Following The Empire of Corpses and Harmony, Genocidal Organ (Gyakusatsu Kikan) is the third and final movie in a project that wanted to animate all the works of late novelist Project Itoh. It was released in cinemas in Japan on February 3, 2017. This is the second shot of the noitaminA movie project and Genocidal Organ was meant be released as the project’s first movie. However, it had to be postponed due to the production studio, Manglobe, filing for bankruptcy in October 2015.
The future of the movie was uncertain until producer Kouji Yamamoto, who is also the founder of Twin Engine, set up Geno Studio in order to complete the anime movie. The production of Genocidal Organ resumed and the movie was finally released in February 2017.
Yamamoto used to work at Fuji Television where he was involved in noitaminA projects from the beginning. He left Fuji Television in 2014 and established the anime planning and production company Twin Engine. With partnerships from other production studios (Science Saru, Studio Colorido, and Wit Studi) it has been producing many anime works.
I asked him about his thoughts now and then, and the role a producer plays in the anime industry.
[Interview and composition] Ayaka Kawamata
Nationwide Premiere from February 3 2017
People who are content with their everyday lives will question themselves after watching the movie
── It’s finally been released. I know that so many fans have been patiently waiting to watch the movie. You have experienced troubles with it, like the delay of its release due to the bankruptcy of Manglobe.
‘I felt nervous all the time while working with both studios, Manglobe and Geno Studio. I was worried about what the final result of the movie would be, even before Manglobe filed for bankruptcy. When I heard that they went bankrupt, I had mixed feelings. While I was shocked at such a terrible event, I somehow felt relieved that I didn’t have to release a movie which wouldn’t meet people’s expectations. It can be said that I escaped from the worst situation. In retrospect, I was lucky enough to be able to continue the production of the movie, as it might have been abandoned at that point.’
── So you don’t think it was such a bad thing to postpone the release of the movie in terms of what the result would be?
‘It turned out to be for the better since production could be continued until its release. If it was cancelled, all of that hard work would have been ruined.’
── I think there were two choices when you decided to postpone the release: axing the production completely or starting over again.
‘There were many possibilities during the first week after the decision of postponing it. It could have been abandoned or I could have tried to find other production studios which would have taken over. There were many problems as well, such as how no studio would have been up for the work or there hadn’t been enough money to establish a new studio. After various considerations, I thought that establishing a studio of my own would be the most credible solution, and decided to re-start the production less than three weeks after the announcement of the movie’s postponement.’
── Before the establishment of Geno Studio, you established Twin Engine after you left Fuji Television in 2014. Could you tell me the reason why you wanted to leave the company?
‘As an executive editor of noitaminA and a producer, I felt that what I was doing had grown stagnant, or, to put it better, I felt that I had done everything I could do. Perhaps the influential ability of TV media was approaching its end. It had been 10 years since the start of noitaminA at the time. I considered my work for the next 10 years if it were to be in the same company. However, I decided to leave because I wanted to create a bigger framework for the anime industry. I also wanted to work on the production side, not the commissioning side where I had been previously.’
── Could you expand on ‘a bigger framework’?
‘I pressured production studios to produce the highest-quality work while ignoring their cries about how stressed they were. I now think about how I can support companies who are on the verge of their companies going into the red if they are purely chasing quality. From the viewpoint of the production side, I want to make a system which enriches production studios. I’d like to create an environment which lets young people concentrate on creating anime, and helps to properly use talented people, like Shukou Murase, the director of this movie. I am engaged in an effort to consolidate a business scheme that meets the efforts of production studios.’
── In which way did you feel the power of the media had changed?
‘Television used to make everyone happy. Everyone was interested in what the next ‘Monday 9PM drama on Fuji TV’ would be. They talked about what the original source material was, who the director or the scenario writer was, and what the casting was like. I think I’m in the last generation of the era when mass media was the most influential media. The change was evident at the time, but it was difficult to come to terms with for the people who were already in the TV industry. Since I had been working at noitaminA, which was not mainstream and was in a midnight programming block, I was able to realize the approaching change, as well as recognize a sense of impending crisis to the TV industry. The measures that I took to strengthen noitaminA prepared the foundation to strike out on my own business in the end.’