Attack on Titan Panel with George Wada, Ryoutarou Makihara, and Katsuhiko Kitada of WIT STUDIO

Attack on Titan Panel (Wada, Makihara, Jones, Kitada, Partridge)_MG_7982

Attack on Titan Panel_MG_7959Theatre A was crowded with people, an honour guard of Survey Corps members crouching low before the stage as Andrew Partridge of Anime Unlimited welcomed MCM London Comic Con‘s special Anime Guests of Honour, George WadaRyotaro Makihara, and Katsuhiko Kitada of WIT STUDIO.

Speaking lightheartedly of a wish to establish a branch of WIT STUDIO in London – or to at least fashion a feature set in London – and of a recent visit to Oxford, the three guests answered questions from both the host and the fans, offering insight into the studio’s origins as Studio Number 6 of Production I.G.

Following the screening of a short trailer for the upcoming animated film Hal – directed by Makihara, and featuring a story about the death of a loved one and the android grown to aid in the grieving process of a young girl – the guests spoke of the film’s “subtle sci-fi” and its setting in Kyoto, a city with a significant link to the past of Japan. 

When asked about the differences in approach between the studio’s two projects, the panel replied that despite current fan favourite show Attack on Titan‘s very visceral horror and despair, it was actually similar in theme to Hal, both works ruminating on despair and the struggle to keep moving following loss.

Wada said that following work on Production I.G‘s Guilty Crown, they had wanted to make a feature film, and even though they planned to make many features after, he hoped that fans would always remember that Halwas the first one.”

Speaking of the challenges of making Hal, the guests again underlined the similarities between the feature and their work on Attack on TitanMakihara said that the whole story was difficult to realise due to the challenge of imbuing each shot with significant meaning and depth despite the short length of the film.

According to Makihara, Hal does not have any heroes, yet despite the science-fiction elements, the focus was very much on everyday life and how tough it can be.

Like other acquisitions of Manga Entertainment UKPartridge stated that Hal would be screened in Leeds and other film festivals and had already made an appearance at several other events.

Asked how Guilty Crown came about and the lessons learnt from the show, Wada explained that Guilty Crown‘s Shun was actually a depiction of director Tetsuro Araki, just as the rage felt by Attack on Titan‘s principal character, Eren Yeager, was an expression of Araki‘s anger.

The staff of WIT STUDIO described the amazement they felt about the international impact of Attack on Titan and the parodies of the opening sequence found on YouTube. 

When asked about plans for the future, Wada expressed his interest in making a longer feature and to continue making material aimed at teenage boys, just as he hoped to continue working with Makihara and Kitada.

During the question and answer session with the audience, the WIT STUDIO stated that whilst they could make no promises, the second series of Attack on Titan would certainly be appearing in the “not too distant future” and playfully asked fans to make so much noise that it could be heard in Japan. Meanwhile, Kitada said that often during the work on the series, he felt like he was a member of the ‘Animator Corps’ waging war on the Titans, such was the challenge presented by the material.

With so many questions asked by European fans in spoken Japanese, Wada stated that he hoped to continue making teenage anime because of the impact that anime made on him at that age and his intention to share these feelings with others. Makihara declared that whilst he had the same intent, he also hoped for a wider audience, and to continue to fashion stories about ordinary people, good and bad, and the challenges faced by death and loss.

When one member of the audience suggested a fan theory that the Titans represented the less wholesome characteristics of otaku culture in general, Kitada replied that Titans represented anybody, stating that they might be the person next door, or someone passed by in the street.

Attack on Titan Panel (Makihara and Wada)_MG_7965After stating that their influences ranged from early work fashioning claymation films to the famed director of Studio GhibliHayao Miyazaki, and Ghost in the Shell, the group talked about which pieces they liked best amongst their own work. Wada revealed that his own favourite thus far had been Hal, whilst Makihara had most enjoyed episode four of Guilty Crown. Kitada had also enjoyed work on Hal, being flattered to be picked for the project by Makihara.

With an eye to the future, Wada asked fans to continue to support the future and remember the name of WIT STUDIO. Makihara hoped that he would be able to meet fans again following future projects, whilst Kitada, with true grace, requested that fans continue to express their love for anime and to dress up and enjoy shows to encourage him to find the energy to make future projects.

Smiling wryly, Wada looked at the audience as he rose from his chair and declared, “I love the UK!”

 

Photos by Kay Ibrahim

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