Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna‘s theatrical screening had a corresponding informational pamphlet sold on-site, which contained informational and art assets and a large number of cast and staff interviews.
(Mayu Matsuoka | Natsuki Hanae and Chika Sakamoto | Other voice actor messages | Creator group talk | Scriptwriter Akatsuki Yamatoya | BGM composer Harumi Fuuki | Music artists Ayumi Miyazaki and AiM | Producer Yousuke Kinoshita)
This post is a translation of the included group interview with:
- Director Tomohisa Taguchi
- Chief animation director Seiji Tachikawa
- Unit directors Kazuki Oohashi and Shinichirou Ueda
- Key animator Takuya Miyahara
Please note that the below content has major LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna spoilers.
Director Tomohisa Taguchi-san, chief animation director Seiji Tachikawa-san, unit directors Kazuki Oohashi-san and Shinichirou Ueda-san, and key animator Takuya Miyahara-san.
These five members of the production staff, truly members of the Digimon generation, talk about the feelings they’ve loaded into this movie, and their passion for Digimon.
Recruiting the staff for the sake of raising the quality
The staff members, called together by Director Taguchi
–-Please tell us about your roles in this animated movie, as director, chief animation director, unit directors, and key animator.
Shinichirou Ueda (hereinafter, Ueda): I work in relation to parts, and to “manage cuts”. I need to constantly mind the importance of the extent of my control over it, and thinking about it makes it come out in my own way.
Kazuki Oohashi (hereinafter, Oohashi): I convey what the director wants to the key animators, and to the chief animation director and the animation directors, and to any other person I need to, and unify it into one thing. Once it’s been consolidated, we begin production on it, and continue production work until the film is completed. A lot of people with different duties are involved in that process, related to the art, cels, and sound. So in that sense, you could consider me the middleman for production.
Takuya Miyahara (hereinafter, Miyahara): As the key animator, I take the footage made by the director or the other members of production staff, i.e. the storyboard, and use it as a foundation for the layouting. Before I start on the work, I discuss with the unit directors like Ueda-san and Oohashi-san about our plans, for instance like where to put the light source, and what the overall production intent is.
Ueda: The director has a lot of things to do, so there’s no way we can have advance meetings about every single thing, so we have to split up the work. Of course, we do get to have meetings with the director and unit directors, so the key animation is based on everything from those.
Seiji Tachikawa (hereinafter, Tachikawa): This movie has character designs by Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru-san, which was used as our original draft. My job as the animation character designer is to make them into character model sheets for use as blueprints, so that each section can use it for production.
Tomohisa Taguchi (hereinafter, Taguchi): Nakatsuru-san prepared the drafts with front views, so Tachikawa-san drew side and back views for them, and added details so that it would be easy to understand. That way, no matter whoever was working on it, the characters would look consistent.
Tachikawa: First, the key animator makes the layout, then the part director makes corrections, and the animation director makes the designs uniform. My job as the chief animation director is to oversee all of the movie itself and make it uniform.
Taguchi: As the director, I’m also ultimately a middleman. Since this movie is a Digimon work, the producer from Toei Animation made an overall framework request of “we want to make this kind of movie,” and part of that framework was to make a movie with contents suitable for the 20th anniversary, so it was a firm and consistent job to be doing. Naturally, that job also includes assembling the script together and assembling everything at the site, so it’s fairly difficult. But I was also given a lot of freedom for this movie, so I’m grateful.
–How did you bring together the staff for this movie?
Oohashi: Fundamentally speaking, a lot of us are here because Taguchi-san called us here.
Ueda: I was watching Taguchi-san make his invitations from the side. And then when he heard “he really likes Digimon,” he immediately whipped around and talked to me.
Taguchi: No, no, that’s an exaggeration (laughs). We’re making a movie, so I felt that I wanted to make it as high-quality as possible. Of course, it helps if they like Digimon, but I called them based on going through the people I knew and thinking, “I think this person would able to make this part come out well.”
Miyahara: I got a sudden email from Taguchi-san, saying, “I need to ask about something with you,” and “do you want to help make something for Digimon?” I just answered “yes!!!” without even reading any of the other contents or anything else (laughs).
Ueda: I love Digimon, so I was the one to conversely make the request “please have me participate in this.”
The enthusiasm of “I want to do this” coming out of the storyboard
–Since many people involved are acquainted with the director, was there any parts that were particularly Taguchi-san-like during the meetings or the work process?
Ueda: I felt that the storyboards really were very Taguchi-san-like. The script directions (*sentences that explain character movements and emotions) had a lot of Taguchi-san’s way of expressing things.
Taguchi: They weren’t going to end up in the final product, after all (laughs).
Miyahara: There were certainly times when they made me laugh (laughs).
Ueda: There were a lot of parts that were “beyond description”, too. Making something go even beyond description in the art was difficult for us (laughs). But those parts ended up being what got across what needed to be said the most.
Miyahara: His enthusiasm, like, “I want to do this!”, really came across.
Oohashi: There was also something unique about the angles. I think Tachikawa-san understands that part the best.
Tachikawa: Yeah, it was difficult to reproduce the angles from the storyboard.
Taguchi: There were a lot of shots looking up from below, or what we call a “low angle”. When I was drawing these in the storyboard, I was making those angles with the thought “based on what’s going on here, this is the only way to do it!” I didn’t end up thinking enough about whether they could draw that or not, so I caused it to not go over well with them (laughs).
Oohashi: No, I think it was for the better. It’s the result of taking on a challenge. It’s the kind of viewpoint you need in order to make a high-quality movie.
Tachikawa: It’s difficult to make low angles look cool with anime characters, so it’s hard work. It’s especially hard to make the lines on the chin and the nose look nice.
Taguchi: The animation directors I’ve been working with up until now have often told me I make that difficult for them…
Oohashi: But that’s Taguchi-san’s special touch.
Taguchi: Thanks to Tachikawa-san’s hard work, we got a lot of very good low angles.
Tachikawa: Ah, no, no, no, it was hard (laughs).
–What are Director Taguchi’s impressions of the staff, or the staff’s impression of Director Taguchi?
Taguchi: Tachikawa-san was very particular about layouts, and he took the stance that there absolutely had to be a layout for everything. So for this movie, Tachikawa-san made a ton of key frames (*frames that are used for movement points). When there are a lot of key frames for an anime, the highlight scenes come out very well.
Tachikawa: But Director Taguchi was the one who added most of them (laughs).
Ueda: It’s always bad whenever there aren’t enough key frames, so I’m really grateful we had a lot of them.
Taguchi: When I was working with Miyahara-san on a different work, I felt that he was someone who could draw the characters’ performances in a lovely and thorough manner. So I put him in charge of the important points of each part for this movie, like the opening part when Taichi makes his appearance.
Miyahara: Thank you very much.
Taguchi: Ueda-san called out to me asking to work on Digimon, so I had him participate. At the time he called out to me, he’d only had about a year’s experience in part direction.
Ueda: I was still somewhat of a beginner, so I worked on this by following Director Taguchi’s lead. When the director came back to look over things and check on me, he would indicate how to draw things like “maybe try changing it like this?”, and I learned a lot from him.
Taguchi: When I was working with Oohashi-san on a different job, he did an extremely good job bringing together the footage, so I requested him to work on this one.
Oohashi: It really doesn’t feel like exaggeration to say it was like “have you seen Digimon?” “I’ve seen it.” “Do you want to work on Digimon?” “I do.”
Taguchi: I was extremely lucky to be able to get such skillful people to work on this.
The generation of people who watched Digimon, making Digimon
–Since all of you are from the Digimon generation, please tell us about what parts of the story you liked from the Digimon series.
Oohashi: Episode 21 of Digimon Adventure really did leave a huge impression on me. The production and the way “Bolero” was playing, the cuteness of Ogremon waiting for the traffic light, and the depiction of Taichi returning to the Digital World in the end, it was to the point of thinking, “is this the final episode?”
Ueda: It’s really hard to pick only one. But when I was a kid, Wizarmon’s death made me want to cry. If I were to point out Digimon’s number one charm point, I think it’s that it didn’t shy away from brutal things, and even depicted the circumstances behind their home lives. And among all of that, Wizarmon had been spending all of this time helping them, and he took an attack for them, and you even saw it tear his clothes, and he was completely annihilated, and it was such a shock to see.
Miyahara: To be honest, I was simply just happy seeing the Digimon move around. Also, I’d be watching every week in anticipation of what Digimon they’d evolve into next. Like, what kind of story will this be, and what’ll they evolve into? But Oikawa’s story left a particularly deep impression on me. When I was a kid, I saw him as a purely evil person, but after going through life experiences as an adult and seeing him again, I thought, “ah…”
Oohashi: I played Digimon World 2 a lot, and so I have strong impressions of it. Through the game, I got to savor the feeling of the shock of the cactus-like Togemon evolving into the flower-like Lilimon. And then she becomes a rose in the end, right?
Miyahara: Speaking of which, Digimon also has moving poop (laughs).
Taguchi: Speaking of poop…when I was drawing the storyboards, the most exciting part for me was the girl with her Digimon in front of the Eiffel Tower. That Digimon was Numemon, and it felt like it was the best combination ever.
Oohashi: Somehow you still feel like it had a lot of fighting spirit (laughs).
–What’s your favorite Digimon, or what Digimon would you want as a partner?
Miyahara: I really love V-mon. He can evolve into all sorts of forms through Armor Evolution, and Jogress evolves with a rival presence, and evolves even further from Perfect to Ultimate-level. He’s already cool on his own that way, but he has even more variety, and he even turns white in one of the movies. He’s like the best protagonist ever, he’s really amazing.
Ueda: I know, right!?
Oohashi: What about Angewomon?
Taguchi: What do you mean by that? (laughs) My favorite is Terriermon. I want to put him on my head.
Ueda: Palmon seems like the most fun. But at the time, Paildramon was the one who got me the most excited. Fusion really must be a man’s taste.
Oohashi: Amazing that you actually thought through it…(laughs) I just blurted it out without thinking.
Tachikawa: I’ve been keeping quiet about it, but at the time, I was in high school, so I loved Angewomon (laughs).
Oohashi: Thank goodness, someone gets me (laughs).
The peculiarity of not using “normal colors” for the entire movie
–In making this movie, in what ways were you conscious of the works from the original series?
Miyahara: During the advance meetings, Director Taguchi told us, “we’re making this for the people who were watching the series back then,” and that left an impression on me. The camera work and the composition used Director Taguchi-san’s style, but we recreated things like the evolution sequence to feel like those from the original series.
Taguchi: To be honest, we really wanted to leave the footage from the original exactly as it was.
Ueda: It’s really cool, after all.
Taguchi: But of course, we can’t just use the exact same thing and leave it as it is, so we instead challenged ourselves with “let’s make the same thing.” We were conscious of the cyberspace from Our War Game!. To bring in a new atmosphere to it, we also added in a wireframe-like feel. But I actually wanted to give it an 8-bit feel…
Oohashi: I see, like the blip-blip feel.
Taguchi: But there were things like technical limitations, and incorporating that would have been difficult, so instead we left it only in the explosion effects. We wanted to have a feeling of analog-like digital, so after considering the 8-bit, we turned to the Virtual Boy.
Ueda: It was a game console where you would peek through the glass and play in a three-dimensional space.
Taguchi: We tinted it red so that we could have that kind of atmosphere come out of it. I feel that the part leading up to them entering the cyberspace really did become very much like Our War Game!.
Miyahara: Also, Director Taguchi made frequent usage of “same-position shots” (*a camera work technique where different cuts have the characters in the same position). I think that might have also been done in respect to the older series? The scene with the conversation between Taichi and Menoa left a particular impression on me.
Taguchi: I’ve loved same-position shots for a long time now. Anime production culture usually tries to avoid same-position shots. It’s said that you’re repeating the same information all over again, and conversely, the weight of said information goes down. But when people are in conversation, there’s still limitations in searching for a different angle for them, and it becomes easier to see their faces during the conversation itself, so I thought about it in an experimental sense.
Oohashi: It shows off a proper point of view.
Taguchi: It does. There’s probably that aspect to it, too. Also, personally, Digimon Adventure 02: Digimon Hurricane Touchdown!!/Transcendent Evolution!! The Golden Digimentals is my favorite Digimon movie, and so, during the final battle, we brought out a similar ominous feeling as a tribute to it.
Tachikawa: The colors in the background are different from the usual, so it has a very ominous feeling to it.
Ueda: It’s not just that scene, the whole movie doesn’t use the usual colors to the point it really leaves an impression. From the introduction scene in the morning, to the characters, to the cyberspace, to the area with the final battle. Was that also something made with awareness of the prior series?
Taguchi: When people watch something on screen, I feel that they don’t notice the lines as much as they do the colors. Recent anime has some excellent animation directors and key animators, so it’s getting harder to differentiate your work through the art. So I was thinking about how we could make the pictures on the screen stand out with what we have left, so I decided to give it different shades of colors. Of course, it was also because I had staff who would be able to carry out that request for me.
Oohashi: You mean the color designer, Saori Gouda-san. She was always saying “there’s so many colors” (laughs).
Taguchi: Gouda-san was putting on so many colors, it looked like she might die. I feel like the things I work on probably have twice or three times as many colors as usual.
Ueda: It really needed that many colors. We weren’t using normal colors.
Oohashi: It’s the same color theory they use at Ghibli.
Taguchi: It’d have been ideal to use as many colors as we could. We made it through a lot of back-and-forth with the background artists. Everyone did a wonderful job working on it, so I have nothing but gratitude towards them.
–During the climax, a ton of Chosen Children and Digimon make an appearance.
Oohashi: It’s already fun as it is, looking for Digimon you recognize.
Ueda: We really did put a lot of them in there.
Taguchi: Maybe I shouldn’t be the one to say this, but it must have been hard for the unit directors and the key animators and the animation directors.
Oohashi: It really was difficult to make adjustments to all of it. Even when we switched cuts, we were still using the same characters in the same positions, but if A-kun had A-mon next to them, and we changed the cut, there might be a mistake where we’d actually put B-mon there. The cuts are all tied to each other during that scene, so we had to constantly check that there weren’t any mistakes, and fix any of them that we found. Anime production has a different person in charge of each block, so because there might be inconsistencies between them, the unit director would have to fix those. It’s a movie for the 20th anniversary, and we wanted it to be like a festival1 where Digimon that everyone recognizes will be there, so we had it match up to the level of how it was presented in the story.
Miyahara: Since Eosmon was supposed to have kidnapped around three hundred people.
Ueda: Three hundred people, plus three hundred Digimon on top of that.
Taguchi: We couldn’t show all of them on one screen, but in terms of the story, there are supposed to be three hundred people there.
Pay attention to the characters in the ending
–Are there any particular points you would like people to look out for or rewatch?
Oohashi: In accordance with this being the final story of Taichi and Agumon and their friends, we gave them an opponent of unprecedented size.
Miyahara: As a result of thinking about how we should portray its “strength”, Director Taguchi told us not to make it move.
Taguchi: It has the image of being so strong that it’s huge and immovable. Miyahara-san, I know you’re a huge fan of Digimon, so how did that turn out?
Miyahara: When I was reading through the entire storyboard, it felt like a “giant monster movie”, and I thought it was very Director Taguchi-like. Beyond that, I also felt how the relationship between the characters was unbroken while they were searching for their careers, and their lines were constantly letting you feel how firm the accumulation of those relationships was, so I simply just thought, “wow.” Also, when Taichi and Yamato went out for yakiniku, it was a huge shock to see them drinking alcohol.
Ueda: After we’ve been seeing them in school uniforms for all this time.
Miyahara: You really feel, “they’ve actually become adults.” The impact of the image is really strong, and I think it’ll leave a huge impression on those from my generation, who were watching the series as kids.
Ueda: A lot of kids appear in this movie, and a ton of them are Chosen Children who had appeared in past works, so I hope you keep a look out for who’s there.
Oohashi: Also, I hope you pay close attention to the ending. Each character is shown after the fight with Menoa, and we depicted them living their daily lives. You can see them in various different situations, for instance how some of them have their partners there and some of them don’t, and you start to imagine…or even wildly speculate on who’s gone through the same experience as Taichi and Yamato and lost their partner. And in the epilogue scene, the way they face forwards towards the future will probably hit a chord with people from multiple generations.
Tachikawa: This movie has them change clothes a lot, so I hope you pay close attention to the clothes. Within the span of 95 minutes, the main characters have four instances of changing clothes.
Taguchi: We also had the image of putting them in their old costumes for the final battle.
Tachikawa: Fundamentally speaking, the director was giving us pictures and saying “make it with this image”, so we made the setting with that as a basis. I’m from the Dragon Ball generation, so I was happy to be able to draw using Nakatsuru-san’s art.2 When I saw his initial drafts, there was no sense of discomfort at all in seeing them as adults, and I thought, yeah, that’s Nakatsuru-san for you.
Taguchi: If the movie interests you enough to watch it a second time, I would like it if you paid attention to the smaller parts. The staff that participated in this movie put their blood and sweat and everything into taking on this challenge. I would be very happy if you could keep a close eye on the little things that these creators have put their heartfelt work into.
Profile: Animation director. Major works include Persona 4: The Golden Animation, Twin Star Exorcists, and Kino’s Journey —the Beautiful World— the Animated Series.
Profile: Animator. Has served as chief animation director and animation director for works such as Amagami SS, Amagami SS+ plus, Kino’s Journey —the Beautiful World— the Animated Series, and Ace Attorney.
Profile: Director. Major works include Persona 5: The Animation, Saekano the Movie: Finale, and Is the Order a Rabbit?? 〜Dear My Sister〜.
Profile: Director. Major works include One Room, One Room SECOND SEASON, and Persona 5: The Animation.
Profile: Animator. Major works include Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, Kino’s Journey —the Beautiful World— the Animated Series, and BLACKFOX.
- A “festival” (お祭り, omatsuri), in the context of media analysis, refers to a work meant to celebrate everything about a series (i.e. like a “greatest hits” sort of culmination).
- Beyond his work for Digimon, Nakatsuru is also well-known for his work as a secondary character designer for Dragon Ball movies.