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BACKSTAGE - STUDIO-CONDUCTED INTERVIEW
Looking Back at Blade Anime
(Originally Posted August 1, 2012)
"Blade" anime hit shelves yesterday, but today, we’re giving you an inside look at what it took to bring this entire series together with Mitsuyuki Masuhara, the show’s director! Though Masuhara’s first Marvel project was "Blade," he was certainly no stranger to the world of anime. Having worked on a variety of projects such as “Paradise Kiss,” “Death Note” and “BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad,” Masuhara was thrilled when presented with the opportunity to bring his talents to Marvel!
Question: What made you want to become an anime director?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: I was attracted to telling and delivering a particular theme while creating an entire world.
Question: How long has it been since you ended work on "Blade"?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: It’s been almost one year since the project was completed. I finished last September.
Question: How did you come become involved with the "Blade" anime?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: When I was offered the opportunity to work on a Marvel project, I knew it was something totally different from the projects I had worked on in the past. I found that very fresh and interesting.
Question: Were you familiar with Marvel Comics and Blade before this anime?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: In all honesty, I had very little knowledge of Marvel comics and its characters.
Question: How do you think the Japanese approach informs the "Blade" anime? Were there things you wanted to incorporate to differentiate it from the films and comics?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: How Blade carries his sword on his back, and how he used blades as his weapons are very Japanese. In addition, the deadly sword techniques he uses to end each battle are a style typically seen in Japanese samurai films.
Question: Since Wolverine shows up in "Blade," did you talk to the creative team that worked on the “Wolverine” anime? If so, how did that help on your depiction of his character?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: There really was no sharing of information or creative ideas with the Wolverine team. The “Wolverine” anime project was completed way before "Blade" so I was able to watch “Wolverine” and concentrate on learning whatever I thought was necessary for our project.
Question: Where does your inspiration come from? Did you have any literary or films influences?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: Ideas I might not have had initially tended to come out of the blue. I posted a memo inside my brain, and when I did something totally unrelated, the ideas just popped up. Trying to squeeze out an idea did occasionally result in effort-backed ideas, but they tended to not be as extraordinary as something that came out of nowhere.
Question: You’ve worked as a Director on many anime series before – how would you compare your experience working on "Blade," as opposed to others in the past?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: With Blade, I had to touch upon the dark areas of one’s heart. I never had to do that on my other projects. Depicting the movements of his heart and feelings were the most difficult. While Blade is a tough guy who isn’t easily moved emotionally, there’d be no drama if he was never shaken. Maintaining a balance between the rigid Blade and the emotional one was nerve-racking.
Question: How was it working with your Lead Writer, Kenta Fukasaku?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: We met once a week. Fukasaku wrote the script for each episode and once we got his script, we assembled to discuss that episode and make adjustments.
Question: What was the biggest challenge you encountered while working on the series and how did you work around it? Was there anything limited by production restrictions or time constraints?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: Time constraints were the biggest challenge, which is inevitable with a weekly broadcast TV anime series.
Question: Which vampire breed did you like working on best?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: He wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but the most memorable was Agus the Shaman. He tried to cure his vampire wife but ended up bitten by her and started becoming a vampire. Before he completely turned into one, he left Blade a bottle of holy water and the fate of the human race. The look of Agus from behind when he left to die in dignity was quite powerful.
Question: If you could choose any Marvel comic to turn into an anime series, which one would it be and why?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: I would pick Blade again. After working on a Blade project, I am now strongly attached, emotionally, to the character. My project did have a story that reached a conclusion, but I would love to do a series showing what happens next.
Question: What was your favorite part about working on the series?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: Showing what went through each character’s mind without making the character say everything was very interesting. Making them tell their story by having them feel instead of talk was a great challenge.
Question: Is there anything in the future you’re working on that you can talk about?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: I’m currently working on an anime project that’s based on more of a normal “everyday” life story. The character isn’t human though for some reason, so that’s a similarity with Blade.
Question: Do you have a message for those who’ll be watching "Blade"?
Mitsuyuki Masuhara: The "Blade" anime I directed features an original story and cannot be experienced in any other form. I hope you all enjoy this "Blade," presented in a totally new and surprising style.
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