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HomeentertainmentAnime NewsSan Diego Comic-Con: Shinichiro Watanabe Deep Dives into LAZARUS

San Diego Comic-Con: Shinichiro Watanabe Deep Dives into LAZARUS

Director Shinichiro Watanabe at the Adult Swim Toonami panel, 2023
Photo by Kalai Chik

Shortly before San Diego Comic-Con, Jason DeMarco (SVP of anime at Warner Discovery) announced director Shinichiro Watanabe‘s appearance at the Adult Swim Toonami panel. There, they were joined alongside Gill Austin (Adult Swim VP and creative director) and Joseph Chou (CEO of Sola Entertainment) to reveal the first trailer for Watanabe’s . The series will be a “100% investment” from Adult Swim/Warner Bros. and is set to air on Toonami. Sola Entertainment will produce the anime, while studio MAPPA will oversee the animation.

DeMarco kicked off the panel and touched upon some of the other creative minds behind the series. John Wick’s Chad Stahelski will supervise stunt sequences, while musicians Kamasi Washington, DJ Floating Points, and Bonobo will compose the anime score. Watanabe would later comment on DeMarco’s ear for sound, commenting that he’s a “music freak” of the same caliber as himself. Undoubtedly, the soundtrack will be highly anticipated.

He also reflected on the reruns of on Adult Swim since its first broadcast 22 years ago. Since then, the programming block would later invest in and now . “It’s probably been about ten years since I’ve tried to convince Watanabe to make a show with us,” said DeMarco. Now, with the help of Chou, they were able to make that dream a reality. Crediting their time together on , Watanabe cited how enjoyable the experience was. “I came to the realization that I haven’t worked on a sci-fi action-adventure genre series for a long time.” After three years of discussions, one thing led to another, and DeMarco would sign off on the investment into the creator’s newest work.

Photo by Kalai Chik

Although there’s no release date for the series, Watanabe walked the panel through character design sheets, boards, backgrounds, and an in-development action sequence from Stahelski. When Watanabe first thought through the action scenes, the John Wick director was the first person who came to mind. But the director initially waved off the idea of reaching out to a big Hollywood name like Stahelski, acknowledging that it would be a leap for him. Luckily, the producers had previously worked with him before and sent out an offer. Stahelski was a massive fan of and praised the series for influencing him.

In addition, Watanabe would later recall that he crossed paths with him on , as Stahelski was Keanu Reeve’s stuntman at the time. “You’ll see an interesting mix of live-action action design and how we would interpret that in anime,” stated Watanabe. They showed the audience a three-minute clip of Stahelski’s stunt team, titled “ Ep. 4 Club Concepts.” This extended scene displayed an array of intense combat sequences involving multiple characters dodging and exercising various martial arts.

These videos, camera angles, and ideas would be reference points for the final scene. “In terms of action design, if it’s just about killing your enemy, it’s not hard to do,” explained Watanabe. “The point of it was to add proper context and drama. The philosophy of action was unifying and a great collaboration.”

Photo by Kalai Chik

Moving onto the world and characters of , the director tackled the elephant in the room: the comparison to his other work. “Because it’s been a while since I worked on a sci-fi action series, I didn’t want to retread that. This is a new version, updated for modern times.” Teasing the possibility of more seasons, which DeMarco optimistically supported, Watanabe stated this season would focus on a painkiller called Hapuna. Dr. Skinner, the scientist who develops this side-effect-free drug, suddenly reappears after his disappearance three years prior. During this time, he appears on the net, announcing that the painkiller has one side effect: death. Since most of the population had taken the drug for granted, Skinner gives them one choice: “Find me if you want the cure.” Organizations of all kinds set out to find him to save the world and pull together a team of agents called Lazarus, which signifies the series’ title.

Rounding out the discussion, Watanabe closed the panel with a quick surface run-through of the eight-character sheets. He introduces the five members of , who all come from different backgrounds and countries. However, one of them has a secret past. Hired by the FBI, CIA, cartels, and the Russian mafia to find the scientist, this ragtag team was put together because of a secret past that ties them to Dr. Skinner. “It took me about a year just to create the story,” revealed Watanabe. “We’re trying to get to the end, but to be frank; we don’t know whether we’ll finish in time.”



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