Kikuchi Yasuhito on making Macross F: The False Diva

Interview with Kikuchi Yasuhito (Technical Director1), from The Macross F The Movie Official Guidebook: Perfect Triangle.

“Turning those strange ideas into reality is what my work is all about.”

A director and episode director, Kikuchi Yasuhito’s association with the Macross series began with The Super Dimensional Force Macross Flash Back 2012, where he was an in-betweener. As a director, he’s worked on titles like El-Hazard: The Alternative World and The Legend of Black Heaven.

Putting together all the materials to produce new visuals

—You were the director for the TV series, but this time you’re involved in the position of technical director.

Kikuchi: The director is the person who has control of the entire work, right? But with The False Diva, there was so much information, and so many details, that we wanted to make sure someone was watching over. And it made sense for me to do it because I knew every single shot in the TV series, and could calculate what we needed to add. From the key animation through to compositing, we figured that I would move all those shots around myself, and put the film together.

—At first, it was meant to be a compilation movie, wasn’t it?

Kikuchi: At first, only 10 minutes out of a 2 hour movie was meant to be new; the rest was to be taken from the animation we’d produced for the TV series. But we ended up with 80% being new material. The remaining 20 percent was from the TV series, but even then, we made some small corrections to each shot. In the end, it might even have been quicker if we’d just made it completely anew… (chuckles) It was pretty tough!!

—What kind of visual direction did you have in mind, given that it was for the cinema?

Kikuchi: In the TV series, we filled with frames with the characters as much as possible, so shots that seem full of colour dominate. But this time, we’ve generally made the characters smaller, and the overall look is darker and more low-key. We’ve used wider camera angles in order to convey a greater sense of scale. We often drew them larger at the key animation stage, but then shrunk them down during compositing.

—How did you refine the animation that were originally produced for the TV series?

Kikuchi: For example, Director Kawamori would specify that “The spaceship will move slowly, taking several seconds.” And then I would throw out an idea like: “If we put this element together with that spaceship, and if it moves at this speed, wouldn’t it look bigger?” By putting the raw materials and various directorial techniques together, we went about making new shots of animation. …it’s almost as if we used our “quick wit” to settle all of those shots.

—There are a few shots that are somewhat mysterious/strange, aren’t there. Like the “Galaxy Ramen” one.

Kikuchi: That ramen was something that the background artist drew for us. At first, we thought about working from a photograph, so one of the production staff actually made some ramen. But for some reason, we simply could not get the right look (chuckles). On the other hand, Ranka’s natto was actually something that someone made and took photos of.

—What…? The natto was based on a photograph?

Kikuchi: Because Director Kawamori loves real photography (chuckles).

Comment: The ‘Starlight Natto’ was based on a photograph
One of our production staff took some real natto and mixed it until it became sticky, spread it to make some of those sticky strands, and then took pictures of it. The compositing director was the one who manipulated it to fit into the film.

—As a member of the staff, were you somewhat against such experimental techniques?

Kikuchi: No no. What’s great about Director Kawamori is that he comes up with some strange ideas. Amplifying those strange ideas and turning them into reality is my role.

—And you’ve made a film that really stimulates the senses.

Kikuchi: We had a lot of material to draw upon, so actually, everyone’s been telling me that they don’t think that it’s complete (chuckles). Since this one is something quite like a concert, I hope they’ll join in the mood and watch it in that vein.

—What kind of work do you want the concluding arc, the Wings of Farewell, to be?

Kikuchi: In the first film, there were lots of questions that weren’t answered, right? I’d like to do my best to answer them, whilst still making a film that will be enjoyed.

Comment: Decisive action => hunting for the right Family Mart
“Ranka starts becoming popular as a campaign girl for a convenience store, right?” That’s one of the ideas we discussed. And Family Mart2 cooperated with us, which meant that we dispatched one of our production staff pronto, to an actual store to take some photos. We gave the art department staff a tonne of photos, and they reproduced all of that detail in the backgrounds.

This is the 13th post in my “On Anime ‘Writing’“ project, in which I have been looking at how the key staff of producers, directors and screenwriters work together to plan and write the shows that grace our screens. If you liked it, I hope you’ll check the other posts out, too. And feel free to drop me a note or question—whether here, on twitter, tumblr or—about any other series that you’re interested in for behind-the-scenes info!

Disclaimer: As always, the translation is entirely mine, as are any mistakes and misinterpretations. Please do not copy and paste large portions of it anywhere else, though feel free to link to the post itself if you wish.

  1. The book itself lists his title in English as “Director,” for enshutsu 「演出」 . However, since most of us in the English-speaking world associate “Director” with kantoku 「監督」, I’m going to have to go with “Technical Director.” Please read this interview and the next one (with Kawamori) for an explanation of the differences between the two roles. 
  2. One of the biggest convenience store chains in Japan. IIRC, they’ve since had many Macross promotions, including for the most recent series, Macross ∆

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

2 Responses to Kikuchi Yasuhito on making Macross F: The False Diva

  1. Pingback: Masterpost: On Anime ‘Writing’ Project | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

  2. Pingback: For the record: Yack Deculture! | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: