Sakura-Con 2016 – How to Become a Content Creator and Animation Director in the Anime Industry? Panel

The opening of this second panel for Toshihiro Kawamoto and Rie Matsumoto focused more on their roles in the anime industry as opposed to their works. It was a more laid back environment than their first panel, where Matsumoto had largely looked bored and as if she had drawn the short end of the stick to attend. Here, she actually animatedly answered questions and smiled from time to time.

My only issue with this panel was that between the two translators, the woman translator for Matsumoto was not very good; the other translator had to pick up the slack whenever she was unable to keep up with Matsumoto’s long or complicated explanations.

Opening Discussion

The panel opened with discussion about bringing the work of Kekkai Sensen from the original manga to the current anime, and from a shounen appeal to a wider audience. It was revealed that character designs were opened for wider audience, from zombie t-shirts to more relatable clothing with natural designs and colors. Matsumoto even referred to works like UtaPri for its design to appeal to female audiences, with looking at Klaus’ imagery as an example. This route was very successful. Matsumoto and Kawamoto relayed that a recent event for Nightow-sensei had a mostly female audience. They started to wonder where the men were!

The talk then led on to re-doing Leo’s body to fit in with the other characters. The original had a larger head-to-body ratio, and he was taller. The update decreased his head size and shortened him to better stand with the others. They provided some example drawings highlighting the differences for Leo with the full cast.

Klaus was apparently a character who did not need too much tweaking. There was a much closer visual comparison between the original and the current versions. The challenge for him was best portraying his polar opposites in animation. Slides were also shown of Zapp and Steven. Steven is one of the more popular characters for women. His lines were thinned down and he was given a more intelligent look for the anime.


*Any transcription below is provided first through a translator’s words, then paraphrased as needed by me.*

Q: Do you have a personal preference for making an anime (manga, game, light novel)?

Kawamoto: Not really. There is a huge difference between them because there is a director.

Matsumoto: The basic goal is to make anime that people will enjoy. That goal doesn’t change depending on the source material. I haven’t really thought about it.

Q: When making an anime based on an existing work, what do you do to keep the fans of the original work?

M: In my case, I consider the basic elements that the original fans loved. I don’t want to erase those important elements that are part of Nightow-sensei’s soul. One of the major themes in his work is men who have continued fighting for their beliefs. I wanted to show Leo finding out who he is and continuing to fight for his beliefs.

Q: Matsumoto, now that you’ve done both an original (Kyousogiga) and an adaptation (BBB), what is an aspect of both that you like, or is there one you prefer?

M: I like making animation, so I like them both.

Q: Out of the chapters of manga that haven’t been adapted to anime yet, which chapters would you most like to translate into anime, and which characters would you be most excited to design?

K: The ones I want to draw are in the end part of the tenth book. I want to try drawing that because it’s a very emotional scene. The episodes that go into the daily life of K.K. I also want to try drawing. Those small episodes would be interesting for me.

M: As for stories not animated yet, I want to animate where K.K. visits a school. Another is the story where Gilbert fights a lot. I think I would want Hollywood to make a movie of that, too.

Q: Some of my favorite characters are Black and White. What went into designing both with the original work and the new anime?

K: When it comes to character design, these of course are original characters. I wanted to make them fit into Nightow’s world. We decided to have him draw them in the first place. He drew a few different patterns with different hairstyles. Using that idea, I made an animated version just like the other characters, so they’d fit with the others in the animation.

Q: I have a lot of friends who individually like shounen and josei, and I think they’d both like BBB. How can I sell this anime to them?

M: Tell them there are a lot of cool guys who show up and get into passionate battles and punch each other.

Q: Matsumoto, how did you choose which chapters of K.K. to adapt? It’s pretty episodic. Was it particular characters to focus on, or thematic reasons? What went into the decisions?

M: I figured out what stories I had to include in the anime when heading towards the end. For example, in part four, there’s a powerful opponent, a vampire. We wanted to add in original elements to the anime, and that’s how we came up with Black and White. In the eight episode, there’s a scene where the character standing in front of the mirror doesn’t see himself. That’s where it’s revealed that he’s actually a vampire. That’s a combination between elements from the original and coming up with original characters and stories.

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