Shinichiro Watanabe, the creator of such legendary classics as Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Space Dandy, has acquired renown for his mastery of Genre-Busting, episodic series, and creating anime that's extremely well-loved in the west. So, it's no surprise that many wish to achieve a degree of his greatness by learning how to write like him.
- Shinichiro Watanabe is the undisputed master of writing episodic series, for one good reason: Although he has Running Gags aplenty, his stories are never Strictly Formula. Spike Spiegel and Jet Black may always hunt down a new bounty but never score a single woolong, but no two bounties were quite the same—bounties included a drug dealer addicted to his own product, a crazed eco-terrorist, and a cult leader, and not all of the villains of the week were even bounties to begin with—the question of bounties was never brought up for the Big Bad Vicious or the most memorable villain Tongpu. Heck, they even successfully caught a bounty in the Batman Cold Open of one episode and spent the rest of it focusing on Spike training someone! This continued with Samurai Champloo, which dealt with Mugen, Jin, and Fuu going from town to town trying to reach Edo and encountering different people, but some were action-packed swordfight-centric episodes while others dealt with more mundane stuff like Mugen learning how to read.
- Genre-Busting. Shinichiro Watanabe blended sci-fi, westerns, Heroic Bloodshed, and Film Noir together through jazz in Cowboy Bebop, brought Jidai Geki and hip-hop together in Samurai Champloo, and fused The '50s and disco with a parody of Raygun Gothic shows with Space Dandy. Generally, you'll want to mix a music genre with a bunch of story genres.
Choices, ChoicesWhat genres are you going to mix together? Heavy Metal and post-apocalyptic fiction, Progressive Rock with a combination of Medieval European Fantasy and Wuxia, or perhaps a mix of Two-Fisted Tales and New Weird brought together by jazz fusion? Go crazy mixing genres—you're only limited by your imagination!
- The biggest way you can deviate from Shinichiro Watanabe is to pick a single genre and stick to it, as well as using arc-based storytelling instead of episodic formats.
- Watanabe's signature protagonist type is a Tall, Dark, and Handsome male, but even he has deviated from that with Carole & Tuesday with a duo of women. You could also deviate—maybe you'd prefer to focus on a Kid Hero or a girl
- Watanabe loved his characters to have Perpetual Poverty—maybe you are different. Maybe you'd rather they weren't always broke and instead held on to a sizeable amount of wealth for a few episodes? Hell, perhaps you'd prefer your main character to be downright rich!
Suggested Themes and AesopsTBA
Set Designer / Location ScoutTBA
- For the main character, you'll definitely want a Tall, Dark, and Handsome protagonist, like Spike Spiegel, Mugen or Dandy. Bonus points if you can get Steve Blum to voice him. This hero should love fighting, food, and strong women in no particular order, probably has some questionable views about women, children, and/or animals, and is definitely not on the best of terms with the law. Nine times out of ten, he'll have run with a gang of some sort in the past and have both a Love Interest and an archnemesis from the same gang that crosses paths with him in the present. And he usually starts out as an Unscrupulous Hero or an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, but softens up into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold throughout the course of the series.
- Aside from the main character, you'll need a supporting cast, starting with a Foil to your hero in the vein of Jet Black, Jin and QT. He should be the Blue Oni to the hero's Red Oni, the Noble Male to the hero's Roguish Male, and the By-the-Book Cop to the hero's Cowboy Cop. The Lancer should firmly believe in old-fashioned morality that doesn't really fit the world he's in, which he's gotten a lot of crap for over the years (Jet left the police because he refused to go Dirty Cop, Jin is a fugitive, and it's subtly implied that QT would have been junked years ago for showing any kind of sentience if he hadn't wound up with Dandy), that's turned him cynical, though he's still remained steadfast in his code of honor despite this. Chances are he's also a Cultured Badass of some kind.
- First and foremost, you'll want to have the main protagonist practice a martial art that mirrors the musical genre you've chosen for your work in some way, shape or form. Spike Spiegel had Jeet Kune Do, which was Bruce Lee's attempt at blending different martial art styles into something that defied all previous traditions, much like how jazz and bebop did. Mugen had a breakdancing-influenced style called "Champloo Kendo" that takes bits and pieces from other martial arts and making up the rest as he goes along, which mirrors hip-hop's use of sampling and improvisation.
- Secondly, for one-on-one fights, match up the character with a person who fights incredibly differently from the main character himself. Spike, a Jeet Kune Do and Gun Kata master, had Vincent, a Master Swordsman, for his mortal nemesis, and Mugen's rival Jin was the most traditional master of kenjutsu you could find in the Samurai Champloo world.