Location: Anime Boston 2017
Interview Date: 4/1/2017
I want to start by noting that all questions to Shingo Natsume had to be cleared in advance with his management. There were some advantages to this, such as him having a printout of the questions in Japanese. On the flip side, this also meant that we were unable to ask follow-up questions.
The first few questions were about ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. Because the answers contained spoilers, I am simply going to say that Natsume was happy with both the finished product and the audience response. He said that he felt relief upon finishing the project. He noted that, since it was intended for a Japanese audience, he didn’t feel much pressure about the overseas response.
My first question took a slightly different direction, as I asked how he decides on a visual language for a series.
“It goes through a lot of planning and depends on the intended audience. I imagine how they [the audience] would react, but in the end it comes down to my senses and sensibilities.” -Shingo Natsume
The following question moved back to ACCA, specifically asking if the series was more or less challenging than previous projects.
“ACCA was challenging as it took trial and error to get the style.” -Shingo Natsume
He added that ACCA was very voice actor heavy, relative to other shows.
The next question inquired about his career path. Natsume noted that he worked his way up from animation to directing.
“There is strength in versatility. In a visual medium, translating from a concept or idea to a drawing is a useful skill. Relying on other people means something will be lost in the translation.” -Shingo Natsume
Next in line was a question about One-Punch Man.
“Matching the One-Punch Man [anime] was a challenge. The design was hard to match.” -Shingo Natsume
“Talented staff are hard to find. It was hard to assemble the One-Punch Man team. We only had time to for twelve episodes.” -Shingo Natsume
He also noted that the writers for both ACCA and One-Punch Man were very supportive.
My second (and final pre-cleared question) focused on how he came to choose the styles for ACCA, One-Punch Man, and Space Dandy.
“Keeping the target audiences in mind. Space Dandy is a pure comedy. One-Punch Man is an action hero comedy.” -Shingo Natsume
He noted that capturing the movement of the hero was key, and that he was aware that the One-Punch Man manga was very popular in the United States. It was a personal point of pride that the anime was well received.
The next questions were about his personal style and tastes.
“My style is to have no fixed style. Other people would accuse me of having a style though. It may be that I understand myself the least.” -Shingo Natsume
As for his tastes:
“Sci-fi comedy is my favorite to work on. Science fiction is also my favorite to read or watch. Working on Space Dandy was fun.” -Shingo Natsume
The final official question was about his day-to-day job.
“I work in a small world. I have a crowded desk, a small studio, and the work involves a lot of tedious repetition. The reward from the fans is great.” -Shingo Natsume
That was the end of the pre-cleared questions, but because he had talked so much about designing shows for various audiences, I wanted to ask a follow up about the differences between Japanese and American audiences. Natsume and his team agreed to take one more inquiry.
“This might sound funny. Japanese audiences like nuance and implicit presentation. Americans like explicit presentation. I’m more nervous about Japanese audiences.” -Shingo Natsume
And with that, our time was more than done.
Special thanks to the Anime Boston staff, including translator Takayuki Karahasi. Thanks to Shingo Natsume as well.