fanime 2008 gurren lagann panel

“Do we make a Gundam-like animation?”

So I just endured twelve hours of Rick James, Hare Hare Yukai, and caramelldansen– oddly enough, neither Rick James nor caramelldansen bothered me as much as Hare Hare Yukai… and is this what modern animefandom has become? Rick James, Hare Hare Yukai, and caramelldansen?– and why? To bring you the most detailed news from Fanime‘s Aniplex/Bandai/GAINAX Gurren Lagann panel. People who at the panel, you should have known it was me on that last question I asked. ;)

Honestly, I wasn’t planning on going to Fanime until I heard that most of GAINAX would be attending. And, boy, they showed up. At this panel, most of the animation staff sat in the back heckling (in Japanese) the poor executives on stage, Hiroyuki Yamaga (CEO and Co-Founder of GAINAX) and Yasuhiro Takeda (producer of Gurren Lagann).

The panel started pretty normally with Bandai and Aniplex talking about the English premiere on Sci-Fi channel on July 28, 11PM. They also talked a bit about the upcoming sub-only release (9 episodes per 2 DVDs starting in July, hopefully) and a later dual-audio release. They also asked for ideas for goodies for the special edition DVDs, and most people suggested action figures, with one brave individual suggesting a Yoko bed pillow cover. The GAINAX folks were looking bored, so they asked if anyone in the crowd had a question for GAINAX.

A bit of silence, as most people seemed more interested in finding out about the dub cast (no comment from the panel), but I had a question: “How did you come up with the idea for Gurren Lagann?”

The answer: Toys. Yamaga-san seemed happy to answer this one. I’m paraphrasing the answer. He was quicker than what I could write down. He said that he met with a business contact who asked him, “Do we make a Gundam-like animation?” The contact continued, “Gundam is awesome, appeals to little kids and old school fans, and it can alternate between the two audiences easily.” Yamaga-san then pointed out that another company is responsible for Gundam and continued that this person was an earnest person and took the advice seriously. He then later ran into a president of a toy company who told him that “Giant robots are eternal. They never go away.”

Bandai’s translator/producer/blogger, Takeda-san, and Yamaga-san from left to right

“Being a creator, I took it as a challenge. Trying to make a robot show that appeals to kids and adults.” So I think what I wrote about Code Geass a few episodes ago is pretty apt. The two GAINAX guys did talk briefly about their other giant robot show and how they wanted Gurren Lagann to be different from that one. What is interesting is that they came up with the basic mecha concept and the name, but most of filling out the story was left to the director and the scriptwriter.

(I got to the dealer’s room kinda late, but I couldn’t find any Gurren Lagann toys. Pretty much everything was Gundam or Eva. Maybe at Fanime 2012, they’ll get more popular… and people will stop dressing up as Bleach characters. One can dream.)

The next question concerned the sixth episode, and if GAINAX drew inspiration from their older work. “We are GAINAX. We will parody ourselves.” (Bandai later clarified that the TV version of the sixth episode will be shown on Sci-Fi, but the DVDs will have the DVD version or maybe both versions.) A big part of why they had two episode sixes was that they had a hard time with the Japanese censors. It was not because they were running late or whatever.

A few questions were raised about the Gurren Lagann video game, and no one had a comment. But many sneaky Chiko-like smiles.

Someone then stupidly asked what was their favorite GAINAX series, and the Bandai guys mocked this guy for “not showing up at the GAINAX panel” while the GAINAX guys retorted with “Why do you [fans] always ask this question? No answer.”

After that, a question about GAINAX’s financials that was answered with “We walk a tightrope of bankruptcy and lowering our animator’s wages.” (Note: most of the animators were in the audience.) “We don’t do more than 26 episode series because we’ll go bankrupt.”

Bandai then confirmed that Simon will be pronounced “Shi-mon!” They also confirmed that Setsuna is gay. Okay, I made that last part up.

Keeping with the naming question, how did they come up with the name, “Gurren Lagann“? “‘Gurren Lagann‘ sounds Japanese and foreign, so that was good. Honestly, the meeting to decide the name lasted three minutes.”

Someone then asked a great question about the drill motif. Yamaga-san answered that “The director insisted we needed drills from the very beginning. Why? Because for every revolution, it always moves forward, much like the human race.” I then tried to see if I could get Yamaga-san to do a “My drill is a drill that will pierce the heavens!” but I got drowned out by the sea of crazed fanboys and fangirls.

Next question was “Why did it start airing on Sunday morning? Wouldn’t afternoon be a better time?” The panel (don’t remember who, my notes only said, “ZOMG, cute Nia cosplayer in the third row.”) answered that Sunday morning is actually the new primetime for anime. They said that a few years ago, the weekend afternoons were great for anime, but now it has shifted that Sunday morning is where the ratings are at. They aimed Gurren Lagann for that time slot, and they had to deal with more censors or something to that effect. My notes aren’t clear… thanks Nia… (sorry, no picture!)

Favorite character time! For Yamaga-san, it was Lord Genome. Actually his whole answer is, “I don’t care if North America hasn’t seen the series yet, I’m the frickin’ CEO, and I say ‘Lord Genome'” Then someone (I think one of the Bandai guys) mocked a fansubber for the getting the name wrong. For Takeda-san, it is Yoko. I think he might have a Yoko pillow case.

After that was a question on the large faced mecha design… “Director’s idea to do robots with large faces. Because it is strange, we do it.”

Then morphed into a random rant about Kamina… “We didn’t want Kamina to overshadow Simon, so we had to have him exit stage left.” Then something to the effect of “I’m the frickin’ CEO; I can give out spoilers” which the translator translated into something much nicer sounding.

“Why does Yoko wear a scarf.” “I will have to ask the character designer.” Boring. I was at least hoping for a “Because she’s cold!”

GAINAX animation staff standing up

Probably my favorite question of the night, just because of both its randomness and brokenness: “Is there any significance to Simon turning the core drill to the left rather than the right?” No one wanted to touch this question with a ten-foot pole, but eventually Takeda-san did some shadow boxing and answered, “It’s like twisting a punch, right?”

“Yoko’s age is a secret” was then announced over cheers and jeers of “14! 14! 14! 14! 14!”

Someone then complimented GAINAX on the music, to which they replied, “The music director (Iwasaki) didn’t want to do a giant mecha show, so he was reluctant. The director really wanted to work with Iwasaki-san, so he agreed to let him do as he pleased. When we first got the music back, we didn’t know how to use it. (Laugh) But it all worked out the in end. It was great.” Later adds that they hope the OST and the translated liner notes will make it to the US because those liner notes explain how Iwasaki-san came up with the music.

Then I got to ask my second and final question, “Are Simon and Kamina apologies for Shinji Ikari?” Brought the room down with laughter as well as a face palm from a few panelists. Yamaga defiantly said, “What do you mean apology? Why does we have to apologize? Shinji is a great character.” He seemed like he meant it.

They concluded with a few teasers on their upcoming projects. Besides the two Gurren Lagann movies (recaps most probably), they are working on a shoujo movie and two other mystery series: one happy, one sad. Takeda is involved with the sad one.

Okay, I’m done, I have a strange mix of never give you up buuuuu~n la la la in my mind. Now I remember why I don’t go to cons more often.

29 Responses to “fanime 2008 gurren lagann panel”

  1. There is only two things I want this year, A drill that will pierce the heavens and A real life Yoko for my wife. Hope it will happen this :P

  2. year

  3. Yoko as a wife… can see even cook? (Nia can’t and if she is better then Yoko at everything)

    Yoko would deffinetely live in USA since Yoko without her gun is not Yoko

  4. I live in San Jose..

    SO I went. SciFi channel is a new approach.

  5. So they didn’t apologize for inflicting Shinji Ikari on the world? In any case, Simon is definitely not an apology for Shinji. He’s just a mentally stable version that ran away from his friends.

  6. As expected, a strong starting and ending question.

    Yep, this is our blogger.

  7. I’ve noticed that american pannels are a lot… more roudy than japanese pannels. I wonder if the staff was at all offended by the aptmosphere…

    Now before I turn into a complete weeaboo, I must say, thank you for doing this. Very intresting stuff. Atleast no one asked “Will there be an ‘End of Gurren Lagann’?”

  8. man, I really wish my local con which is the same weekend could be anywhere near as awesome as that. Instead we have a total of 2 voiceactors who show up to be guests and then a whole lot of cosplayers who think they are important enough to be guests. >_> I need to talk my friends into going to a real con eventually.
    ….not to say I’ve never been to a real convention, I’ve been to AnimeExpo back when it was still in Anaheim including it’s last year there. And another good one I enjoyed was A-Kon. I’m just saying I need to get my friends to do the same and experience a real convention.

  9. Ikari Shinji is a great character?…if they say so…

  10. This is why I’m afraid of these conventions. Annoying fankids.

  11. I’m one of the few people around who doesn’t hate Shinji, looks like…

    He may have been a whiny brat, but he DID have his moments, and was a decent character in his own way.

    Nothing, of course, compares to the GAR majesty of Simon and Kamina.

  12. …Y-you seriously asked that question about Shinji? Geez, man. These are the creators themselves. They’re all Japanese and polite and crap!

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we got an “End of Gurren Lagann” as punishment just for that comment, lol.

    BAD Jason! No biscuit!

  13. Shinji is obviously a subtle character. The fact that the fan-dom love to hate him to this day says a lot about the character writing for eva. As a side note I hated him less watching the first rework movie. Except for the whole Rei incident… should have gone with option 3 you weak bastard.

    Oh and Jason is I have to watch End of Gurren Lagann, complete with nightmare inducing joker fish gummen tearing one of the female leads apart, I’m blaming you.

  14. I have got to say, Fanimecon is running pretty well this year. This panel is proof of that. :D

  15. Well, to be fair, Gurren Lagann wasn’t the first anime to have mechas with giant faces – I remember seeing one years ago in Taiwan that had elemental mechas (water, fire, wind) that were summoned as huge heads (and only heads), and they did this whole transformation sequence thing that turned into regular mechas. I never did figure out the name for that series, however.

    I’m one of the few that actually likes Shinji – granted, he is a bit awkward, but that further adds to the fact that it was a well written character.

  16. Is there some reason why they would have to dodge a question about the significance of the direction the drill was turned? My assumption would be that it’s just finding an answer to be polite, but the way you phrased it made me wonder.

    Also, the fact that you mentioned the Nia cosplayer but did not take (or just did not show) a picture… that’s WRONG, sir. Wrong.

  17. “‘Gurren Lagann‘ sounds Japanese and foreign, so that was good. Honestly, the meeting to decide the name lasted three minutes.”

    That is amazing

  18. throwing darts at a board with name suggestions or random nonsensical words would have been funnier.

  19. That was you at the panel? Go figure. At least I have some idea now other than, ‘oh that guy who lives in the bay area’. Heh.

  20. “Also, the fact that you mentioned the Nia cosplayer but did not take (or just did not show) a picture… that’s WRONG, sir. Wrong.”

    Quoted for Great Justice

    Kogarashi would be ashamed. He’d have taken a picture with his Maid Guy High Definition camera.

  21. There’s no way Kogarashi would even need a camera. Photographic memory and all.

  22. Rick James? I think you mean Rick Astley.

  23. I was at Fanime today! I took a bunch of cosplay photos with the GL crew and LOL’ed at a GAR men playing Para-Para.

  24. Anything that appeals to the style of goth kids will get a ton of cosplay since they love that shit anyways. There was a lot of vampire knight, d.gray-man, and trinity blood kind of stuff there.

  25. Anything about Garlock?

  26. >> Is there some reason why they would have to dodge a question about the significance of the direction the drill was turned? [snip] Also, the fact that you mentioned the Nia cosplayer but did not take (or just did not show) a picture… that’s WRONG, sir. Wrong.

    I honestly thought that they didn’t care. They had the same look in their eyes that Shatner got at his first Star Trek convention. I didn’t see the cosplayer again… I even went to the Gurren Lagann cosplay gathering. Though I found like three or four other random Yokos who didn’t show up at the gathering either. I also found it funny that no Kaminas showed up, but there were a bunch indoors hanging out with people in Bleach costumes.

    That was you at the panel? Go figure. At least I have some idea now other than, ‘oh that guy who lives in the bay area’. Heh.

    Always welcome to say “Hi.” I might be liveblogging Code Geass tomorrow from Fanime, but I’m not sure. Part of me just wants to rummage through the Dealer’s Room again.

    >> Rick James? I think you mean Rick Astley.

    Gimme a fucking break. I said I was tired.

    >> I have got to say, Fanimecon is running pretty well this year. This panel is proof of that.

    Fanime has been excellent. I think getting a hacking cough and forcing me to cancel my original plans for this weekend was for the best. Except on my wallet. Ouch. Maybe I won’t go back to the dealer’s rooms.

    >> Anything about Garlock?

    Actually asked about! See the next post.

  27. No kidding! That was you? (You were there?)

    I was the guy in the crappy Ranma cosplay that asked which non-Gunmen (Ganmen?) character was the most difficult to design.

    …still felt like a moron when I found that they didn’t bring their designers so they couldn’t answer. *snif*

  28. “Are Simon and Kamina apologies for Shinji Ikari?”

    I had to fight myself from laughing out loud at work just now.

  29. I was there. It was awesome. The Bandai guy was so much better for translation than the people the next day at the “Unlocking Gurren Lagann” panel.

    I was the scarf-questioner. I am sad not to have gotten an answer.

    I think my favorite response was definitely the one about twisting the core drill to the left. Awesome.

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