Date: 2018 June 10 13:20
Posted by Joe
The MCM London Comic Con always has interesting anime guests of honour. This May 2018 was no exception with Shouji Gatou the creator of Full Metal Panic! visiting London as the anime guest of honour. Mr Gatou wrote the original Full Metal Panic! Light Novels and also works as an anime screen writer having worked on the anime version of Full Metal Panic!, Hyouka, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star. He also created Amagi Brilliant Park as a light novel, which also became a popular anime series.
We caught up with Shouji Gatou on the Saturday of MCM London Comic Con May 2018 to ask him some questions about his career and his works.
How did you get into writing light novels?
I started writing as a student. I used to play a lot of RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons, and Middle Earth Role Playing and that inspired me to want to start writing. I started writing and people seemed to like what I wrote and that made me want to carry on.
Do you still play RPGs?
I'm too busy!
With Full Metal Panic!, there's a lot of model kits they've created for the show. Do you have a favourite model kit?
They're all different so I don't have one particular favourite. The Savage is fun!
Where does your inspiration come from for your characters?
I create the characters to fit the plot. Then I flesh them out and they become the characters they are. Sometimes I'll work on the character as I'm writing.
Is it true that Chidori and Sousuke's relationship was based on Japanese comedy due to how the two interact?
Not entirely, but there is an element to it in their relationship.
Was it difficult getting the balance right when writing the character dynamics between the pair?
It wasn't particularly difficult as it's not a usual relationship they have if you're a fan of Japanese manga.
Can you please tell us more about the idea behind Bonta-Kun?
Bonta-Kun came from a standalone series that I wrote. There was one part set in a theme park and I needed a mascot character. I thought he needed a voice so I was making these weird noises and came up with "Hu-mo-oh".
Amagi Brilliant Park is a completely different kind of story from Full Metal Panic!. What was the inspiration for creating this scenario?
It was actually when I went to Tokyo Disney Resort with my family and I was a bit bored, so I was day dreaming and I saw one of the mascots playing with one of the children and I thought wouldn't it be funny if that mascot actually hated children!
I started to imagine the mascots behind the scenes going "Oh god, I've had enough of this".
With Full Metal Panic! enjoying its latest anime version, what is the enduring appeal of the series?
I don't really know! A lot of work has gone into and we've paid attention to a lot of things. The balance is right. I guess that's it.
Are you surprised it's got such a big international audience?
Yes! But I'm grateful.
Did you ever expect to be presenting panels at a huge event like this in London?
I never imaged.
How does it anime screen writing compare to writing light novels?
With a novel you can write everything the character is thinking with anime you can't so you need to work around that.
There's a difference in what you can express in each format. That's something I have to be wary of. With anime you have a limit time slot. That's something else that's challenging.
Do you have a preference writing one of the other?
When I'm writing an anime screen play I wish I'm writing a novel. When I'm writing a novel, I wish I was writing the screen play.
What characters other than your own have you enjoyed writing for?
I enjoyed writing Hotaro Oreki in Hyouka and Kyon in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya because they're characters where the comedy of the original needs to come through. So it was fun to replicate that.
Is it different adapting other people's work rather than your own?
It's difficult because you always have to cut things and it's hard to choose which parts to cut. I'm always careful not to let the fans of the original down.
What kind of things influenced you for Full Metal Panic!?
I've always liked Japanese robot anime and Hollywood action films, so I guess that's my biggest influence.
Is Lord Mallory British?
Yes. He's British. But if I knew I was going to come here, I would have written him better! I'm sorry if there's anything strange about him.
What keeps you writing?
I don't know. I've just spent 20 years doing my best with whatever I was working on.
Do you have a favourite mecha in Full Metal Panic!?
The M9. Mass produced, high performance, it's quite realistic.
Did you have much influence in the design of the actual mech?
Yeah, I talked with the designer Ebikawa-san to come up with the designs, but I left a lot of it up to Ebikawa-san.
Otaku News would like to thank Shouji Gatou for being such an awesome guy to interview, Anime Limited for helping us arrange the interview and of course MCM London Comic Con for inviting Mr Gatou to London and hosting him.