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Interview: Stars Align Director Kazuki Akane (Part 1)


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marmalade665



Joined: 04 Mar 2020
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 5:05 pm Reply with quote
Nice interview, looking forward to part 2.

I really hope they can get funding to finish the originally planned story before it was cut. I wasn't expecting much when I started watching Stars Align but was quickly drawn in and looked forward to each new episode!
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Shay Guy



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 6:47 pm Reply with quote
Ooh, now this is the good stuff. Very Happy

Though I do find this amusing:

Quote:
There are a lot of anime that focus on sports like basketball, but personally, I can't help but see them as rather calculated. You pick that sport because it can make money, right?


...given that from all I've heard, basketball was much less popular in Japan before Slam Dunk came along.
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Gina Szanboti



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
Posts: 8867
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:07 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
It was developed during a time [1884] when Japanese people were smaller and weaker, so the games are short and it doesn't require much stamina.

Something about the way he said that just cracked me up. Very Happy

Excellent interview. He sounds like he's too idealistic and optimistic about the future of anime for the world we live in now. Here's hoping his attitude can rub off on his colleagues, especially the ones on production committees. Looking forward to part II.
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Blackiris_
Aria CompanyAria Company


Joined: 06 Sep 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:25 pm Reply with quote
This must be one of the best interviews I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for that, Kim. The questions are spot-on and the answers are spot-oner. I’ve just gained new respect for Akane. Stars Align was by no means a perfect work, I have plenty of issues with it, but the ambitions that went into it are just what the industry needs.

Akane is right, the vast, vast, vast majority of anime is escapism. And escapism definitely has a right to exist. But he’s right about the manga comparison. There are so many manga titles that are more than just entertainment while anime’s been going into the exact opposite direction for the past years, producing less works with a "literary" quality to them and getting more blatant with its escapism.

For example, if I read works from Jirō Taniguchi, Fumiyo Kōno, Inio Asano, Shigeru Mizuki and many other mangaka, there’s a lot of value to these stories – in both the way they are told and the messages they convey. It always makes me sad that these works are so rarely adapted into animation. The success of In This Corner of the World definitely shows that there’s an audience for it – but it’s just so risky that few companies do it. Obviously even more so for TV anime. And that’s a real shame.

I hope that Akane is right and that even Stars Align is not a big success, it will inspire other creators to tread similar ground. I don’t mind shallow entertainment – but if that’s what the entire medium is about, there’s definitely something amiss.

Looking forward to part 2!
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nobahn
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:44 pm Reply with quote
I sincerely hope that the production committee earns a decent ─ if not good ─ return on its investment. I hope that there is a 2nd cour.
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Idgal



Joined: 18 Jun 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 11:55 pm Reply with quote
Great interview and great questions! I can really tell that Akane San thought deeply and was passionate about this project. I wish more directors and studios were more willing to take on “riskier “ subject matters.
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Charou



Joined: 01 May 2018
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Location: Sydney, Australia
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:38 am Reply with quote
Your thoughtful, astute interviews with deep-seated experts of the industry are hands-down the highest quality content on ANN, Kim.
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KitKat1721



Joined: 03 Feb 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:43 am Reply with quote
What a fantastic interview with some really in depth answers! Genuinely can't wait to read part two.
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rizuchan
Collector ExtraordinaireCollector Extraordinaire


Joined: 11 Mar 2007
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Location: Kansas
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:45 am Reply with quote
Blackiris_ wrote:
There are so many manga titles that are more than just entertainment while anime’s been going into the exact opposite direction for the past years, producing less works with a "literary" quality to them and getting more blatant with its escapism.


I don't know that I'd agree with that. There's far more anime in general and the vast majority of it probably falls under "escapism", but there's way more artsy anime out there than there used to be too. It seemed like 10 years ago you'd get one or two of them a year maybe, but these days there's at least 1 or 2 shows every season that strike me as having significant literary and/or artistic value. I don't think a show like Stars Align would have gotten funded 15 years ago. (Although to be fair, if it had, it probably wouldn't have had any problems securing a 2 cour run.)

Anyway, I agree that this was a fantastic interview. I was really interested in Akane's reasons for choosing soft tennis - to an American it does simply seem obscure and I never would have known that there wasn't really a professional league. It does better explain why some of the kids' parents were convinced soft tennis was a waste of time, but soccer or other sports weren't.

I was also shocked to find out that he wasn't particularly involved in LGBTQ+ issues to begin with, although that explanation does make a lot of sense in the context of the show and how matter-of-fact all the characters are about them. It's really refreshing to see a director the same age as my parents be so open-minded.
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Rentwo



Joined: 05 Oct 2019
Posts: 55
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:24 am Reply with quote
nobahn wrote:
I sincerely hope that the production committee earns a decent ─ if not good ─ return on its investment. I hope that there is a 2nd cour.


The tell-all nature of the interview sounds like it wasn't being vetted by any kind of representative of the production committee or PR rep like every other interview with a Japanese staffer or talent is since. I doubt they would have let so many candid questions and answers fly around so carelessly, so I can only assume they already disbanded and this was a postmortem look. If there was, then I'm surprised!

Having said that, "You only pick those sports because they sell" "My anime has literary value, yours is just paltry escapism". I can see why the production for this show fell through, he sounds like a bit of caustic man to work with and despite people trying to warn him shows like this don't sell he did it anyway. "Escapism" seems like a dismissive word to label any series that doesn't constantly bemoan how hard life is or talk about how awful the world is and every year was the worst one yet like a doomer on social media. I'm sorry characters like Luffy, Tanjiro, and Conan have friendly and relatable attitudes rather than moping around lamenting the state of the world, but casually dismissing them as escapism is condescending and tastes of sour grapes. Considering the growth of the anime industry every year, I don't think he's in much of a place to say the industry is going to die unless they all follow his lead and do stuff like him. Those are things I expect Yamakan to say.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:06 am Reply with quote
Rentwo wrote:
[Those are things I expect Yamakan to say.


I definitely didn't read this interview that way at all. To me, it seems like he wants anime to have more diversity in the kinds of shows it creates, and not just from a genre perspective (because anime already has toooooons of genre). Rather, I think he wants to see more types of anime that don't fit all that neatly into popular, established genres as a way to help the medium broaden its horizons, so to speak. But, for better or worse, very little anime exist as original stories, since it's largely a commercial venture meant to tap into and drive up sales of pre-existing fanbases.
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Abraham Omosun



Joined: 05 Mar 2020
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:04 pm Reply with quote
An ok interview in my opinion but the part about focusing on popular sports being a calculated move to be profitable rubbed me the wrong way. They are many sports manga like Slam Dunk, Haikyuu, Cross Game were made because the authors had deep love for the sports and not necessarily to be profitable. The characters in them rarely talk about the future or enter the sports to become rich. They play sports because they enjoy it. It feels like Akane is cynical about sports anime in general
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Zhou-BR



Joined: 28 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:31 pm Reply with quote
I think Akane was talking about characters making a living by becoming professional athletes, not authors and companies making money from sports manga/anime.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1790
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:43 pm Reply with quote
I think picking a sport with no professional aspect also frees up the story from feeling like it *has* to go the typical sports-anime route. There are definitely shades of that in the "We gotta win the tournament!" subplot, but it feels a lot more like Run With the Wind (which had a pretty equal mix of slice-of-life alongside the sports stuff) rather than the do-or-die attitude of Haikyuu or Kuroku's Basketball.
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FireChick



Joined: 26 Mar 2006
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:36 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Having said that, "You only pick those sports because they sell" "My anime has literary value, yours is just paltry escapism". I can see why the production for this show fell through, he sounds like a bit of caustic man to work with and despite people trying to warn him shows like this don't sell he did it anyway. "Escapism" seems like a dismissive word to label any series that doesn't constantly bemoan how hard life is or talk about how awful the world is and every year was the worst one yet like a doomer on social media. I'm sorry characters like Luffy, Tanjiro, and Conan have friendly and relatable attitudes rather than moping around lamenting the state of the world, but casually dismissing them as escapism is condescending and tastes of sour grapes. Considering the growth of the anime industry every year, I don't think he's in much of a place to say the industry is going to die unless they all follow his lead and do stuff like him. Those are things I expect Yamakan to say.


I HIGHLY doubt that was what he was saying. For all we know, he might have been referring to the fact that anime these days tend to be more shallow wish fulfillment stuff that put more focus on ecchi fanservice and overpowered protags with bland, artificial harems rather than anime that actually care about things like a good story and three dimensional characters with flaws and strengths that people can actually care about. You know, like all the bad isekai stuff that's been coming out in droves since 2013. When did he ever say that characters being happy and optimistic was a bad thing? Don't put words in his mouth.
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