Interview: Stars Align Director Kazuki Akane (Part 2)by Kim Morrissy,
In the first part of our interview with Stars Align director Kazuki Akane, we discussed the myriad themes and elements of the anime that make it so unique. In this second part, we discuss the future of the series. After the TV anime's final episode in December, Akane revealed on his own Twitter account that there's more to the story. We asked Akane about where the series will go from here and what overseas fans can do to help.
©Kazuki Akane, eightbit / Stars Align Production Committee
You've said in interviews and on Twitter that episode 12 is not the ending of the story, and that you want to continue the story in some way. Do you have any ideas at the moment regarding what form of media that would take?
I've not decided yet. It's so hard to decide. That's why I've been asking around. Like I was saying before, there are things about the animation industry that haven't changed in 30 years. Continuations still rely so much on DVD and Bluray sales.
Also, a lot of anime in the Japanese anime industry is made to promote a game or a manga, like a commercial. Before, it was popular manga that was getting adapted, but these days, it's stuff that's projected to get popular in the future that gets an anime. The way a manga with high sales potential gets an anime to promote it further makes anime become even more like a commercial.
I wanted to make a new drama with potential that an anime, not a commercial, has within it , but it's been hard finding people in Japan to fund it. So there's been some bumps along the way. But if we can show that the anime has found viewers around the world, it might convince more investors in Japan to give it a try. That way we can have more variety and diversity when it comes to anime. Can you understand?
Yeah, I honestly do understand. It's because I wanted to ask about how we can support the series that I came here to do this interview. How can overseas fans lend their support?
At this current point, I don't know. In fact, that's what I want to ask. Like I said before, I understand that DVD and Bluray sales are so important for financiers, but…
Right, but there's no DVD or BD for the English market yet.
Right now, you can only watch it through official streaming services. Is there any way for international fans to support you besides watching the anime through those services? For example, would you consider crowdfunding?
Hmm… crowdfunding in Japan doesn't really gather that much money. Perhaps it might be viable overseas, like in North America or Asia where there's more people. What do you think, Kim-san? How should we gather money?
Well, even with overseas support for crowdfunding, I don't think you'll get enough to fund an entire cour. Those are my honest feelings.
So even overseas, you wouldn't be able to gather enough?
Yeah. Anime these days is so expensive, you know? So with crowdfunding, you could get enough for the span of an OVA, but a cour of anime may be asking for too much.
I see. For TV anime, just a single episode can cost between 20 million to 30 million yen. So 12 episodes can cost 300 million yen. It's hard to find people in Japan willing to dish out that much money. Overseas streaming companies offer a potential avenue, so if we can show that the anime is popular overseas, we could have a greater chance of receiving an investment. So please tell all the fans to request the streaming services to produce the continuation! And please ask that major streaming company that isn't streaming Stars Align right now to produce the sequel. (laughs)
(laughs) I'll be sure to write that down.
(laughs) Please do. But, you know, America is really powerful. Overseas streaming companies have branch offices in Japan, but in the end they're based in America. So it might be better to go overseas. When something gets a positive reception in America, its appraisal may go up even in the Japanese market. I get the feeling that people who keep a close eye on the domestic market consider whether there's been a reaction in the foreign market rather than rely purely on their own judgement.
I was really happy to receive so many tweets from overseas. Even people on Japanese twitter were surprised to see so many tweets about Stars Align in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and other languages. They were like, “So many people overseas are watching it. Maybe it's really good?”
If by any chance you can't make the sequel, how will you continue the story?
Well, I want to convey the entire story as an anime, and I thought of it as a two cour anime. As such, I have the story for the two cours. The president of eightbit, Tsutomu Kasai, tells me that I should try releasing it as a novel or a different form of readable media and see how that goes, but in the end, it's still a story I envisioned as anime and it works best in that format. I want to tell the rest of the story as an anime, but I might write a novel or something else to promote it.
If you wrote a novel, I think it would be difficult to distribute it overseas.
Hmm… Would people be able to read a manga, if it were translated?
I think so. Probably.
I'll think about it. What do you think is a good way to continue the story if it's not an anime?
Hmm… the most fitting way would be a manga. If not, I think a short anime is doable, although fitting a cour length of story into a short would be difficult.
I see… hmmm… What is the reception like for Stars Align overseas?
It's got a niche appeal, but it has very passionate fans, including among Anime News Network staff. I'm also told that there are other people who love the anime because they've experienced some of the family problems depicted in the show.
I see. Stars Align depicts life in Japan as it is. Are people overseas able to understand that?
Well… stories about everyday life in Japan are not so popular overseas. There's a significant culture gap. For example, not that many people experience school clubs the way they are in Japan.
So if you don't know much about Japan, you won't understand? So the average person wouldn't be able to understand this anime even if they watch it?
Indeed. I think that only people who are already interested in anime will watch Stars Align.
What do people overseas want to watch?
There's a variety of things. If we're talking about money, then fantasy is the most popular, but among anime fans, there is a desire to learn more about Japanese society through anime. That's why Stars Align is really interesting. Because it portrays problems in Japanese society so frankly, people overseas were surprised. “Oh, this kind of thing happens in Japan, too!”
Oh, I see… hmmm… Well, I hope they do support me!
I think you should continue creating what you want to create. I don't think it's good to worry too much about the overseas reaction. But, no matter what you do, there will certainly be people who will support you.
I'm grateful for that.
I, along with other overseas fans, will continue to support you, so please keep doing your best!
Now it's your turn, readers. Let us know your ideas for supporting Stars Align, and we'll send them to eightbit.
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