Translation: misc Macross F stuff その５
November 20, 2011 9 Comments
These translations are entirely my own work. Feel free to quote, link etc if you wish, but please don’t claim it as your own. Also, there may well be a few mistakes here and there…do let me know if you happen to spot something ^^
Director Interview – Kawamori Shouji
pp.120-123 of the “Official Complete Book”
|Kawamori showing his cast his lego valkyrie model…|
For simplicity’s sake, after the first reference, I am calling the films False Diva and Wings. ——karice
What was the moment when you thought that The Wings of Farewell was complete?
When we were doing the sound editing. Normally, the sound editing for a film is carried out in portions, but after doing a rough version, we played through the entire film. The sound balance hadn’t yet been fine-tuned, but with that viewing, I just thought ‘it’s done’. After we’d finished fine-tuning the sound, the next time we saw it was at the preview screening. I was a lot more nervous that day than for The False Diva. And after the screening, for the first time ever, I started seeing dreams of the editing and sound editing processes. It seems like Macross F might still not have ended for me.
To be honest, this ending is the one closest to the idea that I originally came up with early on.
This time, we’ve come to the end of the story. Did you decide on that ending quickly?
We really wrestled with it, thinking up many patterns. More than anything, I think it’d have been interesting, from an observer’s point of view, to have witnessed the gatherings of all the bigwigs talking about what to do with the (love) triangle, the ending and so on (laughs). To be honest, this ending is the one closest to the idea that I originally came up with early on*. But even then, I had trouble deciding what the dialogue should be even until the day of the recording itself. Towards the end of the recording session, I finalized the dialogue and had Nakamura (Yuuichi), Endo (Aya) and Nakajima (Megumi) record it. Thus, until the day of the preview, the ending of the film was known just to the three of them.
* This could mean ‘early on’ in thinking about the films…or ‘early on’ in the development of Macross F altogether. I’m personally more inclined to think it was the latter… ——karice
Weren’t the voice actors thrown off course by that decision?
For me, I felt that knowing the ending would mean that how they act out the ending would change. I thought that it might be better if they were a little off balance whilst they were acting it out.
At first glance, it seemed like you incorporated something of the atmosphere of the concert from the start into the scene.
That’s right. After we finished recording the final scene, we went back and rerecorded the lines in the introduction of the film. As a result, the final lines that were recorded were the opening lines to Wings.
|“I just wanted to tell you that I-“|
At the climax, Alto was trying to tell Sheryl something, wasn’t he?
He might have said “Ai…Ai-kun,” you know (laughs).
What Alto said – I’ll leave that to your imagination. What is certain is that he was conveying his feelings clearly to Sheryl.
In the last scene, the Vajra folded out and went on a journey somewhere, didn’t they?
That’s basically what happened. What isn’t clear is whether Ai-kun left with them.
Do you see this as a happy end? Or as a bad end?
To me, I don’t think about it in the B&W manner of whether it was a happy end or a bad one. Because I feel that it’s precisely this kind of thinking, about what is good and what is bad, that gives rise to the various problems and issues that we see in modern society. Back to this film, rather than something good or bad, I wanted to end in a way where the protagonists are able to take another step forward.
Have you looked at fan reactions since the movie was released?
At the event on the opening day, when I was walking around Ikebukuro’s Namja Town, I was really glad when fans came up to me to talk about it. Their views on the ending of the (love) triangle were generally what I’d expected, but what they thought had happened to Alto was rather surprising. Well, we’ve gotten a range of different opinions from everyone. But I think that would have been the case no matter what we decided upon. It really was a difficult decision to make.
|Endo Aya and Nakajima Megumi eating the Maguro Bun in Namja Town.
(The person holding the camera obviously didn’t know how to keep it focused…)
With this film, the Macross F project has reached a stage where you can stop to catch your breath. Until now, how long have you been involved in this project?
It started as a project for the “25th Anniversary of Macross,” and it was 2006 when we had a tangible project. But if we’re talking about plot ideas, I’ve been working on the idea since Macross Zero. We’d originally planned for the series to start in October 2007, but with all the work that we had, it kept being postponed. We managed to barely make it for the 25th anniversary by broadcasting the Deculture Edition in December 2007. Thinking about it in this way, I guess I’ve been working on it for five years now.
Are there any differences between what you originally planned and the series that aired on TV in 2008?
The outline has largely remained the same, but in the original plan, Michel’s death occurred in the first half of the series – we made organizational changes like that. What was important about this series, Macross F, was the notion of ‘a school-based story with double heroines’, which we’d never done before. Yoshino Hiroyuki, who was responsible for Series Composition, used to be a school teacher, so ‘school stories’ are his specialty. On the music front, building on the past and present, we decided to make one an already established star, the Galactic Fairy, with the other a new girl being promoted.
|The most devastating sequence in the TV series…|
At that stage, had you confirmed that Kanno Youko would be doing the music?
At first, we’d just talked about the possibility of her writing a few songs for us. I never thought she’d end up being this deeply involved, writing such wonderfully fitting music for us. Certainly, we’ve been happily blessed with her ability to write songs worthy of the star divas of the galaxy.
Had there been plans for the movies when you were planning the TV series?
Since it’s set in space, I’ve always thought that I wanted to bring it to the big screen. However, once it started on TV, that possibility disappeared into the background. I thought I’d better concentrate on the TV series first.
It was actually really tough to have to reproduce Sheryl and Ranka over and over, in order to bring them to life.
With each Macross series, you’ve ambitiously brought in CG here and there, but now, with Macross Frontier, you’ve boldly use full CG for the battle scenes, haven’t you?
Since the time of Macross Zero, it’s been possible to use something known as ‘Toon Shading’. However, in order to differentiate it from other CG works at the time, I ended up asking Tenjin (Hidetaka) to add texture. With hand-drawn texture, they don’t look like film or photography, nor do they look like CEL-based animation. We produced graphics that looked like ‘package art’. From a technical perspective, it’s easier to gloss over and hide things with CEL-work. I ventured to set the following challenge: that if we can manipulate this hybrid CG to make it fly, then we can depict dogfights even with the time restrictions of a TV series, and some of the OVA was produced in that way. Following that, in Genesis of Aquarion, some of the actions of the man-made robot ‘Kerenmi’ were made with CG. We spent many long years preparing to be able to realise another Macross TV series.
|Where it all began…|
And that’s why “Macross Frontier” is the first TV series in 13 years.
Technology has also advanced, and the staff have also been honing their skills, so I felt that it would be unsatisfactory if we didn’t make something better than Do You Remember Love? or Macross Zero. As a result, the staff gave it their all, and with Macross F, we managed to produce a series with CG that you would never have expected for TV.
There were two character designers. Ebata Risa and Takahashi Yuuichi – did you decide on them through an audition?
I anticipated that there would be a lot of conceptual art we’d have to do. That’s why I asked for the two of them. And because they both have their own unique characteristics, I felt that it’d be good since we’d have a lot of variety. They both gave us some fantastic characters…but it was actually really tough to have to reproduce Sheryl, and Ranka.
|I was tempted to use a close up of the nose art…|
Macross F is a work that actually had many components, from the music and the double heroines to the mecha. You even included the Koenig Monster that you designed for the Macross VF-X2 game, and used title(s) from Macross 7 as insert songs. So this work is like a complete commemoration worth of the 25th anniversary, don’t you think?
Truth is, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I felt that I didn’t ever want to use something I’d used before in a new work. I thought that my ideas would wither and die if I took the easy way out. However, when I hit my 40s, I ventured to put some of these old features into (new) works. And when I did that, I found that the possibilities actually expanded. It was a relief to be able to do that with Macross Frontier.
So is that something that has come along with age?
The timing was important too. Genesis of Aquarion, which I was working on before this, was made based around a pretty crazy world-view, so we were able to go down the classic route with Macross Frontier.
I really don’t know what he means here… lit. it was ‘to take the royal road’
edit (2012-06-05): ah, got it, I think.
edit (2015-09-11): Finally realised that it basically means “classic” — thanks to Aoki and Gen… —— karice
When did you start making tangible headway on the production of the films?
Probably around the time that the first DVD for the TV series went on sale. At that stage, we proposed making a side-story not with the Vajra, but with a different enemy – we thought that’d be the easiest to do. But that proposal was shot down by the production committee. The result: a two-part work. The first film was meant to be something like a reedit, with 70% recycled footage and 30% new footage, and the second film the opposite, with 30% recycled and 70% new animation. Well, it really didn’t settle into something like that (laughs).
The previous film, False Diva did actually end up being a large-scale production that was 70% recycled and 30% new, didn’t it?
That was a surprise. At first, I thought that we could just split the two films such that the first contained the ‘introduction’ and ‘development’, with the second having the ‘turn’ and ‘conclusion’*. However, when you try to do that, you’ll find that you can’t make a movie just out of ‘introduction’ and ‘development’. And so we decided to increase Alto and Ranka’s levels of maturity, and added the subplot of Sheryl being suspected of being spy. Many of the staff kept saying that “it’s fine if Sheryl doesn’t change,” but we somehow managed to get them to accept it.
*This comes from a phrase that delineates the four elements a story should have. ——karice
|Personally, I thought that their personalities were still consistent from the TV series…|
Why did the staff say “it’s fine if Sheryl doesn’t change”?
During the TV series, we managed to get just about the right balance for Sheryl as a character, getting the audience to almost hating her but, in the end, liking her as ‘the Galaxy Fairy’. In fact, we used a lot of different tricks to achieve that. For example, the depictions of Sheryl in the deculture edition and the TV broadcast are different. In the deculture edition, we left out much of Sheryl’s cuteness, whilst in the TV version, we cut down on her harshness and increased the ‘cute’ scenes where you can see what she’s like inside. In other words, all the versions are different. I’m glad that, in creating her this way, we managed to get the audience behind her.
To me, the extent to which I could separate myself from “Macross F” and looking at it from the perspective of the audience was always on my mind.
Returning to the Frontier movies, when you finished False Diva, was the plot for Wings set in stone?
To a certain extent, you could say it was. But the details changed quite a bit when we were actually in production. We started work on the scripts quite early, but even at that stage, Yoshino (Hiroyuki) was saying things like wanting to introduce new characters (laughs). It was quite a rough voyage. From the time of False Diva, there was an idea floating around about having a third diva, and we tried quite a few different simulations and even got the plot going with it, but just couldn’t get it done within the time limits of a film. There are many ideas that we had to leave on the cutting room floor – if we’d included them all, Wings would probably have been about six hours long.
Six hours…meaning that you had enough ideas for about one cour of a TV series, right? (laughs) Whilst working on Wings, the staff also produced Sheryl and Ranka’s music video collection, “Nyan Kuri,” didn’t they?
We thought we might as well try and make something, as quickly as possible, using the time opened up because the script had been delayed. But it took us longer than expected, and ended up putting pressure on the production of Wings. In the end, we had to conduct an all-out-war, divvying the work to 9 people on the storyboard, 9 directors, 5 chief animation directors and 6 animation directors.
That’s a pretty large-scale effort.
When the songs are added, it feels like the story is completely reset. At that point, more or less, even if there are changes in the direction or animation, we tried to make it something like a change in accent. Similar to the way in which artistes wear make-up completely differently for performances when compared to how they are in everyday life.
How many years of production on Macross F would you say were needed for such a compilation to have been possible?
This time, what was important wasn’t just the staff who’d spent years making Macross F with us, but also the new staff that came in just to work on the film. Because we’ve spent five years on Macross F, working on it right from the initial project stage, we know the story too well. We wanted to know how Macross F appeared to someone who knew nothing about it at all. For example, we had assistant director Satou Eiichi and animation producer Hashimoto Taichi and others participate in meetings about the script even though they knew very little about Macross F.
So you needed people who were able to view it from the audience’s perspective.
Yes, that’s right. Because there is no way that we could have completely separated ourselves from Macross F if it had been just us. To me, the extent to which I could separate myself from Macross F and look at it from the perspective of the audience was always on my mind. For example, when you go overseas to do research for a project, you can look at Japan from an outsider’s perspective, and that makes it possible to change the work you make. This time, we went to Alcatraz as part of our research, and that changed our awareness. Even with the drawing of the storyboard, we tried to make sure we didn’t just hole up in the Satellite studio. Instead, wherever possible, we tried to get out and as far away from Tokyo as we could.
|Though these fights weren’t quite as well choreographed as the Zero ones…|
So, would you say that if you don’t view it from the audience’s perspective, what you end up with is monotony?
Take the dogfight scenes that we’ve produced with CG, [those of us who’ve worked on them for a while] have gotten completely used to them, so we keep making them just that little bit faster. But the eyes of normal viewers can’t keep up with that. In this case, I gave the direction to make it “slower, as slow as you can go,” which is slower than I personally would like. The CG staff for this film were also comprised of many old hands – many of the staff from Macross Zero reenlisted and gave us their help/experience. Furthermore, CG was used not only for the dogfights, but also for the concerts, so we ended up having lots more to do than originally planned.
During the concert scenes, not only the sets and the characters but the audience too was made using CG, right? What changes with this development?
Depicting the audience using CG means that we can make the crowd move, so there is a great increase in the freedom of camera movement. Of course, we also depict the audience in normal animation, being limited in both the number of cuts and people, all we could do is pull back the camera and take a shot. With CG, however, we can even bring the camera right to the side of the audience members. With that, we can also include the voices of the audiences members more easily. It’s not really interesting unless we try something new, after all (laughs). In Sheryl’s concert at the start, we included the big welcoming cheer; in Ranka’s, we added a cut for “let’s all sing together!” and for the concert in the prison, we based in on the idea of rousing the crowd up with the addition of unusual percussion elements*. In particular, the prison concert had “Seikan Hikou” (“Interstellar Flight”), a song that everyone knew. At the “Gira Summer Festival” event we held in August 2010, I figured we might as well make a recording of cheering voices. We asked the audience to help us with that, and the recording we made turned out to be useful for Wings.
* [ドンチャン騒ぎ] means playing around/getting excited by the addition of things like taiko, shamisen or a flourish of trumpets. ——karice
|I loved this concert… “Open Ranka!”|
For the moment, you’ve just finished making Wings. I’m sure that you still have work to do for the BD/DVD release but I’d like to ask: have you had any thoughts about a continuation for Macross F?
…well, no. Continuing this story will be rather difficult. Because the fold bacteria in Ranka have been stimulated, her abilities in fold communication will only expand, and it’s likely that Sheryl too has that latent potential. From here on, we can’t talk about either Ranka or Sheryl in terms of ‘normal’ representations of emotion. It might be possible to do something in the novel format, taking it deeper into the SF realm, but I don’t know whether that’s something an audience would enjoy if it were animated. On the other hand, if we’re talking about a side-story where Ranka and Sheryl are both alive and well and confronting not the Vajra, but a different opponent, I think we’d be able to make something like that. Alternatively, something with Luca, Michel and Klan Klan in action would also be possible.*
*Alright then, sir! I want something from the three missing months between the two films! ——karice
I’d guess that there’s no way that the name Macross will ever disappear from my profile.
In that case, I have another question. Macross F was produced as a work commemorating the 25th anniversary – and in the meantime, the 30th and 35th anniversaries have crept up on us. Do you have any desire to make another, completely different Macross series?
This is my own personal opinion, but I’d like to make something not for TV for film, but in a different medium. All Macross series have three basic elements – song, triangles, and valkyries – that must be mixed together, making it difficult to produce a satisfactory conclusion. The next time we animate a new Macross, we’ll have to come up with a new, balanced way to combine these three elements. We’ll need some new ideas for that. If a really amazing idea comes to mind, we might try that. But that’s not all, I’d also like to dig deeper into each of those three elements. If it’s only about song, or only about the valkyries, or only a short character story, then it’ll be easier to think of the next development, relatively speaking.
I’m sure you’ve experienced many things over the five years you’ve spent on Macross F. Do you think you’ve gained anything over these years?
The entertaining character of a concert – being able to reaffirm that has been a huge thing for me. Animation is a medium that takes a lot of time and effort to produce, so it’s very difficult to include real-time elements. I thought that it would be difficult to include elements of entertainment and also of themes at the same time as well. But in the process of making it, the possibility of including all three of them at the same time only became clearer. In a work with many elements, if you work on the way you combine them rather than trying to cut them down in number, as long as you make the nucleus of the work clear, I feel that having more elements becomes a weapon at your disposal. Take a jungle or a coral reef for example. If I want to make just one noble and beautiful rose, adding a pine, a dandelion and a frog would just give me some strange malformation. But in a jungle, flowers of many colours bloom, all kinds of trees grow, and a variety of insects, birds and animals hide within. In other words, I prefer to make a work that is not a single, polished entity, but rather a field with great diversity, a world that you can explore via many different routes. People who like mecha can enter the jungle that way – they enjoy it by picking out all the mecha elements. People who like the characters can go down that route. If they come to appreciate the other elements in the course of their exploration, that’s something to be grateful for. Basically, I’ve been able to discover the fun of making works with multiple layers.
To you, the Macross series must be your life work.
I guess so. There’s no way that the name Macross will ever disappear from my profile.
We look forward to your next conception, be it something from Macross in general or from Macross F.
Actually, it’s not that we don’t have any big plans, but those big plans are pretty much classified*.
*Kawamori uses “禁じ手”, which my dictionary tells me is “a forbidden move in sumo”… ——karice
So you do have some ideas in mind. We’ll definitely be looking forward to that. Thank you very much for your time today