On May 3rd, 2016, a talk show on TV anime “She and Her Cat -Everything Flows-” (hereafter referred as to “Kano-Neko EF”) with its director Sakamoto was held at International Manga Museum in Kyoto. The museum also hosted a special exhibition displaying the original pictures and materials used in the actual anime series. Let me share some of that too.
The talk show told us a lot about the making of the show, their passion and inside stories.
Drawing director, Ms. Sagawa also joined later on the stage as a surprising guest speaker and added some zest too.
The summary of the show was as follows:
Mr. Kazuya Sakamoto (Director, Liden Films Kyoto studio)
Ms. Haruka Sagawa (Drawing Director, Liden Films Kyoto studio)
Mr. Yasunori Ohya (Research Worker of the museum, as the host for this show.)
How this project was brought up
Impressions on his first directing work
Highlights of the show
<Watched the first episode>
The opening scene of the first episode
The design of the cat
Highlights of the second episode
<Watched the second episode>
Locations referenced for sceneries, with photos taken while location-hunting
Scene drawings and camera angles
Review of the making of by the Drawing director
Showing time course and how to point the way of the sunlight
＜Watched the third episode＞
What it means to produce anime in Kyoto
Short anime shows
Highlights of the fourth episode
＜Game of rock-paper-scissors with rewards＞
The talk show lasted more than two hours, filled with detailed and dense topics. Let me introduce three topics that I found most impressive in particular.
Part 1: Niche differentiation: Competing with Mr. Shinkai by having a different direction and angle
The first topic I found impressive was that he made sure to clearly partition the niches between the original and his work.
The original source is an independent anime OVA “She and Her Cat” directed by Makoto Shinkai. He is a well-known anime director currently attracting the most attention whether domestic or foreign, and has just been chosen as one of “10 Animators to Watch in 2016” by an American magazine, “Variety”, for the very first time as a Japanese animator. Upon remaking such an eminent director’s original work for a TV anime series, Mr. Sakamoto was marked out to be the director. Mr. Sakamoto apparently felt the extreme pressure of directing such a monumental work, and he said “Before its premiere, I was so scared, wondering whether it was really okay to reproduce Mr. Shinkai’s original work all over again from the beginning with a different company when it is often considered more or less his origin, and also what his fans would think of it.”
The differences between the original and “Kano-Neko EF” are very clear once you watch them. The main plot of a cat and a girl sharing their life, supporting each other is the same, but the stories, appearing characters, designs, and drawings are obviously created as another work completely.
According to Mr. Sakamoto, “I wanted to try different directions and angles from the original” and he created his story from scratch. “Even though I created it as another work, there were things I should follow. The most important challenge for me was how much of the original world’s view I could put into my work while respecting the original,” as he put it, we learned that he incorporated the original world view with his story different from the original while in process, instead of adapting the existing original story, as his work flow.
As for the sub title of “Everything Flows”, he discussed this with the story writer and decided it in order to differentiate it from the original. He said, “Since Mr. Shinkai cherishes the story’s world views, I named it to mean what this world is supposed to be like.”
The sub title “Everything Flows” describes the world view of this story, and overtones the encounter of she and the cat, Daru, and the important scene in the last episode (the fourth episode), making them more meaningful. Even though the two shows are completely different works, I personally found that they have something in common; they both make me feel positive after watching. Today’s talk show made me realize it is the world view of continuous changes implicated by the title “Everything Flows” that is making me feel positive.
Part 2: Passion for the art work: Representation of the cat
The second impressive point was his passion toward the art work. What Mr. Sakamoto listed first as his recommended highlights of the show was “how much hard work he had put into the representation of the cat”. He was very fussy about delicate and minor movements and behaviors of the cat, and wants us to check them out in the whole series.
Mr. Sakamoto himself loves cats and has had a cat as his pet. Still, drawing the cat’s movements cost them some big efforts. As observing how cats move, “I realized that I wasn’t aware of their usual movements even though I was familiar enough with those in daily basis. It was very difficult to adapt them into a different medium”, he said. For example, the scene where the cat eats a meal. Cats are not good at chewing food, and “they often try to scoop up or look sideways to chew on their back teeth. I had the drawing staff to include those behaviors in the scene”, he said.
He also mentioned the cat’s design.
They had to redraw it again and again to reach the present design of the furry Daru. According to him, cats drawn in anime are often short-haired ones with their clear body lines, and one of the reasons is that it is generally easier to draw the cat’s signature movements without much hair, as furry hair can hide the joints. However, they ventured to make it a furry one because of Mr. Sakamoto’s personal intention, saying “I love furry cats”.
Meanwhile, Ms. Sagawa, the drawing director, expressed her efforts at the time as, “It was so hard to pick up the movements (of cats). I was glad I finally managed it after a big deal of studying it”.
Part 3: What it means to produce anime in Kyoto: Anime production different from Tokyo.
Finally, the most impressive of all at this talk show was about what it meant to produce anime in Kyoto that Mr. Sakamoto explained.
Anime production in Japan is currently heavily concentrated in Tokyo. However, Tokyo is filled with freelancers and cannot develop human resources. “I came to realize the limitations of the way anime is produced in Tokyo (at the moment)”, he said, while mentioning local cities having a better environment to develop human resources.
Currently in Kyoto, on the other hand, the whole region has been promoting content industry including anime in cooperation with universities, local governments and corporations. It was natural to swim with the stream in Kyoto. Mr. Sakamoto said, “From now on, I would like to develop a production line to complete a whole anime production in Kansai area alone including Kyoto”, and showed his enthusiasm on the development of human resources there as well as playing the major role of anime production in the Kansai region.
“Kano-Neko EF” will be earning a status of one of the most important works to develop local anime industries in Japan from now on. I’d also like to keep my extra attentions to Kyoto’s future roles as someone who lives in the Kansai region!
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