Written by Fernando Ramos
Go Sukashi!'s John Soares and Justin Spurlock
“Do you think evil is going to take a break long enough to put food on its table and pay its rent!?!”
Go Sukashi is the one of those shows that you didn’t know you wanted to watch. Based on a character created by otaku legend Shoko Nakagawa and produced by Doug TenNapel of Earthworm Jim fame, it’s a potent mixture of tokusatsu sentai action with Adult Swim-style non-sequitors.
Already providing more joy than the latter has in years, Sukashi follows the journey of a man on a mission. The mission: to fight the insidious invisible Rectanguloids and make Earth by, as the theme song helpfully points out, “getting his power from outer space." The problem? Sukashi lives in peaceful suburbia and no one else can see the demons that haunt him so.
Trying to make sense of the insanity, we had a brief but informative discussion with John Soares and Justin Spurlock, who are co-directing the series. TenNaple also stepped for a brief word.
Anime3000: What caught our eye was that Shoko Nakagawa is credited as the Creator of the Sukashi Kashipan-man character. Is this just another quirky joke or is there a story behind this? Just how did the series come about?
Justin Spurlock: Shoko created Sukashi Kashipan-man several years ago in Japan, where the character had some great success. There was a manga, cell phone anime series, tons of merchandise, a Nintendo DS game, all sorts of stuff. Her reps saw potential in the character as something that could work for America so they contacted Doug TenNapel about developing it. They already had a rapport with Doug from some work he had done with this company years ago.
Doug contacted John Soares and me to develop what Sukashi would be, as he is insanely busy with his own work in beautiful Hollywood, California. [However,] he was gonna stay on as Producer and helped out creatively. For example, he drew original concept art based on our new design ideas with his artistic genius. Also the new helmet: Doug drew the wrap around design that was used to create it.
Anime3000: How did you go about developing the personality of and concept behind Sukashi?
Justin Spurlock: John, you answer this while I grab a coffee, and say good words… or so help me!
John Soares: We based it on Don Quixote, loosely… very, very loosely.
Justin Spurlock: Like a loose meat sandwich. We sat around throwing tons of ideas at each other until we settled on a guy just starting his Superhero career, and he’s either delusional or everything is real. Regardless he’s completely sincere to his quest and this world he lives in.
John Soares: It was like our interpretation of what the character was originally, but incorporating things that we thought were funny, and taking out things we did not think would work for an American audience.
Anime3000: Most Americans are unfamiliar with the original character. When you say that you changed elements for an American audience, could you go a little in that?
Justin Spurlock: We can’t talk about it too much… there’s legal mumbo-jumbo with all that. I will say however, that our version has more powers then the original, like the Laser Sword. In Japan he uses X-ray vision, and eventually the new version will too (well, a type of X-ray vision) but for completely different reasons.
Anime3000: Looking at John Soares' previous film series Sockbaby and comparing it to Sukashi, it's clear both share similar fast-paced editing and a Japanese action/anime sensibility but are vastly different in their production values. Could you go into that along with how long did it take to plan/film "Sockbaby" versus "Go Sukashi?"
John Soares: I think I can only attribute it to experience. I really do feel like Sukashi, in part, revisits a lot of the things we did with Sockbaby, but now they are things we have already done. So, instead of trying to figure out how to do these things or find the people who can, we already have those experiences and connections from the Sockbaby series and the work we have done since.
Outside of that, the planning process is still really similar. A lot of the time while working on Go Sukashi, I was reminded of the Sockbaby productions. It was a really similar experience, but without the learning curve.
Anime3000: Just how is it like working with Doug TenNapel? While he co-directed and wrote Sockbaby he seems to have a less creatively-intensive role in this effort as producer of Go Sukashi. Yet, the humor still shares a similar sensibility with the stuff we've seen of his in Earthworm Jim and Project G.e.e.K.e.R. Was this intentional on your part or was this just a wacky coincidence?
Justin Spurlock: John and I were fans of both Earthworm Jim and Geeker back in the day, as well as Ben Edlund’s The Tick, and Freakazoid, and pretty much all sorts of bizarre super hero stuff. I believe we all just share very similar types of humor, so when we get the opportunity to work together the ideas just start to flow and work fast because we all just “get it”. We’re all sort of on the same page with these strange ideas.
Anime3000: As far you three go, what are your favorite tokusatsu/anime series and which were most influential on your approach to this show?
Justin Spurlock: Hmmm, well Godzilla, Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Power Rangers all had influences on my creative conscious throughout my life, and this project is giving me an excuse to output some of that from my brain, in particular the Sentai stuff.
From [a] character design [perspective], we are making our own twisted insane versions of what these super beings can be, in a minimalist way, and take Sukashi-Kashipanman to a more heroic design. I [also] love Dragonball Z, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Bobobo-bo bo-bobo and FLCL, but, honestly, their influence was minimal. Although the expressionist comedy that gets used in anime, we tried to use some of it in a not so over the top way.
John Soares: The only anime I have really gotten into was Cowboy Bebop. But I can't say that it had a huge influence on my work in Go Sukashi. The live-action movie version of Casshern may have had a bit of influence. I remember combing through a hundred Power Rangers fights while planning the action scenes, looking for the bare foundation of what action was really supposed to be in this type of entertainment.
I also watched a ton of 'shapes' kung fu fights from Chinese martial art films to try and get a sense for a more 'stage performance' type of fighting. Ultimately, I just kind of forgot about that stuff and fell back on the attitude of the Character that Shoko created, which really kind of dictated everything I did in terms of action and performance.
Doug TenNapel: I’d say that I’m a big fan of Japanese costumed monster movies that came to America in the 1970s, from Gamera to Space Giants and Specter Man. We feel a huge debt to Japanese culture for embracing what all boys love.
Anime3000: Just how many more episodes can we expect of this? Anything you can reveal as far as the direction you guys are taking the story?
Justin Spurlock: We have some ideas that would create a story arc over a few five-minute episodes. We also have lots of ideas for one episode stand-alone shorts. It will all depend on how well-received this stuff is and if any money starts coming into the property to see if they get made. One thing I’ll reveal is that, in Ep 2 or 3, you see the origin of Sukashi, and I think it is hilarious.
Anime3000: I assume that Nakagawa has seen your version. What was her reaction to the final product?
Justin Spurlock: It’s our understanding that Shoko really liked it. Shoko, her manager and rep’s were all really impressed and enjoyed it; even though some of them do not speak English. So I see that as a success, HA! She is currently on tour through Singapore and other parts of Asia; she will be blogging about it soon so we’ll see her thoughts.
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