ONE-PUNCH MAN was one of the biggest shows of 2015. Bringing the full One-Punch Man experience to Australia, Director Shingo Natsume and Japanese voice actor Makoto Furukawa was some of this year’s special guests at Madman Entertainment‘s Madman Anime Festival (Sept 3rd + 4th).
As huge fans, we were curious about the dynamic interaction between the director and voice actor onstage. Naturally, we wanted to share the experience with all animation fanatics. Check out extracts of the panel below!
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Natsume: I am Shingo Natsume, the director of One-Punch Man. I am very pleased to meet all of you One-Punch Man fans here in Australia.
Furukawa: I am Makoto Furukawa, the voice of Saitama in One-Punch Man. I’m excited to be here today — let’s all have a great time everyone!
Host: How has your time been in Melbourne?
Furukawa: Yes, it has been good so far. The food here is delicious! Tomorrow, we will have a bit of spare time where we get to touch some koalas, Tasmanian devils, and kangaroos. I’m looking forward to that!
Host: Have you had the chance to try some Aussie food such as steak and vegemite? (audience laughs)
Natsume: Yes, vegemite.
Furukawa: Yes, we have been given some vegemite. I haven’t tried it yet but I suppose it is a lot like Natto — something that we have in Japanese.
Natsume: For some strange reason, Australians want us to try vegemite. [audience laughs]
Furukawa: We received a jar from the organisers of this convention, and then we received another jar from a fan. The question is, when on earth are we going to end up finishing the vegemite? [audience laughs]
Host: Natsume-san, what is involved in the directorial process? Is it a difficult process managing the production and voice-acting teams?
Natsume: Besides keeping the main parts of the original story in the anime, the most important thing is to fully understand the concept of One-Punch Man. After all, it is what makes the series. It is my job to make sure everyone understands, and together with the production and voice-acting teams, we create the series.
Host: Furukawa-san, what sort of preparation do you go through when preparing some of these voice-acting sessions?
Furukawa: There is no certain method when it comes to preparing for the role. If anything, you have to sleep really well. I know you will all laugh at that but it actually works.
One-Punch Man’s Saitama is a character that has calm composure, and when he suddenly gets excited, he starts to yell a lot. To be able to prepare for the change in the energies of Saitama’s character, it is best to sleep well and be relaxed. I believe it’s not just me — everyone else is doing the same. One-Punch Man is an energy-consuming act so good sleep is very important.
Host: Was there a lot of pressure when making the first episode of One-Punch Man?
Natsume: Yes, there was a lot of pressure. By all means, the first episode is always important in every anime series because if the first episode isn’t that great, then no-one would watch the rest. With the action that takes place in One-Punch Man and everything else in between, we wanted to create a huge impact on the audience. In terms of Saitama’s character, it was the first time for fans to see and hear Saitama’s voice since reading the manga material. Furukawa-san, was there was a lot of pressure for you?
Furukawa: Yes, there was a lot of pressure for me to do well. With Saitama’s role, he doesn’t show a lot of emotions. And despite being nervous at first, I have to try my best not to sound nervous because Saitama’s character is never ever nervous.
Host: If you could have Saitama’s super powers for a day, what would you do with them?
Furukawa: If you go to the Expo Hall of Madfest, there is a section called the ‘One-Punch Man Experience’. In the corner, there is a punching machine. I’d like to try that out. [audience laughs]
Host: But you’ll destroy that! [audience laughs]
Furukawa: Yes, so if I did that, no-one would be able to play the punching machine [audience laughs]. So everyone, please head over there and have a try at it!
Host: In One-Punch Man, there are a lot of enemies that our heroes face. Which enemy is the most interesting, and why?
Natsume: I suppose if we’re going to talk about crazy enemies in One-Punch Man … we must talk about the Crab Monster [audience laughs]. He became a crab monster …. because he ate too much crab? You can’t become much more of crab after that, can you? But it’s weird because the top half is a crab and then you can still see his legs and a pair of undies. A bit too crazy of a character?
Furukawa: I reckon he’s only just halfway through his transformation in becoming a crab! If he had a bit more crab, then his bottom half would turn into a crab as well. Unfortunately, he stopped at the wrong stage of the transformation process!
Natsume: Saitama did a very cruel thing, didn’t he? He pulled the crab’s eyes out! [audience laughs]
Host: Saitama is always looking for bargains. Do you have any secrets when it comes to shopping bargains?
Natsume: In Japan, you will notice that they start to do 50% off sales for food like sushi, sashimi, and bentos etc. There is actually a name for those people: “Half sale bargain hunters”. If you go supermarkets like ‘Seiyu’, they have those sales as well.
Furukawa: I actually used to work at that supermarket [audience laughs]. However, I am a different type of seiyuu now [audience laughs]. However, I was not one of those would hunt down for half-sale bargains — I was one of those people who put the stickers onto the food that was to be sold at half price. It’s a very different ~seiyuu job.
Natsume: And those half price bargain hunters pretty much line up around the people who put the stickers in order to get the item first.
Furukawa: As time goes by throughout the day, the price would go from 30% off to 40% off to 50% off. But anything that is really popular and it’s down to the 30 or 40% off mark, they usually get sold out pretty quickly. However, when it comes down to the 50% off mark, you look at the remaining food and they start to look a bit adorable … you sort of feel sorry for them [audience laughs].
Host: Natsume-san, being a director is a huge gig as you have to deal with animators, musicians, voice actors and many more. What kind of advice would you give to aspiring directors?
Natsume: Having the technical skills is important, but not so much as having the passion for the job. You need to have the passion to make something, and in order to see it through till the end. However, even with passion, it is sometimes not enough. There are also other things involved such as one’s personalities and individual skills to give something to the series.
Host: And finally, do you have any words for Australian One-Punch Man fans?
Natsume: Since yesterday, I’ve met a lot of One-Punch Man fans and that makes me really happy. The thing is, when you work on a series back in Japan, you don’t realise how many people from other countries actually watch the show and love the series.
Being able to come to an event like this and getting the opportunity to see everyone in the same room, you can tell everyone loves One-Punch Man. From the creators’ side of things, I am very glad to be here. So please keep liking the series and supporting us as you do now! [audience claps]
Furukawa: I know everyone has their own favourite characters and scenes throughout One-Punch Man. If Saitama’s not in a particular scene, the audience would then like another character who happens to be in that scene, for instance, Mumen Rider. Judging by the video clip from earlier, I can see everyone loves Mumen Rider as there was a bit of reaction when he appeared onscreen.
There are a lot of characters in the series, and everyone is simply living their lives to the max. And you know, we’re unsure as to whether One-Punch Man will continue down the track. However, if everyone could keep liking the series, then surely there will be future stories to be told, and we will be able to see what happens next. Pease continue loving One-Punch Man as that would be a huge honour for me. Thank you very much for having me here!
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