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Otakon 2017 News Roundup: Days 1 and 2
Otakon 2017: Pony Canyon Industry Panel Report

by Eric Stimson,

Pony Canyon was represented at their Otakon 2017 industry panel by Naoko Tsukeda, who handles acquisitions and productions at their Los Angeles office; Tetsuya Kinoshita, producer of Welcome to the Ballroom; and Takanori Matsuoka, producer of Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun.

The panel began with a screening of clips from Pony Canyon's recent projects: both seasons of Attack on Titan, Yuki Yuna Is a Hero, Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers, Garakowa -Restore the World-, DAYS, Kuromukuro, Magic-kyun! Renaissance, and Kase-san and Morning Glories. The latter is a yuri manga which Pony Canyon is gauging interest in producing a full animated adaptation of. The manga is available at Pony Canyon's convention booth, along with other merchandise like Kase-san artwork signed by Hiromi Takashima (the creator) and Welcome to the Ballroom posters.

The panel focused on the anime that Kinoshita and Matsuoka had produced, Welcome to the Ballroom and Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun, as well as Sanrio Boys, an anime about high school boys with a fondness for Sanrio characters due for a January 2018 release. After screening trailers for the three anime, Tsukeda interviewed the producers. Matsuoka's background (he was being scouted by professional soccer teams before deciding to produce anime) was touted as informing his work. He praised the voice cast for Aoyama-kun, who were mostly experienced voice actors in their 40s and 50s, and said he cast them because he “wanted perfection in their performance.” The anime's ending theme uses a cover of a song from 1972, with fittingly retro animation to accompany it. Welcome to the Ballroom, which was featured in its own panel, uses the same production team as Haikyu!! and took cues from last year's popular Yuri!!! on Ice. Sanrio Boys features Bleach's Masashi Kudo as its director and Hakuōki's Atsuko Nakajima as its character designer; Pony Canyon also mentioned the series isn't yaoi.

The panel then opened to questions from the audience. Kinoshita confirmed that the main staff members for Welcome to the Ballroom took competitive dance lessons, although he himself demurred. He also said that animating ballroom dancing was a challenge, especially quicker Latin dance movements. Matsuoka claimed that he had more “guts” because of his sports background, as well as wider respect for what it takes to play soccer. Pony Canyon promoted the second season of Yuki Yuna Is a Hero, which will have a brand-new story and will stream beginning in October. The panel concluded with a Paper-Scissors-Rock contest for ten Aoyama-kun and Welcome to the Ballroom posters, one of which our correspondent improbably won.

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