Though you wouldn’t believe it after watching its debut season, Tower of God presented Crunchyroll and its production team with a unique combination of challenging and uncertain circumstances.
It was the the first adaptation of a Korean webtoon, undertaken by a brand new production studio, helmed by a veteran director and featured a mix of veteran voice actors and relatively new talents performing as the central characters. Audiences had every right to be skeptical of the end result.
However, as one can see from our weekly reviews of Tower of God, Crunchyroll surpassed expectations and delivered a well-crafted and beautiful series.
Thanks to Crunchyroll, Bounding into Comics was able to speak with three of the team members who made the season possible, Director Takashi Sano, and voice actors Ichikawa Taichi (Bam), and Miyake Kenta (Rak) and discuss their approaches to their performances and their perspective on the overall production.
Takashi Sano (Sengoku Basura: End of Judgement, Transformers: Energon, Lupin the 3rd films and specials)
Bounding into Comics (BIC): Korean manga are presented in a unique format, typically reading from top to bottom in a continuous image as opposed to the typical horizontal page guided by frames. Did you find any differences or challenges in adapting a Korean manga for an anime versus a Japanese one?
Takashi Sano: We thought it would be difficult for the production staff to read the LINE Manga format, so we had the story up to the point we would animate turned into manga-style books so it would be easier for the staff to read. Naturally, we were very careful not to allow it to be leaked.
BIC: Had you previously heard of or read Tower of God before signing on to direct?
Sano: I was not aware of it.
BIC: Tower of God is one of the first series to be produced by Crunchyroll. How was your experience working with the company’s production arm? Did you enjoy any level of autonomy?
Sano: I leave corresponding with the partner to the producers. If it’s being broadcast, I can only assume it went well.
BIC: How closely, if at all, did you work with series author Lee Jong-hui aka SUI?
Sano: The webtoon editor served as our go-between. We didn’t interact directly, but I found him to be very open-minded when it came to producing the anime.
BIC: Have you worked on any other series that were challenging to adapt?
Sano: When I receive a job, I try to do everything I can.
BIC: You’re a veteran of the anime industry, having worked as a key animator on vintage series such as s-CRY-ed and Sakura Wars 2 to serving as director for more modern series like Sengoku Basara: Judge End and, of course, Tower of God. How different is it working in the anime industry today compared to the anime industry of the past?
Sano: The primary difference is the spread of digital technologies. Unlike the era of cel animation, for better or for worse, you can keep working right up until the deadline.
Ichikawa Taichi (Bloom Into You, If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord)
BIC: Tower of God is the first time you’ve worked on an action series, in stark contrast to your previous roles in series such as “Kabuki-bu!” and “Yagate Kimi ni Naru”, which were more based on relatively high school situations. Were you excited to lend your voice to Bam?
Ichikawa Taichi: I had fun voicing the action scenes! I’d get so into it that I’d be too crisp… We had to re-record a lot of times.
BIC: Did you find any challenges in voicing an action protagonist versus one in a ‘slice-of-life’ series?
Taichi: The breathing required since there’s movement in addition to dialogue and switching to monologuing during fight scenes was challenging.
BIC: At the beginning of his climb up the tower, Bam is both confused by the rules of the tower and driven to climb by his feelings for Rachel. Did you take any inspiration for his more sensitive and cautious character from any of your previous roles?
Taichi: Bam is pure and pitiful, but he’s also not eager to fight opponents stronger than himself. I kept that difference in mind while voicing the role.
BIC: As the series is Korean in origin, did you find yourself taking any different approaches towards voicing his character than you would voicing a Japanese anime series?
Taichi: I felt differences in the way the story progressed, but my approach to voicing the character didn’t change.
BIC: What was your favorite scene to record?
Taichi: I could feel Bam and Rachel’s feelings in their conversation in episode 10. It resonated with me.
BIC: Are you ready for more fan attention to come your way after voicing the protagonist of such a globally popular series?
Taichi: A lot of fans from overseas have been following me on Twitter since I was cast in Tower of God. It makes me happy to think I’m receiving that much attention.
Miyake Kenta (My Hero Academia, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Hayate the Combat Butler!!)
BIC: You’ve worked on many projects. What do you think about when starting a new project?
Kenta: No matter the project, I always consider what kind of life the character is living in the world of the series.
BIC: Were you familiar with the series before signing on?
Kenta: Honestly, I didn’t know much about it before getting involved. However, perhaps because I didn’t know much, I was able to experience fresh surprises and discoveries with each episode while working on the project.
BIC: A fan favorite scene with Rak is his introduction to Bam and Khun, wherein Rak loudly throws a tantrum demanding Bam fight him. Did you have a particular scene you enjoyed voicing?
Kenta: There’s a part in which the giant Rak becomes small. Small Rak is very cute. I like him very much.
BIC: Along with your work in anime and video games, you also provide your voice to dubs of American films, in particular serving as the Japanese voice of Thor throughout the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Did you find any differences between performing an adaptation of an American script versus a Korean script?
Kenta: The language itself is different, but I didn’t feel it was fundamentally different. If anything, even if we speak different languages, I often feel the emotions we experience as human beings are the same.
Tower of God’s complete first season is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll.