Interview: Deadman Wonderland director Koichi Hatsumi

by Mitsuru Uehira & Zac Bertschy,
We had the chance to ask a few quick questions of Koichi Hatsumi, the director of the upcoming anime Deadman Wonderland. You can see the series for yourself on Crunchyroll beginning April 16th, and the manga series is still available from Tokyopop.

ANN:Please give us your personal overview as to what Deadman Wonderland is about.

Hatsumi: It's based on a very popular manga. The story begins with the scene where a 14 year-old boy named Ganta Igarashi, sentenced to death on false charges, is sent to a private asylum called “Deadman Wonderland”. There, he meets a mysterious girl named Shiro and “Deadman”, a group of individuals who have supernatural power capable of manipulating their own blood for fighting. It develops into a drama from there.

What attracted you to this particular project?

Hatsumi: It is the story of Ganta and Shiro's growth, which is the key to the drama. Moreover, they have their own secrets. As the story goes, we will find them out. It will be riveting. The original manga includes many quite ruthless scenes. As you read through it, the story becomes a drama. In that sense, there aren't a lot of titles like that out there.

From an outside perspective, your taste in animation seems to be relatively dark and mature; Darker than Black, Le Chevalier D'Eon, Karas and Kikaider. What draws you to this sort of project?

Hatsumi: There might be a misunderstanding [laughs]. It is just a coincidence. I did not aim for those titles. Yes, I was involved with Le Chevalier D'Eon, Karas, Kikaider, and Darker than Black, but I got offers, like “do you want to do it?” and did them. I just ended up getting shows like those. As a matter of fact, I have worked on shojo manga-based titles, and also on kids’ titles.

Would you say that Deadman Wonderland is similar to the anime you've worked on so far?

Hatsumi:. Though you mentioned that I've worked on many dark titles, I wouldn't compare Deadman Wonderland, which is very dark, to any others I have ever worked on. It isn't completely dark throughout, but it could be more like a splashy, gory title. It could be something new to produce a TV series with that sensibility. “Karas” was an OVA, so, it was allowed to be quite violent. However, Deadman Wonderland is a TV series. There has never been a violent TV series like this before.

Do you usually care about not overdoing the violence for a TV series?

Hatsumi: Usually when it comes to violent content, there is someone who “steps on the brakes”, reigns it in, so to speak. But, right now, we have the car rolling without stepping on the brakes. In that sense, it is different.

How challenging is your role as director on this series compared to your previous jobs in animation production?

Hatsumi: It was quite challenging. We haven't finished even the 1st episode, yet [laughs] [as of the day this interview was conducted, March 10th, 2011]. So, things get more challenging. But, this is my first time as a series director. It feels like I am stepping forward into something new. I appreciate it.

You've been working in animation for a long time, in a variety of esteemed roles across a number of series that Western fans have embraced, such as Cowboy Bebop and IGPX. How important do you think Western fans are when it comes to anime?

Hatsumi: Overseas fans are very important. The Japanese market itself is not that big. So, I wish that more overseas fans would watch Japanese anime.

I haven't got hands-on experience abroad, so, I don't know to what extent anime fans are developed overseas. But, I see news stories about the fans who enjoy cosplaying at comic markets [conventions] in the US and Europe, etc. If overseas fans would watch the shows, it could cheer up Japan's market.

I believe that the “Deadman Wonderland” anime could appeal not only to Japanese fans but also to overseas fans. It's because the original Japanese manga series for “Deadman Wonderland” has been translated and published overseas in several languages, such as English and French. There have been many overseas fans for the title. I hope that you support the show.

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