（中间介绍《Genius Party》和新作的段落略过——分别指的是短片《Baby Blue》和2012年的动画《坂道上的阿波罗》）
DT：《星际牛仔》第五话《Ballad of Fallen Angels》好像预示了最终话的内容。两者之间有关系吗？
Watanabe explained that music is often the driving force behind many of his works.
"I'm so happy when they [fans] praise my works for the music," he said. "There are times when music comes before the animation."
For example, Episode 14 of "Samurai Champloo" features a piece of Okinawan music that plays uninterrupted for the first half.
"I made 'Samurai Champloo' the series in order to make this scene," he said.
A great deal of Champloo's soundtrack is hip-hop from artists such as Shing02. The art of sampling old music and changing it intrigued Watanabe. "The technique of using old music and remixing it into something new is very similar to what I was doing with the animation," he said.
Much like hip-hop rappers can represent themselves with a single microphone, Watanabe said, "I would like to represent myself with a single pencil on a blank piece of paper."
Watanabe concluded his lecture by announcing three new projects to begin showing next year, though he was reluctant to give away any details. The first is a short film with a "boy-meets-girl" story called "Genius Party." He also verified that he is working on a live-action film and an anime series that will be "very mysterious and different from the past [works]."
It was with all of this in mind that I made the journey through the off-limits corridors of the museum to meet Watanabe himself. I found him sitting in a conference room regularly used by the museum's public relations department, with an interpreter beside him and a stack of memorabilia to be signed in front of him. There were posters, DVDs, CDs and a pair of neon yellow hot pants made by a fan to look like the clothing worn by the character Faye Valentine in "Cowboy Bebop." A museum aide joked with Watanabe to hurry with the autograph, because the fan may be waiting in the lobby wearing a trench coat. What she was wearing while her pants waited for a signature is anybody's guess.
Hot pants aside, Watanabe looked relaxed and eager to answer questions about his past, his future and whether Spike's hair is, in fact, green.
Daily Texan: What made you decide to go on a lecture tour?
Shinichiro Watanabe: I was requested by the Japan Foundation to come to America and speak. They provided a series of location choices within the States, and from there, I made a selection. The reason I chose Houston is because it's the hometown for cowboys.
DT: Do you think your work is making animation more accessible to older age groups in America?
W: Actually, I don't know much about American animation at all. So what do you think? If there's anything that's similar to "Cowboy Bebop," please let me know. I'd like to see it.
DT: Was it your decision to work with Yoko Kanno as a composer for "Macross Plus?"
W: At the time "Macross Plus" started, Yoko Kanno didn't have a name. She hadn't made a sound track. She was mostly working in the commercial industry. So I really didn't know anything about her. Somebody from Victor Entertainment recommended her strongly. I reviewed all of the commercials that her work was used in. While I reviewed these, I was impressed with what I heard and decided by all means yes, I would like to use her.
DT: Is there a particular reason why she wasn't used in "Samurai Champloo?"
W: I wanted to use hip-hop music in "Champloo" and since Yoko Kanno is not a hip-hop musician, I decided to use other people. There were some people that suggested we ask Yoko Kanno to create some hip-hop music, but I felt that that would be more of an imitation of hip-hop music than the real thing.
DT: Any chance of teaming up with Yoko Kanno again on your new projects?
W: I do want to work with Yoko Kanno, and I do have plans to work with her again on a future project, I just haven't decided exactly which project yet.
DT: Is Spike's hair black or green?
W: Dark green.
DT: In your lecture you said that you create characters who are constantly hungry and short on cash. In the case of "Cowboy Bebop," how are characters such as Spike and Faye able to afford smokes when they can't buy food?
W: Actually, in my cowboy universe, tobacco is incredibly cheap. And if I go on and say a little more, how do you know it's really tobacco? We'll leave it at that. [Laughs].
DT: For the "Mushroom Samba" episode of "Bebop," did you research how people, not to mention Ein the dog, would act under the influence of narcotic mushrooms?
W: It's completely my imagination. If I don't say that, I might be arrested. But Ein isn't just an ordinary dog. You may know this, but Ein is considered a data dog. As a data dog, he's different from a regular dog and has an unusual reaction or response. But actually, I don't know that much about data dogs myself.
DT: Are you involved with the video game versions of "Bebop" or "Champloo?"
W: Actually, no. I've seen a little bit of them. But I was often so busy creating the animation side of it that I didn't have any time to dedicate over to the video game side of it. So if the games aren't all that interesting, it's not my fault.
DT: You said in your lecture that the characters you relate most to are Mugen and Spike. Care to explain?
W: First, I'm often shooting people and slashing them up with a sword ... It's a joke. [Laughs] Spike and Mugen aren't very straightforward in expressing themselves. For example, even if there's a girl they like standing right in front of them, they don't pursue her directly - in fact, they do the opposite, they ignore her almost. I think that part is kind of like me. If I was to sum it up, it's kind of like being a little contradictory or rebellious.
DT: Are you talking about Spike's relationship with Faye?
W: Of course. Sometimes I'm asked the question, 'What does Spike think of Faye?' I think that actually he likes her quite a bit. But he's not a very straightforward person so he makes sure he doesn't show it.
DT: Episode five of "Bebop," "Ballad of Fallen Angels," seems to be foreshadowing the events of the final episode. Is there a connection?
W: Actually all of the episodes that contain Vicious that come out in "Cowboy Bebop" are directly related to the ending. Even before I made the first episode, I already had the ending in mind. Even though I had the ending in mind by myself, I was opposed by my staff. They were upset because they were saying that we wouldn't be able to make a continuation. So I told them I'd think about it a little more, but ultimately I decided to go with my original idea.
DT: Have you received any negative feedback for Spike's death?
W: I've never officially said that he's died. At this point, I can tell you that I'm not sure if he's alive or dead. I think probably rather than being yelled at for killing Spike, I think ... people are more upset that I might make a continuation.
DT: I'm sure you've heard the next question a thousand times, and I apologize for asking again.
W: Then I pass. [Laughs]. I'm joking.
DT: When are we going to get to see more "Bebop"?
W: Someday ... maybe, someday.
DT: How was working on a movie different from the series?
W: One thing is that with a TV series, you only have 20 minutes, so you can't convey a long story. I feel like I was able to convey a longer story in the movie. For example, in the movie there is a 20-minute mecha scene. If I were to do that in the TV series, it would take up an entire TV episode.
DT: It's common to hear animators remark about how long it takes them to be offered a solo directing opportunity. How were you able to do this so quickly?
W: The animation industry is one that doesn't really rely on age or educational background. Rather, it depends more on a person's skill and on luck. So for myself, the first TV series I directed, "Cowboy Bebop," was a hit, and as a result of its success, I was offered the opportunity to direct a film. It doesn't really matter have much skill you have, if you don't have a hit work, a popular piece, you won't get any offers to make a film. In that respect, I consider myself lucky.