Bandai Namco, working alongside Anime Limited, arranged to bring a quartet of guests to MCM London to promote forthcoming game Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time– Yusuke Futami (Game Director), Yoh Yoshinari (Anime Director), Naoko Tsutsumi (Anime Producer) and Katsuhiro Takei (Anime Producer). Toonzone was given the opportunity to pose questions to three of these guests.
TOONZONE NEWS: What was the genesis point for making Chamber of Time?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: I believe it’s really the notion of being able to play the Trigger anime as a game.
TOONZONE NEWS: Was the game always intended for release outside of Japan or was that decided later?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: The fact is that Trigger shows are very popular overseas. So once we had decided to make this game for the Japanese market as perfectly as possible, we also knew there was a market for it outside of Japan too.
TOONZONE NEWS: As this is a licensed game, is there a particular feeling from the show that you wished to emulate?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: There was a challenge in translating the established 2D animation of the show into the 3D models of the game. We wanted to keep the same iconic style in that transition so that fans wouldn’t feel a disconnect between the show and the game.
TOONZONE NEWS: The game employs a side-scrolling beat-em up style. Why was this chosen as the playstyle?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: I feel it’s a playstyle that is very popular, especially with younger gamers who are one of the key demographics for the game. Thus we chose it to make the game open to a wide number of potential players.
TOONZONE NEWS: Is there an element of the game that you’re particularly proud of?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: I’m proud of how we were able to reproduce the characters in the game, right down to their emotional reactions and facial features.
TOONZONE NEWS: If you could produce a sequel to this game, is there a different type of playstyle you’d like to experiment with?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: I think the side scrolling style is the best fit for turning this particular property into a game. However, if we get the chance to make a sequel, I’d love to explore the idea of Akko and the other established characters playing mentor to a new cast of young witches at the school.
TOONZONE NEWS: Obviously as we’ve discussed the game is aimed at fans of the show. But how much consideration was given towards potential players with no knowledge of Little Witch Academia?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: I think people with a familiarity of Harry Potter or an attachment to cute things will like the game. We’re quite optimistic that gamers who favour all kinds of genres will find something to enjoy if they give Chamber of Time a chance.
TOONZONE NEWS: For my final question, are there any other anime series you’d like to work on a game for?
YUSUKE FUTAMI: There are so many anime series out there I’d love to work on games for. However, right now I’m focused on Little Witch Academia and hoping we can make a sequel to Chamber of Time.
Yoh Yoshinari & Naoko Tsutsumi:
TOONZONE NEWS: What was the genesis for the idea of Little Witch Academia?
NAOKO TSUTSUMI: It started with the Anime Mirai project, a project sponsored by the Japanese government with the goal of nurturing new anime creative talent. The original Little Witch Academia film was put online via YouTube, where it did particularly well with American audiences. It was at that point we started saying “Why don’t we do a Kickstarter for a sequel?”. That was in turn seen by Toho and Netflix who suggested the idea of turning the property into a TV series.
TOONZONE NEWS: As you say, the second film ‘Enchanted Parade’ was funded via Kickstarter. With crowdfunding helping to make anime more of an international production what new freedoms does that offer to creators?
YOH YOSHINARI: A lot of freedom! With the second film we made pretty much exactly what we wanted to make. What was different from making a normal anime is you have some 7000 backers that you have to take care of and you have to be considerate towards them. That’s the big challenge.
TOONZONE NEWS: There’s a lot of interesting backstory to the series such as the Nine Olde Witches. Have you considered exploring this lore fully in future projects?
YOH YOSHINARI: Well I don’t know yet if we’ll be able to make a sequel but if the opportunity does arise then yes, I’d like to explore some of the elements from the series that weren’t fully developed.
TOONZONE NEWS: May I just quickly say on that note, when I mentioned online we’d be doing this interview many…many people were interested. So if you are considering doing a sequel, there is definitely interest out there.
[Both Yoshinari and Tsutsumi laugh.]
NAOKO TSUTSUMI: We will pass that on to our sponsors!
TOONZONE NEWS: [Smiles and gives a thumbs up. Tsutsumi laughs and returns the gesture.]
TOONZONE NEWS: One of the key themes of the story is creating entertainment to make people happy. Is this your philosophy as creators?
YOH YOSHINARI: I guess so [laughs].I mean, that’s all I can do so I guess I want to make as many people as possible smile.
TOONZONE NEWS: Characters change between the films and television series, such as Diana becoming more sympathetic. Are there any characters you particularly feel evolved?
YOH YOSHINARI: I think Ursula has changed from the film to the series. In the films we didn’t get much of her background but in the TV series we wanted to explore how she came to be the way she is, going from being an idol to being a teacher. Also her as part of Akko’s training, as something Akko has to get past.
TOONZONE NEWS: The series is primarily set in England. Was there a specific reason you chose to set it here?
YOH YOSHINARI: It’s the home of magic!
TOONZONE NEWS: Episode 18 homages Gurren Lagann which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Do you have any specific memories of working on that production?
YOH YOSHINARI: I just think how young I was back then..[laughs wryly] There was so much I wanted to do back then, I don’t have the same kind of energy now [chuckles].
TOONZONE NEWS: What would you like viewers to take away from watching Little Witch Academia?
YOH YOSHINARI: [Confers with Tsutsumi. They both laugh.] I want them to enjoy it….What we want them to take away from it is presented there in the anime. People just need to watch it, I can’t really express it in words. If I could express it in words, I wouldn’t need to make it [laughs].
Toonzone would like to thank Yusuke Futami, Yoh Yoshinari and Naoko Tsutsumi for answering our questions, Ruby Rumjen of Bandai Namco for facilitating this interview, Bethan Jones for interpreting and Jeremy Graves & Andrew Hanley of Anime Limited for liaising.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time is due for release in the UK on Playstation 4 and PC in early 2018.
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