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Otakon 2004
King Records and Production I.G

by Christopher Macdonald,
Production I.G Company Representative: Maki Terashima, Satoshi Fuji
King Records Company Representative: Kenji Okazaki, Atsushi Moriyama

Okazaki began by speaking a bit about King Records. They are the parent company of the Star Child anime label, and have been in the anime business for about 20 years. They started doing soundtracks, and then about 10 years later got into anime, starting with Blue Seed and continuing with titles like Utena and their latest title, Stellvia, which will be released by Geneon. They continue to do soundtracks, and one of their recording artists, angela, were guests of honor at Otakon.

They then showed a compilation of short trailers (mostly the openings) from a number of older Star Child anime, including Evangelion, Utena, Nadesico, Kare Kano and Fruits baskets. During each trailer Okazaki mentioned which US company distributed the anime and the soundtrack. For FLCL a video of the theme song Spider was shown, this particular version of the video, mixing footage from the regular music video and animation from FLCL, is not available anywhere. After showing ten trailers Okazaki named a number of other shows produced by Star Child (A full list of Star Child Productions can be seen here).

After showing the older trailers, they then went on to show trailers for newer anime currently airing in Japan and not yet released in North America. During this segment Okazaki made interesting comments regarding the licensing status of certain titles:

Jubei-Chan 2 - He stated that the video distributor would be announced at the next panel, and of course Geneon confirmed the license during their panel.
Da Capo - The license is currently being negotiated and might be announced during the next few months.
Bottle Fairies - Is unlicensed, Production I.G is handling international licensing
Sensei no Ojikan - "Please tell interested American distributors to contact King Records"

When asked about the live action Evangelion movie, Okazaki stated that King Records was not involved in it and that they "weren't very happy about it."

The second part of the panel was for Production I.G As most people present already knew who and what Production I.G is, Terashima did not bother with a long and detailed introduction to the company. She did state that they were affiliated with two other studios (actually subsidiaries of Production I.G), Xebec and Bee Train, that do a lot of TV series production. Xebec has produced the animation for several of Star Child's shows, including Fafner and Stellvia, while Bee Train has animated shows such as Noir and .hack//SIGN.

In addition to anime series, OVAs and movies, Production I.G is also doing more and more animation for commercials, music videos and other projects. As many people already know, they produced the animation sequences used in Kill Bill. They also produced animation for VH-1's Divas 2004 concert, a music video for Russian band Linda and a commercial for T-Mobile. One project they did not work on was the Linkin Park music video. The video was directed by Kazuto Nakazawa, the same person who directed the animation for Kill Bill, however the animation itself was produced at Gonzo Digimation.

A fan of I.G projects such as Blood: The Last Vampire and Ghost in the Shell, Quentin Tarantino came to Production I.G with the idea for the Kill Bill animation. He not only provided them with storyboards that he produced, but he also went to Japan and spent several hours acting out every part of the animated scenes. His acting was slightly different from the storyboards, and it was the acting that was to be followed. He also requested that the animation be very bloody, when Production I.G provided him with final art, he sent it back saying that it should be more bloody and violent.

The Japanese trailer for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (which is only called Innocence in Japan) was shown. Innocence took 4 years to produce and had a production budget of 18 million dollars. One scene in particular, an all 3D parade scene, took a full year to produce. The staff went to Taiwan twice to see a similar, real parade scene. The scene was selected to be displayed at the 2004 Siggraph Electronic Theater, an exposition of "the world's most innovative, imaginative works in computer graphics and interactive techniques." The rest of Innocence features 2D foreground animation (the characters) and 3D background animation.

While Innocence will be released on DVD in Japan on September 15th (preceded by a $500 special edition on August 10th), DreamWorks does not currently know when they will release Innocence on home video in North America. Innocence will be released in theaters on September 17th.

Production I.G also produced, and is producing, the first Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series, the follow-up Ghost in the Shell: Second Gig series and a Ghost in the Shell game. All of which will be distributed in North America by Bandai Entertainment and Manga Entertainment.

They would like to produce more of Blood: The Last Vampire and IGPX. For Blood, a future production is mostly dependent on them being able to arrange financing for a full length movie. For IGPX, if fans want to see more of the show, it was suggested that they contact Cartoon Network.

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