INTERVIEW: Great Pretender razbluito Staff at Studio Wit and Production I.G. Discusses the Project’s Preparation and the Fans’ Reactions

At Anime NYC 2023, Anime Trending had the exclusive opportunity to interview the staff behind Great Pretender razbliuto, namely Director Hiro Kaburagi, WIT Studio President George Wada, and Production I.G producer Hitoshi Ito.

Great Pretender razbliuto had its world premiere at Anime NYC 2023, and is slated to have a North American theatrical release in 2024.

Thank you for your time at Anime NYC at this event! We learned a lot of new information about what’s next for Great Pretender. Can you talk a bit about the preparation and creative process behind this and making this new project announcement?

Hiro Kaburagi: When we thought about continuing the series, we left off the last series with Xiang Xiang Dorothy. So, what is happening with her is where we put the starting point for this next continuation by making her the main character, putting her out in front, and then setting the place of the story in Taiwan. From there, we sort of created the story around that. Those were kind of our starting points, and it took shape around those points.

When we announced the original series, it sort of had locations all around the world, and we took that into consideration when we made the announcement. For Great Pretender, because the original series had places in North America and there was such a great fan reaction to it, we decided to make the announcement in America for this continuation of the series.

For Great Pretender, it has a mix of thrilling adventures but a lot of comedic moments that resonate well with overseas fans. What should we expect from the new anime project?

Kaburagi: As you know, new characters have been added to the new project and the comedic touch is something that I personally am very confident in. We played around with that a lot, and what I really want the audience to look forward to is these new characters and getting to love them as much as they loved the characters in the first season.

All the characters from the previous season have a life of their own and really distinct personalities. And through working with those characters in the last series, I was able to add my own touch to them, but also to ad lib, and that was something that I actually felt very confident in. It was actually kind of easy to really take up the scriptwriting from Kosawa-san.

For Kaburagi-san — since we last talked was actually at Anime Expo [2019] — Great Pretender was an original anime project, and you kind of touched on how there weren’t any existing fans because it isn’t an adaptation. Now that the series has a global audience, fans are really looking forward to what’s next. Could you talk about how to incorporate that expectation into the new anime project?

Kaburagi: Usually, it’s thinking about Japanese fans. But for this, because it’s been watched all over the world, what I would say is the audience that I’m imagining [for this piece] is a little bit older, a more adult audience.

And because we have a shorter amount of time to tell a story than we did with two full seasons, there’s a lot of explanation that had to be cut out — meaning that the audience would actually benefit from watching it several times because there may not be things that you catch on a first pass of watching the new project.

My hope is that people will watch it several times and pick up things. There’s more and more depth to it as they watch the film after each time.

For fans not familiar with Great Pretender, how would you describe the show or series?

Kaburagi: It is going to be another con game. But there’s less of the sort of trickery of con artists I would say, in this iteration of it. There’s more focus on the human drama of the story and the movement and thoughts of the characters.

But of course, if I was telling someone to watch it [and] for those who are watching it for the first time, I would definitely recommend them to watch the previous series beforehand. It’ll help inform them in this upcoming iteration. And, as you can expect, there will be plot twist[s] and turns, as you’ve come to expect from the previous iterations.

For the new anime project, would it be expected to watch the first original animation before watching the movie?

Kaburagi: Great Pretender will still be on Netflix. And then as you know, Great Pretender razbliuto is going to be released through Crunchyroll. [So] yes, audiences should go to the first season on Netflix.

Was there any involvement with Netflix for the new Great Pretender movie?

Hitoshi Ito: Crunchyroll licensed Great Pretender razbliuto, so I advise that you wait for Crunchyroll to release more details about how that’ll be coming out.

Obviously, Netflix was behind the original production, and we’re very thankful for that. To get that backstory, we recommend going back and checking it out on Netflix.

While a lot cannot be said about the new anime project, what can you say to fans as they look forward to it?

Kaburagi: [Like] before, it’s comedic, so I would love the audience to sit back and relax and enjoy it when they’re watching it. That would be my advice.

Since you were able to also show and premiere it here at Anime NYC, this is the first time you got to see the fan reactions to specific scenes and moments. Did that kind of meet your expectations, whether it’s surprises on how the fans reacted?

Kaburagi: The reaction was actually better than I even expected it would be. [Here], we got much more of a vocal reaction from the audience than if we had done the premiere [in Japan]. So, it was more than I expected. But it was also great to see that live reaction in person.

Is it appropriate to say that this new anime project is a sequel, even though it’s highlighting Dorothy?

Ito: As far as the content of the story itself, it’s more of a spin-off. But as far as I see it and as far as Crunchyroll sees it, it’s a continuation. Yeah, it’s kind of a gray area.

Is there anything that you wanted to share that you didn’t get a chance to share at the panel for fans to learn about?

George Wada: Great Pretender is an anime that we definitely would like to continue to create. In order to do that, we would love the viewers’ support and for more fans to watch it and see what happens with the rest of Laurent and his gang as well.

Kaburagi: So, as we talked about earlier, this is kind of a side story with Dorothy. But if we do continue with the characters from the previous season, we hope that by having her be the main character in this way, she can immediately jump into the action with the rest of the crew. And then, if we’re able to create that continuation, it would be everybody from the last season as well, and it would be a huge and spectacular show that’s like a big bang!

Are there any final comments you want to share as well?

Wada: We hope that a lot of people watch it and spread the word, and then we can bring back all the characters to tell them an even bigger and more exciting story. That’s part of the reason [why] we wanted to come to Anime NYC to get the word out and to get everybody’s eyes on it.

Does that mean if a lot of fans support this film, we can see more characters featured? As in, all the characters?

Wada: Our team really, really, really wants to do a big all-out story with all the characters that’s more of a sequel or a continuation of the first two seasons of Great Pretender. But it is riding on how well this side-story of Dorothy’s performs. It’s really riding on that, and that’s why we really want all Great Pretender fans to come out in full force.

Great Pretender is currently streaming on Netflix. 

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