Anime Expo 2013
Production I.G

by Carlo Santos,

Guests of Honor Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Kazuchika Kise were present at Anime Expo's Production I.G panel to talk about their latest projects, particularly Ghost in the Shell: ARISE.

Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, president of Production I.G, arrived on stage wearing an Attack on Titan T-shirt that he gave away to the audience.

Kazuchika Kise is the director of Ghost in the Shell: ARISE and is also a key animator for many of Production I.G's other works.

After the guests took their seats, they showed several trailers to the audience for recent Production I.G projects including Blood-C: The Last Dark, 009 Re:Cyborg, Psycho-Pass, Robotics;Notes, and Attack on Titan, as well as a commercial for the Microsoft Surface produced as a tie-in with Ghost in the Shell: ARISE, and an original commercial for Mercedes-Benz.

Ishikawa offered some comments on the "ramen chase" scene in the Mercedes- Benz commercial. He said that at Production I.G headquarters, there is an Italian restaurant owned by the company. However, ever since producing the commercial, he and the staff have thought about opening a ramen stand. Kise quipped that if the company restaurant started serving ramen, he would be there every day.

The panel was then opened up to questions from the audience.

How much does it cost to produce a 26-episode anime?

Ishikawa: For something like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which was 26 episodes, the cost was 8 million dollars.

Production I.G works have been mostly sci-fi or cyberpunk. Have you ever thought about branching out into a period piece, or steampunk?

Ishikawa: Well, we're actually a very broad production. We've done mostly sci-fi, but we've also done family/children's works like Oblivion Island and A Letter to Momo, so we're actually doing many different things.

For the character of Motoko in Ghost in the Shell: ARISE, is that a different body, or did you just change the character design?

Kise: We felt that we wanted to move to a new design, and also, this is kind of an "Episode 0," so we wanted to revamp all the characters.

Your animation is extremely good, but I've seen occasional "blips" like in Episode 13 of Attack on Titan. What are some of the constraints that affect Production I.G's quality; is it cost or time?

Ishikawa: Both.

To Mr. Kise: Now that you're sitting in the director's chair for Ghost in the Shell, how do you feel about being a successor to Mamoru Oshii and Kenji Kamiyama?

Kise: Well, the reason I became I director on this show is simply because Ishikawa said so.

Is there any interest in bringing Azazel-san to America?

Ishikawa: We don't handle the overseas licensing for that show, but there's a guy from Kodansha who's actually standing right over there, so you can talk to him.

It's been a while since there was a Ghost in the Shell anime, so what are you looking at as far as current trends in anime and how this will differ from past Ghost in the Shell productions?

Ishikawa: There are three things that we took into great consideration: the story was written by Tow Ubukata, a top SF writer; Kise was chosen to be the director; and the music is produced by Cornelius [Keigo Oyamada]. With these three elements I believe that we will produce a great show.

In Sengoku Basara, why is it that the character who killed Toyotomi Hideyoshi is different in the TV series and in the Last Party movie?

Ishikawa: It's fiction.

Is there a possibility of a Season 2 for Psycho-Pass?

Ishikawa: "It hasn't been announced..." is my answer to that. [NOTE: This was later confirmed in a later question.]

Why did you choose to continue the Ghost in the Shell series by producing ARISE?

Kise: [The decision] came from the president, and it's not really a continuation, but more of a prequel.

Now that you've produced Chaos;HEAD, Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes, will you plan to continue with the [Nitroplus] "super science" series?

Ishikawa: Absolutely.

How do you choose to produce original series like Psycho-Pass and Gargantia?

Ishikawa: Well, we've done both original works, and also adaptations, but the reason we do both of those is for the money.

For the storyboarding in Attack on Titan, will it follow the manga or have an original ending? I noticed the pacing has changed over the course of the season.

Kise: Nobody knows what the ending will be because the manga hasn't even finished yet.

What was the one shot in Blood-C: The Last Dark that you wanted to get right to set the mood?

Kise: Probably the subway sequence.

How does it feel to work for such a prestigious name in the industry?

Ishikawa: We don't actually "work for" the company because we're part-owners ... We can never become Disney, but we don't want to be. We want to continue producing shows as Production I.G.

What were your feelings about the ending of Guilty Crown?

Kise: I didn't see it, so I don't know.
Ishikawa: I have seen it, but I don't know either.

What's more important to you, a high-quality product, or having a good story?

Kise: You will probably get the answer when you watch the premiere of Ghost in the Shell: ARISE tonight.

In the next season of Psycho-Pass, will you explain how Kogami got his [police] badge?

Ishikawa: Well, we are already in the process of script development and production, so please look forward to it.

To Mr. Kise: Under different directors, there have been different kinds of Motoko in Ghost in the Shell. What kind of Motoko are you hoping to create?

Kise: We wanted to express the younger Motoko; her purity, immaturity, and weakness. She's not in Section 9 yet, but you'll see the story of what she did before she joined.

How would you feel about producing a Ghost in the Shell online game?

Ishikawa: We have a representative from Bandai in the audience, but he's asked us to focus on making anime.

Finally, the panelists asked a couple of trivia questions, and fans who answered correctly won prizes including a Blood: The Last Vampire watch and a signed Blood-C DVD.

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