Production I.G> WORK LIST> Le Chevalier D'Eon> SPECIAL FEATURE> Les 24 Chevaliers Part VIII: Daisuke Katagiri (Producer)

Les 24 Chevaliers Part VIII: Daisuke Katagiri (Producer)

Le Chevalier D'Eon is being aired in Japan on satellite pay TV WOWOW. The show was actually produced to celebrate the channel's 15th anniversary. Therefore, this time we had a brief but intense talk with Daisuke Katagiri, who is the producer on WOWOW side.

Daisuke Katagiri's In principio erat Verbum: "Takarazuka"!

Daisuke Katagiri
WOWOW producer. After working on film productions, the Academy Awards ceremony telecast, production of TV specials on British theatre, Disney, etc. and coordinating numerous overseas drama broadcasts, Katagiri was transferred to the animation production section. He says, "there are various types of producers around; I might be a producer closer to the worksite."

What kind of work are you doing at WOWOW as a producer?
First of all, there is a policy at WOWOW to produce original animation and promote it as part of the brand. As a producer, I contemplated what was acceptable as a WOWOW brand product. We broadcast major quality works from around the world including Hollywood movies. Our audience is used to watching these programs, so I wanted to create an animation program that would satisfy them.

We can see from the works by Hollywood creators like the Wachowski Brothers and Quentin Tarantino that they have seen a lot of Japanese anime and studied them. With the progress in graphics technology, there will be less and less differences between anime and live action films, so I feel it's important for both media to stimulate each other and absorb what's good from each other. That's why I thought the key would be to transfer superior elements of Hollywood movies to the wonderful Japanese animation production.

At WOWOW, we do a variety of programs with Hollywood entertainment content. It's not hard for us to pick up interesting elements in that content and apply them to an animation production. I thought this would give birth to a new animation not bounded by conventional standards. Anyway, I think it is part of my job to talk with the staff and show them the direction as to how we are going to offer a work to the audience.

What was your intention in launching a project of Le Chevalier D'Eon
It's easy to say let's take inspiration from the first-rate accomplishments of Hollywood, but it's not easy to actually realize them in an anime. We need an appropriate theme as well as a production company who could do it. With Production I.G, I felt we could astound Hollywood with our work. I was sure our intentions and Production I.G's ideas were the same.

And I am also a great fan of Ubukata-san, the author. I was going to ask him to write a historical mystery similar to The Da Vinci Code. But when I talked about it in my presentation to I.G and Shochiku, I.G answered back, "Ubukata-san already brought in this project plan called, Chavalier, what shall we do?" (lol) I thought a good project was somehow destined to become a reality. Simple as that.

What did you think about the project plan for Le Chevalier D'Eon when you heard it for the first time?
The most interesting part was that it was based on historic facts with people that actually existed, starting from D'Eon de Beaumont, a truly bizarre character on his own. He is really full of entertaining qualities, therefore he is the most appropriate personage to be featured in an entertainment program. Who else could think of writing a story about such a character but Ubukata-san? I was again reminded that he was an extraordinary novelist.

What's your impression about the finished anime?
When I watched the preview of a few scenes, I was overwhelmed. It gave me goose bumps. I never thought a few scenes would have such an impact. I was assured then that we were headed towards establishing a new standard that went beyond the typical TV series. I knew the main story was going to be awesome, so I felt assured to go ahead with the campaign. I know a producer must manage the funding, plans, contract and actual production, but when you have quality content, it becomes your important job to communicate that to the public.

After watching the preview scenes for the first episode, I definitely changed my view, and rather than working mainly on the production side, I focused on devising schemes to attract as many people as possible to watch the series.

We heard you are the one who first mentioned "Takarazuka," the all-female revue, which became one of the keywords for the promotion campaign.
It is one of WOWOW's practices to do something that's never been done in anime. That goes for campaigning, too. By planning things from a very wide prospective, I think we can reach out beyond the anime fans. So when we actually implement the campaign, we need a keyword to promote the product. As for Le Chevalier D'Eon, which is a story that took place in France with a male character living as a female, I believe most Japanese people would recall Riyoko Ikeda's masterpiece The Roses of Versailles. When I contemplated how we could relate that to the anime in our campaign, "Takarazuka" popped into my head.

Ever since WOWOW launched its station, we have broadcast Takarazuka shows. And as we have a lot of Takarazuka fans in our audience, it matched our promotional objective to accommodate the female audience. That again led to cast Mayo Suzukaze as voice actor in the series (*). She is known as Oscar in the Takarazuka production of The Roses of Versailles.

Lastly, could we have a few words for the audience of Le Chevalier D'Eon?
I definitely believe the finale of the series will make history in the world of animation. I hope you will stay tuned to the end.

(*) In the Japanese version of the series, Mayo Suzukaze is giving her voice to Queen Charlotte.