Sound! Euphonium Comments: Main Staff Members

This is the sixth and final piece in a series where I’ve translated the interviews with the staff in the Sound! Euphonium official fanbook. This has been a very enjoyable experience to translated the words from many people we don’t often hear from in anime production. I hope this has given you as a reader more insight into the various aspects of production of one anime series. This final piece has comments regarding production from various staff members from the backgrounds to the music production. Please enjoy this one last time.

Staff Comments

Art director:
Matsuo Shinobara

Art Director at Kyoto Animation. Participated in Love, Chunibyou, and Other Delusions, Clannad, and other works.

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1: Please tell us how you were chosen to participate in this work.
I’ve heard that director Ishihara recommended me to the producers during one of their meetings. I feel immensely gracious.

2: When you were creating the screens for this work, what kind of art direction expressions did you use?
During my first meeting with the director, he said that he didn’t want the backgrounds to feel soft and gentle; he wanted them to feel strong. Wind music has this “feminine” image, so we challenged that by making the entire set of backgrounds feel “masculine” as we drew them. We talked about various other works and how, though we weren’t going to try to do too many new things, we wanted to do things like making normal scenes darker and strengthening the contrast to give it a strong and profound feeling. Those were the fundamentals that I wrestled with for this show.

3: What were some troubles that you may have gone through?
I wanted to continue strengthening the aim of this work to make it feel realistic through the backgrounds. In some scenes, we went a bit too off course with the realism, so I struggled with the balance between that as we were on a tight schedule. I still have some regrets at the moment.

4: What scenes would you like to highlight in the context of representing the backgrounds?
For all the places we feature in this work, there may be some points where our location scouting isn’t sufficient to cover everything. Each staff member would then go at that time to collect materials to draw their backgrounds. So I would say….the sheer passion that is put into this work cut-by-cut. This is our home area, so thanks to that, the amount of background information we have is immensely increased. Even on points where I didn’t recommend, pay attention to the expression of light. We constantly worked while being worried about how the shadows would look due to the strength, direction, and shade of light coming in.

5: Please tell us about some interesting events that occurred during production.
As this would be a work that wrestles with the theme of wind music, we began asking our internal staff who had experience playing an instrument prior to working. I was surprised at seeing many people with many different histories playing music. To think this staff has played so much…… To hear that there were members of the background staff who had detailed histories and ones who didn’t was extremely reassuring. Also……since the instruments in both CG and hand-drawn were so amazing, we as background staff kept the desire not to lose in effort to them.

6: Please tell us your impressions looking back at this work.
From the time production started until now, it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye. We had many challenges to overcome and many successes that overcame those challenges; it makes me immensely happy to say that we were able to improve the quality of this work in such a short period of production time. I was surprised by the reaction for this work for everyone around me compared to past works. The combination of people willing to help everyone else connecting with people holding a “we’re going to do this” sprit made this a very high spirited work as they were combined during production.

3D Artwork
Jyouji Unoguchi

Art director at Kyoto Animation. Participated in works like Free! and Nichijou among others.

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1: Please tell us how you were chosen to participate in this work.
I’ve been in charge of inserting 3DCG in our previous works, so spontaneously I became involved in working on this one. Director Ishihara likes various movements in 3DCG, so I was excited at being able to do something fun.

2: What were the main reasons for occasionally using 3D backgrounds in this work?
This work is in a music genre where there are gatherings of a lot of people. I created 3D models of places like the music room and the concert hall so that the drawing staff and the BG staff could use them later as they were thinking about the space of their layouts. Up until now, we used reference sheets that the drawing staff would reference while drawing. Each person would have their own interpretation, so there would be a large difference between people. Different cuts in the classroom would be scattered in the representation of space. For that reason, I thought about creating an easy reference template in 3D to improve those situations. Furthermore, we attached hand drawn textures to the 3DCG modeling data to create a system that could be used for a 360° angle background when needed. This system was a boon when creating the whirling around music room cut in the opening. Besides that, the backgrounds in the train while the girls are traveling to and from school needed to be 3D as well.

3: What were some troubles that you may have gone through?
The reference models and backgrounds I created were not real live-action footage; I created them using the same colors we use for hand-drawn backgrounds in non-photo real 3DCG. That part was incredibly tough. As I was in charge of the modeling, texture, camerawork, and timing for the 3D backgrounds, I would have to re-do the modeling if the texture wasn’t good enough.

4: What scenes would you like to highlight in the context of representing your 3D backgrounds?
For 3D backgrounds, you don’t want the viewer to think “were those made in 3D?” at strange points, so you can only say “I did it!” when you make something that doesn’t feel unnatural in the cuts before/after it. In episode 7 where Hazuki gets off the train, bumps into Shuichi, who is getting on the train, and then mis-interprets their relationship, that entire cut has 3D CG backgrounds for the train’s interior and the station platform. I thought that was really good.

5: Please tell us about some interesting events that occurred during production.
How about episode 12’s Uji Bridge and Kumiko’s running scene? Actually, I was using newly installed software that I wasn’t accustomed to using. I quickly made it in a hurry and while I was at my wits’ end, just like how Kumiko was feeling in that scene.

6: Please tell us your impressions looking back at this work.
While I was constructing the music room and concert hall’s models, I began to reminisce about my own school days as I began seeing the small stools and small objects around the rooms. For me, this work is soaked in nostalgia. I’m able to sympathize greatly with the characters having gone through those same experiences to get where I am now. It takes all kinds of power to create these visuals, so it brings me immense joy to be able to convey them to our viewers.

Color Designer:
Akiyo Takeda

Color designer at Kyoto Animation. Participated in such works as Love, Chunibyou and Other Delusions, Tamako Market, and other works.

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1: Please tell us how you were chosen to participate in this work.
It’d be nice if director Ishihara gave me a passionate offer, but he’s probably become accustomed to working with me through our previous works, so he just talked to me about it.

2: What do you keep in mind regarding choosing the colors as you’re making the visuals?
As we are making a “hot blooded club show,” I searched for colors representing “reality” while maintaining that “fantasy” portion native to animation. I consciously chose colors that represented a hybrid world between reality and fantasy.

3: What were some troubles that you may have gone through?
The numerous people and instruments. Though no character by themselves is a minor character, it was difficult to balance everyone so that people wouldn’t be too bland or too dazzling above our main girls. I’ve never come into contact with instruments so, as I had no idea how to construct those, I went to various photo stores, instrument stores, and consulted with our instrument AD Takahashi-san before choosing the colors.

4: What scenes would you like to highlight in the context of representing colors?
Rather than for color designs, I’d say the whole visual beauty of the work itself is a highlight. If I have to pick one thing, I’d choose how the colors for each girl’s eyes and the colors of their belongings and such are complimentary to each other. Also, I would change the colors around in different episodes to better match each character’s mental state, so it’d please me if you would notice that too.

5: Please tell us about some interesting events that occurred during production.
While we were doing our rush check (checking the completed visuals to ensure there’s no mistakes), director Ishihara quickly said “wouldn’t it be nice to add a swallow’s nest here?” and quickly drew the key frames and in-betweens himself. There’s actually a swallow’s nest in the real Keihan Rokujizou station, so the performance reflected reality. If you just look at it at a glance, you might not see it, but if you’re curious, please watch for the swallow flying.

6: Please tell us your impressions looking back at this work.
It’s very adolescent!! We as staff gave it our best alongside the girls. As you watch this work, that sensation of our passion alongside the girls’ can be felt. Thank you very much for your support!

Instrument Animation Director
Hiroyuki Takahashi

Animator at Kyoto Animation. Served as Instrument Animation Director for K-On!.

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1: Please tell us how you were chosen to participate in this work.
Before this work was determined, I could feel series director Yamada-san’s indecision when she was in a neighboring seat as she flipped through the novel in her hand. The indecision was how to portray the instruments. I thought if she was that worried, I’d give her a push forward by telling her “I’ll do it Yamada-san. Please let me help you out again with the instruments.” I didn’t want her to hesitate about doing this work because of how to draw “instruments.” I wanted more than ever to do something that took place near us in Uji, so I said that I definitely wanted to do that. As I hit the mark a little, the thought of ”…we’ve not seen anything like this before with our works, why don’t we try it out” started to rise in her. I have no idea if that’s what pushed it to be done, but I believe my words helped her want to do this show. I’m immensely happy we were able to tell this story. By the way, I had no knowledge of these instruments. All I knew from my school days was playing electric guitar at a friend’s house. However, that experience has tied together to previous works where I was an animation director or created setting, so I understood it would be tied into this one as well.

2: What do you stress and what do you keep in mind as you’re representing instruments in animation drawings or setting creation?
First, I cut out the animation part and begin working on reproducing the instrument through the finest details. There’s nothing you can do if you don’t scrupulously work on that part. For that reason, I created a six-sided diagram as setting materials. This was the best reference I could draw to show part placement, proportions, and so forth. I thought if they could understand the details here, they could apply it later while drawing. When it was decided I would serve as instrument AD, I began thinking about how to finely detail everything as well as how to regulate it at that stage as well.

3: What were some troubles that you may have gone through?
There were many types of instruments that we borrowed from Yamaha, but when production started, they weren’t here. We wouldn’t have been able to distinguish between types if it wasn’t for their cooperation. However, we were able to work using reference photos and searches on the internet, but I remember worrying about how the parts would not come together as one in the drawings until people could understand how to draw them. They wouldn’t even come together in my wildest dreams. Finally, we were able to use the real instruments and the six-sided diagrams before we finished, so it made me happy when I was checking things. I finally got confidence we could pull it off.

4: You also served as instrument AD. What parts were you particular about? Was the degree of difficulty of depicting instruments as different as we think it is?
We created the first PV without rehearsing how to draw instruments, so I considered it a bout about how to use shadows and highlights. For this show, the instruments are all covered in plating, so it’s not a matter of how you highlight or shadow something; the entire piece itself should be reflecting something. The lights in the room from outside’s sunlight to the fluorescent lighting in the room should reflect for the bright parts and the dark parts should reflect people’s bodies. However, representing that in animation is difficult and our schedule was strict. So we highlighted their beauty by halfway representing highlights on and highlights off as well as shadows on and shadows off. I thought about only using background reflections a little bit when it’s needed for the mood, if the chance arises, or for promotional illustrations. Also, for instruments, I’d say it’s not so much the degree of difficulty as it is the degree of time is much larger. A high school girl would have a huge contrasting image if she were walking with something like Haruka’s baritone sax. I think Kumiko’s happy from the bottom of her heart to play her euphonium.

5: Please tell us about some interesting events that occurred during production.
Some people would say think that everyone around me was immensely troubled or would let out ghastly screams, but that wasn’t the case at all. The entire production felt like it was in sepia, so I can’t recall anything at all. At least I can’t remember anything now that we’ve reached the time where everything was completed.

6: Please tell us your impressions looking back at this work.
I’m from Kobe, so I’ve already spent about half my life here in the Kyoto/Uji area. For me, even though Sound! Euphonium is mainly about music, it’s also an Uji anime. Even though I spent my time only drawing instruments, to me, it still felt like I was always drawing Uji. Being able to boast that we made an animation about our local Uji is what concerns me the most.

Director of Photography
Kazuya Takao

Director of Photography at Kyoto Animation. Notable works include Free!, Nichijou, and other productions.

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1: Please tell us how you were chosen to participate in this work.
Recently, director Ishihara has said “Takao-kun’s using some lyrical photography” so I believe that is what moved him to pick me! I believe!

2: What did you keep in mind as you were creating the screens for this work?
Director Ishihara would say things like “Make the background beautiful by using boke!” “I want to express this by using the two-type boke!” “Make it feel like you’re shooting a documentary!” “Also, make it lively!” He always said lively…….lively…….what?

3: What were some troubles that you may have gone through?
It wasn’t troubling, but I always regulated the way that light reflected off the instruments 1-cut at a time. It’d be bad if the final person’s who holds it screws up how it’s put together. Ah, I just fixated at the computer screen…..

4: What scenes would you like to highlight in the context of photography?
Even if your lens is good and you make it feel like its being shot on film, that doesn’t mean it feels like you’re shooting with an actual camera. So we made the camera move a little more than usual, used dirty lenses, and made it feel like a real cameraman was shooting the girls as we photographed.

5: Please tell us about some interesting events that occurred during production.
During the rush check for episode 1, director Ishihara said “There’s a swallow’s nest at this station. I’m going to draw a swallow!” and quickly drew the animation himself. I really love that part about the director.

6: Please tell us your impressions looking back at this work.
It was very enjoyable during production; my tear ducts wept so many times. Regardless, I won’t forget how emotionally moved I was during the rush check of the final episode. Even though the sound wasn’t added, it still felt that you could hear their performance. I realized the power of visuals in animation all over again. I felt like “Animation’s the best! It’s spectacular! Drink it up already!” I won’t forget drinking up this work. (laughs) Really, I’m happy to have been involved in this show!

Sound Director:
Youta Tsuruoka

Sound Director and representative at Rakuonsha. Participated in works such as Free!, Tamako Market, and Beyond the Boundary among others.

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1: Please tell us how you were chosen to participate in this work.
Representatives from Kyoto Animation approached me and, since I’ve worked many jobs alongside director Ishihara and series director Yamada, I certainly wanted to participate. Concerning the work, since they were going to depict performances straightforwardly, I thought at first it would be a lot of physical work.

2: What points did you pay attention to during the direction of dubbing?
I always ensured that I never lost sight of how the characters were pulled to a direction as they were described in particular scenes. Among that, my impression was that this was a music series that merely incorporated everything, even things with no concrete connections.

3: What did you pay attention to in your use of music?
Director Ishihara mostly left me to use the background music as I wanted. I was particularly cognizant of how the music would fit and flow from the depths of the story without ruining the effectiveness of the direction.

4: Please tell us about any scenes where you particularly felt a response when you saw the completed visuals with the voices and music added.
Rather than a response, it’s more of an impression. When Kumiko was conflicted about “wanting to improve” in episode 12 when she finally realized what Reina was thinking as they played “Orpheus in the Underworld,” I felt that it was a thick expression that’s somewhat rare and smart in more recent works.

5: How was the atmosphere during recording? Please tell us any memorable moments that may have occurred.
We have so many young seiyuu that at first it felt like they were clashing against each other during recording. And then, even though getting physical would be impossible, the way their figures would move from being directly opposite to move in front of them remains with me today.

6: Please tell us your impressions looking back at this work.
This work has resounded to me by being a challenge that required me to carry many personal feelings toward music as I was working on it. Having worked on many jobs previously, this is something that I wish for many people to see.

Music Supervision
Masahiro Oowada

Saxophone player. Assistant professor at the Senzoku Gakuen School of Music. Works as the planning and budget supervisor for the Freshmen Wind Ensemble.

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1: Please tell us how you were chosen to participate in this work.
While music lessons at the Senzoku Gakuen School of Music are lively, the “Freshmen Wind Ensemble” consisting of first years was chosen to perform for this work as they were the closest in age to high school students.

2: What did you do as a music supervisor?
Frankly, I merely concentrated on leading rehearsals and commanding the performances. The actual exchanges and business related tasks were left to my superiors who I am thankful to have completed such tasks.

3: What were some troubles that you may have gone through as music supervisor?
Definitely the level of quality of the performance. I struggled at ensuring the performance would not be too superior in order to match how the band was in the show prior to coaching. Also I concentrated on ensuring that the main song, “Crescent Moon Dance” would be strongly represented to have that emotional attachment that a performance piece has.

4: When viewed as a show that’s a “character drama inserted into wind music,” what scenes would you like to highlight?
It has to be the passion abundant in musicians where they are attached to a single note, wrestle with activities without giving up or being embarrassed, and the passion that people of all ages share that’s properly represented in this anime. I feel that people without any history of music would sympathize with everyone in the show.

5: Please tell us any memorable moments that may have occurred.
The way that the student members’ motivations came in high to their performances as a group and remained high day after day was quite memorable.

6: Please tell us your impressions looking back at this work.
Being able to perform in a real music studio with dozens of mikes and cameras is an incredibly valuable experience that cannot be replicated for our first years. It appears that deep memories have remained for all of them. I feel that being able to play a variety of genres from classical music to the upbeat opening and ending themes will surely improve their art. Conversely, it’s me who should be thanking everyone. Thank you all for letting us participate.

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3 thoughts on “Sound! Euphonium Comments: Main Staff Members

  1. Ah…this is the last one?? Too bad, I kind of hope you would translate “the Indepth commentary on main and supporting characters” section too.

    Anyway, thanks for your hard work.

    • I believe I read that section and didn’t see anything of incredible importance that needed to be translated. Generally, most of those tend to be repeated statements of what the production showed during its run, so I didn’t see any benefit to translating it, especially with the limited time I have to do anything outside of work.

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