Monday, September 24, 2007

Short Mashimo interview in October's "Anime Insider"

Subject: Noir
'Fan member ligbi helpfully transcribes the contents of a short article about "El Cazador" that's in the latest issue of Anime Insider:

Flash in Japan. Why overseas otaku dig El Cazador De La Bruja. By Andrez Bergen.

El Cazador De La Bruja may have copious gunplay, a murder mystery and a Spanish title that translates to "The Witch Hunter", but according to it's director, Koichi Mashimo, it's above all else a road movie in anime clothing- one that's headed straight to the border.

The highly respected helmsman of Madlax, Noir, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and most of the .hack outlings drove the notion home in a recent chat with Anime Insider.

"It's a road movie-style story in which two girls, Ellis- a target of bounty hunters- and Nadie- a bounty hunter- join up and then head south," he relates.

El Cazador ranges well into Mexico, where the amnesiac Ellis is hiding from some relentless bounty hunters until she can figure out just why she's been accused of a murder she can't remember. Even Ellis' array of unusual powers can't keep the feisty, self-assured bounty hunter Nadie off her tracks in a dusty Mexican township. But instead of turning in the girl for the reward money, Nadie joins Ellis in her flight south to uncover clues about her missing memory.

It's the setup for countless shootouts and general mayhem in the style of Noir, yet Mashimo believes that the locale, the character-driven plot and the quirks in the style of the unfolding tale are the real strengths here.

"The story itself is serious, but this time I took a more cheerful angle, with a consciously light and easy sense of taste, in order to avoid too much doom or gloom," he explains.

"Putting a little gag into a serious scene, such as Ellis' innocent regular line, 'Yes Sir', makes for a different approach from my previous two projects, Noir and Madlax. And the story in Latin America, which is unusual for anime, also creates a more open atmosphere than the previous two series."

While the series continues Mashimo's pension [should be "penchant" -ed] for gals with guns, even stronger character development is part of a newly baked approach here, taken in tandem with his co-driver, writer Kenichi Kanemki (Hell Girl).

"I think that Nadie's character, who is an ace gunslinger but has another side as a silly soul who pushes her luck, plays a big part in the outcome of this story," he muses.

The same goes for Nadie's would-be-sidekick, Ellis, in this murder-mystery yarn where nothing is quite what it seems.

"In Ellis' background, there's a big secret about her birth," Mashino says. "That secret relates to a key person in the large-scale Project Leviathan plot, and the friendship between the two girls undercuts the suspense surrounding the mystery of that project.

"Another key point is that the two heroines don't actively clear up the mystery very well, and they don't seem to care! Although they hook up for their own purposes at first, they unexpectedly get along with each other and start to think that it would be pretty nice to continue traveling together, so they enjoy the journey itself, without hurrying forward at all. I think this carefree abandon reflects the Latin setting."

Femmes and firearms aside, Mashimo sees a direct path between El Cazador De La Bruja and his previous series, Noir and Madlax, in part because of the principal producer he worked with in all three.

"I discussed the project with producer Shigeru Kitayama of Victor Entertainment, who worked on the other two titles with me, and we drew up this project based on his draft," he recounts.

The director says he can't single out one individual character for praise ("I love all of them," he warmly declares) but he is forthcoming when it comes to his favorite snack food consumption during and after the creative process.

"I often drink coffee, but I hardly eat anything during work because eating slows the tempo down," Mashimo declares. "Still, I like potatoes, so there's nothing better than drinking a beer with french fries after a hard day's work."

This is probably a heavily-condensed version of a fuller interview that's in a related Japanese publication, I figure. Still, there's not really any surprises or new information here. I've said many times that I would have preferred something more along the same attitude and intensity as the "other two titles", which has been my barrier to being satisfied enough with this show.

Still, I'm anxious about the impending downloadability of the raw for the finale, which is due any moment now. I'm so far behind on the translated dialouge, and with all of what I assume will be "tying up of loose ends" that will happen in this epilogue, I figure it'll be more baffling than satisfying as well. Maybe.

But I don't want to wait, I gotta have it! Heh.

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