The Present and Future of Anime Studios (Part 1) Bones’ Yoshihiro Oyabu on Producing My Hero Academia
Every year, hundreds of anime projects are started. These works have come to represent Japan overseas, and years have passed since the days these series were known as “Japanimation.”
Many animation studios have come to represent Japan worldwide, a rare feat for any country. If you’re an anime fan, then it’s a given that you’d be able to name a few animation studios.
We here at the animate Times have decided to go out and interview those who work at the animation studios that have come to represent Japan. This project is our new series, “The Present and Future of Anime Studios.”
This series will be translated into English, Chinese, and Korean, so more people worldwide can read it. We hope that this series will bring more attention to Japan’s animation studios.
For the inaugural article, we are going to speak with producer Yoshihiro Oyabu about My Hero Academia. He is part of Bones, a studio famous for Full Metal Alchemist, Eureka Seven, and Blood Blockade Battlefront.
How is the reaction to My Hero Academia different in each country? Let’s find out!
Yoshihiro Oyabu’s Profile
Yoshihiro Oyabu is a producer at BONES. He’s worked on titles such as Star Driver, the Darker than Black series, Blood Blockade Battlefront, and Concrete Revolutio. He’s currently working on My Hero Academia.
The Person Who Understands the Working Conditions Best is the Producer
ーーThank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you tell us in detail how you are involved with My Hero Academia?
Oyabu：What I do depends on the project. For Bones’ original anime, each producer chiefly works with the creators to start the project. It’s often the case that we are truly crafting the story from scratch.
In the case of My Hero Academia, one of the producers I had previously worked with from TOHO animation contacted me and said, "This manga has only been running for three months, but have you heard of it?"
I believe that it was around the time that the first volume had gone on sale, and I told them that I had bought it from the bookstore. From there, we decided that we would work together to create the My Hero Academia anime.
Regarding the staff, I thought that Kenji Nagasaki should be the director since the series is an orthodox Shonen Jump title.
As for the character designer, I could only think of Yoshihiko Umakoshi since his style matched the feel of the series. I was worried that he wouldn’t even consider my offer. However, he was happy to take on the project.
After that, we made the presentation to Shueisha about what staff members TOHO and Bones could bring to the table.
I found out after the anime production had been decided that the original author Kouhei Horikoshi was a big fan of Umakoshi-san, so I thought that I had chosen the staff well.
ーーI see. So you were involved with this project from the start.
Oyabu：That’s right. The producer is involved with everything from initially choosing the best staff, right up until pre-production and delivering the finished product. In actuality, I don't see each and every single piece of work that needs to be done, but I am present for the critical parts.
ーーSo you witness each part of the process.
Oyabu：That's right. Some people are more familiar with the details than I am, but I'm the one who is most familiar with the overall process.
ーーYou need to be flexible when it comes to staffing, so what kind of reaction was there to your initial presentation?
Oyabu：There were many times when they said, "If the staff is chosen by BONES, then it's OK with us." I was pleased about that. All of the original creators of the works I have produced have been very kind. I consider myself lucky in that regard.
Horikoshi-sensei highly praised the drawings that Umakoshi-san made. Before we started the first movie (My Hero Academia: Two Heroes), we held a meeting along with Nagasaki-san, and those two seemed like they had a great time. I'm thrilled that we've been able to have an excellent working relationship with Horikoshi-sensei.