by Marlan Moore, staff editor, Inside AX – Anime Expo
If you’re looking for the definition of multi-hyphenate, look no further than Danny Choo. We were lucky enough to sit down for a chat with Choo during AX 2012 and talk with him about the forthcoming Mirai Millenium, the anime based on Choo’s own anime character, Mirai Suenaga. We also learn more about his new Japanese lifestyle-based program, Japan Mode.
Inside AX: We’re here with Danny Choo. It’s very nice having you here.
Danny Choo: Thank you for having me.
IAX: So you just came from hosting the AX Fashion Show. It looked like a lot of fun!
DC: It was awesome, it really was. I think it would be great to do it for longer, because there’s just so much content there packed into a very short time. And I think there were a lot of people who wanted more of it as well. So I think there should be many more fashion shows at future installments of Anime Expo.
IAX: I notice you have a Mirai figure sitting on your eyeglasses.
DC: That’s right. Mirai-chan over here, kawaii-desu. Sometimes I forget - totally forget – that she’s there.
IAX: Speaking of, can you tell us a little about Mirai Millenium and the Solar Marines?
DC: So the Solar Marines are the soldiers in Mirai Millienium. It’s kind of hard to describe verbally, but the earth [in Mirai Millenium] is made up of various parts of different planets. And those various parts are mirrored on those different planets, basically. So whatever happens on a planet a thousand years away – if there’s an earthquake over there, then it’ll happen on earth as well on that particular piece which it came from.
So, when the governments discovered this, they started to panic because it’s like having a weak spot a thousand light years away.
IAX: Like a voodoo doll.
So while it seems like there’s peace on earth, if one country can start attacking another country’s mirror planet, then they’re in trouble. So all the governments need to send people to these mirror planets to protect them, but it takes a thousand years to get there and there’s no technology at the time do so. So, an underground group called Genesis Frontier got together lots of capital from the Yakuza, the Mafia, really underground money. And they built some technology, and one of the technologies they built was the Millenium Gate.
So they rented these gates to the governments. They said, “Hey, we’ve got these gates that can get you to your mirror planet within a day, but you have to pay us this much.” So the government said okay and the government started sending colonies of people to colonize these mirror planets.
These planets started to be colonized and protect, and one day all of a sudden the armed forces, they all disappear. All disappear. Communication with earth is lost and it becomes a defenseless mirror planet. So they got all the students in schools and forced them to – what’s the word in English? Conscription? – anyway, they have to go into the army. That’s why Mirai-chan, she goes to school, but she is also a soldier as well. That’s how the story starts.
Regarding the story, as soon as I get back to Japan, I’m going to be working with very popular anime scenario writers to flesh out the scenario, and that scenario will be done in a way so that we can start developing anime and manga.
IAX: Cool! Do you have a timeline on that?
DC: The scenario should be ready within the next three or four months. As soon as that’s ready, we can start production on a variety of things.
IAX: I remember earlier in the year you were talking about how Japan is opening up to 10,000 foreigners to come in for free. That was supposed to start this summer, wasn’t it?
DC: That didn’t happen. Basically, the Ministry of Tourism put forward that proposal and it looked like it would go through, but then it was rejected.
I personally don’t think it’s a good idea. I think there’s a lot of other ways to get people to discover Japan. For example, if they sponsored me to make a TV show. They don’t sponsor me, but I do consult for them for other stuff, but I think if they put an effort into small, tactical units – like guerilla units – of people who are spreading Japanese culture that would be more effective.
IAX: Speaking of TV shows, you have a new show coming up that you’re working on for September.
DC: That’s right, it’s called Japan Mode. That’s going to focus more on Japanese lifestyle, tradition, and the way Japanese people do things – which is called motenashi. It’s basically the Japanese soul of how they put attention into service, creating things. It’s something that’s hard to articulate verbally, which is why we want to do it visually.
IAX: Would you say it’s a sister program to Culture Japan?
DC: Not really. Culture Japan mainly focuses on Japanese pop culture, even though it does have some tradition. Japan Mode will mainly focus on Japanese lifestyle. So there’s only going to be one episode on anime culture. Japan Mode‘s more for the masses and Culture Japan is more niche, but folks who enjoy Japanese culture can also enjoy the show.
IAX: Thank you for being here!
DC: Thank you for having me.
Find out more about Culture Japan, Japan Mode, and everything Danny Choo at dannychoo.com.