Making Our Dream Mecha Anime Brave Bang! Staff Roundtable

Brave Bang Bravern! , the latest anime produced by Cygames Pictures (“CyPics”), started airing in January with a bang. Promotional media suggested a grounded military story, so audiences were shocked by the end of episode one, when the eponymous mecha Bravern yells out the name of his attack in classic anime fashion.
What kind of explosive environment gave rise to this unpredictable series? We sat down with four brave members of CyPics to find out!


Animation Producer, Cygames PicturesSouta
Joined January, 2022. An on-site producer, Souta handles staff assignments for each team and manages the production schedule.
3DCG Director, Cygames PicturesYoshinori
Joined January, 2019. Founding member and current manager of the Computer Graphics department, Yoshinori coordinates staff in addition to doing CGI work himself.
Production Desk Member, Cygames PicturesYutaka
Joined January, 2022. On top of supporting production assistants, Yutaka handles project management and coordination duties, such as planning roadmaps for the production process.
Episode Direction, Cygames PicturesTakehiro Miura
Joined June, 2023. Formerly a freelance animator, Takehiro now takes on direction for each episode, as well as the training of new animators and directors.

Taking Advantage of Bravern’s Brand New IP

A CyPics original anime, Bravern has been making waves with its unpredictable story since it began airing on January 11th, 2024.

Yoshinori: Even at a company level, I think getting to create an original anime is an amazing opportunity. I’m really grateful.

Souta: Lately, I think we’re seeing fewer and fewer original anime, particularly in the mecha genre. And ours is pretty… different (laughs). We couldn’t have done it without our director Masami Obari, a veteran of the genre.

Yutaka: It’s also thanks to the people at the TBS network, who not only liked and funded the project, but publicized it a lot as well. They even gave us a really good time slot—I was elated when they told us the news last spring.

Takehiro Miura: I was working on storyboards for episode two at the time, the scene where Isami is being tortured, and I thought to myself, “What if our time slot is too early?” (Laughs)

Souta: It’s a pretty extreme scene, yeah. After our advance screening of the first two episodes here in Japan, we received positive feedback from both men and women, even with gritty scenes like that, which was a relief.

Despite being a main character, Bravern didn’t appear in any advertising prior to the series premiere. That, together with the discretion of the advance screening audience in not spoiling the big reveal, meant that viewers went in expecting a realistic military anime. This level of misdirection could only be achieved with an original IP.

Souta: It was Obari who originally thought to conceal that Bravern would feature fantastical mecha powered by imaginary technology. To help maintain the facade, we used a more subdued color palette for most of the first episode before switching to a very different visual style after the reveal.

The scene with the military exercises was depicted very seriously and realistically.

Souta: Keigo Koyanagi, our head of series composition, knows a lot about the military. Thanks to his supervision, we were able to create some convincing visuals.

Yoshinori: There’s also a setting producer at the studio who’s both a military and mecha enthusiast. Ever since the table-read, he’s been giving us a lot of pointers throughout production. Out of everyone working on the series, he’s probably enjoying himself the most. (Laughs)

Souta: Yeah. He definitely has the most “brave bang” energy on the team. (Laughs)

Pitching CGI Mecha to Director Obari

How did the project first come to be?

Yoshinori: It all started with Mr. Takenaka (president of CyPics and manager of Cygames’ Anime Division). He wanted to create an original mecha anime with Obari. I’ve heard that the project got started four or five years ago, but it was about three years ago when I first heard about it from Takenaka, and a year after that when we started work on the CGI.

Souta: Yutaka and I first heard of it when we joined CyPics in January 2022. They told us there was some project called Bravern they wanted us to work on.

Yutaka: Before I joined, I knew that CyPics made anime in a wide variety of genres, but my impression was that most of their shows centered around teenage girls. However, during my job interview, Takenaka said to me, “At CyPics, we challenge ourselves to make the kind of anime we truly wish to make, not what others expect us to make.” I was moved by how strongly he felt about the topic.

Souta: To me, CyPics is a company that’s far from finished growing, one which provides its employees with many opportunities and a high degree of personal freedom. At the same time, I feel like that freedom is a test to see how proactive you can be, and allows for a relaxed but self-motivated working environment.

Takehiro Miura: I knew Obari from when I used to work at his animation company, Studio G-1 Neo. He wanted to consult me on the design of some supporting characters, and Takenaka wanted to consult me on direction, so I came to work at CyPics. I think Bravern does a good job of blending new and exciting elements with the classic Obari style that anime fans have come to know and love.

Director Obari’s specialty has always been creating mecha anime with unpredictable twists, so what sets Bravern apart?

Takehiro Miura: For one, the mecha are depicted with 3DCG. This being an Obari production, I was expecting to see his distinctive line art, so I was shocked when I was shown sample footage of that distinct style done in CGI instead. (Laughs)

A CGI model of Bravern. The green lines that appear during the video indicate the wireframe, essentially the skeleton of a 3D model. The team aimed to create a model that, when static, would be indistinguishable from a hand-drawn picture.

Souta: At first, Obari wanted to go with hand-drawn art, as he thought mecha should be hand-drawn. But drawing everything for every episode would have been difficult considering our resources, so I wanted to implement 3DCG. I asked Yoshinori to create some samples that would win Obari over.

Yoshinori: I felt the same way as Souta—we weren’t going to finish a mecha anime in time without using CGI. But making the sample footage required a lot of trial and error. (Laughs)

Souta: We knew the key to getting Obari on board was to bring the CGI as close to hand-drawn art as possible, and we thought thicker lines might be the answer. We asked Yoshinori and his team to try using thicker lines even if it meant sacrificing a few details, the goal being to recreate the impact of hand-drawn art.

Thicker lines bring CGI closer to a hand-drawn quality.

Takehiro Miura: We were also able to increase the amount of CGI in each episode by facilitating tight and swift communication between the traditional animation team and Yoshinori’s CGI department. Also, the inclusion of CGI mecha usually means less of a spotlight on the hand-drawn characters and all their expressiveness, but we have the two styles comfortably sharing the screen. Bravern has no problem rudely intruding on human meetings. (Laughs)

Yoshinori: Now that the series has started airing, I can confidently say that I’m glad we went with CGI.

A CGI Bravern shares the screen with hand-drawn characters (Episode 2).

So the tight-knit dynamics within the studio contributed to the very humanlike quality Bravern has, despite being a robot.

Yoshinori: Actually, we work with another studio called Project No. 9 for the photography stage of production. Souta has known their director of photography for a long time, so communication between our companies is very smooth. They do a great job making the CGI robot and hand-drawn characters mesh in the image processing stage by using a similar approach for both.

Takehiro Miura: The mecha from Obari’s projects often feel like living, armor-clad people. I think that’s why he’s so attached to hand-drawn animation. But with Bravern, we were able to replicate that feeling with CGI. When I saw the completed footage, the nerd in me couldn’t help but obsess over the sheer awesomeness.

Before and after image processing.

A Space Where Everyone Can Speak Their Mind

So it was Mr. Takenaka who launched the Bravern project, but how involved is he in the production process?

Souta: He’s heavily involved at every stage.

Yoshinori: The series gets better and better every time Takenaka contributes his ideas. He puts his heart and soul into his work.

Takehiro Miura: He’s simultaneously a staff member and the show’s foremost viewer. Sometimes we get trapped in a certain perspective because we’ve been working on the series for such a long time, but Takenaka helps us take a step back and see things the way our audience would. For example, there’s a scene in episode two where Smith tries to ride Bravern, but the mecha rejects him. We knew it was supposed to be a comedic scene, so we had Smith’s voice actor, Yohei Azakami, playing it as such until Takenaka came out and said, “Let’s keep this one serious.”

Smith is denied entry by Bravern (Episode 2).

Yutaka, you’re the youngest at this roundtable. How do you feel about Bravern‘s working environment?

Yutaka: It’s a really fun workplace. A large part of that for me is just how open minded Obari is. He listens to opinions from anybody, even a relative newcomer like me. Knowing my ideas will be taken seriously encourages me to think proactively about ways to improve the project, and I can already feel my skills improving.

Takehiro Miura: In the industry, you often see opinions from younger team members shot down if they seem off from what more senior staff would consider common knowledge. Obari knows that’s a good way to stifle creativity and cause newcomers to be reserved around their superiors, so he’ll go out of his way to joke around with the younger team members at meetings.

Yoshinori: Yet when the team can’t agree on an issue, he’s decisive about which path we ought to take.

Takehiro Miura: He usually works with more established studios, so part of me was worried he wouldn’t mesh well with a relatively new, growing studio like CyPics. But no, he’s always talking with the younger team members, treating them with just as much respect as anyone else. He makes sure nobody’s afraid to talk to him.

Yoshinori: It’s a really collaborative workspace.

Takehiro Miura: At CyPics, we try to cultivate a comfortable environment for newer hires. Takenaka in particular feels this is important.

Yutaka: I have a habit of staying in the office late because I really enjoy my work, so Takenaka is always scolding me to “go home already!” (Laughs)

Souta: Whenever younger staff stay past office hours, their team leaders get a warning from Takenaka. He places a lot of importance on creating an environment where people won’t burn out.

Takehiro Miura: I think each new project will bring us one step closer to our ideal working environment. Right now, we’re trying a lot of different things to see what works and gauge reactions. Inviting Obari to create an original mecha anime with us was part of that ongoing effort.

Yutaka: Personally, what I find more important is the kind of people I get to work with. CyPics is a great place in that sense too.

Where Will Bravern Take Us?

We’ve heard all about the challenges this CGI mecha anime posed to CyPics. Could you tell us a little about what we can expect from the rest of the series?

Souta: We haven’t really talked about the characters today, so I’ll start by mentioning the relationship between Isami and Smith. They really don’t get along, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll learn to overcome their differences as brothers-in-arms, or end up on opposite sides of the battlefield. Also, at the end of episode two we’re introduced to a mysterious character called Lulu, who you can also see in the opening sequence. She’s going to shake up the plot in a big way, so keep an eye on her!

Lulu, the mystery girl.

Yoshinori: As for the mecha, you can expect to meet more leaders of the Deathdrives following Superbia’s introduction in episode two. We’ve assembled an amazing cast to bring these characters to life, so we hope you’ll see them as more than just machines.

Bravern battles Superbia (Episode 2).

Yutaka: There will be more and more fight scenes as the story unfolds, which should be a treat for the mecha fans. Every team in our studio has given this anime their all, from animation to CGI, photography, and more. It’s going to be a good one!

Takehiro Miura: This series has a bit of everything, from ridiculous, over-the-top mecha to character-driven drama. Not to mention top-notch acting, which exceeded even our wildest expectations. We hope you enjoy it.

That’s all for our Cygames Pictures staff roundtable. Make sure to catch the rest of Bravern’s explosive story on Crunchyroll.

©Brave Bang Bravern! Partners
© Cygames, Inc.
© CygamesPictures, Inc.