Transforming Children and Dancing Valkyries: Satelight Q&A at Otakon
"Letters from the New York Otaku"
By David Cabrera
I wasn't going to drop by this panel, but at the end of the Q&A with Hidetaka Tenjin he told us that they'd be playing Macross Frontier footage that's never been shown to the public before. Well, alright, buddy, you got me.
Satelight gave us a basic rundown of who they are and what they do, accompanied of course by a trailer cutting together footage of all their shows over the years. There was an awkward moment after this trailer where the rep very politely noted: “A lot of those shows never came out in the US, did they?” She knew what she was talking about. We knew what she was talking about. There was an uncomfortable silence.
During the trailer, the most applause had come for Macross F, because it's easily Satelight's most popular recent show. However, Americans can't legally watch any Macross series made after Plus (which was pretty popular) for complicated legal reasons having to do with the English version, Robotech. That's a story for another day, but the sum of it is that the folks from Satelight knew for a fact that none of us in the crowd could have watched Macross F (and a few other Satelight shows like AKB0048, which I'm told is superb by people who loathe the idol group) legally.
But at the same time, it's understood that Macross F is a draw: a Chogokin Vakyrie toy signed by much of the Frontier staff was put on auction at the end of the weekend and likely sold for an unbelievable sum. And Tenjin had brought us into this panel promising new footage! So what was it?
What we saw were TV commercials created for a Macross F pachinko machine: two concerts in full CG, one for Ranka and one for Sheryl. Sheryl's concert featured some low-altitude Valkyrie flybys and she sang, and Ranka's... featured three Valkyries in robot form doing idol dances with her on the stage. Clearly, Ranka's concert was best.
As it turned out, the release of the machine was around the time of last March's earthquakes. Obviously, the commercials were put away.
There was also some newly-animated (for no particular new project) footage of the basketball-playing robots from Basquash! (also never made legally available in America). This warmed my heart, as Basquash! wasn't really successful or anything: perhaps someone at the studio had just made this animation because they felt like it. All kinds of tantalizing filenames were on the Satelight laptops, but alas, this was all we got to see.
My buddy Carl (his report is at http://bit.ly/P3BOHH) always asks unusual questions, and his question this time was about the cute obscurity Animal Detectives Kiruminzoo. The show credits Shoji Kawamori as original creator, and he couldn't help but ask why Kawamori and Satelight went in such a dramatically different direction from the work the studio usually does. I'm not sure I believe the answer from the rep, but it was one of the most amusing things I heard all weekend: Kawamori is in charge of TRANSFORMATIONS, you see. Whether it's a plane turning into a robot or a small girl turning into an animal is really besides the point. Transforming things are his business. You have to admire a guy with principles.
Kawamori himself appeared in a video message, looking spirited and flashing the heavy metal horns (you know, put your middle two fingers down and raise your hand). He told us he was really excited to get working on the next season of AKB0048... at which point, we all felt a little awkward again.