Anime Expo 2012
Tatsuo Sato Focus Panel

by Brian Hanson,

After a 20 minute or so delay, AX staffers and volunteers rallied the crowd to give a warm welcome to renowned anime director Tatsuo Sato, who softspokenly introduced himself and played the opening from his latest series, Bodacious Space Pirates.

There was a bit of an audio/video issue, as the audio lagged desynced from the video. Sato notices and jokes with the crowd. "Did you notice the delay? Just a reminder, the free stream is available, and there are no delays there."

Sato reminds people that episode 25 of Bodacious Space Pirates had aired last week on a bit of a cliffhanger, and the final episode will be airing tomorrow, the 30th. "As you know if you are watching, Bodacious Space Pirates will end this week. Something big will happen before the final episode tomorrow."

The floor is then opened for questions from the audience.

Question: How much was Bodacious Space Pirates influenced by your previous science fiction series, Martian Successor Nadesico?

Sato: "I can't say there was much inference between them, but the main thing is - Nadesico was graphically and stylistically still a little immature compared to the improvements we made on Bodacious Space Pirates. Graphically, I have significantly upscaled the universe. I want to move forward, visually, with another great space adventure."

Q: When you started directing both Bodacious Space Pirates and Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne, you tweeted that both series would have "no romance." I'm wondering how you feel that has worked out for you?

Sato: Well, I didn't intend them to be a love story as the main plot, but as their characters evolved and matured, of course that kind of feeling evolved in both. The essence is there. In Bodacious Space Pirates, the main characters and sub-characters are all females. People do expect it to be a cute love story, but my main goal is to really, clearly show that these particular pirates are more about their friendship, and how to conquer the pirate spirit, than a love story in space."

Q: Will you ever go back to Nadesico and revisit that universe?

Sato: *laughs* Nadesico wasn't just made by me. Other wonderful people touched that project. I wanna do Nadesico, but by myself I cannot. But because of repeat requests from fans like yourself, some of the folks involved have thought about it. But I need to pull together more of the original crew."

Q: Regarding your series Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars, what inspired the mixture of Japanese religion and science fiction? And also, would you ever think about making more episodes

Sato: I don't think that's the religious aspect of it. But if you see and know the Japanese culture, we have a culture of how we thank nature, and also we are very familiar with it. And we give thanks to it. Those aspects are very culturally relevant in Japan, and we wanted to show that with Shingu. And we would like to make more, but it's all about the sponsors."

Q: Welcome to the states, Sato-san! For the end of episode 25 of Bodacious Space Pirates, I did enjoy the cliffhanger, but I would like to know - is the show gonna have a second season, or maybe an OVA series?

Sato: If you watch the last episode, you will find out."

Q: Will there be other media - like novels - to further explore the universe of Bodacious Space Pirates?

Sato: "Again, watch the last episode. But the main story WILL end in some format. Then after that, you will have a surprise."

Q: The characters of Bodacious Space Pirates are bubbly and lighthearted, and they don't seem to have too many fights with the government-sponsored pirates, and I was curious why you made that decision.

Sato: "Great question. Definitely an otaku. The beginning was - she was in training, young and inexperienced, but the crew were all adults. The first plot was all about training and becoming pirates, so they didn't have many battles with the government. As she keeps becoming more and more mature as a pirate and especially as a captain, she is getting ready for these battles, as it goes toward the ending. Is she going to be able to become the true captain of the ship? That's what will be evolving through the ending, and I'm thinking about whether she will be more of a student forever or if she'll truly succeed of being a captain."

Q: In episode 25 of Bodacious Space Pirates, toward the end, they play the Pirate Song on the radio, and the video showed them both dressed up. How in the story could they have access to a studio to record the song?

Sato: "You caught a good one. That particular episode, it came basically from the manga, even though episode 19 and on is my original story. There was a voice actress, Mokako Komatsu and Kana Hanazawa, they did voiceover work at the studio, and simultaneously it turned out they were both in the studio at the same time, and they made a theme song out of that. Very good observation."

The hour was over and it was then brought to the audience's attention that it will soon be Sato-san's birthday - on July 7th - so the crowd joined in a big round of Happy Birthday To You. "My actual age is a secret," Sato said and laughed, as they applauded him offstage.

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