The title of director Shoji Kawamori’s latest project ‘The Next’ was announced at the Shoji Kawamoto New Project Briefing event on Tuesday 17 October. This new TV anime series is called Juushinki Pandora, which means ‘heavy sacred unit Pandora’ in Japanese, and will air in Spring 2018.
General director Kawamori, whose works include Macross and Aquarion, appeared on stage at the nicofarre in Roppongi, Tokyo. He welcomed the day’s surprise guests, Tomoaki Maeno and Nao Toyama, and talked about his latest anime series with them.
Kawamori’s new project was announced in July last year at Anime Expo 2016 in Los Angeles, and only identified as ‘The Next’ at that time. He will be the general director, mechanical designer, and original creator. As he is a legendary anime creator whose works include popular anime such as The Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Aquarion, expectations for the new project have been rising both in Japan and overseas.
The cryptic details of the new project were finally made clear at the event Shoji Kawamori New Project Briefing. The venue was crowded with fans and interested parties who were eager to be part of the historical moment. The number of people who watched the event on the nico nico live stream exceeded twelve thousand. Here is the report on this much-anticipated event.
The Long-Awaited Title is… Juushinki Pandora!
The title design for the new project appeared on the massive LED screens which surrounded the venue, and we all identified its title, Juushinki Pandora. The story takes place in the aftermath of the Xianglong Crisis, an unprecedented disaster caused by a next-gen energy device, the Quantum Reactor, which went out of control 7 years prior to the story. It depicts the struggle of humanity who are on the brink of extinction after being persecuted by the peculiarly-evolved strange new organism known as the B.R.A.I. (Biological Revolutionary of Accelerated Intelligence).
Kawamori’s trusted staff members whose names are familiar in his works, Hidekazu Sato (director), Toshizo Nemoto (series composition), and Risa Ebata (original character design), reunited for the new project. Satelight is responsible for the animation production.
Kawamoto stated the concept of the new series as ‘a sense of speed in the contemporary world’. He explained that every technology, such as AI and biotechnology, has been evolving at terrific speed these days, so he feels as though humanity is swamped by them. He stated that the series will ask audience questions such as ‘what can humanity do against the blazing advancement of technology?’ He also disclosed that the title of the series Juushinki Pandora implies his doubt that Pandora’s box may have already been opened in our era. Referring to VR images, 3D printers, and the wall screens in the nicofarre, he mentioned the ongoing technological revolutions in many areas, and declared his strong determination to depict ‘the remaining hope for mankind in the era when Pandora’s box has been opened.’
One of the best features of Kawamori’s works is his mechanical designs. The visual of variable mecha, Moev, was shown on the screen for the first time. Based on an automobile, it’s designed to be able to make its way through every kind of unstable terrain destroyed by the B.R.A.I. Its powerful action scenes regardless of the state of the terrain and its profound face left the audience in awe.
Kawamori pointed out several interesting facts of the series: introducing a taste of monster movies in spite of being a mecha anime, the protagonist, who is in his 20s, is unlike the usual teenage boys and girls. He told the audience with a smile, ‘It was a big challenge to depict battle scenes without songs.’ The remark was referring to the uniqueness of his previous works and it made the audience laugh.
Tomoaki Maeno as Leon! Nao Toyama as Chloe!
In the second half of the event, the first PV was premiered. It showed a scene of the everyday life of protagonist Leon Lau and his sister Chloe Lau helping each other, followed by a gripping mecha action scene including its transformation from a vehicle to a humanoid. The PV enchanted the audience just in 1 minute and 45 seconds. The names of the cast members were also credited in the video. When Tomoaki Maeno (Leon) and Nao Toyama (Chloe) appeared on stage, they were welcomed with big cheers from their fans.
Leon, a talented scientist who was involved in doomed Xianglong Crisis, is an awkward guy in everyday life, but has strength and guts when necessary. Kawamori explained that his decision on casting Tomoaki was due to his versatile and charming voice acting. Maeno confessed that portraying a protagonist in Kawamori’s works was one of his objectives as a voice actor, and said with a tense voice, “I’m extremely honored.” I’m sure we can enjoy many aspects of Leon in the series.
Chloe is an independent girl who takes care of her big brother, Leon. Kawamori described his casting decision on Touyama, who holds a regular position in his works, ‘I wanted her to play a role in which she can chat a lot’. She is a voice actress who can render toughness to live through a crisis as well as highly sensitive feelings. There are high expectations for her scenes with her brother.
Leon and Chloe are not blood-related siblings but have a ‘family pact’, a promise between them that helps them survive under the severe circumstance of their world. The pact includes a variety of rules from rather comical ones, such as rule no.5 ‘never walk around in the nude’, to serious ones, like rule no.17 ‘No matter what, protect family (Chloe)’. The ‘family pact’ has made them stronger and is related to the fundamentals of the story.
The teaser visual showed the two camping outside and has the tagline, ‘To live, we formed a pact.’ I wonder how their family is going to survive in that unforgiving world.
At the end of the event, Kawamori said, ‘my staff members are determined to create something new which can take the lead in today’s fast-changing world. Wait and see what will be conjured up from Pandora’s box. Thank you very much for coming today.’ His words wrapped up the event.
Juushinki Pandora will start airing in Spring 2018.
Shoji Kawamoto New Project Briefing
Date: Tuesday, 17 October from 20.15
Guests: Tomoaki Maeno, Nao Toyama, Shoji Kawamori (original creator and the general director), and Takeshi Washizaki (MC)
TV Anime Juushinki Pandora
Official Website: http://www.project-pandora.jp
Official Twitter: @unit_pandora