Pop Team Epic – Interview with Producer Kotaro Sudo

Pop Team Epic – Interview with Producer Kotaro Sudo

Pop Team Epic has caught many people’s attention with its unique brand of irreverent, shamelessly referential humor and often surreal gags, crafted in frankly inventive ways. A production this bizarre obviously couldn’t come to be in normal fashion, so we decided to share the translation of an interview with its eccentric producer Kotaro Sudo. Despite being as tongue in cheek as you’d expect from anything involving this series, he talks at length about the business decisions and creative process that have brought this one of a kind show, even answering many questions they received from fans on Twitter.

Originally published in Japanese in animate Times, conducted by Kohei Toriyabe.

─ For starters, if you could tell us a bit about your role in making this anime.

I’m credited as planning/producer for the series, so in other words, I’m the one you can blame for saying, “I want to turn this into an anime.” From there, I put together the staff, from the animation studio to the post-production studio, songwriters, and more. I also manage the budget and schedule. As for where I had some fun for this show, I was the one who decided that it would be broadcast twice in a row.

─ I imagine you wouldn’t be able to start the staffing process until after you’ve received the go-ahead from King Records. How did you get the green light to adapt Pop Team Epic into an anime?

The first step is a planning meeting where the production people get together and discuss topics like whether they want to make an original anime or one based off an existing property. I brought the Pop Team Epic manga and tried to explain it, but it got rejected (laughs).

─ (Laughs).

They gave me looks that said, “I don’t know about this…” I had a bunch of reasons I wanted to do it: for one, if you look at the industry, home video sales are on the decline. The business model is changing, and there are many possible avenues such as streaming and overseas expansion. That’s where I came in with, “I think the merchandise for this would sell like hotcakes. It’d definitely be for the best to get this on the market as a King Records IP.

Pop Team Epic‘s strength lies in its characters, and it surprisingly shares a lot with series like Doraemon, Crayon Shin-chan, or Sazae-san, where you can tell what it’s about even if you don’t watch the episodes. So my reasoning was the merch would sell just from its designs (laughs). We hadn’t worked with many merch-centered anime before, so I thought it’d be good to focus on those franchises in the future. After I gave my presentation at the meeting, the response was along the lines of, “Well… should we try it, then?” But in the end, it didn’t get the green light.

─ You still couldn’t get it approved, huh?

I just couldn’t get them to say yes (laughs). The head of my department is a guy named Mishima*, and he asked me, “Do you really want to produce this?” I said, “Yes, I do.” He told me, “A producer has one chance in his life to play the wildcard up his sleeve. Are you okay with using up that chance for this?” I said, “Ah, okay. I’ll use it now.” Well, I figured if it didn’t work out, I could always use it again (laughs). And he told me, “Let’s see how you use it then.” He gave his approval, and we started developing the series from there.

*Akio Mishima, the executive producer for Pop Team Epic. Began as a producer for Nana Mizuki, and has worked on many series tied to King Records.

─ So you played your wildcard and resolved everything with the company.

There were a number of challenges, but somehow I was able to go forward with it. One major point of contention was we decided to forgo a production committee, and have King Records fully responsible for the production. At the meeting I mentioned, we broached the topic, and there was the sentiment that maybe we should just form a committee (laughs).

─ You don’t often see this nowadays, since the production committee system is so commonplace. And there are cases where forming a production committee allows you to mitigate the risk.

Of course, there are upsides to the committee format as well. Each company can deal with the domain they’re most familiar with and thus reduce their own risk. It’s possible to split up the work and bring in a company that specializes in music, or a company that’s in charge of bringing products to market, but King Records can actually do all of those things, so I thought, let’s see just how much King Records can do in-house.

Also, the people in charge are all in my department, so the there’s minimal legwork needed to go around confirming things like what direction we’d be taking things in, which makes things easy. And this wasn’t the easiest series to ask other companies to help finance, so having King Records take full responsibility seemed best. And that’s what we went with (laughs).

─ So you’re saying it was better than taking them down with you… (laughs).

You could say that (laughs). I believe the production committee system began with Otsuki*, who used to be at King Records, but I felt that it’d be better to find the courage to do it by ourselves, which is why it turned out this way.

*Former King Records managing director Toshimichi Otsuki. Was involved as a producer in series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion.

─ By the way, how long ago was it that you were in talks to adapt Pop Team Epic into an anime?

I believe it was around spring of 2016. That was around when the LINE stickers went on sale, and it became popular as everyone started using them. I thought it was amusing, and then I spotted the manga being sold in bookstores. So I bought a copy and began to prepare a project proposal. However, Takeshobo and King Records hadn’t worked together in about a decade and I had no point of contact, so I had to call the extension number printed in the back of the manga.

─ A year after that, in April 2017, the Hoshiiro Girldrop anime was announced as an April Fool’s joke, and the cat was out of the bag for the Pop Team Epic anime.

I knew people who read the manga would figure it out from the moment they saw “Hoshiiro Girldrop,” and I thought it’d be funnier to have them work it out, so that’s how we decided to announce it. As a leftover of that, the URL is still hoshiiro to this day.

─ I see. Pop Team Epic has all sorts of people working on it. How did you decide who to bring on for the staff?

When we first decided to adapt it into an anime, we brought up the matter to Takeshobo to get their permission, but we still hadn’t decided who was animating it. At the time, I was also producing Sumire Uesaka’s music, and I remembered we had asked Kamikaze Douga for the animated PV of her first album Kakumei-teki Broadway Shugisha Doumei. Working off of that connection, I told them, “So there’s this shitty manga…” and proposed the idea, which they accepted. And it all began from there.

When I visited Kamikaze Douga to talk it over, they presented several ideas. As we discussed how we should approach a work like this, which is a philosophy unto itself in the manga, we decided on a direction that would evoke a variety show feel. We decided to develop the structure as an anthology, or rather a collection of very short segments along the lines of Ugo Ugo Ruga. And so the key players began to take shape.

─ I guess calling the anime a variety show may or may not have a ring of truth to it…?

I’ve always loved live-action shows, including variety shows. Uesaka Sumire no Yabai ◯◯, which aired last April, was the first live-action variety show I launched at King Records, and so I thought I could use that know-how this time around to make Pop Team Epic. That’s how it ended up in its current form.

─ In Uesaka Sumire no Yabai ◯◯, the mascot character “Aretaro Choheki a.k.a. Ruthlessly-Hunts-Down-Hipster-Girls-Man” is designed by Bkub Okawa as well. Did that connection come about from the anime adaptation as well?

The production of Pop Team Epic had been progressing at the same time, and we were thinking of creating a mascot character for the program along the lines of on-chan from How do you like Wednesday?, so we asked Bkub-sensei. We had hoped that a mascot drawn by Bkub-sensei would have a wide appeal in terms of merchandise, but it didn’t sell at all. We found out the hard way that it wasn’t like Pop Team Epic (laughs).

─ (Laughs). That being said, having formed the core group, by what criteria did you form the rest of the staff, and who was the one who reached out to them?

We brought on (Jun) Aoki, who is director at Space Neko Company, and AC-bu, from Kamikaze Douga’s network. From Aoki-san’s connections, we reached out to UchuPeople, who do the felt segments. Also, (Makoto) Yamashita, who does the pixel art for the video game segments, is still a senior in university graduating this spring, but we approached him with the idea of working on the show in lieu of a senior thesis, and so our staff grew larger and larger.

As for me, I contacted Gin, who’s in charge of the background music. When he asked how many tracks will it be, I told him, “For now, all of it. If you do the theme songs and insert songs and BGMs, you’ll rake in the royalties.” And he agreed to work on the show after hearing that. I also reached out to Glovision for post-production, and that settled it for most of the staff.

─ The anime as it aired has a lot of scenes from the manga, but it also ended up with a lot of original elements from all the different staff. You mentioned the live-action, but there’s also the felt segments, the video game segments, and “BOBNEMIMIMMI.” How did you lay out the foundations for each episode?

Each creator is left to their own devices. I told them, “If anything happens, I’ll take the fall for it,” and I don’t give a lot of specific instructions for what they should make. I think AC-bu’s “BOBNEMIMIMMI” is the most incredible out of them all. Normally, you start with scripts and storyboards, and start with roughs before proceeding further, but for AC-bu, the footage that airs for broadcast is the first thing we get from them. That’s their first draft.

And it works out because none of us tell them what to do. Of course, I ask for their work after we’ve figured out how long it needs to be, but I have no idea what they’re going to submit (laughs). However, I think that leads to the most amusing results, so I tell them to do as they please.

─ I never imagined that the felt segments would come with their own insert songs.

The felt segments came about because UchuPeople told us they wanted to make felt animation. So when we told them to go ahead, they wrote up the lyrics themselves. And then they sent it to us and asked us to set it to music. So after we wrote the song and recorded it and gave them the files, UchuPeople sent us back a video of the choreography. And then they told us, “We’ll recreate this but with felt,” and so it went on and became what you see now.

─ So you’re saying you really were mostly hands-off with the production.

That’s right. The felt is animated with stop-motion photography, so I feel like it must have been quite the effort. As for all of those songs… I guess you could say it’s what little King Records-ness the show has to offer (laughs).

Also, episodes 1 and 2, amongst others, has what you could call story segments, and the scripts/composition for those are done by Yuichiro Kido, who I asked to come on board. He’s working as a freelancer at the moment, and he has a kid now so money’s been tight lately… So the story goes. I said, “So you could use the work, right?” and asked him to work on the show.

─ I feel like we’ve been hearing a lot of stories you shouldn’t be telling us (laughs).

I just thought it’d be best if I could help everyone’s livelihood in what little way I could (laughs). However, for your ordinary anime, you would hold meetings and make storyboards using the script as a launching point. But for Pop Team Epic, even after you write up a script for the story segment, the final result will end up being quite different.

Bkub-sensei lives in the Kansai region and once a month he comes up to Tokyo, supervises the jokes that will go in the show, watches the resulting animatics, and then revises everything once more. It’s a method you wouldn’t usually see, but the focus is on turning it into footage as quickly as possible. You can only tell if the tempo and timing are right after you watch it, so it ended up being quite a bit of work. Everyone reads the manga at a different pace, so we figure out the right approach by making adjustments as we go. If we end up falling short of the runtime, there’s always the option of fortune-drawing as a filler segment (laughs).

─ So that bit from episode 2 was meant to fill the time… (laughs).

We can adjust the time as much as we like with that. Since all we have to do is play it back (laughs).

─ This really does sound like a unique production. You would normally confirm things at each step of the process before moving forward, instead of creating everything first before talking it over and redoing it.

Of course, we want to get the footage done first. And then we add accompaniment, where we’ll get very detailed orders for new music for specific scenes from Aoki, the director, and I think, “Man, this isn’t a movie you know…” (laughs).

Right now we have more than a total of 100 pieces of background music made. Normally, it’d be considered a lot for a 30-minute anime with 12 episodes to have 50 tracks. So a 15-minute show running for a single cours with more than 100 tracks is definitely abnormal (laughs).

─ So you’re saying that in episode 4, when Popuko and Pipimi are in the race, and the character who wouldn’t be out of place in a certain racing manga shows up, the familiar-sounding music that plays is made just for that scene?

That’s right. We get music ordered for the tiniest things, and what airs is the result of trying to do it all.

─ I’d expect Okawa-sensei to have a lot of ideas for the show as well.

Yes he does. Especially in episode 1, there are a lot of little jokes sprinkled about. Some of it is stuff you’d never pick up on… but Bkub-sensei feels that putting those in makes it true to Pop Team Epic, and so we solicit those ideas from him. The people making the show work to bring his concepts to life as much as possible.

─ Episode 1 specifically feels like it has a lot of gaming parody bits. Are jokes like that mostly Bkub-sensei’s ideas as well? Or do some of those come from the staff making the show?

Yamashita-san, who’s in charge of the video game segments, came to us in the beginning with all these ideas for what he wanted to make, but they were obviously things we’d never get away with. We told him, “Yamashita-san, there’s no way we can do that…” and had to work from there. So actually, the gaming parodies have a lot of ideas from the creators’ side as well.

─ You had to change it, yet it still ended up the way it did.

At first it looked exactly like the original games, and I seem to recall a lot of talks that went, “Making these changes is for your own good as well, Yamashita-san” (laughs).

─ Going back to episode 1, how did that French segment come about? I feel like I saw a lot of viewers at the advance screening and the TV broadcast who were left dumbfounded…

That was Kamikaze Douga’s idea. There’s a French person who works at Kamikaze Douga, you see.

─ You mean the one who shows up on camera.

That’s him. He doesn’t speak Japanese, and communicates at work with English, so Kamikaze Douga said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we gave him the manga and let him do as he pleased?” So we ended up going with that suggestion. Since he doesn’t understand Japanese, he made the segment by looking at the art and imagining what was going on. That’s why it ignores the canon and has Popuko and Pipimi going to Paris, and makes self-deprecating French jokes. Also, he creates those as a one-man team, which is why it’s animated more like a Western cartoon. We also hired French voice actresses, so the footage is sent over there for voice-over recording. I was shocked to hear how much it actually cost to do all that… (laughs).

─ (Laughs). And there’s “BOBNEMIMIMMI,” which you could describe as an attack on the viewers’ sanity. What does “BOBNEMIMIMMI” mean anyway?

Don’t ask me (laughs). When I first got to see the footage, I saw the title “BOBNEMIMIMMI” come up on-screen. And my first thought is, “You got the title wrong!

But the material is foremost based on the original manga, so I’d love it if people saw it as kind of a palate cleanser. Everyone working on the show can’t get enough of AC-bu’s work, and although it may be a bit overstimulating for the viewers, I know it’ll grow on them. You could think of it as “Strong Zero in video form.

─ Another shock for the viewers must have been the repeat broadcast structure. Why did you decide to have it air twice in a row?

When we first spoke with Kamikaze Douga, we couldn’t imagine it being any longer than a short anime, and set about making it with a 15-minute runtime. It was originally going to be a web broadcast, but I changed my mind somewhere along the process and wanted to air it on TV as well.

Actually, during the very beginning stages, Bkub-sensei asked us, “Would it be possible to make the main audio track be female voices, and make the auxiliary audio track be male voices?” I would never have thought of that. But that’s not possible with a web broadcast, and if we broadcast a 15-minute anime on television, there would still be 15 minutes to fill for the slot. We didn’t have the option of broadcasting another show with the remaining time, like we did with Tsuredure Children and Aho Girl last year. So we were thinking of doing a rebroadcast of a popular show of ours, You’re Being Summoned, Azazel, if nothing else. But we realized halfway through that we could use the time by running it twice.

If we broadcast the same thing however, it would have been a fiasco. So while it wouldn’t be a main and auxiliary audio track like Bkub-sensei had proposed, we decided it’d be interesting if the two halves were split into male and female voice actors, and decided to change the cast for every episode. I’d seen a lot of online debate about who should play Popuko and Pipimi, and thought we’d just make it different every time. Then they’d have no room to complain. And now you could have conversations like, “I liked Popuko in episode x” and “Well, I liked Pipimi in episode y,” and everyone would start talking about who might come next, so I added it to the proposal. Then I explained to Glovision, “So this is how the show is going to be…” To which I was told, “There’s no way we can agree to such a complicated arrangement.” So I negotiated with, “Can’t we make it work somehow? We can pay as much as you need…” and finally got them to accept.

─ I imagine the viewers would like to know as well, but did you have set guidelines when you were doing the casting? You must have had something in mind to get such a perfect pair every time.

At first Bkub-sensei was interested in who we’d cast, too. After we’d decided that the cast would change every time, we had him make a list of the pairs he’d like to see. From that list, which he made without episode count in mind, I picked out the pairs that seemed most doable by order of who would create the most buzz, and started casting for each episode. The ending and insert songs were cast in a similar manner. I go by how interesting I think they’d be together.

But the show being what it is, I imagine it’s hard to know what kind of performance to give. If it’s two actors who are on good terms though, they can play off each other in the recording booth after working out a game plan. So I thought it’d go smoother than just sticking two strangers in there.

─ The prime example there would be Aoi Yuki and Ayana Taketatsu in episode 2.

That’s right. One thing though is that since the cast changes every time for this show, I end up apologizing to them every time. Before the recording for the first episode of a TV anime, the director and producer show up and introduce themselves. They explain the concept and the direction, and then the recording can begin. But it goes without saying that this is only for shows with a recurring cast.

For Pop Team Epic, since the cast is different for every half of every episode, we have to introduce ourselves every time. And so each time, in unison, we apologize with, “We’re very sorry you had to participate in a show like this.” We also tell them, “We didn’t plan out anything for this show, so we don’t really have any instructions for you. Please do as you’d like.” Depending on the person, they might say, “It doesn’t have to be much, but could you provide some direction?” And all we tell them is, “There’s nothing I can think of. I don’t know,” and so they just head off into the recording booth (laughs).

─ So other than technical matters, like timing and stray noise, you don’t give any directions?

Actually, we say that we’ll leave it to them, but Aoki will interrupt surprisingly often with something like, “Maybe you should try it more like this for this part?” And they’ll yell back, “Aoki-san, this isn’t what we agreed on!” (laughs). It’s especially hard to tell the more veteran cast members that we’d like another take. But we’re not shy giving them feedback, so the on-site staff are always on pins and needles. However, I think that’s good in its own way, so we keep them that way (laughs).

─ Speaking of the cast, Hoshiiro Girldrop, which shows up at the beginning of episode 1 and in the episode previews, stars Yui Ogura, Inori Minase, and Sumire Uesaka, who also sing the theme song. I hear the Pop Team Epic All Time Best album, which encompasses practically all of the music from the show, will include that song?

The three actresses for Hoshiiro Girldrop do feel like the epitome of King Records. Well, it’s released under Citizen Records, but it sure is a coincidence that they happened to get those three (laughs).

─ The three people who could probably fill Nippon Budokan, say sometime last March (laughs).

I figured they’d attract people if we ever decided to hold an event (laughs).

─ Also, for the ending and insert songs, you have a pair of producers who sing the male version, and a pair of idols who sing the female version.

It’s our way of paying tribute.

─ You showed episode 3 at the advance screening last December. The fans who had attended seemed very confused when the TV broadcast started. What was your reasoning for that?

I never said anything about it being an advance screening of episode 1 (laughs). We just said it would be an “advance screening,” and it turned out to be an advance screening of episode 3. It really was a coincidence that it ended up being episode 3. We were contacting people and filling out the cast list, and it just so happened that Uesaka-san and (Mikako) Komatsu-san’s schedules worked out.

─ So you’re saying that Komatsu-san and Uesaka-san’s schedules just happened to be confirmed around the time you were going to announce the cast, and when it came time for press coverage, they just happened to be free so you asked them to do it?

That’s right. For the advance screening, we forgot to put down that it was a screening of episode 3… Our company makes a lot of mistakes, but well, it is what it is.

─ I can’t help but wonder how Uesaka-san felt during those interviews, where she had to talk about the show with all of those media outlets… (laughs).

Uesaka-san was actually very mad at me. She told me, “Don’t go parading us like clowns!” I had to calm her down by saying, “That wasn’t my intention. Well, only a little bit. Anyway, if they wait two weeks, they’ll see you in episode 3.” I do feel guilty about it.

─ I feel like this explains why Komatsu-san and Uesaka-san looked so uncomfortable during the advance screening… Also, the Blu-ray/DVD for volume 1 goes on sale on January 31st, which is a pretty fast release schedule for a TV anime.

Normally, you’d release it at the end of the month, 2 months after the cours in which it started broadcasting. For a January broadcast, that’d be around the end of March, is the common practice. Of course, there is the possibility of retakes or other circumstances with the production, but I figured I would take care of it somehow… I mean, you want to buy it while everyone’s still talking about it.

For a 6-volume set, volume 1 usually comes out right around the finale, and the last volume isn’t until half a year later. I felt it’d be best to make it available right when people most want to buy it, so we went with a fairly speedy release. It was a bit demanding of us, but thanks to Kamikaze Douga’s cooperation, we adjusted the schedule so that the week after episode 4 aired, you could own those 4 episodes on disk. I set out to do this because that’s how I would want releases to work, but actually getting it done turned out to be a really huge pain in the ass (laughs). Even if something comes up, there’s no way to make corrections.

─ To send everything to the manufacturers in time, you’d need to have up to episode 4 completed before the broadcast in January.

For volume 1, the disks had to be pressed before the end of the year, which is the worst possible scenario, where you finish everything up with no idea how the viewers will react. It’s gotta be tough for the retailers, too, since the pre-orders have to end before they know how the show will be received… But from the consumer’s perspective, this is the best route.

─ The special audio commentary is by Bkub Okawa and Mafia Kajita. What kind of commentary can we expect?

It was recorded with the full intent of being a commentary for Pop Team Epic.

─ That just makes me more curious… By the way, the Kirimi-chan official Twitter posted a picture of “Salmon Team Epic.” Would you happen to know anything about that?

They probably went off and did that by themselves (laughs). I thought it was cute. They should definitely turn it into merchandise (laughs).

─ The rest of the interview will be a rapid-fire Q&A of questions solicited from readers on Twitter. First, we have some thoughts on the show.

  • Q. Why did I get hooked on such a shitty anime? I watch it every day and now I’ve memorized all the lines. I’m spending my money on the merch as well. <3

Ah, now I feel guilty for some reason…

  • Q. I want to watch Hoshiiro Girldrop (pleading). The show never fails to make me laugh, so keep on polishing it to make it even shittier!

Will do. Yui Ogura-san is a semi-regular on the show, so I hope you continue to watch.

─ As you can imagine, most of the responses were questions about the show. Without further ado:

  • Q. How many parties concerned did you have to apologize to?

  • Q. Did you ever think, “Wow, this is a shitty anime” after making it?

I think it came out as well-made as it could be.

  • Q. What was your first impression when you met Bkub-sensei?

He came off as very mild-mannered, which actually made it even stranger.

  • Q. Was the response after it aired stronger than you had imagined?

I thought the rebroadcast structure where the cast changes would be well-received, so I kind of saw it coming.

  • Q. Why was the broadcast delayed by three months?

That was just a misunderstanding.

  • Q. Who was the voice actor who played the Professor Oak look-alike in episode 1?

That was Masaaki Yano!

  • Q. How many frames did you need to shoot for “Love Me ♡ Pop Team Epic” in episode 2?

So much that I’ve lost track of the exact number.

  • Q. What led to the idea of adding the behind-the-scenes moments (like the staff in episode 1 or the inside story of the voice actors in episode 2) to the anime?

The recording booth scene in episode 2 was something Aoki-san wanted to do, and it was originally going to be much more outrageous. They were supposed to throw away my glasses, but we came to a compromise and it turned into a game of catch. I thought that had gone far enough, since there’d be nothing good in it for me (laughs).

  • Q. What were you thinking when you made such a shitty (in a good way) anime?

Our rule is that anything goes as long as it’s entertaining, and we make it without worrying about how we’ll do it.

  • Q. Please tell us about merch you plan to make for Pop Team Epic, or a piece of existing merchandise that you were happy with.

It’d have to be the shitty set we sold at Summer Comiket last year. It included a piece of the Takeshobo building, which I thought was amusing.

─ Was that really from the Takeshobo office?

…I’ll leave that to your imagination.

  • Q. Do you like Chrono Trigger?

I frigging love it. I used to play it like crazy.

  • Q. Why did you make the opening for a shitty anime so cool?

Since it’s a gag comedy, we had considered going in strong with the humor at the beginning. But then we realized that if you made the opening really cool, it would be completely ruined by the shitty anime in more ways than one, so we intentionally made it as cool as we could.

─ The opening sequence starts off with a CRT TV being smashed, which had a lot of impact and felt very “Pop Team Epic” to me.

We really did smash that TV in real life.

  • Q. Since starting the show, how many times did you get on your knees and apologize to the voice actors?

I’ve never had to get down on my knees. I just say, “I’m so sorry.

  • Q. How often do you check what we fans are saying on Twitter and elsewhere?

Fairly often. I wanted to know what everyone was looking forward to in Pop Team Epic, so I was checking it before the show even started. It played a role in when we decided what voice actors to cast as well.

  • Q. Be honest. Do you think this anime is shit?

It’s shit. There’s no mistaking that.

  • Q. How many people did you choose from for the cast? Also, were there cases where you got turned down?

There were voice actors we wanted that we reached out to, but whose schedules didn’t line up. We weren’t in much of a position to push back when that happened, either.

  • Q. We always see the Takeshobo building get destroyed, but what about King Records?

I’m sure it will be reduced to rubble when everyone wishes for it deep down in their hearts.

  • Q. Have you heard anything from Bkub-sensei about the quality of the anime?

I’m told he’s enjoying it a lot as well.

  • Q. Are you going to do a second season or a movie?

No we won’t.

─ No hesitation there, huh…

Yeah. Well, it’s more like we’re trying our best just to get through these 3 months…

  • Q. When are we getting Genichiro Tenryu and Riki Choshu?

We’d need to add subtitles… (laughs).

  • Q. Please get Yuki Takada and have her say, “I’ll do my best today!

Even I can’t do that… I still have a duty to society (laughs).

  • Q. What did you think about the voice actors’ performances?

Everyone approaches their part differently which I thought was fascinating. Everything from where they insert ad-libs, to how they take breaths. You could turn it into a teaching video for voice acting schools (laughs). I think everyone could learn something by watching it, so please use it as educational material. We can discuss the licensing fees.

  • Q. Did you anticipate this kind of viewer reception?

You can’t play your wildcard without anticipating things a bit, so we acted on our hunches as best we could.

  • Q. Don’t you think you guys went a bit crazy with the Die Hard references?

I love the entire Die Hard series.

  • Q. Please tell us what you’ve gained and what you’ve lost from making this shitty anime.

I don’t know if it’s something I’ve gained, but being able to take your ideas, show them to the world at large, and see what everyone thinks is really exciting. There aren’t many shows that get such big reactions, after all. As for what I’ve lost, nobody at work will talk to me anymore.

─ Have the people around you started treating you differently?

I think it started when I worked on Uesaka Sumire no Yabai ◯◯, but people suddenly stopped talking to me. They probably think I have a screw loose somewhere.

  • Q. So how many shaky spans have you had to cross to produce this?

I’m prepared to hand in my resignation to King Records if something goes wrong. If I didn’t have that mindset, I wouldn’t have lasted mentally (laughs).

  • Q. Please tell us how much the budget for the Takeshobo explosion scene is.

I think it was about 5,000,000,000,000,000 yen?

  • Q. On Nico Nico Douga, episode 1 got 3.3 million views, and episode 2 got 2 million views in a one-week span. How do you feel about that?

I love Nico Nico Douga. They say that everyone’s jumping ship to YouTube and Nico’s losing steam lately, but I still think it’s a great website. So I’d personally be happy if Pop Team Epic brings people back.

  • Q. Let’s talk about the cast for the Pop Team Epic live-action.

I’m thinking we bring on Denki Groove.

  • Q. I’m really curious how the voice actors react before and after they record. Please tell us, even if it’s just your own opinion.

Before recording starts, they look very worried, and by the time it’s over, they’re completely exhausted. I’ve heard many times that they’ve never had to play such a difficult part.

  • Q. If Pop Team Epic were to win a Nobel Prize, which prize would you aim for?

The Animation Kobe.

  • Q. Are we going to have an episode where SudoP and Bkub-sensei do the voices?

We have professional voice actors for that, so I don’t think there’s any place for us amateurs.

  • Q. The cast becomes more and more extravagant with every episode. Are you going to hold the cast party at a luxurious hotel? Or will it end up being at like a Torikizoku?

I’d like to wrap it up as quickly as possible.

  • Q. What episode are we getting Masako Nozawa?

  • Q. Why is the anime even shittier than the original (laughs)?

That’s what happens when the original is shitty.

  • Q. Where are you spending the most in terms of budget?

Making the music costs the most.

  • Q. Let’s be honest, isn’t this just an anime version of Uesaka Sumire no Yabai ◯◯?

It’s completely different.

  • Q. Is it all right if I think of this as season 2 of Uesaka Sumire no Yabai ◯◯?

If you want to think of it like that, I’d be glad if you bought the boxset for Uesaka Sumire no Yabai ◯◯.

  • Q. Did you ever think about bringing on Tatsuki as the director?

No, we didn’t…

  • Q. Please tell me what you think is the most questionable joke in the show.

  • Q. When are we getting the “BOBNEMIMIMMI” special?

I’d like to see that as well.

  • Q. We’re going to see Takeshobo be destroyed, right?

Who can say? It gets destroyed in the manga at least.

─ Speaking of which, in episode 4, it gets blown up inside the video game.

That’s right. I feel like we don’t need to do it anymore now. All I can hope for is that Popuko and Pipimi don’t come for us at King Records.

  • Q. King Records has produced Uesaka Sumire no Yabai ◯◯ and now this crazy anime. Will you sponsor more crazy shows like this in the future?

This is the last of it. I’d like to make a nice, wholesome show after this, like a sequel to Seitokai Yakuindomo.

─ Finally, if you could give us a message for the fans.

To be serious for a second, Pop Team Epic is an anthology show where every episode is different, so you can pick it up and watch it even if you’ve missed an episode. I won’t tell you to go buy the Blu-ray/DVDs, but I’d love it if you watched the show and used it as a communication tool to talk to others and find out what they thought about it. There’s nothing worse than being alone in the world, so feel free to use it for that purpose.

Also, speaking for Pop Team Epic, I think it’d be great if you could give it all you’ve got to support Basilisk: The Ouka Ninja Scrolls.

─ Thank you for your time!

Support us on Patreon to help us reach our new goal to sustain the animation archive at Sakugabooru, Sakuga Video on Youtube, as well as this Sakuga Blog. Thanks to everyone who’s helped out so far!

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4 years ago

This is the most beautiful interview I’ve ever read. Amazing.

And RIP to the smashed TV, may you find a less shitty fate in the heaven.

4 years ago

This was crazy from start to finish

4 years ago

Ironically this interview for a shitty anime reveals more about the standard process of anime planning & production(or rather, the violation of it) than most interviews I’ve read. The producer challenges so many norms that it showcases perfectly the different possibilities of anime, in a generally conservative time for the industry. Now I’m sort of interested to go watch the anime…

4 years ago

I am crying. That was my the most favorite anime ever.

4 years ago

what a story, we almost did not get Pop Team Epic. this guy really wanted to see it made, and he did it, whatever the cost – both literally and figuratively. thank you for your sacrifice, i loved Pop Team Epic!