K-On! Movie interview: C-part Director/Storyboarder Tatsuya Ishihara

HTT Airlines, Flight JL401:

Boarding seat 3:

C part Storyboarder/Director Tatsuya Ishihara

The veteran director who presided over a variety of works served as the C-part director and storyboard for the film. Ishihara-san also worked as an adviser and storyboarded/directed episodes of the TV series. Here, we talk to Ishihara-san about how he observed director Yamada’s work.

Creating something entertaining and moving is marvelous

– What were your thoughts when you first saw the manga?

I felt that the characters were very cute, wouldn’t you agree? I remember very well that I questioned if I could work on this title when I saw Mio on the back cover of the first volume.

– Ishihara-san, you were credited as “adviser” for the TV series. Could you please talk about what kind of job that was for the series as a whole?

Since this was Yamada’s first time as a director, I was her support. When I was studying to be a director, other directors would convey how to do something to the best of their knowledge, so that was my plan as well.

– When you were working on the TV series together, what did you and director Yamada talk about?

I recall her asking me about how her direction would appear from a male point of view. Since the work was meant to be seen by men, she worked to make it that way.


-Please tell us about your direction plans and thought process for the series.

I wanted to meet the director’s feelings for the characters; that they not be “dolls” conveniently placed in scenes. She wouldn’t like for them to be in “service scenes” like in a bathtub. This was especially true for episode 6 of season 1 with Mio’s panties. I had to handle a conflict brewing up for that episode since I was the director. (laughs) There were people who wanted to use an erotic image (like the ending) and there were others who dislike a simple “audience service scene.”

– What were your thoughts when you first heard that the series was being made into a movie?

Having felt a strict schedule before, I felt that the timing had to be then for it to work.

– During production of the movie, what did you talk about with director Yamada?

The desire for them to be Afterschool Tea Time no matter where they were going.  Also we didn’t want this to become something of a sightseeing tour. Rather we wanted it to be a section where the girls look at the city’s sights anew. Usually, you want a majestic story when making a movie, so I imagined that it would just head overseas in a grand adventure. I was truly shocked when it wasn’t a grand affair in going to London and that the girls’ everyday life would also be depicted.

– How did heading to London for scenario hunting influence your work on the movie?

How could we convey to people who have only seen the movie to feel like, when they watch the Blu-ray again and see things like the airplanes flying, the atmosphere of the districts, the markings on the roads, and the garbage cans, “Ah, it was like that…”? Japanese people may not instantly get that, in the scene where Yui sticks her hand in the poop container, there are actually poop containers like those in England. Being able to obtain just a bit of that sensation was meaningful to put those experiences in the film.


– Please tell us about how you were elected to handle the C-part of the film.

There really aren’t many particulars to say. I remember Yamada wanting to handle the “everyday” portions, so when it came time to divide up the movie, she took the first and last parts in Japan while Utsumi and I took the foreign parts.

– Were there portions of the film where there were differences in things like the tempo and layouts?

I love being able to pull back the camera from the characters, but even though you increase the amount of information on the screen, it’s not feasible for a TV series. We used it often in the movie.

– You were in charge of the C-part. What did you keep in mind or focus on when working on it?

The girls acting like themselves…right? Though each episode’s directions could differ, the movie is a bundle of scenes put together, so I worked so that my touch wouldn’t differ from what the director wanted.

– Please tell us about your favorite scene(s) in the C-part as well as the scene(s) you obsessed over.

First the scene with the girls sending the e-mail saying they would participate in the concert in London. When Ritsu sticks her cell phone in the air and everyone adds their hands, it was in the order they joined the light music club. Though it’s a trifling scene, it makes me tear up. Actually, the order was different in the storyboards; I thought of it when the key frames were being drawn. I also like the scene when the girls are sightseeing around London while the insert song is playing. As for a technical scene that I obsessed over, it would be the scene after the concert when the girls are riding in the taxi to Heathrow where the camera pulls back from the characters. I wanted it to look like in an automobile showroom, but I question if that was carried over into that location. There were a lot of re-takes for it.

– What are your favorite scenes outside the C-part?

The silly give and take in the conveyer sushi restaurant and the staring in the classroom after the concert scenes as well as the scene where they’re running on the rooftop. Those are the first scenes that come to mind, right? I was very moved when Yui and Mugi started jumping around during the classroom concert too. There are sad scenes that bring you to tears in movies, but being able to be entertainingly moved was wonderful.


– You’ve worked with director Yamada for 3 years. What type of director do you see her as?

Though she may say some absurd things, she’s not blemished by the business world and is able to make entertaining ideas outside the mold. She wants things to be pure in a great way. She’s someone who values her characters greatly; K-On! feels like she’s photographing her closest friends.

– Please give us your thoughts on K-On! after this third year period.

It’s been a very memorable work for me from the time Producer Nakayama brought this work to us and the instance where Yamada was decided as the director. I’m very happy to be involved from the very start until the very end.

– Please give a comment to the fans.

Please continue to take note of director Yamada’s works.


Tatsuya Ishihara Director who works at Kyoto Animation. Notable works include serving as director for Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!, the CLANNAD series, Kanon, and AIR.

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