Sakura-Con 2013
Directors's Panel with Katsuyuki Motohiro, Naoyoshi Shiotani, and Atsuko Ishizuka

by Lynzee Lamb, Mar 30th 2013

Sakura Con's Eugene Harng introduced Psycho-Pass executive director Katsuyuki Motohiro, director Naoyoshi Shiotani, producer George Wada, and Sakurasou director Atsuko Ishizuka to the audience on Saturday morning.

Motohiro: Good morning! Maybe we'll take some questions later, but I'l do an introduction for now. So my main job is movie director, unlike anime director by trade. I'm really looking forward to this panel and meeting my colleagues here. Thank you very much for having me.

Wada: Good morning everyone. I'm George Wada from Wit Studio. I look forward to remembering all the faces of everyone that attended today, so thank you very much.

Shiotani: Good morning everyone. In the interest of one upping Wada here, not only will I your face, but your voice, your height, your features, everything.

Ishizuka: I'm Atsuko Ishizuka from Mad House and I'll will add hobbies to that list.

Harng: So, I understand we have some video we want to show before we move on to the next part. So can we go ahead and play that.

Staff then played a Psycho-Pass and The Pet Girl of Sakurasou trailers.

Harng: So I believe we'll be able to move onto Q&A if everyone is ready. Is there anything else our guests want to say?

Shiotani: Alright. So what you just watched was the promotional video for Psycho-Pass. Before we go into Q&A, I want to go into the story. Although many of you already know it, yeah? It takes place in futuristic Tokyo. What I wanted to capture was a detective drama. It really draws influence a lot from Minority Report. Ideas like that. I really wanted to show what people have to go through in this future setting with things like, justice. I hope all of you guys will watch it at some point.

Ishizuka: Uh, so you have seen is The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. It aired at the same time as Psycho-Pass. So, you know, we really brought two really different opposite ends of the spectrum here; opposite works of art. I don't know if I should apologize for throwing a wrench in there. It's a cute love story. So, the scenes you guys saw featured a lot of panties, but I don't want you guys to get the wrong idea. It's a nice, little school drama and in the end you really see the pain of the characters. It's got 24 episodes, so I hope you guys check it out.

Harng: So, let's move on to Q&A and get some discussions going here.

How would you characterize the environment for directors at each of your respective studios?

Motohiro: So, I am a live-action director.I coordinate between the actors and the staff and direct them and instruct them. That is my experience with direction. It's that coordination and working with all these people. But with live-action, you have to perform coordination and creation at the same time. It kind of includes production and being a producer as well. Psycho-Pass was my first experience directing animation. So, it was really a production-related work that I was really working on with Psycho-Pass.

Shiotani: So, in developing the characters in Psycho-Pass< as you can tell from the footage it's a really grotesque and gory show, even more so in the novel. When it was time to bring these characters into the world I wanted to make sure we didn't go too far. We got a popular Shonen Jump manga artist Akira Amano to do the character designs for us. He really brought it and made them palatable and very relate-able. They made it balance with the atmosphere so at the end of the day, it's consumable for the audience.

Ishizuka How did you come together for the collaboration with Amano-san for the character designs?

Shiotani: We had internal meetings with the producer, got together a package, and approached Amano-san for character design.

Ishizuka:So, in Sakurasou, when I thought of bringing these characters to life, the original production came in the form a light novel. This already had illustrations within them, so I thought my job was more bringing them to life.

In addition to just bringing the characters to life from their light novel form, when you create anime, it's up to our staff to create the world and background for these characters. When I went to work, I focused on Shiina because she came off really cute and kinda fuzzy to me. I focused on the backgrounds, there is a rainbow gradient across the image. When people usually look at anime, they focus on the color and the depth. My main goal was to make my main heroine look really cute.

Shiotani: Just listening to her commentary made me really think how we came to create the world of Psycho-Pass. It was the complete opposite. In hers [Ishizuka], the character is the core and the world's job was to make the character look cute. For Psycho-Pass, we wanted the world first. The characters are almost being played by the world. We didn't use colors that stand out too much. Everything was a part of the world we tried to create. I thought that was really interesting.

To add on to that, as you know, Motohiro-san and I love live-action. To say the least, we were inspired by quite a few movies; Blade Runner, Minority Report, Gataca, and Brazil. In terms of Blade Runner, someone might say, "Hey, isn't that like the exact same thing?" It's so close that...heh.

Again, in Psycho-Pass< instead of pushing it directly 100 years in the future and all the technology, we wanted to dial back into the 80s detective drama feel. I don't think most Hollywood movies do this as much, like Blade Runner.

Q: In a recent Japanese manga interview, Motohiro-san and Shiotani-san stated that Psycho-Pass was "anti-moe." What kind of tactics did you employ during production to get that?

Shiotani: So, to really boil it down, and this is an extreme example. This isn't in anyway exactly how we thought of it. To veer from moe we took the heroine and the hero, and to start we DIDN'T have Akane take her clothes off, and had Shinya take all of his clothes off. I don't know statistics, but there are quite a few female viewers.

In a conversation with Motohiro-san, we said we just wanted to pack it with as much testosterone and man-on-man drama, so to speak. But the viewers who are supporting the show, the most seem to be female.

Motohiro: I requested the anti-moe approach. That is because, we as children, as boys, we loved the high-tension, the man-dramas of Gundam and Patlabor. Those kind of dramas with the man-on-man action. So we wanted to create something with that kind of tension and excitement. I think most of you right now, but BL is very popular in Japan. So people who love BL, also got attached to the show. But Shiotani wanted to do anti-BL.

Shiotani: So, I think a lot of the fights that go, are men just going at each other. It really kind of spawned a different kind of...imagination and thinking. That was not really the intent.

I'm curious if you had to go through any similar methods for what they're going for in terms of working around what your audience might perceive, Ishizuka-san.

Ishizuka: So, when I first got the offer to direct Sakurasou, I never really directed a moe anime or a high school drama. It was really surprising to me that they would come to me to direct the series. I had no idea what the concept of "moe" was at the time. A lot of the production time was spent with the producers explaining to me what "buhiru"means. It seemed as though they were speaking a different language. I really had to play catch up in terminology when we started on this.

Q: [To Motohiro] What do you do to ensure that your fictious actors give the same feeling as your real actors do when you have such a long process to go through?

MotohiroThat's a difficult question. My movies have a lot of ad lib in them. I'm really bad at following the script. So we kind of brush it off. We have a lot of moving around within the script, that's pretty much impossible when you're doing animation. [To Shiotani] Do voice actors ad lib?

Shiotani: Absolutely. You'd think you were constrained by the pictures, but in the terms of Psycho-Pass ,we didn't have a lot of pictures to go off of. With Sekai-san, we encouraged him to. We were really working off storyboards.

Harng: We're about out of time, so if the guests would like to give their final greetings now.

Motohiro: It was a brief time, but thank you all for coming. I'm looking forward to bringing you various great works from Japan. We're working very hard to popularize live-action as well, so please watch my live-action works.

Wada: I have now memorized all your faces, so see you next year!

Shiotani: I just want to point out, I will remember more faces than Wada-san. In all seriousness, I appreciate the opportunity to interact with fans in the States, all because of Psycho-Pass. The 22 episodes are just a drop in the bucket, so depending on the popularity, I would love to make more and more Psycho-Pass with the stories that go in between the episodes.

Ishizuka: To be completely honest, this was my first anime event I have attended. To witness the anime scene, and how passionate fans are, Sometimes I can't tell if they are dressed as characters or it's their normal clothes. It's a world of fantasy. I want to continue to create great works. Like I said, I'll remember all your hobbies so come see me after the panel. Thank you for your support, I can't wait to see you again.


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