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The third episode of Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" Supporters' Podcast - "The Movie Secrets We Want to Tell You" (劇場版ポ ケットモンスター ココ －サポーターズPodcastーいま、君に伝えたい映画のヒミツ) was released on Friday, October 23rd, 2020.
You can listen to the podcast here, though do be aware that the episode is completely in Japanese.
Host: Mr. Hisanori Yoshida (吉田尚記)
Special Guest: The film's publicity producer, Mr. Michihiro Morita (森田道広)
The podcast host, Mr. Hisanori Yoshida, says that since he looks like either Usokkie or Madatsuboi then that would make him an "herbivore man" for sure.
Welcome to the Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" Supporters' Podcast - "The Movie Secrets We Want to Tell You"! Mr. Yoshida mentions that he saw Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba The Movie (in theaters October 16th) this morning and that they had these ads right before the movie for Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" and so now he really feels like the new Pokémon movie's just around the corner now. In the last episode the "supporters" they had on the show were the large and in charge Mr. Tetsuo Yajima and the bubbly chatterbox Ms. Shoko Nakamura. This time around they have Mr. Michihiro Morita, the publicity producer from Toho and the man who suggested they do this podcast in the first place.
The show starts with Mr. Yoshida mentioning that they're really getting close to the movie's release date! Mr. Morita is in the studio wearing an orange T-shirt that says Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" - In Theaters December 25th, 2020...but isn't it a bit cold to be wearing a T-shirt? This leads Mr. Yoshida to wonder out loud why they made promotional T-shirts for a movie that's coming out in the middle of winter when something like sweaters would have probably made more sense. Mr. Morita reveals that they make promotional T-shirts for all the movies (albeit in very limited quantities of around 10 each) and that they've got one to give to Mr. Yoshida today! Mr. Yoshida wonders if the decision to make T-shirts is up to the advertising department, and Mr. Morita answers that it is.
So what does an advertising department actually do, anyway? Well, anything and everything! Handing out flyers on the street, getting T-shirts made, writing the scripts for various promotional events...Mr. Morita and his team does a little bit of everything. Mr. Yoshida asks his guest how many years he's been working in advertising and Mr. Morita answers that he started working for Toho movie theaters in 2003. He worked at a cinema in Osaka the first two years, and then moved to the sales department on things like various movie pre-order tickets in his third and fourth years. From his fifth year onward - this was about a decade ago - he entered the company's advertising department. He was at Toho's Kansai branch office in Western Japan for a while but moved out east to Tokyo when he was 35 years old. Mr. Morita is 40 now.
The first movie he was assigned to when he came to Tokyo was Pokémon. He was surprised to get such a huge project in his first year in the new office; there are 23 of these things, after all, so it's obviously a long-running and successful flagship series for Toho. Mr. Morita says he's the fifth person at Toho to be the publicity producer for the Pocket Monsters film series. He was allowed to shadow his predecessor, who had worked on the last four movies, and was mentored by him for about a year or so before taking over by himself the following year.
Mr. Morita is put in charge of the publicity for about three movies a year. Summer is always reserved for Pokémon, of course, and then he usually gets a second movie for the spring and a third one for the autumn. Examples of some of the films he's worked on include Chihayafuru and the two Stolen Identity films.
The podcast host asks Mr. Morita to give everyone a bit more detail about what he does, personally, on a day-to-day basis. He kind of sidesteps this and instead answers that, first and foremost, they only deal with films that are already completed. They don't actually produce any of the movies they promote - that's up to the directors, producers, scriptwriters, etc. - and so instead their job is to figure out how to get the movie out to as many people as they can. How can they get the word out and convince audiences to actually set foot inside a movie theater? Mr. Yoshida double checks that the advertisers have no role in the actual production of the film, and Mr. Morita confirms that they don't. Mr. Morita then talks about how it's important for him to have a really solid grasp of the film he's in charge of advertising before he can actually start to do his job. He reads the movie scripts ahead of time, has meetings with the films' directors and producers to figure out what message(s) they want to put out there with this movie, and, sometimes, even watches the completed film before anyone else. But he doesn't always get that much to work off of; sometimes, for example, he'll be assigned a live-action film that won't even start shooting until next week!
The Pokémon movies are a little different because they come out every single year and so there's a bit of a routine to them. They start selling pre-order tickets about three months in advance and then they have all these live stage events in the summer, one after the other. So, Mr. Morita buys Pokémon Bestiary books and borrows his superior's DS systems to play the newest (at the time) games to make sure he's as up-to-date as he can be. Mr. Yoshida guesses that it's important to understand what the fans who they want to go see the movie are coming from, after all, and Mr. Morita agrees. If he and his team doesn't understand what the fans are looking for then how can they effectively advertise the film?
Mr. Yoshida starts to talk about the different ways you can look at these Pokémon films. From the outside you just think "oh, this is a movie that kids will enjoy," but in doing this podcast it's come to his attention that they're making this movie for the adult fans as well. Before we realized it, he says, those kids who grew up on Pokémon are now at the age where they're having kids of their own and so of course the movies are going to start skewing a bit older. Mr. Morita agrees, saying that he can't assume that only little kids are going to go out and see these things anymore. He started working on the Pocket Monsters movies from 2015, and when he got to 2017's Pocket Monsters The Movie "I Choose You!," which recreated the earlier days of the series, the strategy shifted to have it so that the movies can be enjoyed by adults as well as children.
The conversation then turns to the way the films are promoted. If you have a movie that's a sequel to a previous film, for example, the way you promote the new film probably won't vary that much from its predecessor. But for Pokémon, each film is its own thing and so what worked as promotion for last year's film may not necessarily work for the next one. Mr. Morita confirms that this is one of the hardest challenges they face; how are we going to promote this movie in a way that makes sense? What's so hard about that, the podcast host asks. Well, every movie debuts a new Pokémon and those new Pokémon already have a fanbase built in and so they have to think about how to appeal to what those super fans want to see. And since the films aren't "just kids films" anymore they also have to read the scripts, talk to directors, etc. to figure out what the staff was thinking when they made the movie to find out what parts of the movie will appeal to the general audience. After all that work they figure out the direction to take the publicity for the year's movie. This takes them about a month just to figure out what approach they're going to take to promote each film, Mr. Morita says. There's a lot of brainstorming, and throwing out ideas, and then brainstorming again, and then throwing out ideas again, over and over and over and over. They also have to think about how the fans will react every time they release a new poster, or a new trailer, and so on.
Next, Mr. Morita is asked if they have any rules they follow when promoting the Pokémon films. Going back to I Choose You! for a moment, Mr. Morita talks about how surprised they were that the title for that film didn't have the star Pokémon's name in it like they had in the past. Y'know, like "Volcanion and the Tricky Magearna," or "The Archdjinn of the Rings, Hoopa." But what can we do with "I Choose You!"? Well, it shares the title with the first episode of the first series, and so the angle they thought to take was to promote that film as being half nostalgic, half brand new. Another part of their strategy back in 2017 was to set it up so they'd have more weekday evening showings in theaters to provide single working adults with more opportunities to go see the new film. It was also important to include things in the trailers that tell the adult fans that hey, this isn't just some kids' movie - there's going to be something in this for them as well.
In addition, the publicity producer has to figure out where to put the ads for the movie up. Where are places that a lot of kids will see a poster? What about adults? Should we put posters up in Tokyo's Akihabara? Mr. Morita adds that putting movie trailers in front of currently playing movies is one important piece of the advertising process. Mr. Yoshida agrees, saying that putting a Pocket Monsters The Movie "Koko" trailer right before the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba movie, which has broken all these box-office records, is really getting the word out that there is indeed a new Pocket Monsters movie coming out. Mr. Morita says that this year, especially, it's important to let everyone know that don't worry, there's going to be a Pokémon movie coming out this year after all.
The podcast decides to focus on the two unique problems that this year's Pocket Monsters movie has faced when it comes to advertising; the film's unique concept and the novel coronavirus.
As far as the concept goes, Mr. Morita confirms that they had meetings about how they were going to advertise this movie even before the pandemic began. After director Tetsuo Yajima's 2018 film Pocket Monsters The Movie "Everyone's Story," he wondered what kind of movie he wanted to make next. The director had just welcomed a new baby into his family and so the idea of doing a story with a parent/child theme to it was born. The meeting they had to talk about Mr. Yajima's next film took place around September 2019 or so, a few months after Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution was released in theaters. They met with the director and were told all about the kind of movie Koko would be.
For the second point - the novel coronavirus - Mr. Yoshida asks how both the concept for the film and the way they went about releasing it has changed. Well...not a whole lot, as it turns out. The move from a summer release to a winter one allows the movie staff to not have to rush everything at the last minute like they usually do, which in turn gives the promotional staff more time to advertise the film. But the ideas and concepts they want to promote haven't actually changed. Things like this podcast, which delves into the behind-the-scenes areas of the film making process, is one such new idea they were able to come up with thanks to the extra time afforded to them by the film's delay.
Another silver lining here is that the movie staff isn't as swamped with work as it usually is and so they're able to take the time out of their day to participate in podcasts and interviews and things like that. The director who appeared in the last two podcast episodes and the staff who will appear in future podcast episodes couldn't have even dreamed of having the free time to do this show if this was a normal year, he mentions. Mr. Yoshida mentions how they were able to get Mr. Masafumi Mima and Mr. Shinji Miyazaki for the episode that comes out November 13th and how rare that actually is since their schedules would never have allowed that if this was any other year. Being on a podcast is also nice because you don't have to care as much about your appearance as you would if you were appearing on TV, Mr. Yoshida adds.
Next, the two talk about the specific things the film's advertising staff did to attract adults as well as children. They had an adults-only screening for Pocket Monsters The Movie "I Choose You!" back in 2017 but honestly, Mr. Morita didn't know if anyone would actually show up. They just set up just a regular screening without any special guests, and they had Pikachu show up in the lobby to greet the audience, and put out a bunch of cute Pokémon stuffed animals and Monster Balls at the venue. But it turned out to be a huge success. A lot of the fans who attended started taking pictures of the venue and posting them to their Twitters and Instagrams after the screening, proving to Mr. Morita that Pokémon really is a series for all ages.
The next section of the podcast is devoted to talking about the promotional T-shirts that have been made for the various films over the years. In years past they had prepared keychains and the like as prizes for various giveaways but eventually they decided that T-shirts would make a better giveway. Mr. Morita says that the T-shirt to promote I Choose You! is kind of embarrassing for him now that they look back on it, with Mr. Yoshida stating that it looks like the kind of T-shirt a foreigner would make if he didn't know Japanese. Mr. Morita explains that this T-shirt is a limited edition version from the world premiere they had of the film in France, which is why the shirt has the French title Je te choisis on it. They might post pictures of these on Twitter later.
The T-shirts for Everyone's Story show the five main characters. The font is the same as the previous film's T-shirt, and that's because I Choose You! had done so well that they thought hey, let's do the same this time around as well. The Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution shirts are purple T-shirts with the text "Where am I?" written vertically on them or black shirts that say "Who am I?" The staff thought that having Mewtwo's famous lines of dialogue going down the center of a T-shirt like this would make them stand out even more, but Mr. Yoshida thinks having the movie logo somewhere on the front would make it more clear that this is a T-shirt for a Pokémon movie. These shirts were eventually part of a giveaway so if any listeners have this T-shirt they ask that they post pictures of them online on Twitter or somewhere like that.
They couldn't make any T-shirts for this year's film since it's coming out in the winter but they did have that presentation on YouTube a while ago and so they used this chance to make a promotional shirt.
The two talk change the topic to talk about the various ways they have of attracting new viewers. Mr. Yoshida says it's important to show off the fun parts of the movies while Mr. Morita says they also need to show off the emotional parts of any given film. Toho's been in the movie business for decades and so they really know what's needed to attract audiences, after all. What kinds of things does the publicity department carry over from Pokémon movie to Pokémon movie? One of Mr. Morita's predecessors gave him some advice once, that they should make the promotion for this film like an adult version of the school festivals they do during grade school in Japan. He didn't know what he meant by that so he looked up "school festival" on Wikipedia and came to the realization that he was saying that everyone works together to produce a successful school festival and so that's the approach they should take with advertising the Pokémon movies. Their goal is to make the movie a hit, he says, and in order to do that they have to work together with a bunch of different companies, the cast and staff of the film, etc. or else it won't work. It's also important that they have fun doing it; it's hard for the audience to get excited about a film if the people behind it don't seem like they're having fun, you know? He thought this advice he got from his predecessor was really great.
Mr. Yoshida adds that having everyone wear promotional T-shirts also makes the whole thing seem very school festival-like. If everyone wears the same uniform - the same happi, for example - then everyone feels like they're all part of a bigger project. Mr. Morita agrees, adding that maybe he wouldn't wear some of those promotional T-shirts in his everyday life but he's more than happy to wear them during special promotional events.
Well, it's time to wrap up the show! Mr. Yoshida asks Mr. Morita to leave them with some parting words:
Mr. Morita: We know there were a lot of people looking forward to seeing this movie in the summer but please wait just a little bit longer - it's a little over a month, I guess, until December - and we have a lot of special events coming up on TV, the Internet, etc. that we're preparing so please be just a little more patient and look forward to the movie's release.
For next week's episode, Mr. Morita will come back to the show and will be joined by Gal Enterprise's Mr. Taichi Terahara, the man responsible for making the film's trailers. Mr. Morita laughs and says that Mr. Terahara's a hard-working maniac.
Thank you for listening! Until next time!
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