Anime Boston 2004
Carl Horn

by Jonathan Mays,
Carl Horn's panel was sparsely attended, but those who went had an exceptional opportunity to probe the mind of an industry veteran with unmatched knowledge.

The hour-long panel was very informal, with a simple question-answer format. After brushing several topics, the discussion moved to Gainax and their changing role in the industry. Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise (1987), Gainax's first project, is Horn's favorite anime film—both for its technical excellence and its vision. Created by a group of amateurs to convinced Bandai to pony up a whopping $8 million (the most ever for an anime feature at the time), Honnemaise's themes, characters, and art design are unequalled, according to Horn.

To many fans—in fact, to anyone except Gainax themselves—the Mahoromatic series seems like a contradiction, especially since it came from the same mind that fueled Honnemaise, Hiroyuki Yamaga. Horn explained that, despite a target age group that skews closer to 41 than 14, Gainax would never view Mahoromatic as the antithesis of Honnemaise because it's simply who they are.

As the West continues to play a larger role in anime production, the possibility of cooperation on a creative level increases with each passing day. But Horn believes such interaction is very unlikely. He first pointed out that merely mixing the ideas of people from different cultures does not guarantee creativity; it's more about the mind than its location.

He also cited language difficulties and how storywriters in particular dislike speaking through translators. Some, in fact, will say different things to Japanese-speaking interviewers and those who use translators. He mentioned a conversation he once had with Mamoru Oshii, in which Oshii claimed that he "never talked about politics." Horn knew this was simply false, as Oshii is quite outspoken about several political issues. To Oshii's defense, however, Horn noted that many people worry about mistranslation when they discuss sensitive issues like politics, so Oshii's response was understandable.

It was well publicized that The Big O II would not have happened without the US audience's massive support of the show's first thirteen episodes. When I asked if Big O II was the first such series to be continued solely because of US support, he hesitated before citing the failed plans for a Robotech sequel.

Towards the panel's conclusion, when Horn was talking about Yamaga's long break between Honnemaise and Gainax, I asked him about Brain Powered, the much-maligned series from Gundam mastermind Yoshiyuki Tomino. He believed that Brain Powered was not as ambitious as Evangelion from the start, but even then, pioneering the Gundam world was more than enough for any one man's creative lifetime.

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