark visuals but had a lot fun acting out the show. The voice actors were selected specifically based on an audition process. He also revealed that while he is supposed to say that all the characters are his favorite, Madoka is his favorite character from the series.
Runes are featured heavily in the show. A group of American fans came together to decipher them using cryptology. Iwakami was impressed, saying that die-hard Japanese fans had not cracked the runes and that they were an invention of Inu Curry.
An Aniplex of America staff member stepped into reiterate, as was said in their panel earlier in the day, that Madoka Magica will be dubbed.
When asked if Iwakami would accept a contract become a "magical boy" and what his wish would be, similar to the contract presented to the characters in the show, Iwakami stated that he'd never make a contract with Kyubey and that he is currently living his dream working on anime.
The following two paragraphs may contain spoilers for the anime series:
One fan asked if the ending of the series was influenced by The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. Iwakami commented that the ending to the show was the original ending and it was simply a fluke that it featured natural disasters.
The last question addressed a scene in the final episodes where various historical magical girls are shown. The attendee wanted to know the identity of a character who appears with pink hair and dress in a castle. Iwakami was unsure without seeing the scene but said that all the historical characters featured should be recognizable to American fans except possibly the Japanese Queen Himiko.
At the end of the panel Iwakami thanked fans for watching the show with him. Atsuhiro Iwakami will have his own autograph session on Saturday at Noon as well as a Q&A at 5:30PM.
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