Here’s another interview I randomly found from December 2005 (in the February 2006 edition of The Sneaker). This was a discussion produced to celebrate Haruhi Suzumiya becoming a TV anime. Without further adu:
In celebration of becoming an anime, Nagaru Tanigawa and Noizi Itou talk about how Haruhi was born
-Today, we brought you here to chat about various things to commemorate the series being made into an anime.
Nagaru Tanigawa (Hereafter: Tanigawa): Talking about this story is a bit awkward though.
Noizi Itou (Hereafter: Itou): It is, isn’t it?
-The previous interview was quite large though. It took 5 hours for us to edit your comments.
Itou: Was it good practice? (laughs)
Tanigawa: What things did we talk about?
-Haruhi stories of course. You talked about things like visuals and music. It’s been over one year since then, and over two years since the series started.
Itou: Time flies.
Tanigawa: I forgot when I meet the editors for the first time.
-I believe it was in the latter half of January 2003. And we contacted Itou-san by phone for the first time in February of that year.
Itou: When I thought about the Sneaker Bunko, I had stories like Record of Lodoss War in my mind. I was so nervous when I was working on the first story.
Tanigawa: When I first submitted the story, the image I had was of Puni Puni Poemy. That was incredibly entertaining.
-Those are quite different impressions of us. (laughs)
Itou: When I first got the first novel, there was a little piece of paper attached that said “It’s a little longer than usual.” Was that a mistake? (laughs) After that, I read the novel for the first time.
Tanigawa: And then the characters were drawn without any problems, right?
Itou: Yes. I was thinking about them and then suddenly their images came to me. It might have been different than how you pictured them Tanigawa-san.
Tanigawa: Well, until I saw the rough drafts, I didn’t have an image of the characters.
Itou: You didn’t visualize them when writing?
Tanigawa: Not at all. That’s why I thought “Oh, they look like this” when I first saw Asahina-san and Nagato. When I saw Haruhi, and only her, I more or less thought “Like this, huh?”
Itou: Um, is that so?
Tanigawa: Well, afterwards I said “Alright, she looks like this!” (laughs)
Itou: I’m pleased to hear you say that. Oh, I remember reading a note from you that said Haruhi had a ribbon in her hair….
Tanigawa: I don’t remember writing a note like that.
Itou: Seriously? Was I dreaming?!
Tanigawa: There was a description of it as an alice band. She also wore ribbons when she changed her hairstyle everyday.
Itou: I must have gotten jumbled. I was so worried over what to draw.
Tanigawa: And what about Haruhi’s headband?
Itou: You know, I don’t know where that came from either. (laughs) I had an image of her wearing a headband from the very beginning, but somehow that gradually went towards an alice band. And when the anime designs were made, I though “Ah, like this.” (laughs)
Tanigawa: At last, the mystery has been solved.
Itou: Tanigawa-san’s writing doesn’t depict their clothing in details.
Tangiawa: The only one whose clothing is detailed is Asahina-san. I don’t care to depict their outward appearance. But if that won’t fit, I use an abstract expression often in those cases. For example, Koizumi would give off “the impression of the far right person in a five-person idol group.”
Itou: What kind of group is that? (laughs)
Tanigawa: Haruhi would rehearse the center position.
Itou: And Kyon-kun would be an ordinary boy?
Tanigawa: Yeah. Well, an ordinary person (laughs).
Itou: When I was reading what the editor sent, I had no idea what character I should draw.
Tanigawa: For me, my style is not writing descriptions when I can’t think of them. Somehow it just doesn’t come to me. For example, if a character is active, then she should have short hair. I have the converse impression. You would imagine a long-haired glasses girl who you see reading a book to be docile, but I think it would be more entertaining if she was energetic. Nagato is supposed to fit the glasses girl pattern, but I don’t care for it, so I got rid of them.
-There’s been a lot of requests for Nagato to wear glasses again
Tanigawa: Then she would be a new glasses girl. I don’t have plans for that. (laughs) I don’t have any plans to add a lot of new characters. Typically when you do, you have to have others leave.
Itou: The main group is the SOS Brigade….
Tanigawa: Right. Any new character would break the bonds that they share. (laughs) Is there any particular character that’s a pain to draw?
Itou: Everyone is difficult. Even though I keep drawing the same characters, their expressions change each time. It’s very worrying. That and the boys. Koizumi-kun’s eyes are very thin. (laughs)
Tanigawa: Then how about putting him in a different pose or something?
Itou: How about putting him on the cover this time?
-Well, I don’t know about that. (laughs)
Itou: But…the most difficult would have to be Haruhi and Kyon.
Tanigawa: Kyon isn’t depicted in the novel, is he?
Itou: He’s from my own image. In the novels, he’s depicted as being lazy, so each time he gets to change.
Tanigawa: Can you picture a voice for him?
Itou: Who could voice him…. No one’s coming straight to mind. He has a shoyu image. Hmm, if pressed, I’d have to say Etsushi Toyokawa-san would fit.
Tanigawa: I don’t think Kyon’s that worthy. (laughs)
Haruhi in that time
Tanigawa: Occasionally I’ve thought about what would have happened if I sent Haruhi to any other publisher.
Itou: If you hadn’t sent it, I probably wouldn’t be here.
Tanigawa: I’ve been lucky to win the award and have Itou-san illustrate for my novels. It feels like I’m a straw millionaire. Incidentally, what prompted you to ask Itou-san to illustrate these novels?
-We saw Yank Me on her website and thought it would perfectly fit for Haruhi.
Itou: I really enjoyed Yank Me. But instead of nostalgia, it’s embarrassing now. Think of it as “raw food.”
Tanigawa: Somehow I know what you mean. I was also in an art club.
Itou: Were you?!
Tanigawa: I was in the art club during high school and university. I painted with acrylic paint.
Itou: Amazing! I get the impression you were a fan of it!
Tanigawa: Once it dries, it won’t mix. Thus you are able to layer it well.
Itou: Advice from an artist, huh?
Tanigawa: My method is very tiresome though. I had to sketch the illustration first on a huge canvas. I would then paint with fine-tipped brushes as if I were painting a kokeshi doll. (laughs) I liked painting small details like that.
Itou: Was it useful when you started to write novels?
Tanigawa: Perfectly useful. (laughs) Like art, I’ll sometimes look back at old scribbles and think they’re “raw food” as well.
Itou: True. It’s like you want to say “Give it up” but yet it’s alright for that time. Have you ever gone back and re-read one of your books?
Tanigawa: I wouldn’t say re-reading as much as searching for misprints. (laughs) I’m already feeling nervous thinking about it. What about you Itou-san?
Itou: I do. I enjoy re-reading thing like my favorite scenes.
Tanigawa: I was planning to re-read Melancholy now that it’s being made into an anime, but that cold sweat just turned into greasy sweat. (laughs) I feel like a toad. There’s already parts I want to re-write or things I want to take out.
-Then perhaps we could ask you to write a “novelist’s cut” edition in the future.
Tanigawa: But the work up until now, no matter how good it may be or how bad it may be, is the work of myself at that time. It has nothing to do with who I am now. I’m already looking ahead.
Itou: That’s so positive!
Tanigawa: Of course, it doesn’t mean anything if I can’t produce something worthwhile.
Tanigawa: But, if I’m stuck at the planning level, I’ll gradually end up in a slump. (laughs)
Itou: I’ll keep watching just like before. (laughs) But I think I’ve grown up from my old Haruhi images. It feels like I’m different looking back at them.
Tanigawa: True. You’re able to emphasize the good points and fix the bad points now.
Itou: That doesn’t mean I’m going to return to that style though.
Tanigawa: Novels are like that too. Newer works are supposed to be masterpieces, but they may differ considerably from the past ones.
Itou: When I first pictured Haruhi, she appeared to me as an ordinary tsundere girl.
Tanigawa: That word was not around when I wrote her. Before I knew it, it was commonplace.
Itou: Maybe the “Frankly Cool” image will do that next.
Tanigawa; What is that? (laughs) But lately I feel that Haruhi’s calmed down. She’s not a bomb ready to explode at any time now. In Intrigues, we shifted to focus on Asahina-san. I’d like to move Haruhi to the center of the next long story. For me it shifts between characters for who I put in the center of a story. This time it’s Nagato. This time it’s Tsuruya. Things like that.
Itou: Tsuruya-san is such an incredible person. When I read the novel, her image came to me instantly. She became “Forehead-chan.”
Tanigawa: Tsuruya-san was just a good character. Nothing else came to mind thinking about her.
Itou: From the start she was designated as the “Lively person.”
Tanigawa: And her hair was long.
Itou: I drew her hair very long in the illustrations. Now that she’s to be animated, I feel sorry towards the animators.
Tanigawa: They’ll just refuse to end her hair when she’s pictured from behind. (laughs)
Continuing Haruhi and Put your shelves close to your soul!
Itou: I was surprised when I heard that Haruhi won that award with some money attached. Is that true?
Tanigawa: It’s not something you normally think about. I thought it was stories readers chose, but then I won the award. More or less, they pick stories they thought was good and would be popular. I’m very grateful they thought my work was like that.
Itou: I had never read a novel like this before. It was like I couldn’t stop reading that novel. It was so entertaining. I’m a slow reader, but I finished that story very quickly.
Tanigawa: I think there are a lot of people who have criticized it. But naturally the story has pros and cons.
Itou: “If they can’t handle the pressure, they didn’t deserve to win that award”, right?
Tanigawa: I’m not that mentally strong. I was acting very suspiciously at the awards ceremony.
Itou: Really? I thought you were very composed then.
Tanigawa: It may not have shown on my face, but my heart was beating rapidly.
Itou: Is that true?
-Speaking of pros and cons, at your autograph session in 2004, the audience was composed of98% men. You have the male support.
Tanigawa: I’m very grateful for them to come and support me, but I would’ve liked a few more women. That would have been nice. (laughs) I don’t tend to get a lot of fan mail from women.
Itou: I’m sure anyone who sends a fan letter is a true fan.
-The other day at the Akibahara Enter Festival, there were a lot of fans who bid on your autographs.
Tanigawa: Thank you very much for bidding for my autograph. The only words that I could write were “Put your shelves close to your soul!”
Itou: I’m not sure what you meant, but it sounds cool. What does it stand for?
Tanigawa: It’s a phrase that appears in Kazuhiko Shimamoto’s Blazing Transfer Student. This time, I had the privilege of writing a script for the anime. Naturally, it was my first time writing a script so I had no confidence in myself. But then I thought “It’s alright if you just write it!” and put my shelves close to my heart and everything was fine.
Itou: Now it’s a bit uncool. (laughs)
Tanigawa: It was. I couldn’t help worrying over the script though, so it seemed to fit.
Itou: That so? Alright, then I’ll have to use it as well.
Discussion occurred in Osaka on one day in November 2005.