Exclusive: Pokemon Concierge interview from Anime Expo 2023

Nan Pokemon Concierge Interview

When it comes to the Pokemon franchise, the series has continuously held its traditional cartoon art style for video and television features. Although the art style has remained consistent it has continued to evolve and adapt. Despite its cartoon art style remaining consistent, the game’s art style and open-world environment have changed drastically over the last decade.

Now, in collaboration with Netflix, Nintendo looks to introduce Pokemon to a new audience around the world in a different and potentially unconventional way. Set to release in December 2023, Pokemon Concierge will be Pokemon‘s first stop-motion animation series focusing on Haru and Psyduck.

Netflix describes Pokemon Concierge as a “delightful stop-motion animation tells the story of a concierge named Haru, who works at a resort just for Pokémon, and the guests who come to visit. Non, who performs the voice of Haru, takes us on a visit to dwarf studios, where we get a glimpse of Haru, Psyduck and a variety of other Pokémon! Join us as we take this rare opportunity to visit the animation studio and get a peek into the charming world of Pokémon Concierge.”

During Anime Expo 2023, Netflix unveiled a new trailer featuring some behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of the stop-motion animated Pokemon Concierge series; the footage features Non, the voice actress of Haru, showing off the animation process for the new series.

The directors took Non’s facial expressions and were able to create molds of them and attach them to her character to truly showcase her emotion. You can watch the full trailer down below, but we learned a lot more about Pokemon Concierge during a behind-closed-doors meeting.

Pokemon Concierge Meeting/Interview

At Anime Expo 2023, we had a behind-closed-doors meeting with Rena Nonen (Non) and Netflix to learn more about Pokemon Concierge. A majority of the interview had to be translated between English and Japanese.

Despite having about twenty journalists in attendance, only half of them got to ask a question during the thirty-minute meeting. We’d have loved to share the audio from the interview with you, but a different member of the press was typing loudly; instead, we will share with you the questions that were asked during the meeting that you can’t find anywhere else.

Interview Questions

Aside from Pokemon Concierge being stop motion, how will Haru and Psyduck’s adventure differ Ash Pikachus from the original anime?

So I know that it has been some form of 3D, but with this, it is stop motion so we have an actual puppet moving and are actually able to move the puppets one by one that creates the animation. So, the big difference is that you have an actual puppet and we move scene by scene.

So, again, you have an actual puppet, so you have a very heartwarming, really warm feeling to it because you know that there is acting that goes stop by stop. So you find it really cute and as it happens and you see it gives you a smile.

What can you tell us about your character?

The protagonist Haru is a very hardworking person and she’s overworked at work. She’s lost her spark she’s working so hard and all of a sudden she decides to work at Pokemon Resort as a concierge and there her job is to show hospitality to different Pokemon.

She makes mistakes, fails, and feels down, but those experiences with the Pokemon she learns from help her to help other Pokemon.

How would you say Haru evolved over the course of the series?

So Haru originally works for the company. Then when she was working for the company, she told herself that I have to be perfect. They have to organize everything and make everything neat. So she kind of put too much pressure on herself and felt like she had to meet that expectation it makes everybody happy.

She decided to take this new role, working as a Pokémon concierge and she started to find that this is her job but still she can find it very rewarding and fun. She is free to have fun while working. Before she was working at the company she couldn’t say no. Before she thought that she had to make everything perfect. Now she has realized that it is okay that I have something that I could not do and embraces the imperfections.

So why was Psyduck the perfect concierge companion for Haru?

Psyduck is a character where you really can’t tell what he’s thinking. You can’t really see his true mind or feelings. Haru is out and sees Psyduck from a distance and Haru can’t figure out what he’s thinking, but having that kind of interaction, and having that kind of relationship, kind of softens Haru’s heart.

She then comes to feel that it’s okay, that she doesn’t understand/ can’t figure out how he’s feeling. But working hard makes her feel that it is fun. Through their challenges, Haru and Psyduck grow together.

What attracted you to the role of Haru and to be a part of this new series?

So Haru is really a witness and wanted to do everything perfectly. She wanted to make everything perfect. But she was able to do everything and make it perfect but she wanted to try and wanted to try and be the best that she can be.

And again things are not going well and again she is disappointed, but she was able to overcome that failure thanks to Pokemon. When Pokemon is next to Haru and helping, it allows her to overcome her failures and temperaments. It is revealing how Haru can come and grow through her interactions with Pokemon.

So what do you think is the biggest charm of Pokemon concierge?

The Pokemon are so adorable, they are just so cute and when you look at the location of the Pokemon resort, it’s a place where you wish it really exists because you see all these Pokemon relaxed and vacationing there and it’s so nice to see that and Haru basically sees that every day and it’s kind of therapeutic for her to be in that environment.

It makes you want to go there too and just by imagining such a place, it makes you happy.

What was your favorite part of observing and being involved in the stop-motion animation process?

So I recorded the voice lines at the stage of Crisco. So actually, they filmed when I was voice acting, and the animators used my facial expressions as an influence and created a Haru can.

So, my facial expressions are actually in Haru Chan and it’s a stop-motion animation so you can see my reaction while voicing Haru and you can actually capture the yuma in a stop-motion action. So you can see the reaction in my body language really well in action; it is really interesting to see.

Will Psyduck be Haru’s only companion or will there be other Pokemon sort of like a team to help out Haru?

Well, Psyduck will be her primary buddy but in the show, you will see other Pokemon help out.

How are you hoping audiences react to the series?

So, I’m sure we all have been bombarded and under pressure and felt like I don’t want to wake up I don’t want to get up and keep doing what we’ve been doing we just want to give up everything but when you see the physical thing what happens is it is therapeutic and gives your energy and it makes you want to do it again and try again do the best you can be. So I wish you all will see Pokemon Concierge as really energetic and makes you keep going and do the best they can

Can you go over your experiences voicing Haru for this unique stop-motion series?

When working on Haru, the moment was sad. I was told that there will be many scenes where Haru is kind of struggling, trying to figure out what she should do, so they asked me to kind of do that in a gesture and using my body like Psyduck and tilting my head during those various movements to try to express how hard he was trying to figure out and get the answers. So I was working on those movements and then I was told that they would photograph or film that and then they would utilize that into the actual stop-motion animation. So that was a very fun thing to be a part of.

And once I saw the final look of the complete finished scenes, they were very different from what you usually see with 2D or 3D CG The animation and it was totally different, the footage that I saw was stop motion animation and the movements are totally different from 2D 3D animation and you see these shadows in those frames too.

I thought it was very frustrating and I was able to feel that, “Oh, this is how you also enjoy talking on this format or art form and that was a new discovery of that. I found Haru’s movements very interesting because you’re using Puppet and it’s shot frame by frame but when we see that in action, I felt that it was totally believable and it was convincing and I found that very interesting.

Was there anything you learned by picking up this project?

I really like Pokemon and I am very excited and grateful to be a part of this great project. I had a chance to visit the studio where the film was being created. In the studio, I saw lots of Pokemon and it made me really happy and made me realize.

It made me realize that it is such a great joy to work with something that I love so much. This whole project I was so grateful and happy that I was a part of this.

Was it difficult to keep it a secret that you had been cast as Haru and how does it feel that you can finally talk about it after revealing it to the audience yesterday?

Yes, I am very happy. We had to keep this a secret for quite a long time but now I can brag about it to my family and friends.

How is voice acting for a stop-motion feature different than voice acting for an anime or acting in a real-life production?

Yes, I have some experience acting voice in a previous animation but luckily that was the anime was a live scene so I was able to use my experience and you know how that I learned in the acting or the film but this one I was a part of pokemon world and it’s a completely different view and different scenes so I had to learn a lot of acting as part of the animation so I practiced at home I learned how to voice act for the animation.

Do you have any memories of enjoying Pokemon when you were younger? Were you a Pokemon fan going into this project and what is your favorite Pokemon and why?

That’s a tough question. Earlier when I was playing Pokemon games, Mewtwo was my favorite; I admired that character but once I started working with Pokemon Concierge and I started working with Psyduck for the animation. He is just so adorable. He’s too cute, so I would have to say my favorite is Psyduck.

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Hardcore gaming enthusiast, cosplayer, streamer, Tall Anime lover (6ft 9), and a die-hard competitor. I have been a Pop-Culture Journalist since 2011 specializing in shooters, Pokemon, and RPGs.

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