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Otakon2010: Press Conference For The Creators of Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW

On Sunday morning, I got to attend a press conference featuring the
creators of Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW; Koji Masunari, Masashi Ishihama
and Tomonori Ochikoshi. While there was quite a bit discussed such as
giant robot shows, how they relax and their plans for the future, the
main focus was obviously on the movie that had premiered the day before
in the United States. All three of them put a lot of time and effort
into the movie, with Masunari even exclaiming he has put his entire
heart into this project. It was something else to be able to sit down
and hear them speak about their film. So, while I will be touching on
the smaller tidbits, this article will primarily stay linked to Welcome
to THE SPACE SHOW
.

Since this was the first time since Read or
Die
they had worked together, there were some questions on how it felt
getting the team together again. When coming together all three
(actually four, counting Hideyuki Kurata who couldn’t make it) of them
knew they would be working on a theatrical release, something they
hadn’t done before. In order for things to work out they brought in
staff and creators who were well equipped for the job. Masunari and the
others were able to do this through drawing on past connections and
getting the best team possible. It was noted during the conference that
Japan has gotten more conservative with the amount of money put into
these productions, prompting a general curiosity as to whether or not Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW had any issues getting the right amount of
funding. Fortunately the movie did not, as Aniplex and their sister
company, A-1 Pictures decided to do this project together. With these
companies together, there was a level of trust between every single
staff member that worked in the movie’s favor. Ultimately, Masunari and
his staff wanted to create a story that the audience could easily join
in on.

In preparation for the story, at the very beginning it was
established that children would be the main characters. With that
decision they decided to have the children go on an adventure and then
Pochi (an alien in the movie) was added to the story, so the process of
building the story came very natural to the creators. When asked about
his idea of a “good” character, Masunari explained that the key to
creating a character is to flesh out their past, their troubles, and how
they are now. If a character is living in the moment, he continues,
they can be related to. On the element of design, Masashi explained that
Pochi (A red knight-like alien who usually looks like a talking dog)
was thought of by Masunari as a story element. Pochi was able to add a
level of humor and mystery to the show due to his dog-like design and
that is essentially why his character came to the storyboard. Neppo (a
tomato-like alien), the owner and host of The Space Show, was included
due to the positive response to his base design.

On a similar
note, a question came up about the childrens’ design and whether or not
the moe movement in Japan had an influence. Masunari and Ishihama did
not acknowledge that assertion and stated they wanted to make the
characters as cute as possible for the sake of the story, not for any
moe movement. One last thing to be noted about the kids is the use of
voice actors who were actually children. Typically child roles are still
played by adult voice actors, but Masunari believed that by using
children it added a certain amount of depth to the characters and the
movie. He stated that when adults play a child in an animated project
they have to go through a filter to get into the mindset of a child,
whereas a child is already in that mindset. This seemed to work; not
only did the kids look cute, they sounded pretty cute too.

Being a
feature length movie, there were naturally a few questions on whether
or not Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW would be getting a theatrical release
and also concerns about whether or not the length of the movie would
hinder those chances. Ochikoshi stated that they have the intention of
showing this movie around the world, having already done so in Berlin,
London, Sydney and Japan. With that being said, on a business-related
front there have been no concrete decisions made on where else this
movie will be shown, nor if it will be getting a theatrical release. A
comparison was brought up about releases for Hayao Miyazaki films; in
response Ochikoshi said that a similar release was unlikely, since this
is their first movie and they do not have the establishment Miyazaki
does in the film realm. Another question brought up the length of the
movie, a bit over two hours, asking whether or not they would consider
editing the movie down a bit if they had to. Masunari admitted that he
realized the movie was a bit long, but at the same time he expressed
that this length was absolutely necessary for the story to be told
properly. In fact, all three of them believe the length is a necessity,
so shortening is more than likely out of the question.

As for the movie’s reception, Masunari, Ishihama and Ochikoshi were very
pleased with the reaction of the American viewers. Scenes where they
intended for a specific reaction were met with said reaction. In fact,
Masunari even stated that the reception to the humor was more than what
he expected. There were scenes where in Japan they would get a smirk,
but during this screening people were literally laughing out loud. This
made Masunari pretty happy with the reception of a movie that he poured
his heart into. After working on such a large project, the team was
asked on how they refresh themselves and get back into work. Masunari
explains that typically he will go on a small vacation as well as read
various manga. This time, however, the project was a bit more demanding
so he will be taking a bit more time to recuperate. Ishihama stated
that, being an artist, his method of rejuvenating is to keep working and
push himself to create something new and unique. Ochikoshi, on the
other hand always has his hands full, so he doesn’t get time to rest.

Lastly,
they talked of projects that each of them would like to work on.
Ishihama personally would like to push himself to try something new,
combining his art and designs with music. Whether that is in the form of
an opening or ending sequence or another project, he did not specify.
Ochikoshi, on the other hand, would really like to dip his hands in a
giant robot project. He states that A-1 Pictures has never done a giant
robot project, so it would be new and challenging. The three of them
agreed that giant robot shows have been done for quite some time in
Japan, so if A-1 Pictures were to do one it would have be something
completely new in order to spark interest. Ochikoshi also joked, though,
that he has heard giant robot shows do not do well in America. At the
very least though perhaps we will be seeing one come out of A-1 Pictures
sometime in the future, which I think would be great. In general, the
three men commented that they would like to work together on other
projects and continue to bring their work to both the small screen and
the big screen.








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