Sound! Euphonium Comments: Producers

This is the fourth in a series of posts where I’ve translated the various staff interviews about Sound! Euphonium from the official guidebook published by Takarajimasha last week. This post, unlike the others thus far, is a compilations of mini-interviews with the various producers for the show. It’s rare to hear from this side of production, so I hope you enjoy reading these comments from the people who make everything happen via arranging things together.

euphobd09Producer:
Eharu Oohashi
Member of the Sales Department of Kyoto Animation

1: Please tell us what position you held during the development of Sound! Euphonium.
I was the Executive Secretary for the production committee for my firm (Kyoto Animation). For me personally, I worked as a producer for the committee.

2: What do you feel is this work’s charm?
In one word: “passion.” At the beginning of this work, Kumiko doesn’t feel that “passion” on the outside, but as she meets the various characters who have their own “passion,” and goes through various experiences with the people around her, that “passion” begins to unconsciously and gently surface.

3: Please tell us what your favorite scene is.
I’d like to stay above picking out a particular scene. (laughs) If we have to go “personally,” then it would be the first PV we made. We made a simple offer of “we want to make a cool PV!” and when it was done, both the animation and music truly made it “cool.”

4: Please tell us a memorable event that happened to you during production.
I had the priviledge of doing many things during the production process, but the one that I remember most has to be experiencing that “passion” that the wind music students whom we met had in overwhelming amounts. I vividly recall thinking “I could never continue playing to this kind of level” from seeing all the students with my own eyes both from our model concert band’s students and advisor at East Uji High School and going to see the participating students from various schools at the Kyoto Wind Music Contest.

5: When you think about the modern animation environment, where do you see Sound! Euphonium fitting into that space?
Modern anime has a huge variety of shows, so I can’t say where this show exists in that spectrum. As someone who works at an animation producer, we want to be aware and keep in mind to create something that lands “right in the middle.” That is a very important direction for us.

6: Please tell us your impressions relating to this work.
I mentioned earlier that the students who devoted themselves to wind music had quite a lot of “passion” about them. During production, our own staff was covered in “passion” so that we wouldn’t lose out compared to them. I could feel the “passion” from everyone: cast, sound staff, music staff, publicity and broadcast staff, video disc package staff, and everyone else involved in the animation process. I think that if everyone watching were able to also feel that “passion” that the staff held, it would bring us utmost pleasure.

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Producer:
Shinichi Nakamura
Employed at Pony Canyon’s Crossmedia Headquarters

1: Please tell us what position you held during the development of Sound! Euphonium.
In addition to serving as a producer for the production committee, I also participated in bringing together the publicity, video package sales, and foreign contact staff at Pony Canyon.

2: What do you feel is this work’s charm?
What I liked the best is that this work has first years, it has second years, and it has third years. It spun together everything into one story as it piled together those one-on-one relationships. I really liked episode 11 where that was most abundant.

3: Please tell us what your favorite scene is.
Nothing in particular feels above the other, but I did enjoy the scenes in episode 8 where Reina runs along Kumiko’s nose and says to call her “Reina,” Sapphire’s “I’m George-kun, keep at it!” in episode 9, the conversation between Natsuki and Kumiko at the fast food restaurant in episode 10, and so forth.

4: Please tell us a memorable event that happened to you during production.
When we were meeting about the entire scenario, series director (Naoko) Yamada-san was extremely fixated on this character she created called “Tuba-kun.” At that time, I had no idea what she was trying to convey, but it because an important key item for our first years.

5: When you think about the modern animation environment, where do you see Sound! Euphonium fitting into that space?
For animation, we have a tendency to want to curl up with our most sentimental works, but, as a business, we have to take a wide viewpoint as if we’re at the base of a mountain. Analysis and forecasting is important, but it’s essential for us to create anime that makes people feel “I’ve never seen something like this before” and believe that it could reach everyone’s hearts. In that kind of meaning, this work has magnificently been able to breach into many peoples’ hearts and awareness.

6: Please tell us your impressions relating to this work.
Often when I’m watching this show, I miraculously feel caught and think “what am I seeing right now?” You can tenderly see the passion born from their thick expressions. Those feelings can be sensed because it deviates from a lot of television anime categories. As a producer, it was extremely wonderful to be able to produce a work like this. If I were to lose my life right now, it wouldn’t be that bad since I made this.

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Producer:
Shigeru Saito
Lantis Company Executive

1: Please tell us what position you held during the development of Sound! Euphonium.
I served as both the music producer as well as a producer for the production committee

2: What do you feel is this work’s charm?
How it depicts adolescence. It has enough tenacity to not lose to a hot-blooded sports program. One of the beauties of this work is that you’re able to love all the characters who appear in it. Because the characters and story is told episode by episode, you’re able to magnificently sympathize with them. The animation itself is spectacularly done too. With a splendid scenario, you can feel the passion in the direction and animation. Being able to experience that “passion” and “love” from the participating staff and cast is amazing as well.

3: Please tell us what your favorite scene is.
The scene in episode 11 where Kaori-senpai loses to Reina. In many episodes I wonder “what would sound good here?” Technically, Reina should sound better, but due to how much history and contributions Kaori has put into the club, her music may resonate better in everyone’s hearts. I always think “good music raises the bar for a good drama.” Kaori has built up a lot of drama behind her while Reina has none. The choice to pick Reina is the correct one for those watching the performances in the concert hall, but Kaori’s tones may sound better to the club members. Being able to think about that makes me love episode 11. That and the music made it feel like God had descended. I wept.

4: Please tell us a memorable event that happened to you during production.
This is more related to my role as a music producer, but I was immensely worried about how to direct and record the poor and good performances. How bad should we have the theme for Abarenou Shogun played so that people will know that it’s being played poorly? Since they’re still a concert band, when we say they’re playing poorly, it doesn’t mean they’re playing awful. However, it needs to be bad enough so that the many potential viewers for the anime who have no familiarity with playing need to think “ah, that’s definitely bad.” And so forth. I was extremely concerned over the “level of badness.” In the end, I went for the masses and concluded “let’s make it extremely easy to tell. They’re going to play incredibly poorly.” I resolved myself to hear the critics say “there’s no way they would play that badly!” However, I felt relieved since it was coupled with wonderful direction. I was also extremely concerned over the differences between Reina and Kaori during the trumpet solo competition. We needed to express that while Kaori plays incredibly well, Reina is outrageously talented. As I was thinking this scene also needed to be oriented towards the general public, I thought how best to make the difference easy to tell. Kaori’s performance was performed by the best girl in the band (Senzoku Gakuen’s freshman team) while I asked a professional concert band’s top trumpeter to perform for Reina. Reina isn’t professionally better than Kaori, so I worried that I might have overdone it, but I needed to emphasize that “easy to tell” portion. Regardless, there were many other worrying points that made me nervous until every broadcast day. It was necessary for experienced musicians and for unexperienced people to understand the story. I thought every day about that balance between the two in my music direction.

5: When you think about the modern animation environment, where do you see Sound! Euphonium fitting into that space?
It’s a rare work that depicts adolescence as it should. Additionally, it’s an important event in anime history for how it expresses the world of wind music as well. Drawing instruments (by hand) is extraordinary difficult. When you take that challenge head on, this show is what you get in return. You’re always having to constantly face that challenge of expressing music (drawing as well as sound) without running away. This is a work where every surface is difficult. But because of that, the staff’s immense “passion” and “love” can be felt. Animation is team power. This work has the biggest display of team power I’ve seen. Cut-by-cut, sound-by-sound, everything is loaded with “energy.” I think the meaning of this work is all the “passion” and “love” from the staff in order to give rise to a good work. The current generation should check it again and see that.

6:Please tell us your impressions relating to this work.
I’ve participated in a number of various works in this industry, but this show is number 1 on the list of works that I have a deep connection with. Of course it’s due to the struggles I went through when creating music, but above that, it’s the best team that I’ve been able to be a part of. Being able to work for such a dreamy team like this is the best joy I can say.

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Publicity Producer:
Takayuki Konishi
Member of Pony Canyon’s Cross Media 3rd branch at the Cross Media Headquarters

1: Please tell us what position you held during the development of Sound! Euphonium.
I was in charge of this work’s publicity. It was my job to think about promoting this work and how to bring it out into the world by answering questions like “when can this information be revealed?” or “how about holding this kind of event?”

2: What do you feel is this work’s charm?
It has to be that “real” feeling, right? I was in the concert band myself, so though this show, I was able to awaken memories to those days by going “oh, that’s right.” It brought tears to my eyes when I saw the tuners sitting on the music stand. (laughs) Though club activities, Kumko grows a bit. Also, since they’re high school students, they have arguments in the clubroom. If I didn’t look outside, I’d think I was dreaming with how “real” the activities are on screen. The atmosphere and other parts of the club activities are so “real” that I think I’d still be touched fondly and reminisce about my school days even without the concert band. It feels like a work that surpasses the anime label.

3: Please tell us what your favorite scene is.
If I have to pick one, it has to be the “final episode’s performance scene.” I was entranced by the feeling of the spectators looking towards me. (laughs) You could feel that unique atmosphere only present at performances throughout the screen. The feeling of putting your whole soul into that “Crescent Moon Dance” performance you worked on all summer was quite moving. I was crying so much that it looked like everyone had a halo on top of their head. I also pictured everyone’s faces as they practiced. It’s an irresistible moment where everyone, the performing members and the supports like Hazuki and Natsuki, become one team.

4: Please tell us a memorable event that happened to you during production.
During the broadcast, we had an event in Kyoto. After it ended, the four main seyuu and I went to impose on Kyoto Animation’s production studio. At that time, they were working on creating the end card for the final episode which shows everyone together. It was so impressive that the girls started crying once they got to see it. Of course the production side did as well. It lifted up everyone’s spirits once again for all of us to put all of our energy into this work and strengthened our feelings to deliver this work to many, many people.

5: When you think about the modern animation environment, where do you see Sound! Euphonium fitting into that space?
It aired in the late night slots, but there were many comments that stood out like “parents and children are watching this.” I think it resonated with a wide range of users. There’s also a lot of people who cosplay as the characters from this show at foreign events as well. It’s a magnificent adolescent story that has resonated not just in Japan, but all around the world.

6: Please tell us your impressions relating to this work.
I was once a member of a concert band and I even played the euphonium, so it feels like it was fated for me to be in charge of this work. (laughs) With a work that faithfully replicates wind music and develops a spectacular story, there was no hesitation in my promotion. Every time an episode broadcast, there would be many warm comments flowing out into the world, so its familiarity piled onto the broadcasts making it well-known. I’ve been able to return back to my starting points through this work. It’s a show that people want to keep sounding both domestically and internationally!

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Publicity/Assistant Producer:
Riri Senami
Member of the Sales Department of Kyoto Animation

1: Please tell us what position you held during the development of Sound! Euphonium.
I participated as an assistant producer and helped with publicity. Also, while it wasn’t directly related to being a producer, I was a member of a concert band during my school days, so I was asked a lot of questions every time they needed an experienced musician.

2: What do you feel is this work’s charm?
It’s an adolescent story featuring many young girls who are giving it all they have. Despite having different views on life, everyone in the cast is trying their hardest. When you gather various people together for one goal, everyone may be yearning and sympathizing for the same outcome, but each person has their own feelings that cry out. Also, it was a new challenge to “depict a concert band.” In addition to the high level of difficulty for wind music itself, you have to tackle the activities head-on. For that reason, one charm of this work is that it’s a fresh type of animation that hasn’t been experienced.

3: Please tell us what your favorite scene is.
There’s too many for me to pick just one, but I love scenes where characters communicate their beliefs with actions. Episode 4’s Taki-sensei declaring “we’ll go to Nationals,” episode 8’s confession from Reina, episodes 10-11’s scenes with Kaori, Yuuko, and Reina each with their own thoughts, episode 12 with Kumiko being influenced by Reina, and so on. I can’t trim them down to just one. Everyone handles things so earnestly; it feels like their strong will was born from them trying their hardest. When I see scenes with people saying “I want to do it!” instead of “I can’t do it,” I’m absolutely charmed. Though everyone feels differently, there’s never a time where there’s only one right answer. I also love how the girls aren’t afraid to collide with their strong emotions against each other for fear of hurting each other.

4: Please tell us a memorable event that happened to you during production.
I was deeply moved at the scene in the opening when Yuuko plays her trumpet and presses down on the third piston at the same time the hook of the song is playing. This wasn’t expressed in the storyboards, so I unintentionally asked the director (Ishihara) “I understand movement is needed, but that’s too trivial! How was this cut completed to match the music?!” once I saw the video. (laughs) It was a musician who handled that scene, so it was their proposal. Their obsession is amazing……!

5: When you think about the modern animation environment, where do you see Sound! Euphonium fitting into that space?
An unlikely adolescent story, right? This work feels like you have to head into it incredibly earnestly to depict a difficult subject. It’s a work that straightforwardly depicts school life emotions, but as it’s the first work with concert bands, it’d please us if everyone remembers it.

6: Please tell us your impressions relating to this work.
I remember wanting to see an anime about wind music when I was a student. However, having worked in the actual animation industry, it feels like it couldn’t have been done until now. There’s a lot of instrument variety and people variety, the depiction of performances is quite difficult….. regardless, it’s quite hard! (laughs) On the other side, it feels like there’s a big challenge being the first to show something distinctly new. Now, I’m happy that I was able to meet and be affected by this show.

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