Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse director says anime shaped his career

Joaquim Dos Santos’ Influence in the Anime Industry

Joaquim Dos Santos stands out as a prominent figure in the world of animation, with an impressive portfolio of work that has left a mark on audiences worldwide. His career has seen him contribute to some of the most acclaimed animated series of the 21st century, from iconic shows like Justice League Unlimited to producing hits like The Legend of Korra and Voltron: Legendary Defender. However, his crowning achievement remains co-directing Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the highly anticipated sequel to the award-winning animated film.

Discussing Anime and Inspiration

Dos Santos, among other notable guests, graced the 2024 Crunchyroll Anime Awards to celebrate the anime industry’s accomplishments. In an exclusive interview with Polygon, Dos Santos delved into his personal connection with anime, the aspects that captivate him, and the artists who inspire his storytelling.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Inspiring Anime and Personal Favorites

Polygon: What sparked your interest in anime, and do you have a favorite anime that has stayed with you over the years?

Joaquim Dos Santos: For me, it all began with Macross, known as Robotech in the U.S. It was a standout anime that mixed giant robots and aliens with deep storytelling elements, setting it apart from mainstream Western cartoons of the time. The emotional depth and intricate narratives in Macross resonated with me then and still hold a special place in my heart.

Unique Aspects of Anime as a Creator

Dos Santos highlighted the significance of quiet moments and subtle details in anime that enhance storytelling, emphasizing the importance of conveying emotions through nuanced visuals rather than grand spectacles. These observations have subtly influenced his approach to visual storytelling.

Anime Influence in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Reflecting on his work on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Dos Santos acknowledged the profound impact of anime on the film’s visuals. He credited animators like Yutaka Nakamura for revolutionizing animation techniques and shaping the artistic direction of the project.

Legacy in Anime and Animated Series

Having made significant contributions to beloved series like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Voltron: Legendary Defender, Dos Santos addressed the ongoing debate on whether these shows qualify as anime. He expressed gratitude for being part of the global animation landscape and valued the discussions around the cultural influence of anime.

Favorite Japanese Animators and Inspirations

Dos Santos shared his admiration for iconic Japanese animators such as Mamoru Oshii and Sushio, citing their contributions to the medium as profound influences. He emphasized the collaborative effort of animators in creating cohesive works of art.

Anime Recommendations and Future Watchlist

While looking forward to watching Pluto, Dos Santos expressed his recent viewing interests, including the vampire anime Sirius the Jaeger. He also shared a personal anecdote of enjoying Dragon Ball Z with his son, highlighting the generational appeal and bonding experience through anime.

Future Projects and Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse

Dos Santos provided insight into the delayed release of Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, likening the production process to the meticulous development of video games. He emphasized the importance of allowing time for refinement to deliver a high-quality final product.