Shinichiro Watanabe is a Japanese director who specializes in animated movies as well as animated TV shows. His is a name of note, seeing as how he is responsible for a number of anime franchises that have managed to secure both critical and commercial success on the international level. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Shinichiro Watanabe:
1. Born in Kyoto
Watanabe was born in Kyoto. In short, it was the seat of Japan’s imperial court from the late 8th century to the mid 19th century, which was when the court relocated to Tokyo. Due to this, Kyoto is home to numerous buildings of cultural importance that managed to survive the Second World War because the U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson intervened to remove it from the top of the target list for the nuclear bombs. Nowadays, the city remains a Japanese cultural center, as shown by the presence of the Japanese film industry.
2. Joined Sunrise
For those who are curious, Watanabe become involved in making anime through Sunrise Inc. Over the course of its existence, Sunrise has produced a wide range of anime for a wide range of anime consumers. However, it is best-known for robot anime, as shown by anime series such as Code Geass, Mobile Suit Gundam, and The Vision of Escaflowne. In fact, Sunrise chose to focus on robot anime from the start of its existence because that meant being able to sell more toys.
3. Directorial Debut on Macross Plus
In 1994, Watanabe made his directorial debut as the co-director for Macross Plus, which was four episodes plus a movie that served as the follow-up to the first Macross series in the main Macross timeline. It is interesting to note that Macross Plus was preceded by Macross II. However, the latter isn’t considered to be a part of the main Macross timeline but has instead been put in its own timeline on its lonesome because of ownership issues. Regardless, Macross Plus was well-received, which presumably provided a boost to Watanabe’s career.
4. Full Directorial Debut on Cowboy Bebop
Soon enough, Watanabe made his debut as a full director on Cowboy Bebop, which was a very well-known anime series throughout the late 1990s as well as the 2000s. The show was centered on a crew of bounty hunters on a spaceship called the Bebop. Genre-wise, Cowboy Bebop was curious in that it took influence from a wide range of sources, though noir, western, and science fiction were the most prominent. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the show was very interested in exploring themes such as escaping the past and what one might call existential ennui.
5. Contributed to The Matrix
At one point in time, Watanabe contributed to The Matrix franchise. In short, what happened was that he directed both Kid’s Story and A Detective Story, which were two of the nine animated short movies that made up The Animatrix. The anthology movie was meant to provide interested individuals with some backstory for The Matrix setting, which is why Kid’s Story focused on a teenager named Kid removing himself from the Matrix while A Detective Story focused on a private detective named Ash searching for a mysterious hacker by the name of Trinity.
6. Directed Samurai Champloo
Later, Watanabe directed Samurai Champloo in 2004, which is one of the two anime series that he is best-known for with the other being Cowboy Bebop. Story-wise, Samurai Champloo was centered on a trio characters, with one being a young girl named Fuu and the other two being swordsmen named Jin and Mugen. Fuu managed to rescue Jin and Mugen from execution, which is why they are accompanying her on her search for a samurai who smells of sunflowers. In a lot of respects, Samurai Champloo resembled Cowboy Bebop, which is perhaps unsurprising considering Watanabe’s involvement.
7. Directed Space Dandy
In 2014, Watanabe directed Space Dandy while working with Bones. The anime was focused on a man named Dandy, who was described as being a “dandy in space.” Said individual got into a wide range of sometimes surreal adventures while seeking out rare and exotic aliens for capture, accompanied by a robot named QT as well as a feline alien named Meow. On the whole, Space Dandy had a very loose sense of continuity, which is why its characters can show up as normal at the start of each episode even if they met with some kind of seemingly irreversible fate in the previous episode. Amusingly, the anime series actually provided an in-story explanation for this towards the end, which made a great deal of sense in hindsight.
8. Directed Terror in Resonance
With that said, Watanabe has directed less famous anime series as well. For instance, he directed Terror in Resonance in 2014, which was a psychological thriller in which a pair of teenage boys have carried out a devastating terrorist attack in the city of Tokyo. There were some reviewers who offered it praise, but for the most part, it wasn’t particularly notable.
9. Directed Carole & Tuesday
Very recently, Watanabe directed Carole & Tuesday, which was a 24-episode anime series centered on a pair of characters named Tuesday Simmons and Carole Stanley. In short, Tuesday has fled from her life as a politican’s daughter for the purpose of pursuing her dream to become a musician. She winds up in Alba City where she meets another aspiring musician named Carole, thus causing the two to team up as a singer-songwriter duo.
10. Creative Producer for Blade Runner – Black Lotus
Even more recently, it was announced that Watanabe would be participating in a project for the Blade Runner franchise. This time, he is serving as the creative producer for a new animated series called Blade Runner – Black Lotus that is being produced by a team-up between Alcon Television Group, Adult Swim, and Crunchyroll. Not much information has been released so far, but current indications are that it will have 13 episodes set in 2032.