Crunchyroll hosted a special two-part panel featuring two of Studio MAPPA’s latest series “Zombie Land Saga” and “To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts” on Day Two of Anime Expo 2019. The following covered the “Sacred Beasts” portion. Check out this article for the “Zombie Land” content.

Attendees watched the first episode of “To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts” and the early screening of Episode Two in the second part of this Crunchyroll/MAPPA panel.

An adaptation of artist Maybe’s 2014 manga, the series transported viewers to the nation of Patria where a civil war made its countrymen pledge allegiance to either the North’s union or the South’s confederation. The Northern armies struggled to get a footing in the war until they deployed their secret project, the Incarnates. Created by doctor Elaine and led by Hank Henriette and Cain Madhouse, this special army appeared to be normal humans donned in white until they transformed into monstrous creatures. With such legendary power, the North easily gained the upper hand and pushed towards victory. Things seemed like nothing could go wrong until one of the Incarnates went feral and killed himself to stop inflicting harm. The mutations went beyond the body and the group needed to resolve this problem as they approached the end of the war. Hank pledged that Incarnates who lose themselves must be killed by their own. While all were uncomfortable with this proclamation, some had other plans.  

Moderator Evan Minto welcomed MAPPA CEO and producer Manabu Otsuka back to stage with NBCUniversal producer Reo Kurosu and soundtrack composer Yoshihiro Ike to talk about the latest series from MAPPA.

When asked about the start of the project, Kurosu said he talked to the Japanese manga publisher Kodansha and then approaching the studio to make the adaptation. Minto then asked what they found unique about “Sacred Beasts”. Otsuka answered that MAPPA worked on several fantasy series before so it was a bit easy. He mentioned that they had to do research on the U.S civil war including uniforms since Patria’s conflict was based off of it.

Minto said that the manga had a different approach the story and asked the panel about it. Otsuka replied that there were differences in structure between the two and had to adapt the printed material the best way on screen to get the audience emotionally invested. He wanted the focus to be on Hank and Schaal.

Regarding things production had to pay attention to while making the anime, Kurosu said that the manga shuffled through different moments in time so they had to reorganized scenes. Composer Ike said he paid close attention to give the soundtrack a lot of emotion and power. Otsuka also said because it was a fantasy genre, they gave the Incarnates a lot of attention. They wanted to give a lot of “emotion and reality to farfetched characters”.

When Minto asked the guests who was their favorite character, each gave a different answer. For Kurosu, he briefly said Siren who the audience will learn more in future episodes. Ike said he liked Hank because his destiny and job became the emotional backbone of the series. Otsuka replied that Claude was his favorite since he found him relatable as the character struggled to find his way through the Incarnates.

Minto then asked Ike about his process as an anime composer. Ike said that the publishers initially offered him to work on it and wanted something like his “Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” music. He said “he couldn’t find a legitimate reason” to turn it down. Minto wanted to know more on the logistics, Ike replied that he read the manga and said some parts were hard to understand. He didn’t want to make the Incarnates evil but protectors of justice. Concerning the music after the death of Schaal’s father, Ike said it needed a deep overtone to bring the weight of the moment and was interesting when he told that he actually came from a jazz background. The composer then spoke about the essence of audio in anime. “To put it simply, music and sound effects are not always necessary but can take the visual media to another level.” He said it was it was the emotional line to connect fans to what’s on the screen. The last question about the music was if the time period and setting dictated what would be used. Ike replied that an orchestra was the best choice since the anime was not set in modern times. He said he originally wanted to use some synthesizer for the fantasy aspect but change his decision after watching Episode One. The wide array of instruments in an orchestra was also the reason for choosing it.

Minto moved back to the producers and asked how far will the anime cover. Kurosu answered that English publisher had eight volumes out but viewers should watch to find out. When asked about how they decide how many seasons to make, Kurosu said the question was a good one for those really interested in the anime industry. He replied that there are many factors on the business side and those on the creative side do their best to make with the amount they got. He said that they are dependent on content and there are a lot of stories within “Sacred Beasts”. Kurosu concluded by saying if more people watch it, they’re have more chances to make more.

Otsuka answered the question about the Incarnates design, mentioning that the manga had slight fluctuations and production’s goal was to maintain consistency with the specialized designs throughout the anime.

Producer Kurosu thanked the attendees as part of his final comments. He also said that living and dying honorably is a big part of the show and said he reflects on his own life. Ike said he hoped that the audience watch it to the end for all the work they put into the series. Otsuka said that they worked hard to bring focus on Hank and Schaal’s emotional and physical journey. He said he hoped that both Japanese and American fans find relatable characters.

For more on the composer Yoshihiro Ike, check out our article on his concert during AX.

“To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts” is airing now on Crunchyroll. As mentioned before, Vertical publishes the English translations of Maybe’s manga and Volume Nine will be out this August. 

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