Sound! Euphonium 2 Director & Series Composer Dialogue

This is another translation that I originally translated in 2017 to run on another site, but due to various circumstances, it was never run. With the recent arson incident, I’m posting these so that they’re out in the public for people to read. This is from the Sound! Euphonium 2 fanbook published by Kyoto Animation in 2017.

Director Tatsuya Ishihara X Series Composer Jukki Hanada Dialogue

The director and series composer; These two discuss what is the charm of Sound! Euphonium 2 along with the axis of production.

This is Kumiko’s tale

– What did you organize the second season around?
Ishihara: It’d have to be Kumiko and Asuka, wouldn’t it?
Hanada: That’s right.
Ishihara: Kumiko also viewed the issue with Nozomi and Mizore through Asuka as well.
Hanada: Since it was structured that way in the novel, we could form the anime similarly.
Ishihara: As Kumiko viewed it from the point of “Why wouldn’t Asuka let Nozomi return to the band?” she became interested in that conflict between Nozomi and Mizore. And so because the root of that story was between Asuka and Nozomi, Kumiko became involved.

– And so you inserted that axis into the scripts as the core of the tale.
Hanada: However, I became immensely troubled wondering what the very first scene of this series would be as I was writing.
Ishihara: Honestly, I wanted to start this series just like the second novel did: with the scene with Nozomi and Mizore on the bus. But during our meetings, the problem that you wouldn’t be able to understand whose story it was came up. If we brought Nozomi and Mizore to the foreground too much, then viewers wouldn’t be able to see Kumiko as the protagonist in the tale. But since I wanted to insert that bus scene with Nozomi and Mizore somehow, I eventually reached the point where I thought to put that scene at a different point and used the last scene in episode 13 as the open for episode 1.
Hanada: When it was determined that episode 1 would be a 1 hour special, we talked about inserting that reminiscent scene mid-way during the episode.

– What kind of changes happened since season 1?
Ishihara: When titles that I’ve directed have a sequel announced, I always want to feel like I’m approaching it from square one as a new title. But since Eupho’s story picks up from them making it past the Kyoto Prefectural Competition, I thought “I’ll make this assuming that everyone saw the first season.”
Hanada: Right, but I worried that people who hadn’t read the novels would be uneasy since two characters who weren’t in the first season appeared abruptly in the first episode of season 2. There were many depictions of Nozomi and Mizore similar to protagonists, so I was nervous that the people who only watched the anime would be puzzled. That’s why I had to pile on revision after revision for episode 1 trying everything to think how to convey that Kumiko was the protagonist of the tale.

The story’s axis; The visuals’ beauty

– As production progressed on the scripts, please tell us about any situations where things you were thinking were different from one another or if something was different from how it was originally.
Hanada: I’ve had the privilege of tag-teaming with Ishihara-san as director and series composer for many times now, but surprisingly there’s only been a few times where we’ve agreed. (laughs)
Ishihara: Why would that be? (laughs) Perhaps there’s a lot of times where I’m thinking about how gorgeous the visuals will be?
Hanada: When I’m working on something, there’s a portion where I synergistically look at an opposing opinion. Looking at the plans for the series overall, as we entered the second half, Asuka’s arc, there were a lot of points where we met eye-to-eye.
Ishihara: Right. There were almost no points that we had to go over and over again on the second half’s scripts. I teared up when I read the final departing scene with Kumiko and Asuka in the novel, so I had a feeling somehow that I didn’t want to finish storyboarding that scene. It was very troubling as I was in charge of that episode too…. I remember my body being slightly pained at that time.
Hanada: When I would ask Ishihara-san “How about this (visual)?” and get a reply back of “Hmm, how would it go?” I knew it was the time where things would go smoothly. (laughs)
Ishihara: Honestly, I cried while reading the last scene of the novels and I also cried while drawing the storyboards. But when I watch the finished visuals, I gradually became able to tell what was right and wrong in that scene.
Hanada: Wasn’t that just because you watched it too much? As there were points where we should show how the novel did things, I felt like those were the times where we strangely saw eye-to-eye regarding Asuka’s arc. It might be because both Ishihara-san and I love Asuka. When I saw how he portrayed her in episode 1 of the first season, I knew “Ishihara-san definitely favors Asuka.”
Ishihara: I never was confused how to depict her or rather understanding her was quite easy. Perhaps that might be because the author, (Ayano) Takeda-sensei, based her character off of a memory of a “senior that [she] couldn’t understand.” Ever since the first season, I thought that Asuka would be something like the final boss for Kumiko.

The episodes needed to expand

– There were portions where the story expanded past what the novel had, like during Mamiko’s tale. Why did you insert those parts?
Ishihara: Mamiko’s tale was Hanada-san’s idea.
Hanada: It was. As we were basing this from a novel, it would detail Asuka and Mamiko from Kumiko’s point of view, but anime is an objective medium. I had to think about how Mamiko would view Kumiko or how Asuka would view Kumiko and add those portrayals. The biggest point for me was why Asuka was fixated on Kumiko specifically. If I couldn’t show that, then when people saw the visuals, it would be too focused on Kumiko’s perspective. That’s why I felt it was necessary to convey various pieces of information and add on Asuka and Mamiko’s tales.

– What other portions were expanded upon in the anime?
Hanada: One example was the scene where Reina summons Kumiko to Mt. Daikichi. If we depicted it at the speed of the novel, then it’d be disappointing with how quickly it ended. With Reina, I wanted to dig a bit further into her feelings after finishing the novel. I also wanted to improve the connections up to that scene where she confesses after Nationals, so I began thoroughly setting that up in episode 1. That was a memorable scene for those who had read the novel, so I deliberately brought out that dense atmosphere behind it. For anime, each episode has important scenes that build on the story, but it’s also necessary to prepare and build those scenes with others around them, so I added various scenes to the anime.
Ishihara: Conversely, episode 2 was supposed to be a normal pool episode, but it got shortened to half an episode due to problems with length.
Hanada: It’s the common “fun first half, serious second half” structure, but I wanted to go after Nozomi at the pool. (laughs)
Ishihara: There were more scenes we added at the storyboard stage to enjoy the fun a bit more.
Hanada: As we had a lot of information Kumiko and the audience didn’t know, we had no choice but to increase the word count and explain things. It would be difficult to spread out that amount of information over the episodes though; things get hazy week-to-week, so we had to stuff various information in the first halves of episodes.
Ishihara: The first season adapted 1 novel into 1 cour of episodes so it was necessary to adapt two novels into one cour of episodes in the second season. As length was a serious problem, we had little time to play around. Due to that, we had to go into the human drama without stopping in to see the 1st years taking charge of playing around.

– What were some memorable scenes or scenes you fixated on?
Ishihara: There were a lot of memorable scenes. I love the atmosphere of the lodging episodes and I love Nozomi and Mizore’s arc.
Hanada: Speaking of the lodging episodes, whose idea was it for Kumiko to be so surprised when Mizore pokes her foot?
Ishihara: I think that was the storyboarder for that episode, Takemoto-san.
Hanada: That was really good. It really made great use of that location. One other scene that sticks with me is the one in episode 6 where Kumiko is riding in Taki’s car. This was where we brought the scene from the novel where Taki talks to her about his past. Though it was based on parts of the novel, when various parts are added with the visuals, I think it becomes the best version myself.
Ishihara: Speaking of scenes I was fixated on, it would have to be the fireworks scene. As the Uji River fireworks festival has been cancelled for years now, I really wanted to have it re-appear in the anime somehow. The place that Kumiko and Reina squat in is the exact same location I would sit in and take pictures. If it were those two, they’d just barely fit. There’s a tree there, so some of the fireworks are a bit obscured when sitting there, but we didn’t have that happen in the anime.
Hanada: One more memorable scene for me was in episode 12 after the competition when Kumiko chases after her sister. I wrote the script thinking about the building structure and had Mamiko going downstairs in mind. I imagined Kumiko running after her and shouting out from the top of the stairs to Mamiko. But when I saw the visuals and saw her running upstairs after Mamiko, I was immensely moved. “Oh, surely she wouldn’t go up there after her. But it is her sister after all.” I thought it was marvelous.

Kumiko’s growth is from her relationships with others

– In the first season, Kumiko’s growth is depicted through her relationship with Reina. What did you use to depict her in season 2?
Hanada: Kumiko in the first season was a girl who would look at those around her with cool eyes and stay on the periphery without influencing anything. Through her sympathy towards Reina, she grew to “love” her euphonium, but what that “love” consisted of needed other people to mediate. It’s from what her sister and Asuka did. Eventually, once she began to understand the parts of other people that make them who they are, through listing to others’ thoughts, and giving that other person her own thoughts on the situation, Kumiko is finally able to honestly confront the other person with her feelings. When you see her crying on the train after her sister leaves, those are her real feelings. If you ask me if that counts as growth, I think so.
Ishihara: Ah, I see.
Hanada: For everything about Kumiko, I feel it’s important for her to get involved with someone. When she sees Nozomi and Mizore and how to share someone else’s feelings, I think Kumiko would immensely start to think about them.

– The depiction of Kumiko’s relationship with Shuichi in the tale of the two sisters was impressive. What was your intent regarding this development?
Hanada: When I read the storyboards for episode 1 in season one, I felt that there was this unique atmosphere between Kumiko and Shuichi.
Ishihara: Kumiko became drier than usual, right?
Hanada: Right. I thought “Oh, so it’ll go in this direction.” It might be something guys sense, but if a girl you like takes that kind of attitude with you, I don’t think the guy would say that he likes her at all.
Ishihara: But Kumiko begins to slowly realize his feelings when he gives her that hairpin in episode 12 at the vending machines. He’s shy, so he’ll hand it over pretending “It’s not like I think of you in a special way, but you’re my childhood friend, so…” Perhaps it was like that too in episode 6 at the haunted house too.
Hanada: But doesn’t Kumiko begin to start to think of him through her situation with Mamiko? In the novels, she’s aware of him at the beginning, but there wasn’t that awareness up until then in the anime. In the first season, the story went through the “Kumiko and Reina’s tale” portrayal. In the second season, Kumiko doesn’t learn about Reina; she goes towards Asuka and Mamiko, so there wasn’t any room for her to become entwined with Shuichi’s tale in the main story. If too many things happen then there’s no room for her to become aware of him. Although, since they’re childhood friends, they don’t need a special story; Shuichi is that presence by her side that feels right. That’s why I inserted him in Mamiko’s situation thinking “Shuichi can only go here!”

Episode titles overflowing with personality

– Eupho’s episode titles are unique in that they’re tied with music terms. How did you decide them?
Hanada: Everyone at the script meeting would decide on the title. We’d gradually write them on the white board and then “let’s use this.”
Ishihara: It’s been like that since the first season, but we would match the atmosphere of the first novel by putting the music term in hiragana as the core and them matching it with katakana.
Hanada: For me personally, I loved episode 6’s title, “Rainy Day Conductor.”
Ishihara: The one I was incredibly pleased with at the meeting was episode 1, “Mid-summer Festival.” I thought it brought out the feeling of episode 1 well.
Hanada: We also talked about whether it was right to not use “Sound! Euphonium” for the final episode. It was unusual to have it in episode 9, but I think it really hit Ishihara-san quite nicely. (laughs)
Ishihara: Some that were rejected t the initial stage were “Seven Color Fortissimo” or “Bustling Typhoon.” (laughs)
Hanada: “Bustling Typhoon!” (laughs) I wanted to keep trying to insert something about the school festival but…. we decided on the final one having that feeling.
Ishihara: Strangely, once we decided on something temporarily there would be a bit of an uproar, but everyone got used to them. Until we decided on something like “Station Building Concert” it would be controversial. “Is this actually good?” (laughs)

The appeal of Sound! Euphonium is “Adolescence”

– Having participated in Sound! Euphonium, what do you think the appeal of this work is?
Ishihara: It’s easy to understand wanting to run away from painful or bitter things, but isn’t dealing with people you don’t care for and dealing with bothersome things how you grow? I think it’s good for an anime to portray that kind of meaning through a concert band doing those bothersome things. When working on this title, I would think “concert band was kinda like high school life, huh.” Adolescence is bothersome. There’s nothing like a rose-colored adolescence. You have no experience. You have no money. How is that fun? But if you think “isn’t that kind of life alright” it has its own appeal.
Hanada: For me, I think of club activities in terms of merits and enjoyment and focus on how would that make someone grow up, but for some reason the concert band in this title doesn’t really have an answer for that. I kept focusing on trying to find one. I think that’s the best appeal isn’t it? There’s no answer like that is there? And yet fixating on trying to find something like that is also something people do; that itself may be adolescence. I think it’s amazing how the author, Takeda-sensei, of course continues with trying to find an answer for Kumiko and the title as a whole. It’s amazingly adolescent.

– Finally, please give a message to all the fans who have supported you.
Hanada: Thank you very much for watching. I personally find these kinds of work well worth doing, so it was fun writing and I’m glad it turned out into such a wonderful title. I’d like to see Kumiko and everyone else in the future sometime.
Ishihara: I’d wanted to create a work where it felt like the fictional characters were in a moment of reality. Because Eupho is a title that amazingly fits that description, I think it’s a very loveable show. I truly thank everyone who has supported us from the bottom of my heart. Please continue to do so in the future.

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