Blame! is the debut work of Tsutomu Nihei, who won the 39th Kodansha Manga Awards with his series Knights of Sidonia (serialized between 1997-2003 in Kodansha’s Afternoon). On 20 May 2017, the Blame! movie will finally come to Japanese cinemas for a limited time of 2 weeks. Fans have been waiting 20 years for a movie adaptation.
The pre-screening was held on 12 May 2017. At the screening, Hideki Moriya, who is on the board of directors at Polygon Pictures and has been working on Nihei Tsutomu works since Knights of Sidonia, came together with Netflix content director Julian Lai-Hung for a talk event.
They talked about the charms of Blame! and the challenge of releasing it to the world, as this movie will be available all around the world via Netflix from 20 May 2017.
Cinema or Netflix? A Movie Where you Can Decide the Viewing Style
Event day: 12 May 2017
Venue: Sony PLC Preview Room
Guests: Hideki Moriya (Polygon Pictures), Julian Lai-Hung (Netflix)
I want to enjoy the movie as if in the theater through precise settings on Netflix (Hideki Moriya)
Blame! is a movie people all around the world would enjoy (Julian Lai-Hung)
Please tell us something about Netflix first.
Lai-Hung: Netflix was founded in Silicon Valley in 1997 and started a service called ‘Internet TV’ in 2004, mostly providing movies and series. Currently we serve over 190 countries worldwide except China, North Korea, Crimea, and Syria, and have gained over 100 million members. Our service is available in Japan since September 2015 and Blame! is the first original movie from Japan to be released all over the world on Netflix.
How was the idea (for the release of the movie on Netflix) formed in the first place?
Moriya: At the beginning of the production of Knights of Sidonia we at Polygon Pictures heard that Netflix was becoming a big topic in the US but they only had 50 countries in service then. There have been times when we produced movies that were aimed at the western viewers like TRON: Uprising or Star Wars: The Clone Wars, so it has been decided that Knights of Sidonia and Ajin should be distributed through there first before being broadcast on TV. And through that connection the production of Blame! was decided. If it weren’t for Netflix, we wouldn’t have been able to make this movie.
Does that mean you worked together from the planning stage onward?
Lai-Hung: Polygon Pictures is producing with great quality and on a global stage, having the West in their view as well, so I think it goes well with the concept of Netflix. We think it is important to work together with top creators from the early planning stages onward. Among our viewers are many sci-fi fans, action fans, and anime fans, so it would be great to have an improved movie following on from Knights of Sidonia to show them. Blame! is the first original movie we have from Japan. The original manga is magnificent, so I think this work will find fans all around the world.
The movie will come out simultaneously in cinemas and on Netflix. Why did you challenge yourself like this?
Moriya: Netflix was only natural, but I wanted as many people as possible to see the movie, including at the cinema, so I decided to have this new form of publishing. In terms of promotion, I thought we could make our movie more well-known if it were connected to both companies. The movie is full of details, so I would like to the viewers to watch it closely through Netflix but also enjoy the movie on cinemas on the big screen with an amazing sound system. The sound especially is of high quality, as we worked with different sound systems, Dolby Atmos, 7.1ch, 5.1ch and Bak-On Mix to make the sound quality most enjoyable. We made it possible to differentiate the Netflix and cinema version.
Please tell us about the charms of Blame!.
Lai-Hung: Blame! is a very conceptional story and sci-fi fans as well as anime fans will like it. Once you have seen it, viewers will probably agree that the picture quality is amazing and it is suitable to watch in high quality HDR, enjoying the fine differences in colors.
Moriya: Compared to Knights of Sidonia, the technique has improved. We were able to show different lights on different characters and put them on the cinema screen so it looks like we get a deeper view into their world.
Tell us about the special screening at Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
Moriya: Even if it’s a special screening, it will be judged and I managed to send in the English subtitles to review. Of course, all the staff was happy to hear about the special screening. I think part of the reason why this is screened was because there are many fans of Knights of Sidonia, Blame! and other works of Tsutomu Nihei all around the world and in Europe.
Lai-Hung: From the first scene on, there is action that will grab the viewers heart and not let go until the end of the movie, so I think it’s a story that the viewers can easily enter and many people will want to watch. After the decision to screen the movie at the festival, there were many inquiries from different countries. I am looking forward to the reactions of the audience from around the world.
What is the charm of Japanese animation?
Lai-Hung: Mostly, it is connected to the Japanese culture and I think Japan uses it to express themselves and show what they are proud of. They tell new stories without end and shaping them is the charm of anime. Especially the cel-shaded anime are charming and art in itself. I think it is interesting when I hear the new idea of a creator and it seems like something new and never done before.
Moriya: I think Japan is less bound to religion or rules than other countries and it is rare to have so many manga and manga magazines in one country. Foreigners often tell me that the ideas are more flexible.
Please tell us a bit about your future plans.
Lai-Hung: We hope to be able to increase the number of movies and series one can watch on our page and I would also like to engage myself more in the anime business. I hope we can increase the number of anime fans through Netflix.
Moriya: Netflix always wanted to work together to make the anime fans go wild and this time we finally worked together. I will try my best from here on as well. And as for Polygon Pictures, we want to improve the movie industry while also producing works that will surprise the world and make it remember us.
Anime Movie ‘BLAME!’
Released in Theaters throughout Japan on 20 May 2017 (Running for Two Weeks Only)
Distribution: Clockworks (105 Mins.)