Otakon 2016: 20 minutes with Producer Koji Morimoto

There are two men named Koji Morimoto currently working in the animation industry. They both have many years of experience under their belts. We interviewed producer Koji Morimoto not to be confused with the director.

Mr. Morimoto has been a producer at Bandai, and has worked on titles such as the .hack franchise, Galaxy Angel, and New Getter Robo. One of his most high-profile projects of late has been Under the Dog. While it was not the first anime to get funding through Kickstarter, it was definitely one of the biggest. We asked him about his experiences with crowdfunding as well as several of the shows he has worked on over the years.


Reverse Thieves: Under the Dog has been released, congratulations! It was very enjoyable! Can you talk about how you got involved in the project?

Koji Morimoto: So when the film was being made there were problems that need to be solved like PR and getting things shipped physical so that’s the reason I came on to the project under the jurisdiction of Mr. [Jiro] Ishii.

RT: What has been the reaction to Under the Dog on the Japanese side?

KM: I think [Under the Dog] is dealing with topics that would be impossible in the general anime industry.

And I’m pretty sure everyone really enjoys Mr. Ando’s action scenes.

RT: What did you think of crowdfunding before you got involved with UTD?

KM: I actually didn’t know about crowdfunding until Mr. Ishii told me about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, it’s something new.

RT: Would you consider using crowdfunding on a future project?

KM: Not really. [laughs]  

Ultimately, with crowdfunding you are putting all the pressure on yourself. There are so many things you have to get done. It is difficult. If you can accomplish something with a group, that is always going to be easier.

It is a way to raise money outside of the industry. But all the work needs to be done is pretty much the same.

RT: Nowadays we see a lot of stories about people trapped in MMORPGs, it is practically its own genre. How do you feel about .hack looking back now? .hack was really ahead of the curve.

KM: I did think they did things very well in Sword Art Online. But I believe what they tried to accomplish was totally different. So while the medium were similar, the ultimate goal was very different.

Basically, in .hack what we wanted to achieve was to see a character in an RPG setting but then start to see the real person behind the character. Like peeling the layers or turning the page, you’d see a bit more of that person.

In the case of SAO, what they wanted was to have the real world alongside the game world. Seeing the consistent quality of it was impressive. I’d like to work with the director.

RT: How did Galaxy Angel transform from a fairly serious dating game into a wacky comedy?

KM: Originally, Broccoli [the makers of the game] told us to closely follow the game. But MADHOUSE felt that kicking out the male lead would be better as to not interfere with what would happen. Then we had to figure out how to make it seem like they were having all the fun in the world, so that is where the lost technology came in.

We noticed when we got to episode 9 or 10 that it was really more fun as a comedy and so we went in that direction. Before that we were trying to go for more of a moe feeling.

RT: Can you talk about your experiences working with Go Nagai on Mazinkaiser and New Getter Robo as well as the parody Panda-Z?

KM: I like those! Mr. Nagai was a very understanding person. He would say, “You can do as you like!” And when we would come up with ideas and ask him what he thought, he’d say “That seems OK, go with it!” Yes, he was very understanding.

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