Creator Christy Karacas on Anime Special
ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke up Ballmasterz: 9009 Creator Christy Karacas on the new series special, Ballmastz: Rubiconand the legacy of Super Prison! years later. Ballmastz: Rubicon It premieres on February 20th.
The synopsis for the special reads, “If secrets from Crayzar’s past threaten the future of the planet, will he breed some balls and unite ‘Team Earth’ or add humanity to the intergalactic endangered species list?”
Spencer Legacy: The anime influence has always been present in Ballmastrz. How did the collaboration with Studio 4℃ come about?
Christy Karacas: I go to a lot of animation festivals and a friend of mine, Silas Hickey, who has a company called Custom Nuts, used to work for Cartoon Network Asia and he works in Japan. He had these connections with these Japanese studios, and we were talking, and I was just like, “Man, I wish we could do it in a real anime studio.” And he was like, “Well, I know these people.” So he sort of set that up. I mean, I love Titmouse – I didn’t want to do it at Titmouse, but I was like, ‘I’d love to do it at a real anime studio.’ So since it was special, we thought, ‘Why not?’ So we did it, and it worked really well.
What stood out most when you saw a Japanese studio’s show?
Well, I’ll tell you something very strange about working with Japanese studios. I… how do I say that? So when I met her, it was the first time [during] Covid so everything is on Zoom. But I thought, “We’ll see what you think.” When we first talked, we said, “We really want to work together, this, this, and this.” And then when we started, they were very similar: “What’s that going to look like? What’s that supposed to look like?” They definitely put so much of their influence into it, and it was always great. But it was also… I think it’s a culture thing or a language thing. It was very… how do I put it?
They always asked a million questions and it was like, “Yeah, just do whatever you want! Make it look amazing!” I mean, look, Studio 4℃ is amazing. I’ve been a fan of theirs since I was in my twenties. mind gameis one of my favorite movies and they do a ton of things that just look totally different. So then [Takashi] Nakamura-san, he was the animation director of Akira. He was working on so many things so I would do rough sketches and drawings and send them to them and then they would revise it in their style and send it back and they completely redesigned everything. What I wanted to say before was [that] At first in my head I was like, “Oh man, they’re going to completely change everything.” And then when we started working together, they were just so respectful that I was like, “No, it’s okay.” You saw it, a lot of things have changed a lot. Lulu looks the same, but just the different interpretation of the characters.
Which animes have really served as the biggest inspirations for Ballmastrz as a series?
I don’t think there was one. When I came up with this series… it’s funny, I’ve always loved anime since I was in junior high. But I thought I couldn’t draw well enough, or I thought, ‘I can’t do anime. It’s going to suck, or it’s not going to be good enough, or it’s just going to kind of suck.” I remember when I came up with that…how do I say it?
When you’re working on a show for Adult Swim, there’s no deadline when developing the show. But I remember Olli [Green], the producer, called me. She says, are you serious about this show or not?” I said, “Ollie, I can’t understand this show.” I’m a David Lynch fan and can’t remember if I read or saw an interview with him Mulholland Drive and there were some comments or something and he said don’t try to do what other people do.
It was about how his films … you go into his head and it’s his dream and do whatever you can, kind of talk. And I thought, “This has to be me making my version of anime.” And when I stopped worrying about wanting to make everything perfect, it just came out. But there were tons of influences. I mean, I love a lot of different anime, so it was anime, but it was also about things like wrestling. It was obviously things like B movies rollerball, dystopian things. It’s funny, Baby Ball, the character – remember the movie First League?
No, I do not.
First League‘s this sports comedy and the poster was this baseball with a mohican and sunglasses and all that. It has Charlie Sheen and such and such. When I was a kid, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I want to see this movie so badly.’ And when I saw the movie, that thing is never in the movie. I thought it was a character. That was one of the things I was like, “What if the ball lives?” So Baby Ball is based on that poster.
Also, all these really amazing anime came out at that time, such as: Kill la Kill, Ping Pong: The animation, stuff like this. Also in anime there are so many sports anime of every kind of sport. I mean it could be ice skating or swimming, running, basketball or whatever. And I was like, “Wow, there’s not really a sports cartoon in Adult Swim.” So that was the other reason. Again, I loved wrestling, I loved stuff like rollerball or B-movie fake sporting goods. So I thought, “Maybe it’s like an anime fake sports thing.” So it was kind of like all those things together.
Natasha Lyonne’s career has soared to even higher heights. What is the most special thing about working with her and that she enjoys doing this crazy show?
I mean she’s amazing and I’m shocked that she’s still working with us because she’s so amazing. But I don’t know, she’s just very nice. She’s gorgeous. She walks in and — I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a voice over, but usually the actors go through the script. They’re going to do a few takes of each line, all of that. And she came on day one and said, “Do you mind if I read through this script?” I say, “Yeah, sure.” I didn’t want to say anything. And she read the thing through, and I was like, “Oh my god, that’s the character.” I’m not even exaggerating. It was perfect.
She’s gorgeous. I rarely make them repeat any lines. She comes in and bangs it out. She came in early and did three scripts at once, and we had planned something like that [a] Three hours of recording and it would be done in about 20 minutes. It’s crazy. I always say, “Thanks for doing this!” Where she says, “Oh, it’s fun!” I think she’s very talented. I really do.
The special is also particularly interesting because you get to see Crayzar’s family and explore this dynamic with his brother. What did you enjoy most about fleshing out this element?
One thing about the first two seasons was that we always – I say us, me and the other writers – worried like it was always about Ballmaster and Gaz and Ace and all that. And we worried that it was starting , getting old, this team stuff and all that. People just find Crayzar so funny and we’re like, ‘Maybe we’ll focus more on Crayzar and what that real problem is going to be.’ It was fun thinking about who is he? Where is he from? They’re these weird omnipotent beings and – that’s spoiler stuff – but you know, his race, they’re not necessarily villains. Because he’s kind of a mess that doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do and he kind of hides from them.
So they kind of came around and his brother is clearly sadistic. There’s a whole backstory between him and his brother that’s not in the special, which I hope we’ll do more of because there’s a backstory. Crayzar comes from a really ancient, powerful race, but they are threatened by this new thing in the universe. And all of that will come out later when we can do more. So it’s a big build for a big epic story, but Crayzar and Team Earth will help.
You mentioned wrestling earlier. Crayzar looks like 90’s Goldust from WWF. Was that an inspiration or coincidence?
I mean it looks just like him! I feel bad because I love wrestling, I – look Super Prison! It’s the warden. I mean I can’t believe they allowed me to make this guy look like Willy Wonka. But yes, Goldust was a big influence. I remember designing all these versions of him… same thing happened with The Warden. I make all these versions and keep going back. I said, “But he’s kind of just Willy Wonka.” With Crayzar, I drew and drew him. With animation here, you want something to be simple. I said, “He’s only in this body suit. It’s kind of heavy metal, but it’s also kind of glam rock.” But yeah, Goldust was a big influence. I love Goldust.
Speaking of Superjail!, Adult Swim has done specials and movies for Aqua Teen and Venture Bros. Any interest in a potential Superjail! specifically across the board?
I would love to, but it’s up to you. i have ideas I really do.
How do you see the legacy of this show? It seems to have gotten more acclaim over time, especially for its incredible animation.
That’s one reason I’d love to do it, because… how do I say that? i think when Super Prison! came out it was a little too aggressive. So people either loved it or hated it. I think now the bar has been raised with things like Tim and Eric And Rick and Morty. Things have gotten weirder and crazier in general. So I feel like now Super Prison! doesn’t seem as aggressive or crazy as a show. So I feel like it’s almost going to be better now because I won’t lie when I meet someone and talk about it Super Prison!, they’ll say, “Oh my God!” Like, they like it. It is strange. When it was outside it wasn’t really that big. I mean, we had four seasons, but I don’t think we had crazy ratings. But it seems to be iconic, you know? I hope Adult Swim looks at all of these interviews. I would like to do more. I really enjoy working with Adult Swim. I am in love Ballmastz. I am in love Super Prison!
https://www.comingsoon.net/tv/features/1266983-interview-christy-karacas-ballmastrz-rubicon-superjail Creator Christy Karacas on Anime Special