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Article: 【Furusato P Anime Path】Episode 2: "Surprising Developments and the Birth of a New Producer"

【Furusato P Anime Path】Episode 2: "Surprising Developments and the Birth of a New Producer"

During the hot summer when I was 26, in July, I joined Sunrise Inc. I started as a production progress staff, and midway switched to setting production for "Mister Ajikko." I then worked on setting production for "Brave Exkaiser," and as a production desk for "The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird," "The Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn," "The Brave Express Might Gaine," and "Brave Police J-Decker." As an assistant producer, I produced "Golden Brave Goldran." When I was 32, planning started for "Brave Command Dagwon," and it was a period filled with many challenges.

From the age of 21, when I first stepped into the anime industry, to the age of 32, about 12 years had passed quickly. Before joining Sunrise, I had a reasonably good career at Nippon Animation and Studio Ghibli, and my tenure at Sunrise was about 8 years. I watched as my peers rapidly became producers. However, I was carefree and had never thought about wanting to become a producer quickly. The reason was that I found joy in creating anime on the ground.

However, there was a problem. The issue was that I wasn't getting along well with my boss at the time. Whenever we talked, I felt a disconnect with his ideas about anime planning and production. After much thought, I decided to consult with Producer Yoshi Yoshii, who was the boss of my current boss and had been involved in producing series like "Brave Series," "Future GPX Cyber Formula," and "Mashin Hero Wataru." He had also been my interviewer when I joined the company. I resolved to speak honestly with him about what I was thinking. What he said next came completely out of left field:

"Do you want to become a producer?"

My mind was flooded with question marks. "What is he talking about?" I thought, somewhat amused.In fact, about five years prior, Yoshii had asked me what I wanted to do in the future and what I wanted to become, to which I had replied that I wanted to be a producer. At that time, his response was more focused on assigning me as the desk for "Fighbird." *I will write about this incident another time. He told me, "I'm giving you homework. Write an original project proposal," so I immediately went to an electronics store to buy a word processor, laughing. I stayed up all night and submitted the project proposal in about 2-3 weeks.

Remembering all this in a flash, I told Yoshii, "I want to become a producer." He then instructed me to go see Mr. Nakagawa, who was in general affairs at the time. When I met Mr. Nakagawa, he asked me from among three project proposals, "Which one do you want to do?" When I pointed out one, he asked again, "Which one do you really want to do?" With determination, I said, "I'll do 'Future GPX Cyber Formula'!" Next, I was told to meet with Producer Hideji Shida. Waiting for me with a grin, Shida handed me a project proposal written by Director Mitsuo Fukuda and said, "Read this." I can still recall Mr. Shida's face to this day. I remember meeting him at a Royal Host near Kami-Igusa Station; however, that place has since turned into a different restaurant, making me feel the passage of time.

And so, I was set to meet Director Fukuda.

While I entertained the thought that this seemed like the beginning of an RPG, where I might be granted amazing items or increase my allies, instead I found myself stripped bare, about to meet Director Fukuda with nothing in hand (haha).

Oh, but let me clarify, the Mr. Fukuda in front of me was not some terrifying great demon lord (laughs). He greeted me with a smile when we met.

That manga-like twist marked the beginning of my "Producer Life."

Looking back, I think Producer Yoshii had sensed my deep-seated desire to take the next step in my career. As for the other two project proposals presented by Mr. Nakagawa from general affairs, I will keep their titles secret for now, but let me explain why I resolved to choose "Cyber Formula." My supervisor during the setting production era of "Brave Exkaiser" became Producer Yoshii. Moreover, Mitsuo Fukuda was the director for the first episode of "Exkaiser." He handled the storyboard and direction for the first episode, including the opening and the transformation sequences of the robots. The robots and battles directed by Mr. Fukuda were simply too cool. Attending the animation meetings led by Mr. Fukuda, who possessed a unique talent unlike any other director I had seen at Japan Animation or Studio Ghibli, was both enlightening and enjoyable.

Mr. Fukuda was later appointed as the director for the latter part of the TV series "Future GPX Cyber Formula SAGA." Producer Yoshii was the producer for the TV series "Cyber Formula." I felt a personal connection to this project. It was daunting yet thrilling to become a producer for an anime OVA created by the respected Producer Yoshii. And with Mr. Fukuda, known for his incredibly cool direction of robots and mechanical action, as the director, it was natural for me to want to pursue a role as a producer. However, the production status of "Cyber Formula" at that time was poor, and it was not well-liked by the outsourced staff. This made the prospect of taking on the producer role for "Cyber Formula" a heavy responsibility for me as a new producer.

Moreover, I was genuinely piled with the real-life challenge of figuring out, "What exactly does a producer do?"

With such a story that seemed straight out of a manga, I ended up working with Mr. Fukuda as the producer for the OVA "Future GPX Cyber Formula SAGA." It was a truly challenging project, but it also led to many good things. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Fukuda on other projects such as "GEAR Fighter Dendoh," "Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons," and "Grendizer U." I really love the films Mr. Fukuda creates.

As a new producer, I learned a lot from Mr. Fukuda about various aspects of anime production, from planning and scriptwriting to music and marketing. Interestingly, being able to manage production does not necessarily mean one can handle a production desk well, and being good at the production desk doesn't automatically qualify someone to be a producer. The jobs are quite similar, yet they each require different roles and, consequently, different skills and techniques.

Moreover, there isn't a textbook or reference book for a new producer to learn from.

Indeed, I had to remember what Mr. Yoshii had done on "Exkaiser" and create my own flowchart on how to proceed. When it came to what to do next and whom to consult about things I didn't understand, Mr. Fukuda was the person I asked the most. He was a senior to me, having already experienced working on a TV series and two OVAs. So, I had many questions for him, such as how to conduct meetings with the sound director, what exactly is a music session with a composer, and which staff members he would like to involve, among others. Thus, the work of a rookie producer continued.

In any case, as a first-year rookie producer involved in the "Cyber Formula SAGA," I want to write about the fun and interesting experiences, the learning moments, and the frantic scrambles I had. Having already gained popularity with the TV series and continued with the OVA, as a new producer without previous achievements, I was able to gain various kinds of knowledge not only about anime production but also about other aspects, and above all, meeting various people was a treasure.

Director Fukuda goes without saying, but there were others like Mutsumi Inomata, machine designer Shoji Kawamori, animation character designer Hiroyuki Kasugai, mecha animation director Tomo Shigeta, composer Toshihiko Sahashi, Junji Inoue from Airs (later Lantis), writer Chiaki Morosawa, and many more. The list is endless, but each has become an irreplaceable presence.Furthermore, the opportunity to first encounter the "Cyber Formula Series," which seemed to be predicated on success, allowed me to accumulate valuable successful experiences, all starting from Mr. Yoshii's casual suggestion one day: "Why don't you become a producer?"

For me, who is wholeheartedly pursuing a career in anime, it is an unforgettable memory that gave me a boost. The story unfolds like something out of a manga or novel, which might seem a bit unbelievable, but as they say, "Truth is stranger than fiction."

Next, I would like to write about the behind-the-scenes stories of the production of "Cyber Formula SAGA," which has now fully gotten underway, including the crucial process of selecting the staff.


🔻In December 2023, it was drawn by Mr. Mutsumi Inomata. Thank you. 



I've also started the YouTube channel "Hometown P Anime Road" today, so please make sure to subscribe and check it out.

🔻Here is the link


Naotake Furusato

Born on May 3, 1961, in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, began his career in the anime industry in 1982 as a production assistant at Nippon Animation. By 1985, he was working as a production assistant on Studio Ghibli's "Castle in the Sky." In 1987, he joined Sunrise, where he contributed as a production progress staff, setting creator, production desk, and assistant producer (AP) on projects like "Mister Ajikko" and the "Brave Series." He was promoted to producer starting with "Future GPX Cyber Formula SAGA" and went on to plan and produce 14 original animation titles, including "Outlaw Star," "GEAR Fighter Dendoh," "Go! Machine Robo Rescue," "Mai-HiME," and "Mai-Otome."

In February 2011, Furusato established his own planning company, Odd Eye Creative, Inc. He served as planner and producer for series such as "Phi Brain: Puzzle of God" and "Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons." He also assisted in planning "Revue Starlight" and participated as an associate producer on "Grendizer U." Currently, he is involved in the gaming sector and is preparing new projects.

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