San Diego Comic-Con International 2009
by Evan Miller,
Panelists: Frank O'Connor (Franchise developer, 343 Studios), Kevin Grace (Managing Editor), Joseph Cho (Producer), Eiko Tanaka (Studio 4°C), Shinji Aramaki (Casio Entertainment), Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Production I.G Producer)
Legions of helmeted fans packed Hall 6BCF on Thursday afternoon to learn more about the future of the most successful Xbox franchise in history, Halo. The main announcement of the panel turned out to be its focus: Microsoft and 343 Studios has launched an omnibus anime project called Halo Legends, based on the popular game series. The anime studios contributing "chapters" to the anime are Studio 4c, Production I.G, Bones, Toei Animation, and Casio Animation. More info about the anime - and possibly episodes of the anime - will be available on a special site called Halo Waypoint via the Xbox 360 game system this fall. Warner Brothers will be organizing a DVD release and potential digital distribution, which will be released in 2010.
After the trailer for the anime screened, Cho introduced representatives of the various anime studios to the audience. The first was Eiko Tanaka, CEO of Studio 4°C, who said that the project has been a lot of fun and also quipped that she was "very happy to meet a real Master Chief" in reference to a cosplayer. Representing Casio Entertainment, Appleseed director Shinji Aramaki introduced himself saying that he wants to be recognized "as a Halo fan" and not a director in relation to this project. Production I.G's Ishikawa said that he is "happy to be here to represent the I.G staff, who are very passionate about this project." The next part of the panel featured a special video message from Mamoru Oshii, who will be directing one of the sections of Halo Legends. He said that he is looking forward to working on the project.
Frank O'Connor talked about the reasoning behind the creation of Halo Legends. "There's no time to explore the stories behind the plot in the game series," said O'Connor, who referenced previous collaborations with Marvel Comics to produce a Halo graphic novel and the novel series surrounding the series. "We wanted to see Halo universe interpreted by others, and so we undertook this project. All the films look like Halo, but they have their own feel and explore different corners of the Halo universe." Two of the episodes in Legends will be an origin/overview story (see next paragraph), while the other six episodes will explore other themes in the Halo universe. O'Connor stressed the amount of creative control afforded to the studios on the project, saying that he wanted the animators to put their own "stamp" on the series.
Tanaka talked a bit about Studio 4°C's contribution to Legends, called Origins. This Halo origin story from will be split into two episodes due to its length. "Learning about the history of Halo by doing Origins was such was a challenge," admitted Tanaka, "but it's a good opportunity for us to explore outside the game universe."
Aramaki talked about his personal interest in Halo as one of the catalysts for the project. "When I bought a 360, my wife suggested I try Halo 3 since it's supposed to be the 'most interesting' on XBox," said Aramaki, who soon became addicted to the game series. When he finished Ex Machina, Aramaki thought about doing a Halo-esque anime for his next project, but when Legends was planned out with Microsoft, the project came to life as Halo itself. "I created a piece that I think delve into the parts of the games that fans enjoy the most," said Aramaki, who is also working as a creative director for Legends. In contrast, Ishikawa kept his remarks brief, saying that he is "making Halo Legends so that it becomes known as a seminal work for Production I.G ."
O'Connor mentioned that the trailer for the anime will be on Spike TV later tonight, and that he "can't express how excited this project makes us." As a fan of anime himself, O'Connor talked about making a list of who they wanted to work with, approached them, and lucked out, since everyone they wanted to work with said yes. "I think each of [the studios] presents something very different and very special," he said. In the Q&A session, O'Connor mentioned that the English Voice Actors have not been cast yet, and the price for each episode of the anime is also to be decided in the near future.
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