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Anime Central - Kazuyoshi Katayama
Anime fans who have been drawn to The Big O through the series' cablecasts on the Cartoon Network have said that the Japanese series has a Batman feel. "I agree," said Kazuyoshi Katayama, the series' director, at Anime Central. "When the offer first came to me, one of the requests was to have a city like a Batman-type city with a rampaging big robot." And while Bruce Wayne and Roger Smith aren't related, Katayama said they have similar personalities. Those Megadeus robots in Big O were supposed to be toys at first, Katayama said, but animators turned what could have been a program-length toy commercial into a compelling story, one that ended with a cliffhanger after 13 episodes because the first series was planned for only 13. Katayama said it was easy to restart the series for a second 13-episode season.
Beyond the Batman influence, The Big O has a link to another anime series, Giant Robo, directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa, which had a great story but took years to produce. "The staff that worked on Giant Robo worked on The Big O, too," Katayama said. "When we first signed up for Giant Robo we thought it was going to be different. It went through two different mentalities and we became frustrated with the situation...then the offer for Big O came so we turned our frustrations toward Big O and it became good." The newer series has some deliberate references to old sci-fi movies and TV shows, including a second season theme song that resembles music from the old Gerry Anderson puppet shows.
One of the series' catch phases, "Big O - Showtime," is meant to show that Roger Smith really wants to pilot the robot, said Katayama. Another phrase, "Cast in the name of God, ye not guilty," was originally on 17th century executioners' swords, but Katayama learned of the phrase from a 20th century source. "I was reading an old magazine and I was looking at an article about (film director) John Milius and Conan the Great (one in the series of Conan the Barbarian films) and that phrase was written on Conan's sword - you can't see it in the Conan movies. I really liked that phrase, and I felt it was the perfect phrase to move this enormous robot. Since it wasn't publicized very much in this movie, I decided to be the one to publicize this phrase."