This is a newly translated roundtable from the booklet included with the Japanese home video release of Sound! Euphonium ~Our Promise: A Brand New Day~. 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
– Please tell us about any secret stories that happened during production of Sound! Euphonium ~ Our Promise: A Brand New Day (hereafter “Our Promise”).
Ikeda: For this title, my impression was that the staff had a tough time even though they grasped the characters while I was checking over everything as chief animation director.
Yamada: There were a lot of characters who appeared for the first time in “Our Promise.”
Nishiya: Of course our staff stretches their capabilities, but at the scene near the beginning of the story where everyone is crowded together, the characters in the background were shown with their individualities as well. They really worked hard to create that visual on-screen.
Yamada: That scene was very difficult. But when I took a look at the key animation handed up, rather than difficulty, what was passed on to me was the fun they had working on it. I feel our staff are firmly standing in support. What do you think Director Ishihara?
Ishihara: The animation for the performance scenes are always difficult, but surprisingly it was a challenge to present drizzle during the Agata Festival scenes. We had rain falling down in CG, and though the amount of rain decreased, it wasn’t becoming “drizzle”……
Ikeda: You expressed that many times to the staff members working on it.
Yamada: In that scene, Kumiko doesn’t open her umbrella even though you could see the rain, so I think people may wonder “why is she not opening it?” There are a lot of people who open their umbrellas even for a little bit of rain.
Ishihara: It wasn’t just the rain itself, but things like feeling the road damp with water. That type of indirect expression was important.
Ikeda: In the end there wasn’t any uncomfortableness. With the street lights and other bright areas illuminating the rain, it felt very naturally.
Ishihara: Of course depicting natural phenomena is difficult.
New 1st years appear!
Nishiya: How do you think everyone felt about the new first years now that they’ve seen them?
Yamada: Even though they have strong personalities, it was tough to show them. Director Ishihara wanted to show that portion of selfishness Kanade has, so I think that was shown very well.
Ishihara: I thought our audience would accept Kanade, but I worried that they wouldn’t be able to accept Mirei or not. We changed the timing where she quit the band from the novel. In the novel she quits during practice for SunFest, but in the film it’s right before it. I didn’t know if they would question “she said that at this point?!”…..
– What about Satsuki and Motomu?
Ikeda: At the beginning where Satsuki and Hazuki talk about their alma mater they were supposed to synchronize their poses, but when I first saw that cut, I thought “they’re drawn the same way, what do I do?!” (laughs)
Yamada: That’s one kind of comedy. Also the scene before the auditions where she lays all over her desk and whines “Ah!!!!! This is useless! Help me Micchan~” is immensely cute! She’s wearing a skirt and yet she boldly opens her legs too. Those kinds of things are cute.
Ishihara: She opened them further at the beginning. Then Ikeda-san said to me “Aren’t they open a bit too wide?”
Ikeda: Huh, I said that?
Ishihara: Wait, I thought it was Ikeda-san who said that….. But it stuck with me, so someone in our staff had to mention that to me….
Yamada: For portions about Motomu…. I asked Ikeda-san to check over the scene at the beginning when he’s in the instrument room with his senpais holding his hands in his pockets.
Ikeda: Yes, yes! He’s got his hands in his pockets while being advised by his senpais, so I didn’t know if he should take them out or not.
Yamada: Thanks to you it became a good scene. (laughs)
The film Liz and the Blue Bird
– While you were working on “Our Promise,” what kind of connections did you make between it and Liz and the Blue Bird (hereafter “Liz”)?
Ishihara: First I asked Yamada-san to look over the storyboards. I adjusted the storyboards while taking in her thoughts. Actually at first I thought the scene where Mizore and Nozomi are at the shooting gallery would be during the time where Nozomi was worrying, so I had it depicted immensely seriously. Yamada-san said to me that I shouldn’t focus too much on “Liz” so I adjusted it.
Yamada: While I understood the route that Director Ishihara wanted to depict, we met regarding being aware of the feelings from those who hadn’t seen “Liz” as well. The musical piece “Liz and the Blue Bird” could only be for Mizore and Nozomi, so we wanted to make that piece very impressive in “Our Promise.” And then it’s the relationship between Kumiko and Reina…… I feel “Liz and the Blue Bird” takes on many forms. When showing the climatic competition performance, we didn’t want to treat our audience like “you’ve seen “Liz”, haven’t you?” so we wanted to convey a meaning through “Liz and the Blue Bird” in the performance during “Our Promise.”
Ishihara: I feel that the competition is where all of the drama our characters have gone through comes up once more.
Nishiya: For me, I felt that it was Director Ishihara’s “Eupho” without feeling any connection to “Liz.”
Yamada: Since Director Ishihara gradually adds lots of good things, I feel that this film feels a bit sudden despite having a lot of depth compared to “Liz.” He made “Our Promise” while pondering what pitch he would throw next.
Ishihara: Thanks to all of you, I was able to pitch whatever I wanted.
Nishiya: This film had several cuts in it where it suddenly switched to being filmed with a smartphone. How was the reception to that?
Ishihara: I believe they understood that these were videos that we wanted to do. I love documentary pieces like interviewing the guardians or principals like these types of videos. I wanted to show off the new students as much as possible with these. Also I made it easy to understand why the scene changed to these cuts.
– Did you prepare any type of compositing adjustments for these cuts?
Ishihara: We were going to apply adjustments to make the screen appear rougher, but modern smartphone camera quality these days is quite good. So since we didn’t use that effect because people might not think it was smartphone footage, we had some troubles with that presentation. I thought the one cut with the camera shaking during Yuuko sneezing was immensely good.
– Were there any differences with the key animation compared to normal scenes?
Yamada: We paid attention to the angle of how it would be shown and how would it appear when finished. Since smartphone camera lenses are a bit wide-angle, we talked about how many millimeters the focal length would be.
Ishihara: In the end we weren’t that concerned about it though. When you’re making something, you’re thinking about details, but when you see it in the end, you might not be concerned with it……
Ikeda: Even though we draw anime without thinking too much about it at times, it’s essential for us to think about things that differ slightly from the reality we aim for.
Yamada: They were presented well this time, so they might have been seen as something natural.
Ikeda: Things that are seen as “natural” can’t be drawn unless you properly think about them…… The smartphone scenes may not appear to be scenes that are special, but the director had so much, so much explanations for them. (laughs)
– It might appear that you only thought about changing the aspect ratio of the screen.
Yamada: It doesn’t feel like it’s that simple~
Ishihara: With things that are troublesome to appear “normal,” of course the concert band performance scenes are challenging in “Eupho,” but attaching drama to the everyday dramatic scenes is difficult.
Ikeda: For example, if there are differences in the cuts for how a character swings their arms, then the chief animation director has to adjust them. Since we split the work by unit director and animation director, the only one viewing every part to unify aspects of the characters that isn’t explained is the chief animation director.
Yamada: Oooh, my chest hurts thinking about that……. Do you adjust the acting portions during the chief animation director checks?
Nishiya: We don’t~ We don’t alter poses either. We do adjust the layouts at that stage for the performance scenes though…….
Ikeda: If we adjust one cut, then it will be difficult to adjust every other cut, so fundamentally we check the animation director’s drawings are adhering to guidelines. However, there are cuts that I’ll ask Director Ishihara “Would this way to draw this be better?” when checking over them.
– There were various musical performances throughout the film. How were the music pieces decided upon?
Ishihara: Since a lot of people know the song “That’s The Way It Is,” I chose it for the opening wanting to highlight how catchy it is.
Yamada: At our advance meetings, Director Ishihara proposed several pieces that he had an interest in and then we would listen to them there…..and then choose between them.
Ikeda: You have to have a point where the audience will think “oh!”
Ishihara: After collecting everyone’s ideas for songs, I ordered that they perform “Samba de Loves You” at SunFest.
Yamada: Why did you pick that song?
Ishihara: It’s unabashedly samba! I wonder if I love samba. Also I chose it because it has a tuba solo in it as well.
– Were there any deliberate changes between the performance scenes and the everyday scenes?
Ishihara: There weren’t any portions where we changed the drawing techniques, but for impression, I think the SunFest Uniforms were naturally more impressive.
Yamada: The trumpet player, Suguru Tamaki’s, chubby feeling is so adorable!
Ikeda: It really suits him. If you mention “changed portions,” then the samba scenes were likely more fun to work on because playing a samba song is more fun. Concentrating on over 80 people performing however…… Since there were Rikka High School cuts, we didn’t show them marching that much as I feel we didn’t have the intention to fully animate that.
Kumiko becoming a third year
– A new title in the series has been announced. Production on it is going to start after this, so what kind of story will it become?
Ishihara: I believe it’ll continue based on the novels. With more new first years joining the band, I’d like to depict more than just the main characters.
Ikeda: While we’ll depict the sparkling of the new first years, there’ll also be more mature feelings and worries for Kumiko as a third year senpai…… Having said that, I think it’ll be nice to see the denseness with each generation jostling on the screen. For example, even though everyone wears the same scarf, it’s easy to tell between first years and third years just by color alone. How lovely.
Yamada: Certainly the second year is important once you’re in high school. New information about that title should be announced by the time this booklet is in the readers’ hands, right?
Ishihara: For me, even though I’m thinking “can I say this or not,” I’m not going to say anything!
– Please give a message to those who purchased this home video release.
Nishiya: Did you enjoy “Our Promise?” I think it’s a film you can watch to your heart’s content! If you’ve seen the final scene, then I think you’ll be looking forward to seeing what happens later on. I’m also looking forward to seeing Kumiko as president. Please eagerly anticipate it!
Yamada: Buying the home video release means you want to treasure it enough to keep it at hand. Many different generations have watched “Eupho,” but I think it’ll be lovely to see it as something like a photo album. With Kumiko becoming a third year, then the album will grow even further. We’ll be happy for you to watch this important album.
Ikeda: Kumiko’s first year was adapted a lot into two TV seasons and two films, but even with “Liz,” her second year was only in “Our Promise.” I’m think you’ll be glad you got to see this important story for Kumiko. And welcome to those who are seeing this for the first time through this home video release. We’ve been waiting for you! Please take your time and enjoy the film.
Ishihara: I can say this now…… There was a possibility that “Our Promise” would be the final title for this series. I worked my hardest so that I could think “this is fine if it’s the last adaptation.” I’ll be happy if you watch this over and over again. Next time, “Kumiko’s 3rd year” will definitely be the last one, so we’ll do our best!
* This roundtable was conducted in June 2019.