Interview: Tatsuo Sato [Director, "Bodacious Space Pirates"]

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by Marlan M., staff editor, Inside AX –  Anime Expo

INSIDE AX: Your first animation job was at Asia-Do. How did you get your start there?

Tatsuo Sato: When I first got into Asia-Do, I was doing video – basically creating what happens between pictures. To be honest, I can’t draw very well, in my opinion. But there was a work called Esper Mami that I worked on the video for, as well as Kimagure Orange Road and Oishinbo. At the time, it was probably very unusual for someone to go from video to directing, but I really wanted to kind of be on the production side. So I was really lucky, I think, when I asked the director at the time if I could change over to the production side and he was very kind and let me be assistant director in the production realm. So that was really unusual, I think. And then I went on to work on things like Chibi Maruko-chan: the Movie, as well as a show called Akazukin Chacha, and I eventually went on to working on Nadesico.

IAX: Speaking of Nadesico, you mentioned at your panel [at AX 2012] that all the animation technology is one reason you like doing science fiction. If you had today’s technology back when you were doing Nadesico, would there be anything more you’d want to add to it, or anything you couldn’t do just because of the technological constraints?

TS: Well, with Nadesico, definitely. First of all, I would have made space a lot prettier, as well as the spaceships, all of the the ships they fly around in.  And also at that time, the amount of pixels you had to work with was very different, so if you wanted ships, they had to be very big or you couldn’t tell what they were. But we definitely would have worked with that, and we would have been able to make ships smaller and more detailed as well.

IAX: So Bodacious Space Pirates just finished, and you have the movie you’re going to be working on. Can you spill anything about the movie?

TSWe’re still planning, and still writing the script – still in that stage, so there’s isn’t a whole lot I can say in that aspect. But one thing I can definitely say for sure is that I want to show space and the ships in a very big, very grand way. I want people to watch it and actually feel - Whoa. There’s spaceships flying in space. And the one I’m working with now is kind of how to go about making everything on a grand scale, making everything big and screen-worthy so that people will enjoy it and feel that epic feeling. That’s one thing we’re working on.

And actually, a lot of people feel – or have felt recently – that the space opera genre with battles in space is old and kind of overdone. But in actuality, a lot of people, I feel, like Bodacious Space Pirates, so I’m really hoping a lot of people watch and like the film version as well. That might be a challenge, as well, kind of holding people’s attention and doing something that they’ll enjoy.

IAX: Are there any other projects that you have of your own design that you’re working on that are more on this epic scale?

TS: There’s not a whole lot I can say, but one thing I can say is that there is one anime – one production – that I started a little before we started Bodacious Space Pirates movie. I can’t say a whole lot about it, but I can tell you that it is a robot anime . Robots will rage war in this production.

One thing I have to contend with is, there’s only one me, and I probably can’t do two productions (at once), but we’ll see how that goes. But the announcement won’t be for a little bit of this new production – it won’t be for a little while.

IAX: You do these epic, amazing sci-fi series with a lot of character, but you’ve also produced slice of life stuff like Azumanga Daioh. Have you thought of going back to that style, or producing more slice of life series?

TS: I feel actually that right now there aren’t a lot of people doing sci-fi, space operas, those kind of grand scale things, which is one of the reasons I’m doing it. Basically, I feel like the market is flooded with all the other genres with a lot of different kinds of anime. Perhaps once that genre not exactly dies out, but becomes less flooded with all these other anime perhaps I’ll go back to that genre or another genre.

IAX: Thank you very much for coming, it’s been an honor talking to you.

TSThank you very much.

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