Hear from the director of a classic anime! For Escaflowne’s 20th anniversary, director Kazuki Akane answered some questions at a special panel at Otakon. Learn about the director’s opinion on the English dub—and yes, the story behind those noses!
Don’t forget to pre-order your copy here—all versions of the TV series and movie feature both the original and new English dubs, as well as the original Japanese audio, set to HD materials that have never been released in North America!
It has been 20 years since The Vision of Escaflowne first launched, yet fans overseas are still so excited about this series. Why do you feel that Escaflowne still remains so popular?
I actually want to know myself why this is still so popular because honestly, back then, in Japan while we made Escaflowne, we definitely put a lot of effort into it, but we didn’t really make it thinking that we were going to market it abroad. So we had no idea it would end up like this and I’m actually really shocked myself, in a good way, how many more fans there are.
Have you ever seen an English dubbed version of an anime that you directed or worked on before?
Actually, no, I must say I think this is pretty much the first time I’ve seen an English dub of my work and in fact, it’s about 10 years since I got to watch Escaflowne in Japanese. The American staff and cast are so incredibly good that honestly, I was thinking, “Wow, when did Hitomi and Van learn English?” It didn’t feel strange at all to be listening to them in English, so I’m really grateful to the cast and to Sonny [Strait, ADR Director]. Thank you.
Escaflowne has a brash, manly hero (Van) and action-packed mecha battles, but it also includes many shoujo romance elements. Was the series created with female audiences in mind as well?
So as you saw from the first two episodes, it falls into the genre of robot action or robot battle anime, and of course that is a genre that is primarily seen, if not entirely seen as a boys’ anime and with a boys focus in Japan. But since we definitely were aware that we wanted girls to enjoy it too, I decided I wanted to develop the female characters emotionally, and to see the girl characters from a girl’s perspective. And then what happened was that I ended up with almost more girl fans than boy fans. So there was a period where I thought, “Oh, what did I do, what do I do?”
So we mentioned this is a classic anime and the art style is very nostalgic as well. It’s one that you don’t see very much anymore, it’s very iconic. I believe the director has a story behind why the characters look the way they do.
So even in Japan, when it first came out, fans responded “why do they have such pointy noses? They all kind of look like Pinocchio…” I want to make sure you all understand that that’s not my preference. It was actually what the character designer Nobuteru Yuki came up with and he came back to me with “Akane-san, I thought you liked shoujo manga. So I tried to make it look like shoujo manga characters.” And when I first got his designs for the characters, I said “Nooooo, I’m not stamping my approval on these. The noses are too long and too pointy.” But he said “Nooooo, I think this is good, I think we should go with this.” And of course, I got the feedback from Japanese fans and I find out that American fans and other fans abroad are like “What’s up with the noses?” and finally after a certain amount of time, Yuki-said got back in touch with me and said “Ohhh, Akane-san, I apologize, I’m sorry… my bad.” It was about a year after the show wrapped that I got the apology.
But it wouldn’t be the same without those noses, right?
I’ve kind of come around and started to feel that way.
Since this is the first release of Escaflowne on Blu-ray in North America, coming this October, could you please give a message to the fans why they should be excited for Escaflowne?
So as I mentioned earlier, this is the first time in 10 years I’ve seen this title. And I was just thinking “wow, this is a really interesting series.” So I think I can say with utmost confidence that I and we are able to deliver to you fans an English dub that the only difference from the original Japanese version is that the language, that the sound is different, that the feel and the emotions that I felt is exactly the same as when I went through the first time with the original. So I really hope that you can enjoy, and I really think that you can enjoy this new product.