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Interview: Takahiro Omori (dir. Natsume Yuujinchou) and Yumi Sato

OmoriAndSato1

We had the privilege of speaking to Natsume Yuujinchou, Hotarubi no Mori e, Durarara!!, Baccano!, and Kuragehime director Takahiro Omori along with Brains Base producer Yumi Sato at Fanime 2013. Below is a transcript of our interview with them. Questions were asked by Jeremy Booth; transcript translation by Rome. Video (shot by gendomike) is forthcoming —gendomike

Jeremy: do you have particular works you like that you’ve been involved in? Why?

Omori: I like all of them, [but] the one I worked really hard with challenge with the sense of achievement was Baccano.

Sato: I also like all of them, but the first anime that got approved as my project that I submitted was Natsume Yujincho. So, it is Natsume.

What is like working on a project together, day by day?

Omori: If we are making something together, we fight, and there are a lot of hard feelings. It is pretty common. (Laughs) But if we finish perfectly and get good reviews, then that is great.

What happens when you have differing opinions? Do you decide with rock-paper-scissors (jank-ken-pon)?

Omori: (Laughs) We don’t do jankenpon, but we do discuss a lot. If we have to decide in an either/or situation, then the final decision will be mine, but of course we talk a lot.

What are some points of conflict?

Omori: Well, regarding the story, the scenario writer will be the center of the discussion, A lot of people are involved, so it’s not about conflict between me and Sato. The discussion between us is more about staff to choose for production and work processes, arrangement.

You’ve often directed two works by the same original author.* What keeps you coming back? 

Omori: First, we get good reputation from works, and original manga writer and editor that arranges original manga writer function as a same team for production, so it’s already established the team work. For Hotarubi, it was Sato-san, she had a strong desire to do this work.

Natsume and Hotarubi are about people being friends with spirits/yokai. What’s appealing to you about stories with yokai?

Omori: Through spirit and yokai, we try to depict what happens in real human life. So for me, it is that point when i try to depict that.

Sato: For me, I think it just happens to be a interaction between human and yoke, like these interactions, they get sad and happy, these emotional interactions are just this time happen to be yokai, and i was very touched by that part, and in me, it just touched my koto (japanese string instrument) string.

Which character(s) did you feel a connection to or felt were most important? What did you gain from that experience?

Omori: Isaac and Miria from Baccano!. I made them, but I think they gave me more than I gave to them…of course, they are already defined in the original novel, so I didn’t create them initially. But as I was adapting them into anime, they grew as characters by themselves. I didn’t think they would end up holding the whole series together, until I finally realized that they held the key to almost every story. When I understood that, I was convinced: “this is it.”

Sato: For me, it’s Natsume-kun, but he was very difficult character: how do you choose his clothing, his word choices? Those can makes a huge difference in the viewer’s impression…and how does he interacts? I paid close attention to this character, and I think that was also the case for Kamiya-san, who played Natsume, who was giving the attention while reading the script at the same time. Actually, once, Takada-san, the character designer, got into a huge fight with Omori over that performance. “Natsume is not like this! This is not his personality!”

Omori: If a character is growing, it means that he can’t stay in the same place forever.

Which is more important, the artistic/visual style or story?

Omori: Both story and visuals are important. But fundamentally, it’s important that a character’s personality, visuals, and role in the story not be a mismatch from the original story. So, it’s a balancing act.

What’s the most challenging part of adapting manga to anime?

Omori: As much as possible, I want to recreate the original manga’s “taste.” It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but I want to recreate its atmosphere. That job is more for the character designer though, and my role is just to give a judgement. Rather my struggle was—in manga, it depends on the readers where their mental impression of the work comes from. Especially like Natsume or other shoujo mangas use multiple visual expressions: in the same frame, a character can express two different emotions. But on the motion picture, because the time axis is continuous, I have to cut one of the expressions out. Or, we express those multiple emotions by changing the dialogue. We do that often, and that balancing act is where we always have struggled.

Sato-san, tell us about your first experience as an animation producer.

Sato: My first work as a producer was actually Kamichu!. I had gotten into a fight with the owner of the anime studio, and he assigned me to do this work: “Do this!” And that become actually my first produced work, but I didn’t know what to do. So my first experience was one filled with desperation.

What was the challenge?

Sato: I didn’t know too many things. Everything was the first time for me, so I didn’t know what I did was right or wrong, and that was the toughest. I wasn’t confident, so I couldn’t really lead and direct my staff, and that was the most painful part.

You’ve came a long way since then.

Sato: Ever since I started working with Omori-san, I’ve developed a really thick skin.


*Omori directed Natsume Yuujinchou and the short film Hotarubi no Mori e, both whose manga were written by Yuki Midorikawa. The light novels of Baccano! and Durarara!! were written by Ryohgo Narita.

Durarara!! A DVD Review!

In a city where everything and everyone appears to be linked by an odd series of seemingly “unconnected” circumstances, Mikado Ryugamine is the new kid on the block.  Having just moved to Ikebukuro, Tokyo, at the invitation of his best friend Masaomi Kida, Mikado observes things he never imagined in his wildest dreams.  He learns first hand that life in the big city is as exciting as it is treacherous, whether it be learning the origins of the mysterious gang known only as “The Dollars,” or trying to stay out of the way of some of Ikebukuro’s more undesirable characters, such as the sinister information broker Izaya Orihara.   And to top it all off, on his first night in the city he catches glimpse of the “urban legend” known as the Headless Rider, a supposedly headless driver of a black motorcycle that zooms around the streets of the Ikebukuro.

Now I know that doesn’t really sound like much of a conventional plot summary, and that is intentional because Durarara!! is probably one of the most unconventional anime I have ever seen.  It’s an anime that focuses more (at least in the beginning) on its characters than it does on an overarching plot.  It relies completely on these unique characters to hook the audience, draw them in, and make them stick around long enough for the plot to get moving, which in all honesty takes a bit longer than it probably should.  As an example, the screener disc I received contained the first five episodes and barely touched on what exactly was going on with the story.  Luckily, the aforementioned characters do their job very well.  In fact there are a few of which that are so completely enchanting that they successfully carry this show by themselves till the plot gets cranking.  Not the least of which is The Headless Rider herself, Celty Sturluson, whose story is easily the most interesting of all the characters.

Because this show lives and dies on whether or not you like the cast of characters, it’s a good thing the design and style of the show are also way above par.  The character designs and the animation are simple, sharp, yet fluid and fit the tone of the show perfectly.  Additionally, the city of Ikebukuro itself feels like an active, living breathing entity through the fantastic animation.   This is absolutely necessary as the city connects all the characters together through a series of chance encounters and shared acquaintances.

Durarara!! also has one of the strongest dub casts I have seen in a long time.  Nearly every big name English anime voice actor has a part in this show.  Johnny Yong Bosch ( Trigun, Bleach), Steven Blum (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Shamploo) Kari Walhgren (FLCL, Lucky Star), Yuri Lowenthal (Afro Samurai, Gurren Lagann), Michelle Ruff (Gurren Lagann, Ai Yori Aoshi) and Crispin Freeman  (Hellsing, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) just to name a few.   Every single one of these performances is fantastic.  They bring so much life and personality to their rolls, you might just forget that this show was originally in Japanese.  The show also has probably some of most unique and interesting music any anime has had in quite a long time.  The opening and closing songs alone would be worth buying the soundtrack for.

That’s not to say that Durarara!! is without flaw.  It does start slow, and of all the characters in the show, the main character Mikado is probably the LEAST interesting.   His story doesn’t really get going until the end of the first story arc which is about 10 episodes in.   Also, the show has a bit of ADD and throws a lot at you in the first few episodes introducing the huge cast of characters.  But these are minor quibbles as you will eventually become too engrossed with what is happening to notice.

Simply put, Durarara!! is a ton of fun and infinitely re-watchable.  There really is so much going on in this show and it all ties together in a neat little knot.  On multiple viewings you will catch things you didn’t notice the first time through and then you will rewind it to check and see what else you missed.   Throw in a stellar cast and you have one of the first truly great anime releases to come out in a very long time.

Story – 5  Visual/Anime Quality – 5 Audio/Subs – 5   Extras/Packaging – Not Reviewed

OVERALL – 5 stars out of 5

Durarara Review — English Dub
First 5 episodes
Aniplex
Released January 25th 2011
http://www.durararausa.com

12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: Shizuo vs., Like, Everyone

For my next moment, I turn to one of the year’s most original shows, Durarara!!…and a scene from its 16th episode which alone could qualify for my annual Kickass Award.

I refer, of course, to Shizuo’s REAL ULTIMATE POWER BEATDOWN of the zombiefied hordes.
Continue reading 12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: Shizuo vs., Like, Everyone

Smogsboard of recently watched anime

Warning: No pics – pics helped taking down our server too many times in the past 2 weeks!

Now, I’m sure I spelled something wrong in the title and therefore, nobody will find this one and read it. So, I’m just going to pretend that nobody reads this and just stop restraining myself. OK? Here we go:

Continue reading Smogsboard of recently watched anime

Tsundere Banana 08 – iPad and Durarara and Fail Loli Show and Kawasumi Ayako Character

What it is: a podcast/audio column

Length: around 10 minutes. Less than 10:30. (YES! I hit 10:00 mark and didn’t go over this time!)

Host: Ray from Taipei.

Frequency: Mondays at 10 PM

What it’s about –

1. looking into my so-called Otaku life.

2. Thoughts and opinions on my observations for many things, mostly anime and culture.

3. Inner workings, ideas and others behind the scenes at Anime Diet (animediet.net)

Comment: It’s upclose (perhaps too much for comfort), personal (I got good hygenes) and raw. It’s Ray unplugged.

This episode: Ray talks about the site’s plan with iPad (Wikipedia), which will not include any PMS related activities. He discusses shows of this season – he likes Durarara, he loves Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (God I hate spelling this one), he doesn’t like Dance in the Vampire Bund, he hates Seikon no Qwaser, and he gushes about Ladies vs Butlers.

Matt’s thoughts on Durarara 1 & 2

Anime Diet’s articles on Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu

Article’s on Dance in the Vampire Bund

Articles on Ladies vs Butlers

(No articles on Seikon no Qwaser – why the hell would any of us wants to cover that?)

Durarara! 1 – Headless Bikewoman

So what myths lie in your city?

I was asking myself the question because Taipei had no urban legend, or at least, I was not aware of any.

But the show has intrigued me with its seemingly plain and yet engaging storytelling. Mikato is an average Japanese teenager student and yet he manages to be quite lucky. He meets all the most interesting people that may relate to his life in someway on the very first day he goes to Tokyo. Actually, I saw a lot of interesting things on my first visit to Tokyo as well. For example, I watched Little-Non performing live in Akiba and managed to talk with Nozomi-san (nicest person on earth) – I told her I was a “baka gaijin” and I she jumped out from right behind her desk and assured me that I was not (long story, ask me later). Akiba was so nice then because no ippanjin cared to go there and gawk at everyone else and no stupid police and government officials telling people to “clean up” their acts and stores. That was 2004. Enough with my personal story.

But that was Tokyo: mysterious, exciting, totally different for a surburb boy like me (I lived near DC for more than 10 years). As a matter of fact, a prostitute (she did not look anything like your average adult workers. She was probably a call girl) came into my room and I had to tell her in my poor Japanese: “Wrong room.” I…Yeah, you know. I do kinda regret it because she was pretty.

Tokyo in this show is even more mythical, I mean, the headless bikewoman. That’s right, woman. Because it was a woman’s figure that I saw on my computer screen and the guys bumped into a woman with a scar on her neck. The color of her facial skin was different from her neck.

It may not be the 80’s Tokyo, but it is still oddly appealing. Of course, crime is more rampant than what people in Japan would like you to believe. It is safer than a lot of large cities in other countries, but don’t count on it if you go there.

I found the internet interactions realistic and the animation interesting. The animation is much like Soul Eater just a hell lot less wacky. But the realism is appealing. There is more to the headless horseman myth in this one and I hope to find out more as the show goes on.

Oh and…I think I see a black Russian in the show!!! Awesome! I only wish they animate him so he dances in that famous Russian style and raps in Russian fusion English fusion Japanese. That’d be the coolest fucking thing in anime history…
blog好き poking fun

Watch Durarara on Crunchyroll (Taiwanese need not apply – I didn’t make that rule)

A Rambling Conversation about the Winter 2010 Season

Or, what happens when Ray (rayyhum777) and Mike (sarethiii) start talking. An (relatively) unedited transcript–it’s us, in the raw! And this is all the winter preview you people are gonna get!

For reference, see Chartfag’s table of the upcoming season as well as the link referenced below.

rayyhum777: http://brianandrew.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/winter-2010-anime-season-preview/
rayyhum777: check out Seikon no Quasar

sarethiii: gainax is doing a show about kindergarten?

rayyhum777: oh that.
rayyhum777: yeah.
rayyhum777: I haven’t read the manga.
rayyhum777: it’s about little kids, really little kids…and it creeps me out.
rayyhum777: there is a reason I didn’t mention it.
rayyhum777: because I fear this may be moe to the degree of pure pukeage.

sarethiii: hah. ic

Continue reading A Rambling Conversation about the Winter 2010 Season