This page will show the translations of interviews from the crew responsible for the One-Punch Man anime.
Anime Behind The Scenes Interview
WSJ: What is appealing in One-Punch Man?
Shingo: It's a hero manga about Saitama who has extraordinary strength... and can bring down a villain in one punch. It's a wild premise for a story. But aside from the setting, which is interesting in itself, the characters that appear are fun like the S-Class heroes, Genos, and Speed-o'-Sound Sonic. The world view widens as the different characters appear and makes each episode more interesting. Our goal with the television anime is to stay true to the original manga and make it even more interesting. I hope that's the appeal of One-Punch Man.
WSJ: Special attention to the action
Shingo: This time, we've gone digital it not drawn on paper, but on computer we're coordinating the drawing with the camera work. We'll be able to reproduce the actions with more accuracy and speed. This is the one thing we're targeting for this series.
WSJ: What to watch for in Episode 1
Shingo: I think it would be Saitama. We go in depth with his character in the anime. What drives him to use his power. What kind of hero he aspires to be. we've created his character with great detail so I'd like the audience to watch.
WSJ: About the opening
Shingo: JAM project's theme is full rock. So we want to match the visuals to rock just as much and we've put a lot of energy into it. And we also incorporated BLS shading where shadow areas are filled in with black ink. That kind of gives an American comic look. So hopefully, it's received as a cool, superhero opening.
WSJ: About the staff
Shingo: Tomohiro Suzuki is doing the script and the series composition. The author of the original manga, ONE, as well as Murata-Sensei sat in our production meetings. They shared their views from a manga standpoint and we shared ours and reworked the series composition as well as what volumes featured. They gave us a lot of input and their participation was very helpful. Chikashi Kubota is doing the character designs. He's done a great job of reproducing Murata-sensei's drawings down to his little idiosyncracies. He has stayed true to the characters in the manga and painstakingly transformed them for anime. He's a top class animator and designer. So we've got someone very sensitive to art working on the character designs for the series.
I feel very blessed that we have such a great staff. We were able to get top people in every department. As a director, you can't ask for anything more. It makes my job easy to rely on them. I mean, people like Satoshi Hashimoto, our color designer. His color choices and distribution are so pleasing to the eyes. We have a lot of evening scenes in the series he paid so much attention to the color subtleties. That made it visually comfortable. It's attention to detail... the smallest detail. It's great to have staff that care about these things. And the last step is photography. Putting everything together with the composites. We have Akane Fushuhira on top of that and she has such a great feeling for this work. She's very young but very talented. Anime can become very routine. Mostly, it's diffusion, and there are those who think that alone will suffice. Not with her. She'll look at the raws and bring out the best of them. She finds the challenge in that process. So from that standpoint, I think we have an interesting great series. And for the music, we have Makoto Miyazaki. We were luck to get him. There are many places where the music enhances the scene.
WSJ: Director's message
Shingo: The television anime, One Punch Man will be premiering in Japan and it will be simulcast around the world. I'm hoping we can all view it together. The staff and I are doing our best to create a great anime. I believe it doesn't betray the original manga. So please watch and enjoy the series.
──To start off, what do you think about One-Punch Man?
Makoto Furukawa: Seeing someone defeat enemies with one punch is fun in a simple way, so overall it’s quite exhilarating. While it’d be misleading to say it doesn’t require any thought to read, I really think as a piece of entertainment it’s a series which anyone can enjoy.
Kaito Ishikawa: At first I only knew the title, and had no clue what the actual story was about. Then when I got the audition I finally read it for the first time. Like Furukawa-san said, the thrill you get after reading it is something else. While Saitama might not like how his fights end after just one punch, for the reader it certainly feels nice. I think it’s a tremendous series because it has a good tempo so you can flip right through it, yet at the same time it gets you hyped up.
──How did it feel to get the role?
Furukawa: I was like “Am I really the right choice…?” (laughs) When my manager told me I had got the part, I simply couldn’t process it and had to have him tell me again. During the audition I actually hadn’t thought too hard about the part. Maybe Saitama didn’t have anything for me to latch on to, or I just couldn’t imagine what sort of voice would come out of that face of his. As a result, I didn’t prepare for the role and just tried to perform naturally, as myself I suppose. I’m glad that approach went over well.
Ishikawa: I auditioned for both Saitama and Genos. Before auditioning for Genos, the staff asked if I’d be interested in giving Saitama a shot as well. Genos has a much more starkly defined character compared to Saitama, so I auditioned for him while deciding what direction I wanted to take the character. But with Saitama, I couldn’t get a handle on his character at all, and couldn’t work out an approach. Even while performing I just couldn’t get into it, nothing clicked, and I suddenly thought that Saitama was still beyond my capabilities. And so since I couldn’t figure out what sort of voice Saitama should have, I couldn’t figure out one for Genos either. For characters that hang out with the lead, I think their voices need to be compatible. As long as I couldn’t imagine the lead character’s voice, I likewise couldn’t imagine Genos’ voice. So after auditioning for Saitama, I was stuck not knowing what to do with Genos either. Then a short while later I received word from my manager that I had gotten the role of Genos. Obviously I was happy to have gotten the part, but my very first thought was to wonder who had been cast as Saitama. Then when I heard it was Furukawa-san, I was able to relax a little. He and I had worked together before, so that perked me up.
──How do you feel about the characters you play? What do you keep in mind while performing as them?
Furukawa: Saitama has both a serious face and a goofy face, and I was very careful to modulate my voice in order to perform each one distinctly. During the recordings, the director Natsume asked me not to make him seem strong whenever he’s got his ordinary, goofy face on. Saitama’s strength is only visible once he gets down to business; otherwise he just defeats monsters like it was nothing. That’s what the director said. So I adapted my performance to fit that, but it required a lot of thought. For instance, if it’s a scene where I’m hitting someone, my first instinct is to put some energy into my performance. But then the sound director will tell me I’m exerting myself too much. Dialing back the energy to just the right amount is really tricky.
Ishikawa: At first I thought Genos was a cool-headed, crafty character, but actually he’s pretty hot-headed. Case in point, when he first appears he acts like you’d expect a cyborg would, but then later once he’s met Saitama… Well, I want you to watch and see for yourself what happens, but suffice to say I was quite surprised at the difference, which made it fun to perform. The director, Natsume, didn’t really tell me anything in advance about how to perform the role. Of course, I’ve had detailed direction on how to perform specific scenes, but I never received any general introduction as to what type of character Genos was. So I was a bit scared (laughs). At any rate, I threw myself into the part thinking that I’d give it all that I was capable of.
──Now that the recording sessions have started, what are your impressions on director Shingo Natsume?
Furukawa: Normally he seems soft and cuddly, but in the recording studio he looks strict, and you can always tell the zeal he has towards the series. That passion also comes across when he directs performances, and I go into the recording sessions thinking how I want to respond to his passion!
Ishikawa: He reminds me a lot of Saitama. The look in his eyes is completely different in the recording studio than it is the rest of the time. He seems like a true professional. But once you get away from the studio, his demeanor softens and he lightens up, and if I goof off he just plays along (laughs). I think you’ll be able to tell this from the second One-Punch Man special that’ll be broadcast on Nico-Nico Live on September 20th, so look forward to that!
──They’ve certainly lined up a star-studded cast to play the other heroes and monsters…
Ishikawa: I think it’ll have a bigger impact if you watch without knowing who’s playing who. Especially with the enemy characters, it’s way more fun not knowing in advance.
Furukawa: People are in for a shock right from the opening of episode 1! You’ll never believe who they’ve got playing a certain character! I can’t wait for people to see the series.
──Besides your own characters, what other heroes and monsters should people keep an eye out for?
Ishikawa: Mumen Rider. I’m a big fan of a certain hero who (Yuichi) Nakamura plays, one with a strong sense of justice. I won’t say the name of the franchise, just that it’s an American hero who carries a shield (laughs). I love that hero, so Nakamura’s Mumen Rider stands out. I really admire him as a voice artist.
Furukawa: I really like Zombie Man. Sakurai-san is fantastic in the role! I think you can tell from the drama CD packaged with the 9th comic volume, released August 4th. He’s got some great lines, so definitely give it a listen.
Ishikawa: His self-introduction is particularly good. It really put the rest of our self-introductions to shame. He just introduces himself by casually saying his name, but it’s so direct and concise.
Furukawa: He really fleshed out the character of Zombie Man after that, so now I can’t take my eyes off him.
──How did it feel to see images of the characters moving? What’s the finished product like?
Furukawa: At the very least it’s an entertaining series with cool action scenes. They were put together with great skills; it’s very inspiring.
Ishikawa: With heroes, the action scenes are very important: not just the characters, but the scenes of buildings being destroyed and explosions all back a real wallop. When I finally saw it with the sound effects added in, I knew what sort of sounds were in each part, and I figured that we’d have to change our performances to go along with it. I felt tense because I knew we needed to make our performances more precise in order to match up with the characters’ movements. I want to go into the next batch of recording sessions with renewed vigor, in order to not be outdone by realistic films.
──What lines were particularly memorable?
Furukawa: Right at the start of the first episode there’s this line where I say “shall I go?”, and the truth is I had to redo that line an insane number of times. Am I going to show off my strength or not? I wasn’t sure which way to play it. With a giant monster rampaging through town, how would Saitama respond? That’s why I think it’s no exaggeration to say that that line encapsulates everything about Saitama.
Ishikawa: This was part of the preview too, but one line that left an impression was “But that would mean sensei went bald at a young age…” I consider that an important line for cementing Genos’ character, when he’s come to seek training from Saitama. At a time like that he goes out of his way to point out that Saitama’s bald, and it seems to genuinely bug him. I think it changed Genos’ position within the series, and I remember performing it really carefully.
──What are the highlights of the series? What makes it worth seeing?
Furukawa: Everyone should cheer up whenever Saitama lets loose with a punch. Just imagine the monsters as people you don’t like, and pow! (laughs) I think that feeling of exhilaration is one of the highlights.
Ishikawa: This series is really entertaining. While it’s not set in the real world, and is full of impossible events, I hope people will get caught up in the fun. Despite not being set in the real world, it’s as if the characters of One-Punch Man are all truly living, breathing people in a world of their own, saying their lines like they really mean it. And I hope that degree of seriousness will make people laugh.
──You two have worked together on a number of different series. What do you think of each other?
Furukawa: At first I thought Ishikawa-san was an extremely serious person…
Ishikawa: Are you trying to say that I’m really not?
Furukawa: Ishikawa-san seems to be good at all sorts of things, so I thought he was amazing. He’d see things I couldn’t, and casually point them out to me, so I was very grateful to have him around.
Ishikawa: I’ve always thought he’s incredibly serious-minded. I guess you could say he’s firmly grounded; he seems to me the same now as when I first met him. That was two or three years ago, but this is the first series where Furukawa-san has played the lead role. He’s a good guy; he brought the original manga over to the studio and taught me a lot about it, which helped me relax. We’ve performed on the radio together, and he takes his work seriously, working out plot structures and coming up with material in brainstorming sessions.
──To ask something a bit personal, looking at yourself objectively, what sort of person are you? Analyze yourself.
Furukawa: I’m a bit stubborn in some ways. And I can be a bit scatterbrained too. Recently my manager told me to come to the study at 11, but I went at 10 instead and there was nobody else there yet. Fortunately this didn’t cause anyone else any trouble (laughs).
Ishikawa: I think I’m a hard worker (the surrounding staff members all laugh). OK, I lied; no need to laugh so much…I actually think I’m rather frivolous. Even being interviewed like this, I hate just talking about serious stuff, and want to clown around and get laughs. But I love myself, even those parts of myself (laughs).
──What have you been into lately?
Furukawa: I’ve been going on a tour of temples, shrines, and other power spots. It seems that temples and shrines each have different “attributes”. So I go to temples and shrines whose attributes are compatible with my own, based on my birthday and blood type, and make wishes, draw fortune strips, etc. There’s a really compatible temple near my house, and sometimes when I go there and pray for a job, I’ll get a job right away!
Ishikawa: Lately I’ve been seeing how far I can go on an empty stomach. I suddenly started to wonder just how hungry I could possibly get, so I tried eating only one meal a day, or telling myself I wasn’t hungry even when I was; doing things like that to test the limits of my hunger.
Furukawa: What, are you trying to achieve enlightenment or something?
Ishikawa: Most of the time I’ll cave halfway through. Like, go eat an onigiri at the convenience store on my way home from work or something…But now I’m trying to see how little I can eat in a meal and still feel sated.
──What are your goals as a voice artist? What sort of voice artist do you aim to become?
Furukawa: I want to become a voice artist who can make someone’s heart tremble. It’d be great to be able to inspire someone not only through my performance in a series, but even just through what I say in an interview like this, or in an onstage panel. That’s the sort of voice artist I want to be.
Ishikawa: I want to do plays. They’re really difficult, so I want to confirm for myself that I’m moving forward, that I’ve become able to do them. I don’t know how long it will take, but that’s my goal.
──Finally, say something for all the viewers looking forward to the broadcast.
Furukawa: There’s finally less than a month to go until it starts airing. As I’ve been saying, it’ll be really entertaining. Just hang on a little while longer, and we can enjoy it together!
Ishikawa: The staff and cast all put their heart and soul into making this series, so I think their enthusiasm will come across to everyone onscreen. Look forward to it. It won’t disappoint.
One-Two Punch Interview
What was it like voicing each of your characters?
Furukawa: Saitama doesn't have any standout points, so it was really difficult. The point I really focused on was the mindset of the strong, of someone who had already reached the pinnacle. His soft side is similar to me, so I started imagining Saitama's voice from there. But sometimes I can be sarcastic, which is a little too much for his character, so by toning that down I got closer and closer to finding Saitama's voice. One Punch man Genos
Ishikawa: I think that Genos' main quality is that he's a cool-headed cyborg, but as I was voicing him, I got the feeling that he was stoic. There's an extreme gap between being stoic and being serious or comedic, so to figure out his voice I just decided to just practice voicing him without imposing any restrictions, then discussing with the voiceover director about which parts I should bring out more, and which I should suppress. In other works, it's pretty much generally decided how a character reacts to different events beforehand. But for this series, we had to decided what would be best based on each individual scene.
What's it like reading the dialogue for your characters' interactions?
Ishikawa: If Genos doesn't manipulate him, Saitama doesn't become emotional, so the process of building that up is really fun.
Furukawa: There's a scene in Saitama's room where Genos points out that "Sensei, you're bald even though you're young." I thought at that time that if anyone was told that, they'd want to scream. (laughs) Usually Saitama is the tsukkomi (straight man), but sometimes Genos takes that role as well. They're a manzai comedy duo without specified roles. The two of you have worked together before. Were the dynamics different for One Punch Man and previous works? One Punch Man Saitama
Ishikawa: They were super different! Conversations with Genos don't flow normally－he likes to throw curveballs just to see how Saitama reacts, which is usually by saying, "Cut it out," which amuses Genos immensely. There are a lot of uncertain points, and the show can get a bit surreal. In Golden Time we were regular college buddies, but now it's like we're a sketch comedy duo or something. (laughs)
Saitama and Genos have an offbeat teacher-student relationship. If you were to think of people you think of as mentors, what would you say you have learned from them? And how have you used that knowledge in acting your roles?
Ishikawa: I don't have anyone in particular, but I think anyone could become my teacher. From how to conduct myself at events, to how to perform different scenes, there's so many things I can learn. I don't disguise my inexperience around my seniors, so in that regard I'm similar to Genos. (laughs) If there's someone I respect, I'll want to learn from them, and even if they don't directly teach me, I'll learn by watching them from the sidelines. I think i used these things a lot when acting as Genos!
Furukawa: I'm not as observant as Ishikawa-san, so I think that's amazing. I entered this industry because I'm interested in anime and games, so even now I look at the voice actors I work with through a fanboy's eyes. It's probably bad that I do so. (bitter laugh) But I think that's the same perspective Saitama has about heroes. He's a little awkward but gives his all on the things he is able to do, and works towards his ideals.
Valentine's Day Assumptions
Hilarious excerpt from Otomedia about what the One Punch Man boys would do for Valentine’s Day. The answers are assumptions made by the Director (Natsume Shingo) of the anime! Enjoy~
As a result of his intensive training because he wanted to be a hero, he gained a strength so great that he felt like he lost something of his in return.
What would Saitama do during Valentine’s Day?
Shingo: Probably fidget around a lot and peep at his mail box.
What is the best way to give chocolate to him?
Shingo: Right when he’s done with his One Punch move. Giving him chocolate right at that moment would be the best method.
With a huge fan club full of beautiful girls, he himself pays no attention to it at all, nor does he care about his own appearance. Instead, he finds himself attracted to Saitama’s strength and aims to be a worthy disciple.
What would Genos do on Valentine’s Day?
Shingo: Incinerate all the chocolate he received and throw the melted bits to a monster.
What is the best way to give him chocolate?
Shingo: Catch him with Saitama by his side and prepare two chocolates to give both of them at the same time (but only give your favorite chocolate to Genos instead)
After his humiliating defeat from Saitama, he finds him to be a worthy opponent.
What would Sonic do on Valentine’s Day?
Shingo: Because he likes to think he’s a present day kind of guy, he would be training at a gym.
What is the best way to give him chocolate?
Shingo: If you write on the chocolate “xx-Thunder” or something clever like that, he might take it.
Industry Interview: One-Punch Man’s Shingo Natsume & Chikashi Kubota
Question for Kubota-san: Yusuke Murata has a dynamic drawing style and camera point of views. What are some challenges that you faced in adapting his manga to an anime?
Kubota: So one thing about the original manga by Murata-sensei, he is very skilled and very in-depth with his drawings. One of the most difficult things we needed to be most careful about was to try to replicate that quality of drawing that he had and develop it into the actual anime as well.
Question for Both: What did both of you think about One Punch Man when you first heard about it/got the project, and did that view change during the project?
Natsume: Originally, I had no idea about this creation, so when they first came up to me with this job, I had no idea on the background of it. I actually went and read the comic version of One-Punch Man. I thought, “Wow, this could turn into something amazing.” That’s when I decided I wanted to make an animated version.
Kubota: When I first received the request from Natsume-kantoku, I had heard about the series. I hadn’t had a chance to actually review or read it, so at that point, I took a look at it. I knew Murata-sensei and was aware of him. When I did read the manga, there was an impression left from the very first chapters. There was a scene with a purple creature, the big monster from the very first one, and I was shocked at the quality of artwork involved in the comic and felt a lot of pressure as a character designer to replicate that work and make it a reality for the anime version.
Natsume: After the project, I didn’t feel any different from when I started working on it. It lived up to all of my expectations: the characters, the settings, the action scenes. It was such a thrill and I enjoyed doing it from the beginning to the end.
Kubota: After I had a lot of worries, obviously for the character designs, because I had to replicate the work of someone who was really skilled. The actual release of One-Punch Man was in October. In August of last year (2015), we held a viewing party for employees, their families and friends to showcase what the show was going to be. We got such a good response that I felt glad that I worked on the designs for this anime.
Question for Natsume-san: Many fans noticed that a lot of the animation staff involved also worked together on a previous show, Space Dandy. Did you make an effort to keep in touch?
Natsume: As far as the anime animators, the community is small. So even though we are working across different studios, we know each other, like recognizing names and faces. When we work on a production together, we put all our time, our blood, sweat, and tears in the production. So through that, we become friends and comrades and I made sure to stay in touch. It just happened that a lot of us came together after previously working on Space Dandy. A lot of them are from the same age/generation as me, so it was easy to get along with everyone. It was a lot of fun to be there at the studio.
Kubota: Another thing about the anime community, it’s not that one studio producing the anime is really good. The truth is the animation (sakuga) community isn’t tied to one studio. Most of them are freelance animators. So in the end, those animators are just borrowing those desks at the studio to work.
Question for Kubota-san: You once put out a tweet mentioning that the reason for One-Punch Man’s animation quality wasn’t based on the budget, but instead the hard work of the animators. Is this a common misconception that you see with fans?
Kubota: You guys really do your research well to find that tweet. A lot of people have this common misconception that the quality of the actual animation is based on the production’s budget. But in Japan, the TV production world, especially when it comes to anime, generally they all have the same budget. There are really rare situations where some have a little less and some tend to have a little bit more, but nothing that is very drastic. So, in reality, it is based on the staff.
Natsume: We were fortunate to have extremely passionate people on this project who were not money-driven. We are really lucky to have this staff around this year because they sacrificed part of their personal life for a while to make this anime a success for everyone.
Question for Natsume-San: As episode director for the first episode, what challenges did you face introducing such a non-normal main character?
Natsume: As simplistic as Saitama is, he is a lot more difficult to draw than what we would think. His facial expressions are a difficult part of animating him. Because his face is so simple, if you make a mistake, it is so obvious. We were very careful to make sure his face was drawn very well.
As far as details go, for a lot of anime when you go through the same frames of a character, studios go through it rather quickly. We wanted to change that idea. We wanted to make it as detailed as possible. For example, his gloves when he flexes. We wanted to make sure you saw the wrinkles. Even with his boots, you can see the designs on the soles. We wanted to challenge the idea that if you put too much detail in the frames, you are wasting time.
Question for Natsume-San: You started your career as an animator. Is that something you’d like to return to or are you eager to continue directing?
Natsume: Between being an animator and a director, I don’t see much of a difference. Both positions are heavily involved with the animation. The only difference is the director has to know the backbone of everything. You have to make everything come together. If a certain character is like this, then he has to move a certain way and act a certain way. I really enjoy putting these pieces together. With directing, I really enjoy that I have a heavy influence on the animation portion as well.
Great thanks to the following people for providing the translations
- aitaikimochi from tumblr for the Valentine's Day Assumptions translation
- Katy Castillo from Yatta-Tachi for Yatta-Tachi interview
- Official Anime Behind The Scenes
- Furukawa/Ishikawa Interview
- One-Two Punch Interview
- Valentine's Day Assumptions (Japanese)
- Industry Interview: One-Punch Man’s Shingo Natsume & Chikashi Kubota