Ats Dojo is a manga, and a cutesy series about a group of martial artists attending a dojo in the countryside. On the surface, it’s about students and their Sensei, but the deep, underlying themes are about love and romance, and the forces around us that can affect people in a negative way. It’s a very light-hearted series, but with a serious message.
I had a chance to interview the Director and Runner(Creator) for the new Manga/Anime project that Kevin Lee is working on, called ATS Dojo. ATS Dojo is a new sport that combines Martial Arts and Manga/Anime. In the interview, I talk to Kevin about the inspiration for ATS Dojo, why he started making ATS Dojo, and more!
Kevin Lee is best known for his manga “ATS Dojo”, which has been serialized in Shogakukan’s Monthly Big Comic Spirits since August of 2013. As is the case with many manga, the story is set in the same universe as another manga by the same author, “YuYu Hakusho”. It is based on the action comedy movie “Who’s That Guy” made in 1994, though there is no repeating characters or story link
ATS Dojo is an intriguing anime series that mixes “a satirical take on samurai and ninja lives mixed with corporate culture,” as director and runner Kevin Lee put it. ATS Dojo has been adapted into a manga and a television series, with an animated film in development. Kevin Lee has done an excellent job with his animated and written project, despite the fact that the concept of merging samurai tradition with black American culture is not new (see, for example, Afro Samurai, a highly popular series).
Now that the manga is still being written on and the anime is in its fourth season, ATS Dojo seems to be doing pretty well, especially with Kevin Lee working on a tie-in animated film. To pay tribute to the project’s history, we had the opportunity of sitting down with Kevin Lee, the project’s founder, and discussing a variety of subjects with him.
We spoke with Mr. Lee about his current efforts, which include the anime and manga, as well as his forthcoming film and other projects. We have some unique details on the storyline of the film, the production team behind it, and when it will be released. We’ve also learned about Mr. Lee’s other initiatives and what the future holds for him, as well as the ATS Dojo initiative.
It was a tremendous joy for us to conduct this interview since the discussion was very engaging and instructive. Now it’s up to you to figure out what we’ve been talking about. Enjoy!
- Tell us about your anime series on the internet. DOJO ATS
ATS Dojo is a humorous take on business culture and samurai and ninja lives. We intended to incorporate aspects of Japanese anime with black American cultural standards. Imagine a cross between The Office and Samurai Champloo. We have an Instagram manga, Tiktok visuals, and a TV show in the works.
- How did the idea for the project come to you?
Honestly? I’m frustrated by the dearth of good animated material available right now. I continued seeing awful animation material being created, which gave me a competitive edge. Furthermore, I seldom see animated material produced by minorities. Instead of whining about how underrepresented POC (People of Color) are in the animation industry, I wanted to be a part of the solution. I began reading the manga to get my feet wet while doing animation studies. I fell down an anime rabbit hole in search of inspiration and began creating spec screenplays. My creative juices began to flood once I discovered a manga artist and saw my thoughts realized.
- Could you explain us how ATS DOJO fits into your professional life?
I’ve always been a creative person. Before moving into the music business, I worked in corporate America. After working in the music business for the last seven years on and off, I decided to finally put my history degree to good use and began putting together this manga. I’m also doing a film/TV course to get a better knowledge of the industry, so it’s a never-ending learning process for me.
- It seems like ATS DOJO will be adapted into a film; can you tell us how you pulled it off?
This project has been made possible by a fantastic team of individuals. I began by asking friends and followers on social media whether they wanted to be in an anime. I’d create characters depending on what they suggested. With the same individuals, I began writing like a maniac and created a whole world. We wanted to build reputation in the film business, therefore we came up with the concept for the film.
- Is the ATS DOJO film going to be live-action or animated?
We’re going to stick to animation. Animation, in my opinion, has a far longer shelf life and is much simpler to relaunch and sell to new audiences. We’re still too little to annoy our followers with a live-action film, lol!!
- Can you tell us more about the film? Who will produce it, including the director, actors, storyline, and other details?
The film is about a blind warrior from a faraway country who uses a koto to alter the course of Japan’s history. It’s a historical retelling of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s life and legacy. We put together an excellent script with graphics with my writing colleagues Brandon Hampton and Wendy Cruz. Kuthaus Productions, my production business, will produce the film. So far, the process has been both enjoyable and exhausting.
- Who would you want to see take over the movie and characters if you still don’t know who the actors and director are?
Due to the fact that this is an art film, casting will be restricted. I’ll be directing it with Tyrain Purple, the creative director, and Devante Givens, the main animator. In case we decide to add narration or voiceovers to the film, I have a few fantastic voice actors on standby.
- When can we anticipate the movie to be released?
We plan to release in the first quarter of 2022. We want to enter this picture into film festivals in order to create genuine buzz.
- Will you continue to work on manga in the future?
Absolutely!! Manga is the most popular kind of material that we provide. This whole universe began with the manga and will continue to exist while we attempt to navigate the cinematic realm.
- When will Season 4 be released, and will there be any more?
We’ll start Season 4 of our manga series once we finish our Kickstarter campaign. This season will be full of surprises, and I can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been working on.
- What can you tell us about your future career plans?
The short-term objective is to finish the film and get distribution rights in order to build our brand in the film business. The long-term aim is to present the TV show to a network and get it picked up for syndication. This is something I’d want to do for the rest of my life. My primary personal aim is to empower women, LGBT people, and people of color to produce their own material without being constrained by conventional media norms.
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