Sound! Euphonium Our Promise pamphlet interview

This is a newly translated roundtable from the pamphlet sold at Japanese theatres in April 2019 that introduced Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~ to audiences. It features the four main Kyoto Animation staff talking about production on the film without spoiling the film itself. Enjoy!

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Character Designer/Chief Animation Director: Shoko Ikeda
Chief Unit Director: Naoko Yamada
Chief Animation Director: Futoshi Nishiya

The long-awaited new story

– This is the first movie in the Sound! Euphonium series to be a new story. When was it decided to have a new film?
Ishihara: Actually, before Ayano Takeda-sensei began writing a continuation of the novels, we were thinking about continuing with an anime-original story.
Yamada: And after we heard that Takeda-sensei was writing a continuation, we decided to wait until the novels had been written.
Ishihara: When reading the novels, we saw that the content was immensely rich in depth. It would be incredibly tough to fit everything into a single film……. After talking about it, we settled into splitting the novels into Kumiko’s story and the story about Mizore and Nozomi.
Yamada: Since it was decided that Director Ishihara would depict Kumiko’s story in a film, it felt like he would have to make the film concentrate on Kumiko herself.
Ikeda: We began working on it before the new characters and the novel’s cover illustrations were complete. Were there any other options like a TV series?
Ishihara: We thought a lot about it, but that wasn’t an option.
Nishiya: So that’s how it went. I heard about creating a film much later than everyone else here……
Ikeda: At the beginning, it was planned that Liz and the Blue Bird (hereafter “Liz”) and Sound! Euphonium~ Our Promise: A Brand New Day (hereafter “Our Promise”) would be released at around the same time, right?
Yamada: At first we talked about going along with a schedule that “Our Promise” would be released a few months after “Liz”……
Ikeda: Production on both were planned to go along at the same time.
Nishiya: That’s an incredible schedule.
Ishihara: But at that time, I was directing the production of another title, so that schedule would have become too difficult.
Ikeda: As a result, it might have helped to preserve the production time though.

As Kumiko’s story

– What was the concept behind producing “Our Promise”?
Ishihara: You could call it a concept, but I wanted to stress Kumiko’s story from the novels.
Ikeda: You were thinking about the script at the same time as “Liz”’s, right?
Yamada: “Liz” was done earlier. As “Our Promise” depicts Kumiko’s story from the second year, it took time to discuss her standpoints. The TV series, especially in the second season, had been structured like “Kumiko and a senpai,” but in the film it’s structured as “Kumiko and kouhai” since she’s advanced a year in school. We had to talk about how to position the story around Kumiko since that was immensely important. Director Ishihara also mentioned he wanted to depict the romance with Kumiko and Shuichi too…..
Ishihara: For me, my plan was to little by little plant the story of Kumiko and Shuichi throughout the TV series…. Since we didn’t directly show it, I put that portion at the beginning of the film. At first we thought about having the concert band perform in the stands at the National High School Baseball Championships, but instead I inserted the scene where Shuichi confesses from the novel. I think it becomes a “hook” into the movie.

– How was it decided that Nishiya-san would join as a chief animation director?
Ikeda: As our production time was short, I felt that it would be very difficult for me to serve as the only chief animation director so I asked Nishiya-san to join us. As we mentioned before, production on “Liz” was going along at the same time, so even though it was an unreasonable request, I’m glad I asked him in the end.
Nishiya: At first I thought they were going to ask me to be the animation director for a part of the film, so I was immensely surprised to be asked to be a chief animation director.
Yamada: Both Ikeda-san and Nishiya-san were chief animation directors on a previous title directed by Director Ishihara, so it was quite nostalgic.
Nishiya: On that title, I would pass on whatever I checked for Ikeda-san to also look at, but this time there wasn’t anyone that would kindly check over me……
Ikeda: That time we had the luxury where Nishiya-san could look over everything himself and I could look over everything myself, but this time Nishiya-san said “I’ll do everything to match Ikeda-san’s drawings!” so impressively. As he knew how to draw them immensely cute, I left it to him “Alright, I’m counting on you.” (laughs)
Nishiya: It’s natural, but I thought about wanting to accurately bring Ikeda-san’s drawings to visuals.
Ikeda: If you say that, then I believe I could trust you Nishiya-san!

– Did you two chief animation directors have any preparatory meetings?
Ikeda: I never spoke with Nishiya-san. (laughs)
All: (laugh)
Yamada: They have this bond of trust between them.
Ikeda: Really there was no need for us to talk. I had absolute faith in him.
Nishiya: Hearing you say that makes me feel wonderful. This time Ikeda-san’s designs for the main characters were drawn anew. Kumiko’s hair also became more gentler…….
Ikeda: That it did. I wondered if I should modernize it because it’s a movie so I changed things a little. I wonder if the animation staff thought this was easier to draw. Director Ishihara said to keep the designs similar to the TV series, so I wasn’t lost at all. If he didn’t say anything, I think I would’ve gotten lost in making their eyes smaller to match “Liz.”
Ishihara: The first designs for the TV series were really good. They were the result of a lot of work that Ikeda-san put into them.
Ikeda: Thank you very much. I’m always embarrassed to look back at the first designs I draw of something, but I was able to draw these revisions while looking at them. (laughs) I brought them to this roundtable today. Look at the approval date. It says “2014”!
Yamada: We’ve been going with these for a while…..

“Liz” and “Our Promise”

– Were there any differences in producing the movies compared to the TV series?
Ishihara: There weren’t any major differences in how we made this compared to the TV series. It feels like I drew around 5 episodes worth of storyboards for the film. However, I put a lot of details into the visuals thinking “It’s a movie so I’ll do this!” as I drew them….. In the performance scenes, you’ll be able to see characters at the back moving around nicely. I couldn’t give detailed instructions when I was drawing the storyboards, but I could see them moving around in the layouts the key animation staff drew. I conveyed “They’re moving around…. It’s a movie so let’s do this!”
Ikeda: I believe I conveyed to them that the director wanted them to move when we were at the animation meetings.
Ishihara: Every one of our animator staff is so serious so I thought that they would think about how to make them move without saying anything. I’m so grateful to them.

– How was making the performance scenes?
Ishihara: The performance scenes were difficult! The free piece Kumiko played in her first year “Crescent Moon Dance,” was shown with only slight changes during two TV seasons and two movies, but this film would only have “Liz and the Blue Bird” performed once in the entire film, so it was difficult. At the end of the story, the performance scene alone had an additional 200 cuts!
Ikeda: All of the band members were shown, weren’t they?
Ishihara: I believe all of them were drawn. The quick revolving scene near the climax of the piece were done to show all of the band members.
Ikeda: Nishiya-san was the chief animation director for that part. Was it difficult?
Nishiya: “Liz” shows Mizore and Nozomi mainly, so the characters behind them weren’t shown clearly, but here they are shown very visibly…. It was difficult for the key animation staff to pack all of them into the drawings.
Ishihara: However, I’ve reflected a bit and thought maybe we should’ve blurred the screen some due to the large amount of information drawn……
Yamada: I’ve thought about that too…. I feel like you love to show a lot of information at once, so I feel that’s a creative quirk of yours, Director Ishihara.
Ikeda: It is. Besides, that decision wasn’t wrong.
Ishihara: I was so serious about it at that time. I’ll say “A has to be A” and then a little later I’ll think “hmm, A was A, right?”……. With “Our Promise,” there weren’t much movement, but I wanted to add more synchronized portions with “Liz.” As a result, I paid too much attention to “Liz” when I first drew the storyboards so I also went to see Yamada-san for corrected portions.
Yamada: Hmm…… It’s difficult to phrase what I said, so I’ll stop talking now. (laughs) It felt like you paid attention to the balance between both films.
Ikeda: That was one of the good parts about having time after “Liz.”
Ishihara: After Yamada-san read the storyboards, I made various changes to them and….. We’ll talk about this in detail another time! That should help those of you who won’t come see the movie again come back!

New characters with plenty individuality

– A lot of new characters appear in this film.
Ishihara: Actually, we slightly decreased the number of band members in the TV series compared to the novels, but the same number of new members that was mentioned in the novels appear in “Our Promise,” 43. How was it drawing a lot of new characters, Ikeda-san?
Ikeda: Many new members appear in ”Liz” while we were working on “Our Promise,” so I had already begun drawing them.
Nishiya: That’s right.
Yamada: I remember their designs being completed very quickly.
Ikeda: I began drawing them when I only had the plot of the novels, so I drew them freely without much information. Afterwards, I received the novel illustrations and the illustrations for the main characters that Nikki Asada-san drew, so I drew them based off of Asada-san’s illustrations. The images I originally drew of the main characters were used as other band members’ designs.
Nishiya: Were there characters who differed from how they were depicted in the novel?
Ikeda: For main characters, I changed my impressions of Kanade. The Kanade that Asada-san drew felt more like a “little imp,” but when I met with Director Ishihara and Yamada-san, someone said that Kanade was a “tanuki.” (laughs)
Yamada: What? Did someone really say that?
Ikeda: Yamada-san said that.~ She said nonchalantly “with a tanuki face.” (laughs)
Nishiya: What about her was a “tanuki?”
Ikeda: Probably her cuteness without any ill will…. It was refreshing to draw someone so cute and heart-warming.
Also I’ve enjoyed drawing Yume Kohinata since I read the novels……
Yamada: Ikeda-san gets emotionally attached, so Yume-chan left quite an impression on her.
Ikeda: I feel that girl was made for anime.
Yamada: Ikeda-san would say “she would probably wear different color socks than everyone else.”….
Ikeda: She’s serious, so she’s the type of girl who would wear something that isn’t white. Something similar to that is fine….. I think…..maybe (laughs)
Nishiya: You hadn’t paid attention to anyone else’s socks before.
Ikeda: It was written that she would remove her glasses when performing, so I had her design not have her glasses be transparent usually in order to bring out her individual cuteness when she took them off, but her story wasn’t included in the end. She just became another new trumpet player in “Our Promise.” If this was a TV series, we’d get to draw her more so her character would stand out, but alas.

– Were there any portions that you were fixated upon?
Ikeda: This time I was fixated upon the SunFest costumes.
Ishihara: We talked about those a lot. I conveyed what I wanted at first, but it wasn’t me that said “show their navels!” (laughs)
All: (laugh)
Ikeda: When we thought about what bonus illustrations to include with the advance tickets and what the audience would be happy with, we went ahead and made the SunFest costumes first.
Ishihara: At first I thought about having something more like an idol costume, but when it was decided to have the parade piece be a samba, Ikeda-san and Yamada-san brought up focusing on the samba aspect.
Yamada: However real samba costumes have more of a “strong” feeling than a “cute” feeling, so I asked Ikeda-san to finish them while making them cute for high schoolers to wear.
Ikeda: I drew them while looking at a lot of samba pictures, so I wondered if it would be alright for their navels to stick out. (laughs)
Nishiya: It’s a catchy costume. The boys’ navels don’t protrude out though.
Ikeda: When thinking about sambas, I wondered if it would be alright for the boys to be bare above the waist. (laughs) However the way to draw those costumes could become overly sensual, so I took care to balance their designs so that they would look like healthy high schoolers.

Kumiko’s year become upperclassmen.

– With Kumiko’s year going up a year, were there any points that changed about them?
Ikeda: Director Ishihara spoke to me about not changing the designs of the main characters too much, but I added some additional details to the main four and Shuichi to take advantage of their advancement. I wanted to show Yuuko’s change of heart once she became president by cutting her hair. Girls would do that at those times.
Ishihara: Also, (Tomoe) Kabe-chan changed from the TV series too, didn’t she? She became cuter.
Yamada: Another interesting piece is how free the new students are with their uniforms compared to the upperclassmen. There are a lot of characters who arrange their uniforms differently and change how they wear their ribbons too. You can see their personalities easily through that.
Ikeda: Since it was part of the novel that Satsuki wore a cardigan, I added that Kabe wore one too so she would fit in. I wonder if maybe the first years had too much freedom.

– Were there any other characters that changed?
Ishihara: I feel that Sapphire also was put into the category of “tiny senpai.” It clenches at your heart when you say it like that, but she’s a good senpai.
Nishiya: Sapphire is wonderful isn’t she~
Yamada: Nishiya-san is enchanted by her (laughs) Sapphire is a good senpai who will scold you when you’re doing something wrong, but then let you off easy. She has things she believes in, but she’s someone who’s flexible and doesn’t stay stubborn……. You can’t tell by watching her.
Ikeda: Also this is a very small detail, but Reina’s loafers became black.

– Please give a message to all the fans.
Nishiya: So I’m first….. The storyboards the director drew were very fantastic.
Ishihara: Actually Nishiya-san said that at the beginning. I was uneasy about the storyboards I drew, so hearing those words helped me feel much better.
Nishiya: Naturally the way Director Ishihara had lines delivered and nonchalant gestures was very good and I felt that this would become something fun. Also the way you depicted Kumiko was perfectly lovely. It became a story to empathize with her. For fans who have continually supported “Eupho,” this is your long-awaited new film. I think it’ll be one that you’ll be very happy with, so it’d please me if you enjoy it.
Yamada: If you were to sum the film in one word, it’d be “impressive,” wouldn’t it? Seeing it makes you feel good, it’s filled with lots of details, and it’s beautiful until the very end, so I think it’s a very good-hearted film.
Ikeda: There are a lot of new characters who appear, so a lot of the staff who worked on this film have carefully depicted all of them one-by-one in this story. This is a film where you can feel the density of the thoughts the staff spent on bringing the characters to life. It’d make us happy if you see it enough times to absorb everything to the fullest.
Ishihara: When I was drawing the storyboards and when I finished drawing them, it felt like I had drawn a lot. I thought that I had drawn enough storyboards that the running time had gotten longer, but actually it was around the planned amount. When I first started drawing storyboards, a ten minute segment grew into fifteen minutes so… It felt like this had grown longer than that. (laughs) And while I say that, I could also say that this became a film whose contents were so packed it feels like “concentrated juice.” I certainly think you’ll enjoy seeing it.
Thank you for coming!

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