I missed a bit of the beginning of the panel but arrived just as the marketing director of Aniplex, EJ Rivera asked the last of the questions to the staff as per the usual way to start off the panel.
- Q: What do you do as a producer of Aniplex?
Yokoyama: In Japan, alot of the anime is based off of novels and manga and there are alot of them. Part of my job is reading through these works and I look for works which would be suitable for anime. If we were working on an original story, we would be working with the creators. My job is to create the framework for the anime.
They opened the floor for questions.
- Q: Why did the production team of Drrr!! leave Brainbase and form a new studio? Will there be more Baccano!
Yokoyama: There are alot of production companies in Japan. As a producer gains experience, alot of them go ahead and create their own companies. Misato of Brainbase who is the same age as me and followed that path. That’s fairly common story in Japan. As for Baccano!, I do love the show and would love to see more from it. Right now, there are no news about that.
Q: What are your influences that made you become who you are today? And since we love the Drrr!!x2 theme song so much, could you sing a bit from it? *audience cheers*
Toyonaga: Wah! *audience laughs* For your first question, I’ve been acting and screen acting since I was 10. My first voice acting was when I was about 16 or 17. I learned the difficulties of acting with your voice which is different from stage acting. Not sure by my looks, I’m currently 31. So I’ve taken on alot of acting jobs. Everything is the same, whether it is stage or voice acting. The energy, forms of self expression. As for the second request…. *breathes deeply* So you want the refrain from ‘Day You Laugh’?
He sang the song beautifully…and only cracked a bit when he hit the high note which he later apologized for. Truly, anyone who sings on the dot without warmup definitely would have similar results. It was awesome though and met with much applause and cheering.
- Q: Toyonaga-san, when did you find out during the production process or before that Mikado was the founder of the Dollars? Was it something that you knew all along or was it something that was told to you later?
Toyonaga: I learned about it just around when we were working on episode one. The director told me about it and I was like ‘Wah!’ I was really surprised. I never got any of the details or how the story would be revealed. Only when I got the script for each episode, I was excited to find what happens.
Q: Yokoyama-san, which is more challenging, adapting a novel or manga or creating from an original story?
Yokoyama: Definitely challenging to work from an original show and the challenges for both are different. When you’re working from a manga or novel, you have to understand the creator or writer. When you’re creating something from scratch, that is a great challenge but it is also very rewarding as well.
Q: Toyonaga-san, you play a variety of roles and sing alot of character songs. Which is your favorite character and which is your favorite one to sing? Which song would you like to sing for us?
Toyonaga: Eh? You want me to sing again? *audience laughs* As to my favorite character, they all have different personalities and at the recording session, I do get partial to all of them. When I’m asked, which is my favorite character, I always say ‘all of them’. When it comes to character songs, there are difficult songs and there are easier songs to sing. But I don’t have a ranking of songs which I’m partial to. But at gunpoint, I would say ‘Tsuki no Nagi’ from Kamigai no Asobi, the character song for Totsuka. As for the song request…which would you like?
Fan: My sister is in love with your character song for Kamigami no Asobi, so if you would sing Takeru Totsuka song, she would love it.
Toyonaga: *makes faces* Wait, I need to recall the lyrics. *sings refrain from ‘Tsuki no Nagi’* *hums the instrumental portions*
It was awesome to watch and listen to him belt out the song with such fervor and energy. He was hilarious tapping out the beats to the song in his mind. Truly a treat to hear him sing acapella. He commented at the end that he didn’t realize he would be singing so much during the panel.
- Q: Yokoyama-san, what made you decide to create a second season of Drrr!! after so long?
Yokoyama: We had Drrr!! season 1 in 2010. It got good reviews so we wanted to make a continuation but we had other commitments such as the continuation to Natsume Yuujincho. It took 5 years to get back but now it’s on the air.
Q: *in Japanese* The those who know the manga and anime for Natsume Yuujinchou, the main character, Takeshi’s hair color is different. Yokoyama-san, why did it change? Also, Toshiyuki-san, when was the first did you realize you had a good singing voice?
Yokoyama: As you mentioned, Natsume’s hair color is like white or silver in the manga while in the anime, we made it brown. Manga is usually printed in black and white on paper and it is a very flexible medium to coloring. We could have left his hair color as silver in anime, but it takes place in Kyushu which is the countryside of Japan. All the characters there are not so city slick and it’s a small place with a small school and town. In order to preserve that feel, we had to change the color. As you can see, most Japanese people have black or brown hair. If there was only one character with silver hair, it would stand out. Or you would have to change the hair colors of other characters to pink or blue to match and that would lose the feel of the small town.
Toyonaga: I never really thought I had a good singing voice. When I listen to my own voice in anime, I’m embarassed. There are good looking characters that I get to play so I do my best to match their looks with my voice.
- Q: Toyonaga-san, which is your fav character from Drrr!! aside for Mikado?
Toyonaga: Ehh? Ahhh? *thinks* Celty! *audience applauds* I have a question to all the Celty cosplayers, do you get to see through your helmet? You do see? You can’t?!? Celty is the object of legend as the Black Rider. But despite the one with no head, she is the one with the most common sense. I like that kind of character.
- Q: Yokoyama-san, who is your favorite in Drrr!!
Yokoyama: That is a very vexing character to ask someone. It sounds very Japanese to say this, but I love all of them, they’re like my children. But at gunpoint, I would say Celty. She is such a girl and especially in season 2, she gets to be lovey dovey aside from being so serious.
Q: Spoiler warning! What was it like doing the pen stabbing scene? *audience awwws* What was your reaction when you found out about it?
Toyonaga: Ahhhh…when I first found out about the scene, I wanted to find out what was going through Mikado’s head. I really tried my best to understand him. That must be one of the implusive actions of an adolescent and it’s not something an adult is supposed to understand. Afterwards, during the stabbing of Aoba’s hand…it looks very painful.
Q: Do you have any plans to visit New York? Because you really should.
Toyonaga: I really want to go! Rockafeller Center? Okay!
Q: You mentioned before that was part of your job was reading different works and finding what was good to adapt to anime. What about Drrr!! did you feel it was good to adapt?
Yokoyama: Another work by the author of Drrr!!, was Baccano!. It was directed and created by the same staff and we all loved Baccano!. After Baccano!, we learned that it was more popular in the states than in Japan and we wanted to make another show in the same style by the same author. That was how I came to choose Drrr!!. And since Drrr!! takes place in Ikebukuro, we wonder if overseas audiences would be able to understand the feel which is similar to New York and seeing the turnout today, I can see that some have found the same feeling in America. I’m very impressed with the turn out today.
Q: Do you ship any of the characters?
Toyonaga: Hey, hey, hey! Hey, hey! *audience laughs* One of the themes of Drrr!! is love. There are various forms of love in the series. Hey, hey, hey! *audience laughs* That was the last question?!?
The closing of the Q&A meant the usual Aniplex raffles with awesome stuff from Japan. The numbers were pulled from a bag by Toyonaga and Yokoyama. First off were two sets of the Drrr!! pins with chibi version of the characters. Then there were the Drrr!! posters. Toyonaga-san bought two copies of his cds which he autographed right at the table. The last was an autographed ‘Day You Laugh’ poster. The winning number was also announced by Toyonaga-san in English. Toyonaga-san took pics with some of the attendees who received the prizes. Yokoyama-san and Toyonaga-san gave their closing statements.
- Toyonaga: Thank you for coming today. We have a screening tomorrow which I hope to see you there. Yokoyama-san and I are really enjoying our stay in the States. Thank you!
They plugged tomorrow’s screening in Video 1 with Toyonaga, Yokoyama and Bryce Papenbrook with a Q&A after the second season screening along with more raffles.