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The movie Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry was finally released in Japan on 6 May with plans to release it in many more countries very soon. It has been made to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hiro Mashima’s manga Fairy Tail in Weekly Shonen Magazine, with both the manga and anime being highly-rated works. This is the second movie in the franchise, and original creator Hiro Mashima wrote the scenario for and produced Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry.
MANGA.TOKYO interviewed the director of Dragon Cry, Tatsuma Minamikawa, about the movie and its highlights. You also have the chance to win a present from the director, so please read to the end to find out more! *Please note: the giveaway has now ended. Thank you for all your applications.
──How did production start?
I got a phone call from the producer. He was like, ‘Can we work together?’ just as he is for other job offers. But he turned out to be offering me the position of director. I doubted it for a month thinking, ‘Are you sure you want to ask me?’ [laugh]
──You didn’t believe it at first. [laugh]
There are some plans that we talk about that never happen. But they sent me documents and stuff and I thought, ‘Oh this is happening! Oh my gosh.’ It went like that. [laugh]
──What were some challenges or difficulties you faced during production?
Well, Fairy Tail is a popular and famous work, after all. There are a large number of episodes, 227 in fact, of the TV anime. This is the second time it’s been made into a movie. I thought, ‘Is it okay for me to be a director for this great work?’ I thought that fans of Fairy Tail would be worried that the director is me. [laugh] So there was more pressure to make a good movie in the limited time. That was the biggest challenge.
──The previous movie, Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess, was directed by Masaya Fujimori.
I took every chance I had to re-watch the DVD. However, it’s pointless to imitate him. Of course, I can’t ignore his work. It was difficult to balance his influence with what I wanted to do. Either way, I was determined that I was not going to lose against the previous movie. I was going to make a good movie.
──I think there was pressure.
After all, Hiro Mashima, the original creator, is the chief producer. Roles were divided between Mashima and me. I was in charge of the settings. I interpreted Mashima’s ideas, communicated them to artists, and reflected them in the movie. But there was the pressure of ‘expectation’ from both Mashima and fans.
──Please tell us what you think the movie’s highlights are.
There’s a theme in the original Fairy Tail, ‘bonds between friends.’ I think that’s the highlight.
──Is there anything that you were careful about while making the movie?
Not to disappoint Fairy Tail fans. Also, there will be people who get to know Fairy Tail for the first time through this movie. I’d also like them to enjoy Fairy Tail and think that this is a good piece of work. I really worked hard on these 2 goals.
──I watched the movie at the preview. It was so much fun. I think people can enjoy it even if they don’t know the manga.
Thank you. We tried to make a movie which even people who don’t know the original can also enjoy and people who know it can enjoy it even more. For example, it’s not good to harp on about certain things to people who know the world of Fairy Tail; nevertheless, it’s not good if we don’t provide explanations for people who don’t know much about Fairy Tail. I cared about the balance there.
──Now we’ve got questions from fans around the world! We asked Fairy Tail fans over on our Facebook page to tell us what they wanted to ask the director. (We have edited some of the questions slightly for clarity, so please understand)
Of course it did. The manga is still on-going, so I considered the relation to the original very much. I wanted to make it memorable for fans who have read the original.
There was a tense feeling of ‘Let’s make it a good movie.’and ‘We’re not allowed to rely on the reputation of the original.’ Also, animation technology has improved more since the previous movie, so I tried to make good use of those new techniques.
Since the setting is a new location, they aren’t related all that much. However, there is a connection when it comes to how the characters develop in the future.
Definitely the characters. Original characters will also appear. Also, we were as committed to action as the original. We didn’t compromise on battle scenes with enemies and worked on them till we were satisfied. I think it’s fun to watch them over and over again. Also, the story has a surprise at the end. It’s full of things to look forward to. [laugh]
Plenty! We cut at least one fifth of the storyboard we prepared at the beginning. I wanted to use it all, but there was no way that it would have fit in the timeframe. So we tearfully gave up. [laugh]
I was genuinely happy. I’m 32 now, but people in their 40s are the main forces for movie directors. I was chosen even under these circumstances, and for such a big title at that. I thought that it was a chance, but the pressure was also very heavy. However, I knew that if I were to do it, I was determined to do my best. I had many anxieties and hopes.
There’s a female character called Juvia Lockser who’s obsessed with Gray. I like Juvia. She’s funny and expressive. I like her so much that I gave her many scenes. [laugh] I think people who like Juvia will enjoy them.
Naturally, my career was full of mistakes at the beginning. The biggest one was when I misunderstood the time-frame for dialogue, so the voice actor had to speak fast. For example, he had to act even though he was drinking water. Then the voice actor in the studio said, ‘I can’t speak because I’m drinking water!’ [laugh] Whenever I made a mistake, I reflected on it, so now I don’t make such mistakes.
I have a technical background. I always liked manga, anime and video games, but I never imagined to choose them as my job. When I was looking for jobs, I took an exam on anime production while also taking exams for industries like IT and the government sector. Anime production was one of the choices and I wasn’t really thinking that I wanted to do an anime job. But in the end, I passed on the IT industry and the government sector, and I decided to work at an anime company. At the beginning, I was a production assistant, but animation directing looked fun, so I thought, ‘I want to be an animation director!’ Then I learned there’s a general director above that, so I thought, ‘I want to be a director!’ I’ve grown like that. However, I was determined not to lose against people who were aiming for the anime industry in the first place. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to talk as equals.
──Now, at last, please say a word to fans overseas.
It’s a movie with both high-quality action and fun story. I’d like the people who have read it and have been looking forward to the movie, and also those who haven’t read it, to watch it. Thank you.
*Please note that this giveaway has now ended. Thank you for all your applications.
Director Minamikawa was kind enough to give us gifts for the readers of MANGA.TOKYO! He gave us 5 clear files featuring a specially drawn illustration by Hiro Mashima! You can see the illustration here:
Doesn’t the half-dragon Natsu look cool? We wonder what causes him to take this form. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
How to apply: Just leave a comment on this article. How about you tell us who your favorite Fairy Tail character is and why?
The deadline is Monday 22 May at 12 p.m. (Japan Standard Time) and one of our editors will contact the winners with a Facebook message. *Deadline has passed
Distributed by Gaga