A-1 Pictures Panel Report
June 30, 2007
by: James Jursudakul
AX 2007: Complete coverage of the A-1 Pictures panel at Anime Expo 2007.
The following is the panel coverage for A-1 Pictures USA at Day 2 of Anime Expo 2007 on June 30, 2007. From 3:00 - 3:50.
Three guests from A-1 Pictures were present. Hideo Katsumata, the Vice president and CEO of A1-Pictures was the first introduced. He goes on to explain that the A stands for animation, aniplex, and Asadaya - a location in Japan. His favorite anime is Speed Racer, from when he was a kid. He is also an Aniplex producer, with titles such as Full Metal Alchemist under his belt.
Tomonori Oshikoshi is the seniorVP and producer of A-1. Heís also the producer of the R.O.D. TV series and Blood+. This is actually his third time at Anime Expo. His favorite anime is Ashita no Joe.
Takaharu Ozaki does computer graphics supervising and directing at A-1. His credits include Metropolis, Technolyze, and Tenjo Tenge. He goes on to statethis is his first time in America and that heís so happy to be here and wishes the audience will enjoy the show. His favorite anime is Lupin the 3rd.
Katsumata: A-1 was established 2 years ago. Last October the animation studio started in Asadaya.
A-1 presents their first anime:
Ookikufurikabute<./I>, which means ďSwing Big.Ē Oshikoshi-san explains that itís a TV series that started back in April. Itís about a Baseball team with only 10 players. Itís about their hardship and trails and tribulations as they try to win their games. Itís a very refreshing look at youth. In Japan itís popular with all ages. There seems to be a growing audience from week to week. There are no considerations for a US release yet. The director is the same from xxxHolic, with character designerTakashi Yoshida of Honey and Clover fame. The screenplay by Yosuke Kuroda of Gungrave and Trigun.fame. Katsumata-san then adds that itís a character-drive and drama based title.
The Robby and Kerobby trailer is shown next. Katsumata-san says this airs Sunday mornings in Japan right now. Itís a situation comedy for kids programming. Robby is a robot that looks like a pot and Kerobby is a robot that looks like a frog. Robby and his sidekick is ordered to go train to qualify as the next king. The two would usually join together and transform in each episode - with their transformation being different each time.
Zenmai Zamurai is shown next. This is a 5-10 minute show. Itís about a samurai that uses a ďdumplingĒ sword to fight. Itís a happy / cute type show.
The presenters then state that they plan to show a world premier pilot next. Oshikoshi-san adds that the world premier video is one of the key points of A1. Itís a 3d animated title that Mr. Ozaki worked on to present the 70 sec HQ footage
The world premier trailer for Necro Dragon is shown next. Itís an impressive looking 3-D animation title with violent themes featuring ninjas and samurais. It was fairly bloody, thanks to the decapitations. Mr. Ozaki goes on to explain that the promo film was specifically created for AX 2007. Ozaki-san was instructed by Katsumata-san to come up for something. So he thought ďI like ninja and samurais so I put them together.Ē It took him two months to make it and he made it by himself. A-1 hopes to turn it into a theatrical feature, ďso please give us your supportĒ says Katsumata-san.
Ozaki-san adds thereís a lot of aspects of the story that has not been refined so if the audience has any suggestions heíd loved to hear them. Basically, heís had suggestions of revenge, but going back to kill people for vengeance would be a crime, so he tried to depict a world where you can hire a ninja / samurai assassin to go and kill people you donít like. Ozaki-san then adds ďwe hope to keep it interesting yet simple so thank you for your support.Ē
Question and Answer Session Notes (not a complete transcript):
Q: Mr. Ozaki what is your education and background before coming into the business?
Ozaki-san: The truth is Iíve never had any formal training with art or 3-D CG. I was a salary man and I just took it upon myself to learn this technology and got help from friends. I get that a lot of how anyone that has never studied this can do this but I think itís the will to learn and help of your friends that make this possible.
Q: As a new production company, do you feel up to the challenge that a full-length feature film will bring you guys?
Katsumata:. Yes, movies take a challenge and we want to make something that gives it an original A-1 feel to this new movies.
Q; Suggestion for the movie. If you can hire someone to protect you too. And add comic relief with guys who say that Iím really dope but yet their not.
Ozaki: Iíll take that into consideration.
Q: Regarding Swing Big, now that the first 13 episodes have aired, how did you feel of the reception of the anime and any plans for a second season.
Ochikoshi-san: Weíve reached a halfway point of the series. Frankly speaking this is a series with a lot of hardships and had to work hard on the intricate movement of the baseball players. In a sense itís hard but itís good. Many fans have asked about a second season and weíd like to do it. Sitting in the back are the people who put up the money for the show so please give a big round of applause if you want it.
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