Ikuyo Hashiguchi on the LA-AFF red carpet. Taken by Faith Orcino

Thanks to organizers of the Los Angeles Anime Film Festival (LA-AFF), I had the chance to sit down with Ikuyo Hashiguchi, author of  “Shonen Hollywood” before the opening night.

Q: What are your plans for LA-AFF, other than your special premiere of your film? Do you plan on seeing other films?
H: I like to look at other films as well. It is my first time coming to this anime film festival, so I like to enjoy the atmosphere as well.

Q: Do you often go to film festivals or see other anime films?
H: Actually, I don’t really watch that much anime so this is a very interesting opportunity for me.

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Q: For our readers at Anime Ushi, we would like to know where did the idea came from for “Shonen Hollywood”.  What or who were your inspirations? Anyone or any group in particular?
H: The idol culture in Japan, if you have very special individualities or characteristics you can succeed and it is like the audience and your fans will help you succeed. Whereas I believe in the U.S. you actually need to have some sort of talent to be able to succeed so I think it is very unique in Japan, this idol culture. Because of that, that inspired me to create something very dedicated to that culture.

Ikuyo Hashiguchi on the LA-AFF red carpet. Taken by Faith Orcino

Q: I read the interview that you did with the film festival and how this series was based off of your life experience how you were approached actually by a scout. A question about that moment in time of your life when you were scouted by accident, if you were younger, say 17, would you take that opportunity to become an idol?
H: I’m 44 now. Of course. Of course.

Q: In the anime, we see some of the negative sides of show business and what companies would do to produce their idols as well as showcasing the struggles of the young teenage boys going from a day-to-day basis. I know some fans do appreciate the aspect of a more relatable feel between the characters and I want to know why did you choose to focus more on that aspect of the characters’ lives.
H: I really love idol documentaries and I think one of the idols’ work is to show their life, what their life is like. So there is that kind of culture. But at the same time there are a lot of idol anime that show the really really fun part, the very shining part. But outside of the stage, I believe all the fans are wondering what kind of life do they live. What do they do outside of singing or performing on stage? What kind of struggles do they have? I think the fans really want to know that part so by knowing that part of their life, I think the fans can really appreciate the idol songs and look at them differently.

Q: Is there any more you can share about the idol industry? In Japan or internationally?
H: So right now in Japan the idol culture is a lot like a team sport where you have a lot of people in the team. From there, the fans are like “which one am I going to cheer for and support?” It is also location based for example: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya. So the idols are based on a certain part of Japan and from there the selected people are able to be on like TV song shows. The fans are kind of living with the idols so when the idol that they are supporting gets famous, they are very happy. If they stop the entertainment business, they get very sad. To them, it is like their actual family or loved ones, their friend, girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s kind of like that right now in idol culture with the fans.

Ikuyo Hashiguchi on the LA-AFF red carpet with flag of handwritten messages from Japanese fans. Taken by Faith Orcino

Q: About the film, it is quite amazing to hear that the fans funded it and then you guys used hand drawn rotoscope to make this film. We’re really surprised with the amount of work you were able to do. What made you guys make the decision to crowdfund and then use such a difficult animation technique?
H: This series, the more you watch, the more you get involved and into it. It is like real life to the people when they watch it. Because of that, we wanted to do a great job and if we use CG for example a lot of anime dance sequences are in CG, but it is kind of unreal because nothing is perfectly synced in real life. In idol groups sometimes people have different moves, a little bit different. It is not perfectly synced. Therefore each idol member will have their own individuality and to bring that out it is best to have it as we did with the animation technique. So there are more than 30,000 of those drawings that all these animators came together to work on this. When we actually put on the internet, the 26 stories that were on TV, we had a lot of comments from the fans “This is so great! This is so great! But the animators are going to die!”

For those those that do not know the technical side of cartoons and anime, rotoscoping is where artists draw each frame which the rate can range from 24 to 60 per second. The work be done digitally but the “Shonen Hollywood” production crew chose the traditional route, a rare and extreme challenge for the almost hour long movie.

While we were wrapping up the interview, she told me she that she loved Adult Swim.

H: I forgot to say but I don’t watch so many Japanese anime but I love Adult Swim and I love dark comedy like Family Guy and Robot Chicken. Even yesterday night I was watching until really late. I would like to create something like that in the future for that American audience. So please interview me at that time to.

Interested readers can check out more of the interview Hashiguchi did with LA-AFF along with checking out information about the “Shonen Hollywood” movie on the festival’s webpage. Funimation has both seasons of the anime available for online viewing. Many thanks again to Ms. Hashiguchi and LA-AFF for giving us a chance to learn so insight of making a series and movie.