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San Diego Comic-Con International 2005
Comic Con - Cartoon Network / IGPX

by Bamboo Dong,
Cartoon Network's panel at San Diego Comic Con was presented by Sean Akins, Jason DeMarco, IGPX director Mitsuru Hongo, IGPX voice actor Michelle Rodriguez and Production I.G Representative Maki Terashima-Furata.

The panelists started out by talking a tiny bit about how IGPX (Immortal Grand Prix) started. Although Cartoon Network has brought over many shows from Japan, this is the first project they've ever done with an actual Japanese studio. The show isn't complete yet, but they decided that Comic-Con would be a great place to premiere the first episode.

After a minute or two of fiddling with the projector, the lights were dimmed and the episode began showing to the captive audience. About 25 minutes later, the episode ended to applause from the entire audience.

The panelists then took the rest of the time to talk about the show's production and release schedule.

IGPX will be premiering on Cartoon Network's Toonami block at 10 p.m. on November 5th. Right now it's scheduled to run for 13 episodes, though they would definitely like to do more, depending on the show's success. The plans are laid for an additional 13 episodes beyond the first season, for a total of 26 episodes.

The show actually got it's start on Toonami five years ago as a series of 5-minute episodes. These episodes were animated by Production I.G as well, though the concept was a little different, it was more about last man standing battles than the futuristic race it is now. IGPX was described as "Formula 1 with giant robots".

Development of the show has been a joint effort between Cartoon Network and Production I.G CN and IG worked together to create and develop the characters, IG did all the animation and CN deals with the dub and also recommended a lot of the show's music. Part of CN's job was to make sure that the show would be able to follow US broadcasting codes - i.e. no alcohol, no cigarettes, etc

CN wanted something different from the standard anime fare for IGPX. So they approached the label Ninja Tune and asked them about using music from their artists in the show. NINJA TUNE deals in a lot of hip hop and electronica primarily. There will be some differences between the soundtrack for the Japanese and English audio tracks, but for the most part it should be minor.

IGPX is written and developed as an anime that can appeal to audiences worldwide, but Akins said that CN is trying to position it between American animation and anime. It doesn't feature any kind of nationalism or flag waving, so it's very adaptable to worldwide audiences. Someone in the audience asked about a hot dog vendor in the episode who was wearing an eye patch. Hongo responded to that question, "we all thought in Japan that an American hot dog vendor would look like that."

Michelle Rodriguez showed up about halfway through the panel, as she got stuck in San Diego traffic. She talked about how much she enjoyed voice acting and that she was a fan of "Japanimation." She also talked briefly about her character in IGPX.

The name of the show was originally planned to be something like "Samurai Race" or "Ninja Something." Jerry Chu suggested the name "IGPX" because it had the letters IG in it, and could promote Production I.G at the same time. Terashima jokingly mentioned that from now on, all Production I.G shows will need to have the letters IG in the title.

Most importantly, Akins highlighted that this a turning point for the Toonami block. This is where they take control of their success and making it on the strength or weakness of their own programming and not someone else's show.

One of the last audience questions was regarding merchandising for the show. At this time, there is an option for merchandising on the show, but anymore progress on that depends on the success of the show.

Finally, in other Cartoon Network news, Bobobobo starts airing on Toonami in October, Naruto will start in September.

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