Location: Anime Boston 2019
Interview Date: 4/20/2019
Anime Herald: You have done a tremendous amount of work with Space Brothers. Do you hope to see the series get one more season, so it can finish its story?
Yoichi Kato: Personally yes, I would love to have one more season. It’s hard to say how many episodes it would take. I want to see the anime go as long as it would take to complete the story from the manga. Space Brothers is still an ongoing manga. I got a lot of stimulus from working on that series. I want to continue to work on it and grow as a writer.
Anime Herald: How has Aniplex’s Script Room recruitment project affected your career?
Yoichi Kato: Just to clarify, I am not part of Aniplex. It hasn’t affected my career, since I have not been a part of it. However, I am very curious about this project, and would like to learn more about it myself.
Anime Herald: What was it like bringing such a classic ’80s anime as City Hunter into the modern era?
Yoichi Kato: Part of the appeal of City Hunter originally, whether the anime or the original manga, was that it took place in an actual city. Part of the appeal for the audience was that you could walk around where Ryo and Kaori had their scenes and say “oh, that’s in the manga.” or “oh, that’s from the TV series.” We always had it in the back of our minds that the realisticness was part of the appeal. Even though it was a title from the ’80s, we wanted to set it somewhere where it would still be relevant to the fans.
On the production side, we wanted to preserve the original ambiance and feel of the series, but put it against the modern scenery. We felt it was very important to preserve the original personalities of the characters and the relationships between the characters. We still wanted to make sure we updated it to capture the current emotional atmosphere, while maintaining the original feel of the characters so that fans of the original would not feel too jarred watching this film.
Anime Herald: Did you face any unexpected challenges, given the audience expectations for the characters?
Yoichi Kato: This was the first new City Hunter project in a long time. We wanted to honor the original fans and preserve what they liked from the original show. We wanted to stay true to the original as much as possible, [so as] to not disappoint the fans. That was a challenge.
Anime Herald: How did you first get into the industry?
Yoichi Kato: I started out as a broadcast screenwriter […] I started out doing scripts for radio, and then from radio, I transitioned to live TV and news broadcasts. A friend in the industry suggested there was need for more anime scriptwriters. Based on that recommendation, I decided to try my hand at it.
[…] I believe that is one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. From an emotional standpoint, back when I [saw] the reporters cover the story, and the editors edit the footage. Then I [came] in as the scriptwriter to set up the broadcast. You can say I come in downstream, further down the line.
When I moved into anime screenwriting, I was finally upstream at the initial starting point. It’s still a collaborative process, it’s not like I have sole control, but now I was coming in at the beginning instead of closer to the end.
On a side note, Aaron Sorkin said he started out doing broadcast scripts.
[We then had a brief discussion about Aaron Sorkin and anime going viral on Twitter. He noted that one of the trends in Japan is to try to create anime that can be turned into phone games.]
Thanks to Yoichi Kato. Also, thanks to the Anime Boston crew for facilitating things.