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NYAF 2011 – Guilty Crown screening and Q&A

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The room for the screening was small. The number of people that could fit in there was less than for the Professor Layton screening on friday…not that it was any surprise. I just imagined that these things would be bigger. I got a seat in the middle and we were able to start early.

They screened the first two episodes of the new Fall series, Guilty Crown. The 2nd episode was scheduled to air on Oct. 21, that friday so it was a rare treat to see something that even Japanese viewers have not viewed.

We were introduced to a post-apocalyptic world of 2029. The government in power is the GHQ, a foreign power similar in feel to the world of Code Geass. Absolute power always meets with opposition and we have Funeral Parlor, a underground resistance force that is coming to the forefront of society. Politics aside, the main character Shu is a shy highschool boy who runs from confrontation and never speaks his thoughts aloud. In a way, he is fighting himself as the world is fighting against the virus and the State. Shu meets the mysterious singer, the injured Inori and is immediately pulled into string of events that he has no control over, yet is a necessary participant.

It’s a basic premise that definitely echoes of Code Geass. Especially with the granting of a new power from the Void Genome and fighting against the government. And especially at the end of episode 2, we’re getting hints of slice-of-life school comedy in the mix. However, the animation style is definitely very unlike Code Geass. It’s darker and at times grungy. Sort of like the Ghost in the Shell style so familiar in Production IG works. Since it’s set in 2029 (later 2039,) the technology used is also familiar and again wildly different. The inclusion of viruses and Void Genome research brings the elements of medical background which seems to be a plot device in many recent series. (Another noitaminA show which ended with this summer season, No. 6, was a dystopian society with a deadly bee epidemic.)

Kayano Ai (Milia, Last Exile) is the seiyuu for Inori, Kaji Yuuki (Shion, No. 6) for Shu and Nakamura Yuichi (Hatori Yoshiyuki, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi). *fangirls over the guys* You may also recognize Kaji-san as Finny in Black Butler and Nakamura-san as Greed in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The songs in the series are done by supercell with the ED by EGOIST. Gorgeous melodies that speak of a darker age. The character designs are unique and beautiful.

After the screening, the host announced that Funimation and Nico Nico will be streaming the series every thursday. Licensing manager of Aniplex introduced the guests: George Wada (right) from Production IG, Yamamoto Kouji (middle) from Fuji TV and Oyama Ryu (left) from Aniplex. They starte the discussion by showing some of the official art for the series, starting with the poster.

    Wada: The concept of creating these two characters is to create a natural 17 year highschool boy and girl. It’s the usual boy meets girl but really it’s boy meets unusual girl and it’s quite interesting. Shu met with Inori. I hope that you like these two characters.

    Oyama: *on concept art of Shu and Inori* This is the concept art from redjuice who belongs to supercell in Japan. Like the previous concept art that was shown, the basic concept is boys meets girl.

    Yamamoto: *on concept art of Inori* This is a very cute picture of Inori.
    Oyama: Inori is a actually diva within the internet society like Youtube and Niconico Douga with many fans who are teenagers.

    Wada: *on concept art of Shu and Gai* The main story of Guilty Crown is based on these two characters, Shu and Gai. They are also the two main candidates for who will have the power of Guilty Crown. To make the story more deep, more thrill and action, we made them opposite of each other. First, Gai is the leader of the organization called Funeral Parlor. He is talanted and has charisma with alot of followers at Funeral Parlor. On the otherhand, Shu is a first year highschool boy, living a normal life. The setting is very different for these two. Within the first two episodes, there are many clues tha lead to the next/future episodes so please enjoy the show.

    Oyama: *on concept art of Ayase* Ayase pilots the robot called Endlave. As you can see, she is wearing the pilot suit like the Evangelion suits. It follows the shape of the body. We asked the character designer, redjuice to have the sexy body types. *audience laughs*

    Oyama: *on characters in the school setting* There is alot of battle and action scenes which is the major factor in this show. On the otherhand, they’re only 17 years old. So highschool life and daily life is also very important for this show. For these childrens, friendship, relationship between friends and boyfriend/girlfriend is also very important. I like to show this side besides the battle scenes.

    Wada: *on Funnell* Actually, the white robot might be the most important character or might be the hero of the show! *audience applaud* He has alot of appearances so please look forward to his talented abilities.

    Wada: *on location art* This is the place where Shu met Inori the first time which is within the school district. This refrences the stage to Shu’s image of Inori as part of Egoist’s vocal.
    Host: Since we’re on the subject of Inori as the vocalist of Egoist, can you explian the significance of the band in the show?
    Wada: The band, Egoist which Inori is singing for is formed by certain teenagers. There is also Funeral Parlor that acts against the current government, GHQ. To express their opinion, Egoist is their opinionist while Funeral Parlor acts out their opinions.

    Oyama: *setting of the city* This story takes place in 2039 in Tokyo. To place reality in the show, we have the concept setting very close to the current Tokyo of 2011. The city is futuristic. Besides having future equipment, we also have a natural settings like this which reflects 2011 Tokyo.

    Oyama: *on Tokyo Tower in the series* The building with the light is Tokyo Tower. The first two episodes take place around this area which is Roppongi. The tall buildings in the area is called Roppongi Hills, which is where they attacked. Actually, I live around this area and I think my house was attacked. *audience laughs*

    Oyama: *on concept art sketches* This is setting of the breach connected to the main building of GHQ. The basic concept of this is trying to take control of GHQ. Tokyo currently has 23 districts. However, GHQ formed a Ward 24. This is where Ward 24 is located.

    Wada: *on concept art of the opening scene* This is the drawing of the very first scene when Inori is running away from GHQ with Funnell.

    Wada: *on concept art of a structure* This tower is a monument in Ward 24. It is designed by Takeda [Yusuke] who worked on Ghost in the Shell: SAC and Eden of the East. This tower will be the main stage for the battle for GHQ and Funeral Parlor will try to get this tower.

The ground opened for questions from the audience.

    Q: Will there be a tv broadcast
    A: This is airing currently on Japanese tv. There are plans for an English dub, but for now, it is available streaming with subtitles.

    Q: How many episodes are planned?
    A: We have 22 episodes.

    Q: Aside from Ghost in the Shell and Eden of the East that you mentioned, what other works led to the concepts of Guilty Crown? What other series influenced the setting and plot?
    Wada: The original creator of Guilty Crown watched Ghost in the Shell in their youth and they wanted to create this type of title. Although similar, this will become their version of this type of story.

    Q: Before coming to Guilty Crown, what other works have you worked on?
    Oyama: I was the producer for Fullmetal Alchemist and Darker than Black. In Fullmetal Alchemist, there are nonhumans called homunculus. During the production of the series, I wanted to focus on their story in particular. In the US, there are titles like ‘X-Men’ and ‘Dark Knight’ who has a conflict between those who have special abilities and those who don’t. I wanted to bring that into Guilty Crown.
    Wada: The director, Araki Tetsuro also directed Death Note. As you can see in the promotional video of Inori scene, there is a gothic atmosphere similar to Death Note. As Oyama mentioned, he would like to bring a more darker tone to the series.
    Yamamoto: I worked on Eden of the East along with director, Kamiyama [Kenji]] who is also part of Production IG as well.

    Q: 22 episodes is an odd number. Is there an OVA or movie planned
    Yamamoto: The reason why it’s different from other shows is due to the broadcasting timeslot on Fuji TV. We would like to have a movie or OVA so please support the show so that we can create more.

    Q: Why is the supreme power called ‘Guilty Crown?’
    Oyama: One of the central themes of the show is ‘Who will become the next generation’s king?’ On the otherhand, the other theme is about the growth of the Genom. To use the Genom produces guilty feelings. We selected the name ‘Guilty Crown’ because it talks about the Genom and selecting the king. In order to create the weapon, Shu has to have a relationship with the person. Without the relationship, Shu cannot bring out the weapon from his friends. That is another reason why Shu feels guilty since he is using his friends to make a weapon.
    Q: *follow up question* In the second episode, didn’t he take the Void from Daryl? However, there was no relationship between them.
    Oyama: That’s a very good question. *audience laughs* When Shu brings out the Void, has has to make eye contact with him. Thats one of the necessary factor to bring out the Void from the person. For the Captain, they had eye contact so Shu can bring out the weapon from him. But having a stronger relationship with each other, the weapon will get stronger and stronger.

    Q: They mentioned in the series that Daryl was the Kaleidoscope. When Shu brought out the Void, that was what it was. How did they know kind of Void he had?
    Oyama: Another good question.
    Wada: That’ll be explain in episode 3. *audience laughs*

    Q: How long have you been developing the anime even before you were making the episodes?
    Oyama: Since this is an original series, we first started with only 2 or 3 people including the director. From that stage, we spent about 2 years in character development.

    Q: *on the short message* At the end of the first episode, there was an eyecatch about being the art director from the game. Is there anything coming out for that?
    Wada: At the end of episode 1, you saw a message by Nitro+, a PC game company. Will have a PC game produced by them.

    Q: It looks like it’s a very shonen type of show. Because of the influence from Ghost in the Shell, will it become more seinen?
    Wada: It may seem like the story is more shonen, but in depth, it’s actually seinen. In the next few episodes, you’ll see more seinen factors.

    Q: Music is playing a major role in the story. Will supercell continue to have a major role on the series? Is all the music produced by supercell? How is supercell involved?
    Oyama: The main message in Egoist and Funeral Parlor is the same, but Egoist does not have to represent Funeral Parlor. They don’t have to have the same goal. Egoist is already famous and they don’t necessarily have to involve themselves in a political issue. Supercell will keep on producing the songs for Egoist.

    Q: When the original soundtrack will be available?
    Oyama: We haven’t announced the soundtrack in Japan…but we are planning to release the soundtrack in early 2012. Please keep an eye on the news.

    Q: The settings and backgrounds are very similar to Code Geass….
    Yamamoto: Comparing to Guilty Crown to Code Geass, the setting of Code Geass is way different from current Japan because Japan is controlled by other worlds. On the otherhand, in Guilty Crown, although it’s runned by GHQ, it’s more modern. Like the situation after World World II, it is a more current setting. There are similarities since some staff worked on Code Geass., we think it’s different. Similar to Ghost in the Shell and Eden of the East, the seting is more normal. It is more similar to Ghost than Code Geass.

    Q: In the first episode, did Shu obtain the Void Genom from Funnell or Gai?
    Wada: That will be revealed in future episodes.
    Yamamoto: Many type of those questions will be revealed in future episodes though there are many clues in the episodes themselves.

    Q: Ghost in the Shell had a set story pacing. Should we expect the same kind of pacing in Guilty Crown?
    Oyama: As you can see in the first two episodes, there are alot of action and friendship. There is alot of information in them and already with just 2 episodes, you have alot of questions. Within 22 episodes, we will answer all the questions. You will find the answers in future episodes.

The host thanked the guests and plugged the streaming site and forum for the series. There are some points to note about the series itself. The noitaminA broadcasting timeslot on Fuji tv was initially geared towards a heavily male based audience. Of course, it soon developed a strong female following as well. Since it’s conception in 2005, it developed a reputation for showcasing wide range of anime from all studios that challenge the norm and through the years, it garnered a strong fanbase. Paradise Kiss, Antique Bakery and most recently Usagi Drop and No. 6 has been shown in that timeslot. Due to the broadcasting schedule, the majority of these series are 11 episodes. It starts later in the anime season and ends earlier. Even with only 11 episodes, each of the aired anime seem to carry fans deeper into their world. Higashi no Eden was a perfect example and it gave room for two movies. Planned for 2 seasons, Guilty Crown has a strong beginning and promises to introduce a story that will immerse viewers visually via the art designs and music.

It is little wonder that I couldn’t get into the screening the previous day.

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