Some final comments on Macross Frontier part 3: Kawamori Shouji’s Special Interview from Sheryl ~KitG~ vol. 1
March 29, 2013 11 Comments
Covering all manner of questions from ‘why did you turn an ages old robot anime into a shoujo manga!?’ to ‘How is the second film coming along!?’, we caught Kawamori Shouji for an exclusive interview at the Macross F hit event ‘Gira Summer Festival’!!
Well, to begin, why did you ever think to use a shoujo manga as a new Macross F medium?
From the start, Macross F was made of many different parts. Broadly speaking, there are three parts, namely ‘school life’, ‘the world of show business’ and ‘battles’. In the TV series, we didn’t even have enough time to properly show Sheryl and Ranka performing in the world of show business as well as the battle scenes, so we were not able to really show many scenes of ‘school life’ and ‘the world show business’ in itself. I wondered if there was a way to better depict those parts.
I see, so you chose the medium of ‘shoujo manga’ for that.
That’s right. In particular, it fits much better with themes such as a heroine’s rise to stardom and what goes on behind the scenes in the world of show business, and I thought to myself that I really want to see a work like that.
Sheryl: surprisingly fitting as a shoujo manga heroine!!
The process of a girl who climbs over hurdles to become a star – it’s indeed like an orthodox shoujo manga. But if so, I’d have thought that Ranka could have been the protagonist. What did you think when (the manga magazine) ‘Bessatsu Friend’ proposed to make Sheryl the heroine?
I think there are many kinds of Macross F fans. Fans from the first Macross in 1982, fans of battle mecha, to younger fans, both male and female, who were drawn by a plot involving a young female singer. Amongst all these fans, I felt that it would be great if Sheryl could get more support from female fans, and developed parts of her character with that in mind. At first glance, she appears strong, what with her pride and great sense of professionalism. But in truth, she is both industrious and delicate… I thought that a girl with these two sides to her character would strike a chord with female fans.
I see. So you feel that Sheryl is a better fit for the shoujo manga world. And how did you feel after you read Sheryl ~ Kiss in the Galaxy ~? The story is a bit different, isn’t it?
Well, isn’t it nice? (laughs) I really felt that this was the kind of shoujo manga I wanted to see. The Sheryl that Koyama-san drew was sublimely noble and lovely. When the medium itself changes, I think it’s good if it is rearranged here and there even if it’s a same work. To be frank, I wouldn’t mind if they’re (seen as) parallel worlds.* Hence, the settings of TV series and movies are slightly different, and the stories are a bit different too. Of course, (this applies to) the manga version too, even if the same facts are depicted, I think it’s good to see them represented differently. In chapter 1 (stage 0) of this manga, the story starts off with a part on Galaxy that we didn’t cover in the TV series, so I could enjoy that part as a reader.
* Kawamori does actually say just “I wouldn’t mind if they are parallel worlds.” The reason I’ve interpreted it as him meaning that fans can view them as parallel worlds is two-fold. First, the word he used for ‘doesn’t mind’, (構わない/kamawanai), is typically used when talking about someone else’s actions rather than one’s own. Second, this is the only instance I know of where Kawamori has raised the idea. In contrast, there are numerous interviews and comments where he has referred to his ‘different versions of history’ approach, including the 2013 revamp of the Macross Chronicle.
You touched on Sheryl’s character just now – could you inform us in detail about how she were born?
Since Macross 7, when we decided to make another Macross TV series after more than a decade, the biggest challenge we had was to decide what kind of singer we wanted to have. In the first Macross, we had Lynn Minmay, an idol singer. Then in the next TV series, Macross 7, we wanted to have a different singer, so we went with a band and a lead male who sings without fighting: Nekki Basara. And of course, it’d be really difficult for a new male lead to surpass him now (laughs).
Indeed, Nekki Basara was unique and unforgettable as a hero. So, the first thing you decided was that it’d have to be a female singer?
Yes. But the music scene since the 80s has changed, and we have many more genres of music. Hence, I thought that it’d be difficult to have just one singer, which would basically mean covering just one genre.
So you decided to create two heroines then?
There was one more reason – we realised that today’s audiences would get tired of the number of episodes we’d have to use to depict an ordinary girl passing an audition and making her debut, just like Minmay. However, if we went with a singer who was already a star, we wouldn’t be able to cover the dramas of ascending to stardom…the end result of all that wrangling was that we just decided to make it two girls.
So, with that, both Ranka, the ordinary girl, and Sheryl, the star, were born.
Yes, we’d created the two heroines: the star (Sheryl) and the girl who looked up to her (Ranka). But the thing is, I worried whether we could find singers who really fit these heroines. Somehow we managed to find May’n to take on the singing part for Sheryl, and found Nakajima Megumi for Ranka through the auditions, so that we could properly put the spotlight on their songs. Until we found May’n, I really thought we could only use one or two Sheryl songs in the anime.
And Sheryl’s model is?
Sheryl’s seiyuu, Endou Aya, fits the role very well too. The heroine known as Sheryl was completed after you met Endou-san and May’n-san then.
That’s right. Thanks to Endou-san’s voice, we can feel both sides of her, the side that’s playful yet lonely and also that of the person who gives it her all to live as a pro. On top of that, if her songs really hadn’t been good, then the fans would have just drawn away. We took a gamble with it.
When you created Sheryl, did you have any real person in mind as a model?
I didn’t have a particular model, but I was aware of foreign artistes such as Britney Spears or Beyonce. But in reality, the private lives of these foreign artistes are pretty extreme, aren’t they? (laughs) I tried to make it so that Japanese people could feel a sense of familiarity when watching her, to make it so that she was cute normally. Though this is fiction anyway, or perhaps, fantasy. (laughs)
And how did you come up with the character of her rival, Ranka?
In Ranka’s case, the blue print was for her to grow and develop into a star. So, in the beginning, she’s unreliable, but then she gets stronger and stronger. But even though she’s unreliable, I didn’t want her to be hesitant too. I wanted her to be a girl who, despite shouldering a bitter past, always looked forward and tried her best. That’s how she was born. Right at the start, Yoshino-san, the series composer, described their positions to me in the following way. Ranka is like the TV version of Minmay, an ordinary girl who become a star. Sheryl, on the other hand, is like the film version of Minmay, a star right from the moment she appeared on screen. I’m not the type who likes repeating things in the work I do, but it certainly felt that way to me.
Ranka and the TV version of Minmay do indeed have lots of similarities. Though Ranka isn’t as selfish (laughs).
Regarding the parts of Minmay’s character, since there were two heroines, I divided the parts between them (laughs). The acrid and tsundere parts went to Sheryl, whilst the 80s-style idol part went to Ranka. So when I found out that Nakajima Megumi actually likes 80′ idols, I was really surprised (laughs).
Sheryl too, even though she inherited Minmay’s acridity, she’s more complex, more profound, you could say.
She shows the sense of being a star through her acridness and strength, but at the same time, I wanted to show her loneliness and her also how she puts her heart into everything. Her way of doing the latter is different from Ranka’s, it’s more about the efforts and agony of being a star.
Alto is a girly boy
And how about Alto?
It was really difficult to create a character that can rival the two divas and Nekki Basara. (laughs) When I was deep wrecking my brains over it, an idea popped into my mind, which was of a character completely opposite of the manly Basara, ‘a girly boy’. Though, even if you say ‘girly’, a ladylike one would be completely boring. So to complete his blueprint, what I came up with was a boy with a past as a ‘Kabuki actor’. The huge mismatch with the notion of a ‘space pilot’ would really sharpen his character, so I thought.
Speaking of which, compared to the TV series, Alto in the first film had a greater awareness of himself as a Kabuki actor. Is there a possibility that, in the 2nd movie Alto will come back to Kabuki?
Regarding Alto as an ‘actor’, I think that I want to give him that awareness. I hope I can show him being moved by Sheryl and Ranka.
So, could you tell us about the must-see points of the second film?
In the end, the story will be vastly different from latter half of the TV series. Besides the journey to the home planet of the Vajra, it will be an original story, so I think that fans will be able to enjoy a new Macross Frontier. There will also be lots of new songs, live scenes and battles.
Which one will Alto choose? Sheryl or Ranka!?
You tell me (laughs). But well, one thing’s for sure: Alto’s is a lot more decisive than in the TV series.
What’s the meaning of the ‘Farewell’?
I am somewhat curious about the subtitle of 2nd movie Wings of Farewell…
The meaning of the first film’s subtitle, The False Diva, held a lot of meaning. It encapsulated things such as Sheryl having come to Frontier as a spy, that there’s a ‘lie’ in her status as a ‘Queen’, and that Ranka is still not real singer. The second film’s subtitle similarly has a lot a meaning…. well, that’s all I can say for now (laughs).
And lastly, could you please give a message to the fans who have bought this first volume of Sheryl?
This is a comic filled with Sheryl’s secrets — she has been reborn in these charming drawings and story. Please enjoy this manga from now on too!
Originally translated by AlaAlba on the Animesuki forums, and retranslated by yours truly.