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Before the Production I.G panel on the Thursday night of Anime Expo 2022 back in July, I alongside Logan (@Schmullus1) got the opportunity to chat with Maki Terashima-Furuta, the president of Production I.G USA, regarding some of the original productions Toonami is currently producing with Production I.G. This includes Housing Complex C, FLCL Grunge and Shoegaze, and Uzumaki.
You can listen to the interview on either the embedded media player, and/or you can read the interview below.
Daniel: What’s up Toonami faithful. My name is Daniel Limjoco (@AnimeSavior). I also have Logan on the camera. And today, I’m talking with Maki Terashima from Production I.G USA. So, how’s your Anime Expo been going?
Maki: It’s been good, today is the first day and the only day that I’m going to come. Unfortunately, because of COVID, I just want to be really cautious. And it seems like everybody’s happy. I’m a little bit disappointed that not everybody’s wearing a mask, but other than that I’m very happy to see a whole bunch of happy crowds.
Daniel: Yeah, we’ve been a little bit worried about some of these maskless folks…
Maki: Hopefully we don’t get it.
Daniel: Hopefully, everything will be alright.
You’ve been hard at work lately with several of Toonani’s original Productions. I think you did Fena: Pirate Princess, and right now you’re trying to work on both of the new FLCL sequels and Housing Complex C as well as Uzumaki. How’s that’s been going for you at IG?
Maki: It’s been a very busy two years since COVID first hit the U.S. and around the world. People were losing jobs and stuff like that, but luckily for me, I’ve been very very busy with the four titles that I’m overseeing right now. And Fena, we released last year and it did really well both on Toonami and Crunchyroll. And so, currently I am busy producing and trying to finish FLCL… Housing Complex C, which will finish first, and then FLCL Grunge and FLCL Shoegaze. Followed by Uzumaki. I know everyone’s looking forward to Uzumaki, but we actually just announced the other day that it’s being delayed, again but we’re definitely making it. I went to Japan a couple weeks ago and I made sure that everything is moving smoothly and the quality is still there. So yeah, I’m really sorry that we can’t release this this coming October, but just rest assured that this is coming along great and we will definitely release it.
Daniel: Yeah, I can see why. Most artists I know are definitely perfectionists, and with a title like this, you can’t just slip up and cut corners.
Maki: Those fine lines and all that, we want to recreate everything that [Junji Ito]’s beautifully done in his manga. And [the anime] it’s almost like a moving manga with Uzumaki. So, I hope that people will wait more patiently, I mean they have been very great and patient but we hope that it will come out soon and that people will look forward to it.
Speaking of which, COVID-19 of course has caused plenty of problems with productions. How have you guys managed to adapt with COVID?
Maki: Yeah well, Production I.G USA, the company that I work for, is in Los Angeles. And I have always worked from home, so it hasn’t really changed much other than the fact that I don’t really see people have meetings. Everything’s done by Zoom and Google, we need more of that stuff. I haven’t really had to feel that much of a difference. In Japan, people have been working remotely. But slowly, you know, people are starting to come back to work because I guess people feel more motivated to be in a team of creators altogether working, rather than staying home and having to draw on your own. So, everybody’s really careful. Like I said a couple weeks ago, I went to Japan and I did not see a single person without a mask. So, like people wear masks anyway in Japan because like hay fever and whatever, but I think people have been very careful. Unfortunately, here in this country, some people feel that it’s already over so, you know, they’re not as careful. Which really scares me because I am very careful. I still wear a mask every time, even when I’m walking my dogs. Like I wear a mask [and] some neighbors will give you a hard time like “why are you still wearing a mask?” you know. But you should really protect yourself as well as other people so I really highly encourage that. COVID is still not over so be mindful of what you do.
Daniel: Yeah, I’ve found it quite impressive that the Japanese or Koreans and several other Asian cultures say that masks [in public] are important. Even when COVID wasn’t a thing. I’ve even seen quite a few Asians wear one as a fashion statement sometimes.
Maki: I know.
Let’s talk about FLCL first. Some folks have questioned “Why make another two sequels of FLCL? and even stated “Leave the originals alone! You’re ruining the original with these sequels!” What would you say to the critics about that?
Maki: I don’t know, like I do get maybe like not too positive feedback from some fans who are really into the original FLCL, but I also do get very positive enough comments from the from the fans that actually really enjoyed the sequels. and you know Adult Swim wanted to make more sequels and then we felt that we could find some creators that could that wanted to make sequels. We don’t just give the project to [just] any creators, we asked around to see if anyone is interested in doing more FLCL. And that if the creator wants to make a sequel of FLCL or something, then we just give them the opportunity. Because if they like the show, I’m pretty sure that they’ll make a good show. So, these two new sequels are very different from the original…oh I wouldn’t say the original, the other two sequels. Let me start over, these two new sequels. The first one, Grunge, is very similar to the original FLCL, it almost like… tastes like much of the original one. The second one is done by the same director who did Alternative. So, it is actually a sequel to Alternative. So, this will be unveiled at my panel today, and I have two messages from the directors, which they’ll talk about the show.
Daniel: Let’s talk about FLCL Grunge first. I believe Grunge has a different art style compared to the rest of the franchise. Was there a choice for that?
Maki: Well, we chose this studio who specializes in CGI, and when we first spoke with them, they were the ones who said “well you know FLCL should be all hand-drawn, I don’t know if the fans would want to see a CGI FLCL”, but they wanted to do it. And then we told them that we wanted to work with them also, they’re a wonderful and amazing company in Fukuoka Japan. They did animation for the main character, Haruko, and it actually came up pretty good. And then we thought that it would be fun to give it a shot and see what happens. So, I’m very happy with how it’s coming along. So, I hope the fans will be happy with it.
FLCL USA Official on Twitter: “Video message from the director of FLCL: Grunge. pic.twitter.com/p2K2myNmg7 / Twitter”
Video message from the director of FLCL: Grunge. pic.twitter.com/p2K2myNmg7
Daniel: And speaking of Shoegaze, you said that it was a sequel to Alternative. Most FLCL titles tend to be standalone in regards to continuity, although there are a little bit of allegories to the previous versions. What should we expect in that regard, should we see more hints to previous versions or…
Maki: What happened to the main character, Kana. The director of Shoegaze [in the video], he actually talks about the concept a little bit. But anyway, it’s the sequel to Alternative and the main character Kana is in it. So, it basically talks about what happened to Kana and the world after, you know, what happened at the end of Alternative. But Kana’s not the main character of Shoegaze, there’s like two other main characters.
FLCL USA Official on Twitter: “Video message from the director of FLCL: Shoegaze. pic.twitter.com/aLUDdokDBy / Twitter”
Video message from the director of FLCL: Shoegaze. pic.twitter.com/aLUDdokDBy
FLCL USA Official on Twitter: “Video message from Sawao Yamanaka of the pillows on his involvement in FLCL: Grunge and FLCL: Shoegaze. pic.twitter.com/OoeBzgq4J7 / Twitter”
Video message from Sawao Yamanaka of the pillows on his involvement in FLCL: Grunge and FLCL: Shoegaze. pic.twitter.com/OoeBzgq4J7
I want to start a little bit about Housing Complex C. It’s likely going to be released next since Uzumaki got delayed. So, what should we expect with Housing Complex C?
Maki: So, Housing Complex C is an original concept. [The show’s creator], he’s a game creator that doesn’t reveal his real biological name, he goes by the nickname “amphibian”. He wrote the story and the story [of Housing Complex C] is inspired by Lovecraft, which we all are fans of. It’s a horror show but it’s a miniseries, so there’s only four episodes. And my goal, and I’ve been telling Jason this ever since we started producing Uzumaki together, is to start a horror anime genre on Adult Swim. So, originally Uzumaki was originally going to be the first one and then we’re going to have more horror anime following that. But because of the delay of Uzumaki, Housing Complex C is going to be… that’s the first one that’s going to come out before Uzumaki. I can’t talk too much about the story because I don’t want to spoil it, but when you see the video message today at the panel, he talks a little bit about it. But it’s really scary.
You’ve had a good relationship with Toonami and Jason and Gill. There’s been questions, not you in particular, but other companies, so to speak, have not been as dedicated to the block in recent years. What does Toonami give you guys, and why do you want to keep working with them?
Maki: I love working with Toonami because I’ve known Jason and Gill for almost like a quarter of a century. We first met back when I first started the USA Branch at Production I.G. So, we co-produced IGPX together, and ever since then, we’ve been working together and we’ve been friends and all that. One thing that I love about them is that they fully respect Anime studios, they respect anime creators. And they’re very easy to work with in the sense that they understand how anime works, how the Japanese culture works, how publishers work and all that. It’s hard when you work with new companies because they just don’t understand. Because anime culture is very very unique in a sense, but in order to understand that, it takes, like, years. We’ve had ups and downs but then ultimately, they really understand us. So, if there are some mishaps, they’ll still respect that and creatively they trust us a hundred percent. So, unless there’s like any broadcast code that we’re breaking or whatever, they’re pretty much giving us all liberty so much freedom in making what we make. So, it’s just been really wonderful working with them and I love to continue working with them. Although, they are finding other vendors and working with other Studios, which is totally fine. But I’m going to keep bringing more and more new anime IPs to them so that we can continue to work together.
Daniel: We always like your stuff at Production I.G. Like one of my favorites is Ghost in the Shell, and of course IGPX was pretty good. And the FLCL sequels were kind of there too. Hopefully, you will have a relationship that goes for many more years to come.
Maki: Thank you.
Anything you’d like to say before we head out?
Maki: Umm, no. I’m Just like that [regarding] the four new shows that are coming out soon, I hope that you will support us and you will love us. And if you hate it, then you can hate it, but just watch it before you say that you don’t like it. Because once you watch it, I’m sure you will like it.
Daniel: Yeah, all I can say is just give it a chance. And if you don’t like it, you can just drop it. Well, all I can say is that on behalf of the Toonami Faithful, Logan, and my colleagues at Toonami Squad, thank you so much for talking with us, and we’ll see you again next time.
Maki: Well, you guys have been wonderful. Thank you so much.
For anyone who wishes to check out the Production I.G panel that followed this interview, @TentacleCouple had recorded the panel, which you can watch below:
Still to come is an interview with Brandon Winckler and Alexandra Yastishock, also recorded during AX 2022, in addition to interviews from San Diego Comic-Con 2022, featuring Deneen Melody, Sandy Fox, and Lex Lang. Look forward to those coming soon.
For those that don’t know, I used to be a contributor to ToonamiFaithful.com, and I previously had the pleasure to talk with Maki at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, following the panel promoting the then upcoming broadcast of FLCL Alternative.
What are your thoughts of this interview? Let us know what you think at the comments below or directly on our social media.