Anime Expo was started on July 4, 2013 in Los Angeles. At this event, it was announced that anime production company Studio Trigger will produce a sequel to its short anime Little Witch Academia
called Little Witch Academia 2
(LWA2). The news of this sequel to Little Witch Academia
, which received high praise from anime fans worldwide the moment the entire anime was released on YouTube
in May of this year, has unsurprisingly created a stir. It was also announced that the funds to produce LWA2 would be raised through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding service where anyone can contribute financial support to projects, and the decision has drawn the attention of people around the world. The original goal of $150,000 that Trigger set was reached within a mere five hours after receiving a flood of contributions from fans. Currently, the total fan contribution is nearing the second goal of $500,000.
We had a chance to interview director, producer and head of Studio Trigger Masahiko Otsuka along with producer and studio board member Kazuya Masumoto and PR representative Tatsuru Tatemoto.
TOM: Mr. Otsuka and Mr. Tatemoto, you both just got back from participating in Anime Expo. Including that event, how many times has Trigger been represented at an event in another country?
From the left: Kazuya Masumoto, Masahiko Otsuka, and Tatsuru Tatemoto
Otsuka: This was the first time.
Tatemoto: Actually, I had helped out at Anime Expo before as an interpreter, and that led to us participating this year. I approached someone who works for Anime Expo about borrowing a small room to air Little Witch Academia in exchange for my help. I originally planned it to be small, but before I knew, the plan got big and we ended up with a panel room that could hold 1,000 people (laughs).
TOM: That’s really fortunate.
Otsuka: Well, not actually. As Tatemoto said, we were planning to have a small space at first, so all the staff were saying, “There’s no way we’ll fill a room seating 1,000 people.”
Tatemoto: In truth, we were worried about how bad it would look if the event space were empty. Even at past Anime Expos, I could remember that that large space wouldn’t fill unless it was something like an event with a voice actor well-known in Japan.
TOM: How many guests actually ended up coming?
Tatemoto: Nearly 1,000 people came, I think.
Otsuka: The space was almost completely full. We were really surprised.
TOM: That’s amazing! With that many people in another country interested in your work, did you both have a lot of questions and comments directed toward you?
Otsuka: Actually, because of the schedule, we didn’t have much of a chance to talk with the fans. Within the one hour we were given, the schedule was to introduce ourselves, screen Little Witch Academia, announce the sequel and then move onto Q&A. We were only able to manage five minutes of that hour for the Q&A session. The whole sequence did feel a bit rushed.
Tatemoto: I can say this now, but I felt that if we had had 30 minutes more to work with, we would have been able to speak more with Fans. It was our first time participating in these event, so I believe we can learn from our mistakes, and do better for future events.
Otsuka: Originally it was just going to be a screening of Little Witch Academia, so it wasn’t even planned for me to participate. But, then we started talking about Megumi Han, who plays Akko, going to the event, and so I decided suddenly, in that case, I would go to. Because of that, there were some things we weren’t able to prepare for. Another improvement I thought about was that, if we’re going to do this large of a panel, then I think it would be good to have Tatemoto working for Trigger the entire time.
TOM: What? So Mr. Tatemoto didn’t just do the panel, but also helped out at the Anime Expo?
Tatemoto: It was part of the agreement for Trigger to use the space that I would help at the event, so I did.
Otsuka: Since he was doing both jobs, he had tons and tons of work on the day of the Trigger panel.
TOM: Nevertheless, in the end the room had a great turnout. The announcement regarding LWA2 was picked up by a lot of media outlets and was very successful, as well.
Otsuka: That’s right. I had not imagined that we would have that many people come out to see us, so I was extremely happy.
TOM: Have you made plans for the next events you’ll be attending?
Tatemoto: We’ve actually already heard from the organizers of a few events. But we haven’t confirmed anything yet. I personally would like to do more events, so I’ve been actively speaking with event staff. I think I may be able to take part in another event soon with Trigger.
Otsuka: Fortunately, the news from this panel has been covered in a lot of different places, so Trigger is getting more well known, so I think we may have more chances to take part in events in the future.
TOM: I think the biggest news from this event was your plan to use crowdfunding to produce an anime. When we spoke with you about two months ago, had you already decided to make LWA2 and use crowdfunding?
Otsuka: We didn’t quite have a grasp on the timing yet, but I think we had pretty much decided that we were going to make LWA2. However, at this point, we haven’t decided the major elements of the story or the script, so we plan on focusing on all of that moving forward. One of the purposes we had using crowdfunding is that, although it will take longer than the first series, we can change what we do depending on how much we raise, so we couldn’t really decide on the script beforehand. However, our studio is approaching the broadcast of KILL la KILL this fall, so everyone is focusing on that production at the moment. I hope fans will understand that we won’t be able to start working on LWA2 until after KILL la KILL has finished airing. Because of that, we’ve decided to approach this challenge with the expectation that we will have some flexibility with time.
*TOM: TOM: What made you decide to use Kickstarter in particular out of all other crowdfunding services? *
Otsuka: Initially, Tatemoto talked about wanting to try crowdfunding. After we made Little Witch Academia available for everyone to see on YouTube, every now and then we saw comments from viewers in other countries asking us to do a Kickstarter campaign. Since the fans were asking about it, we began to look into how we might try covering some of the production costs with crowdfunding.
This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.
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