0 Items | £0.00


Masahiko Minami talks Studio Bones and Xam'd

Monday 4th July 2011

Andrew Osmond talks to Masahiko Minami at anime powerhouse Studio Bones about pain, suffering and alchemy.

Sword of the Stranger

How did Studio Bones begin?

When I was a producer at Sunrise, I set it up in 1998 with Hiroshi Osaka and Toshihiro Kawamoto, animators who shared the same ambition to broaden animation production into a new field.

What kind of projects are most attractive to Bones?

People think that we specialise in SF, robot stuff or action.  But in fact, we believe that Bones should be a company with the planning and sales ability to produce whatever the staff seek to express, regardless of the genre. We actually relish the changes brought by every project.

The complex fight sequences, especially, must be very labour intensive. How many hours do the studio's main animators typically spend drawing one big fight scene, or a single space battle scene?

Action scenes are produced separately from other scenes in the schedule and process. For example, in the Cowboy Bebop movie and Sword of the Stranger, [Yutaka] Nakamura,  the action director, reworked the storyboard, made action plans for all the scenes and then started producing the artwork, based on the continuity instruction from the director of the film.

How did Bones come to animate Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa?

It started when the animator Yoshiyuki Ito encountered the original comics. Ito fell in love with the manga, which I read with his recommendation. I thought Bones should make the animation, and contacted the publisher at once, and that’s how we got to produce the work.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

The later episodes of the original FMA series had to tell a different story from the manga. Did Bones always hope that it could make a second version, closer to the FMA manga?

When we started the first series, the manga was still the early stages and the pacing was not yet determined. So we made the animation with the premise that original elements would be included from the beginning. The reason why we threw in the original story in the first half was so we could depict the story in the latter half.

Many of the Bones series (for example, RahXephon, Fullmetal Alchemist, Eureka 7 and Wolf's Rain) are huge, epic stories, which often have some very 'dark' and shocking moments. Is that just an accident, or does it reflect the tastes of the Bones staff?

In order to create a work, it is important to depict human beings. Sometimes we step into humans’ pain, because we have to show a certain level of shocking drama in order to illustrate a future and hopes that people achieve after pain and suffering.

Sword of the Stranger was an unusual anime, with characters in a historical setting, without any superpowers. What was the reaction of the audience?

Yes, there weren’t any lasers or transformations. With this piece, we thought a portrayal of the Japanese Warring State Period would already be ‘fantasy’ for audiences abroad. That is why we decided against including elements of SF or fantasy. We believe that audiences would enjoy the sword fights unfolding in animation.

Is the studio planning any further cinema films that are not based on TV series, like Sword of the Stranger?

Of course, we are producing pieces that can be seen on the big screen. This year in Japan, we will release the new film version of Fullmetal Alchemist and Towanoquon, an original film with characters designed by Toshihiro Kawamoto. Both of them are entertainment films full of action and human drama. Please look forward to them!

Soul Eater contains some very striking and unusual designs for the characters and scenery. How difficult was it to animate them?

The first thing we thought about was how we could transfer the charm of the original manga onto the screen. Led by the director [Takuya] Igarashi, all the main staff brought together [the things] they pictured from the comics and we built them up one by one. It was more time-consuming than difficult.

XAMD Lost Memories

Why was Xam'd released to the PlayStation video download service before it was shown on TV?

We are always searching for a way to directly deliver a work produced in Japan to a global audience. We thought it would be an interesting experiment to release it using the PlayStation, which has a close relationship with animation. Furthermore, because we could do it with an original work, we believe that it is one method by which people can see the current animation styles in Japan more quickly.

Xam'd will soon be released to British DVD. Can you tell us a little about it?

Xam'd is about a man who transforms. I guess you can categorise it as SF fantasy, but also as an action anime, it is a piece wherein you can enjoy a philosophical-themed story depicting the existence of the human soul.

At present, the fans of Fullmetal Alchemist are eagerly awaiting the new cinema film. Can you say anything about it?

Although the original manga has concluded and we completed the TV anime series, we are producing this theatrical version because we have not had enough of Ed and Al’s adventures. We prepare a stage and a story for Ed and Al, which even the original manga could not depict but only a film can. Along with their actions, we also illustrated Fullmetal Alchemists’ way of life and karma in full. It is yet to be decided when the audience in the UK can see it, but we are producing the best Fullmetal Alchemist we can. So, look forward to it!

Xam'd: Lost Memories will be released in the UK by Manga Entertainment later this year.


One Piece (uncut) Collection 14 (episodes 325-348)

was £34.99
Nami, despite her desperate dash, arrives at the station too late to stop the Sea Train, but she's relieved to learn that Sanji has stowed away on board the vessel and will stop at nothing to rescue Robin! With the storm of all storms bearing down upon them, Nami and Chopper risk their lives to save Luffy and Zoro from the rapidly rising waters. Back aboard the train, Sanji is aided in his battle against the CP9 goons by the arrival of the mysterious Soge King, a wandering warrior from the Island of Snipers!

As the scattered Straw Hats fight to reunite, fate draws them ever nearer the foreboding fortress of Enies Lobby. Will our heroes live to face the hour of reckoning?!



One Piece. Pieces of Hate

Been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt....
Of the anime titles turned into T-shirts by Uniqlo, One Piece is the biggest – the reigning king of all the anime and manga franchises, pretty much unchallenged in the 16 years since Eiichiro Oda began the manga, and 14 since Toei Animation started animating it. But perhaps Uniqlo would have turned One Piece into a line of shirts even if the saga hadn’t been a world hit. Just look at those pirate designs – brash, cartoony, uncompromising. There’s no whiff of a committee, no hint of a five-year product plan reliant on changing a heroine’s hair colour (or deepening her cleavage). It just helps that the pictures are as commercial when they move as they are when they’re a cool static graphic in a manga, or on the front of a T-shirt.

One Piece: Strong World

The Straw Hats Pirates come together for an adventure like no other...
Written by One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda himself, Strong World leads the Straw Hats into the deadly path of Golden Lion Shiki.

One Piece - ninja or pirates?

Matt Kamen turns video pirate!
“Ninja or pirates?” While Naruto – representing the ninja corner, of course – has proven hugely popular, UK fans have long been unable to weigh in on the other side. With the long-awaited arrival of One Piece on DVD this May, that finally changes.

One piece: Crew Manifest #1

Matt Kamen finds out who’s who in the One Piece anime
Monkey D. Luffy: The founder and captain of the Straw Hats, Luffy is a carefree soul who wants to become king of the pirates. After eating the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit, he gained an elastic body, making him near-invulnerable and able to stretch but paradoxically making him unable to swim.

One Piece: Crew Manifest #2

Back at sea for volume two of One Piece
Before you set sail on the second round of voyages for One Piece, brush up on who you’ll be encountering in this latest volume of nautical nonsense

One Piece music: TOMATO CUBE

Tom Smith on One Piece’s TOMATO CUBE
One-hit wonders. Every country has them. And, as PSY can most likely attest, very few musicians really want to be labelled as one. Sure, it’s all fun, games and fancy dinners when that royalty cheque floats through the letter box. The one with all the zeroes from that single from yesteryear that went massive. But what about the rest of your work? It must be somewhat unsatisfying as an artist to be known for one track, while everything else remains relatively overlooked, and expectations are high for that difficult follow up single. If you’re TOMATO CUBE, you do nothing. Ever again.



Babymetal, anime apartheid and MazandaRanting in our 25th podcast.
Jeremy “Care in the Community” Graves is joined by Manga UK’s Jerome “Twitter Hijacker” Mazandarani and Product Manager Andrew “Mr Manga” Hewson, and special guest Stuart Ashen, star of Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild, out now. Not sure any of those names will stick.

Eureka Seven Ao Part Two

Spoilers for part one ahead, as Andrew Osmond gets timey-wimey
The show’s finale is squarely in anime traditions, combining heartfelt child-parent reunions, a boy’s resolution to ‘lift the curse’ of his origins, and an orgasmically explosive deus ex machina that lets a character write the end he wants – one that happens to have shades of another Gainax anime classic, Gunbuster. There’s fanservice for you!
Over the next few weeks we will be choosing our favourite Japanese and English voice actors. Disagree with our choices? Make sure you let us know your favourites!

Toshio Hirata 1938-2014

Remembering the anime master who shunned the limelight
Toshio Hirata, who died on 25th August, might be reasonably said to have avoided publicity. Over the course of his career, he did gather a number of credits for directing, as well as storyboards, key animation and lowlier tasks, but he often obscured his own achievements by using the pseudonym Sumiko Chiba. In some cases, such as for his work on Azuki-chan, he simply asked not to be credited at all, claiming that his contribution was not really worthy of recognition.

Appleseed: Alpha

The CG movie reviewed
With a series of box-ticking MacGuffins, wandering-monster encounters and vaguely defined side missions, Appleseed: Alpha feels all too often like one is watching someone else playing a computer game, not the least because several crucial moments are bodged or oddly framed, so that it is not always clear what’s going on.
Charlotte visits the Himouto! Umaru-chan cafe in Tokyo.

Attack on Titan music: Yoko Hikasa

Paul Browne on the songstress behind the dramatic ending theme
‘Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai’ (This Beautiful Cruel World) is, on the whole, a wistful and enigmatic song that seems strangely disconnected from a series that regularly deals with death and despair. Yoko Hikasa’s mesmerising vocals manage to draw the viewer in, lending an air of reflection and regret.


Andrew Osmond on an anime with a distinctive look
Boy meets girl; boy and girl hate each other; boy and girl learn they’re both children of gangster families and must pretend to be lovers to prevent gang war. Naturally there are rival suitors on both sides of the fractious pair, ranging from a sweet girl-next-door type to a pistol-packing assassin.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Culture shocks and military musings, in Gen Urobuchi's hard-hitting anime
"It’s an interesting time to have a hero with a militarist outlook. This blog has discussed the arguments over the alleged political content in the blockbusting Attack on Titan and Ghibli’s film The Wind Rises. In both cases, the controversies connects to Japan’s own militarist past in the 1930s and ‘40s, and the spectres they conjure up in countries round the world; of Japanese kamikaze pilots, of torturers ruling POW camps, of the so-called “banzai charges” of soldiers sworn to die for their Emperor."

Robotics Notes 2

In search of cults both good and bad
The second half of Robotics;Notes comes to Blu-ray and DVD, completing the tale of students determined to build a giant robot on their island home of Tanegashima.
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Masahiko Minami talks Studio Bones and Xam'd from the UK's best Anime Blog.