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NYCC 2012 – Tiger & Bunny: Insider’s Panel

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Joshua Lopez of Viz Media began the panel. He worked on the subtitled, dubbed and Japanese version of Tiger and Bunny, the series everyone came to hear about. He introduced Katsura Masakazu-sensei first. He started drawing manga in the 80′s with Video Girl Ai, I’s and Zetman as well as being the character designer for Tiger and Bunny.

    Katsura: Good afternoon! My name is Katsura. I’m very happy to be here.

Tamura Kazuhiko-san was introduced next as producer at Sunrise, Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Gundam Unicorn and initial planning of Tiger and Bunny.

    Tamura: Thank you! I’m Tamura from Sunrise! I came from Tokyo!
    Lopez: I came from San Francisco. *audience laughed*
    Tamura: What the heck?!?

Lopez went straight into the Q&A with accompanying powerpoint slides…which I’m sure they prepared beforehand. The visuals were a nice touch and I can see why there was a no-photo policy. Perhaps Katsura-sensei is one of those ‘shy mangakas’. ^_^ lol Throughout the panel though, the interactions between Katsura-sensei and Tamura-san refuted that argument.

    Q: With working on the show like Tiger and Bunny, where do you start? Do you start with the concept? Or do you start with the face?
    Tamura: Usually you start with the face right?
    Katsura: Shut up! *audience laughs* I actually did want to start with the face because I wanted to get a good grasp on it. But, then I ended up making a very rough sketch of the outline of each character and filled in all the details after that. Is that good? Or do you want to know more? *fans call for more* When I first saw the assignment, I was given a very vague concept. They said, ‘They’re 8 heroes. Can you design 8 heroes for us?’ Then it took a very long to figure them out.
    Tamura: I think the project really started with your work. But then we started on the script and setting.
    Lopez: You didn’t start with the foot?
    Katsura: No.

    Q: Tiger and Bunny has already achieved great success in the US as you can see from this audience. *fans cheer* What do you think it is with Tiger and Bunny that can reach such a wide audience?
    Tamura: Actually we got inspiration from the US dramas or tv series. That is how we started the project. The staff got together and we wanted to create a series that would appeal to the entire world. We wanted to go for a simultaneous release in order to be really popular. I feel that it was really a success since so many people are here at the panel and we feel that our plan worked.
    Katsura: Hey, you’re really tripping over your words!

    Q: Please provide us with an example of where you draw inspiration in art and in manga?
    Katsura: Recently I started to become an old man, so mind is more feeble and I don’t absorb as I used to. But when I was younger, everything around me, whether it was film or tv, anything that came by will give me new energy to draw.
    Lopez: I think we can tell just how youthful you are by your designs for Tiger and Bunny.
    Katsura: Oh…thank you! *audience laughs*
    Lopez: My new friend!

    Q: Is there any character in Tiger and Bunny that you’re continuing to work on?
    Katsura: When I was asked to work on this project, I was only asked to do the character designs so I was able to focus all my attention and all my concentration on it. I in my own head, I thought that I have perfected each and every character. In terms of existing characters, there are none that I want to change. I feel that they are just right as they are. In terms of my own manga, there are tons of stuff that I want to go back and redo.
    Tamura: But I think all characters in the story can all be main characters.
    Katsura: Thank you very much!
    Lopez: For Tiger and Bunny, it is impossible to improve on perfection.
    Katsura: Yes! *interpreter corrects him* No! *audience laughs*

    Q: Movie 2 and season 2, is there anything you can tell us?
    Tamura: The second movie, The Rising is going to come out next autumn. *audience applauds* The story will involve what happens after episode 25. *audience applauds* I really want to depict what happens to Kotetsu and Barnaby after what happened in season 1. I want to concentrate more on the relationship. Of course I want to include the other characters too. Please look forward to it! *audience cheers* As to what happens after the movie, there is nothing on paper. I’m very sorry. *fans awwwws* If you could let us know how much you want season 2… *audience applauds loudly* …then we would want to work on it. Thank you so much!
    Katsura: But I might not work on it! *pause* Joke, it’s a joke!
    Tamura: But without you, we can’t start Tiger and Bunny season 2! *audience applauds*

    Q: Can you share a story with us while on the production of Tiger and Bunny?
    Tamura: Something funny? Alot of the staff of Tiger and Bunny are what you would call the superstars of the anime industry. All of them have different emotions or love towards Tiger and Bunny. The animation is a collaboration of so many staff members. We many different opinions of the staff, ‘I want to do this!’ ‘No, I want to do this!’ We had alot of battles, but because of that, we had a really good product at the end. So I think it was the passion that hyped up the anime, so I really want to thank the staff that was involved. *audience applauds*
    Katsura: The whole butting heads thing, I never got to experience that! I was trapped in my own little office, drawing away on my own. I never knew about that.
    Tamura: You have to remember that you’re the top batter. Katsura: What do you mean I’m the leadoff batter?
    Lopez: For the baseball fans! *audience applauds*

    Q: When you have staff members arguing about content and the way the story should go, do you just tell them what to do?
    Tamura: I don’t have the power like Sky High. *audience laughs* All I can do is bow, apologize and figure things out.
    Katsura: What about saying ‘Let’s enjoy!’
    Tamura: Joshua looks like Keith [Goodman]! I’m sorry if I talk to you like I’m talking to Keith. *audience laughs*
    Katsura: Dude, you’re sweating up a storm! *audience laughs* You must be very nervous right?
    Tamura: There are so many people, I’m not used to so many people, so I am nervous. *audience applauds*
    Lopez: We all here for you, Tamura-san!

    Q: Is there any tip that you would like to give to any aspiring artists in the crowd?
    Katsura: Mmmm…eh…ma….. Just keep drawing! *audience laughs* At some point, you’ll eventually see the light.
    Tamura: I think how you perceive the bone structure of the sides of the face is very important.
    Katsura: Please don’t keep on talking about this or we’re going to be here until morning! *audience applauds loudly* To put it simply. Or do you want to hear more?
    Lopez: Just keep drawing, guys. Keep at it! Just don’t copy his work. *audience laughs*
    Tamura: When designing, it’s the silhouette of the character that is really important.
    Katsura: Oh yeah? I guess. *audience laughs* If you want to say it that way, in the case of Tiger and Bunny, I wanted to keep things really easy in that you can tell by just looking at the shadow or the outline, which character you are seeing in the scene.

    Q: Are there any background info on the Tiger and Bunny characters that you would like to share?
    Katsura: In terms of when I was designing Lunatic, *audience cheers* the info that I got from Sunrise was that Lunatic and Kotetsu was actually a team way back in the day. At that point, his next ability was actually to create or manipulate memory. When Kotetsu saw Yuri turn more and more to the darkside, he tried to save his friend. That was where the handprint came from. When I first designed Yuri, he had a handprint on his forehead and not just on his suit. Then on his suit in the end, I really didn’t want it to look that obviously like a hand. My original attention was that for those fans who were really watching closely can say ‘Wait a second, are those 5 fingers?’ Then when I handed the designs to the production team, they actually took it and ran with it. And the first lines that was spoken by another character to him was, ‘Yo man, you look like you have a glove on your face! You claw face!’ When I saw that, I went, ‘Oh damn!’ *audience laughs* That was the most memorable thing for me. But I have to say, I like Lunatic out of all the Tiger and Bunny characters.

    Q: As a hero or villain?
    Katsura: I like both heroes and villains.
    Lopez: Couldn’t have one without the other.
    Katsura: Exactly.

    Q: If you were a Next, what kind of powers would you have?
    Katsura: Me first?
    Tamura: Yeah older people go first right?
    Katsura: Well, I did say I was older and I am an old man! *audience laughs* This old man will start! *audience applauds*
    Tamura: So you think you’re Barnaby?!? Oh how gross!
    Katsura: Originally, I want to say Sky High because I want to fly around like him. But than I watched him and realized that he is not flying: he is floating! I was a little disappointed.
    Tamura: I want to depict the idea of the jetpack in this character, so that’s why it came out like that.
    Katsura: Yeah? Let me think of one more. Origami maybe? *audience cheers*
    Tamura: Who do you want to copy?
    Katsura: Not who I want to be, but I want to hide like in the background.
    Tamura: Me? Maverick. He is bad isn’t he?
    Katsura: Evil!
    Tamura: I wanted to change everyone’s memory and do as I wish.
    Katsura: Criminal!
    Tamura: I want to change memories!
    Katsura: That’s fine, you can rewrite my memory and say ‘goodbye’ to Tiger and Bunny! Since I’m no longer with the project, you will have to start from zero again.
    Tamura: It’s a joke! Sumimasendeshita!
    Katsura: That’s a very bad joke.

    Q: Which character do you relate with the most?
    Katsura: I will say Nathan actually. *audience cheers* Not that way you think! *audience laughs* What I mean is that in Tiger and Bunny, people always go to Nathan for advice. This guy next to me always comes to me for advice. So I’m like a therapist. ‘Good boy, good boy!’
    Tamura: Actually, you’re not like Nathan, you’re more like Blue Rose. *audience laughs*
    Katsura: Why?
    Tamura: Sensei is tsundere. *audience laughs*
    Katsura: Speak for yourself! Don’t speak for me and put words in my mouth!
    Tamura: Me? I am just like Nathan.
    Katsura: What?!?
    Tamura: Nathan’s job is connecting people. So we work as a team, in the world of anime, we connect people. There are alot of scary people out there like Katsura-sensei, so we bring them together. So I’m just like Nathan. I want women and men to all just get along.
    Katsura: I’m the one who listens to you complain about all these things! I’m super big Nathan! *audience applauds*

    Q: Tiger and Bunny has really cool clothes and really cool hair. Have you found yourself trying to keep up with the clothing and style of the times?
    Katsura: I try to keep up with the times. *interpreter restates questions* Oh….
    Tamura: I think you’re really up with the fashion. The accessories you have on are really cool. Sensei, you’re really fashionable. I think you’re fashionable sense is reflected in the characters. Like the wrinkles on the clothing.
    Katsura: Are you trying to make up for all the bad comments you made earlier?
    Tamura: I think the way he draws the clothes is very realistic. I think the way he is very particular about his fashion reflects in the clothing of his characters.
    Katsura: Oh yeah? Thanks! I used to dress similar to Kotetsu. And I also had the rosary bead bracelet. But since I’m so popular now and people recognize me as well as the character, I feel like I can no longer afford to wear it in public. *audience awwws* I designed him! I don’t people to get the wrong idea that I’m trying to dress like my character. *audience laughs* So I change to a knit cap instead.
    Lopez: Can you hold your hand up? *Katsura-sensei holds his hands up* Now everyone tomorrow will have a watch and rosary bead. *audience laughs*

    Q: If you have any free time at Sunrise from working on all the shows that you do, what do you do?
    Tamura: It is my fantasy but if I have the opportunity, I want to do a Tiger and Bunny spinoff of Lunatic as a Dark Knight. *audience cheers*
    Katsura: But Batman does not kill people!
    Tamura: I’m not trying to create a Batman story.
    Katsura: But you just said you were!
    Tamura: Afterwards, I would like to explore the background of Dragon Kid before she became a hero. *audience cheers* Or Agnes’ daily life. Or the busy highschool days of Blue Rose. I have so many spinoff stories that I could make. *audience applauds*
    Lopez: So when you’re NOT working….
    Tamura: For the past, I’ve only been thinking about Tiger and Bunny but on my days off-which is something I do everyday anyway-I walk my dog. *projector reveals picture said pet*
    Katsura: That’s actually your dog?
    Tamura: Mine! He is 10 years old. *audience awwws* He is Ash.
    Katsura: Ash as in after you cremate something?
    Tamura: Ash as in gray. He is grayish which is why I named him ash. I’m sorry, that was completely irrelevant.

A hint to what was coming next was pretty big when they asked, “In Tiger and Bunny which character can you draw the fastest? Prove it!” We all cheered as they handed paper to him. Katsura-sensei first asked, “Who do you all like?” but was overwhelmed by the shouts of the crowd. “Okay, I will just draw who I want to draw.” *audience laughs* They polled the crowd on favorite main characters as we waited.

    Katsura: I might have made a mistake, but do you want to see it?

The screen revealed…Batman. o.O

    Tamura: Can you please do it for real?

As we waited, they polled us on supporting characters as Katsura-sensei drew…Goku. *audience laughs* There were some audience questions as Katsura-sensei tries once again to draw something related to the panel we’re all in.

    Tamura: Please do it right this time sensei!

The questions were taken from the index cards that the audience filled out. It’s also the way that the raffled prizes were done at the end.

    Q: Why was there a time limit on Tiger’s powers?
    Tamura: If he was invincible and his powers lasted forever, than it wouldn’t be fun…will it? I rather it be more fun as a story and plot to have a time limit. I’m sorry.

    Tamura: Hurry up, Katsura-sensei!
    Katsura: Shut up!

    Q: I love Keith Goodman so I want to know more about him! Any top secret info about him?
    Tamura: Keith Goodman? What would you like to know? His hobby? Is to take walks. He is a typical dense guy. I think that it is a character personality that is forgivable because it’s him. If we have the opportunity, we want to develope him more. Oh, looks like sensei is done! Then sensei….

I love it when Tamura said “Sensei, stand uppu shite”…which is a mix of Japanese and English. ^.^ Katsura-sensei responded, “Here we go!” It was a beautiful drawing of Kotetsu. (Then a person tried to rush the stage to get the drawing. Of course, the fan was withheld thankfully.)

    Katsura: I forgot his pocket.

We all don’t mind. It was an honor to see a master at work. *bows* Lopez announced that the dub of Tiger and Bunny can be watched on Neon Alley.

    Katsura: Can we watch this in Japan too?
    Lopez: *pause* I’ll give you a copy. Not yet, but we’ll get it I promise. I’ll send you my copy and my autograph.

Viz has a special: downloading the app on PS3, you can get a week free. Tiger and Bunny merchandise is out including shirts, figures and keychains.

Time for giveaways! They gave out several shirts of various designs. Coincidentally, some fans in the front row modeled the designs. “They were not planned I promise!” They raffled off the artwork, including more that Katsura-sensei drew as the raffle was taking place. (I believe Kotetsu was one of them. ^.^)

I must say I love the comedic stylings of Katsura-sensei and Tamura-san. They played off each other so well, it is no wonder their series are so great. I would love to see the interactions of the other staff as well…butting heads and all.

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