Sound! Euphonium The Movie ~ May the melody reach you! Staff Discussion

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 The Movie ~ May the melody reach you! pamphlet published in 2017.

Staff Discussion

Director: Taichi Ogawa
General Manager: Tatsuya Ishihara
Series Director: Naoko Yamada

First Directorship

– This film marks the first time that Taichi Ogawa-san served as director of a title. How did everyone first hear about this decision?
Ishihara: I believe it started when we were asked “How about letting Ogawa-san direct this film?”
Ogawa: While I had a lot of anxiety over becoming a director, I wanted to step up to this big challenge, so I assumed the responsibility of being the director on this film.
I had worked on the Sound! Euphonium series before, but I had only drawn the storyboards for two episodes: season 1’s bonus episode “Run Monaka” and season 2’s episode 4: “Awakening Oboe,” two episodes that focused on Hazuki and Mizore. That meant that I didn’t have an opportunity to delve into the protagonist, Kumiko.
Knowing that, I thought to start by seeking out the thoughts and assumptions that Ishihara-san and Yamada-san had towards Sound! Euphonium since they have been entangled with this work for a while.

– What did you speak to them about during that time?
Ogawa: Once I head that Sound! Euphonium 2’s theme was “Reach you!,” I understood the theme of the series more. As the first half certainly focused on what Mizore and Nozomi wanted to convey to each other and the second half focused on Kumiko and Mamiko as well as Kumiko and Asuka’s feelings towards each other, I grasped that all those stories could be reduced down to “Reach you!” So from there I began anew examining how to show this title and how things would flow.
Yamada: Since there were sequels to the Eupho series that had been decided to go after this film, I couldn’t tell Ogawa-san what I wanted to do in the sequels…. I also had a lot of worries about this time being his first role as a director. I thought that he’d procrastinate and wouldn’t be able to quickly construct the materials properly. Rather than talk about the contents of the series, I conveyed to him how to stand and move forward as a director.
Ogawa: I am truly grateful for your assistance. Once we had finished that conversation, I began thinking about how to structure this film. Of course I wanted to place “Kumiko and Asuka” as the axis of the film, so I worked on how best to raise the level of completion of the tale as a film itself.

The Story’s build-up

– Please tell us what you wanted to convey and what you entrusted to Ogawa-san in this film, Ishihara-san and Yamada-san.
Ishihara: This is a work similar to a certain film where an old police office and a young one work together and convey a bit of their emotions to one another. I personally love movies that depict emotional connections like from a parent to a child or an upperclassman to a lowerclassman. I think that part is present with Kumiko and Asuka. And even though I say that, Ogawa-kun will say “There’s not enough build-up!” (imitating Ogawa-san’s mannerisms)
Yamada: Ishihara usually doesn’t imitate people, so for him to imitate Ogawa-san, he must have left an impression on him.
Ishihara: He was constantly saying “there’s not enough build-up.” That’s why he also added scenes to the film.
Ogawa: That’s right. To prepare to make this film, I re-visited the TV series and saw that there was so many wonderful scenes there. And I was emotionally moved countless times watching it. But with that material, how could I arrive at those emotional scenes with the characters’ thoughts and actions? Accordingly, in order to center it around the Asuka arc in the second season’s second half, I had to simply cut out the first half’s arc with Mizore and Nozomi. By doing that, I also made some important scenes with Asuka disappear.
Ishihara: In the TV series, Kumiko also becomes involved in the Mizore and Nozomi incident by Asuka. Asuka’s blunt refusal…. Nozomi’s obstinance to that refusal…. Kumiko’s sense of uncomfortableness around Asuka… All of that builds on one another to make you wonder about Asuka. And all of it was removed from the film.
Ogawa: That was all foreshadowing for Asuka’s own desires; she wants to go to Nationals, she wants to have her father listen to her performance. Since this situation was to make a sole film focusing on “Kumiko and Asuka,” there had to be new sections added that weren’t in the series in order to show Asuka the person.
Ishihara: You were incredibly fixated on that, weren’t you? But I was worried that adding the new portions would make the movie too dense as well. As a general manager of course. (laughs)
Yamada: After all, Ogawa-san is the type of person who delves into things that he’s interested in. We all worked to find a way to get him to show a bigger viewpoint in order to highlight Ogawa-san’s good points. You could say we wanted to show a forest instead of a single tree…..
Ishihara: I’d say our work this time was to watch over and balance things so that they weren’t too dense, and that emotional scenes didn’t get too inflated, and that there wasn’t a incredible amount of meaning born in each scene.
Yamada: Depicting things densely is Ogawa-san’s trait. It’s one reason why we thought he could be a director for this film. Ishihara-san and I felt it important to put him in a position where he could make the tale more charming.
Ogawa: I also sought out your impressions every opportunity I could.

– In this film, there was a bold decision to change the chronology where the lodging tale went into the story.
Ogawa: I was very worried over moving the lodging part from before the Kansai Competition, where it was in the TV series, to after it here. But I wanted to insert that scene where Kumiko first hears “Sound! Euphonium” somehow.
I thought about inserting that bit in different ways. For example, putting a little bit of Mizore and Nozomi’s tale with the lodging in the part prior to the opening animation theme. But that would devalue Mizore and Nozomi’s tale and it’d damage the cleanness of the movie’s structure. I didn’t want to depict a half-cooked Mizore and Nozomi bit, so to solely focus on “Kumiko and Asuka” as the axis of the film, I depicted them as ordinary concert band members.
Ishihara: Ah, that was incredibly bold to change where it fit in the story. I couldn’t do that.
Ogawa: I spoke with three other people about this and thought about how best to do it in my own style and eventually came with what was the best thing to do.

I got goosebumps

– What were you fixated upon in the additional music scenes added to the TV series?
Ogawa: When I went to the preview of Sound! Euphonium ~Welcome to the Kitauji High Concert Band~, I of course enjoyed the film’s content, but the music was immensely wonderful. When Reina played the trumpet just a bit, I got goosebumps. I put a lot of energy into the performance scenes and didn’t want to remove them. The fact that sound alone would cause goosebumps for a viewer is one of this series’ strengths. I think all the Eupho fans would feel the same as I do. As a director or just a unit/episode director, you have to do what you believe, so I put a lot of effort into the music portion to make it a big identity of this film.

– How did you allot who would draw the storyboards for the performance scenes?
Ogawa: I drew the storyboards for the new portions from “Wind of Provence” at the Kansai Competition and “Crescent Moon Dance” at Nationals and then Yamada-san was in charge of the storyboards for “Takarajima,” the station building concert.
Ishihara: At the storyboard stage, you don’t know what impression you’ll get of performance scenes, so they’re quite difficult. But Ogawa-kun attached the music to temporary visuals to get them to show the movements and the timing of the cues. When he showed that style of storyboarding, I felt that he was a modern style of director.
Ogawa: By scanning the storyboards and refining the cuts to move according to the timing on my computer, I thought it’d be incredibly easy to convey the timing for the scene.
Yamada: It’s also easy to understand the tempo when seeing video storyboards. I felt it’s incredibly easy to convey what you want to convey in storyboards when you edit them like this.
Also, it becomes easier to understand what the person who drew the performance scenes valued in these scenes. Whether that’s the tempo, the sound, or movement…… It’s immensely fun to read these storyboards where their personality comes out.
Ogawa: And because of that, I asked Yamada-san to storyboard “Takarajima.”
Yamada: Why…. Was it just because of the flow from the TV series?
Ogawa: No, the storyboards I drew became this hardened, serious bit. I thought that Yamada-san would be able to scoop out the enjoyable bits like the exchange between Haruka and Asuka.
Yamada: Whoa… (sweats)
Ogawa: I thought that it would make Asuka’s character look more impressive when seeing it from the whole, so that really helped me.
Ishihara: It does.
Yamada: “Takarajima” may look like it’s just a bunch of fun scenes since it’s a cheery song, but it’s not just a refreshing bit of the film; you don’t typically consider it to become a relay point in Asuka’s story.
Ogawa: I think there needed to be a song there that wasn’t dramatic. Not just with Asuka and Haruka, but to have cool performance scenes as well.
Yamada: At first I also thought about going with showy scenes and good feeling scenes, but I thought that wouldn’t connect to the audience’s emotions…so I revised the storyboards.
Ishihara: Also on the music side, the final performance scene of “Crescent Moon Dance” was truly moving. It truly was the “Last Crescent Moon Dance.”
Yamada: We’ve worked with it for quite a while. Hasn’t it been about 3 years or so? It’s a difficult song! It’s so difficult that my brain starts to sway when drawing storyboards for it. But even though it’s so difficult when I’m drawing them, I’d like to draw it one more time now that we’re done.
Ishihara: I just now thought that performance scenes would be difficult as well in the next films too.
Yamada: How will they feel? There’s a lot of “singing” parts….
Ogawa: Singing?!
Yamada: I meant presenting the performance in that kind of way.
Ogawa: I was surprised. I thought it was becoming a musical all of a sudden. (laughs)

Thoroughly Thoroughly

– What did you talk about with the cast when you were recording voices?
Ogawa: I had a bit of time before we started recording, so I conveyed to the cast “This film has a lot of things that have been built from the TV series, but while I don’t want to destroy those bits, I’d also like to take great care to create something new with this project.” But right after I said that, sound director (Yota) Tsuruoka said “There’s nothing that’s been built here!” (laughs)
Ishihara: Of course you didn’t mean to hint that “let’s reset what we’ve built up to now” but that could’ve been seen that way. You should say “Don’t think of this like a recap.”
Ogawa: That’s true. I wanted to mean that this is another higher stage than what we did with the TV series.
Yamada: Tsuruoka-san made it clear that he thought this film was becoming “Director Ogawa’s title.”
Ishihara: I’m jealous. I was responsible for the substitute footage, but it felt weird hearing the exchanges from Ogawa-kun in the seat beside me (director’s chair). (sweats)
Yamada: This is just another form of love! I think Tsuruoka-san has always loved you Ishihara-san.

– What did you talk about with Tomoyo Kurosawa, the voice of Kumiko?
Ishihara: She’s such an entertaining person.
Ogawa: She’s the type of person who thinks about things immensely. For this film, she was worrying about the feelings that Kumiko accumulates. She’s was able to build them weekly through the TV series’s single cour, but as this gets compacted into a single story, I directed her how to convey the subtle nuances of how to raise or lower her spirits.
Ishihara: That’s an immensely detailed portion.
Ogawa: In a TV series, each episode is separated, so you reset during that week period. This time you have a single film, so while you have to raise the tension levels, you also need to perform the emotions that have been brought to that scene.
Kurosawa-san came to us truly ready to make something special with that important behind-the-school scene. She wanted to perform to a level similar to aiming for a perfect score on a test, but I couldn’t surmise her intention and asked her to perform as usual. “Is it alright to think of that scene as a test?” And when I had some time to talk with Tsuroka-san about it, she also was in the conversation thinking about Kumiko and Asuka.
Originally, recording was supposed to be split into the first half of the film and the second half of the film, but Kurosawa-san requested that she wanted to perform the scene after their exchange where Kumiko links the two main stories together with her fierce shout of “What’s your point?!” first. So together with (Minako) Kotobuki, they built that atmosphere in the recording room and as a result, the setting became something fantastic.

– You really went into detail during the recordings.
Ogawa: For this film, that scene was also recorded during the final stages of recording. If we had one less day of recording, then I might not have gone as through as I did, but since we had plenty of extra time, the final day was spent extracting recordings of Kumiko and Asuka. I think that’s what made it so good.

Intrigued by materials on desks

– I’d like to ask about Ogawa-san as a creator. What impression do you have of Ogawa-san, Ishihara-san and Yamada-san?
Ishihara: So attentive to everything. It’s a paaaain. (laughs)
All: (laughs)
Yamada: That “paaaain” has a lot of love in it.
Ishihara: When we’re meeting for things like director meetings he’s always curious about these small bits and so it takes so much time. Of course, that’s why I have faith in him as a director!
Ogawa: Is that supposed to be a compliment? (laughs)
Ishihara: It is! You’re attentive and as such your work becomes more through.
Yamada: Every time I work together with Ogawa-san on a film it became…..attentive. (laughs)
All: (laughs)
Ishihara: Yamada-san and I talked about our impression of Ogawa-kun. “He’s so attentive.”
Ogawa: Is that all you said?!
Yamada: When we talked about our impressions of him, I said “he’s the kind of person who will take out all the bones in a fish before eating it.” (laughs)
Ogawa: ……Can you give a specific point where I’m that attentive?
Yamada: Specifically during his in-betweening period….
Ishihara: You’re going that far back?!
Yamada: I saw him go to the desk of the person who was directing that episode to look at the materials they had on their desks.
Ishihara: Like to change the lines based on what was on their desk at the time they drew it?
Yamada: Ever since then, I’ve applied a filter of “materials inquisitor” to the lens I see Ogawa-san through. (laughs)
All: (laugh)
Yamada: I thought “he’s so serious” at that time, but I think it’s something you need as a creator. You can’t have any falsehoods when creating something for example. He’s someone I put my faith in to create something.

– Ogawa-san, as creators, how do you view Ishihara-san and Yamada-san?
Ogawa: I think both of them carry with them this particular “color.” I truly feel that they do a job that no one else can fill. I’d say they have their own “peculiarities.” Those pecularites don’t show themselves easily and you might think they’re not present because they still haven’t shown themselves yet. That’s why I’m vexed when I see their works and see those peculiarities.
Ishihara: What points are you talking about?
Yamada: I really want to hear this…
Ogawa: For example, the storyboards that Ishihara-san draws for an opening contain his own peculiarities, but he’s always challenging himself with something new. I was surprised seeing the Eupho 2 opening thinking “Ishihara-san is challenging himself with this!” The camera was shaking, but it wasn’t an ordinary camera shake; it was moving in three dimensions.
Ishihara: But I don’t think the viewers would care about trivial bits like that when they watch it….
Ogawa: Isn’t it alright to give them that impression of “I don’t know how this works, but it’s awesome!”? Like you’re speaking to their subconscious……
Ishihara: However that kind of technique is possible with moving the camera in live-action photography, but not in anime. It’s always frustrating.
Ogawa: But you still went forward to challenge that technique.
Ishihara: Rather I’d say that I’m proceeding forward with older ways to make anime since I’m an old person.
Ogawa: For me, I learn a lot from that kind of challenge. And Yamada-san is always a target of my frustrations
Ishihara: I’m envious of how she perfectly fits in the modern generation.
Ogawa: It feels like she’s always walking at the edge of innovation. You’re always noticing Yamada-ish things about her directing.
Ishihara: Actually I’ve directly copied her somewhere!
Yamada: Wha! Where?
Ishihara: Not telling. (laughs)

Getting close to Kumiko’s daily life

– Ishihara-san, Yamada-san, you have entered work on movie sequels to the TV series. Can you give your impressions at this point in time?
Yamada: Liz and the Bluebird is a spinoff from the Sound! Euphonium series, so it’s a title where you’ll see things from a different point of view than previously. I’m excited. As I’ve been appointed as director for this film, it’s been really nice to be able to excise myself and get close to the work first-hand since I’ve been affected by the main staff in the series up until now. While I want to take care of the Eupho work, I also want to invaluably depict a title about Mizore and Nozomi.
Ishihara: “Kumiko’s 2nd year story” is just as the name implies. Since we’ve had such a long association with Eupho, it feels like we’ve gotten to see a good portion of Kumiko’s life as well. There will be things I want to challenge myself with, but as for a fundamental touch, I think the film will be something that people can look forward to as a sequel to the Sound! Euphonium series they’ve seen to this point.
Ogawa: I look forward to seeing it!

– Finally, please give a message to all the fans who have come to the theatres.
Yamada: Since we’ll get to see Sound! Euphonium from a fresh perspective, I’m also looking forward to seeing it! Please enjoy the film.
Ishihara: Thank you very much for coming to see the film. I think this will be a film that people will enjoy as a new single film in the Eupho series.
Ogawa: As I feel that this is a film that’s worth seeing if you’ve followed the series for a long time or if this is the first time you’ve seen Eupho, I’ll be pleased if people enjoy watching it.

– Thank you for your time!

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