Shingu - Shawne's Stellar Secret
By Kris Kleckner, Producer, 2004
So I was sitting in my office working away when Shawne (that's our CEO) walked into the room and dropped a VHS tape on my desk. "Here's our new show. Check it out," he said.
Bewildered, I picked up the tape and read Gakuen Senki: Muryou (Record of the School Wars: Muryou). "I've never heard of it."
Shawne smiled a little secret smile and repeated, "Just check it out."
Deep into work on Comic Party and with Gravitation TV on the horizon, I put the tape to the side for the time. That night I did a bit of research… What had Shawne gotten me into? But the more information I found, the more impressed I got.
PRODUCTION: STUDIO MADHOUSE
(Chobits/ Cardcaptor Sakura/ Gungrave/ Hajime no Ippo/ Jubei-chan/ Ninja Scroll/ Trigun/ Vampire Hunter D/ X)
PRODUCER: MASAO MOROSAWA
(Gungrave/ Jubei-chan/ Ninja Scroll TV/ Trigun)
DIRECTOR: TATSUO SATO
(Stellvia/ Nadesico/ Ninja Scroll TV)
PLANNING: MASAO MARUYAMA
(Cardcaptor Sakura Movies/ Gungrave/ Gunslinger Girl/ Jubei-chan/ Ninja Scroll TV)
CHARACTER DESIGN & ANIMATION DIRECTOR: TAKAHIRO YOSHIMATSU
(Cardcaptors: Leave it to Kero!/ Jubei-chan/ Ninja Scroll TV/ Trigun/ Slayers Movies)
ART DIRECTOR: YUUJI IKEDA
(Fushigi Yugi TV & OVA/ DBZ Movies 1-3/ Monster/ Ninja Scroll TV/ Saiyuki/ X TV)
MUSIC: YUJI OHNO
(Lupin TV Series 2&3/ Lupin Movies: Dead or Alive, Voyage to Danger, Castle of Cagliostro)
Wow. Now that's what I call quite a crew. But would it stand up to my expectations? Curious now, I sat down and popped the tape in the player.
Intro into Tokyo: robots… aliens… battles… Sounds like just everything else I've seen lately, I thought. Then the opening came up. I'll honestly say that I wasn't particularly inspired at seeing this, (looking back, I can truthfully say that the openings and closings are very misrepresentative of the show) but I kept watching as I'm very aware that not all opening credit sequences convey the true nature of their shows.
The first episode is a bit slow as most of it is dedicated to establishing the vast array of characters, but it's in the last 5 minutes of the episode that it really begins to take off. And after the second episode, well, you just don't want to stop watching...
After I turned off the show for the night, I sat there and tried to figure out why this particular show was becoming so good. Sure there was action. Sure there was mystery. But there're tons of anime with those elements. The difference was, not only was this show written well, but it was the characters themselves that were drawing me in.
While there are some shows that just have one or two really great characters, this show has tons of them, each with their own eccentricities – Hajime, the totally responsible, nerdy class rep; Futaba, Hajime's typical little competitive sister that's just so cute you want to squeeze her to death; Muryou, the mysterious new transfer student who dresses weird and displays extraordinary powers; Shun, the super popular student council treasurer who loves being in the limelight and is well-loved by the ladies; Kyoichi, the hot-headed martial-arts expert who hates Muryou immediately; Nayuta, the temperamental vice president of student council who wants everything done her way; the list goes on and on. I could literally fill up the next several pages talking about the huge list of characters that are involved in this show. Each character is so complex and intertwined with the others that they just draw you along. Why does Kyoichi hate Muryou so much? Why is Hajime so laid back about everything?
And could I possibly beat them at that crazy sumo game they're always playing??
The further I got into this show the more I recognized how subtly complex the creators had been. Characters who seem insignificant in the beginning (one guy has like, 5 lines total at the start) end up popping up with major parts half way through the show. And when you watch everything a second time, you catch even more hints of secondary sub-plots. (Of course, at the time, it was the first time I had seen it so I had no idea what would happen next!)
Do I sound a little excited about this show? I'm not alone. Everyone who has touched this show has been sucked into its wonderful world. The translator for the show commented that she was really thankful for being asked to work on it, because now it's become her favorite show.
I love this show and it's definitely become one of my favorites. Will it become your favorite show too? Find out when Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars comes to a DVD player near you in Spring 2005! Look forward to it!