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The Madhouse panel introduced several special guests, notably the creative team behind the recent series Chihayafuru. In attendance was the director Morio Asaka, the animation director Kunihiko Hamada, and the animation producer Takuya Tsunoki.
The panel immediately opened with a question and answer session, in which the guests mentioned that they were excited to be at Anime Expo, and were excited to eat at In-N-Out. They also reiterated that while there was going to be a second season of Chihayafuru, the staff hasn't been announced yet. However, if they were asked back, they would “pour their heart into it.”
One of the audience members asked whether there was a challenge the team had faced that initially seemed impossible, but was eventually overcome. Asaka said that the series itself was a good example, in that in Japan, competitive karuta is not very well known or popular, so one of the challenges was in creating a show that would make the sport seem interesting and exciting. Tsunoki mentioned that he had to place extra care in making sure that all of the cards in play remained there in subsequent scenes.
The creative team admitted they had yet to actually play karuta, but would often pose in karuta-playing positions for drawing reference.
When asked for their opinions regarding the “moe boom,” Asaka said that he preferred works that were more artistic, while Hamada said that even though moe sells, his personal preference is also for more artistic works, even if they don't sell as well. Tsunoki said that for him, moe was just another genre within animation, and because it does sell well, many choose to work within that genre. He also diplomatically answered that “moe” and “high quality” were not mutually exclusive, and viewers should just watch whatever they enjoyed.