Attack on Titan, Jujutsu Kaisen…: meeting with the president of the MAPPA studio,…

Expected this Saturday, July 16 at a conference at Japan Expo in Paris with Crunchyroll, Manabu Otsuka, producer, animator and president of MAPPA tells us about the origins of the studio, its evolution and upcoming animated projects.

Responsible for major projects such as Jujutsu Kaisenthe final season of The attack of the Titans or the long-awaited chain saw manin ten years, MAPPA has become one of the essential studios when it comes to anime.

Manabu Otsuka began his career in animation at STUDIO 4°C before participating in the creation of MAPPA in 2011 and of which he became president five years later. Drawing on his experience as a producer and planner, he gave life to several works that have become extremely popular, such as banana fish, Yuri!!! on ICE, Terror in Resonance and Kids on the Slope.

For his visit to France with Crunchyroll, we discuss with him the birth of the various projects, the creative process, the working conditions and the future of the studio.

AlloCiné: Can you tell us about the origins of the creation of MAPPA?

Manabu Otsuka: At the beginning, the studio was called MAPPA House and was managed by the producer Maruyama Masao. He had the idea to give birth to this studio to be able to produce the film In a corner of this worldrealized by Sunao Katabuchireleased in 2016.

How are the different projects chosen? Do you have specific criteria?

Everything depends on the drive and passion of our teams who sometimes ask to work on specific projects. You should also know that some are chosen according to what they can bring to our factory, to the brand image of the studio.

What do you think are the strengths of the studio?

I think it’s the desire and skills of our teams that are able to work in all possible genres.

MAPPA is mainly recognized for the quality of its graphics. How do you approach the visual design of your projects?

We are committed to understanding what the fans want. For this, we choose the teams that will work on an anime according to the abilities of each member. We try to form a working group capable of producing a performance and a quality that will best satisfy the spectators.

Attack on titan, jujutsu kaisen... : meeting with the president of the mappa studio,...

Denji and Makima from Chainsaw Man

You work with experienced creators but also with young apprentices. How is the recruitment of these different talents going?

For us, the important thing is not whether they can immediately meet our criteria, but whether they are passionate enough to hold on within the studio, and potentially reach the level of animation that the we want afterwards. And even if this is not always the case, the main thing is passion.

Are there any points you pay particular attention to during the anime production process?

I pay particular attention to the composition of the work teams so that each project is as qualitative as possible. I choose each person able to respond most effectively to the steps required for the creation of such and such a project.

How are your collaborations with foreign studios and designers going?

During production, we sometimes entrust backgrounds, CGI (digital special effects) or cut to other foreign studios and creators. These are collaborations that are going very well.

How has MAPPA adapted to work during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It was very complicated. This is why we very quickly set up systems so that everyone could work at home and with all the necessary equipment available.

You took over from Wit Studio for season 4 of Attack on Titan. How did you approach reviving such a popular anime?

It was not easy to succeed Wit Studio, especially knowing their level. We just said to ourselves that we would never equal them if we tried to do like them. That’s why we chose to start from scratch, with our own graphic touch and our personal touch.

Attack on titan, jujutsu kaisen... : meeting with the president of the mappa studio,...
Wit Studio / MAPPA

Eren by Wit Studio / Eren by MAPPA

You are in charge of the animation of big manga hits like Jujutsu Kaizen and Chainsaw Man. How do you approach projects as expected as these?

Above all, we try to think of the fans. The idea is to constantly question yourself and doubt everything until the end. (laughs)

Do such successes lead to changes within the studio?

Indeed, it always brings a lot of changes, especially on the speed of expansion of the studio but also on the beneficial and business plan.

What do you think differentiates MAPPA from other studios?

I think it’s our ability to make decisions quickly. (laughs)

Are there any challenges you would like to take on in the future as president of the studio?

From a purely entrepreneurial point of view, I would like to succeed in making MAPPA grow. But I would also like us to be even more at the forefront in terms of animation quality.

Personally, which animated works (series or films) do you prefer?

It’s hard to choose. It’s all the harder when you work in the middle. But I would say The castle in the Sky of Hayao Miyazaki and Akira of Katsuhiro Otomo.

Attack on titan, jujutsu kaisen... : meeting with the president of the mappa studio,...

Kaneda Shotaro

Interview by Manon Maroufi in Levallois-Perret on June 30, 2022.

Crunchyroll invites the MAPPA studio to the Japan Expo in Paris. A public studio conference will be held on Saturday July 16 at 10:45 a.m. on the Yuzu stage, during which Manabu Otsuka but also the producer Makoto Kimuraand the screenwriter Hiroshi Seko will talk about future MAPPA projects.

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