To Spread Anime Culture to the World —Avex Anime Department

– First, please introduce yourself briefly.

I’m Hiroyuki Tanaka from Avex Pictures. I work on anime projects and productions as an animation producer. Recently, I produced Wake Up, Girls, Yuri!!! On ICE, Hanayamata, DRAMAtical Murder and many more.


– You belong to Avex Pictures, but how was Avex Pictures established as an independent company originally?

Actually there was an anime department at Avex for over 10 years, which includes the famous series One Piece and Initial D. But to focus on animation and productions even more, Avex Pictures was established as an independent company. Since then, the company grew with more anime titles and more staffs.

– Is that because anime market is in demand today?

Of course. It has been very hard to sell packaged items such as anime DVDs/Blu-Ray discs, so we had to make a profit through various outlets such as concerts or merchandises. To do so, we reached a conclusion that we need a solid organization just for the anime department, so we founded an independent company.


The Beginning of Wake Up, Girls —After the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

How did Wake Up, Girls project start?

After the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, we discussed what we can do to help them as Avex, and this is how we came up with this project.


– Wake Up, Girls!’s background takes place in Sendai, but the anime’s story does not center around the Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake. Did you decide to set the story in Sendai because of the Tohoku disaster?

At first, we were debating whether we should do charity or not… But after we visited Sendai and talked to lots of local people, they told us that they want people to come visit Sendai or Ishinomaki to see the damage left by the disaster in person. They want people to visit Tohoku area, see the damage, go sightseeing and eat delicious local food.

Instead of charity or volunteer work, we realized that if we create an anime which shows the appeal of Sendai or local Sendai food and makes viewers want to actually visit the site and spend some money there, that would make a contribution. This is why we decided to portray the daily life brightly, not to fuel fear of the disaster.

– Did you actually go to Sendai, too?

Yes, I did countless times. (laugh) It was always a group of 5, 6 people with a director, production company, background artists and so on. With the local Film Commission’s help, we could check their recommended spots and also the area that people in Sendai wanted us to show in the anime.

– Why did you set Kita-Yonbancho station area as the main background?

We wanted to present the daily life, instead of the very touristy spot. Kita-Yonbancho was the area that was willing to help us out with the Film Commission’s help as well. All the shops and spots appeared in the show are mainly around this area because I think middle school and high school girls’ range shouldn’t be that big. (laugh)


– How long did it take until the anime series and movie premiered since the project is launched?

We started this project one day after I came back to Japan after Anime Expo in 2012! So we started it in summer 2012, and already announced the audition in September.

– That’s so fast!

It was extraordinarily fast. (laugh) I remember we were so rushed since we had to do an audition, then raise a talent and the character right away. The anime aired in January, 2014 so the prep time was about one and half year.


– The audition took place all over Japan, right? About how many applications did you receive?

Yes, about 2000 people joined this audition in total.

– Did you also attend all the areas?

Yes, I did. I saw all the candidates.

– So were the chosen voice actors different from other contestants?

I think they had something different which attracts us somehow.

– Did you already have a character design before the audition? Did you pick the winners to match with the design?

We had a rough design, but it has changed greatly so that it syncs with the voice actor.

For example, we added double tooth to a character, Nanami Hisami to match with the voice actor, Nanami Yamashita. As for a character, Airi Hayashida, we added a beauty spot like the voice actor, Airi Eino. It’s not like we are trying to match with all their features, but we are adding the talent’s charm partially.


As an Anime Producer

– As an anime producer, what kind of anime would you like to create?

For example, Yuri!!! On ICE made a big hit all in many countries, and we already announced a new movie. Wake Up, Girls is starting a new chapter this year, and they have been invited to international events not only in Los Angeles, but also in Singapore, Shanghai, Taiwan and so on. The aspect of the bright result might be different, but through these series, I really feel that the popularity of Japan’s animation is growing all over the world.

While there’s a language barrier in music, anime is accepted to many people in the world as it is with the original Japanese language, and I believe Avex Pictures is the valuable department which can directly disseminate to the world in the Avex group. I would love to keep producing anime series that would reach to overseas fans.

– Lastly, what is your kawaii, kakkoii and sugoi thing?

Animation itself is cute, cool and amazing! I really think it’s amazing that anime is one of the Japan’s valuable culture that can make a big influence in the world.





– まず始めに簡単な自己紹介をお願いします。

エイベックスピクチャーズの田中宏幸です。普段はアニメーションのプロデューサーとして企画や制作に携わっています。最近だとWake Up, Girls!やユーリ!!! on ICE、ハナヤマタ、DRAMAtical Murderなども手掛けています。






Wake Up, Girlsというプロジェクトの始まり――東北大震災を経て

Wake Up, Girls!がアニメに至るまでの経緯をお聞きしたいのですが、そもそもこちらWake Up, Girls!の企画はどのようにして立ち上がったのでしょうか?


Wake Up, Girls!の舞台が東日本大震災の後の仙台となりますが、それを軸としたストーリーではないですよね。仙台を拠点とする話になったのも震災が関係しているのでしょうか?

























例えばユーリ!!! on ICEは作品として海外としても大きな成果を上げて、続編(新作の劇場版)も発表しています。Wake Up, Girls!も新章がスタートし、ロサンゼルスだけでなくシンガポールや上海、台湾など海外のイベントにも呼んで頂ける機会が増えてきました。形は違えどWake Up, Girls!ユーリ!!! on ICE を通じて、世界における日本のアニメ人気を痛感しています。









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