Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me! Roundtable #1: Hand-drawn Animation Staff

This is a newly translated roundtable featuring the staff involved with the hand-drawn animation portion of Love, Chuniybo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me (key animation and in-betweens). It was published in the “This is Who We Are Now!! 2019” book sold alongside tickets to the 2019 KyoAni & Do Event and sold individually.

Looking back at our works 2019

Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me –

Interview 1:

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Character Designer/Chief Animation Director: Kazumi Ikeda
Prop Design: Hiroyuki Takahashi

Rikka’s clothing motif was a caterpillar!

– When production started on Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions – Take On Me – (hereafter Take On Me), what kind of discussions did you have?
Ishihara: What I remember is talking with Ikeda-san about Rikka’s clothing and saying “I imagine her as a caterpillar and butterfly.”
Ikeda: I was incredibly bewildered when he said the word “caterpillar.” (laughs) But when he explained “Rikka is a young lady, so I’d like to represent her moving from a caterpillar into her cocoon and then the transition into a butterfly,” I completely understood what he meant. However, how would you make a caterpillar cute? I searched through the internet for images of caterpillars, but of course they aren’t cute at all.
All: (laughs)
Ikeda: So because of that discussion, I designed that her clothing when first setting out on their trip in the image of a caterpillar and her next coat would be like a cocoon….

Ishihara: We designed her clothing in a butterfly motif originally, but I thought that the fluttering around would put too much additional burden on the animator staff, so we settled on her wearing the clothes you see in the scene on the boat now. That is modeled after the common bluebottle butterfly.  Also, I wanted Nibutani’s clothes to have a cheer girl and school uniform motif.
Ikeda: You said at the very beginning that you “wanted the cheer uniform clothing to have 84” on the chest of the clothes. What was the reason for that?
Ishihara: Why 84 in particular…… I believe that I must like that number.
All: (laughs)
Ishihara: It was Ikeda-san’s design sense that had Nibutani’s hair in a side ponytail when she was in Shichimiya’s bedroom.
Ikeda: A hairstyle just for that room. I designed that as a hair style that you’d wear only in a bed room that was different than the same hairstyle she would wear outside.

– The characters’ clothes in the film are the same, but are coordinated differently throughout the film.
Ikeda: This film is a trip, so it’d be strange if all their clothes that they’d take along would be different, so to reduce the size of their luggage, I changed how they would be coordinated while keeping the same clothes themselves. However, Dekomori was different. I thought that she’d certainly be someone who’d bring along more sets of clothes, so she wore completely different ones throughout.
Ishihara: Touka’s clothes are always a struggle as well.
Ikeda: Aren’t they? I was so anxious while designing her wedding dress. If I were to draw it from the front, then it would be a very detailed design, but if I tried to make it simpler, then it would look cheap and ugly. I struggled balancing between those two. Also, this film is the first time in the franchise where she doesn’t wear her choker, so I added that aspect.
Ishihara: When it came to designing clothes, we had two patterns: one where I would convey a precise image to Ikeda-san like Rikka’s caterpillar to butterfly style and another where I would leave it to her to design and then ask for changes when it was done. For this film, I generally left it all to Ikeda-san to design other than Rikka and Nibutani’s clothes. Her work on Dekomori’s clothes was especially cute.
Ikeda: But when it came to Dekomori’s wedding ceremony dress, I presented a dress based off of a ladybug motif to Ishihara-san and he said “Please make it normal.”
Ishihara: In what way would there need to be a ladybug? (laughs)
Ikeda: It’s a wedding, so there has to be ladybugs. I was reminded of an old wedding song.
Ishihara: Wait a minute, you didn’t say that. (laughs)
Ikeda: It’s somewhat of a Showa way of thinking. (laughs)

Gaps in life reflect “chuunibyo-ish” thoughts

– Please tell us about the props that were newly designed for this film.
Ishihara: Rikka’s suitcase was created very early on, wasn’t it?
Ikeda: We needed it for the teaser visual, so it was created first.
Ishihara: Right it was. That’s why the clothes were still uniforms and other aspects were from the TV series.
Takahashi: But I remember worrying when designing that suitcase.
Ishihara: You worried over it?
Takahashi: I did. Ishihara-san gave me clear instructions of a “coffin image” for it, but through trial and error, there’s only fragments of that image in the design sheets. At one point, the handle was supposed to be bone-shaped, but I had already forgotten about the instructions when I was revising my designs.
Ishihara: You’re right, it’s certainly a different shape.
Ikeda: If you hadn’t mentioned anything, I wouldn’t have noticed that part….
Ishihara: I also asked Takahashi-san to design the ring that Yuuta gives Rikka in a “butterfly motif” as well.
Takahashi: In addition to the butterfly, I also mixed in some designs like a “suspicious skull ring” with what the vendor was selling.
Ishihara: While I wanted this film to convey the theme of “chuunibyou will always be chuunibyou” I also wanted to depict the “growth of a young miss” as well. That’s why I wanted it to be in the style of a butterfly and why we inserted the butterfly motif in this film as well.
Takahashi: Now that I think about it, including some other works we were working on at the same time, I designed quite a lot of vehicles. On the side of the bus that they ride from Wakayama, I included an orange and sun motif. The orange pulp appears to be bursting out from the sun.
Ishihara: Is that because it’s from Wakayama?
Takahashi: Yes it is. There are other things that Wakayama is known for, but I wanted to highlight their oranges in our film.
Ishihara: Come to think of it, their cell phones changed too.
Takahashi: They used flip-style cell phones in the TV series, but for the movie, everyone uses smartphones.

Ikeda: Dekomori’s case is utterly amazing. Instead of a case, she uses an entire frog itself.
Takahashi: That was because Ishihara-san loves frogs.
Ishihara: I do. Even now I have a frog doll on my desk at the office.
Takahashi: When I was designing Dekomori’s smartphone case, I used Ishihara-san’s own items to design it with.
Ishihara: There are smartphone cases shaped like isopods as well, so I thought that her carrying that kind of case would be entertaining.
Takahashi: Conversely, Nibutani’s was simple. Since she’d want to hide her embarrassing past, it shows that she’d pick a simple design to do so.  Originally, she wouldn’t like one in this style though. Yuuta’s case is simple for the same reasons. Touka’s case is also a simple design, but in her situation, it reflects her calm rational personality more.
Ikeda: In the TV series, Yuuta’s phone was also designed to be normal, but his e-mail address reflected his old tastes.
Ishihara: We designed it so that he wouldn’t have changed it from the time he was in middle school.
Takahashi: Surely he wouldn’t be able to hide those feelings. In some color or form, you should be able to see chunnibyou through his gaps somewhat.
Ishihara: I also realized during this time that the things I’ve liked haven’t changed over time. The other day another staff member asked me about the shirt I was wearing. This was something fashioned in the motif of an American firefighter uniform. As I was reminiscing, I remembered that it was the same design as the clothes in a science fiction drama I loved as a kid…. Ah, that will never change, and so.
Takahashi: That’s why I think Yuuta and Nibutani will both be unable to restrain themselves when they turn forty or so. They’ll surely come back to their chuunibyou roots.
Ishihara: They might. Like wearing clothes with the outlines of skeletons in them. (laughs)

It’s important, so it’s “interesting”

– What portions related to the animation were you predominantly focused on?
Ikeda: I don’t remember doing a lot of adjustments for Rikka, but I remember inserting a lot of corrections to the key animation that came to me with Yuuta in it. Like with his hair pointing up and such.
Ishihara: We had been working on the Free! series just before production, so I wanted the staff to pay attention to the proportions of the characters and I remember talking to the animation staff about that. I wanted them to pull away from other titles and bring out the Chunibyo sense.
Ikeda: I certainly remember paying attention to shoulder width. There were lots of scenes where Rikka’s clothes showed her shoulder width, so I was certainly focused on that while looking over them.

– Takahashi-san, you didn’t just design props for this film, you also drew key animation, didn’t you?
Takahashi: I did. I drew 2nd key animation frames for this film. But now that I think back, I think I could’ve drawn them better if I think so.
Ishihara: Cars, planes, and even trains, all the vehicles were mostly Takahashi-san. He would handle the difficult points to draw. I wondered if we should make all the mechanical object CGI in this film, but it felt like the title itself would feel better if they weren’t represented in CG, so they were mostly hand-drawn. Recently, it’s common for CG to handle mechanical objects, so I feel like the amount of people who could draw them in animation has declined…….
Takahashi: I feel like rather than people can’t draw them, it’s more that the amount of people who have an interest in machines themselves has decreased. When drawing something mechanical, you absolutely have to have an interest in what you’re drawing. I assembled plastic models when I was a child, so I wonder if that’s why I’m so familiar with them.
Ishihara: That’s almost always the route isn’t it? I wonder if it’s from our era.
Ikeda: I don’t have an interest much in machinery, but I drew a train for the key visual for this film. When I was drawing it, I had to investigate to properly draw it and it was quite interesting! I felt like I gradually got hooked into their appeal. Each car is different and how they’re lined up is different. There’s no end to how far you can look into them!
Takahashi: People who don’t know a lot about trains will simply draw the same car over and over again, but actually they are different cars. It’s fascinating. Ikeda-san, welcome to the world of trains!
All: (laughs)
Ikeda: But when I was drawing the train, even though I had collected various references, there were some things that I still had to search for. There’s a lot of black objects underneath the car portion and I couldn’t tell what was there, so I went to a museum where real trains were displayed for help. Usually I ask Takahashi-san to draw machinery-related objects, but when I was working on the key visual, Takahashi-san was very busy working on other things, so I drew it myself.
Takahashi: That’s how it was. This time I also drew key animation, but since I had my hand in with work for other productions at the same time, I unfortunately wasn’t able to work on key animation for the ferry portion.
Ishihara: The ferry portion was quite challenging. We weren’t able to board one during the scouting period, so we took pictures from the port. We couldn’t take pictures from above of this giant ferry, so we did our best with the model ferry that was displayed at the port itself.
Takahashi: Our climatic scene was on top of the ship, but Ishihara-san decided to use a spinning camera to direct the scene.
Ishihara: I considered putting the camera on the inside facing them and moving closer, but in the end I went with rotating it. Camera work is something that you try a lot of things with, so I’m sure it’ll be discussed later as well.

Don’t you want to seek the “unusual”?

– Each character moves and acts in their own unique way, so how do you think about what they would do when you are drawing the storyboards?
Ishihara: When I draw the storyboards, it’s a time where the characters move on their own. What I mean by that is that they don’t have a profound meaning for how they act; I don’t draw them with that intention in mind. For me, it’s not so much “I considered how they would act,” but more “I did my best to represent the characters moving in front of me.” I think that the scenes near the airport were in particularly wonderful; the characters moved with wonderful feeling to them. However, it’s tough to convey to others that kind of weird motion……..
Takahashi: All of the characters in the Chunibyo series have some element of Ishihara-san coming out in them.
Ishihara: That’s probably true.
Takahashi: Especially the scene in the TV series opening animation where Rikka spins her fingers around with both hands. I’ve seen that pose where someone uses both hands to point at someone in other works where Ishihara-san storyboarded even before Chunibyo. It’s never one hand; it’s ALWAYS both hands doing it.
Ishihara: Now that you mention it, I’ve done it for quite some time. (laughs) Maybe it’s unconscious movements?

– There are a lot of moments of chuunibyou sense in this film like the potential child’s name of “Yggdrasil Ragnarok”.
Ishihara: Mostly I was the one who thought up those kinds of things. (laughs)
Takahashi: The map of Japan that appears throughout the film was also drawn by Ishihara-san.
Ishihara: That it was. Originally, whatever Yuuta had drawn in the TV series, I was the one who would draw it, so I drew it and the imaginary God that Yuuta imagined. I drew a lot this time, didn’t I? Oh yes, that God didn’t appear in the script at all. For me, there’s times where “I’m conflicted and need to make a decision, so I’ll ask God.” Since were there a lot of scenes where Yuuta would struggle with his thoughts while on the trip with Rikka, I thought Yuuta would need to talk to Him too.
Takahashi: The whole Chunibyo series truly has a lot of Ishihara flavor to it.
Ishihara: Well, since a director’s own town comes out in a title, it’s natural for that to happen.

– What are your thoughts looking back on this film?
Ishihara: For me, Chunibyo itself has my own personal taste projected straight onto it, so it’s an easy title to depict.
Takahashi: Chunibyo is a title where you have a lot of freedom to draw what you want, you can do a lot of things, design a lot, animate a lot, and something that feels worthwhile to work on. There’s a lot of titles now that use CG to animate vehicles, so the amount of chances to draw them by hand are decreasing. There were a lot of times that I got to draw them in Take On Me, so I’m immensely grateful.
Ikeda: I feel that the characters and world from this franchise are easy to understand. Since we’ve worked with them throughout a long series, it was so much fun to expand on our understanding of the characters and bring out new aspects of them through their designs in Take On Me. Also, I was able to draw various illustrations for the film.
Ishihara: I remember wracking my head to figure out what illustration we should do for each month in the limited advance tickets.
Ikeda: I remember you specifically saying that “Rikka’s wingtips should be white” in the Halloween illustration.
Ishihara: Rikka presents to be devilish, but she’s actually a fallen angel…… or so she made up. Yes, I feel like people now want a bit of fantasy in their real lives. Dressing up on Halloween and going out is also another example of people wanting that unusual feeling. In the past, only people who imagined and want that feeling would think to do that kind of thing, but now it’s pretty much spread to everyone. I think that aspect of Chunibyo where people want the unusual might be part of its appeal for the fans.

– Thank you for your time today.

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