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– Kyousougiga first started as a short PV, was then released on the internet, and then on DVD. The work started off in a very unusual way. What lead you to direct such a strange work?
I first heard of doing Kyousougiga around two years ago. It was at a time when I had just finished HeartCatch PreCure!, and was wondering what to do next. It was then that I had heard from Banpresto that they wanted to do an original anime. The producer in charge had named me for the anime.
– The last piece you directed HeartCatch PreCure! was a big and popular title. On the other hand, Kyousougiga was a piece that had to be started from scratch. Did you feel that you were affected at all by this difference? Was there anything you struggled with?
Although being told “do what you want” allows the possibility for many interesting things, I more often struggle with just finding what I want to do. So at first, I was quite confused with this. First I made a 5 minute film. At that time I had only heard that the main character will be a girl with a weapon. It was also the idea to make it into a moe anime. But when I said that I didn’t know whether I’d be able to make a moe anime well, we settled on ‘a 5 minute anime with a female main character’.
As nothing had yet been decided, the feeling at that point was to just ‘do what you want’. Just, we didn’t have very much time. There wasn’t enough time to write a setting and world that was detailed and solid. So at speed, we collected what we thought was good and any work that hadn’t been done by this point.
– The setting this time for the work was ‘Kyoto (mirror capital)’. So with Japan’s Kyoto, how did you come up with this idea?
I have always liked old temples. Kyoto is easily recognized as a place that has a lot of old Japanese culture. I wanted to use yokai, so as a setting, I thought it would be nice to use Kyoto. Another side to this is that, I borrowed the name as hearing the sound Kyoto provides a distinct image for a regular audience.
People have been present for a very long time, living here and there. Rather than a natural environment, I thought it would be nice to use a man-made setting.
– But in reality, your Kyoto is shifted quite away from the real Kyoto. What was the purpose to this difference?
For the 5 minute film, I used ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ as a motif. Besides, I thought it would be better if I mixed humans, yokai and even mecha to make it feel less normal and more like a mystery hotpot. I prioritized the pictures I wanted over what the themes will be.
Instead of trying to portray the present Kyoto with realism, It felt better for me to use a name that can provide a distinctive image, whilst layering my own images over that.
– The work was produced by Toei animation, but Toei animation often has an image of being quite orthodox. On the other hand, I thought Kyousougiga gave the impression that it was aiming for something new. Was there an intention to make it this way?
I do that naturally, you see. In fact, it’s more like I want to make my own royal road. This was also the case with PreCure, where I used and followed my own methods. So the feeling whilst making Kyousougiga isn’t too different from that of PreCure.
– Hayashi (Yuuki)-san, character designer and animation director, is of the same generation as you. How was discussion and such between you and Hayashi-san?
We were together since college, and entered Toei animation in the same year. Our reasons for going into anime were also the same. We both watched Bokura no War Game and were inspired to go into anime. Our taste is probably quite similar, you see. I guess our areas of interest were alike.
– First it was a 5 minute film, and then it became a mini series released on the internet. Although this time it’s becoming a TV series, part of the charm was how chaotic it was. How are you thinking of structuring the story?
At the beginning I was told ‘you only have one chance’, and I was told this each time. So I had to do my best with what was given to me at the time. With what we have at the moment, if there was anything that we needed to do, it would be to aim for that high maximum speed we had with the original series.
For the 30 minute film, I was thinking that once finished, we won’t be making any more works associated with these characters. So I made it a task for myself to make sure that all the characters appeared in the film. To produce the same world as the 5 minute film and to allow all the characters to appear. But then, when I had somewhat finished the outline and was prepared for it all to end, I was told to do it all again.
This time, although the length was set to be 40 minutes, I had freedom over it’s format. So I could make it into one 40 minute piece, or I could split it up. Up till now, I had to introduce the world as if it was a PV. So with this I was able to make it into something where, as there were a lot of characters, I would put the spotlight on each and every character. I changed it’s direction and pushed the idea of making it more like a drama.
– What about the TV series?
I want to fill the hidden parts between the story and all it’s characters. I think it might be nice if I could make it in this way.
– Whilst the series started on the internet, this time it will be released on TV. Will any consideration be taken to this difference?
Between, say a series and a theatrical release, I’d imagine that there will be differences in the way we do the layouts and the series’ direction. But once we decide on a target audience, it won’t be too different whatever the format.
– What sort of audience do you have in mind?
We had a target audience of people who like anime that are in their late teens to their twenties.
– With you debuting in your twenties, you are receiving a lot of attention for being a young director. What do you think of this?
Originally I wanted to start more quickly, thinking faster, faster. It’s the same with anything but I wanted to do it at as earlier a stage as possible, and then move to Yamanashi or Hokkaidou after reaching old age.
As for how I became director for the film (PreCure), I had worked with the producer for the film in the past. It was then that he noticed me and said that he wanted me to direct the film. So in the end, I ended up doing it. I was very lucky.
Directing the PreCure film also managed to please my parents. So there was a time for me where I could make my parents happy. I am very glad to have been entrusted with the PreCure film.
– There are many excellent directors, but not many are able to release a work in their twenties. With your work did you feel that there was anything specific to your generation, something that only you could have made at that present moment?
There might have been some haphazardness to it all. It may be that you can enjoy yourself more if you have less experience. Not calculating or planning too much.
There’s Chuunibyou isn’t there, where all you think about is the end of the world and yourself. During my twenties I wanted to get to the bottom of the Chuunibyou inside me (laughs). Sorry. Rather than my generation, I’m talking more about myself aren’t I?
Once you get to your thirties or forties, I feel that the world around you starts to change. In your twenties I think you feel more closed off and detached. In your teens you’re on your own, and though the people around you do increase slightly in your twenties, you’re still very much isolated. When you’re trying to think whilst not looking at the world around you – there’s something that you can only make when you’re in such a position. Instead of thinking negatively about this, in this way it feels better to create in a more positive manner
– And finally, on top of making Kyousougiga, was there anything in particular you wanted to accomplish with this work?
I wanted to call it an end for all the characters. We were making this without much sight for the end, so I was worried that I’d just end up leaving the characters unfinished. Even though they’re 2D characters, once drawn I still hold responsibility over them, and while I won’t be drawing them until I die, at least 3 months should be fine. So I wanted to give all the characters a proper conclusion.
A series about the people that live in Kyoto (mirror capital) called Kyousougiga. It was good that I was able to properly make a beginning and end as a series. I am very grateful for this opportunity. Leaving the characters unfinished is, I feel an act of betrayal. It’s irresponsible isn’t it? I think it’s wrong to think, I only made you because I was told to do so, but as I won’t be able to make anything more, there’s nothing more I can do for you.
Without abandoning them, I make sure to fully pay them back.