Tag Archives: Baccano!

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


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.

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

Baccano 3– BAM and the boring search for the brother

and a broken nose for you.playing with fireTantrum

The third episode is more about being off the train then being on it. We learn about Eve looking for her brother. Oh, and her brother is being hunted by mafia. He plays no real part in the series yet. Eve visits some information brokers but none are willing to help her with her search. This is a silly chase where everywhere they go, no one has heard of where her brother is located. No point to the story and overly long. Continue reading Baccano 3– BAM and the boring search for the brother

Baccano 2–the real beginning

lemures?a very awkward hugStealing from the planet eh?

The second episode actually more of a story and plot. The real beginning of the show starts with this episode. We are introduced to the characters and start to get an idea of their personalities. Isaac and Miria are the comic relief who have the required quirks. They are like clowns and acrobats. Miria has the slightly unappealing quirk of repeating most of the things Isaac says. They are plucky and optimistic which is nice. The characters there are little flourishes in some of the character movement that are enjoyable to watch. Some movements look similar to a choreographed dance. Firo gets a minor flesh wound to show off the abilities the immortals.

Baccano 1– Meh

not enough guns but here are some.most annoying girl we never see againfingers come back

If you watch Baccano first kiss your linear thinking goodbye. The first episode is a random collection of events and characters with no real story told. You find certain characters killed and others in situations that don’t make sense. One item learned in the episodic scenes is that certain characters heal after “dieing” and repair of any physical damage. In the end you have a loose introduction to the characters that is done a little better in the theme song for the show. The concept of immortals is not terrible novel or exciting. This episode is not a good setup for the series. At best a loose introduction to other characters. The soundtrack through out the series is jazz keeping with the 1930s feel to the show. The animation is decent and what one would expect. Keeping watching after this episode.

Baccano! First Impressions: The Invincibles

So the title refers to a candy bar? I was wondering…

The first thought when I saw the opening credits: man, this looks like Chrno Crusade (with its early 20th century American setting). The second thought was: just how many characters are there going to be? And how much more butchering of Western names will they do? The description on Animenfo.com promised something akin to Fullmetal Alchemist, one of my favorite shows. But Baccano! turned out to be something quite different and quite intriguing.

With such a huge cast, there needs to be an efficient way to introduce them all, and typically when you have a complex and large world you start in media res. This show is no different, but it uses a framing device in which a cute little girl, Carole, and her grandfather–who happens, significantly, to bear the name of Saint-Germain, thus promising some deep connection to alchemy in the future–discuss where and with whom they should start the story. I am not sure the best way to begin an ambitious tale like this is to talk abstractly about the nature of truth, though.

A few decades early for postmodernism? Or that 90s newspaper design? (That's the Guardian, isn't it?)

Eventually, after some meandering discussion for the first third of the episode, we see some action–and violent action it is. Body parts explode and get severed, which surprised me to be honest (I guess I didn’t know what to expect). We shouldn’t be surprised, though: it turns out this is as much a Mafia story as it is a story about alchemy, a Goodfellas for the anime crowd. The alchemists–who are, indeed, the bearers of the brunt of the violence because they know they can completely be regenerated again–are part of different Mafia families who are alternately allied and at war with each other. They nevertheless have a kind of bond with each other which is evident at the end, but it sows the seed for future conflict. This isn’t the first time an anime has dealt so extensively with the Mafia (as opposed to the yakuza), is it? Since the show is set during Prohibition, when gangs proliferated, it’s a very appropriate time period for it at least.

My worry with this show is the same as any other large multi-cast show–can they develop the characters well enough to make them distinct and interesting at the same time? Bokurano dealt with it by focusing on mostly one at a time before killing them off. Other shows get tons of episodes. This one appears to want to have a knotty, convoluted story, which I can see going into multiple seasons. Will it be like the superb Monster, or more like Bleach and Naruto? I’m also wondering how they are going to handle putting magic/alchemy in the middle of 20th century America. The shock and surprise at the regeneration of the various alchemists shows that it’s not a casually accepted fact of life, the way it is in FMA. Will this be a standard mob story with a few near-invincible characters added on, or will the magical elements play a much more key role? (The fact that there is a character named Saint-Germain suggests the latter.)

And is it just me, or has there been an alchemy boom in anime lately? First FMA, which was very well-researched all things considered. Then Le Chevalier D’Eon, which borrowed much from real history. This is probably one of the more original combinations and I’m interested to see where this goes next.