On Friday afternoon, a gathering of talent from Sunrise Animation Studios gathered at New York Comic Con to give anime fans a sample of current and upcoming projects. In attendance were Masayuki Ozaki, director of Sunrise; Akane Hagino, manager of the international sales department; Kazuhiko Tamura, producer of Tiger and Bunny; Dai Otsuka, who does “setting production” for Sunrise’s Studio 8; Yusuke Shimizu, production manager of Sunrise’s Studio 9; and Takashi Maekawa, production manager of Sunrise’s Studio 10.
After declaring that the live-action Cowboy Bebop movie is still alive, Ozaki quickly ran through highlights of Sunrise’s history, noting its 300 projects and 36-year history of making anime. Ozaki also mentioned that this was the third Sunrise panel at New York Comic Con/New York Anime Festival, but this was the first time they brought a full slate of staff. It was also Yusuke Shimizu’s first trip anywhere outside of Japan.
The staff members cracked jokes and showed a spirit of friendly competitiveness as each one discussed their projects after highlight reels and trailers were screened for the audience. Kazuhiko Tamura mentioned that he had used the Manhattan cityscape for the setting of Tiger and Bunny (available from Vizanime.com), so he was honored to be here in New York for the convention. Takashi Maekawa was next to discuss Phi-Brain: Puzzle of God (distributed by Sentai Filmworks and available on Anime Network and Hulu), a puzzle-based show; he joked that the embedded puzzles in the show might even improve your IQ before Ozaki said that Sunrise’s lawyers insisted that he say they were not responsible if your IQ didn’t improve even after watching the show. Dai Otsuka was proud of the action in Accel World, saying that it was like Tiger and Bunny except that it was set in Tokyo in 2046, and that his action scenes were better.
For Daily Lives of High School Boys, Yusuke Shimizu repeated that it was his first time outside of Japan, so he came to the con cosplaying as one of the cast members, standing up to show off his costume. He added that the director of the series also did Gintama, and described the cast members as “incredibly dumb, but because they’re so dumb they’re kind of cute.” The series is licensed to NIS America and a Blu-ray is coming next spring. He also donned the distinctive headgear of a poverty spirit central to the plot of Binbogami Ga! later in the panel. The slapstick comedy series centers on a beautiful girl and the poverty spirit that possesses her, leading to lots of bad luck and mishaps. The average age of the staff is 20-30, leading to much more energy in the show as well as a lot of parody scenes and homages to other anime series. The series is available now via FUNimation.com and Hulu.
Dai Otsuka noted that the source material for Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere was very popular in Japan, but so full of content that nobody thought it would ever be adapted, so he took pride that the Studio 8 staff persevered for the anime adaptation. The series is screening on the Anime Network now and will be coming to DVD and Blu-ray on November 6, 2012, in both dubbed and subtitled versions.
The panelists went on to screen and describe new and upcoming offerings from Sunrise. The trading-card based Battle Spirits: Sword Eyes began airing in September in Japan, and Sunrise is working to remedy the fact that it is not licensed for the US yet. Announcements about Gintama drew a big reaction from the audience; the staffers said that the project had been suspended several times “because they’re tired” from working such long hours on it, but a new series will begin airing in October 2012 and a new movie is due out next year. Aikatsu! is an original property about a girl who enters an elite high school of singing idols. The thematically similar Lovelive! began as a music video/trailer in 2010 whose popularity led to an animated series set to air on TV in Japan next year. Otsuka made a point to say Sunrise was encouraging everyone to cosplay as the 9 cute girls who form the lead characters of the series and upload the videos on YouTube.
Another rousing welcome was given to Code Geass: Akito the Exiled; this side-story of Code Geass is 4 episodes long and premiered in August. Psychic School Wars, a juvenile sci-fi novel that has already been adapted 6 times in live-action movies and TV shows, will be coming to movie theaters in an animated feature in November 2012. The adorable Zorori the Naughty Hero Super Adventure! is also coming to Japanese theaters this winter, and is based on a bestselling franchise of children’s books.
Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning will give Sunrise’s popular characters an origin story; the Sunrise staff was gratified to see such passionate fans for the series, including two cosplayers dressed as Tiger and Bunny sitting in the front row. The Gundam SEED high-definition remastering project will reshoot all the scenes of the series in HD and add some new scenes, while Perfect Strike will appear on Gundam.info. Finally, Gundam Unicorn episode 6 is slated to arrive in spring 2013. The panel brought up surprise guest Michael Sinterniklaas, who revealed that he had literally just gotten back from Japan where he recorded his lines for Gundam Unicornepisode 6.
The panelists then opened up for Q&A with the audience:
- Sunrise said they’d love to screen the second Tiger and Bunny movie in New York, saying they can’t make what we do without your love,” which seemed to be enough to cover the absent answer.
- The rumor that an anime adaptation of Gundam the Origin is in the works was confirmed, but that’s all that can be announced at this time.
- A question about asking about writing or animating for a Japanese anime studio was told to continue writing and polishing his skills in either field, and either become bilingual or work with someone who can translate for you into Japanese.
- Sunrise was surprised at the success of the Tiger and Bunny smartphone app and would like to try and bring it overseas.
- They can confirm production has begun on the G-Raiko project, but as with Gundam the Origin that’s all that can be announced at this time.