Re:CREATORS, an action packed sci-fi and fantasy anime, began airing during the Spring 2017 anime season. With 22 episodes planned, the anime has consistently appeared in Anime Trending’s chart. During Otakon 2017, Aniplex of America brought out Ei Aoki, the director and series composer of Re:CREATORS. We got to sit down during his panel.
Ei Aoki, Director of Re:Creators Panel Transcript:
Aoki: Hello, everyone. My name is Ei Aoki. I am the Director of Fate/Zero, ALDNOAH.ZERO, and Re:CREATORS. This is my second Otakon and right now, we are actually in the middle of broadcasting Re:CREATORS, thus the studio is bustling. I can’t be absent from the studio for too long as a result.
Aniplex of America: What is your work like? What do you do as a Director?
Aoki: It can be a little difficult to explain. That’s because I’m not the animator, illustrator, or the original creator. My job is to relegate all the work to the individuals involved and to ensure everyone is doing their job. All is well if everything is going according to plans, but there is always deviation. The director tends to be the job that gets a lot of resentment from the staff.
Aniplex of America: What is a highlight so far of the production of Re:CREATORS?
Aoki: There is some action in Re:CREATORS, but it’s a story about being creative. As I made Re:CREATORS, I focused myself with the question of what it means to be creative, and what the joys and sufferings of being creative are. I hope that the final message and the answer to the question is that being creative is a rewarding task.
Aniplex of America: What a sweet sentiment. We have a lot of creative people here today with their amazing Re:CREATORS cosplay.
Aoki: I agree! During yesterday’s autograph session, I saw a lot of people cosplaying from Re:CREATORS and it’s great to see people cosplay my work.
Q: It was rumored that Re:CREATORS was originally supposed to use real characters from stories. Was it always the plan to use stand-in characters or was there any thought of using real characters?
Aoki: This is the first time I heard this rumor! Re:CREATORS was created by Mr. Rei Hiroe. By the time I was given the story, the characters and their backstories were already well established. The universe of Re:CREATORS was then written up, and I hope you get to experience it.
Q: Rei Hiroe wrote a lot of long dialogue and monologue in the manga. How was the process of transcribing the conversations into the anime?
Aoki: If we translated all the monologue, the anime scenes would be monotonous (laughter). However, Mr. Hiroe’s style consists of long monologues, and we wanted to retain as much of his articulation. Therefore, striking a balance was a challenge. My personal opinion is that the length of the dialogue and the monologue in the animation is the best length.
Q: I understood there was an actual funeral for Mamika Kirameki. That is an entire endeavor. How did that come about?
Aoki: I don’t know who came up with the idea, but it might have been someone from Aniplex. When I saw a video of the event, it looked like a very serious and realistic funeral. It must have been a tough time for Mamika fans. I hope that it helped enhance the viewer experience of Re:CREATORS.
Q: What do you think was the most challenging episode of any anime you’ve directed and why?
Aoki: To be honest, all anime episodes are challenging, but something that comes to mind right now would be episode 1 of ALDNOAH.ZERO. ALDNOAH.ZERO was my very first story that wasn’t based on original material. I also founded studio TROYCA to make ALDNOAH.ZERO, so there was a lot of pressure. It was very challenging to balance my efforts as a creative director and manager of the studio to make sure it didn’t run to the ground. However, looking at TROYCA now, we are currently making Re:CREATORS so we didn’t go out of business, which is good (laughter).
Q: Souta Mizushino is a type of protagonist that is often overlooked in other anime. In Re:CREATORS, fictional characters are brought into the universe due to popular demand. What were some of the challenges working with a protagonist like Souta?
Aoki: Mr. Hiroe wanted a protagonist that was very ordinary. As you just mentioned, the main character stands out if they have something extraordinary. For the characterization of Souta, Mr. Hiroe and I had a lot of discussions about him. Souta does embody a lot of negative characteristics but Re:CREATORS is also a journey of Souta’s growth as a character. I hope you will all stick with the anime till the very end.
Q: Could you talk about the process of making the exciting action scenes in your anime?
Aoki: The most important aspect that I value about my action scenes is how well that scene suits the character. For instance, if the actions are flashy but if the character has no emotions, then the action scene is dead. I believe there also has to be a motive behind the character’s action whether it’s being angry or expressing sorrow.
Q: Re:CREATORS predominately features fan artwork from websites such as Pixiv. How do you feel about derivative work, fan work, or creative work from the community?
Aoki: As creators ourselves, it is rewarding to see our work parodied by other people. We do experience a great deal of happiness when we see secondary uses of our work. It is something we ask more of from the community.
Q: Who is your favorite character from Re:CREATORS?
Aoki: Re:CREATORS is full of interesting characters such as Selesia, and it is rewarding when they get popular. I am personally fond of the creators in Re:CREATORS, for instance, Nakanogane. I sympathize with him because we have a character who is chubby, cute, and in the anime industry!
Q: The framing of Re:CREATORS is stunning, especially in the fight scene of episode 1. How does your staff go from the 2D storyboards to animating the incredible action scenes?
Aoki: I love films and a lot of Hollywood movies, so when I am doing the storyboarding, I draw a lot of references from them. For example, when Upitiria is attacking, there is a scene where the camera spins around a car. The inspiration for that framing came from Steven Spielberg’s War of the World movie.
Q: Re:CREATORS has taken a new creative approach on the “fan beloved” recap episodes by completely redoing scenes, dialogue, and having fun with it. Was that planned from the beginning of the production and how did it come about?
Aoki: To be honest, a lot of recap episodes are often desperate moves for anime productions. In the case of Re:CREATORS, we had always intended on making recap episodes with new storyboards and screenplay. For instance, in the Re:CREATORS’ recap episode, Meteora tended to deviate and started to talk about extra things. I was slightly afraid viewers might have taken it poorly. However, after the broadcast, there were great reviews so I was relieved!
Q: Since Re:CREATORS is super meta, what would you do if Souta showed up at your house?
Aoki: I would tell him that things got worse because he didn’t act quickly! (laughter)
Q: Does studio TROYCA give tours to fans?
Aoki: Basically, TROYCA is not open to public tours. However, if you manage to catch me, we will see what we can do! Also, we don’t have any English speakers at TROYCA (laughter), so you may need to bring someone to translate.
Q: How much creative influence do you have as a director on the series you produced?
Aoki: It does vary depending on the situation. If we had a lot of time and budget, a lot of my own influence and opinions could be reflected in a series. If we are on a tight deadline, I would not be able to give too many orders. Otherwise, the studio would come to a halt so I have to be careful. However, in the end, all the works would be attributed to my efforts, so I always have to make choices I won’t regret as the director.
Q: What is your favorite part of directing Re:CREATORS?
Aoki: I think that would be when I befriended Mr. Hiroe, someone who I’ve always greatly respected! As I said earlier, Re:CREATORS is a story about being creative, so it made me question myself about being creative, and that is one of the best parts.
Aoki: Thank you for coming today. I have been to a few conventions and have done a few panels. I’m always afraid of no one showing up. I’m not a great talker but it is rewarding, and it is great to see everyone. It encourages me to do my best with Re:CREATORS when I go back to Japan.
Thank you once again to Aniplex of America for bringing Ei Aoki to Otakon 2017 as well as providing the opportunity for us to attend the panel!
Re:CREATORS is now simulcasting on Amazon Anime Strike