Winter 2020 Anime: Official Info, Airdates & Trailers
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!
Azur Lane is a currently-airing anime based on the smartphone game of the same name. A shoot-em-up featuring warships personified as beautiful young women, the game has been a big hit all around the world. The anime adaptation focuses on Enterprise and her story.
One day, a mysterious enemy called the Sirens invade the planet. To fight this unknown enemy, Earth has formed an alliance called ‘Azur Lane’ to protect the planet, the surface of which is now 70% water. Thanks to the mysterious power of the ‘wisdom cube’, young women with the power of warships are able to put a temporary stop to the invasion. After a fierce battle, some of these warships split off into a separate faction. They call themselves ‘Red Axis’ and believe that humanity should gain strength using the power of the Sirens. To keep an eye on Red Axis, Azur Lane decide to put their military power into a new base. As the girls start to embrace their existence as humans rather than warships, more intense battles await.
The anime is directed by Tensho (Kiniro Mosaic, Grisaia) and was produced at his studio, Bibury Animation Studio. Masayuki Nonaka (Kiniro Mosaic) headed the character designs and general art direction. The series composition and screenwriting were handled by Jin Haganeya (Kamen Rider Gaim).
MANGA.TOKYO had the pleasure of interviewing the producer of the series, Junnosuke Ito.
I’ve worked on anime adaptations of games before, such as Touken Ranbu and Uma Musume. Azur Lane may be a shooting game at its core, but the story and world-building are a very important part of it. Games that put a lot of focus on the characters, such as Azur Lane, often have very detailed settings. I think this lends to its popularity for sure. I intended on creating a great story using these elements as a foothold. It was with that in mind that I approached Jin Hanegaya to handle the series composition. He’s very well known for writing game scenarios and has written for gutsy shows such as Kamen Raider. He’s also a fan of the game.
That’s right. I think that intention can be seen in our choice of Tensho as the director. He has a reputation for being able to depict cute characters in cute environments. Azur Lane can’t be about just one or the other. We had to apply both these aspects from the game into the anime.
I think it is very important to make sure you can empathize with every single character in some way, especially for something based on a game like this. Every character from the series will already have their own set of fans. Red Axis are acting against the characters we chose as the mains. However, they have their own set of ideologies, and it’s only natural that they are the enemies of Azur Lane, who just happen to be the protagonists of this anime. I think it is important that this series does not have any characters in it who are actually evil, and the staff members who worked on it were quite conscious of that. Still, it’s not as though all the characters have the same way of thinking. They take pride in themselves and push their feelings when they need to. Even though some of their ideas may seem a bit reckless, they stick to the rules. We need to make sure that we pay special attention to keeping these things in balance. After all, it is a story based on war, so I intend on handling it with great care. I also think it could be quite insulting to real-life history if all we were doing were replicating it but with pretty-girl ships. I got pretty nervous when I realised that anything could go for this series.
The director’s job is to supervise the screening process, but I feel like director Tensho also paid a lot of attention to recreating the details from the game’s illustrations, such as the gradation of outlines of the characters’ eyes. The colors used for the characters in-game are stunning, but they would look too flashy if we put them straight into the anime as-is. I’m thankful that director Tensho was able to take control and balance everything out. Although this increases the workload, the results can be seen on-screen. I can only judge the work of the director, but I think the characters are shown off in a charming light and it all looks very beautiful.
It can be said that the USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the best warship in the world. Even as a ship she has so many stories to tell, and making her into a human character gives her even more depth. Considering how much she has to offer, it was a no-brainer to have her as the protagonist. Instead of choosing an international ship purely for marketing purposes, wouldn’t it just be easier to simply choose the best warship in the world?
It isn’t written in the script that Enterprise stands on a ship or that she jumps down with dauntless bravery into the sea, so the idea came from the director when creating the storyboard. During some storyboard meetings, we would say ‘it could be done like this’ or ‘it would be good to do that’, but I think in the end most of the visual ideas and humor came from the director. One idea that came from Haganeya rather than the director was Kaga’s aircraft carrier-like weapon — the game is, after all, a naval battle game, so we musn’t forget about naval battle tactics. With this in mind, we try to do everything we can to include such tactics. It’s a lot of fun to attend meetings with Haganeya and Tensho because both of them have a very flexible way of thinking and sometimes bring ideas that are a little unconventional to the table.
The series is still airing so there are no concrete plans yet, but I think it is possible. Only characters that can take action in this series do so, which means there are plenty of characters who haven’t shown off their full set of charms. There were times during the storyboard meetings when we’d have conversations such as ‘we’d like to handle her in this way if there were a “next time”‘. Of course, the staff are all full of ideas. It’s certainly not impossible, and I’d definitely like to try if we had the opportunity.
The response was a lot larger than I expected — it was the 9th most trending topic on Twitter right after the first episode aired. I was really happy to see that so many people were talking about it. It seems that the main reaction to the first episode was that of complete surprise, which was just as expected. [laugh]
When I read through the impressions, I felt that the word ‘sisters’ was an important keyword. Enterprise has sisters like Yorktown and Hornet, Akagi, Takao, and Akago. I think it became an important theme throughout the whole series that their relationship is sister-like, since that kind of deep human relationship is interesting to watch in something that is supposed to be a ship.
I was very happy that there were so many viewers who simply enjoyed watching the episode without over-analyzing things. It seems viewers like the characters, so I’m not exactly against this way of watching. We try to have as many characters appear as possible, so if there are viewers who are just happy to see their favorite character animated, then it makes the all the staff’s hard work worth it. After all, many fans pour all their love into one character.
darth04alex98 asks: Did you create the story from the game?
It wasn’t based completely on the game. The game was a foundation that Haganeya and the director used their skills on to make it blossom.
yushiro_cos asks: Do you have a favorite Azur Lane character?
Like the director, I have to stay neutral when it comes to my stance on each of the characters, so I can’t say I have a favorite. I can’t really call them my favorite characters, but I’m interested in Akagi and Kaga as they have quite a low drop-rate in the game. So I guess as a producer I’m pretty interested in them in that respect. [laugh]
I would be happy if the anime piqued people’s interest in the background material, especially as the ships in Azur Lane are from all over the world. The history of the ships is really interesting, and I’m glad I was able to learn so much thanks to getting involved in this project. It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction, and each of the ships has many interesting stories to tell. Growing up in Japan, I remember seeing some of the Japanese ships in books or magazines when I was a child. However, I didn’t know much about ships from European countries such as Germany or the UK. For example, I didn’t know that the HMS Belfast, a ship that participated in naval battles, still exists and is permanently situated on the Thames River as part of the Imperial War Museum. I only learned this after working on this series. I’d say that in turn, this could be a good opportunity for people overseas to learn about Japanese ships and history. In fact, Akagi and Kaga were found at the bottom of the ocean just this year! They may be associated with very dark parts of history, but I think it is still meaningful to remember the past. Enterprise is the main character, but likewise, she may be associated with bitter parts of history with the Japanese. We aren’t here to talk politics, just to learn the important things that happened. Interest in these things may lead to discoveries about cultures other than your own. That would make me happy for sure.
Thank you very much for this interview!
Born 1987 in Saitama
Founder of Qrout Inc after working at A-1 Pictures, VAP and Toho.
He produced GJ Club, Donten ni Warau, Barakamon, Touken Ranbu Hanamaru, Genocidal Organ, Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Lu Over the Wall, Fireworks, Should We See It From the Side or the Bottom?, Uma Musume – Pretty Derby and more.
Editor’s Note: To bring fans the best possible finale of the series, it has been announced that episodes 11 and 12 will be airing in March 2020. You can check out episode 11 on 13 March and episode 12 on 20 March next year. Please enjoy the game until then, and maybe you can learn even more about the history of the world’s warships in the meantime.
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!