There was a special presentation at Otakon 2013 about the young animator and director project called Anime Mirai with producer Michihiko Suwa and director of the Death Billiards short Yuzuru Tachikawa. Over the weekend all of the shorts were shown in 3-parts divided up by year.
At this point, most people have probably seen Little Which Academia but may not know it was funded through the Anime Mirai initiative. Many more probably hadn’t seen Death Billiards until Otakon’s weekend. Once you have seen it however, it is impossible to forget. Many are looking forward to what Mr. Tachikawa will do next.
Mr. Suwa has a great history in the anime business as a producer for mega hits like City Hunter and Inu-Yasha, as well as the indomitable Detective Conan. He appeared at Otakon before in 2007 along with director Mr. Kenji Kodoma and presented the U.S. with its first look at Kekkaishi.
Anime Mirai started in 2010 and was renewed in 2012 and 2013. Studios have already been announced for the continuation of the project in 2014, too. Each year studios pitch ideas and are given the funds to make a short anime. These shorts are funded by Japanese government grants in the hopes of promoting innovation and young talent in the anime industry.
Reverse Thieves: Death Billiards was your directorial debut, was this is a story you’d wanted to tell for a while?
Yuzuru Tachikawa: I actually wasn’t thinking about it a long time, it came as inspiration.
RT: Death Billiards has an ambiguous ending, kind of like a Twilight Zone episode, where we are left wondering how things turn out for the two men. Why did you create this type of ending?
YT: One reason is that we didn’t want to provide a final answer, that wasn’t the idea. And, there is no “right” answer so it acts food for thought, right?
RT: Can you talk a bit about the process of getting Death Billiards made for Anime Mirai?
YT: The producer at Madhouse for Death Billiards was actually a colleague of mine. I told him about the story and he was really the one who took care of it.
Michihiko Suwa: I was the one doing the choosing, so when I first got the story, I worried whether or not the billiard balls with organs would be able to go into anime. It was grotesque! (laughs) When I saw the final product, I was able to say Tachikawa is the man! He was able to do it, the difference between the storyboard and final was what I liked most about Death Billiards.
RT: There is a Death Billiards booking being released at Comiket this weekend [note: Comiket82 was at the same time as Otakon 2013], could you tell us about it since we probably won’t see it in English?
YT: Yesterday it was sent to Comiket and they told me it disappeared in 20 minutes. It was an illustration book by the animators who took part in the project. It also included all of the layouts, the original as well as the edited versions, that we used for Death Billiards.
RT: We are now seeing Kickstarter becoming a new and successful platform for funding anime, including a sequel to Anime Mirai project Little Witch Academia. What do you think of crowdfunding and involving fans in the creation process?
YT: I, personally, think it is sort of like a dream that things like this could go on. Regarding Death Billiards, we are in talks with an actual TV station about whether or not we would make a sequel or something like it. So, crowdfunding doesn’t take place for things like that yet. But we’d like to try out crowdfunding as often as possible.
MS: I think it is integral to the animation planning that we need to do since [crowdfunding] would be a great help. I do worry about whether the anime succeeds or not; as you know, anime is business after all. If it succeeds, good, but if it doesn’t how do we follow-up on things in that case? That is something we need to figure out.
RT: I must end the interview by asking Mr. Suwa about Detective Conan. What do you think makes Conan such an enduring character?
MS: I think it is because the original author, Gosho Aoyama, is a genius. It is very well laid out and such a solid mystery!
More Otakon 2013 posts:
Otakon 2013: Tweets
Otakon 2013: Our 6 Favorite Announcements
Otakon 2013: General Impressions
Otakon 2013: Shinichiro Watanabe
Otakon 2013: Artist Alley
All Points Bulletin: Leaving Baltimore, Heading To Las Vegas
Otakon 2013: Concerts
Otakon 2013: Guests
Otakon 2013: Shingo Adachi and Tetsuya Kawakami
All Points Bulletin: The Gamification of Otakon
The Speakeasy #044: Baltimore Zoo, Otakon 2013