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 a preview interview from the “This is Who We Are Now! 2017” book from Kyoto Animation released in 2017 to coincide with the event that year.
New Movie Interview:
Kumiko’s year becoming 2nd years/Liz and the Blue Bird
Directors: Tatsuya Ishihara/Naoko Yamada
Two Euphoniums continuing the franchise
– Could you describe what the plans are for the new films in the Sound! Euphonium (Eupho) franchise?
Ishihara: “Kumiko’s year becoming 2nd years” is a story that’s as it sounds: Kumiko and the others becoming 2nd years. Since we’ve split production into two films, this one is segmented into a group called the “Kumiko’s year edition.”
Yamada: If it was just called “2nd years edition” then people may think “is it about Yuuko’s group?” so we added “Kumiko’s year” to it.
Ishihara: It’s not the “2nd years edition”, it’s “Kumiko’s 2nd year edition.”
Yamada: The novels sold recently feature a new story that Ayano Takeda wrote that has “Kumiko’s 2nd year” as the axis, but at the same time there’s a story that focuses on the newly promoted Mizore and Nozomi. That’s what I’m working on this time with Liz and the Blue Bird. It focuses on those two as the protagonists, so I think it might be fresh to see Kumiko’s group in the background as ordinary band members.
Ishihara: These two films have the Sound! Euphonium series as their original material, but since each one has a different director, I think they’ll come out as different pieces entirely. As Kumiko becomes a 2nd year in that story, there’s various troubles that occur due to new band members joining, but I wanted to make this a bright story. I thought that Liz and the Blue Bird would be more of a graceful tale in contrast. How about it Yamada-san?
Yamada: I wanted to make Liz and the Blue Bird a refreshing tale in the gap between Sound! Euphonium The Movie: May The Melody Reach You! and the Kumiko 2nd year edition film, both of which are passionate stories. After all, it’s exactly right in between those two films’ releases too. It might be a calming image theme film, but I wanted to take great care in making the film itself feel “refreshing”…..
Ishihara: Older TV anime series (in the 70s-80s) would run at least half a year for the short series and many years for the longer ones, so you were able to use the designs that were created a lot. Recently, there’s a lot of works (including Eupho) that are just 1 cour long (12-13 episodes)….. Since we created a lot of designs for the Sound! Euphonium TV series, having the chance to be able to use them again like this makes us very grateful on the production side of things.
Yamada: When you work on a production for a long time, you’re used to handling these characters, so it’s easy for the staff to also fall for them. It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime meeting. When you know these characters already and have affection for them previously, then it’s easy to go through some of the process. On the production side, the people who draw the key animation are split into different groups per episode, so due to that rotation, there may be a character they never encounter during the entire 13 episodes. That’s why people can be happy that they could get to work with a character they hadn’t interacted with previously when production continues.
Ishihara: Although it’s another thing entirely if it goes on for too long! (laughs) A long series has staff bring out wonderful episodes when they have full knowledge of the title and characters. That in itself is entertaining. I think a title that is able to continue is able to spread out as well.
– We heard that both of you were moved to tears when you were reading the novels……
Ishihara: I wasn’t moved to tears, I really cried a lot. When I was reading a summary of the story at my desk before I headed towards the script meeting, I gently cried.
Yamada: When I received a copy of the plot from the author I already….
Ishihara: Your chest got tight for some reason?
Yamada: There was a moment where I felt like I was transported inside as I was reading it… It felt so close to me. I could say that it felt like it hit a critical weak part of me that I had been protecting from everyone else…… I felt like I had to unwrap this precious tale when it was finished until it was finished.
Ishihara: When I first heard about the plans for these projects, I thought Liz and the Blue Bird was oriented towards Yamada-san.
Ishihara: Wouldn’t you want to work on it?
Yamada: I did want to work on it!
Ishihara: Not necessarily that it would be a fun title to work on, but that the content itself would be more likely to hit your heart.
Yamada: Could you say that it’s the beauty of the small cruelties of girls……..I wanted to depict something like that, so I was happy to work on it. I wanted to record things like the sighs Mizore and Nozomi make due to all their worries at that age. I wanted to be engrossed recording their story! I wholeheartedly wanted to record this moment in their lives that could only occur at this point. After all this troubled growth of girls is absolutely beautiful.
Creating a work is “undressing” it
– As you progress through production, what are things that you want to fixate on and things you want to pay attention to?
Ishihara: When series lengthen, there’s a worry that characters become caricatures of themselves. I want pay attention so that doesn’t happen.
Yamada: But still, that’s a tough thing. For example, if one directorial staff stands their ground on an caricature, then there’s a possibility that other staff would head full-power towards that way.
Ishihara: Also, the director has an image of all the characters. If there’s a precedent that it changes during direction of a scene, then you have to revert it back to the original image the director had. This was talked about during Baja’s Studio.
Yamada; That’s true too. I think if you solidify the images of the characters and decide “what they won’t do” for that work, then you also conversely restrict yourself when creating the work.
Ishihara: But I always had an impression that you truly value the characters in your works Yamada-san.
Yamada: Ah, that’s nice to hear……Now my heart’s been cracking a bit….
Ishihara: Huh? Why?
Yamada: When you just said that I “truly value the characters” I wondered if that was just my own ego inflating myself.
Ishihara: Ah…. That’s surely something that I’ve thought about too.
Yamada: Sorry if I’m being a bit pushy here. This is a bit of an embarrassing moment for me. (laughs) I think you need a lot of mistakes and misinterpretation when creating something. If you don’t stumble around, I don’t think you’ll have the strength to progress forward….. But even if you know the essence of what you’re working on, are there really no moments when things aren’t out of reach when you’re working through it?
Ishihara: For example?
Yamada: Something like untangling a math problem when you don’t know the answer. When you’re working out the equation you think “ah, this isn’t it. That’s not right.” You get an answer, but when you look at it, it looks like you make a mistake.
Ishihara: I get what you mean.
Yamada: When you’re working on something too, you get discouraged when you headed towards something wrong at full speed…..then you get bogged down.
Ishihara: Is that connected with feeling cracking?
Yamada: Yes. (laughs) Even if there’s only one direction for the work, creating itself is always “undressing’ it. But, for example a director is the physical embodiment of a work at the beginning of production….
Yamada: Since there’s nowhere to hide, it’s easy for things to stick to you.
Ishihara: Ah, I understand completely. That’s a really good example. I think this could be said about all creations, not just animation itself, but I believe people find it fascinating to see the creators of something speak their true intentions and put their desires into a work. Otherwise, writing something done over and over again becomes boring.
Yamada: That’s true. Someone who has the bravery to “undress” their clothing and show their real feelings is someone who becomes a “creator.’
Ishihara: I feel like you’ve put some of your own thoughts into your works here-and-there Yamada-san. I think that’s what gives it that “Yamada Color.”
Depicting Eupho in the future
– What are some highlights of the two new films?
Ishihara: Everything that’s shown! Is what I’d like to say (laughs). People who have seen the Eupho series up until now are familiar with this franchise’s highlights, so I’d like them to pay attention to them here too. And for those who haven’t seen it……I’d say the same. People have a desire to improve the techniques they have. These girls don’t know if their club activities will bring them any merit or if they’ll become professionals in the future, but they still give it everything they have in order to polish their performance and become one. I’d like everyone to see the moment these girls challenge their own limitations and become alive.
Yamada: I believe depicting a focus on innocence and the irritation of “thoughts” and” feelings.” Hmm…… Oh right, I want to directly depict Mizore and Nozomi confronting each other with things they wished they had said and things they want to tell each other.
– Finally, please give a message to all the Eupho fans.
Ishihara: Just as everyone expects, “Kumiko’s 2nd year” will depict events that happen afterwards for the girls. There will be trouble brewing inside the story, so please watch as they do their best to deal with that trouble.
Yamada: I’ve wanted to depict a work focused on girls like Liz and the Blue Bird, so I’m personally looking forward to this. I think that enjoyment will counterbalance the other film, so I’ll be pleased if people went to see it.
– Thank you for meeting with us today.