Production I.G> WORK LIST> Le Chevalier D'Eon> SPECIAL FEATURE> Les 24 Chevaliers Part XXII: Katsuji Morishita (Producer)

Les 24 Chevaliers Part XXII: Katsuji Morishita (Producer)

Production I.G has not only a team of skilled animators. Selecting appealing new projects and developing them from the financial and marketing side, is in fact the job of the Planning Room's producers. In the first of this two-part double interview, we introduce Katsuji Morishita and George Wada, the duo behind the realization of Le Chevalier D'Eon.

Katsuji Morishita's In principio erat Verbum: "Links"

Katsuji Morishita
Born in 1972. Has mainly worked as a producer in charge of planning new projects, and joined I.G at the time of Blood: The Last Vampire. For Le Chevalier D'Eon, he made a project proposal and oversaw the business development. The latest works he took part in include, Reideen, Guardian of the Spirit and Sisters of Wellber.
George Wada
As an assistant producer, he was responsible for product merchandising and Web publicity for Le Chevalier D'Eon. After this project, he took part in Guardian of the Spirit, and then worked as a producer for Tokyo Marble Chocolate and Library War.

What was your role in the Le Chevalier D'Eon project?
Morishita: I was responsible for putting the project plan together and negotiating financing contracts for the production committee. It all started when Honda-san, the president of TOE, introduced me to a draft of Le Chevalier D'Eon written by novelist Tow Ubukata. At that time, a comic serial on Magazine Z (published by Kodansha) was already on the agenda. And TOE also hoped to add a novel as well as an anime to that list.

When they described the story in detail to me, I thought it was quite appealing and had a feeling there was a good opportunity for merchandising development as well, so I asked Production I.G to let me handle the financing and production planning. First, I brought the project proposal to Shochiku. They loved it and they introduced me to Katagiri-san, a producer at WOWOW. And WOWOW decided to broadcast the show as its 15th anniversary program.

Wada: My job was to assist the producer Morishita. I was responsible for secondary merchandizing, web publicity and for taking minutes of various meetings and to file them. Notably in the merchandizing area, I participated in the production of the "D'Eon de Beaumont Bisque Doll" which depicted the main character. I was delighted when the doll was nominated as a Jury Recommended Work at the 10th Japan Media Arts Festival last year.

How was this project conceived and developed?
Morishita: First of all, I consulted one of our in-house line producers, Tetsuya Nakatake. To say the truth, he was a bit hesitating initially, because of the complexity of the story and the difficulty anticipated in the portrayal of characters. But as we continued our meetings with Ubukata-san and Shibata-san at TOE, he seemed to have come up with ideas and he was quite excited in the end. He then ran around everywhere to make it successful. That led to secure Director Furuhashi as well.

Furuhashi-san seemed attracted by the various aspects of the story at his first glance at the project plan. His remarked that it was interesting how the story dealt with "poems" and "words." He also liked the fact that it was a historical drama that took place in France. He commented if we let him work on the historical aspect of the story thoroughly, it was worth spending two years on this project and said he definitely wanted to direct it.
As for the art, the director wished the characters to have realistic Caucasian features since the story took place in France. He really meant to take no chances on it. I was convinced. So we decided to ask Tomomi Ozaki to do the character designs.

Wada: And an idea of one of the production staff members lead to a scheme to create and sell a bisque doll of D'Eon/Lia de Beaumont. We decided if we were to make a character figure, it should be of the most sophisticated kind, that is a bisque doll, if we wanted to match the image of the story. And to promote the doll as well, we even arranged Mamoru Oshii, who is a famous doll aficionado, to talk about dolls in the program at the time of the first episode pre-airing.

What is your impression now that all 24 episodes have been completed?
Morishita: From the first time I set my eyes on the project proposal, I felt it provided an interesting perspective. With the historical background of France on the eve of the revolution to begin with, and of course the choice of focusing on such a multifaceted character as D'Eon de Beaumont, who lived a strange destiny. That was the reason why I wanted to have it made here at Production I.G. It got heavy international attention from media and distributors as well, with all major territories licensed when the series was still running on Japanese TV. I'm happy to see that the fan base is extending to the global arena.

Wada: From my point of view, I could feel the sincere enthusiasm of all the people who got involved in this project. And I mean people from all walks of life. For example, in the merchandizing area, GungHo Mode Inc.'s new game portal site GungHo Games has picked characters of Le Chevalier D'Eon as its avatars. Even women's magazines carried articles about the program. We had never experienced these developments in ordinary anime. This is very rare for an original anime not based on the name value of an existing book or franchise.

I was also thankful to have Mayo Suzukaze, who was previously a famous Takarazuka Revue actress, as one of the dubbing artists. WOWOW's intention was to appeal to Takarazuka fans and so they asked Suzukaze-san, as she had also played Oscar Françoise de Jarjayes in the 1991 Takarazuka production of The Roses of Versailles. She has done the voice over for the main character for director Furuhashi's Rurouni Kenshin. We felt a curious karma here again.

Japanese cover of the soundtrack CD.

Morishita: As for the music, Director Furuhashi requested an orchestral score, so we decided to ask Michiru Oshima. I met Oshima-san for the first time and explained the story and the main characters, but to my surprise she said she already knew about D'Eon de Beaumont. She said she loved France and had visited the country for her work several times. After reading the script, her reaction was, "Thrilling!" and she squeezed it in her tight schedule to compose the score for us.

© Tow Ubukata · Production I.G/Project Chevalier 2006