Last updated on August 21st, 2023 at 05:06 pm
It’s a honor to have released this interview with a legend and a veteran of Hollywood, but especially he is the man behind the curtain that with his work made easy for many generations of children and kids to know and follow compelling and riveting anime series
Nexus23_Labs meets Mr.William Winckler
Nexus23_Labs : Mr. Winckler, the Japanese Anime that have been produced between the years 1970 and 1980 have had great success in the world of children and adolescents of then, and these people are still devoted to these. In light of this and thanks to the help of new technologies, what do you think of making live action movies based on giant robots like Grendizer, Jeeg Robot , Daitarn 3 , etc. ?
Mr.W.Winckler : I agree that the “Golden Age” of Anime was the 1960’s, 1970’s, and early 1980’s. . . .those are the years I was exposed to the genre, first got involved with it professionally, etc. . I think new live-action movies based on some of the properties could work, but it’s very tricky . . . you need great characters, true character development, strong stories . . . they can’t just be special effects fireworks shows. One important point is the color . . . a major reason why the classic anime shows are successful is because of the vibrant colors. Color can alter the chemistry in your brain and affect your emotions. Therefore, bright colors should be used for future live-action movies based on the classics, in my view. Too many sci-fi films are dark. Classic anime was NEVER about being dark. In fact, in the 1970’s Tatsunoko was known for its famous “Tatsunoko Color,” but later in the 1980’s, Koki Narushima of Tatsunoko told me the company “lost its color . . and its soul.” That was when all the anime suddenly went dark, and every other show or OVA was a rip off of ROAD WARRIOR! But, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Osamu Tezuka and Tatsuo Yoshita were geniuses . . . the real “greats” of anime.
Nexus23_Labs : After seeing a film like Kyashan (Casshern) , there is no doubt that there is awareness that these films are possible and achievable with very real futuristic effects, but along with this awareness there is another one: The Japaneses have to stay away from the draft of the screenplay, are you ok with this?
Mr.W.Winckler : What I like about classic anime is the basic designs of the characters and robots, the colors, the action, the fight choreography, the excitement. The high concepts were brilliant. The classic die-cast metal toy designs were excellent too . . .. those classic Popy and Bandai 1970’s toys were some of the greatest in the world . . . the best. They don’t make them like that today, for the most part. However, you are somewhat correct, in that there is a great need for strong,professional, American Story Editors on a lot of anime productions. If Japanese studios had some great American Story Editors, some of the script problems, holes in plots, illogical plot or story structure, and illogical character behaviour, would be corrected. However, this will never happen, so the shows will have those flaws forever. This is why anime, overall, will never truly become mainstream in America, because the Japanese culture is too different, and those cultural differences are always incorporated into the various anime works. When Toei wanted me to truly Americanize our 23 anime films, I was able to correct some of the story problems, holes in the plots,etc., through new English dialog, and it worked. I’m not saying all Japanese writers are bad, I’m just saying that they don’t seem to be able to “write Hollywood.” They are culturally Japanese.That having been said, I’ll tell you a funny story. My Tokyo business partner Takanori Oya and I met a man in his 30’s who was a famous, successful producer of a hugely popular anime series. However, this man acted like a fool, and we saw very little or no talent in the guy whatsoever. It amazed us both! When the producer left us, Takanori, who is Japanese, turned to me at the end of the meeting, and said “can you believe that retarded child is the producer of that famous show?” We both laughed! The man wasn’t physically retarted, but he was a complete moron who displayed no intelligence, writing or producer abilities, sense of humor, or any creativity whatsoever . . .and yet he’s in charge of a famous anime series. My business partner and I just shook our heads in amazement. We laughed and laughed. That’s showbiz! Sometimes the no talent idiots are in charge!
Nexus23_Labs : Unfortunately, the nineties were marred by unfair laws against the genre of so-called Violent-Anime, just the kind of which we are discussing. Do you think that these laws
have brought real benefits to the society of Post-80s ?
Mr.W.Winckler : There will always be Network standards and practices covering childrens programming on TV, and like it or not, if it’s animated, for the most part, it’s considered childrens programming (except for Adult Swim on Cable). I see two different audiences.First there is the “mainstream American” audience . . . including a huge kids demographic . . . .and then there’s the smaller, niche, audience of hardcore anime fans. Both audiences can be satisfied today. The mainstream can see English dubbed anime that is slightly edited and “improved” story-wise, dialog-wise, humor-wise, etc. . , while the Otakus can watch their anime in Japanese or subtitled. Both different groups can enjoy themselves watching their own types of anime.However, the business I’m in is called Show Business, not Show Art, and the real market is in the mainstream . . . . that’s the gargantuan demographic. When Toei hired me to make English anime, they did NOT want me to make the films for the Otakus. I actually asked them if they wanted me to do this, and they said NO! They wanted the mainstream American audience . . . they wanted American kids! So, that’s what I did.
I followed Toei’s requests.
Speaking of humor, that’s another subject that just does not translate well . . . . Japanese comedy is totally different from American comedy. Japanese jokes are rarely funny to American audiences. One example is the visual of a character blowing a snot bubble out of his nose. To the Japanese, it’s hilarious. To American audiences, there’s nothing really hilarious about that.
Nexus23_Labs : Because of these laws, the remakes of our beloved anime have lost their huge audience. Maybe this is a dominant theme in our efforts to concentrate the production of what remains of our “giant/tech” desires?
Mr.W.Winckler : I don’t know, I think today, with the internet, people can see anything they want to see, or buy any DVD or download of any film, TV show, whatever. The internet is like a magic lamp. The real trick to making live-action films based on anime is to correctly duplicate the style, look, feel, and heart of the original shows. You must include what made the original shows great. I know it sounds silly, but it’s like baking a cake. If you loved your Aunt’s awesome chocolate cake as a kid, and you want to eat it today years and years later, you had better exactly duplicate the recipe to a tee, the amounts of sugar, flour, eggs, the correct measurements, the brand of chocolate, etc., otherwise, the flavor will be different. It won’t be the same. Therefore, the same is true for live-action anime movies. You must exactly duplicate the characters, the story pace, the action, the adventure, the color, the designs, costumes, props, settings, the fight choreography, etc., in order for it to work. I think that previous live-action movies based on anime have failed because the film makers did not follow these rules.Their egos always get in the way, they think they can “improve” on a classic, and most of the time they just wind up making a big, expensive, theatrical mess. Nothing is made with “heart and soul.” Only independent films are made with “Love” today!
Frankly, I’ve worked in Hollywood for close to 30 years, and I’ve never seen the business in worse shape. I think most of the TV shows and movies made today are absolute shit . . . the majority of genre movies being special fx fireworks shows, TV dramas are boring (if you’ve seen one CSI episode, you’ve seen them all), unfunny comedies, reality shows, infomercials, talent contests . . . you know you’re in trouble with the biggest stars are Justin Beiber, Kim Kardashian, and Paris Hilton! My friends and I have noticed a steady decline in the quality of TV and films for years. Some say cable has better TV, and I’ve seen it, but honestly, I’m not all that excited. I think it’s “trick casting” . . . “gimmick TV” . . . they put a “twist” on traditional casting by making a serial killer, or a prostitute, or a drug user, the “lead” of the show. There is no one with the talent, ability, and genius of a Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) writing for TV today. No one! Unfortunately, if a major studio remakes a classic anime property in live-action, the odds are that it will be totally screwed up and fail. Sad, but true. The business is broken in my view. I don’t want to see Justin Beiber starring in a movie, I want to see stars like Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, or old school Sean Connery. Guys like Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, and Orson Welles could never have careers today. We have the greatest special effects technology today . . . now we just need real actors, writers, producers and directors to use this technology correctly. Imagine what Rod Serling would have done with CG!
Nexus23_Labs : They were exciting stories, all different, with brilliant and exciting music. My generation, which now faces at the threshold of forty years still does not want to give to relive those emotions. Production companies must seize this opportunity now, before it will fade completely. This is an unique moment, are you ok with this?
Mr.W.Winckler : I think if the right producers who know how to replicate the magic of classic anime get opportunities, some excellent movies could be made. However, I just don’t see that coming out of the Hollywood studio system. It’s impossible. The only way is for independent filmmakers to do it. The problem with this, is that independent filmmakers must raise millions of dollars, and they are blocked from theatrical distribution because the Hollywood studios have an oligopoly on theatrical distribution. It’s technically illegal, but nobody is doing anything about that. Only the Hollywood studios can get their films theatrically distributed in America today.
Nexus23_Labs : Paradoxically, it’s more feasible that a movie like Tekkaman or Daitarn 3 than Hokuto No Ken can be created. Do you remember that film about Kenshiro “fist of the North Star”, which had a star in the cast like Malcolm McDowell. Isn’t it’s a movie that’s not forgettable?
Mr.W.Winckler : I never saw the live-action FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, but I heard it was a disaster. Any anime property could be made into live-action today, with today’s technology,
but the right filmmaker has to be in charge of doing it.
Nexus23_Labs : What you think of the home production of the Grendizer Movie, The Ufo? You can see an article about it that we published here .
These guys really have talent. How about funding them or putting them in a position to finish this film as soon as possible?
Mr.W.Winckler : I think I saw footage of that Grendizer film a while back.
It looks promising! Unfortunately Winckler Prods. does not finance productions outside our company, but I wish them well! Those guys are the types of filmmakers who should be making Grendizer, not Michael Bay! One word of warning . . . Go Nagai and his company are very protective of their properties, and anyone wishing to make a real film of Grendizer, had better have a license agreement with Go Nagai’s company first, otherwise it’s major lawsuit time!
Nexus23_Labs : Do you like how we, at Nexus23 Labs, remixed the trailer music? You can check it out :
Mr.W.Winckler : It’s not bad, but I think a movie like this would need music similar to the anime series, but with a full, John Williams type orchestra.
Post-Edit to our question :
Well we would only give a musical contribute to the trailer not to the whole movie ;-)
Nexus23_Labs : Talk to us about the production of STARZINGER, will it be out soon?
Mr.W.Winckler : Toei commissioned Winckler Productions to make a pilot presentation or movie trailer for a TV movie based very loosely on STARZINGER. My first script was exactly like the classic anime. It was too look identical to the original characters, it had the same original plot, similar ship designs, etc. . Toei loved the first draft script. . . . but then later, Kozo Morishita told me to change everything. I thought that was weird, because we exactly duplicated STARZINGER. Morishita-san wanted me to change everything, and just base it “loosely” on STARZINGER. Therefore, the second draft was a different story, different characters, etc., but the root plot was kind of similar. Morishita-san liked this, it got “green lit” and we produced it. Although we had tons of CG special effects, hover car chases, a giant robot, laser battles, etc. . we also had great character development. We had full dialog scenes between the male and female characters. Watching the presentation is kind of like watching certain scenes from the movie. So, this is very different from the live-action GAIKING trailer, or other similar trailers, because we had a story about PEOPLE, we had character development, and full dialog scenes between the lead characters . . . in addition to all the fun fx. Our presentation was not just a “special fx reel.” It was about PEOPLE!!! The presentation also has some humor, which other trailers don’t have. We shot it on a green screen stage in Hollywood, with some of the finest special effects guys. My live-action film production team are terrific, award winning guys. We shot it on the Red Camera, which is the same camera Disney shoots the PIRATE OF THE CARRIBEAN movies on. We had a big cast of Hollywood veteran actors. We also shot out in the desert for some other scenes. There were lots of extras. . . .both alien and human. In fact, my friend Steve Wang, creator of The Predator, visited the set and his kids helped out. The acting, dialog, visuals, fx all worked. I took the finished pilot presentation to SyFy and the president of SyFy liked it. He wanted to see the finished film. So, the pilot successfully accomplished its mission that Toei wanted me to achieve. We’re now waiting to hear back on what Toei wants to do. Winckler Productions has been a work for hire production company for Toei, and Toei is calling all the shots. Toei is also in charge of all the distribution.
Nexus23_Labs : Is the Gaiking movie real or just an internet fake ? ..As far as we see it looks very promising…
Mr.W.Winckler : No, to my knowledge, the GAIKING trailer is real, and I was told by Shinji Shimizu that Toei put some money into it. Of course, it looks very different from the three (3) original movies I made based on the classic anime series. Did you know I was the voice of Sanshiro, pilot of Gaiking?!
I bet I could pilot that robot better than that CG chick! A theatrical movie like GAIKING could cost hundreds of millions of dollars if it’s a film with live actors, and it’s very difficult to raise that type of money. The same company is supposed to make a live-action movie based on Gerry Anderson’s UFO series,
but I don’t know if that has gotten anywhere either.
Nexus23_Labs : Is there any hope of a Tekkaman or Captain Harlock movie? In your mind, What is the next movie that has the potential of being released?
Mr.W.Winckler : TEKKAMAN is owned by Tatsunoko Production Company Ltd., and Tatsunoko was bought out by a pachinco company. I only produced and distributed TEKKAMAN THE SPACE KNIGHT in America and Canada throughout the 1980s. I do not own the show. Shinji Shimizu showed me a trailer for a new CG animated Captain Harlock, and it looked interesting . . . but for some reason, I wasn’t really overly excited about it. It seemed “same old, same old.” Shimizu-san also showed me a CG trailer for a SAINT SEIYA movie,that looked much better . . . but the visuals moved so damn fast, you almost couldn’t see what was happening!! It was a CG animated SAINT SEIYA clip, of Seiya charging some villain, about to use his “Pegasus Punch” or whatever.
Special thanks to:
Mr.William Winckler , Patricia Tousignant Manager of William Winckler Productions, Inc. , all the people that work at William Winckler Productions, Inc. and Toei Animation Co., Ltd. for the courtesy of the images shown above.