Anime Site Collaboration Project Vol. 7: Tomason

Anime Site Collaboration Project Vol. 7: Tomason

Japanese anime has never been so popular with fans all around the world as it is right now. This interview series takes a look at the behind-the-scenes stories and true feelings of those who actually produce anime in Japan and is being conducted in collaboration with international anime sites including Anime Anime, Tokyo Otaku Mode, and Chinese language outlet Bahamut.

Check out the rest of the interviews here.
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Tomason’s representative works: Folktales from Japan, Milky Panic Twelve, Kemono Friends 2

Kemono Friends season two is currently a hot topic among fans with announcements from the production team flying in at regular intervals. Ryuichi Kimura of Aikatsu and Pikachin-kit fame will be taking the helm while Tomason will be producing.

Why exactly was Tomason chosen to take over the second season of a high profile anime and how did they feel about taking it on? We asked Tomason producer Shinnosuke Numata a few quick questions to find out.

Tomason studio logo in Ota, Tokyo.


©KFP2A

Editing screen featuring the Kemono Friends 2 title
Kemono Friends 2 producer Shinnosuke Numata

I said “We’ll do it!” on the spot.

- How did Tomason come to produce Kemono Friends 2?

Shinnosuke Numata: Kemono Friends was a huge hit. Obviously, I only knew of it as a third party, but after I saw in the news that they were changing the production house for the second season I received a phone call from a producer acquaintance who wanted to talk to me about an anime project which happened to be Kemono Friends 2.

- That must have been a surprise!

Numata: It was, yes. I never thought we’d have the chance to work on such a fun series so I was extremely surprised when it came to us. On the other hand, it was a huge opportunity so when I thought about the possibility of our company taking over such a high profile title I said we’d do it right away. To be honest, I thought it might be a stretch for us, but I wanted to do it anyway.

Overcoming obstacles

- When it was decided you’d be taking over, you must have had a lot to think about. Could we ask a little about that?

Numata: We have a lot of Kemono Friends fans on the team, so many of our staff felt it was an honor to have the opportunity of becoming involved with the franchise. When I announced the news to the company no one quite believed me.

- (laughs) They thought you were joking?

Numata: Yes. They thought I made it up and then they couldn’t believe it. Maybe because they were fans they were shouting back “no way,” “too hard,” “we can’t do it.” Then as it sunk in, as I’ve just said, they felt so grateful for the opportunity to work on the franchise and it was like we’d just jumped the first hurdle.

The whole team watched the first season over again and then we started weekly meetings with the director, Ryuichi Kimura, and scriptwriter, Masumoto. From there we started on the character modelling and then onto the beginning of production.

Every day is exciting

- What were you thinking about as the production got underway?

Numata: The series has a lot of foreshadowing that fans can feel excited about spotting so it’s something that can easily be enjoyed all over again no matter how many times you watch it. The show has a cute vibe and a relaxing story, but it has its dramatic moments too—maybe you could even call it post apocalyptic—and that mix is a major part of its charm. It was always like that even in the very beginning.

The character models for the second season are based on the original concept design by Mine Yoshizaki and they’re very cute. The images alone are enough to draw you in and make the show seem worth watching. The concept this time was to go rounder, softer, warmer, and Yoshizaki kindly supervised everything in minute detail for us.

The animal motif is also an additional draw as fans can enjoy figuring out the inspiration behind the characters. Actually going to the zoo and spotting Serval for instance, it’s going to stimulate your sense of curiosity too.

Even so, with it being the second season, we’re just really solidifying the series’ position. It might not really be reaching absolutely everyone, but that’s how we thought of it as we were working - something that fans of the first season, newcomers, and children could enjoy. Every day is exciting!

On the left, Numata’s father who founded Tomason back in 1988

- Could you tell us a little about the origins of Tomason?

Numata: First of all, to explain the name, there was an artist back in the ‘80s called Genpei Akasegawa who published a book titled Hyperart Thomasson. “Thomasson” has the meaning of something completely useless that lingers on pointlessly.

Whether it exists or not might be irrelevant, but in truth these things also have value and are interesting in themselves. We wanted to incorporate those ideas into anime production and so that’s why we chose the name Tomason. My father is the head of the company. I think it’s a nice name.

My father was working for the studio which produced Manga Nippon Mukashi Banashi but decided to start his own CG anime company after witnessing the growth of CG animation. Back then they were mostly making things like commercials and opening titles with CG. CG animation is in our DNA so of course it’ll be a big part of Kemono Friends 2.

I want more people to consider going into animation

A baseball cap featuring a Milky Panic Twelve design - an anime produced by “Anime Tamago” animation students.

- Before beginning this interview series, 300 anime fans from around the world were surveyed to find out what questions they’d most like to ask anime creatives. One of the top responses was “What can we as anime fans do?”.

Numata: I want to create more opportunities for animators. This is just an idea but as an example, making use of production technology, you could learn to appreciate the part of the anime that the animator you want to support actually worked on. Anime production involves countless different people, but we have to make a system in which animators can earn both money and attention. I really want people to know of and support more Japanese animators.

Fundamentally I want to increase the number of people who want to become animators. Even if you manage to make it into the industry, many people give up on their dreams because of money problems or because they can’t see a career for themselves. These days, because of digital technology, you can work from anywhere. That’s not to say that aspiring creatives can just get a job wherever they are, though.

It would be good to create a system where people who want to get into the industry could train and find work in the provinces. Online courses and chatrooms are booming right now but there’s nothing out there for anime. I want something to provide an overview of the whole process right from the planning stages to the storyboarding, leaving an archive behind, so that people out in the country can be involved in drawing and work together with us on producing anime.

I enjoy thinking about these kinds of projects and so I’d really like to be able to open the anime industry up beyond just the business focus.

The world is really changing right now. Values are shifting - Otaku Coin has become a hot topic while production technology and AI are also developing fast. I think the anime industry is heading in the right direction.

Appreciating the finesse

- Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to anime fans around the world?

Numata: I’m just so grateful that we got to be involved in such a hot property like Kemono Friends. As a company, we want fans and everyone involved in the show to feel reassured that we’re going to make something that everyone can be happy with.

I think anyone from anywhere in the world can enjoy Kemono Friends because of its universal animal theme. Japanese animators excel at production and direction, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show right down to the minutest details.

Privately, I really want to surpass the original series. That might sound a bit overconfident (lol), but I’m not ashamed to let you know how passionate I am about the project!

This project also includes fan participation, featuring Otaku Coin, a community currency which is set to launch this fall. The aspirations of Otaku Coin are to connect Japanese otaku culture fans and creators throughout the world and to create a community that transcends borders with a community currency.

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In collaboration with that, fans who read these articles will be able to use the Otaku Coin Official App to send the studios messages of support and gratitude. The support project will launch at the same time as the app in fall 2018. Please subscribe to the Otaku Coin mail magazine to receive the latest information and updates.

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