Netflix Loves Anime Panel Report from Anime Expo 2018
Netflix started producing anime in 2016 and since then they have been on a rampage. From Little Witch Academia, to Devilman Crybaby, to smash hit Aggretsuko, Netflix has been steadily producing, importing, and licensing anime with a vengeance. In just a few short years, they have become a major force in the anime world.
With this in mind we couldn’t miss their panel at Anime Expo this year. With a packed line up of guests and hosted by John, director of anime content, the panel was destined to be great. John comes on stage and tells us he is going to share with us some of Netflix’s upcoming shows.
First up is something I had no idea existed: Godzilla anime. The iconic Godzilla is returning in Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle on July 18th. This show looks like Gundam vs Godzilla, and I am HYPED for it despite never having heard of it before. With being done by Polygon Pictures and TOHO and a story by Gen Urobuchi and Directors: Koubun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita.
Next up is Aggretsuko season 2. They announced it with a cosplayer on stage, and show a short video of the show, including one the of the trademark death metal karaoke shows. Looks like we are going to get to see season 2 of this show in early 2019. Which is nice because, since it’s short, it’s also easy to produce quickly.
Also coming in 2019 is Ultraman, an action drama, produced by Production IG. Ultraman is an action drama centered around a man possessing the spirit and DNA of the legendary hero “Ultraman” as he wears a metallic ultra suit and fights against evil.
Kengan Ashura is also coming to Netflix in 2019: Kazuo Yamashita is an ordinary fifty-six year old man who is summoned by the chairman of his company and hired as a gladiator.
Next, John takes a moment to introduce the panelists.
Now its time for a Q&A with our panelists!
First question is about Dragon Pilot, John asks, how they were inspired to create the show?
Mr. Higuchi’s answer is translated: but it’s pretty simple, they wanted to show us how you could hide dragons in the modern world, they were inspired by cosplay, and so what if the dragon cosplayed as a fighter plane.
Next up is a question about whether Shinji likes anime or live action production better.
His answer is complex, it involves a metaphor about bats, that goes way over my head, but he is sure to say that he doesn’t like either better, but just works as hard as he can on both. But that he likes the freedom that he gets from animation because its hard to get things produced live action in Japan.
The next question is about Neon Genesis Evangelion which Shinji produced, the question is why did they make such a radical show at the time? Shinji says that when Evangelion was created, it was in a 6:30 slot in Japan that it was meant for children. He goes on to say that there was a prediction in the end of the last century, a French person predicted that in 2000 the world would end, so they made Evangelion, becuase it was something they wanted to do, not something that would be popular.
Next we get some questions for the producer of Castlevania. Mr. Dredarian asks about why Castlevania (the game) was chosen as for an Netflix original animation. Adi tells the audience that it was them that got the show made. Netflix wanted the show made but Adi said they had to do it right, by fans for fans. He goes one to say that for season 2 there is a lot of anticipation and expectation of how the show runners meet the same standard and keep the show audience happy.
Before the answer we get to see a preview of Season 2 which is coming out October 26th. It’s a short preview but we get to see some new characters. After the preview we move on, so we never did get an answer to that question. Adi, is now talking about how having an original show that an anime on Netflix is awesome. His exact words are “it’s like having Goku in smash”. I’m not sure what that means, but I think the sentiment is that anime is basically mainstream now.
LeSean is next, they ask him when he started in anime, why he wanted to get started, and if he liked it how he got his start.
He said that Robotech was his first show, that the characters had amazing narrative depth, and that he got hooked on it. Coupling that with his want to be a comic book illustrator, the style of the shows appealed to him, since anime is basically just a moving comic book. He was working in NYC on his first gig which was Lizzy McGuire, then he moved to The Boondocks, and thats how he started. Since then he has just wanted to express his love for the media, and now he’s really glad that he can come to AX and that we (anime fans?) are more mainstream.
The Boondocks was the first show where he said that he could be an anime fan, that it allowed his politics and his love of hip-hop to come together, and it reinvigorated his passion for telling stories.
Next up, we get a question about Cannon Busters, that’s designed to walk us through the basics of the show.
LeSean tells us, that Cannon Busters is a love letter to the ’90s – Trigun, Yu Yu Hakusho and others. Obscure ’90s anime(his words not mine), that he grew up watching, and of course mecha. Now, he gets to make what he wants and Netflix is a great producer for letting him make the story that he wants. It’s not a political show, its just a fun show that his nieces can watch and its a story that he wanted to tell.
We next get to see a little sizzle reel about the production of Cannon Busters, we get to see some of the art, and hear about the story, which is about a friendship robot named SAM, her best friend the Prince Kelbi. It takes place in in a technical city, a magician comes down and starts reading havoc, and they have to save the day! Its neat to see the conception of the show from the perspective of a fan, rather than that of the producers.
Next is a question about going to Korea and Japan and how that was for LeSean.
His answer is surprising, he says that Korea was really important to him, that a lot of the American shows are made in Seoul, and so he went there becuase thats where they produce. Moving there let him get close to the production process, and it made his experience a lot better. He also mentioned that it helped to learn how to do things overseas, Korea and Japan are similar in how they work, and he was excited to produce his new show, so he went to Japan, to make sure he could live and work and control the quality of the new show. However LeSean does not speak Japanese, but he says Studio Satellite, is super open minded they have a lot of foreigners in studio, and they were happy to take him in and work, and he’s great full to them for that opportunity.
Next up is a question many people ask: what is the path to get in to the anime industry, each of the panelists gets a chance to answer.
LeSean says that the process is ever evolving, and that its not easy to do. He says that a lot of professionals are not good at communicating about how the industry is changing, at a rapid pace. The way you get a job now is not how you will get a job in 2 or 3 years. Its important to figure out who you want to be, figure out how your style woks, the popular way for employment is to go through the university system, but he never did that, so he don’t know that path. Many of the people getting in to the industry are in university, and there is a bias, for people who go in to university, and for him he best advice he can give is just do your own thing and have your own style. Do whats important to you and be yourself.
Next up is Mr. Iguchi: whose answer is first “please wait” then he jokingly says “to be honest if a young artist becomes successful, it will take away my job, so please don’t”! His real answer is actually quite good advice, he tell us that when he was young he worked hard, and didn’t sleep, that when you are in your 20s you can work hard and as much as you want, but when you get old, you need to sleep. He keeps saying that he basically just worked really hard. So work hard when you are young and be prepared to work long hours, so that you can find success.
Adi Shankar’s answer is that inside of us there is a Lion, like from Voltron, and that they key is to find other Lions, so that you can form Voltron. This is a strange answer, but I’ll happily buy it, and that now thanks to the internet we can find the other Lions, and find make something amazing. Basically don’t do it alone. Believe in yourself form a team, form Voltron, and believe in yourself.