Otakon 2009

by Bamboo Dong,

Panelists (Kannagi): Ken Iyadomi, Robert Napton
Panelists (Aniplex): Hiroe Tsukamoto, Yosuke Kodaka, Henry Goto

The first Aniplex panel focused exclusively on their newest titles, Kannagi. The series has been licensed by Bandai, and the first volume is currently available on DVD. The series is also being streamed on Anime News Network. After showing a trailer for the show, the panelists introduced two special guests—director Yutaka Yamamoto and producer Satoru Shimizu.

With Robert Napton moderating, the guests answered a few questions about Kannagi. Regarding the process of adapting a manga title into an anime series, Yamamoto said that one of his policies is to make the anime as true to the original comic as possible, and to not subtract any elements from the manga. Eri Takenashi, the author of the manga, was involved in every step of the planning stage, from the character designs to the coloring to clarifications in the story. She also looked over every script, giving feedback for every episode.

Regarding their selection process for the voice cast, Shimizu said that one of the most important aspects is that the manga author and the director had to like the voices, as well as the sound director. Amusingly, Yamamoto revealed that both Haruka Tomatsu (Nagi) and Miyuki Sawashiro (Tsugumi) tested very well for both Nagi and Tsugumi, but ended up making his final decision because the actresses looked like their respective characters.

Yamamoto also talked about how he came to choose Satoru Kousaki as the background composer. Having known him for 20 years, he also worked with him on the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and also Lucky Star. Familiar with his style, Yamamoto gave him free range over the project, although he made him redo the opening and ending themes several times until they were both satisfied.

Incidentally, the opening theme for Kannagi also includes a choreographed dance sequence, although unlike the group dances for Haruhi and Lucky Star, which quickly became favorites amongst the anime community, it only features the main character Nagi, a goddess who becomes a pop idol. Yamamoto said he wanted the opening theme to express her idol side, while the ending is meant to express her divine existence. To make the dancing as realistic as possible, the opening was animated at 30 frames a second (instead of the usual 24), and the movements were copied from a video of the choreographer dancing.

Afterwards, Iyadomi invited the guests to participate in a “reverse Q & A,” where they could ask the audience questions. Yamamoto said that he was a little concerned about how Americans saw gods and goddesses in Japan, because in spite of Nagi's girl-next-door look, she was a goddess. He asked whether that kind of goddess could be accepted in America. Shimizu followed this question up by talking about the character Zange, a goddess who wears a cross in her hair. He asked the audience if such imagery disturbed them.

A few attendees offered their insight, although the consensus seemed to be that acceptance of Japanese culture helped them understand such characters and their points of view.

During the second Aniplex panel, the panelists talked about some of their current projects, showing trailers for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the first Gurren Lagann movie, Guin Saga, Kuroshitsuji, Kannagi, The Garden of Sinners, and Cencoroll. The Gurren Lagann movie will be playing in San Francisco on September 8 at the Viz Cinema. It will be subtitled.

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