This is the second of a series of interviews with various staff members of Sound! Euphonium that was published in the Official Fanbook released by Takarajimasha on September 23.
Scriptwriter. Notable works include Beyond the Boundary, Love, Chuunibyou, & Other Delusions, and Steins;Gate (series composer for all).
A scenario packed with the atmosphere of a concert band
– What impressions did you have after first reading the novel?
It was a very entertaining read. I was completely absorbed into the story as I read, especially with the power behind the last part with the showoff between Reina and Kaori for the solo. As I took notes for the scenario, I wondered if we would be casting too big a net with the number of characters we have for only 13 episodes, considering the number of people in a band is so huge. How we would narrow down our depiction of which characters was something I was aware of from the very beginning. In a novel, you aren’t concerned with characters that are around the protagonist if you don’t write about them, but you’ll see them in an anime.
– Did Director (Tatsuya) Ishihara give you any requests concerning how the scenario would go?
Ishihara-san thought about thoroughly depicting the story of the first volume so that we could put it into 13 episodes. Generally, when novels get animated, there’s a lot of works that put the content of 2-4 books into 1 cour (12-14 episodes), but with one book, we had to insert elements between scenes to thoroughly depict it. Even if I felt the other way was easier, I would have to stop that in order to meet what Ishihara-san wanted for the composition.
– What did you concentrate on while thinking about creating the series composition?
Well, the peak of the novel was during the re-audition between Reina and Kaori, so how would we set things in motion to arrive at that point? Also, I proposed how we would depict the final part of Kumiko’s plot. The anime would arrive at a temporary final episode through a different path, so I wanted a different arrival and climax for her. Thus, while I was creating the episode structure, I kept in mind that the 12th episode would be Kumiko’s turning point. From the very start, Ishihara-san was fixated on having the final episode’s B-part contain the final performance scene. Since they are part of this work’s very nature and that there was an extraordinarily large emphasis on performances, I was very aware of when I could insert them in the planning stages of the composition.
– I was curious: what considerations did you have in mind to change the distance between characters as the story progressed?
I wanted that sense of moving forward step by step that you get when making a TV anime sometimes. For example, episode 8 holds the summit of Kumiko and Reina’s relationship, so how do I shorten that distance between them as I move to that point? Though the point at the start of episode 2 isn’t in the novel, perhaps I could insert that exchange so viewers will be aware of how far apart they are…. However, I had to stay alert and make allowances here and there so that I don’t overdo it and ruin the novel’s merits. From where we reach the summit for their relationship, I then surged into the novel’s peak of the re-audition and furthermore into Kumiko’s climax point. It’s a bit rough, but you get how that feels.
– What do you keep in mind when adding portions that were not in the novel?
I try to use my imagination as necessary while keeping the contents of the novel in mind. Hazuki is a beginner and she has a wild personality, so perhaps including an episode where she buys the wrong mouthpiece would be appropriate. Sapphire is really self-conscious about her name, so her having to correct Asuka-senpai every time she calls her “Sapphire” would fit. (laughs) As work progresses, my understanding of the characters grow, so I can strongly move them around with my own hand, not worrying so much about the logic. I personally like the president, Haruka, a lot, but unfortunately, she doesn’t have many appearances in the latter half of the novel. (laughs) So when I would write her lines for that part, I used a certain kind of image of her that I had in mind as she speaks. Also the conversation with Asuka and her before the re-audition felt like it came out so spontaneously.
– Were there any orders from Director Ishihara relating to each episode’s scenario?
Actually, there weren’t any at all. From the very beginning, he told me ”please write this as freely as you want.” To start I had to figure out what kind of work this was and to put it in a crude state. Using that as a chopping board, we would boil down the contents during discussions with everyone saying “would this character do such a thing?” or “this scene is surprisingly important, isn’t it?”
– Besides the performance scenes, what elements did you include to make the show seem more like a concert band?
When I went to observe a concert band, their practicing imagery was something that remained with me. Elements like instruction given to members and how those members responded are portions people don’t see on the stage. That experienced feeling of tension and the sudden rush of sounds pitter-pattering in like a mosaic inside the room is truly unique. Both Ishihara-san and Yamada-san, who I went with to see the band, gave me an order that “[we] want to insert scenes around practicing as much as possible.”
– What points in particular did you see while you were observing the band?
We observed high school and collegiate concert bands and a concert performance. At the start of our observation, the students were performing the “Crescent Moon Dance” piece and we were also able to see them practicing it as well. There were many instances where the instructor would say “play this song like this” and while the students listened to their explanation, they would know what to do to make the song sound like what the instructor wanted. (laughs) It’s so much of a positive to see the song being plated and understand how to play that song. I was scribbling notes for what Taki-sensei would say as we were observing them. (laughs) Additionally, the specific phrases the instructor used were memorable. “A bit more stingy” or “More cool.” Someone who’s new to playing instruments wouldn’t know what they’re saying, but it’d be properly communicated to someone who’s played a lot. Also, this is something people may not remember, but try to think back to when you listened to a concert band when you were a student. The tune doesn’t suddenly stop after 2 stanzas, right? At that time, what part is the band practicing? When I listened and heard that in reality, it immediately intrigued me, so I thought it would be great to try and skillfully add that to the scenario. There’s a lot of modern anime shows that have depictions which suddenly float away from you, but this work feels like you thoroughly depict everything about it.
A youthful drama reflecting student hierarchical relationships
– One of the side aspects of this work was adolescence. What did you have in mind to depict that side of it?
For us, there doesn’t appear to be any difference between first, second, or third years in high school. But looking back at that time, there was a huge difference that a single year makes. You act like a first year would when you are one and you start to act like a second year when you become one. I remained aware of things like the difference between Reina’s immature conduct and Kaori’s more adult attitude and their subtle differences despite being students in the same decade. At the time I wrote Gotou saying “You’re a first year. Don’t worry about it,” I was thinking I would say the same thing when I was in his position. (laughs) It’s also a bit easy to use club activities as a spot to show the entertaining ups and downs of a scripted drama.
– Kumiko is a bit disconnected from what you would imagine a protagonist to look like. What issues did you have while you were writing her?
I’m a similar person to her, so it never felt difficult at all. I’d just write myself as a base and then it would become Kumiko’s lines. (laughs) Can I depict all of the flaws that Kumiko has…. She says just a bit too much, she’s like a cold splash of water on everyone else burning around her, and while she says some profound things, she’s not profound herself. If they aren’t recognized, then Kumiko should be seen as detestable, but it’s not like that at all. Everyone in the staff and cast shared that “Kumiko component” and worked towards the same direction to depict her well.
– What impressions remain with you of the depictions of the other characters?
Perhaps the character who changed the most from the novel is Sapphire. Everyone in the novel (except Kumiko) spoke with the Kansaiben dialect, but Sapphire used it in the most lively and chattery ways. When I changed it to standard Japanese, she became this ordinary character. So then we had to change her tone a bit. After that, as I added Yamada-san’s idea that she “loves rock,” Sapphire became this entertaining character. From the beginning when she says “I’ll risk my life on it,” and nothing else, Sapphire became this necessary character.
– Now that you’ve seen the completed visuals, what scenes remain impressive for you?
It’s gotta be the last scene in episode 12 where Taki-sensei confesses to Kumiko “I haven’t forgotten that you said you can do it.” Actually, at the scenario stage, it was “I still truly believe we will go to Nationals,” just like it was in the novel. That was what episode director (Ichirou) Miyoshi-san changed it to in the storyboards and it became this truly impressive line. As a screenwriter, I feel like “I lost!” (laughs)
– Please give us your final thoughts after participating in this work.
This was something truly worth doing. I can say that it’s one of my most notable works. Before this work, I put it as a standard and felt my next work would be indexed according to it. If our fans would continue to forever love this show and watch it again while recommending it, it would greatly please me.