Anime Boston 2019 City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes Q&A

Below are the transcripts of the Q&A sessions with the City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes staff both before and after the screening, as well as during the concert the following day which was produced and hosted by Shota Nakama (founder of the Boston-based Video Game Orchestra). Both the original City Hunter show and the new movie are discussed.

Staff present: director Kenji Kodama, screenwriter Yoichi Kato, producer Goh Wakabayashi, and producer Naohiro Ogata.
Interpreters: Mari Morimoto (for NO) and another (for KK and YK).
GW answers for himself in English.

If anyone knows the name of the other lady interpreter, please let me know so I can credit her.

The transcript has been edited lightly for readability and flow. In a few staff answers, small edits were also made to adhere a little closer to their responses in Japanese. Unless explicitly stated otherwise in parentheses, the City Hunter staff speak in Japanese and everyone else speaks in English.

Spoilers contained within the text are mostly minor, but consider this to be your warning.


*Moments before the screening*

NO: My name is Naohiro Ogata, I’m one of the producers at Sunrise. Welcome to the City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes premiere. I hope you enjoy the movie. Next, I’d like to introduce our special guests. First let me call up Kenji Kodama to the stage.

KK: My name is Kodama, taking up the role of director again for City Hunter, 20 years after the last project. Thank you very much for coming.

NO: Next we have the writer, Yoichi Kato.

YK: My name is Kato. I am the screenwriter. Thank you so much for coming. I hope you enjoy the movie.

NO: Next I’d like to call up our other producer Goh Wakabayashi.

GW (English): Hello Boston. How are you all tonight?

*audience cheers*

My name is Goh Wakabayashi. I am one of the producers for this movie. Welcome to the screening. You’re one of the first international audiences to see this film.

*audience cheers*

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

MM: Before we get to the screening in just a few minutes, we do have one question that we’d like the panelists to answer for us.

MM (Japanese): I’d like to know from each of you what you all think the highlights are of City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes. Starting with Ogata.

NO: Thinking about what I’d love fans to keep an eye on during the screening, and as well as some highlights of the movie, we mentioned before that this is the first new City Hunter film in 20 years. Some of the background scenery and the like have been updated to a more contemporary look. However, those of you who have seen the original TV series will notice some very familiar music and songs in the background which should make you feel quite nostalgic. I hope you’ll keep an ear out for that.

KK: With this City Hunter project we wanted to make it much more relevant to the modern day. If you’re familiar the main character, he’s a very analog kind of person. Hence, we made the enemy more of a digital kind of character. I hope you enjoy that.

YK: The main point I’d like to stress is that this film takes place in present-day Shinjuku. Going forward, I’d like for you all to take note of the present-day Shinjuku portrayed in the film, as well as places perhaps you’d like to visit in Shinjuku one day in the close future. Also notice that the main characters Ryo and Kaori really haven’t changed, despite Shinjuku changing a lot.

GW (English): I really enjoy the main character—Ryo Saeba—’s adventure because the character is a really iconic character of the 80s. This movie really marks a big return for the City Hunter franchise. He has a serious side and a comedic side. He’s strong, but also weak. He’s very friendly, yet also lonely. This character has a influenced a lot of other anime characters. Many of you may not be familiar with Ryo, but I hope you enjoy his presence in this latest City Hunter movie.

 

*After the screening*

NO: You guys didn’t mind all the mokkori (boners)?

Audience Member: MOKKORI~ (boners)

*audience cheer*

NO: *brief chuckle* We’re going to re-introduce the guests in case you missed them. I’m Nao Ogata, producer at Sunrise. Nice to meet you all. Next we have the director of this wonderful film, Kenji Kodama.

*audience applause*

NO: Next we have the screenwriter Yoichi Kato.

*audience applause*

NO: And producer Goh Wakabayashi.

*audience applause*

NO: We’re going to do some Q&A as we’d like to discuss the movie. First I’d like to ask all my fellow panelists: this is the first time Americans are seeing the movie, so what do you all think of their reaction?

KK: It’s been 2 months since the premiere in Japan, but this is actually by far the biggest reaction we’ve ever received. It was very exciting to watch, thank you so much.

*audience cheer and applause*

YK: I feel exactly the same way as Kenji Kodama. You guys probably had the best reaction in the whole world. You even laughed at some places where I wasn’t expecting a reaction. Thank you so much for watching.

*audience applause*

NO: And please Wakabayashi, in English.

GW (English): I intended for this movie to be action-comedy fare, so I was quite happy to hear a lot of laughter.

NO: Next we’d like to discuss the following. Of course this is the first brand new City Hunter project in 20 years. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came about?

Actually first I’ll start answering the question myself. As I just mentioned, it’s been 20 years since the last City Hunter animated feature. The biggest reason we wanted to bring it back was because of all the fans desperately waiting for the last 20 years for more City Hunter.

In terms of the nitty-gritty of how the proposal came about, it was actually the original producers of the TV series (Masuo) Ueda and (Michihiko) Suwa that brought the idea to us. Other than the director, the rest of us up here on this stage who are in our late 30s to 40s grew up with City Hunter. We kind of got inspired to enter the industry thanks to City Hunter. It was one of those things like “yeah we’d really love to bring it back,” and we jumped at the opportunity to do so.

I guess I ended up answered the question myself so I’m just going to move onto the next question. I’d like to know this myself actually. How was it decided that this new Ryo and Kaori story take place in present day Tokyo. I’d like the two creators, director Kodama and screenwriter Kato, to answer this question.

KK: In order to revive the City Hunter franchise and make it feel a bit more familiar to modern audience, we moved the setting from ’87 to present day Shinjuku for the new movie. This way it would have more relevance to modern audiences.

YK: I completely agree with everything director Kodama just said.

*audience laughter*

NO: This next question is specifically for director Kodama. From a production standpoint, did you have the previous City Hunter in the back of your consciousness constantly, and if so are there any specific examples you can share with us about what you changed or did not change from the previous City Hunter productions.

KK: Of course it was always in the back of my consciousness while we were making the film. This particular film was more a sign of gratitude for all of our past fans, so it was really important for us to preserve the same feel of City Hunter as it had been in the past when bringing it to modern day Shinjuku.

NO: Okay I’d like to ask screenwriter Kato what in particular he paid attention to as he wrote the script for this movie.

YK: It was very important for me to keep the characters the same as they were in the ’87 adaptation. There’s a lot of very interesting and intriguing aspects in the original show. Sometimes an episode will particularly highlight a comedic incident, or sometimes it will be more action oriented. There’s always some particular aspect that gets highlighted within each episode. However, because this is one whole movie, we really wanted to bring out all the best aspects of the City Hunter show and consolidate it all into one film. That was a very important focal point for me.

NO: This next question is for producer Wakabayashi. Are there any funny stories or incidents that happened during production that you can tell us?

GW (English): I’d like to talk about Akira Kamiya who is the voice actor for Ryo Saeba. He’s actually more than 70 years old—the oldest actor in this film. He’s a legendary figure in the Japanese voice acting industry and he said that Ryo Saeba is his favorite character. He told me, “I’m old, and my voice has changed, but I’m a better actor now. So this is the best version of Ryo Saeba.” It’s really touching to hear that from such a veteran actor.

Actually another story I can tell illustrates the kind of person Akira Kamiya is. We spent about three days recording all the lines for the movie. After recording was finished, Kamiya listened to his own acting and he volunteered to redo some of the scenes again because he felt he could do better. This normally doesn’t happen but since he offered, we did some retakes. Because this is very unusual, what happened is that one of the trailers on the internet used the original recordings, but in the movie you hear the retake. So if you are into voice acting or the Japanese language, please look for that trailer to hear two different takes on the same line. It’s quite interesting.

NO: Actually I’d like to share something funny I recalled just now. In fact, the reason we’re here right now in Boston is because producer Goh Wakabayashi and screenwriter Yoichi Kato have both spent time in the Boston area as foreign exchange students.

*audience cheer and applause*

NO: And why that is relevant to the movie is as you saw, in this movie the character Mikuni studied at an American university where he developed his so-called warfare theory. Well I believe the university he attended was based on one of the ones in the Boston area.

Audience Member: MIT?

NO: Well then please, screenwriter Kato.

YK (English): It may be MIT.

*audience laughter and applause*

NO: Where exactly in the Boston area did you two spend time in?

YK (English): I lived in Lexington.

Audience Member: I’m from there!

YK (English): Oh really? Grove (?) Street was where I lived.

GW (English): I lived in Lincoln.

MM: Anyone from Lincoln?

Audience Member: I go to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, it’s very pretty over there. There’s lots of farms and stuff over there. I live near it, kinda.

NO: Do you have any fond memories of Boston, Kato?

YK: As you can probably tell from the way I speak, I’m not very good at speaking English. I was a third year middle school student, I couldn’t speak to anyone, and I didn’t really understand the lessons taught at school. I just stayed at home all day and read a lot of manga. As a result, I’m in this kind of field. So my career is thanks to Boston.

*audience laughter and applause*

NO: How much English did Mikuni understand when he came up with this warfare theory?

YK: Zero?

*audience laughter*

NO: How about your memories of Boston, Wakabayashi.

GW (English): Actually I had a similar experience with that of Kato. When I came to Lincoln, I had a lot of trouble with English. I couldn’t speak it at all. After graduating from high school, I took a film course in college because I got to watch movies in the classroom. That class educated me about film, and finally I got myself an actual job in the industry. So in retrospect, I do appreciate my experiences here.

*audience applause*

NO: Shortly we’ll be opening it up to audience Q&A but before that I’d like to ask the rest of the staff here which scene was most memorable to them, starting with director Kodama.

KK: While creating this film, the most fun I actually had was with the police detective Saeko, particularly because she’s so adept at leading men by the nose.

YK: There’s a lot of memorable scenes for me, but the ones closest to my heart are the ones that feature Umikobouzu. He’s not in the original manga, but he’s just so cute. My favorite part is when Umikobouzu was resurrected at the end and Umibouzu bawled his eyes out.

GW (English): Actually my favorite scene is a quiet one. It’s the scene where Ryo is sawing down a shotgun. It shows a more professional, serious side of Ryo. It also illustrates the relationship between Ryo and Kaori. At the beginning Ryo appears to be very cold towards Kaori, but if you watch until the end of the movie you realize this scene shows how much they trust each other. We were able to do all these things just in one scene.

NO: For myself, it’s gotta be that opening scene where a missile gets shot towards Godzilla.

*audience laughter*

NO: Don’t worry we got the proper licensing permissions to use it from Toho. In fact, you hear the Godzilla roar and we originally produced our own sound effects for that. But Toho actually came to us later and said “please, use the actual stock sound effects we have for Godzilla.”

Since some of us are getting a little hungry and we’re getting short on time, we’d like to make some announcements and then have audience Q&A. First we wanted to announce we have licensed City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes to Discotek Media. Not only that, but we have also licensed the classic TV series to them.

*audience applause and screams*

NO: Tomorrow in this very room we have a wonderful City Hunter movie concert prepared by Shota Nakama with a band. They’ll be playing some of the music you just heard on screen. I hope you can come back and join us again. Now I’d like to go into audience Q&A.

Audience Member: First question-actually I’m gonna do three questions which I know is a bit long. First question goes to director Kodama. How do you feel about working with a character like Ryo Saeba who is also quite a lot like characters in other old cartoons which you’ve always worked on like Lupin the 3rd. He’s very attractive to women, he’s a party guy, but he also takes his job seriously. How do you feel about that. The second quest-

MM: Can we do it one at a time?

KK: Indeed, Ryo Saeba and Lupin are exactly alike as characters. However as far as the shows themselves are concerned, there’s a lot of elements in both of them—action and comedy among others. Because of all these different elements, even if I’m just making one show it’s almost like you’re making three different shows wrapped into one. It’s a lot of fun for me especially because you get to experience every aspect of what makes something interesting to watch in one show.

Same Audience Member: My second question-

Other Audience Member: One question only!

MM: Yeah actually, if you can go back to the end of the line that would be the most fair.

Audience Member: First of all I’d like to thank you for making such a treat for City Hunter fans. I really enjoyed the throwbacks to the old TV series. I especially enjoyed Kaori’s hammer being marked with 2019 at the beginning. Getting to my question, I know Ryo is famous for using a Colt .357 Python. I was curious if that was the gun he was using in the film because I did not see any gun markings or indication as to what gun he was using.

NO: Fundamentally, it is the same gun.

*audience laughter*

Audience Member: Hello. First, I’d like to thank you for screening the film tonight. My question is based on what you had said earlier. One of your goals was to update the film for a modern audience from the 1987 series to 2019. I was wondering what some of the challenges were in trying to reach that goal.

YK: I’ll answer the question in parts. In terms of bringing it to the present day, I’d say there weren’t many hurdles or obstacles to overcome because the original character was so distinctly characterized. It was really important for us as we were bringing Ryo into the present day that we don’t break his character, despite it being 30 years later.

One of the things we thought about a lot was whether or not Ryo would even own or use a smartphone. It was things like that we had to think a lot about when bringing the character to modern times.

Actually we had discussions with the original manga author Tsukasa Hojo, and one of the things that we discussed was whether or not Ryo would reach out to girls using a smartphone. Would he be able to operate something as complicated as a drone? Would it be an erone? Is he even likely to do something like that? Because we had these discussions with the original author we were able to flesh it out better.

By the way, when you see the character reach out to Ryo via the digital message board, in our heads we thought that it was something the professor probably created that for Ryo.

Audience Member: Another thank you for bringing this to Boston. There’s sort of a hint at the end, but will there be another City Hunter project coming up or is this just a one and done sort of deal?

NO: If you support the movie, perhaps more will come. Please show your love!

Audience Member: Hi, first off that movie ruled. Second off, as mentioned previously Ryo’s weapon of choice is a .357 magnum. My question is, have any of you ever held and fired a .357 magnum.

*audience laughter*

KK: Actually this time we had an expert show us everything about how the gun actually works. I will say though that in the past when making the original show I had never once even held nor seen a gun. This time under the professional’s guidance, we were told “please be careful when handling the weapon. Loading the bullets the way Ryo does in the original series is neither correct nor safe.”

*audience laughter*

Audience Member: Hello, I wanted to say your movie was very well done. Thank you for bringing it to us. As a giant Tsukasa Hojo fan, I wanted to thank you bringing Cat’s Eye into this.

*audience cheer and applause*

It was really great to see them shine again, and I’d like to know more about your decision to use them in this project and connect them to Umibouzu as we just learned in this movie.

GW (English): Actually I was the one who proposed the idea of bringing Cat’s Eye into this film to the original author Tsukasa Hojo. As for where this idea originated, before I was a producer at Aniplex I used to be a producer at Toei. At Toei, I worked on super sentai series like Kamen Rider or as you guys call them Power Rangers.

*audience laughter*

I also worked on the Pretty Cure series. In these franchises, I worked on crossover titles like Pretty Cure All Stars or the Kamen Rider crossover films. I applied the same idea to City Hunter and chose Cat’s Eye because it was also written by Hojo. But I actually thought this was a pretty outrageous idea because the two titles are so different. I was quite scared to propose the idea to Hojo. But upon hearing the idea, he approved it and even gave us the back story that Umibouzu works at the cafe that the Cat’s Eye sisters own.

Audience Member: My question is for producer Wakabayashi. For a period of time you were a producer on shows like Ressha Sentai ToQger and Shuriken Sentai Ninninger. I was wondering is there any specific work you did on that you liked or anything you’d do differently?

GW (English): From the very beginning my work on the super sentai shows was a short term deal. What happened was that Toei Company, which makes live action film, and Toei Animation, which makes anime, decided to exchange producers to learn each others’ techniques. I was sent from Toei Animation to Toei Company and worked on some live action projects like the ones you mentioned. While I was working on these shows, I got an offer to be a producer for Pretty Cure All Stars. I wanted to continue working on super sentai but in the end I took the offer for Pretty Cure All Stars because it was my first feature length film. To answer your question, if I could do super sentai again I’d just want to try a bit more to do different things.

Audience Member: Hi there. Thanks very much for this movie, I loved it. I have a sort of technical question for director Kodama. I was really impressed by the hand-to-hand combat scene with Umibouzu. It reminded me of the film Commando. How did you achieve that look in the animation? Was it rotoscoped or did you use an animator that was particularly good at fight scenes?

KK: The animators themselves weren’t using any third-party reference material for those scenes. However, for a long time I loved and still love professional wrestling. Professional wrestling gets me really excited. So looking at moves from back then and incorporating them into this movie was really thrilling for me. I actually draw my storyboards in a lot of detail. I passed these detailed storyboards to my animators and from there they created the hand-to-hand combat scenes.

Audience Member: I have a quick question for screenwriter Kato and then an actual question. Since you’re also from Lexington, which middle school did you go to?

YK (English): Jonas Clarke

Same Audience Member: Me too!

YK (English): Wow really?!

*audience laughter and applause*

Same Audience Member: Wait, does that make you my sempai?

*audience laughter*

YK (English): Yes

*audience laughter*

Same Audience Member: Okay so for my real question: the episode in season 3 of the TV series where Kaori wears the wedding dress is actually one of my favorite episodes. I was really happy to see it kind of referenced in the movie. But does this only happen in the City Hunter TV series universe? Because in the movie, Ryo doesn’t mention having seen it before.

GW (English): This movie takes place after City Hunter 3 and is a sequel to the TV series. Ryo has seen Kaori in the wedding dress in City Hunter 3. But he just didn’t make a particular comment about it in the movie.

Same Audience Member: Oh, I thought it would be mentioned considering it was in the trailer.

*after some pause*

GW (English): Umm, okay. Ryo has seen the wedding dress in City Hunter 3 but Ryo doesn’t mention it in this movie because first time viewers may be a bit confused. I understand what you’re saying since we show Kaori in the wedding dress in the ending. Some viewers may be curious about what’s going on with the wedding dress. But uhh, yeah.

YK: I am very pleased as your sempai that you noticed this detail.

*audience laughter*

Audience Member: It was a real honor to meet all four of you guys. It made my year to meet you all. It really meant a lot to me. I’m a new fan of City Hunter that got into it last year because of a video game I like called Policenauts. It was made in 1994 and I think the main character was based kind of on Ryo because he acts kind of like the womanizer type and usually fails at it. Anyway, that aside I’m a new fan of City Hunter and it’s really fun and really great.

MM: It’s called Police-what?

Same Audience Member: Policenauts. It’s by Hideo Kojima, and is an older game made for the PC-98. Uhh anyway…

MM: Did you have a question?

Same Audience Member: Oh yes, yes. Oh my god I’m so sorry. I’m so flustered.

MM: No no, it’s okay.

Same Audience Member: I was gonna say you guys made it for me, and I’m glad you came to my home here in Boston. Anyway the question was in the last scene with Ryo and Kaori when they’re walking in the street, I noticed something… producer Ogata, was that you?

NO: Oh no… I’ve been caught.

*audience laughter*

NO: You know, it seems to be a trend that whenever I do a project with director Kodama that somehow he puts me somewhere in the title. By the way, in the scene where Ryo is dancing with the serving tray, right before you get inside the restaurant the sign shows “Little Snack Ogata.”

Same Audience Member: *screams* Oh yeah!!!

*audience laughter*

NO: In fact, when my colleagues at Sunrise came to the preview, I got a couple of comments like “you don’t really have a sleazy bar like that do you?”

*audience laughter*

Audience Member: This question is for producer Kobayashi and producer Ogata. Will we see this movie premiere in Europe? I’m from Spain and we don’t get a lot of these movies or these series licensed there. They kind of become forgotten as a result. But Spain has a lot of people who like anime, specifically this kind of anime. Will there be a premiere in Spain?

GW (English): Yeah I was actually in France for a while. And over there City Hunter is very popular. It’s known as Nicky Larson. They even made a live action adaptation over there that was released this year which was very successful and popular in France. I’m very aware of the popularity of this show in Europe. I’d like to work with producer Ogata so that we can do a nice European release, including in Spain of course.

NO: Ditto.

*audience laughter*

Audience Member: First, this is a great movie. I’d like to thank producer Ogata especially for his work on Gundam Reconguista in G, which I really love. The City Hunter movie in France has already been mentioned, but given that City Hunter has fans all over the world, did you consider international audiences when you were writing and making the film?

NO: Actually it’s interesting that you bring that up. Because anime is so popular in other parts of Asia, we had originally talked about the story taking place in Shanghai. Unfortunately that got the axe pretty early on, and this is what we ended up with.

KK: Of course with City Hunter and other anime in general, we’re not necessarily thinking about an international audience. However, many of the character designs and body types are not modeled after Japanese people but after Americans and Europeans. When international fans tell us that they really enjoyed something we made or that they enjoy anime, it gives us a lot of joy. Just looking at lot of the wonderful cosplayers here at Anime Boston, I could see that they really do look the part. Please watch more anime and continue loving it.

Audience Member: Thank you for screening this film. This is my first time watching City Hunter. When I saw the Sunrise logo, it peaked my interest a little because I did watch another Sunrise show, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. One of the scenes that I was curious about was when Monster Strike was being played on a smartphone. With mobile games being very popular in Japan, I was wondering if any of you even have free time to play mobile games on your smartphone and if so which games? Also, (in Japanese) Do you play Monster Strike? (in English) Hopefully I said that correctly (note: it was not correct).

NO: Screenwriter Kato, do you play Monster Strike?

YK: I’m actually quite familiar with Monster Strike as I was actually involved in making the Monster Strike anime. By the way, the character standing right next to Ai as she was playing Monster Strike is also from Monster Strike. Of course I do play Monster Strike, but I also play a variety of other games as well.

Audience Member: Hi, first I really loved the movie and City Hunter and it really made my day. I have a general question. Ryo has this really fun character where he’ll be this super cool action hero one minute, and then he’ll be this huge pervert the next, and then he’ll go back to being an action hero. It happens so seamlessly and naturally. I was wondering what the approach was to making that kind of characterization feel so natural and flow so well.

YK: As you say, that is very true about Ryo. There is a seamless transition between the two. I thought to myself, is it really okay to change so seamlessly between the two sides of him. I had thorough discussions about this with director Kodama.

KK: It is true that Ryo has very serious moments and very comedic moments. In the very beginning when I first started working on City Hunter, I wondered if it was really okay or if it was coming across correctly to the audience properly. But as I kept working on the series, it became quite addictive and fun to do this so I just couldn’t stop. As a result, every time we had a really cool action sequence, we’d throw a comedic moment right after that.

Audience Member: Newly converted City Hunter fan here. Was there any scene in particular that was harder or took more time to animate?

NO: As the producer, I feel that what takes a long time is the transition from the very serious scene to the total knockdown gag. Especially when it comes to preserving Tsukasa Hojo’s original characters where the really serious aspects are realistic, so we wanted to make sure we preserved that when we animated it. Those are the parts are probably the most time consuming and challenging.

And as mentioned previously, even though all the characters have Japanese names, they have fairly Western physiques. However, our animators are Japanese so subconsciously they end up drawing very Japanese looking characters or characters with Japanese proportions. As a producer I always have to be very conscious of this and deliberately make editorial comments about this.

Audience Member: Hello. Frankly I don’t have a question. I’ve never really seen City Hunter before, although I’ve seen clips, but I loved this movie. I think what struck me the most was that yeah it was made to modernize the series but I felt that soul, that soul that I get from watching an anime from the 80s and 90s. I just want to thank you for injecting that soul and live into the movie. I’m so proud of you guys.

City Hunter Staff (English): Thank you.

 

*The next day, during the City Hunter live concert*

SN: I’d like to welcome all the guests onto the stage. Please welcome producer Ogata, director Kodama, screenwriter Kato, and producer Wakabayashi.

*audience applause*

I’d like to ask you guys a question before we begin. Why revive City Hunter now? City Hunter is relatively old. Why now?

NO: For those of you who are not familiar with City Hunter, this is the first new City Hunter project in 20 years. One of the biggest reasons for this is because the fans kept supporting us for all these years so we wanted to give this gift to those fans.

SN: How do you feel towards the series? I’d like to ask producer Wakabayashi first. He’s super fluent in English as you all know.

GW (English): Hello, I’m Goh Wakabayashi and I’m one of the producers for this movie. Welcome to the City Hunter concert. You’re going to hear some of the iconic City Hunter songs. These songs are also iconic for Japanese 80s and 90s pop music. This is the first time we’re having a concert like this outside of Japan. I hope we can have a good time together.

*audience cheer and applause*

SN: How do you feel about the City Hunter series as a whole?

GW (English): You know, this City Hunter movie is a passion project for me because I grew up reading City Hunter in Shonen Jump and watching it as a kid. I saw two new episodes a week. That was a really good time. I always wanted to see more City Hunter, so I’m very happy that we could work together and bring you this movie.

SN: Amazing. (in Japanese) Please screenwriter Kato, if you could give us your thoughts on City Hunter without holding back.

YK: No holding back?

SN (English): In English please.

*audience laughter*

SN: He went to high school here in Boston! He went to Lexington high school.

YK: I also watched City Hunter since I was a kid. I’m very honored to be able to work on it as a grown-up and then visit an international fan base. I hope I can work on City Hunter again in the future.

SN: And let’s hear from legendary director Kodama.

KK: When City Hunter first started it was 35 years ago. You can imagine that all of us grew up watching City Hunter. The folks on this stage right now are like my children. City Hunter too is like a child to me. I hope all of us can enjoy this time together.

SN: How did this concert come about?

NO: Actually one of the highlights of the movie is the music that plays in the background. I believe it was about four years ago at Anime Boston I got to meet Shota here and I really wanted the opportunity to both bring the music of City Hunter to you live and also have a chance to collaborate with Shota, and here we are.

SN: Alright let’s start the concert. But before we begin, are you mokkori (erect) right now?

NO: Yes.

*audience laughter*

SN: Do you guys know what that means? If you saw the show, you know what that means. It means boner time! *laughs* I feel so stupid asking this. Okay, are you guys ready for the show?

*audience cheers*

SN: Alright let’s start!

 

*intermission*

SN: Now please welcome screenwriter Kato onto the stage!

*audience cheer*

SN: Tell me how you got this gig doing City Hunter.

YK: Four or five years ago I actually got approached by producer Ogata and he asked me if I’d like to work on the project with him. That’s how my involvement came about.

SN: If you guys are familiar with City Hunter, you’ll know that City Hunter has many unique characters. Screenwriter Kato, what did you have to pay attention to when writing the script given that these characters were so unique?

YK: Actually I think that having such unique characters gives you a really big advantage in terms of what you can do. It was very important for me that even though all these years have passed, we retain the same feel of the City Hunter anime. We still wanted to deliver the same mokkori (erection) to all of you.

*audience cheer and applause*

SN: Let me ask you another question. What was the most memorable moment you had while working on this?

YK: There were a lot of memorable moments while working on this movie. For me the most memorable part of working on this is the countless revisions I had to make for the script. Also, another memorable moment was when I took my work at took it to the original manga author Tsukasa Hojo, and getting his feedback was quite a scary moment. I wanted to run away.

*audience laughter*

SN: Alright let me ask a kind of deep question. What is City Hunter to you?

YK: Hmm that’s a tough question…

SN: Is it just mokkori (erections) to you?

YK: *laughs* I can’t deny that everything is mokkori (erections).

*audience laughter*

YK: As said earlier, City Hunter is something I grew up with as a child so it brings me back to a very fond moment of my life. Now it’s been brought back to Japan and also to an international audience. I hope to continue spreading City Hunter here on out.

I’m very happy that we first brought the movie overseas to Boston. I actually lived in Boston before too. In the movie, Mikuni probably had connections to MIT. You may have gotten this vibe from watching the movie. You might be seeing some similarities between Boston and the setting of the movie even though it’s Shinjuku.

SN: Alright let’s go to the next songs.

 

*intermission*

SN: Director Kodama, I have one request for you. Can you scream for us?

KK (English): Are you mokkori (erect)?

*audience cheer*

KK (English): I am the mokkori (boner) director!

*audience laughter and cheer*

SN: I didn’t expect him to say that *laughs*. Someone go to wikipedia and change his title. Let’s ask some more questions about City Hunter. So you’ve been working on City Hunter for so long now. What are some memorable things about working on it?

KK: Actually the TV series ran for a very long time. The good thing was that in the show a lot of beautiful women appear, so in a lot of women were in our recording studio. However, because there’s always a new beautiful woman in the show we started running out of female voice actors, so we had to do a second run through the female voice actors.

SN: This movie is kind of a revival of old school anime. What are the things that you really pay attention to when modernizing such an iconic 80s anime.

KK: The characters themselves don’t actually change from the original series to the new movie. However we did pay attention to small changes such as the addition of smartphones as well as the new scenery of Shinjuku given that Shinjuku itself has changed over the years.

SN: City Hunter has a very distinct groove. How did you express that through the anime?

KK: One of the things we wanted to do is that whenever we have a very serious scene, we’d follow it up with a comedic moment. To make the transition smoother, we’d add things like the little scarecrows that would travel across the screen. When you incorporate these visual cues, we’d wonder if this was even something we should do in the first place but it turned out great.

SN: Let me ask one more thing before we continue with the concert. What is City Hunter to you?

KK: City Hunter is everything to me. It really kicked off my career as a director in this industry.

*audience cheer*

 

*intermission*

SN: I’d just like to ask the producer Ogawa and producer Wakabayashi, what do you think of the concert so far?

NO: You know when I first envisioned this new City Hunter movie, I wanted to do not just this concert but many more concerts afterwards.

GW (English): First of all I want to say, *looking to the band* you guys were really great! I’ve heard these songs countless times during production but it’s still fun to listen to them even during this concert.

SN: Can you tell me how this project started between you guys?

NO: Screenwriter Kato touched upon this a little too but most of us on this production are in our late thirties to early forties. We grew up watching and reading City Hunter in middle school, and it was very influential to us. We also felt that in Japan right now there’s been a lot of interest in City Hunter and desire to bring it back. Everyone was so helpful in bringing it to the screen again.

GW (English): I want to mention Tsukasa Hojo, the author of the original City Hunter manga. This manga started around 30 years ago and it was his wish to see City Hunter animated again.

SN: I have to ask you guys the following: will we see more concerts like this?

NO: Yes, definitely.

SN: Alright! For the last question: what is City Hunter to you?

NO: Director Kodama also mentioned that City Hunter means everything to him, but I have to say it is also a big part of who I am as well. When I entered as Sunrise of course I worked on Gundam, but I am so proud and honored to have been able to work on City Hunter.

GW (English): City Hunter is my passion project. It’s not just me. Everyone involved in this project is a huge City Hunter fan. This project is the realization of our passion towards City Hunter.


All of City Hunter has been licensed by Discotek Media for release in the US. City Hunter: Shinjuku Private eyes is also scheduled for a theatrical run in the US. Be sure to check it out if you live there! (although, if you don’t know anything about City Hunter and you read through this Q&A you may have inferred that there is some pretty outdated comedy in the movie and original series, to put it mildly)

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