Tokyo Ghostbusters is live!

Oh my god I haven’t updated this blog since Cyberpunk Harry Potter came out back in April! Wow. I’m really hoping to change that (and the look of the actual website itself) in the near future.

So unless you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably would have no idea that I’ve been working on this short. So, a bit of history shall we? I’m not sure how much I can talk about contracts and the work I’m supposed to do, but I was supposed to have six(!!!) 1980s Anime shorts done this year. As you can see, I have only provided Cyberpunk Potter and Tokyo Ghostbusters. Production on the 1980s Anime came to a halt at the start of the summer and when talks began to bring it back, we were already late into the year. Honestly, I’m not quite sure I could have even produced six shorts this year even if there was no halt on production. I’ve spent the last two months (especially Thanksgiving onward) putting serious time into making sure this short was finished before Christmas. The last few weeks have been a complete blur, and between working full time during the day and staying up to the wee hours at night doing this, I probably would have just burnt out. I’m not sure it would have been good for me mentally and physically. So while I’m sad I wasn’t able to meet that demand, it is probably for the best.

Anyway, production on this short began after Harry Potter wrapped up. I got approval on Ghostbusters and in an effort to not let this series go completely stale, I wanted to take a different route with it. The previous two shorts in the series have been a mash up of sorts. The Star Wars short was Voltron in Star Wars clothing and Harry Potter was Akira in Harry Potter clothing. They each had other minor nods to different anime shows and tropes of course. For Ghosbusters I didn’t want to base it on any particular anime show. I tried to approach this short thinking of it like “Well what would a Ghostbusters anime really be like?” So I mainly decided to stick with a straight up parody of the original Ghostbusters cartoon opening and turn elements of that intro on their ear. One of the most important things was figuring out what sort of ghosts the Ghostbusters would actually bust. I looked up info on a ton of Yokai (Japanese ghosts and monsters) and picked some of my favorites and the ones I think people outside of Japan would possibly recognize from some other form of media. One of my favorite shots from this short is the sequence that shows the camera panning up a large group of Yokai. That was one of the first concepts I drew up for this short and the rest of it kind of came from there. In an effort to get the Ghostbusters out of the city, I decided to have them bust the Yokai at a temple ground instead of in the streets like they do in the real introduction.

While there are not real nods to it outside of the art, I based the look of the Ghostbusters off characters from the anime/manga Dominion Tank Police. I loved that show when I was younger and I wanted to give a slight tribute to Masamune Shirow. I already worked in the look of the Puma Sisters in Harry Potter with Hermione, but I took it much further in this short. Stuff like their costumes are the real giveaway, but I even mirrored little details like the shapes of their noses, mouths, and the inside of their ears on Shirow’s work. I had an old copy of a Dominion managa next to me that I kept on hand for nearly the entire project. I wish I could draw as good as Shirow by the way. His work is just incredible.

I of course felt like I needed to include some more identifiable pop culture stuff in there too and that is where Slimer and “Stay Puft” come in. I did have an original concept for Slimer in place, but I decided to switch him to basically a rip off of a Yokai Watch character, which is currently really hot in Japan. There are some 3DS games that sell truck loads, but it’s very unfamiliar in the US (and globally) at this point. As far as I’m aware, the anime is being set to be localized in the states, but I don’t know about the games. Either way, I wanted to be a bit ahead of the curve, and I’m hoping it’s something more hardcore fans will pick up on and appreciate. For Stay Puft, I wanted to think of something that would actually work and fit. I needed something cute, and I needed something that Ray could really pull from his childhood. I thought Doraemon was perfect. He is well known enough, and as luck would have it, a Doraemon show had just started to air this year in the states, making it the first time a Doraemon show has been shown on US television. So I feel like he was the perfect Stay Puft replacement. When I initially turned the script in for this I got some serious push back about the Yokai and characters I had chosen to be part of it. I was asked to include a bunch of Pokemon as the ghosts. If this short was never delayed, I probably would have been forced to add those things in. When it came time to bring this short back, it was rushed right into production so I was extremely fortunate to be able to use my original script. I’m very grateful to have been able to preserve my original vision of the short. It is entirely my work.


The original pieces of conceptual art I made for Tokyo Ghostbusters. I ended up using these almost exactly in the finished product.

Part of the fun with Star Wars Anime was the fact that it mirrored not only the look of Voltron, but also the poor localization. It had intentionally hammy voice over and dialogue, and on top of that I did a bunch of VHS style effects in post production. With Harry Potter, I still had this element but I tried to sell it more as a movie trailer. Instead of VHS issues, I had added film grain to it and gave it a Laser Disc start up. Maybe it’s just me, but I noticed after Star Wars I had started to see several 80s style cartoons pop up on the net that had the VHS effect. Either I started something or I was just completely unoriginal. Regardless, I wanted to think of a way to do it different this time. So I did go back to the VHS look of Star Wars but I asked myself how I could mix it up this time. I have really fond memories of watching poorly copied anime fansubs from back in the day. Going with the theme of presenting this as an actual anime that could have happened, I also treated it like something that wouldn’t have been released in the US, so I decided to go for actual spoken Japanese dialogue with subtitles for this round. The problem was, I can’t write Japanese nor could I speak it. As a result, I needed help. I threw my English text into Google translate, but I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was able to help localize the text (a big thanks to Kevin Muhlbach and Zachary Inouye). There lied another problem, I couldn’t actually speak it. I’m friendly with EgoRaptor and I have been wanting to work with him for a long time now and I know that he had some experience with Japanese so I asked if he could lend a hand. He was more than happy and he did an incredible job. I of course don’t speak Japanese, but it sounds authentic enough to me! There isn’t much dialogue because I didn’t want to get overwhelmed with the whole translation thing, but I’m really happy with how that aspect of the short turned out.

Of course there is also the music and sound. Joe has been my go to sound guy for a decade now with Shamoozal stuff. His audio work is always awesome and one of the big highlights of the work we do together. Once again, I think his work really shines here. At this point I usually don’t even need to tell him what I need, I’d like to think we’re pretty in sync with each other when it comes to audio. It was a hard choice to make, but I decided to ask C-Jeff of Ubiktune to do the music for this short. Having worked with him on the Big Steel Wheels teaser video, I thought his sound would be a perfect match for Ghostbusters. I requested an FM synth heavy version of Ghostbusters-like music and he delivered. Between the audio, music and voice acting I’m super happy with how this short turned out. It think it just sounds awesome. If you love C-Jeff’s track for the short, be sure to check out a free download of the music!

I could probably go on and on about my whole 1 minute short, but it goes to show how much thought and effort goes into something as “small” as this project. I have to say this time around I just wanted to make something kind of cool as opposed to funny. It has jokes of course, but those kind of took a back seat. I hope people like it. That’s all I can ask at this point. Thank you!

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Phil