Sakura Con 2016: Rie Matsumoto/Toshihiro Kawamoto Interview, Part 2

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Q: This is a question for both of you. When you were growing up, what was your favorite manga or anime series, and as of right now, do you happen to have any manga or anime titles that you’re enjoying at the moment?

TK: I think if you compare director Matsumoto and me, there’s maybe a difference of two generations… or maybe just one. The generation gap is kind of like parent and child, almost, so I’m sure we were drawn to different things when we were young. In my generation, one of the works that sparked this animation trend was Spaceship Yamato, and also works that were created by Leiji Matsumoto. I was really inspired by those works. Right now, I need to look at other anime to learn what styles they’re using and what new process they’re using. The animation studios I’m interested in right now include Kyoto Animation and Studio Ghibli, so I see works from those so I can learn and incorporate what they do into my work.

RM: Since I was very small, I was really interested in Japanese fairy tales and there were anime versions of those shows on TV, so I would watch those a lot. I was also a fan of things with anthropomorphized animals. For example, there was one that took place in a zoo like with a penguin, and it was the humanized animals living out a human drama. I liked that sort of thing. Often I would meet these shows randomly, by accident when watching TV or something. When certain things are handled in live-action dramas or with human characters, they have a lot of heavy themes like divorce or losing family, but in those shows, since the characters were animals, it kind of softened it so kids were able to watch it, and it was kind of like practice for entering society and I feel that I learned a lot from those. Also, there were a lot of really quality shows at the time that I was in elementary and middle school, like Cowboy Bebop that Kawamoto-san had done.

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Q: Matsumoto-san, you’ve worked on Pretty Cure, which is part of a franchise; Kyousougiga, which is an original work; and Blood Blockade Battlefront is an adapted work. What are the differences between working on those different sorts of projects?

RM: When it comes to the differences between working on these different kind of anime, I don’t feel that it’s that different between the shows. Like Kyousougiga, Pretty Cure was also basically an original anime. They wanted to be able to make toys for that show, and as long as that hurdle was cleared, they wouldn’t get angry and there wouldn’t be a problem, so I don’t feel like there’s that much of a difference between those shows. When it comes to Blood Blockade Battlefront, the original was made by a different person, Yasuhiro Nightow. The hardest thing about that was that the main character, Leonardo, was only halfway through his story, which happens to involve his younger sister, Michella, and there was not yet any conclusion to their story. So, I had to be able to grasp where Nightow was going with that storyline. Conversely, when it came to Black and White, I was able to know where that story was going and while doing that, I had to convey the appeal of the main characters. If the volume concluding the storyline of the main character and his sister had already come out, I think the structure of the story would have changed a lot.

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Q: Similarly, instead of the works themselves having different sources, how is it different working, for example, Kawamoto has worked previously at Sunrise, which has many, many animation units, and is now working at Bones, or Matsumoto, who has worked at Toei. How is it working on a larger animation versus a smaller animation?

TK: Firstly, I want to quickly make a correction. Of course, right now I am working on Bones alone, but before then, I was working as a freelance animator at a lot of different companies, including Sunrise. It’s not that I belonged to Sunrise, per se. I worked with Production IG and different companies – it’s not that I worked with one particular company. It’s more that I’ve been working as a freelancer. I think, as an animator, as a freelancer, I’m able to work on works that I want to work on. As I work with different companies, I start seeing good aspects and maybe not-so-good aspects at different companies, but whatever they are, I just need to fade into those companies and work with their processes. The reason I started thinking about starting a business was because one of the producers at Sunrise that I worked with on Cowboy Bebop, Masahiko Minami, was starting a new company and he suggested that I become a co-owner with him to run the company. What I thought then was, as a freelancer, maybe I can work on things that I want to work on more freely than as a business owner. Then I started thinking about it some more, and I realized, maybe if I started a new company, I can come up with new plans on my own, or on our own, and that way perhaps, I thought, I will be able to work on works that I want to work on the same way as a freelancer.

RM: I feel that one of the major differences is not so much the company, but who you’re working with in the workplace. One of the things that surprised me when I entered Bones was realizing that at Toei, the work was really specialized, and at Bones I did all of the checking. So that was the biggest difference. The different companies also have different job positions, which also surprised me, so I realized which positions were extremely convenient to have, and where I’d be happy if a certain position existed.

 

Moderator: Thank you for coming, everybody.

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