Appleseed: Ex Machina Interviews: John Woo and Shinji Aramaki
by Zac Bertschy,
ANN: What about the Appleseed franchise attracted your interest?
WOO: The characters, the story, the whole world of Appleseed draws you in. After seeing the movie for the first time, I wanted to work in the medium of anime. The creative options are boundless.
How did you come to be involved in the project, and what was your impression of the first Appleseed film?
Frankly, I didn't know much about anime. Then a few years ago my partner [Terence Chang] and I were invited to a screening of Appleseed. After I watched it I was really amazed. The artwork and design were beautiful, especially the body movement. And the emotions were so real; it had an amazing love story, a human story. I could see that Aramaki was a very talented director. This was why I chose to become involved – to work with Aramaki and learn about this new style of animation.
How do you feel about working with animation, as opposed to live-action?
In some ways it's easier. You can put whatever you want in an animated movie. But you need to have good drama, not just action, which is hard to do in any medium. Aramaki is very good with emotion, as well as action, which is why I felt a good connection. Ex Machina has action, drama and romance. I think the audience is going to love it.
Would you consider producing another animated film, or possibly even directing one?
We are in development on an animated film right now. But you will have to wait and see…
Have you considered working on or producing another Appleseed film? Do you feel there are still strong stories to tell in that world, after making “Ex Machina”?
We haven't been approached with that yet, but we are always open to the possibility. I think the world is hungry for strong stories with good messages. There is no end to that in the Appleseed world.
Interview: Shinji Aramaki, Director
ANN: You've been working in the anime industry for a long time; how have things changed in terms of production? Do you ever miss the old production methods?
ARAMAKI: The biggest difference is that the procedure of coloring the cels with paint is gone. I had always thought that the real thrill of producing anime was the moment of seeing the cels from the front (that was colored from the back side). Therefore, it seems a little sad that that process no longer exists.
You directed the first Appleseed movie as well; how was that experience different from this one? Did you feel more at ease with the characters?
When I worked on "Appleseed" it was the first time for me to direct and also produce a full CG animation feature. Therefore my priority was to complete the film, and the staff and I worked on how to complete the title itself. For Ex Machina, since I was able to work with Digital Frontier, the same studio that worked on the first film, with the same staff, I feel that we were able to utilize our previous experience and produce it with a higher level of direction, and a higher quality.
It was a new challenge, but rewarding job for the production team. As a result, we feel that Deunan, Briareos, Tereus and many other characters have more existence in the film, and also are more attractive than the previous Appleseed.
How did making this film compare to your work on the previous film?
We wanted to renew all the design and produce a more advanced visual, and thus we decided to produce Ex Machina as a new title, not a
direct sequel. However, we have tried our best to make sure that the previous Appleseed fans could watch the film without having incompatibility.
What were the challenges of working on Appleseed: Ex Machina?
It was a big challenge for us to come up with how to answer to everyones expectation. We considered how we could show the progress in the design and visuals, and provide a new surprise to the fans and audience.
What are you working on next?
I have already decided my next project and am moving forward with the process, but I am not yet in a stage to release the information. Nevertheless, I feel that the next title will be a new challenge in my career.
Please look forward to it!