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New York Comic-Con 2011
Tiger & Bunny Panel

by Crystalyn Hodgkins,

Robert Ramirez, manager of new media production at Viz Media, and Masayuki Ozaki, producer of Tiger & Bunny, hosted the panel, which was completely packed. Index cards were handed out to attendees to ask questions on for Ozaki. Ozaki was wearing the Kotetsu hat that is available to purchase on Bandai's merchandise website, and he said he had even shaved his beard similar to Kotetsu (he had one bald spot down the middle of his chin) for the panel.

Ramirez began the panel by noting that Viz will update news about the series on the official Tiger & Bunny Facebook page. Osaki introduced himself in English, and mentioned that last year he was at NYCC, but while in New York he was also taking pictures for research for the show, since the show's fictional setting of Sternbild is based on Manhattan. Ozaki said he was glad to be in New York again.

Ramirez then played a special message from director Keiichi Satou. Satou said that he heard that the series was popular in the U.S. as well, which made him happy. He also mentioned Sternbild being based on New York, and he hoped that the show was something people could identify with. He said he also hoped that people all around the world will be able to enjoy the show and that it will get more popular.

Ramirez then showed a video about how Viz Media and Sunrise accomplished the simulcast. The video featured Misaki Kido and Tokio Inoue from Viz, who spoke about the process. The process first starts off with Sunrise providing Viz the asset materials, such as the Japanese scripts (that the Japanese voice actors use), which they send to their translators. The translators then give what they call DTs (direct-translation scripts) back to Viz. The direct-translation scripts may read awkwardly to native English speakers, so Viz then brushes up the DTs so they are smoother and easier to read and understand a for a Western audience. Then Inoue reviews the scripts with temporary video (unfinished footage, where CG hadn't been added in yet).

Once the script is checked, Viz delivers them to Ramierez, who works on timing for the video. Inoue also keeps a copy of the script for TV production side, and for future dubbing productions.

Inoue then told some interesting stories about the translation process. Inoue noted that he received a list of criminals for one particular scene in the show, and one of those criminals, named Yusuke Darcy, was apparently a NEXT whose power was making people feel despair through his wisecracks, and his crime was that robbed another person's desk.

Another story involved in episode 12 when Wild Tiger fights Jake Martinez. For that episode, the Japanese sent over a translation of the news scrolling on HERO TV on the bottom of the screen, which described Wild Tiger as "incompetent." Viz thought that line was OK, but they wanted to make it a bit funnier, so they came up with the word doofus. They put that in the show, and the Japanese fans who translated those scrolling messages in the show got a kick out of that word, and when Viz saw the Japanese fans' reaction they were very happy about it.

When asked if Inoue had something he's like to say to Ozaki, he said that he did have one word he would like to say to Ozaki from everyone at Viz: "Thank you, and thank you again."

Ramirez then asked Ozaki about what he thought about Viz's process, and Ozaki said he knew Viz would do a good job, but he didn't know Viz put so much work into localizing the English slang so it was more accessible to English-speaking fans. He said he was grateful to the staff who worked on it.

Next Ramirez and Ozaki discussed the sponsors for the heroes. Ozaki explained each sponsor for each hero in the series. Some notable information: Wild Tiger's sponsor SoftBank's colors are white and silver, which go with his suit, and Bandai's colors are red and white, which match Barnaby's suit. One of Dragon Kidd's sponsors is Calbee, which is a snack company. Rock Bison's sponsor is a yakiniku (tabletop barbeque) chain in Japan called Gyu-Kaku, and Ozaki mentioned he just found out there were two of those restaurants in New York. One of Origami Cyclone's sponsors is a cosmetic surgery firm, which they thought was appropriate since Origami Cyclone's powers allow him to change his appearance.

When asked why the show needed sponsors, Ozaki said because the work was an original work, not based on an existing work, it needed a strong hook for viewers, and because it was a fictional story that took place in a fictional world, they wanted something viewers could relate to.

When asked how they pitched the show to sponsors, Ozaki said one year ago they put an ad in a newspaper for sponsors, which showed the heroes in their suits with word bubbles saying "placement space" on various parts of the suits. In the ad they put an example logo on Wild Tiger's chest, which was the logo for Gundam UC, another Sunrise series.

When asked why the opening and ending prominently displayed the sponsor logos, Ozaki noted that since not every character gets the same amount of screentime, he guaranteed the sponsors that the logos would be placed in the opening and endings.

Regarding changes in the story, Ozaki said that they had all 25 episodes planned out before it started airing, and did not make any changes in the story based on audience comments and reactions. In early stages, they had discussed there being a ninth hero called "Zen Beast" who would be a complex character that sometimes acted very quiet and tranquil, but would other times act like a wild beast. They had also talked about Kotetsu originally having a regular job as the president of a small company while also being a hero on the side, but they decided to scratch that idea because they wanted to focus on the partnership with Barnaby and the bureaucracy of a salaryman hero. They had also received comments about featuring two young heroes, but they wanted to show the generation gap between a veteran and a rookie, so they strongly felt they needed to preserve that aspect of the show.

Ramirez then showed pictures of merchandise for the show that is out in Japan, including keychains, figures, chibi figures, Barnaby's jacket, Kotetsu's hat, vest, and tie, hoodies, T-shirts, a "Let's Believe Heroes" sash (which Ramirez and Ozaki were wearing), and a Kaburagi Liquors towel.

Next Ramirez played a video message from Hiroaki Hirata, the voice actor for Kotetsu. Hirata started the message saying, "Hi, I am the member of Tiger & Bunny who loves New York" and said that he heard that many people around the world and in the U.S. loved the series, and mentioned that because the show didn't air where he lived in Tokyo until Tuesdays, fans in America actually got to see the new episodes before he did. Hirata mentioned the series ended so successfully, it would be a waste to end it there, and fans have been asking him about a part two, but he can't say anything about it, so he asked the audience to poke Ozaki for answers. He also thanked the fans and asked them to continue their support for the series.

Ozaki then mentioned that they'll hold a "Hero Awards 2011" event in Japan on November 13, which will host voice actors from the series, who will perform a live recording, and the musical artists for all four songs featured in the show. Ozaki said he'll announce what the next project for the series is at that event, and he also may be able to show a glimpse of what's to come at that event as well.

Some fans had sent in questions for Ozaki via the official Facebook page. Ramirez noted that fans can also request what merchandise Viz should bring over to the U.S. on that page. One fan asked what Kotetsu's age was, and Ozaki said that none of the characters ages have been revealed, and that was on purpose - their ages will never be revealed. Another fan asked who was Ozaki's favorite hero aside from Wild Tiger and Barnaby, and Ozaki said that despite their ages not being revealed, Ozaki feels the character most like him in age is Kotetsu, but aside from Kotetsu, it would be Rock Bison. Ozaki said he feels drawn to him because he doesn't have much air time, and isn't given as much glory in the series.

Then Ozaki asked the audience a few questions. He asked the audience which was their favorite, Kotetsu or Barnaby, and the audience overwhelmingly voted Kotetsu. Then he went through each of the heroes and other characters one at a time, and asked which one was the audience's favorite; the ones that had the most votes were Fire Emblem, Origami Cyclone, and Lunatic.

Due to time constraints, then Ozaki launched into a Q&A session based on the index cards attendees wrote on earlier. One attendee asked if there would be an English dub, and Ramirez revealed that there would be a dub, and they're in pre-production for the dub now. Another fan asked about how they came up with the idea of Good Luck Mode, and Ozaki said director Satou had come up with that idea. When Satou approached Ozaki about the fact that after the two characters activate the mode, that it doesn't retract, Ozaki was surprised and said he thought they should retract, but since they wanted to show another, more realistic side of being a hero, they wanted to keep some comedic elements in the series. When Ozaki saw the scene when the Good Luck Mode first appears, partly also because of the voice acting, Ozaki said he was really glad they went ahead with it.

When asked how they came up with the name Tiger & Bunny and not other animals, Ozaki said they originally did talk about a lot of animals, but Kotetsu's name has the kanji for "Tiger" in it, and a tiger represents power, and Kotetsu has a power-type superhero power, so they wanted to go with Tiger. As for Barnaby, they wanted an image for a speedy type that hops around a lot, so they came up with a rabbit, and director Satou had already had it in his head that Bunny would be a good nickname for the name Barnaby. When asked how they came up with the fashion for the heroes, Ozaki said that the character designer, manga creator Masakazu Katsura did the designs of the heroes, but Satou and Ozaki and Katsura all came up with the heroes' street outfits, which took a lot of time and discussion. For example, for Karina, they wanted a pop-culture type image for her.

Ozaki then led the audience in a round of "Thanks and thanks again" to end the panel.

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