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BACKSTAGE - STUDIO-CONDUCTED INTERVIEW
Looking back at the Wolverine Anime
(Originally Posted August 3, 2012)
A series like the "Wolverine" anime doesn’t come together by itself. A team of creators had to come together under series director Hiroshi Aoyama in order to fully flesh out the story of Logan’s Madripoor adventure, with all its twists, turns, and stunning battles. With the complete "Wolverine" series now available on DVD, Aoyama discussed what it took to bring the most ferocious X-Man to life in his own anime. Read what the director had to say!
Question: What made you want to become an anime director?
Hiroshi Aoyama: In the 1960s and ‘70s, when I was still a child, TV was the number one form of entertainment. I ran home after playing outside and glued myself to the TV every evening. And my favorite TV shows were anime. The word “anime” was not even established yet back then. Growing up watching these shows made me think maybe one day I could work in anime. And it wasn’t only Japanese animation that I loved, I enjoyed the Hanna-Barbera and Looney Tunes shows as well.
Question: How long has it been since you ended work on "Wolverine"?
Hiroshi Aoyama: It’s been two years since I completed "Wolverine."
Question: Were you familiar with Wolverine from comics or the X-Men films?
Hiroshi Aoyama: I was involved in the production of the older “X-Men” animated series, so yes, I did have some knowledge.
Question: What was the thought process on making this version of Wolverine different from other versions we’ve seen (for instance, thinner and more lithe)?
Hiroshi Aoyama: Since Logan does have his human side, it’s not like he was born with lots of muscle bulk. I depicted him as a younger Logan before he became huge. I tried to show an era in his life when he had his troubles and struggled to overcome them in order to become a better person.
Question: Out of all the Marvel anime, "Wolverine" was the only series that really tried to adapt an existing story from the comics. Was there any trepidation about doing that? How did you try and make it your own?
Hiroshi Aoyama: The fact that there is an existing story behind my show did not make anything difficult. The story actually served as a guide and helped me put together the anime. With Logan leaner and younger, I think I was able to create something very fresh even though his battles with Shingen and Omega Red had been seen by fans in the past.
Question: What was the biggest challenge you encountered in working on the series, and how did you work around it? Was there anything limited by production restrictions or time constraints?
Hiroshi Aoyama: Logan was just going wild with his battles all the time, and I believe creating all of that was very difficult for the animators. With a super hero without laser beams or the ability the fly, all action scenes must be hand-to-hand combat. For example, a gunfight is easier to create than a boxing match. I had to keep an eye on how many frames we must draw given the time constraints. To make everything happen, we simply had to tackle the situation--draw, watch, fix, draw, fix. All of this involved Japanese KONJO, or perseverance and determination.
Question: Do you have any funny or interesting stories about the production process that you can share with us?
Hiroshi Aoyama: The surface of the Hudson River in episode one just did not turn out to be what I envisioned. We did a lot of retakes. No matter how many times I explained to my staff, they could not get it. I ended up raising my voice. All these moments are now good memories.
Question: If you could choose any Marvel comic to turn into an anime series, which one would it be and why?
Hiroshi Aoyama: I would pick X-23. I know fans would love the show. Please! Let me do this show!
Question: Would you rather have Wolverine’s unbreakable Adamantium claws or his healing factor?
Hiroshi Aoyama: Healing factor, definitely. Being able to stand up no matter how much of a beating you take is the strongest weapon of all. And I believe super healing is the dream of all humankind.
Question: Is there anything in the future that you're allowed to talk about that you're working on?
Hiroshi Aoyama: I am now working on storyboards of quite a few Japanese TV anime shows.
Question: Do you have a message to those who will be watching "Wolverine"?
Hiroshi Aoyama: Logan in my show is not exactly the same Logan you see in the original comics. However, the storyline and characters are based on an existing comic. The younger Logan battles his enemies and problems in both Tokyo and Madripoor. He fights off all enemies that stand in his way. Even if you find Logan’s look “too different,” give it a try. Logan is still the Logan you know. Wolverine’s got the Wolverine spirit. Watching him evolve across the series will be very fun. His healing factor and adamantium skeleton are just awesome!
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