Tsutomu Mizushima Interview on Joshiraku Part 1/2

Whilst searching the internet trying to find an interview on the production of Mayoiga, of which I found nothing of course, I came across this and thought it might be quite interesting. This is a translation from an interview on animestyle. In this interview, Mizushima talks about the difficulty in adapting a work like Joshiraku.

– What was it that lead you to join this production?

As with my other works, it started with someone asking “Would you like to direct this?”. This time I was approached by Kodansha asking “At the moment we’re proceeding with this work with King (Records) but, would you be interested?”. So it wasn’t anything particularly dramatic (laughs).

– At that point, were you familiar with the original work?

Yes, I was. I was a normal reader of the work and found it very enjoyable. But I did think that it would be quite difficult to adapt into anime, so I didn’t decide to join the production because I thought “I really want to do this”.

– What areas of the work did you think would be difficult to adapt into anime?

The fact that the story is confined to the dressing room and never moves outside. I thought that it might work as a drama CD instead.

– When you took position as director, how did you first decide to prepare the work for adaptation?

I thought I needed to think of something to make it work. Just having one long cut with the characters talking just wasn’t enough to adapt this work. Also, the clothes the characters wear never changes, so in the anime I wanted the clothes to occasionally change.

– In the anime the B part is anime original, so we get scenes where the characters go out of the dressing room into the town wearing more casual clothes. At what point did you have this idea?

From a very early stage. If anything, it was more that I wanted the characters to go outside so that their clothes could be changed. This lead me to think that I might as well get them to wander around the famous areas of Tokyo.

– Oh so that’s why they go to places like Asakusa, Tokyo Tower and Odaiba.

Yes. Though they do go to some more obscure locations in the second half.

– From the side of the author or producer was there anything they ordered for such as “I don’t want this changed” or “Please retain this”.

No, not particularly. I was only asked as much as to hide some real names that appeared in the original work. I wasn’t particularly asked anything from Kumeta (Koji)-san. So it was very easy.

– Did you originally like rakugo?

I did. I really love listening to things like podcast rakugo. But I’ve only seen a rakugo performance in person only two or three times, maybe? So though I do like rakugo, it might be an overstatement to say that I’m a very big fan.

– So if you had the choice, is there a possibility of a ‘genuine rakugo anime’?

I’m sorry but I’ve never really thought of that, not at all (laughs). If you were to just show rakugo on stage just as it is, whatever you do the threshold is too high for an anime adaptation, so I wasn’t really thinking of this. Though, I did want to show some scenes on stage. There are a few scenes with the girls doing rakugo on stage, as I wanted to convey to the audience that the story was taking place after they had finished working. So to reinforce this, I added these rakugo scenes

– The story is about these girls who are rakugo storytellers, and the main point of focus are the girls.

That’s right.

– Though, I do think that the anime has a stronger feeling of rakugo than the original work. The structure of having a rakugo scene at the beginning of the A and C part has had an effect, I think.

I thought it would be nice for the viewers to see what sort of rakugo they were doing. Just adding a few cuts might make a difference, I thought.

– This work must be a genre you’re quite good at as you’re able to quite freely put in more spiteful material.

My works tend to end up leaning in that sort of direction, but this time the fundamental premise was to ‘draw girls in a cute manner’. First we had to achieve that, so it was more that I had to be careful not to go too far with the material. Though saying this, coming up with darker ideas is quite fun. However, the idea that ‘Joshiraku’ was by no means this sort of a work was something we kept in mind whilst making the anime.

– I see.

Though there may be people who say “liar!” (laughs), myself I wanted to make a proper moe anime.

– So a work where the characters are the main appeal.

Yes. I wanted it to be a work where I could show the characters cutely. After all, if cute girls talk and act strangely then a sort of gap will arise; there’s no point when characters you can’t feel are cute are saying strange things.

– So it’s no good if they act too strangely.

I think it’s about how far to take this level of ‘strangeness’. In any case, this time it was my intention not to remove this cuteness.

– You previously said that it would be “difficult to adapt as it’s confined to the dressing room”, but how did you plan to adapt the work into anime?

I was a bit worried. It’s really just them talking continuously so I did wonder whether the adaptation would hold up at all. Honestly, in this regard I sort of just jumped in without much chance for success (wry smile). The options I had in how to do this was to vary the camerawork and image cuts. But I wondered if I could do something without relying on these methods. I do of course add image cuts but I’m careful as to not put too many.

– Definitely, the scenes aren’t often made in an unusual way and it doesn’t quickly jump between different images, does it?

Yes. If I’m going to do as much as to put still images into the anime, then I also want to show the girls’ faces as well. This time we haven’t put any extreme deformation of the characters either.

– So to be as natural as possible.

I didn’t think it would be the right direction for this work if it suddenly became strangely dramatic. In any case I wanted it to be what I understand to be ‘moe’.

– Was ‘rhythm’ a key concept to the direction?

Rhythm sounds too cool, it’s more perhaps ‘wanting the viewer to listen to a sluggish conversation without getting bored’.

Source: http://animestyle.jp/2012/08/29/2201/

Image: http://king-cr.jp/special/joshiraku/special/

 

 

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