Eiko Tanaka
© Beyond C
Kenji Ishimaru · Translated by Yukie Sugahara · July 2, 2007 | Studio 4°C has been leading the world of high quality animation in Japan. We interviewed Eiko Tanaka, CEO of Studio 4°C, about their highly anticipated but very secret latest product, called Genius Party.

"Genius Party has been our much anticipated project from the very beginning of the history of Studio 4°C," says Tanaka. "Koji Morimoto's strong desire to have his own studio initiated the establishment of Studio 4°C. In those days, only one or two original animation films for the theatre were made per year. It was very difficult for the animators to make a living by making just theatrical releases. They needed to produce TV series that relied on volume rather than quality. Though making TV series paid them well, it did not give them the satisfaction of creating what they really wanted to make."

The essential Studio 4°C: a selected filmography
Robot Carnival (1987)
Memories (1995)
Noiseman Sound Insect (1997)
Spriggan (1998)
Metropolis (2001)
The Animatrix (2003)
Mind Game (2004)
Tekkon Kinkreet (2006)
Genius Party (2007)
Those strong desires of the animators moved Tanaka, and Studio 4°C was founded in 1986. However, achieving their ultimate goals did not happen overnight.

"Studio 4°C took even the smallest orders from customers at the beginning, and gradually established its reputation and trust among the customers. Once the orders were pouring in constantly, Studio 4°C started to express their own ideas and opinions toward the clients. Then the Studio 4°C brand was acknowledged as providing high-quality and trustworthy works. Eventually clients came to expect new and original ideas on top of first-class quality, and the studio became profitable enough to invest in co-productions. Finally Studio 4°C was ready to create what we really wanted to make without outside financial help, and work on Genius Party began in earnest.

"The film consists of fourteen omnibus pieces by fourteen selected directors. It was initially planned as eight stories by eight directors, but the number has been increased to fourteen. The total length of the film will be almost 180 minutes, equal to the sum of two regular films. So many directors favoured the concept of this project and wanted to participate in it. The number of those who want to participate is still increasing." [Genius Party will now be presented as two compilations of seven films each. —Ed.]

In general, it is said that omnibus films do not sell well, so we asked about the reason for choosing the omnibus format against all the odds.

"There are directors that can make original films, but there aren't enough opportunities to make feature-length movies. The reason is that the risks are too high to create original long animation films. So at this time we feel it is best to create a collection of short films. I also hope that this project becomes a stepping stone to create feature films in the future. One of our hopes when we started this project was to try and discover the next Hayao Miyazaki."

The omnibus format has advantages, says Tanaka.

"Since the media has many different forms now, short films can be conveniently adapted and used, while long films can be used only for theatres."

She also points out the issues on the audience side.

"Knowledge is needed for the audience as well as for the creators. I believe that the ground to appreciate high-quality animation films for adults as a culture has not developed in Japan. For a start, short films should be marketed via various media and should give more opportunities for the viewers to learn and to be educated from them. This is a very important part of this project, too."
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