The second ever Crunchyroll Expo invaded Silicon Valley a few weeks ago and brought swarms of anime fans from all over the world to its gates. From awesome cosplay to fan panels to meet and greets with the industry's heavy hitters, Crunchyroll had something for everyone. And you can't mention anime without talking about Rooster Teeth and RWBY. Rooster Teeth has over 9.5 million subscribers on YouTube. They are awesome, but don't just take our word for it. Read on Nerds, and you will find out why.
Our anime expert/correspondent Robin Haviland spent some time with Kerry Shawcross, Yssa Badiola, and Austin Hardwich from Rooster Teeth to talk about RWBY, their favorite anime, and the future of the company.
Robin: When Rooster Teeth discontinued Fan Service how shocked and happy that Crunchyroll picked it up? And what has it done for you guys?
(Kerry): We were super excited, yeah. It just wasn't making sense for the company at that time. So, we thought, we would just go back to talking about anime while we we eat dinner instead of having a show. Crunchyroll supported the show while it was still going on, so when they said they wanted to do more, we were really excited. The number one thing that has helped us was more contacts and being just that closer to the stuff that we are actually talking about. Now we are on the website of the thing that we are talking about. It makes a better experience for everybody.
(Yssa): It was kinda interesting because when we first got cancelled, I think everyone in the group was trying to do something new that wasn't necessarily Fan Service-like. We were thinking maybe we can do a different format. Try to bring it back a different way, so it doesn't cost us as much money. Somehow, still talk about anime.
(Austin): The funny thing is...since we're Rooster Teeth, the only podcast that is sorta anime-centric. It's niche but we are a podcast with a video camera and a bunch of people behind the scenes is more than you would expect. At Rooster Teeth, we might not have a lot of people thinking about the anime industry or how it functions, so we might have people questioning whether we can do this or not because we don't have enough knowledge. But Crunchyroll, by being so close to the industry, they know everything that is cool. If we ask if we have any limitations, they are like "no." Or if we ask if there is stuff we can't say, they are like "no, just don't give death threats to a creator(laughs.)" We were worried about the restrictions because Crunchyroll is so close to the pulse, we don't want to offend this or that. But, it was the opposite, since they are so close to the industry, they would just tell us to "do this or that." We want you to literally do the thing you used to do over there, just do it again.
The biggest struggle has been letting people know that's where we are now. It's like "Aww man, they were cancelled." And we have to say, "No it's not, it's over here." And people say, "Well, when is it coming back?" And we say, "It never went away, it's been back. We have new episodes."
Robin: So I'm curious, what were your Top 3 anime growing up? And your Top 3 now.
(Yssa): Digimon Tamers, that is season 3, Full Metal Panic, and Melancholy for me.
(Kerry): The original Full Metal Alchemist, for sure. Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z was definitely an influence for me. Growing up, those were my jams.
(Austin): I'm gonna go Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, and the first half season of Chobits. That's because I couldn't download the rest for some reason. But, while I was in college I remember finishing it and saying..."What? This is kinda fucked up. I don't know if I like this series(laughs.)" I still have the intro on my phone just to listen to.
(Yssa): Right now, my Top 3 is Brotherhood(Full Metal), Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Shirobako. That one is a lot closer to home.
(Austin): When we started watching Shirobako, it was a bit boring. "We're a game team, we are gonna get out of college and get jobs...look at our donuts this is great." And then it becomes this super stressed office, and you're like "I don't know if I like this either." But we kept watching it and it turned so good.
(Yssa): And we kept crying(laughs.)
(Kerry): Current favorites...My Hero Academia, Brotherhood, and Gurren Lagann.
(Austin): I just remembered in growing up, Gundam Wing, but never mind(laughs.) Damn, my favorites are all from Bones(Studio.) Soul Eater, Full Alchemist Brotherhood, and this show I watch the whole thing at least twice a year, Ouran Host Club.
Robin: Yes! When you mentioned Bones, I was hoping you were going to say Ouran(laughs.)
(Austin): It is sooo good.
Robin: When it comes to RWBY, the animation just keeps getting better. Are you guys sticking with this look or are we working on making it better?
(Kerry): I think if we had a season without trying to make something look better, we would all go a little bit crazy because this is what we are all here for. We are all process junkies, we are constantly sharing these tutorials on how to do this type of shading or this tutorial for explosions. The jump in changes is probably going to slow down. I don't think we will see as big as a change between 3 and 4. Now, it's a lot of "under the hood" stuff. We are doing some new shadow stuff this year that. We are doing improvements that the audience might not notice. It's more to make the artist's life easier to focus on the art and not the technicality of it.
(Austin): We might have changed the animation, but you guys have this style. And you guys just keep improving and improving it.
(Yssa): With 3D, there is so much of a realm of expansion for you guys that you could do with the right resources. We really have the same team that we started with three years ago. Our improvement is limited but we end up concentrating on what can improve which tends to be our animation. We are still slowly growing and as a company as well.
(Kerry): Automation is a big thing across the board. We could try and get more resources, but we can also automate stuff that we are doing and be as good. On Volume 1 of RWBY, I was the only official composite artist so I wrote a script that basically became an assistant compositor. I would set up shots for me because we couldn't hire another compositor.
Robin: Finally, for Kerry, on being a director. Is it hard directing your friends because you are all so close in the company?
(Kerry): I don't have a ton of industry experience. I have only done this through Rooster Teeth. I can't imagine not directing my friends. Because if I start not knowing who I am directing, I end up becoming friends with them. Every person who is new to the team, after a few weeks, it feels like they have been there forever. You just have to start recounting, "Wait, were you here for.." It's such a tight-knit family. It's hard in general, but it's easier because we are friends.
(Austin): I don't think your directing style actually allows you to NOT become friends with people. There are other directors that probably don't direct like that. I don't know if there is anyone in the animation department that does that. I think everyone at the company direct like that, "you are essentially my friend."
Robin: Will we see Neptune again? Up in the air?
(Kerry): My mom would be very happy(laughs.)
That may be up in the air, but we will definitely keep watching whatever Rooster Teeth puts out.
For more on Rooster Teeth, check out https://roosterteeth.com/
Follow Robin Haviland on Instagram @_alicefairchild_ !