Weren’t able to check out Aniplex Online Fest last weekend? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this special report, we’ll be giving you a breakdown of the four hottest panels:
- Tracing the 10-year history of Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Fate/Grand Order Anime Project Special Program
- Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night Past and Future
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Overseas Trip 2021
1. Tracing the 10-year history of Puella Magi Madoka Magica
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the TV anime broadcast of Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica). At the anniversary stage held on April 25, 2021—with simultaneous worldwide distribution—the production of the sequel movie Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 4: Walpurgis no Kaiten was announced and became a major topic of conversation.
For this program, Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica‘s Aoi Yuuki (Madoka Kaname) and Eri Kitamura (Sayaka Miki), Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica Gaiden‘s Momo Asakura (Iroha Tamaki) and Sora Amamiya (Yachiyo Nanami), MC Chiaki Matsuzawa, Aniplex producer Tatsuya Ishikawa, Aniplex game producer Yusuke Toyama, and anime critic Ryota Fujitsu gathered in the studio to look back on the history of the Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica series.
Created by director Akiyuki Shinbou, screenwriter Gen Urobuchi, character designer Ume Aoki, and music composer Yuki Kajiura at animation studio Shaft, the original series became a social phenomenon, even attracting viewers outside of the anime fandom with its many unpredictable developments and artistic worldview.
Actress Yuuki said, “In the first 5 years (after recording the original series), when I would think back to those days, I would remember how difficult it was because I felt desperate and pulled into Madoka’s painful fate. But after 10 years, I realized that I have so many happy memories.”
Actress Kitamura said, “I didn’t think I would be able to play such an important role which would become the second turning point in the series, so I remember going into the recording with a sense of tension and joy. I’m still happy that Sayaka was one of the key characters in this work.”
The 12 episode TV anime was recompiled into two anime films released in theatres in October 2012. When anime critic Fujitsu thought about the work while watching the animation again, he logically explained why the story was dramatic and interesting. During the planning process, the creators wanted to say “this is a story of friendship between an idealistic girl and a realist girl.” Madoka is the idealist and she rewrites the framework of reality by changing the rules of mahou shoujo (magical girls) and witches. She has the first idea to achieve their desired happiness by changing the rules.
As for the sequel film Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari released in 2013, Fujitsu said, “Homura is the realist. If we think of pragmatism as someone who acts in a way to protect at least this one thing which is important, then we can see that while the TV series changed the rules based on idealism, Homura in the movie rewrites the rules of the world based on the emotion of love. It’s like two sides of the same coin.” Yuuki seemed excited to hear this and said, “So that’s why they are attracted to each other.”
About the film, producer Ishikawa adds that during the scene when Homura becomes a demon at the end of the movie, the first take of Chiwa Saitou’s acting brought out the black emotions Homura was feeling. But they decided it was not something to include in the final version, and it was added instead as a bonus to the home video release.
In August 2017, the smartphone game Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story was launched in Japan. Actress Asakura, voice of Iroha, said, “It’s a story of people who each have some darkness in them, coming together to forge deep bonds with friends made there.” Amemiya adds, “Because it’s a game, the story is written in detail and it was easy for me to empathize with Yachiyo. As I began liking her more and more, I became scared of the despair awaiting me (laughs). But at the same time, I feel it is also a warm story.”
Toyama, the game’s producer, told fans, “We are preparing for the 4th anniversary, so please look forward to it.”
From that game, the TV anime Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story (Magia Record Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica Gaiden) started airing in 2020. As the next title in the franchise, it needed to be decided if they should deepen or broaden the series with this adaptation, and the latter was chosen. Fujitsu said, “It was an interesting work that struck a balance between pressing the points and expanding them.”
The first season of Magia Record finished with many mysteries remaining, and its second season will kick-off on July 31. In addition, the new movie sequel for the original series has been decided. It’s a new decade for the Puella Magi Madoka Magica franchise, and expectations for it are only growing. Actress Yuuki, the voice of Madoka, closed the program asking fans, “Please look forward to it. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the content!”
2. Fate/Grand Order Anime Project Special Program
A fruitful one-hour reflection on the history of the immensely popular Fate/Grand Order anime.
The Fate/Grand Order Anime Project Special Program was navigated by Kenji Akabane, who plays Kadoc Zemlupus and Watanabe no Tsuna in the smartphone RPG Fate/Grand Order, and Minami Tanaka, who plays Nitocris and Valkyrie (Ortlinde). This program introduced the history of the Fate/Grand Order anime from First Order to the latest work Final Singularity – The Grand Temple of Time: Solomon (Shuukyoku Tokuiten – Kani Jikan Shinden Solomon).
They discussed scenes from each title that left a strong impression on them and explained the key points. Akabane hadn’t seen First Order when it first aired, but watched it for this recording and said, “There were many things that stuck out to me, because I watched it with prior knowledge of the story.” He also presented video comments from Nobunaga Shimazaki, who plays Ritsuka Fujimaru, and Rie Takahashi, who plays Mash Kyrielight. We could feel their strong passion for the work from their comments.
Next title introduced was Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia (Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia), which aired for two consecutive cours beginning October 2019.
Although Akabane and Tanaka did not appear in Babylonia, they said that they had a special attachment to the work because they had served as official promotional ambassadors. Of the scenes that left a lasting impression on them, Akabane mentioned the scene of Leonidas I and Ushiwakamaru Noble Phantasm scenes in episode 8. Tanaka found the scenes of King Gilgamesh laughing and ridiculing the main characters in episode 3 and Enkidu suffering in episode 8 noteworthy. They talked a lot about the wonderful execution of the Noble Phantasm and their love for the characters.
Yuu Kobayashi, who played the role of Enkidu, appeared in the video comments. In a candid tone, she said that every scene she played was a treasure.
Fate/Grand Order the Movie: Sacred Round Table Camelot (Shinsei Entaku Ryouiki Camelot) is a two-part movie that opened in theaters in Japan on December 5, 2020 and May 15, 2021, respectively. The movie is a reimagining of Part 1, The Sixth Singularity: The Sacred Round Table Realm of Camelot, with Bedivere being the focus.
Mamoru Miyano, who plays Bedivere’s character, sent a video comment, saying, “Bedivere’s journey was very painful and difficult, but I hope everyone can feel the connection and hope for life through this work.
They also noted that Maaya Sakamoto, who performed the theme song “Monologue” for the first part, wrote the lyrics for “Transparent,” the theme song for the second part performed by Miyano. They said that the song expresses Bedivere’s thoughts and feelings, and when they listen to it, they are overflowed with various feelings.
Then, Fate/Grand Order: The Grand Temple of Time: Solomon, which will have a special theatrical screening in Japan from July 30 was presented. The key visuals give the impression of a final battle! The anime adaptation of the final chapter of Part 1 will feature the largest number of Servants in the history of Fate anime, so it’s sure to be exciting.
In addition, Shimazaki and Takahashi appeared again with video comments. They talked about how happy they were to have reached the final chapter and expressed their passion for the movie. In a video comment, Kenichi Suzumura, who plays Romani Archaman, said, “I’m deeply moved because I thought I was acting for this, knowing that the ending depicted in the final chapter awaits me.”
In a video comment, Kana Ueda, who plays Ishtar/Ereshkigal, said, “The highlight of the 2nd Season is Osakabehime (CV: Misato Fukuen), and since we (Ereshkigal and Osakabehime) were talking all the time, I wonder how the scriptwriter thought we should take a breather.
The program looked back at the history of the Fate/Grand Order anime in an easy-to-understand manner. While the first part of the anime is coming to a conclusion, the second part of the game has reached its climax, and he ended the program looking forward to the future, saying that there are many things he would like to see done in the anime.
After the show, Daisuke Namikawa, who plays Lord El-Melloi II, gave a surprise video message to the audience, announcing that a special edition of Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note (Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note)would be produced.
3. Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night Past and Future
A new “Aincrad” chapter written from Asuna Yuuki’s point of view—Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night will premiere in theaters on October 30th, 2021!
Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online (SAO) light novel series, first adapted for the screen in 2012 with a TV anime of the same name, has become popular not only in Japan but all around the world. Sword Art Online Progressive is a reboot series written by Kawahara that depicts the original story’s Aincrad arc from Asuna’s perspective.
Ahead of the release of the second theatrical work in the series, Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night, this program revisited the history of the SAO anime through testimonies from various staff and cast members.
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, who plays the protagonist, Kirito, and Haruka Tomatsu, who plays Asuna, joined the Aniplex Online Fest 2021 set to listen to staff and cast testimonies and share their own thoughts on the series. Inori Minase—the voice actress behind Mito, a new character appearing in the film—narrated the segment.
Masami Niwa, producer of the SAO anime series at Aniplex, spoke about the new film, saying, “By making the Progressive version—the original episode—a film at this time, we wanted to make it easier for as many people as possible to experience the world of SAO.” After that, SAO game producer Takasuke Futami of Bandai Namco Entertainment talked about the game aspect of the franchise, and Nippon Broadcasting System announcer and famous SAO event host Naoki Yoshida talked about the excitement of the ongoing event. Rina Hidaka and Ayahi Takagaki, who voice Silica and Lisbeth, respectively, looked back on their memories of SAO as co-stars.
Kawahara, the author of the original work, was the last to make an appearance, and spoke passionately about the impact the first episode of the anime had on him. Looking back on the voice acting selection process, he felt Kirito’s innocence in Matsuoka’s voice more so than his coolness, while Tomatsu’s voice made him feel Asuna’s desperate will to never lose.
Tomatsu’s laughter also influenced her character. “Thanks to Tomatsu-san, I think instances of Asuna smiling have increased considerably. In the latter half of the story, she only says things that empower Kirito and the people around her. Asuna as a person gives energy to the people around her, there’s a great deal of overlap with Tomatsu herself.”
Kawahara then asked Matsuoka and Tomatsu when they thought Kirito and Asuna would get married in the story’s real world.
“We’ll graduate, get jobs, and we’ll be 26 or 27 by the time, but it could be sooner,” Matsuoka replied, noting it would be a big responsibility. Tomatsu answered strongly, “To put it nicely, it could be anytime, and our hearts will never leave each other.” In response, Matsuoka said, “We’ve been together for 200 years in the Underworld, and we’ve never been apart,” referencing an episode in the Alicization arc.
As for Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive, Kawahara felt a strange combination of “freshness and nostalgia.” He said that the new character, Mito, new episodes he added personally, as well as background on Asuna’s family and how Asuka got into “the game” will be carefully written. Matsuoka and Tomatsu agreed that watching this work will lead to many moments of clarity upon rewatching the first season’s first episode, and that’s why they want everyone to watch it as soon as possible.
For both voice actors, the SAO series has been a journey they’ve walked for roughly one-third of their lives. The origin of this journey will be depicted in Sword Art Online the Movie: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night, which will be released in Japan on October 30th.
4. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Overseas Trip 2021
A special program about how everyone enjoys Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie – Mugen Train all over the world.
In “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Overseas Trip 2021,” Natsuki Hanae (Tanjiro Kamado) and Satoshi Hino (Kyoujurou Rengoku) interacted with fans from around the world and learned of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’s global impact now that Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie – Mugen Train has been released in 65 countries and regions.
Hino was introduced to the overseas fandom with a short video showing fervent moviegoers attending Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie – Mugen Train screenings, and was stunned by the reception for the film overseas.
Fans from the United States (U.S.), Taiwan, Singapore, Spain, Germany, and France were able to communicate directly with Hanae and Hino live via a video conference in the following segment, and shared news of interesting Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba developments and promotions in their home countries.
The film is a big topic of conversation in many places such as in Taiwan, where an outdoor event called “Zenshuuchuu Marathon” was held; in Singapore, where a bus had a special wrap to promote it; and in the U.S., where in a first for an animated film, a train was wrapped. In France, it was played in over 500 theaters, and the word ‘Umai!’ by Rengoku is said to have gone viral on SNS. Hino commented, “I’m glad this line resonated with people overseas because I struggled with it.” In the U.S., the film became the first Japanese film in 22 years and only the second Japanese film ever to rank first at the weekend box office.
In Germany, where exclusive items for moviegoers are rare, a German version of the “Rengoku Volume Zero” one-shot distributed in theaters in Japan was quite appreciated. In Spain, a Spanish subtitled version, a Spanish dubbed version, and a Catalan dubbed version of the film were screened. According to the fan, the popularity of subtitled anime has been on the rise lately, as has the popularity of Japanese voice actors. At this point, a montage of Rengoku’s “Umai!” scene comparing different dubs from around the world was shown. Each of the dubbed versions had their own unique characteristics, and Hino appreciated that they all shared the same enthusiasm.
New cuts featuring Uzui Tengen, which were not in the previous PV, were shown for the TV anime Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc (Kimetsu no Yaiba: Yuukaku-hen), which will air in 2021. Hanae and Hino remarked at how cool they looked. A new PV for the video game Demon Slayer Hinokami Keppu Tan, scheduled to be released on October 14, 2021, was then unveiled. The beautiful images of the game raised Hanae and Hino’s expectations: “I’m reliving the anime just by watching this PV!”, “I can’t wait to play it!”
And they were given a chance to play it! After selecting the characters they voice, they faced off against each other—the Tanjirou & Murata team versus the Ren󠄁goku & Kochou Shinobu team. As they played, they were both amazed by how well the special moves were reproduced and how gorgeous the graphics were. The close, heated battle ended in a victory for Hanae.
The two of them experienced many Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba developments from around the world. They ended the program by saying that they were able to gain strength for the future.
Written by Junichi Tsukakoshi
This report was conducted in Japanese and originally posted on LisAni.
The official English translation was provided exclusively to MyAnimeList and has been edited for clarity.