Back on March 12 at Tokyo Anime Award Festival (herein after referred to as TAAF), the anime movie Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni (In This Corner of the World) was screened as part of the ‘Anime 100th Anniversary Commemoration Program.’
The event was held exactly 4 months after the movie’s release. A large crowd of fans came to the screening at Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro, giving a warm round of applause to the director, Sunao Katabuchi.
Having ranked first in Kinema Junpo’s Japanese Movie Top 10 (2016) and winning a great number of glorious prizes including Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, the movie is now spreading not just across Japan, but all over the world.
One of Katabuchi’s long-time friends, TAAF festival director Koji Takeuchi, asked Katabuchi to talk about things that he hadn’t talked about before. Katabuchi went on to describe to the audience untold details.
As for the great presence of the protagonist Suzu, he said ‘I tried not to neglect the expression of weight which is created by movements. For instance, please picture three balls of the same size but of different weights. When I thought about it, I wasn’t sure if I could really express the slight differences in motion caused by the objects’ heaviness. I did my best to create the heaviness using the anime’s motion.’
Katabuchi told the audience that he teaches his students ‘Expression of Weight’ at his own animation boot camp (workshop run by Agency for Cultural Affairs where participants can learn about anime’s illustration techniques in a training camp format).
While anime isn’t heavily influenced by realistic weight and height differences, it is essential to create a sense of weight after acquiring a full understanding of an appropriate sense of weight as well as height.
‘I think I have practiced the most in this movie what I preach at the animation boot camp,’ the director said while looking back on the work.
He also revealed that he receives lots of feedback from animators and that he was praised for the characters’ realistic walking motion by Yoichi Kotabe, the character designer and illustration director of Heidi, Girl of the Alps.
Most of the Japanese anime works adopt the 3-frame method which displays 24 frames within a second using 8 illustrations. For that reason, it’s quite difficult to express the characters’ subtle sense of weight within a limited number of frames.
For the outstanding walking motion that earned high praise from Kotabe, director Katabuchi revealed that one of the reasons of the fluid animation was that the characters don’t raise their legs that high as they walk. Since the anime has many kimono-clad characters, he tried to make them walk without raising their legs high. As a result of this attempt, he could nicely depict their body weight even in the 3-frame method. Suzu, on the other hand, even when she moves wildly because of her personality, we get the impression that she still looks somewhat calm.
Masashi Ando, who has worked on Spirited Away and Kimi no Na wa as an animation director said to Katabuchi that ‘a fully scrutinized timing setting might have enabled this expression.’
The ultimately realistic character Suzu was born through the perfect fusion of her personality and the carefully-conceived weight depictions. Katabuchi said ‘If Suzu were a faster walker, the work might have looked a bit different. I’m so grateful to Suzu.’
Currently, Katabuchi has been actively holding stage greeting events throughout Japan to share his thoughts on the work.
Although we can see various introductory articles on the work through the media, Katabuchi will surely reveal many more untold stories about the work.
Tokyo Anime Award Festival Official Website