Amagi Brilliant Park Staff Interviews: Producer Yoshihisa Nakayama

This is the second of the three staff interviews featured in the guidebook for Amagi Brilliant Park. All three will be translated, but let’s unite the elements with the producer of the show: Yoshihisa Nakayama!

Amaburi Staff Interviews

Producer: Yoshihisa Nagayama

Producer at TBS Television. Has produced many anime shows including the K-On! and Hidamari Sketch series.

Nakayama P supported Amabrui through various jobs like bridging between the novels and anime and publicity. Here we talk to him about his enthusiasm for the work and various behind-the-scenes stories during the broadcast period.

It’s fun to produce a work with various faces.

– To begin, please tell us how you were invited to participate in the production of the anime adaptation of Amaburi.

I was approached by representatives of Kyoto Animation, who were handling the production, and asked “We’re wanting to animate this work. Would you be interested in it?” I really loved the Full Metal Panic! series and I’d wanted to work together with Gatou-san for a while, so when I read the novel and instantly found it entertaining, I decided to have TBS produce it with them.

– What were your impressions when you read the novel?

My impression was that each character was their own person and it was extremely easy to read. Though there are TBS anime which have a strong story aspect, there’s also a lot of works that you can watch carefreely and ones that have the characters at the front. It’s those points which nicely meshed with TBS as an anime. With “the characters are from a magic world” as its backbone, the story can expand in many interesting ways.

– As a producer, what kind of requests did you ask of the anime staff once it was to be animated?

I asked them to show the powerful edge that Gatou-san gave the characters. That’s the charm of this work. Ordinarily it’s quite hard to do that during a TV broadcast, but Gatou-san and director (Yasuhiro) Takemoto-san had discussed what to do prior to my joining production, and instantly appreciated what I wanted. We were easily able to talk about what to do when it came time to produce the scripts. As we also included ideas from series composer (Fumihiko) Shimo-san, we were able to safely complete a story suitable for broadcast.

-Ah, I understand.

I also had one other request: “as it’s a TV series, I want to make this so that the viewer to be very curious about what would happen in the next episode.” I don’t know if people who watched it realized it or not, but nearly every episode at the end had a hook to pull people to watch the next one.

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The final scene of each episode, like Isuzu posing in front of Macaron (episode 7) or Muse looking bewildered (episode 8) tied into the next episode’s contents.

– During composition, episode 12 was made to be the actual finale of the show while episode 13 was more thrown out as an extra episode. What was your intention with that?

Due to programming concerns above my station, I knew that we could reliably air 12 episodes, but the ability to air up to 13 episodes was much less fluid. Knowing that, we fundamentally made it so that the story would pause at episode 12. Episode 13 was a story that took place after the pause so that people could enjoy it without worrying about the progression.

– On the PR side, what points did you take into consideration?

Gatou-san’s previous works like the Full Metal Panic! series are very popular and well-known, so of course I took into account promoting it towards Gatou-san’s fans. But with it being broadcast over-the-air, I wanted many more people than that to see it. I wanted many more people, like those who may not watch anime but are interested in theme parks, to see it. To do that, we ran commercials at various electronics shows and promoted it outside the various anime-related media at various places.

– There were a lot of collaborations too.

For this work, we collaborated with a croquette shop in Tokyo called Saigoutei so that we could bring the fictional world into reality and have fans eat croquettes based on ones made by Latifah. The collaboration with the J-League’s Tokyo Verdy was also a derivation of the story from the show.

– On May 17th, you held a collaboration event with Yomuri Land in Inagi, Tokyo. Was this real life collaboration a mark similar to the one held on the final day of the story?

That’s not what it was meant to be at all. There were some questions towards me asking “aren’t we going to collaborate with this or that amusement park?” but as I only wanted the viewing audience to comprehend the park that we created for the anime until the broadcast was over, I held back from collaborating with any parks. As a matter of fact, we went to a fair number of parks to do the location scouting. However, I wanted to avoid everyone thinking that it was from a specific place’s motif. Once the broadcast was over and everyone was able to enjoy the Amaburi world, we could have a web radio public recording at Yomuri Land since people wouldn’t be tempted to judge Amaburi like other parks. As it had been a while since the broadcast ended, we brought out the seals from episode 7 in order to spur up memories of the anime’s story. While they were wondering what was going on, it made me happy to hear such a huge reaction.

– So it was like that. What gave you the idea to start “Buri Radio” in the first place?

“Buri Radio” started as a simple way for those who wanted to learn more about the show to do so. This was Latifah’s seiyuu, (Yukiyo) Fujii-san’s, first time as a radio personality, so it felt incredibly fresh and became a truly wonderful program. When she and Isuzu’s seiyuu, (Ai) Kakuma, would talk about the various seiyuu world activities, it really felt like they were two OLs talking about their job. I believe it became a wonderful broadcast with their strong will to learn more about the world outside of being seiyuu and strong will looking to have a career change. With it being full of originality as I thought it would be, there’s no one that would argue about it being an entertaining broadcast.

Showing his fixation for casting and music

– With Amaburi being Gatou-san’s latest work and one that was highly anticipated as an anime, what kind of reaction did you receive from the fans when it was announced to be an anime?

This is just concerning Isuzu and Latifah’s voices, but I received a lot of “they’re really pleasant” voices when casting those two. For casting, Kakuma-san and Fujii-san were the best fit. Also, I got a lot of requests for Seiya’s seiyuu to be (Kouki) Uchiyama-san. He can reliably work as a high schooler and he served as a child actor previously, but even though I questioned if he could bring some empathy for Seiya’s position, I still requested him to play for us. His performance was beyond my wildest expectations. I’m very glad I requested him.

– Speaking of casting, I was surprised when I heard that Moffle, Macaron, and Tirami’s seiyuu were women. As I read the novel, my inner image of them had old geezer voices…..

There were a lot of reasons why we cast them as women, but the top reason is that I wanted to show everyone that there are infinite possibilities for seiyuu. They are skillful presenters who act in every way from the way they breath to their voices itself. I’d say there were probably a lot of people who read the novel and imagined “the mascots sound like old men, so they’ve got a male voice.” But while we were casting the male voices, it ended with me thinking “this is too normal.” There’s many people who imagine Macaron’s seiyuu, (Ryouko) Shiraishi-san, as a young boy, Moffle’s seiyuu, (Ayako) Kawasumi-san, as a princess and Tirami’s seiyuu, (Ai) Nonoka-san, as a cute heroine, but I also wanted to see them act as old men. Those three are veterans, so while I thought they would be able to act well, they performed superbly. I wanted to bring notice to all the fans to have a new sense of surprise, but I also wondered if there would be any uncomfortable feelings for everyone.

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Nakayama P’s favorite character is episode 3’s Macaron. Fake Seiya in episode 8 had delicate expressions and superb comical acting from Uchiyama.

– What other points did you put a lot of power into besides casting?

Not just for Amaburi, but I always put a lot of power into music. Music is something that brings up memories of the work in people even when the show isn’t being broadcast. For that reason, it’s a very important element for anime. I requested an opening song with an unforgettable catchy running beat that won’t leave you once you hear it from Flying Dog, the company in charge of music. In contrast, for the ED song I requested they make a song that was serene so people would be able to calm down after watching the episode.

– I see. Did you have some intention in mind when you were casting Brilliant 4, who would sing the ending theme song?

Since I thought they would sing it at a real event, I chose them based on the ability to since and dance. However, it was more important that they be balanced and work as a team. Since the girls are very friendly with each other in the show, it was important for me to choose girls who would bring out that harmonious feeling and be close in age with each other.

Aiming to create episodes that are “representative of anime.”

– Next, please tell us who your favorite character is.

I personally love all the characters. If I have to pinpoint something, I’m very fond of the scene where Macaron comes running and screaming “Stop it roooon!” when Moffle scares the customers by attacking one. (Tatsuya) Ishihara-san’s direction shows that cute layer to him.

– Then what is your favorite episode?

Episode 8. It’s the one where Moffle and the others go to school in place of Seiya, who fell ill. That was so entertaining. It’s a unique story, Uchiyama-san’s performance was amazing, and I’ve heard it was a popular episode among the staff. I’m glad that it wasn’t just gags; there’s a nice story that ends by the end of the episode.

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-You had to prepare a lot of original episodes. What was your intention when inserting original elements in the show?

I’m always thinking about elements that are representative of anime when we’re making an adaptation of something. Even if you completely adapt the original source exactly, that doesn’t mean it’ll become an entertaining anime work. Of course, it’s important to respect the original source, but though it’s difficult, I think weaving in some originality is the best way to adapt something. In the case of Amaburi, though we were fundamentally following the story of the first volume, we could insert some new episodes and bring in some characters who appear in later volumes in order to bring out that originality.

– What were your impressions on episode 12, the real final episode?

Wasn’t it fitting as a final episode for Amaburi? I mentioned earlier that I wanted episode 12 to be the final episode when creating the series composition, so the entire staff made it such an emotional finale. TV anime have various restraints in expressions and lengths, but I think everyone on the staff are pros for being able to work within those restraints to create such a work to move the audience. I’m incredibly grateful for all the staff to work as professionals.

– Episode 14 included on the “special volume” was very comical.

That’s right. It’s an episode that moves so quickly you can’t even think “why do the kindergartners have an underground pro wrestling ring?” That episode is full of punch lines. I was a bit worried that all those punch lines would work out, but when I asked Gatou-san, who wrote the script for that episode, “will these punch lines be okay?” he replied with such confidence “It’s alright!” As a result, it’s very Gatouesque with its peculiar and funny jokes. I’d definitely check them out if I were you.

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A scene from episode 14. Why is there an underground wrestling ring and why are the kindergartners so wild over wrestling? Was it intended to feel this surreal when you calmly watch it?!

– What problems did you run into while producing this show?

Of course there were little problems here and there, but there’s nothing “troubling” that I can think of. Thanks to director Takemoto’s wonderful leadership being shown, the production side had a wonderful atmosphere. He was also able to skillfully include all the portions I requested as a producer as well. Above all, since all the cast and staff were able to convey the fun they had while making this show, I was able to have fun while producing it.

– Looking back on it, what kind of work did the anime Amaburi become?

For me, I’d say that it’s a work I challenged by saying “since this is a work that Gatou-san and Kyoto Animation are producing, there’s no way they can’t produce anything that isn’t a great work.” It was also very enjoyable being able to challenge myself by tying in various collaborations outside of anime media. Due to that, it was a very profound work for me.

– Finally, please give a message to all the fans who supported the Amaburi anime.

We aimed to produce Amaburi for all the viewers to be entertained. How did we do? The novels are still ongoing, and we also plan to continue selling some related products in the future, so please continue to support Amaburi. Thank you all for watching.

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