Another screening event for the upcoming anime movie Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana o Kazarou; lit. Let’s Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Farewell Morning) was held at Shinjuku Wald 9 screen 9 on 13 February.
You can read some information and the first impression of one of our editors, who visited a preview screening event.
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms Quick Review
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms will open on 24 February 2018 and is the directorial debut of Mari Okada. She is known for her screenwriting skills in both animated and live action films such as Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (released in 2013), The Anthem of the Heart (2015), Ankoku Joshi (2017), and My Teacher (2017). Okada finally making her debut as a director in this P.A. Works production. Okada has worked with character designer and chief animation director Yuriko Ishii (Hanasaku Iroha). Kenji Kawai is in charge of the movie’s music.
Viewers at the screening event received flower-type sticky notes, made for the campaign called ‘Let’s bloom the flowers of impression!’, where viewers could write down their impressions and stick the notes onto a board. Some of the comments were ‘My tears just wouldn’t stop’, ‘It’s a story of painful love’, and many more. The last preview screening was held at Shinjuku Wald 9. Director Mari Okada, producer Kenji Horikawa (director of P.A.Works), and Manaka Iwami (who plays Maquia) took to the stage at the event.
Okada revealed details about the start of the project: ‘Horikawa said that he wanted to see a work of mine produced with 100% Okada. When I thought about what he meant by 100%, I got the idea that I might be able to do it if I created a work which I 100% would like to watch. After some thought, I got him to let me direct this movie. [laugh]’
Producer Horikawa spoke about why he appointed Okada as director: ‘When producing an original work, the director is the main person. Various people bring ideas and the director then forms a work. It is difficult to dig into one writer’s characteristics deeply, but personally, I think that Okada did dig up something interesting and funny. At first, I thought that Okada wanted to create the original novel which would then be made into a movie. But then I understood what she wanted to do when she revealed her plan to me while being all nervous at the bar. She looked like she was pretty much prepared for it and I’ve never seen her like this before.’
This movie is different from Okada’s movies so far. It is a completely original fantasy anime. Okada mentioned: ‘The anime movies I watched and have gotten all excited about have been mostly fantasy ones. As director, I wanted to express things differently than before. Now I could tell the staff how I wanted the character to be, their facial expressions, the scenery’s light, the color of the sky and other delicate details in order to perfect the character’s expressions and I thought that the dialogue could be simplified accordingly. I thought that if we put continuing emotions from the ordinary world into the fantasy one, we could create something new.’ About the characters, she added: ‘I loved Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea, because its a story that arises due to different ways of time progression. This is the reason why I wanted to dig this theme up.’
Manaka Iwami is the voice of Maquia, a girl destined for a long lifespan. She said about the audition and her character, ‘I usually receive the character’s pictures or setting before challenging an audition, but this work’s audition was different. I was told to act without knowing how the character looks like. I only got the setting and phrases and act the way I felt with only these two instructions. At that time, I haven’t had even experienced many auditions, but I thought I’d challenge it with all I’ve got.’
Okada reveals why she chose Iwami for Maquia’s role: ‘At that time, the script for the audition said “Mitsuketa” (lit. I found he/she/it/you)’. The encounter seemed to be quite a miracle. Iwami, on the other hand, said: ‘I am about to cry. [laugh] On the memo on the day of the audition were reflection points like “Konomamaja dame” (lit. It is not okay the way it is; We can’t continue like this;…) That’s why I was so surprised when my manager told me that I got chosen.
Iwami said about the directions on her role: ‘First, I played Maquia a bit more exaggerated than I imagined her to be, but then the director told me that my usual voice is Maquia’s voice. So, I tried to play her without stretching myself.’
The time she saw the completed movie, ‘I felt that words could convey my feelings. It wasn’t only me who played Maquia. When you unite image, voice, and music you get Maquia. Each staff member gave his or her best.’
Director Okada: ‘I felt that the anime was a living thing. The staff’s enthusiasm, while chasing to catch up on time, changed a lot in the final 1 and 2 months. As I’ve always been a screenwriter, I only worked at the very beginning and then left the production, but as a director I was really happy to be able to meet with everyone until the last moment.’
Horikawa was the last to speak and said: ‘I wanted to produce a movie for which the three years we’ve been working on would be payed off at last. But when I saw the staff’s happy faces after seeing the completed movie, I too was thankful to the director. Thank you for creating a work which satisfied the staff.’
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
24 February 2018 in Japanese cinemas