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NYAF 2011 – Aniplex of America Panel



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The panel was late in setting up, beginning about 12:15pm. Technical difficulties and all that. They began by introducing the Aniplex guests that were present: the President of Aniplex, Natsume Koichiro and the Executive Vice President of Planning and Production, Katsumata Hideo (Executive Producer of the new series Blue Exorcist).

They began with the announcements portion of the panel with titles that are currently streaming online. All 25 episodes of Blue Exorcist is currently on several streaming channels including Crunchyroll, VizAnime, Hulu and Animenewsnetwork. (Utilizing all media sites, info can be found on their main website as well as twiter and facebook sites.) Vol. 1-4 of the series is already out by VizMedia.

Oreimo and Star Driver is currently online with new episodes every Wednesday. The latter series is described as “Mecha meets pretty boys and pretty girls.” They then show a trailer of Durarara!! which is airing on Adult Swim at 12:30am. The dvd series includes a poster and con exlusives include postcards at the booth. The trailer for Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal was shown. The ova and movies Bluray will be released in limited quantities which meant no re-releases once they’re sold out. At the con only, the two OVAs were sold with a special poster only at NYAF. The ova edition is filled with awesome swag including the original character booklet, translation booklet, 90 minute of additional footage all in a specially designed case by animation director, Nakajima Atsuko. The movie will be released on October 26.

The trailer for Oreimo was shown with the announcement for the boxset. The boxset will include the entire series, 16 postcard set of “Ending Cards”, Production and Character Design booklet along with 2 sided poster. Another con exlusive, the set was sold at the booth with a LE poster. The Blue Exorcist trailer previewed the announcement for the dvd which will include the ‘Ura-Ex’ shorts. There will be a four part set, the first part sold at the booth (with LE poster) with the other vol. being released in January, April and July of next year. Of course, the plugged the scavenger hunt held at the booth with the prize of a BEX sticker.

To segue from Blue Exorcist, the staff called Katsumata Hideo to the floor as the Executive Producer of the series (along with Fullmetal Alchemist and Rurouni Kenshin.) I didn’t know until now that Katsumata-san’s English was very good.

    Katsumata: I’m Hideo Katsumata. I’ll try to speak in English but some parts, I need some help. I’m in charge of the planning and production group of Aniplex. Are you familiar with Aniplex titles? *audience cheers* Well, I’m also the producer of Blue Exorcist. How many people have read the manga? How many people saw the tv series of Blue Exorcist? How many people are planning to buy the video? Thank you!

    I started my career at Aniplex with the involvement of Rurouni Kenshin. We’re making a new series for Rurouni Kenshin right now and those days in the 1990′s, we called Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai X in the US, but I think you like Rurouni Kenshin better right? *audience agrees*

    Audience: I like Samurai X better. *audience laughs*

    Katsumata: Nevermind! I also produced Tokyo Pig which I think nobody knows right? *silence* Okay, forget about it! I also produced Nerima Daikon Brothers, does anyone know it? *audience applauds* But you don’t know Tokyo Pig, that’s alright. Of course I produced, Fullmetal Alchemist, *audience applauds loudly* The theatrical film was released this summer, I hope you have a chance to see it. Today, I hope you enjoy our session. I want to talk a little about Blue Exorcist.

The host took over to inquire about the series in Japanese with Katsumata-san answering in English.

    Q: How was the Blue Exorcist anime series born?
    A: It started with a sketch on an imageboard. I was the president of A-1 Pictures, do you know A-1 Pictures? It’s an animation studio. *audience cheers* Thank you. One of the few animators drew a sketch of Blue Exorcist and it was very beautiful. Many animators really desired to adopt the manga to the anime series. Kato Kazue-sensei’s illustrations were so beautiful and the design was wonderful. Even though it was one drawing sketch, it looked as if it was moving. It was not a motion picture, only a sketch but that’s why we started the project. The animators was highly motivated to make this series.

    Q: Are there any behind the scene stories that you can share with us here?
    A: Not a secret story, but you can see a piece of Durarara!! in the last episode of Blue Exorcist. There is a headless rider in episode 25 at the very end. That is one of the writers, Yamaguchi-san loves to put a headless rider in every one of his titles. So you can see a piece of Durarara!! in the last episode. How many people saw the last episodes?

    Q: How is Blue Exorcist popular in Japan?
    A: The tv series was very popular and also, the social game (mobile game) in Japan started in the summer. There are 450,000 registered users so it’s getting popular. The PSP game is going to come out very soon. There are many types of Blue Exorcist media coming. The biggest news that was announced the other day was that we’re going to have a theatrical release of the movie. *audience cheers*

    Q: That was actually our last question. The movie you just mentioned from A-1 Pictures. Are you really excited? How much are you making right now?
    A: We just made the announcement so nothing started yet. We have no idea yet since we have not discussed about the film yet. I’m sure it will be different from the tv series. The major factor of Rin and Yukio’s brotherhood, parenthood and friendship, these main themes will be the same. We will be making it from now on. Give me some ideas!

    Q: Do you have any favorite character or favorite scene in Blue Exorcist?
    A: I like the main characters, Yukio and Rin. I like both of them and their relationship, Yukio likes the elder brother and Rin as the younger. But sometimes in a particular situation, it changes. Yukio hesitates and loses his way. Then Rin acts as the elder brother. I like that kind of relationship. Before the tv series started, I was very worried about the popularity of the characters. But when the series started, Rin jumped into the [characters popularity] ranking. Then I got to worry about Yukio. He is smart, too smart and I’m sure he is popular in the States. At the end of the series in Japan, he finally went into the popularity ranking so I’m very proud of these two characters. I love all the characters!

    Q: Any characters you feel that is similar to yourself?
    A: Me? Like the black cat? I like to drink. There is one hidden episode that didn’t air, one extra episode about the black cat, Kuro where he runs away.

    Host: It will actually be released in vol. 2 as an extra, ‘Kuro runs away’.

    Katsumata: Do you like Kuro? *audience cheers* Thank you very much!

They paused on the Q&A for the time being as they returned to the announcements. (Though more Q&A and even raffled prizes were promised to the audience.)

There will be a Blue Exorcist screening during the con with a few words by Katsumata-san and more giveaways. Booth events were announced including a cosplay gathering from 2-3pm on saturday along with a special skit shown at the NYAF theater stage (at the Anime Festival Artist Alley) 3:30-4:30pm.

Special announcements! The new anime series, Fate/Zero trailer was shown with streaming sites info. The trailer for Purella Magi Madoka Magica was shown with immense cheers from the crowd. The series will be released in 3 parts starting Feb. 14, 2012. There will be 3 versions, LE boxset, the Bluray and the regular dvd version. The LE version has both the bluray and dvd, OST, a booklet, 2 sided poster, Kyubey sticker, collectable postcards, trailer collection and textless OP and ED.

Natsume Koichiro will be present at the NYAF Madoka Magica screening of the first 3 episodes along with prize giveaways of plushies. Before the screening, the booth will have a cosplay gathering as well as a ‘Make a Wish’ board.

Cast announcements of the main characters: Miki Sayaka will be done by Sarah Williams (Tokita Ayumi, Squid Girl), Cassandra Lee (Tainaka Ritsu, K-ON!) as Kyubey and Christine Marie Cabanos (Nakano Azusa, K-ON!) as Kaname Madoka.

The brought up the that Guilty Crown episode 1 and 2 premiere will be screened on saturday along with a Q&A session with the production team on sunday. The last few minutes was dedicated to questions and raffle.

    Q: Your releases have range from early Edo era to the future. What has been your favorite type series/movie to produce?
    A: I like everything. I guess Rurouni Kenshin since that was the first stage of my career.

    Q: You guys have been streaming Fate/Zero in different languages. What has been your most successful language release outside of Japan? Gotten the most hits?
    A: We don’t get any info on which subtitles have been the most popular in other countries. We only get the info on English subtitles.

Raffles include the bottle t-shirts from Madoka Magica and Blue Exorcist cellphone straps. With the mixture of announcements, Q&A and raffle, Aniplex really knows how to push out for the fans!

After the raffle, the panel ended and I approached to speak with the production staff. To Natsume-san, I told him how much I enjoyed Natsume Yuujincho San and was a big fan of No. 6. Keep up the awesome work, Aniplex!

 
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