Sound! Euphonium 2 Production Staff Comments

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.

Staff comments
We conducted an e-mail interview with various main staff who took part in the production of Sound! Euphonium 2. Here are their responses!

Instrument Designer Hiroyuki Takahashi

– Please tell us about what your duties entailed.
I designed all of the instruments that appeared in the show as well as served as 3D instrument supervisor, accessory designer, and instrument animation director.

– What did you want to achieve with your designs?
My first goals for the designs were “reproduce the instruments in great detail” and “do not have the instruments interfere in the middle of drawings as an animation director.” That was it. Thankfully the characters that Shoko Ikeda-san drew were a bit lanky, so I was saved from having the instruments tending to float a bit away from the characters.

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
As the person in charge of instruments, I was impressed with the performance of “Crescent Moon Dance” at the Kansai competition. As it’s the performance of an entire piece, I think it’s definitely a must see scene. This is where we were supposed to head towards as a sequel, so I thought it was a worthy challenge.

– What changes were made to the drawing of instruments since the first season and the movie?
What changed the most since the movie was our attempts to improve the 3-dimensional shapes. As a result, when we changes how to draw that, there were many more lines on the drawings. The key animation staff were burdened with that increase, so I’m grateful everyone responded well to that.

– How was handling a lot of performance scenes in the second season?
As performance scenes are very difficult pieces of key animation, they’re not that challenging as an animation director. Having a lot of motion cuts like that would be troublesome though. Instead, we raised the level of difficulty in a way that had the animators and animation directors draw while keeping the band holding an instrument and staying still. Speaking of instruments, the baritone sax is one with a high level of difficulty to draw.

Art Director Mutsuo Shinohra

– Please tell us about what your duties entailed.
Based on my meetings with the director and series director, I would create the setting that the characters live in by the form of “art designs” and “art boards.” Based on maintaining the work schedule, I would also check the backgrounds for each cut to ensure a similar world view and high quality.

– What orders did you receive from the director?
To put it frankly, not to aim for reality with a “picture”, but with a “drawing.” Drawings have a better way to portray the setting in a way you want them to be seen. We went a bit too realistic with the backgrounds in season 1, so I took caution not to go that far this time.

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
The last scene in episode 9 when Asuka is playing “Sound! Euphonium.” On one side, it’s an important scene, and on another it was a pain as it had a large volume of enchanting backgrounds. The background staff gave it their best shot. As the grass would blow due to the winder, we had a lot of finely detailed scenes with backgrounds above and behind the characters in a “BOOK” style.

– What points did you fixate on when working on the new art designs for season 2?
As the houses where main characters like Reina and Asuka live in show up in season 2, I talked about various ideas with the director. I took care to proceed while taking care to present the materials while not ruining the image of the characters.

– Were there any impressive locations or stories while you were location scouting?
We were able to intrude onto the stage of Nationals the night before the show. I felt the emotions of the students a bit while I was taking pictures of the entranceways, the waiting areas, and the stage itself.

3D Backgrounds Joji Unoguchi

– Please tell us about what your duties entailed.
What is typically called backgrounds are 2D drawings, but by using 3DCG technology we can improve the dynamics of the background scenery by doing things like making the camera movement 3-dimensional. It might be ruining the illusion, but the usual music room, the Kansai Competition and National Competition halls were all made using 3D CG backgrounds.

– What orders did you receive from the director?
Since the director pointed out that the scenery outside the commuting trains in the first season “was not Uji,” I had to nearly re-make all of that scenery while working on other items. Really, I inserted a lot of natural objects like mountains and greenery and made things like railroad crossings. As our workload increased for the second season, my goal was essentially to properly finish that work.

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
The scene during the Kansai Competition performance where she sees the ceiling lights’ glare and the numerous recollection scenes. When I was a student long ago, I would also count pointless lights and stare at faraway exit lights in order to calm myself down. It’s a beloved scene that still has an impression on me.

– What fixations did you have while working?
I always worked while thinking how best to draw this scene so that the viewers wouldn’t notice it was 3D. As a result, if the viewer saw it and thought it was 3D, I aimed to present it “non-photoreaslistically.” One scene I wondered if it turned out well was the scene looking over all of the lodge’s practice stage in episode 2.

– Were there any impressive locations or stories while you were location scouting?
I went to produce materials around the performance hall at the Kansai Competition. I used a variety of halls as reference for the one that appears in the show. What I really had fun with was looking at the structure of each wall specifically made to improve acoustics. The thought “alright, how am I going to represent this?” kept going around in my head.

Color designer Akiyo Takeda

– Please tell us about what your duties entailed.
I chose the colors of anything that was drawn in animation: the characters, props, and instruments. I worked to create the different colors that would be a result of time passing by (twilight or night) and supervised each episode’s color coordinator’s props and changing colors to ensure that they matched within the work. It’s an important job to make the worldview together with the background art.

– What did you aim for when designing the colors?
I consciously aimed to continue in “that gap between fantasy and reality” from the first season. I took great care in particular to ensure that the highlights in the complimentary colors in characters’ pupils wouldn’t disappear. Also I worked wanting to match the description of the colors in the novels.

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
I was constantly in tears during the second half of the season…… My chest was burning in all of the scenes when Kumiko would confront someone like Asuka or Mamiko. Kumiko’s “little sister” actions and gestures are so innocently cute. I’d love to have a little sister like her. It’d be so nice.

– What colors did you pay attention to?
Adjusting the colors so that you can clearly see the color of skin during dark scenes is a necessity. Of course, the other staff worked to create colors for scenes they thought were important, so as a result I think Sound! Euphonium 2 became more charming.

– What did you think about when designing the colors for Mizore and Nozomi?
The director said Mizore was to have a cool and docile impression, but that he wanted her to stand out from the other concert band members. After some experimenting, I finally reached the colors that she has now. Nozomi’s the active type of character, but I wanted her to feel a bit mysterious in the first season, so I didn’t add any colors that would stand out. Her main point is the hair band for her pony tail is red.

Director of Photography Kazuya Takao

– Please tell us about what your duties entailed.
I talk with the director about the direction of CG for the show and decide what to do and manage the data in various ways. As the way you composite the image together changes the impression of the visuals, it’s a very important job. We finely tune the reflections on all the instruments with our own hands!

– What orders did you receive from the director?
As this progressed from the first season, I intuitively knew what the director wanted. While I would base my decisions on “director Ishihara would love this…” it feels like a plus when you get to do what you want to do

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
I love the scenes in episode 1 where we saw Kumiko’s slovenly behaviors like changing her top, but keeping her uniform skirt on or having the socks she took off still in her room the next day. Seeing that kind of lazy behavior from my own view as a guy, it makes my heart beat due to how unintentionally sensual it is. (laughs)

– What points did you change between seasons?
I was fixated on things like the way light entered the train cars or the feel of the desks in the classroom.

– The way you process performance scenes and everyday scenes is different, right?
I aimed to make performance scenes “passionate” and ordinary scenes “composed.” There was a lot of CG processing with the performance scenes. But I also love that the performance scenes in the final episode were done without any processing at all.

3D Director Tetsuro Umezu

– Please tell us about what your duties entailed.
I would converse with each section that 3D interacted with, beginning with the directors, manage the progress of the 3D data, and check the completed cuts from the 3D staff. I would also have cuts that I would take charge of myself too.

– What orders did you receive from the director?
Director Ishihara asks us to use 3D in his works, so I experiment while seeing how it reflects on the work itself. It was decided that some portions of the instruments the hand-drawn characters would hold would be 3D, so making sure there was no discomfort between the 3D and the hand-drawn portion of the instruments was a big challenge.

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
The cuts in the opening with 3D camerawork. The director said “I want it to feel like these were taken by real cameras” and the photography section had ideas to work on too, so we photographed them with a camera and made some entertaining 3D events.

– In what ways are 3DCG used in this work?
There are two. The first is using 3D for the instruments. Since there’s a lot of lines in the complexity of their structure, we are able to use it there. The other is using 3D in the layouts. We use it in locations like the music room, concert halls, or when they’re in formation in order to effectively progress forward.

– What parts were especially difficult in the second season?
I constantly thought about how best to present the 3D portions of the instruments that the hand-drawn characters held to approach the high quality of the hand-drawn instruments in the limited time that we had.

Composer Akito Matsuda

– Please tell us your thoughts when you found out a second season had been greenlit.
I was truly happy. The Kitauji High Concert Band had made it past the prefectural competition, so what will happen afterwards? How will the next performance at the Kansai competition be directed so the anime audience doesn’t lose interest in the same song choices? How will the visuals be presented? I was exceedingly excited about it.

– What did you keep in mind while working on the second season?
Even though it’s the second season, there are some introductory scenes for wind music as well. In order to deeply depict and further highlight the drama aspects, I composed the background music using the piano as the core in order to give a somewhat different impression than the first season. I tried my best to arrange the melodies as simply as possible.

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
Naturally the performance of “Crescent Moon Dance” in episode 5 has strongly stuck with me. As I was being astonished that a single song would be made almost entirely into visuals without any cuts, it truly moved me as the composer of that song. Those visuals and performance once again conveyed that strong desire everyone had to go to Nationals.

– What kind of orders did you receive for “Sound! Euphonium” the song?
Director Ishihara impressively used the tune “Piled Emotions” during important scenes in the first season, so he talked about wanting to use it for the melody of “Sound! Euphonium.” That was a very good idea to me. By chance, its melody also fit the sound range of the euphonium, so I adapted it to have the euphonium sound softly like a transparent blue sky. I composed that song with that image in mind.

– What points did you treat with importance during the music of the second season?
I wanted the style and atmosphere of the music to not be different from the music in the first season at all. I mentioned it before, but arranging the melodies simply was the most important part for me. I experimented a lot by arranging the pieces with classical styles, pop styles, and with erect expression, but in the end, I composed the music by changing my way of thinking to produce something that isn’t my usual style.

Music Supervisor Miyahiro Owada

– Please tell us your thoughts when you found out a second season had been greenlit.
Quite honestly, I had a lot of happiness that “we would be able to deliver the music of the Senzoku University School of Music Freshman Wind Ensemble again!!” Also, I loved being able be present on a unified team with music producer Shigeru Saito at the core. While I was happy “we’ll get to perform on Eupho again” I also felt the pressure of “we have no choice but to perform to our best abilities.”

– What themes and goals did you have towards the second season?
Naturally, our first goal we set was to perform an excellent performance worthy of appearing at Nationals for the Kansai Competition. Once we designated that as our theme, we brushed up the performance of “Crescent Moon Dance” along with pouring in emotions from everyone wanting to head to that stage. I am grateful to all the students for giving a performance one step above, no, several steps above their level with that pressure.

– What scenes from the second season made an impression on you?
There are so many memorable scenes that I can’t choose just one. If I had to pick from the first half, Mizore’s awakening. If I have to pick from the second half, Asuka’s emotions towards her father. With the second half focusing on human drama, even me in my age was taken aback by the dialogue and wise sayings when I was watching it. The fireworks at the festival were beautiful…. Reina’s love was also fleeting, but she was so proactive I cheered her on unintentionally…. Mizore’s smiling performance scene once she was emancipated. All of these were impressive and my list still goes on.

– What changed on the performance side of production since the first season while recording the music?
It might be weird for us to say we performed with all of our might in order to stand on the stage at Nationals, but it was awfully moving. Through the various recording techniques, the freshman wind ensemble has greatly changed and responded to my demands or rather they have evolved as musicians.

– What points did you keep in mind when performing and representing between the Kansai Competition performance and the Nationals performance?
The performance of “Crescent Moon Dance” at the Kansai Competition was done in full size. This might sound grandiose, but I requested they express that song to a performance so grand that it wouldn’t be by the sheet music alone; it would rise above to a world without any written music at all. For the students to play along just to the sheet music would make them perform just like robots…. AH! That was someone’s line from the show wasn’t it? (laughs) That’s a wise saying I convey as the most important part of musical expression to the students and then something I work on myself for my own music. I want to continue forward with this music activity sketched in my heart.

Sound Director Yota Tsuroka

– Please tell us your thoughts when you found out a second season had been greenlit.
I had felt the response prior to finishing the first season, so I was considerably nervous before then about making it.

– What did you endeavor to do while working on the second season?
What I wanted to accomplish was to make the links from the first season clearly defined. In the end, what I wanted to do was to more or less protect what we had accomplished in the first season.

– What scenes still have an impression on you?
The full version of “Crescent Moon Dance” from the Kansai Competition. Its magnificence as a music clip is overwhelming.

– What points and direction did you give to the cast?
As I thought the feeling of the dialogue would be changed, I took steps to not lose sight of the person delivering tempting phrases.

Editor Kengo Shigemura

– Please tell us your thoughts when you found out a second season had been greenlit.
Since the quality of the first season was so high and there were more novels, I thought it would be a waste to end it after one season, so I thought “of course a second season would come.” I was pleased.

– What themes and goals did you have towards the second season?
I wanted to inherit the human drama that the characters had built up from the first season. You properly find that in editing. For music, I wanted to show the technical aspects of each instrument’s performers.

– What scenes still have an impression on you?
Of course the full performance of “Crescent Moon Dance” but also in Asuka’s arc where the walls around her heart gradually go down episode-by-episode. Rather than look at it as scenes, I bore that as the axis until the finale.

– Please tell us anything memorable that occurred during cutting.
For the second season in particular, I would look forward to the editing process. I’d think “this script’s composition is great” and read through the storyboards. This was supposed to be more complex than the first season and yet we were able to edit it to reliably show the characters’ emotions.

– What points in the show are characteristic of music works?
As we aimed to portray the performance scenes realistically, I edited the performance parts without any smoke & mirrors as I thought people would see through it otherwise. I wondered what would be the right thing to do. As someone with no music experience, I had to check with an experienced musician to get their point of view.

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