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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rising Anime Star Toshiyuki Kanno Discusses Halo Legends

Rising Anime Star Toshiyuki Kanno Discusses Direction
of “The Babysitter” Episode within Halo Legends

Warner Home Video to Distribute Compilation DVD on Feb. 16, 2010

Toshiyuki Kanno, one of the rising stars in anime, brings his distinct action style to the world of Halo with an innovative, yet uniquely familiar approach to the episodic film “The Babysitter,” one of the seven stories within the upcoming Halo Legends.

Warner Home Video will distribute Halo Legends on February 16, 2010 as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™, as well as
single disc DVD and available On Demand and Digital Download. The DVD anthology of episodic films based within the mythology of the popular game Halo is produced by 343 Industries, a unit within Microsoft Game Studios.

Kanno worked with Studio 4oC (and producer Eiko Tanaka) to create the Halo Legends episode, “The Babysitter,” which focuses on the intense rivalry between the ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) and the Spartans. When given an assignment to assassinate a high-ranking Covenant Prophet, a four-man team of ODSTs must accept a Spartan Sniper to their strike force. Each discipline learns something important about the other as the mission progresses into hostile territory - and old rivalries must be reexamined if the mission is to succeed.

The episode emphasizes the differences in ability and style between
the two soldier types, and features a few familiar faces – Dutch from
Halo 3: ODST and his teammates Private O'Brien, Master Sergeant Cortez
and Corporal Checkman. The Babysitter was first previewed for Xbox
Live subscribers on November 7, 2009.

Kanno has rapidly established himself as a force within the anime
industry, building a reputation for directing stylish action anime in
such productions as Black Lagoon, Fighting Spirit, Aquarian Age and
Zone of the Enders. He also worked on special effects for Digimon: The

Kanno provided some further insight into the production of “The
Babysitter” via the following Q&A. Read on …

How does Halo lend itself to anime/animation?

Halo is a property filled with so many exciting characters and
detailed story settings with a very vast/huge background, and I
believe that the property has a lot of room to create episodes. Thus,
I think that various ways in anime development can suit the property
in whatever style the creators employ.

What was the inspiration for your artistic vision in your episode of
Halo Legends?

What inspired me the most are the "ruins of an unconfirmed space
alien.” Of course, we had a premise that the ruins are Forerunners,
and Microsoft/343 Industries provided us with a good deal of leeway to
create new elements. We have tried to incorporate a Japanese taste as
much as possible to the buildings, costumes, and other visual things
to try to add greater depth and expand the Halo realm.

Were there any particular images within the Halo realm that helped
shape or drive your creative vision?

We found inspiration in all of the art books provided by Microsoft,
especially the beauty of the nature shown in the image boards as well
as in the game itself. I tried to incorporate a similar beauty in my
episode. In addition, the costume and the weapons of various
characters such as the Brutes, Elites and Prophet provided me with
inspirations in creating the characteristics of this episode.

Why were you the right person to direct/design/write this episode?

The original script describing a story relating to the relationship
between Spartans and ODST was been provided by Mr. Frank O’Connor. I
discussed with Ms. Tanaka, the producer of the episode, that we needed
to brush up the story to make it more understandable and impressive,
and proposed the new script to Microsoft. I believe that the script
has become better suited to animation.

We had a very strong design and animation team. I was in charge of
character designs and focused on creating designs to easily express
emotions of each of them. I employed Mr. Hayashi and Mr. Suzuki to
design mechas, such as those involving the Spartan,  ODSTs and
Covenant. They have been very good in creating mechas that are simple
but very cool designs.

Mr. Sasaki was in charge of background designs, and his ideas helped
realize a very distinguished world of “The Babysitter” – giving our
anime sensibility, but retaining the Halo taste. He has created an
original UNSC spaceship and the design seemed to please the Microsoft

Both Ms. Miyuki, who was in charge of coloring, and Mr. Watanabe, who
headed the CGI as well as the screen plan, focused on keeping a
balance throughout the entire episode. I believe that they contributed
a lot in accomplishing a profound screen play.

What did you set out to accomplish in this episode, and why do you
think you achieved or exceeded your goals?

The most distinguished characteristic of this episode is that this is
the only episode in Halo Legends where ODST characters appear. During
the production of this episode, a new Halo game “Halo 3: ODST,”
featuring ODST characters, was released – and our episode has some
common characters with the game. Thus, we felt an intense pressure to
make the episode very enjoyable to the newcomers to the Halo world
and, more over, to ensure that the episode would not betray the trust
of the game fans.

I, myself, was a quite a newcomer to Halo at the beginning of this
project, and it was a very hard process to understand the vast realm
of Halo and to create new things out of it.  Consequently, I have
found out that the episode has become very exciting and much better
than I had originally expected. I believe that this result comes from
the efforts of each and every member of our production staffs. This
was a very collaborative effort.

How important was having Halo gaming experience to bringing the world
to life in anime?

I am not at all good at playing video games, and I have not played
that much. But my staff played a great deal, and both myself and my
staff spent a lot of time viewing the long-playing movie many times to
ensure we understood the Halo realm as well as the details of its

Are there any hidden images or behind-the-scenes “Easter eggs” –
special little things you included for the devout Halo fans – that
appear within your episode?

It was simply tough enough for me to understand the Halo universe
during such a short period of time, so I did not have time or room to
create such “hidden images” etc. However, I strongly believe that
every viewer will feel the enthusiasm of all of our creative staffs in
the episode.