Crunchyroll Expo 2020: Dr. STONE Focus Panel with Shusuke Katagiri

by Kalai Chik,

The first anime season of the Dr. Stone anime ended in December 2019, which seems like a lifetime ago now. In the nine months since the last episode ended, production has been swiftly underway for the highly anticipated second season. Animation producer Shūsuke Katagiri kicked off the panel and gave insight into what fans could expect and how the production is progressing. Mari Tominaga, the chief animation director, made a brief appearance with a speed live drawing of Senku Ishigami to celebrate the upcoming second season. Finally, Shinya Ino, director of Dr. Stone, closed off the end of the panel. What did Producer Katagiri and Director Ino have to say about the next season and how COVID-19 has impacted its production?

Hyping up viewers from the get-go, Crunchyroll Expo host, Tim Lyu, revealed a teaser trailer of Dr. Stone: Stone Wars. Fans can expect the series to premiere in January 2021, with Senku and Tsukasa returning to face off in a supercharged fight. Without mentioning any spoilers, Producer Katagiri asked the audience to look forward to their work.

Much of the first half of the panel was a Q&A session with Katagiri on several aspects of his experience working on the anime. When asked if he thought the anime would be a success from the start, Katagiri admitted he never thought about success. It wasn't until he and the staff received praise from colleagues and friends that the feeling of success sunk into him. He was initially intimidated when he was first asked to be on the anime staff because he isn't well-versed in science and complexity of adapting the manga's high-quality art. On a more optimistic note, Katagiri also noted that such difficulties make the anime very rewarding to work on.

Moving onto a question about his day to day tasks, Katagiri stated his main job is to make sure to assign the right staff for the various roles in production. Other tasks include coordinating schedules/budgets and overseeing the entirety of the anime from start to finish. Of course, the next question followed up on how the pandemic has affected the production. Katagiri confessed that “he'd be lying” if he said they weren't impacted, but this is an industry-wide issue. The best they can do is adapt, rearrange schedules, and generally do what they can, and it has worked out so far. There are thus no major changes in the adaptation, but Yuko Iwasa, Dr. Stone's anime character designer, experimented with drawing the design for the season two poster digitally.

Speaking of posters, Katagiri went into a deep dive on how they designed the teaser poster for Stone Wars. Most of the process involved overseeing the rough draft and brainstorming ideas on how to improve the visual, such as making sure the characters were holding their iconic items. His personal favorite character in the poster is Yo. One major part of the production that was affected were the voice acting recording sessions. Thankfully the staff had a long lead time until Stone Wars airs, so they changed schedules and enacted measures to ensure the health and safety of all staff. Because of that, Katagiri can say with the utmost confidence that the staff and cast are all enthusiastic about the next season and continue to passionately give the season their all.

Switching gears, Tim Lyu asked Katagiri some fun questions both related and unrelated to the anime. It's not clear if other staff members had tried to recreate the homemade cola from season one, but Katagiri, who did attempt it, left the results up to the viewer's imagination. When asked about his favorite character, the producer candidly said, “Chrome.” He admired the relationship between Chrome and Senku, especially how Chrome becomes more of a science user. Closing off the Q&A session, Katagiri gave his impression on the original Dr. Stone poster made for Crunchyroll Expo, “The special effects on the characters are even richer than in animation…the composition is awesome.”

Spaced between Producer Katagiri and Director Ino was chief animation director, Mari Tominaga, who did a quick live drawing of Senku in anticipation for the next season. Director Shinya Ino wrapped up the panel with words of encouragement and excitement as well as a teaser summary of the challenges and characters Senku and his friends will face as they battle the Tsukasa Empire. Both Director Ino and Producer Katagiri are aware of how popular Dr. Stone is overseas, and the staff are appreciative of the support. They hope to take in the encouragement and give it back to the fans through the production of Stone Wars.

Look forward to January 2021!

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