We already had the chance to introduce you the pot in which a hell lot of ideas and projects keep on bubbling up, now we’re gonna talk (through Fabio Guaglione‘s words, one of the two prolific directors) about the projects brought forth by Fabio&Fabio which blink an eye to Japan and its undergrowth made up of anime, manga and culture which always attracts and teases us.
It really looks like AFTERVILLE attracted the whole world’s eye (and with it some important producers) but Italy – where it’s difficult to raise one’s head out of the undergrowth- can you tell us more about the extent of this echo?
Our AFTERVILLE opened us doors which until now we deemed as far away and unreachable. We’ve started a net of contacts which is step by step broadening from the States to Japan.
So some important name has shown you direct interest.
Yes, we’re working with an american major on a project (which will be shortly announced and officialized) and we’re negotiating with another major to bring on the big screen a very famous japanese anime. As to the latter, things are getting concrete right now, that’s why we can’t even mention it. Right now we can only say that there is a negotiationg for the rights going on with the japanese production and that there’s already a big “attached” producer. Besides this official talk almost come at its closing steps, we’re also trying other ways to get joint-ventures for some properties we’d like to turn into live action.
So your target is broadening not only westwards but more and more towards the Rising Sun. Given the fame of many anime and manga in our country, surely this could be the right time you hit in house. Recently you travelled to Japan: tell us your approach to a country culturally so far away from us. On which projects did you focus on?
From a certain point of view our travel to Japan it’s been for us like travelling to wonderland. we’re grown up with the american movies and the japanese cartoons…and we’re honoured even just to get the chance to talk about the possibility of letting our projects out. Lately, we moved to get in touch with Toei (with ideas and a potential manifesto) to see what we should undergo to work on live action movie based on SAINT SEYA (Knights of the Zodiac). We’ve come to know they are working on a new top secret project (not a live action) on Saint Seya and now everything is freezed since they plan to first relauch the franchise with this project. The truth is that after the Dragon Ball movie (big commercial flop and a trasposition completely unfaithful to the original product) the japanese animation houses think about it twice before signing away the rights of a product and let it pass through a western bastardization.
Which cultural aspects,linked to the world of movies, mostly striked you?
I’d say there are many. We’ve discovered a completely different world as to working relationships. At some extent is the opposite of the States, where you sit at a table to talk about business and actions are driven by contracts. In Japan even when talking about work you keep on drinkin, eating and building a relationship between the people before closing a deal. This is certainly fascinating but sometimes creates “smoky rights situations” which can bring to thorny problems (as happened with WATCHMEN)
How did this balancing on the edge affected the negotiation for SAINT SEYA?
Right now, the rights for Saint Seya (split up among Toei, Shueisha and TMS Entertainment) are not easily altogether joinable in a unique society. Toei is now working to cluster the rights all in one in order to ease the chance of creating a movie on Saint Seya, some of these days. To do this they’ll first have to renew the relationship with Kurumada (the series creator).What we’ve seen is a real interest shown by Toei producers who loved Afterville, and this together with our documents which displayed our true love and care for their work, gave us good credit for talking on the possibility of a movie.
I guess your passion for the oriental anime/manga also brought you to knock on other doors.
We’ve tried to ask information on another property we like a lot, and we have in mind to bring o the big screen: JOJO NO KYMIONA BOKEN (Jojo’s bizarre adventures). Unfortunately also in this case the situation about rights doesn’t seem to be well defined. At the moment we didn’t go deeply through it, but we’ve set up to do it in the future. These difficulties though aren’t keeping the japanese producers from making live action movies out from their properties or from finding co-productions. Surely one of the most beautiful and important moments of this trip has been the dinner with Kentaro Miura, the author of BERSERK.
Another cult anime which has even been redubbed and put on night rotation on the Italian TV. How do you plan to bring on the screen such a horror, cruel and straight manga like BERSERK?
We watch this wellknown manga since a long and we’re convinced it’s one of the best contemporaty literarature works. The big problem is that to be faithful to its essence we’d have to face a highly expensive R-rated movie. This would mean for the producers/backers to stand in front of an investment with totally unsecure returns, unless the budget is really narrow. We’d liked to talk about these and other matters with Miura…but because of the peculiar japanese way of handling business the dinner took a different stir.
Did you stumble on some bizarre japanese tradition?
We’ve been welcomed in a crazy restaurant with view on the city in the Roppongi district and treated like very important guests. Master Miura came with his editor. Consider that in Japan manga editors are very important, they decide together with the drawer/creator the direction the story has to take, step by step. At the beginning of the dinner there’s benn a mutual exchange of gifts: Miura gave us two action figures, Gatsu and the Skull Knight, while we gave him a book in the italian edition, with a dedication we had written for him.
Surely interesting souvenirs to bring back home. Which rail did the chat move on?
The chat started well but, for cultural reasons, we never got to concretely talk about a possible movie on Berserk. Miura talked many times about what he’d like to put in the future of Berserk and asked us many questions about the american film industry and our way of making movies. He talked about which characters are the main and which, in his opinion, would be eliminated in a Hollywood movie … there’s also been an interesting face on Godor. We couldn’t keep ourself from asking if he knows how Berserk is gonna end and the answer, dear fans, is that even if he doesn’t know the trail details, he exactly knows how the manga is gonna end.
This remarks the practical difficulties you told us about SAINT SEYA. It sounds as though they don’t want to expose themselves too much, what are you expecting from this trip?
What the future developments of this dinner will be, if there will be…is early to tell. A movie about Berserk is one of those things requiring years before getting a real start. Like the Saint Seya case, as you said, the licensors want to accurately use this property first finishing the manga and then seeing if there are ways to increase its success way before a live action movie. Maybe with a new animated project making the franchise bigger and therefore attractive for potential investors. Obviously if someone like Steven Spielberg came up, then all the displayed cards would swiftly change, but this we know…it’s a different story.
translated by Elisa Clava