SciFi Japan

    GAMERA -Rebirth- Director Hiroyuki Seshita Interview

    Director Hiroyuki Seshita discusses his new anime series GAMERA -Rebirth- at Anime Expo. Photo by Andrew Nguyen.

    Author: Andrew Nguyen
    Introduction: Keith Aiken

    Source: Kadokawa
    Official Site: (Japan), (US)
    Official Twitter: @gamera_rebirth
    #Gamera Rebirth #gamera_rebirth
    Special Thanks to Anna Haas and Yuna Kishita

    Earlier this month,  Kadokawa invited Andrew Nguyen of SciFi Japan to take part in a round table interview with Hiroyuki Seshita, director of the upcoming anime GAMERA -Rebirth-  (ガメラ リバース, Gamera Ribāsu).
    Photo courtesy of Kadokawa. ©2023 KADOKAWA/ GAMERA Rebirth Production Committee
    Seshita is a well-known director and supervising director whose credits include KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA: BATTLE FOR PLANET NINE (シドニアの騎士 第九惑星戦役, Shidonia no Kishi Dai-kyuu Wakusei Seneki, 2015), AJIN: DEMI-HUMAN (亜人, Ajin, 2016) and BLAME! (ブラム, Buramu, 2017). He also co-directed the Anigoji Trilogy of GODZILLA: PLANET OF THE MONSTERS (GODZILLA 怪獣惑星, Gojira: Kaijū Wakusei, 2017), GODZILLA: CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE (GODZILLA 決戦機動増殖都市, Gojira: Kessen Kidō Zōshoku Toshi, 2018) and GODZILLA: THE PLANET EATER (GODZILLA 星を喰う者, Gojira: Hoshi o Kū Mono, 2018). His GAMERA -Rebirth- is a 6-episode series from Kadokawa which will be distributed worldwide on Netflix later this year.
    The interview was conducted at Anime Expo on Sunday, July 2. Also in attendance were reporter Rebecca Oliver Kaplan, representing the comics news site The Beat. From Kadokawa Global Anime were Domestic Sales Manager Anna Haas, who served as the main moderator for the interview, translators Eri Maruyama and Mayuko Nishimiya, and event producer Justin Rojas of Studio Nanom who acted as a fact-checker and also asked a question of the director. 

    While Hiroyuki Seshita did give a few brief answers in English, most of his statements were done through the translators. For clarity's sake we have identified both types of answers in the following transcript of the interview...


    Gamera battles Jiger, a classic movie foe unseen for more than half a century. ©2023 KADOKAWA/ GAMERA Rebirth Production Committee

    Q:  What was it like to adapt Gamera to animation versus live action?

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): The director mentioned that he was also in charge of the Godzilla anime. He became involved with that first, along with Gen Urobuchi, the scriptwriter of PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA, and Kobun Shizuno, who was the director of DETECTIVE CONAN. They basically got together as a three person team and decided to make the Godzilla anime together. And the plan was to make a never-before-seen Godzilla, which is why they made it in an anime form. But they wanted to make it like a battle thing, almost like pro wrestling. Like something that hadn't really been seen before with kaiju.

    So they gave that idea to Toho Animation, the ones that are in charge of the Godzilla franchise, and they wanted to do it as a challenge because the director was actually a big fan of kaiju ever since he was a little kid. So he always had this image of this cool kaiju pro-wrestling fighting that you don't get to see that much nowadays. So that was kind of what he had envisioned. And making the Godzilla anime was very interesting, but he wasn't really able to carry out the vision he had of doing that really pure battle scene, close-up combat kind of anime.

    Hiroyuki Seshita likes the unique form of Guiron as reimagined for GAMERA -Rebirth-. Photo courtesy of Kadokawa. ©2023 KADOKAWA/ GAMERA Rebirth Production Committee

    When he got the offer from Kadokawa to make GAMERA -Rebirth- he said, 'if it's not just a hard science fiction anime, but I can make like an actual, pure, pro-wrestling style combat anime, then yes.' And Kadokawa accepted. So that's how GAMERA -Rebirth- came to be. And that is what he mainly wanted to do with the Gamera anime, because Gamera's kaiju are usually done with suits, and you can't really do those kinds of fights If you're in a suit; it's like very hard to carry out. So that's what his main goal was to construct through the Gamera anime.


    Q: Which kaiju out of the five that will battle Gamera was the one that you most enjoyed bringing in?

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): Kadokawa hasn't announced all of the five kajus Gamera will actually be battling yet so its partially still confidential. But I think we've announced up to the fourth. And, within those four, the director said he really truly does like them all. So he would rather not have to like say 'this is my favorite.'

    But, in the process of making GAMERA -Rebirth-  he did find that he very much liked Guiron because of his special battle form and also his silhouette is is very different from other kaiju. And it's something very new that he hadn't created before so it has a special place.


    Q: Is there any special consideration for doing a kaiju adaptation for Western audiences versus Japanese audiences?

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): We had a bit of trouble answering this question because Kadokawa, the production company for GAMERA -Rebirth-, wasn't really looking out for the international audience this time around. So he was actually scolded by the production company not to especially do that. 

    Basically the main thing that they are focusing on with this adaptation, it's not the audience territory, but basically within the Gamera lore. There are two very specific eras in which the movies were made; the Heisei era and the Showa era Gamera. And fans, when we announced the reboot production, were mostly curious about which it would be; a reboot of the Showa version or of the Heisei version. And that is actually still secret. So we cannot tell you which one it is going to be, but we can say that the director mainly watched the Showa ones growing up. That's his childhood, basically.

    And his main idea to make GAMERA -Rebirth- was how to bring those past era Gameras into the modern world, which is now the Reiwa era. How to adapt those older versions of Gamera into the modern era. So that was the main point they were trying to recreate rather than focusing on territories.


    Q: Do you have a favorite Gamera movie, or certain movies that you like more than the others? 

    Hiroyuki Seshita: My favorite is GAMERA VS. GYAOS. The one from 1967.


    Q:  Were there challenges to adapting it in animation? 

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): There were a few challenging parts in doing Gamera as an animation. The first one obviously being is to show the proportions of the actual kaiju because they are so large... how to convey that within animation. So to get the scale of the kaiju was one of the challenging parts, and how to show all the details of the kaiju and the silhouettes of their designs that most fans really want to see. We have to show that through animation because, obviously, the kaiju styles or the designs are so specific to the lore of all the movies. 

     Photo by Andrew Nguyen.

    And how to show that kaiju style alongside the anime characters because the styles are so different. He had to try to find a visual style that would match both the anime characters and also the kaiju. So that was another one of the challenging parts of making this.


    Q:  What kind of considerations went in for matching the animation style to the characters?

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): He has been working as a graphic designer for the past 37 years. So he has worked with 3D CG, obviously, and he is aware that CG has its faults and limitations, when it comes to using it. But he really does love using it. And the GAMERA -Rebirth- anime was a very good match for CGI specifically because it is very graphic and it has a pop style to its visuals, and it's more in the illustrated style of animation.

    However, with a kaiju design, it's all about how to show full-on the details of the kaiju and show those moving. If you would try to do that with a different type of animation the costs would be incredible. It would be almost unattainable to make that if it wasn't with 3D CG. And so this time, the kaiju design was his highest priority. And he was trying to find the closest line between how to show the anime characters and the kaiju design within the same world. The original sci-fi kaiju design and the anime character design, that was what he most was focused on. 


    Q:  What is it like to bring Gamera to new fans? 

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator):   So for people who know Gamera, I guess they mostly enjoy it as a live action franchise of movies. However, nowadays anime is very popular genre that Japanese media is using to reach a worldwide audience. And so, although he loves the Gamera live action and would love to work on the Gamera movies as well, he thinks it's really meaningful to bring them back to life in a different format and in that way be able to reach the new generation of people... commemorate its spirit for the older fans as well as bring that to new fans who can enjoy it and relive that period. And although many of the more deep fans of Gamera will for sure say they want to do it with the suits and they want to do it like the old Gamera style, he wants to do it that way, too.

    He he thinks that there is a meaning to bring it back as an anime and try to reach a newer audience by bringing it back to life in a different format.

    So basically, in this day and age, it would be actually very difficult to recreate a Gamera in the old style with the suits just because of the budget that it would require in this modern era in show business. And he does really want to do that. But, again, bringing back the older characters from the Gamera franchise into this new era is kind of the main goal with GAMERA -Rebirth- . I guess that's why it's called GAMERA -Rebirth- .

    But he did mention one very important thing that we do want the international audience to note is that, if the anime is a big hit after it comes out, maybe there might be a new live action Gamera series because then we would be able to finance that. So we do want many fans all over the world to watch it. Everything depends on this one doing well.

    He actually already has in his mind enough ideas to make at least ten different movies.


    Q: Did you learn anything during Godzilla that you applied to this?

     The director has kept secret which era of Gamera movies is the major inspiration for the anime reboot. ©2023 KADOKAWA/ GAMERA Rebirth Production Committee

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): The director mentioned how the process of making the Godzilla anime and the process making the GAMERA -Rebirth- anime were very, very different. So it's hard to compare his involvement in both and how he was able to learn from that. The reason being Toho has a very pre-organized and pre-strategized plan for how they want to make Godzilla and what type of Godzilla they want to make with each new installment that they create. So he wasn't as involved in the planning of that, but with GAMERA -Rebirth- it's completely different and his involvement is a lot deeper,with what kind of Gamera than he wanted to make. So Godzilla might compare to other titles he's worked on, like KNIGHTS OF SEDONA or BLAME, in that it's very planned out beforehand.

    With the GAMERA -Rebirth- invitation from Kadokawa he was pretty much able to do whatever he wanted, outside of the budget.  With Gamera, there's obviously limitations to the budget he was able to use. But that's like the standard. Everything else he had the freedom to have fun.


    Q:  Did you feel like you got the time you needed?

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): With regarding the time for the actual production of the show, there was a lot less limitations this time around with Gamera. In comparison to the Godzilla anime he had maybe 1.5 the amount of production time so he was able to do it more relaxed and take more time to go and do everything.

    He just wanted to reiterate that he's actually very close with Toho. His relationship With Toho is very good. There’s no conflict there; he's basically Switzerland.

    Hiroyuki Seshita: I totally understood you guys. Your feelings, because I love kaiju... not just Godzilla, not Gamera, I love both kaiju. So then, you know, your feelings are so natural as kaiju fans . 


    Q:  Since you had so much creative freedom for a Gamera, you basically have created the new generation of Gamera and that can potentially impact the future of Gamera forever. How does that feel, as someone who has been a fan of it from watching it in the sixties to creating it now?

    Hiroyuki Seshita (via Translator): When it's put like that, he obviously does feel a lot of pressure of creating the new generation. 

    And that sense that he loves the sixties original fantasy essence, an aspect that Gamera had. He does feel very honored to be able to bring that back in a different form of media and give that experience to a newer audience now in this day and age. And he does think that GAMERA -Rebirth- will give people a lot of hope and courage because the storyline is written in a way that you can get that courage from Gamera itself and also from the characters in the show. it follows the group of children, elementary school kids, and you can get courage from their experiences within the story, too.

    And, as a last kind of promotional comment on our end post, we are allowed to say that he will be a guest at San Diego Comic-Con this month and have a panel there showing possible new images of something. And we'll have a talk show With Kan Takahama, the kaiju designer for GAMERA -Rebirth-, who will also be there alongside the director. And we'll have a talk show and a panel, including multiple new releases. [vist for details]

     We might have another press junket there. So welcome.  

    ©2023 KADOKAWA/ GAMERA Rebirth Production Committee

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