A translation of the voice cast and staff interviews from the booklet included with the Digimon Tamers Blu-ray Box (released April 3, 2018), which featured group interviews with the following:
- Voice actors Masako Nozawa (Guilmon), Makoto Tsumura (Takato Matsuda), Aoi Tada (Terriermon), Mayumi Yamaguchi (Jianliang Lee), Fumiko Orikasa (Ruki Makino), Youko Asada (Juri Katou), and Susumu Chiba (Mitsuo Yamaki)
- Staff members Hiromi Seki (producer), Chiaki Konaka (lead writer), Yukio Kaizawa (series director), and Hiroyuki Kakudou (episode director)
Special Cast Interview! 2018
A direct interview with the cast, right after recording for the first-press limited bonus drama CD! We asked them about their memories of the past!
–It’s now been more than 15 years since the original series’s broadcast, and the members of this cast have gathered once again to record this drama CD1. What was it like to meet face-to-face again?
Yamaguchi: Nobody’s changed at all, not in the slightest (laughs).
Tsumura: It was really nostalgic!
Yamaguchi: Mako-san (Masako Nozawa-san) was amazing! Even back then, she made an impressive Guilmon, but today, she really was a proper Guilmon (laughs).
Nozawa: Thank you (laughs). I’m happy to hear you say that!
Tsumura: Getting to be in dialogue with everyone again after such a long time made me really, really happy. All of my feelings from back then returned, and it was a lot of fun. As soon as I heard Guilmon’s first line, I thought I might cry, I was really touched.
Yamaguchi: We discussed this during the recording, but Asada-san’s kid has grown up, and is already 15 years old. Hoho.
Asada: It’s already been 15 years since then.
Chiba: It’s scary how fast time flies (laughs).
Nozawa: 15 years old, so middle school, right?
Asada: A third-year in middle school. Still in my belly back when we were recording Tamers, and then I gave birth, and now it’s been 15 years (laughs).
Tada: It’s really an odd feeling when I hear people say “I was watching it back then!”, but I’m grateful. Right now, I’m more active as a singer2, but I hear this a lot from guys in their twenties that come to my live concerts.
Chiba: When we all got together for this, we were saying things like “nobody’s changed”, but hearing that really does make you feel how much time has passed.
Nozawa: It really does. Yeah.
Yamaguchi: One thing I’ll never forget even now…Back then, we all got a birthday present for Mako-san. And then, the next week, Mako-san gave us all presents in return. And that made me more than happy! I’ve been treasuring what she gave me for all this time.
Nozawa: I was really, really happy. I was really grateful at the time! I couldn’t have imagined that I’d get a present from them. We were working at the studio and all. I was shocked, I was thinking, “what?!”
Asada: It was a surprise on both ends. Also, after we’d recorded for the final episode, Nozawa-san got all of us ballpoint pens with “Digimon Tamers” written on them. That made me really, really happy.
Nozawa: Really? I’m glad! We were all working together for a year, so even though it wasn’t something particularly expensive, but I wanted to bring something to commemorate the occasion.
Chiba: I still use that pen, even when I’m at a different recording site.
Nozawa: I’m so happy to hear that!
–What was it like recording back then?
Asada: I was very nervous during our first recording.
Tsumura: Even the idea of “I’m going to be recording alongside Masako Nozawa-san”3 made me nervous.
All: Yeah, yeah.
Nozawa: Huh, really?
Tsumura: I was so nervous that I couldn’t really remember anything…
Tada: As soon as I saw Nozawa-san, I know it’s rude, but I thought, “it really is her!” (laughs). “She really exists!”
Tsumura: She was like some kind of urban legend (laughs). The first episode had Yamaki-san and Juri-chan in it too, right? We got to see the school.
Tada: Juri-chan left quite the impression, didn’t she? She had a puppet on her hand.
Asada: She was very mysterious. I don’t think she talked that much in the first episode.
Tsumura: The first episode had Takato see Ruki-chan in a dream, didn’t he? Yeah, she did a Card Slash. Ruki-chan was the first one to do a Card Slash, right?
Orikasa: She ended up being called the “Queen” by others around her pretty quickly, so I remember being pretty bewildered by that (laughs).
Tada: Culumon also appeared in the first episode, didn’t they? It’s a shame Culumon’s voice actress, Tomoko Kaneda-san, couldn’t be in this drama CD.
Chiba: Back then, even Culumon’s first line made the atmosphere turn into “Ah! So cute!”
Tsumura: I have a mental image of Culumon never saying anything but “culu, culu!” But when I rewatched the DVD, they actually talk quite a lot, and it was pretty different from what I’d remembered.
Chiba: At first, they only go “culu, culu”, and they’re a presence shrouded in mystery.
Tsumura: I wanted to try playing Culumon (laughs).
Tada: Back then, we were all imitating Culumon and going “culu, culu”. Even in the series itself, there’s a scene where Terriermon imitates Culumon. Did someone pick up on our bad habits and write it in there? (laughs)
Orikasa: Also, Ruki was the kind of character you could call a “tsundere“4 (laughs). Although the word “tsundere” wasn’t in use at the time.5
Nozawa: She leaves such an impression that when you hear about that kind of thing, you think, “yeah, that’s right.”
Orikasa: I didn’t play her with the intention of making her a tsundere, but that’s actually exactly how she ended up as one (laughs).
Chiba: It was a series that was actually ahead of its time, wasn’t it? Renamon6 didn’t appear in this drama CD, but I’m really curious as to what happened to them.
Orikasa: Really! Please let me do a “Card Slash”, too (laughs)!
–Were there any other characters you wanted to try playing back then?
Tada: I kept imitating everyone else while I was at the recording site…I was doing things like everyone’s “Card Slash!” (laughs)
Chiba: As someone from the human side, there were times when I wanted to try playing a Digimon. I wanted to try yelling “evolve!”
Yamaguchi: As someone who’s played both sides (*Note 1)…it’s tough.
Tada: Are there times where one’s easier to play than the other?
Yamaguchi: When I play a Digimon, whenever I voice more and more evolutions, my voice has to get more and more like a beast’s, and it’s tough changing my voice.
(*Note 1) Yamaguchi-san plays Gabumon, a Digimon, in the Digimon Adventure series.
–During evolution scenes, is there anything you pay particular attention to when playing them?
Nozawa: Whenever I play something, I never, ever put actual thought into how I do it. I just ride along with the flow of what I feel from the pictures, and that’s how I’ve always been doing it for a long time.
Tada: I’m not the kind of person who can just do that…(laughs). But when Terriermon evolved, I was told that it was okay for me to not change my voice when Terriermon evolved, so I put a little thought into making it a bit more high-spirited, and tried to have it so that my voice wouldn’t change all that much. I ended up watching it on air, thinking, he’s getting to be more of a stronger and stronger-looking Digimon, and yet his voice is the same, so isn’t that a bit odd-sounding? Is this going to be okay?
Yamaguchi: In terms of feelings, it’s the same Terriermon as ever (laughs).
Tada: It was really a shock, seeing what he looked like after he evolved (laughs).
Tsumura: Back then, you started really getting turned off.
Nozawa: Even though Terriermon was so cute.
Tada: If he evolved, you’d think, “are we gonna get through today?”, and on days he didn’t evolve, it’d be like “thank goodness!”
Asada: Up until Galgomon, he still has a cute face, but as Rapidmon he turns into something like a robot.
Tada: In terms of voice, I could tell from seeing the art that Terriermon’s partner was a boy. But on the first day, when I went to post-recording, I saw that Yamaguchi-san was a woman and wondered what kind of voice she’d have, and I remember being really shocked and thinking “he really sounds like a boy!” (laughs). Her voice was really deep, even when singing.
Yamaguchi: Yeah, yeah! I sang really deep!
Chiba: Right, we had character songs~.
Tada: She sang it a full octave down. I thought, “wow! She’s a woman, and yet she’s singing at this key!” Ruki-chan had a lot of character songs, too, right?
Orikasa: She did. I sang a lot of them. I also sang in one with Takato and Jian as a trio, and everyone had their own single CDs with duets with their partners.
Tada: The partner pairs were all flirting with each other. I also had to sing as Lopmon, so I had some trouble with how I should change the way I should sing it.
Chiba: Even Yamaki got to sing (laughs). I was shocked when I saw the lyrics, because it didn’t sound remotely mature at all. He just kept complaining, like, “They’re so carefree, those brats” “Getting all merry over things like Christmas” “I’d prefer to not be here, either”7 (laughs).
All: Huh~ (laugh).
Chiba: Yamaki’s the kind of person who’s always complaining like that, after all.
Tsumura: Even today, he had a line like “I’d prefer to not be here, either”, “I tend to feel insecure unless I’m working in secret bases like this one.”
Chiba: That character song made me feel that he was the most childish of all, or, more like, he really is a depressing sort of guy.
–The fact that the humans also get to yell things out is something we feel makes it different from the Digimon series that had been released up to that point.
Yamaguchi: It does. Up until then, the humans would tell them to “evolve!”, and the Digimon would respond, “okay, got it!”, and then they’d evolve (laughs). Takato took a while to get to yell out something himself.
Tsumura: It wasn’t until episode 10 when I got to play him yelling “Card Slash!” with the cool music playing behind him.
Yamaguchi: He’s the protagonist, so he had to be saved for the right time.
Tada: Everyone had a different way of saying “slash!” and a different pose.
Tsumura: I feel like I had to be instructed in how to say it? I think I said it a little too late?
Yamaguchi: We all were given different ways to do it.
Tsumura: I also have a huge impression of when I had to yell “Matrix Evolution!” Whenever I yelled it out, the sound of the “e-” kept getting buried. I remember having to keep redoing it as a result.
Orikasa: I remember constantly referring back to how Takato and Jian yelled it out. It was very important to me that it come out sounding properly cool every time (laughs).
Tada: The Ultimate evolutions were very interesting, too.
Yamaguchi: They went completely naked! Nowadays, they wouldn’t be able to do a scene like that.
Tada: They were almost completely covered up by light, though.
Tsumura: It was really embarrassing seeing them naked back then.
Chiba: During the recording, they still hadn’t put colors on the picture yet, but you could still see the drawing clearly.
Yamaguchi: You could see all of it. So I was really shocked, “aaah, I can see it!”
–Is there a scene you particularly like or have an attachment to?
Nozawa: For me it might be when I (Guilmon) play with Takato’s friends thinking that we’re all the same, and with no sense of discomfort. It’s so cute how he’s curious and full of energy.
Takato: No matter how many times I watch this, the scene with Guilmon’s birth makes me think “ah, I love this.” Guilmon’s so cute. When I rewatched it, it felt like his birth had a scary environment to it, and I had a lot of deep feelings thinking, “ah, right, this is how it felt when he was born…” and then suddenly right after that, the feeling of “he’s so cute” got stronger. Also, for some reason, Renamon’s “Fox Leaf Arrowheads” actually leave a deeper impresson on me than Guilmon’s “Fireball”.
Asada: Personally, I like the episode when Juri-chan was acting on guard. She actually has an interest in Digimon, but she keeps that hidden. And then her cards scatter all over the place in front of Kenta and Hirokazu, and I thought that it was cute seeing her all flustered.
Tsumura: Did that happen? (laughs)
Asada: I feel like that happened (laughs). Somewhere in the middle of the story.
Orikasa: Mine is from the movie, Runaway Digimon Express. It went for the song I actually sang in the movie, but I have a strong memory of everyone imitating that line “I want to sing” back then (laughs).
Tada: I really remember that one. It left a huge impression (laughs).
Orikasa: I’ll never forget that (laughs).
Tada: It really was hard to do the scenes with Shaochung. He was tossed around by Shaochung, and kept getting in a sticky situation, and then near the end, Lopmon got added on top of that. The script had “Aoi Tada” on it…”Huh? That’s me.” Suddenly I had two roles. I learned this for the first time when I read the script.
Yamaguchi: It was interesting seeing Jian get mad at Shaochung. Saying “Shaochung!” with all the energy he had! Everyone at the recording site was getting all antsy, like, “whoa, he got mad!”
Chiba: There was that scene where Yamaki suddenly became angry. Up until then, he’d always come off as a calm person, but then it was like, is this how his more human side comes out? (laughs) That scene was such a shock, to the point it might have been like creating my character all over again, and it was so unexpected I ended up thinking a lot about it.
Yamaguchi: In the end, he became kind of like a joke character.
Chiba: He did. It was almost like, “Yamaki, where are you going now…” He was wavering around more than a kid in puberty (laughs).
Tsumura: How sad…It must have been the stress.
Chiba: The children were the ones who were far more mature than him.
–In closing, please leave a message for the fans.
Tsumura: When you rewatch it now, the themes and the story haven’t aged at all! I think both old-time fans and people watching it now will enjoy it, so look forward to it!
Asada: Even now, its view of the world feels fresh, and it really digs deeply into you. It’ll bring you back to the days when it first broadcast, and so I hope you’ll watch all 51 episodes. Please enjoy it.
Orikasa: I often get to hear people tell me “I grew up watching Tamers,” and I’ve even had someone come to meet me from overseas, cosplaying Ruki and saying “I love Tamers,” and I’m really glad that I got to play this role. With this Blu-ray Box as an eternal record of it, I hope everyone will treasure it forever.
Tada: I think a lot of people who watched it when it aired were in elementary school or middle school at the time. Digimon Tamers is a series with a lot of difficult vocabulary in it, and since the people who were watching it are around 28 years old or so, if they rewatch it, they’ll be able to understand it now, and discover things that they’d overlooked before, and will be able to see it in yet another way. I was around twenty years old when I played this role, but back then I didn’t understand their meanings, and even now I don’t understand their meanings well, so let’s all watch it again together.
Yamaguchi: The people who watched it back then are now at an age where it wouldn’t be unusual for them to be having their own kids soon, so if they watch it together, I think it’ll be a good form of of education (laughs). Also, please spread it around to others (laughs). And another thing that’ll get weveryone excited is this preorder drama CD, which brings new life to it. Please enjoy it.
Chiba: I think Tamers is full of parts where you can enjoy the fun of the animation. For instance, Guilmon’s hiding spot, in a corner of the very real location of “Shinjuku”. Those kinds of little things are interwoven into it, and it’s easy for the imagination to take hold. Sometimes even I pass by somewhere and remember, “this is where that scene took place.” When I go to those places, the thoughts and feelings circulate…I think that one of the fun aspects of this series, so I hope you try it out. Of course, be sure not to cause trouble for those around you…(laughs). And so, please close it up for us, Nozawa-san.
Nozawa: No matter when you watch it, or how many times you watch it, it’s fascinating. I hope those who watched it at the time, and the children who are watching it now, can feel like they’re drawn into the world of Tamers and enjoy it. (In Guilmon’s voice) Come watch it, everyone~.
–Thank you very much.
From Tokyo. Major works:
- Dragon Ball series: Son Goku, Son Gohan, Son Goten, others
- Galaxy Express 999: Tetsurou Hoshino
- GeGeGe no Kitaro (series 1 and 2): Kitaro
From Hokkaido. Major works:
- Astro Boy: Atom
- Sazae-san: Wakame Isono
- God Apprentice: Secret Cocotama: Bannosuke
From Tokyo. Major works:
- Cowboy Bebop: Ed
- Angel Beats! ending song “Brave song”
From Iwate Prefecture. Major works:
- Digimon Adventure series: Gabumon
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Envy
- Naruto Shippuden: Orochimaru (young)
From Tokyo. Major works:
- My Home: Mikan Tachibana
- Bleach: Rukia Kuchiki
- Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: Shirley Fenette
From Hyogo Prefecture. Major works:
- serial experiments lain: Alice Mizuki
- Heartcatch PreCure!: Miss Noriko
From Kanagawa Prefecture. Major works:
- Gintama: Isao Kondo
- IDOLiSH7: Otoharu Takanashi
- Attack on Titan: Eld Gin
Special Staff Interview! 2018
A gathering of the staff members who brought forth Digimon Tamers! We spoke with them extensively about things like their memories from back then, and the first-press limited bonus drama CD!
–Please remind us again of what your roles were in the production of Digimon Tamers at the time.
Seki: As the producer, my work is related to things like filling in the staff members. I asked Kakudou-san to continue working on the series, and I also contacted Kaizawa-san and Konaka-san to have them participate.
Kaizawa: I was someone who had absolutely no relation to the prior series, Digimon Adventure and 02, so it meant that they would be restarting everything entirely from scratch. But Seki-san told me, “feel free to do whatever you want”, and so I took on the job as series director. Konaka-san depicted the Digimon and the humans and other characters in a very dense manner, so it was rather difficult to produce artwork for it, but it was well worth it (laughs).
Konaka: I had been involved since 02, so I was called on to be the lead writer8. First, I worked on what would be the backbone of the story, and then I discussed back-and-forth with Kaizawa-san on what kinds of things we would want to include in the series.
Kaizawa: Konaka-san wrote “if it’s going to be this way, then I’ll do it” (laughs).
Konaka: Did I seem pretentious (laughs)?
Kaizawa: You did.
Seki: Yeah, yeah (laughs).
Konaka: Kakudou-san was an episode director for individual episodes, and was in charge of the major important ones. In that sense, I’m glad we could make this into an all-out challenge.
Kakudou: My role in it was different from my role in Adventure, so it was fundamentally something I could work on in a more relaxed manner. The core composition of the series was being handled by Konaka-san and Kaizawa-san, so I could focus primarily on working on the CGI, and put thought into the individual highlight scenes and specialty areas I was assigned to. I got to do things in a way that I hadn’t done much back in Adventure, so it was fun to do.
Kaizawa: He had experience from working on Adventure, so there were times where we consulted him “what should we do here?”, and he would help us think it through for us.
Kakudou: The part I was most commonly consulted about was in regards to the background of Takato having watched Adventure on television. To be frank about it, we didn’t want to put that up front and center, so we discussed what we should do to depict it in a way that would get that across. In the end, we put an Agumon toy in Takato’s room.
Konaka: It was something like, we wanted to express it without having it directly come out of someone’s mouth.
Seki: Also, this was something that left a particularly strong impression on me, but Konaka-san introduced us to Shinji Aramaki-san (*Note 1). He worked very hard on making very artistic CGI for us.
Konaka: We decided very early on that they’d go to the Digital World, but we couldn’t repeat what was done in Adventure, so we thought about how to express it with digital art (background art made with CGI and other effects). I can’t do design myself, so we requested Aramaki-san to make the concept art for us.
Kaizawa: I’ve dabbled in CGI before, but I can’t do anything remotely compared to what those actually well-versed in visual work can do. Thanks to Aramaki-san’s help, we were able to expand the range of the world through the visuals. For instance, when they go to the Digital World, the Real World is floating in the sky. That’s not something I could have conceived of myself.
Konaka: After that, our art designer, Keito Watanabe-san (*Note 2), was able to bring it together very well.
(*Note 1) Shinji Aramaki
Animation director and mechanic designer. A leading figure in Japanese full-CGI animation. In regards to the Digimon series, he participated in Tamers‘s CGI design.
(*Note 2) Keito Watanabe
Employed at Toei Animation as an art designer, who has worked on a large number of their works. Among the Digimon series, he has worked on Tamers, Frontier, and Savers as the art designer, DIGITAL MONSTER X-evolution as the art setting designer, and Digimon Savers THE MOVIE: Ultimate Power! Activate Burst Mode!! as the art director.
–Looking back on it, is there anything from development that you can talk about now that time has passed?
Konaka: There’s the story of how we met Takato’s voice actress, Tsumura-san. I was observing the audition with Seki-san and the others, and we were discussing whom we should go with at the office in Kagurazaka, but there wasn’t a single one that felt like they hit just the right spot. I remember that during all that, Kaizawa-san said “there’s someone here who doesn’t have a tape.” We’d done the auditions at TAVAC, so we had to take a taxi all the way back to TAVAC and look for the tape. It was something like 10 PM.
Seki: The audition had more than a hundred people involved in it, and we’d been having them play all sorts of roles in one straight shot. We were narrowing it down from there, but the tape from the person whom Kaizawa-san had remembered wasn’t in the pile we’d narrowed down.
Kaizawa: And then Tsumura-san ended up being the person that made us go “this is it!”
Konaka: Tsumura-san had the voice for a grade-schooler with the most natural feeling, with just a little feeling of distress. It had a quirk that none of the other voice actors had.
Seki: If Kaizawa-san hadn’t remembered her, this could have ended up as a very different series.
Kaizawa: Takato isn’t the kind of protagonist that would be typical in anime, so during the audition, we still didn’t have a completely firm grasp on what kind of image he should have. But the moment we heard Tsumura-san’s voice, we immediately went “ah, he’s like this!”, and a lightbulb went off. Konaka-san was the one who came up with Takato’s background, right?
Seki: He was.
Konaka: Digimon are strange, talking creatures, and have strange inflections in their ways of talking, and that part is only natural. So we decided to make the humans “ordinary”. Up until then, we’d had the hot-blooded protagonist Taichi, and in 02, Daisuke was another unusual sort of person. We weren’t thinking of making Takato a particularly cowardly type, but we thought of making him “ordinary”.
Kaizawa: The characters that Konaka-san creates each have their own strong “feelings”. Takato has strong feelings of wanting to befriend Digimon, while Ruki has feelings of refusing to lose to anyone in any fight. Those “feelings” contribute a lot to the setting behind the series, and it helps create a proper image for the art. That’s one of the core things behind Tamers.
Konaka: As for Terriermon, Seki-san had him appear once in a 02 movie, and she said, “we’re definitely putting him in the next thing, we absolutely have to get him in,” and so we had him appear in the series (laughs).
Kakudou: There’s something I want to ask…how did you name Jian’s family?
Konaka: I think I probably went on the Internet and looked for suitable names.
Kakudou: They’re all names of famous stars from Hong Kong.
Konaka: Ah! That’s right, that’s right!
Kakudou: I hadn’t seen very many films from Hong Kong at the time, but when I was working on DIGITAL MONSTER X-evolution some years later, I saw their names a lot when I went to the studio in Hong Kong. I saw that, and all of these names that I’d heard from somewhere or other kept popping up again and again (laughs).
Konaka: But they’re common names, aren’t they?
Kakudou: The father’s name, Jiangyu, isn’t a particularly common one. It’s the name of prominent actor Francis Ng (Chun-yu Ng).9 The mother’s name is Mayumi, but the oldest son is named Lianjie. Lianjie is Jet Li’s real name.
Konaka: Ah! I’m sorry!
Kakudou: The oldest daughter is named Jialing, and that’s from a really beautiful actress named Carina Lau (Kar-ling Lau).
Konaka: Wow, I’m really sorry…(laughs).
Kakudou: That’s all fine, but then, Shaochung10…There’s an actual actor in real life named Shaochung, but the person with that name…
Konaka: …is male? (had completely forgotten up until this moment)
Kakudou: He’s male (laughs). Jordan Chan (Siu-Chun Chan).
Seki: This is the first time I’m hearing about this (laughs).
Kaizawa: We only had things like “father”, “mother”, and “younger brother” on the screen during the actual broadcast, but we did give them names in the actual background documents, didn’t we?
Konaka: When I was coming up with the names, I wanted to make it not come off as “obviously fiction”, as much as I could. I was looking for common names. Jian being half-Chinese came from a conversation for which Seki-san wanted one of the group to be a repatriate student11, but it was followed up with a conversation about how “lately, there have been a lot of foreigner students”, and we conceived of him from there.
Seki: When we make a series with a target audience of grade schoolers, we absolutely make sure to look into the circumstances behind real grade-schoolers. At the time, we learned that the rate of half-Japanese students in each class was rising.
–How did you go about creating the story for Tamers?
Konaka: Digimon is a series where we have to line things up with the toy sales, and so we have to develop the story in a way that links up to that. But if I just simply put down the foreshadowing and resolve it, as if you’d just solved a puzzle, I personally don’t feel any catharsis out of the story. So I have to slowly get the foreshadowing built up within the story. That means I end up unable to resolve some things, but then the scriptwriting team can pick up on that foreshadowing and expand the story with it. I’m the lead writer who’s organizing the story, so for each and every episode we have this kind of system, and we have to calculate it closely.
Kaizawa: The part where they went to the Digital World was a major turning point.
Konaka: It is. We’d already determined the base outline for it, but the television ratings were falling compared to those of Adventure and 02…So we were told, “we want you to hurry up with the story,” so we had to hold out and push forward with the overworld arc. The overworld arc really is the core of Tamers, after all.
Seki: When it was determined that this series would be broadcasted, we had about two cours’ worth12 of story development in mind, but the third and the fourth cour really felt like we were making it as we were going along.
Konaka: That said, the story from the third cour and on did have a lot of things that we’d foreshadowed in the script for the first cour. We’d decided that things like “Grani” and “Crimson Mode” would appear, so we talked about why they would appear, and how. If we don’t go about developing the story in a precise manner, there won’t be any catharsis. And of course, we have to portray Takato and Guilmon and the others’ feelings. Although we had it so that Juri’s feelings wouldn’t be made apparent until the end.
Seki: In terms of a story’s drama, whether the viewer can get on board with the characters’ feelings or not is very important. And if you can get the viewer to cry or laugh or be emotionally moved, if you can stir up those kinds of feelings, in the end, you’ll be able to sell the toys.
Konaka: Having to match up with the toys gave us a good guideline. That way, we could think about how to create the story flow in such a way that it’d bring out the best kind of excitement.
Seki: Tamers started out with a portrayal of Digimon as “wild animals”. So when we first looked at the materials for the Ultimate-levels, the very straightforward thought of “robot-like” came to mind, and it ended up bothering us for a while. But the footage that Aramaki-san created made them look very much like organic, living beings, and we were truly grateful. So there ended up being no need to make the story take an unusually robotic direction, and so I think they come off as Digimon, no matter what.
Konaka: There’s a song in the soundtrack called “Digital African”. It’s a name that you wouldn’t normally be able to conceive, going along with the “wild beasts in the network”. Among Arisawa-san’s13 music for this series, we wanted to emphasize that point, didn’t we?
Kaizawa: When we were thinking about why the Digimon would fight each other, and we considered how they’d follow wild instincts and “fight in order to live”, we were wondering if the Digimon world would be easy to understand.
Seki: I feel that, thanks to Kaizawa-san pushing forward on the idea of “what is a monster?” with Aramaki-san, even the robotic Ultimate-levels came off as looking like proper living beings.
–How did producing this drama CD go?
Konaka: Seki-san probably must have been thinking, “this wasn’t supposed to happen!”
Konaka: To be honest, I wrote it actively thinking about Digimon Adventure tri. Mainly in the sense that I thought it would be interesting to depict Tamers‘s own version of “several years later”. Since, back then, Tamers also depicted the circumstances of the Internet in a true-to-life manner.
Seki: When I heard about the plot from Konaka-san, he also sent me a message saying “please check with Kakudou-san and make sure this doesn’t clash with the worldview of Adventure and such.” I was thinking, “all right, I’ll do it,” but also “is this a written challenge to me as a producer?” (laughs). And then when I read the plot and saw what kind of scope it covered, I thought, “Konaka-san, you wrote something that would be unthinkable for a drama CD.”
Konaka: Even I was thinking that, too (laughs).
Seki: It was the kind of plot that someone trying to make a movie would come up with. I thought, no doubt about it, this person knows very well what sins he’s about to commit (laughs).
Konaka: When I got the text guide (written parts in the script that indicate things such as sound effects), where Guilmon was lumbering around, there was a note saying “Terriermon’s walking pace is slow”. And then there were more and more of those kinds of things in there…(laughs).
Kaizawa: This drama CD used up everything out of the two points of “nostalgia” and “what happens after”. When Konaka-san brought up the story for this, it gave off the feeling that Tamers was continuing even into the modern time axis, and that the Tamers were managing to continue their story even now. It was less so a movie and more something that gave me the impression of “he’s made this world come to life and breathe here.”
Konaka: Also, I was thinking about what to do about the voice actors. But when I was observing the recording, Tsumura-san naturally did a perfect middle-schooler Takato.
Kaizawa: She did a wonderful job.
Seki: Juri-chan, too. She played both her in middle school and her as a 28-year-old woman marvelously.
Konaka: Tsumura-san was probably focusing on making his voice a little deeper than it was in the TV series, so it fit the story well.
Kakudou: It really was like that. When you listen to it, there really is a difference.
Konaka: And in the end, we went back to the same “You, too, can be a Tamer!” (laughs). It gets you riled up.
Kakudou: I think that those who bought the Blu-ray Box and listened to the drama CD before watching it, along with those who are rewatching the series itself, will definitely be able to feel “ah, Takato really did grow up well” when they hear it.
–In closing, please leave a message for the fans.
Kakudou: Back when the series broadcast, there were times I missed a few episodes. I was too busy and accidentally missed them. The footage on the Blu-ray is nicely cleaned up, and so even I’m looking forward to rewatching all of it over again, so let’s all enjoy it together.
Konaka: Back when the DVD-Box came out, the booklet was so full of contents that it became thick, and now even this one doesn’t hold back and has everything it can. Most importantly, the Blu-ray’s picture quality is so good that it’s shocking. This is something that I really can be completely straightforward in saying “please buy this” (laughs).
Kaizawa: When we were working on the drama CD, I decided to rewatch it. Seeing it 15 years later, I was emotionally moved thinking “ah, this is fascinating,” and ended up pulled into its world (laughs). It felt like I was watching Tamers like just another fan. I got to watch it again from the beginning the way all of the fans would, and be touched by it, and if there’s another opportunity, I’d like to work with Konaka-san again, and make something that’ll touch people’s hearts.
Seki: I’m afraid to watch this Blu-ray. The footage has gotten beautiful and wonderful, but watching it made me a little teary-eyed, especially the opening. That’s how high the quality of the Blu-ray and the drama CD is. So I’ll be very happy if you watch it and understand those feelings.
Producer. Participated in a great number of anime series broadcast on Sunday morning blocks on Fuji TV and TV Asahi. Involved in the Digimon series from Adventure to Frontier. Serves as a planning and development supervisor at the Toei Animation Planning Department.
Scriptwriter and novelist. On top of animation, he also has participated in a great number of live-action horror and tokusatsu14 works. For the Digimon series, he was in charge of the script for 02′s 13th episode, “The Call of Dagomon”. He also served as the lead writer for Tamers.
Animation director. For the Digimon series, worked as a series director for Tamers, Frontier, and Digimon Xros Wars. From Toei Animation.
Animation director. For the Digimon series, served as the series director for Adventure, 02, and DIGITAL MONSTER X-evolution, and participated as an episode director for individual episodes of Tamers, Frontier, and Digimon Xros Wars.
- The drama CD referred to in this interview is the first-press limited drama CD “Days ~Information and the Extraordinary~” (translation by onkei here). [↩]
- Tada largely retired from voice acting work in 2005, and her doing work on the aforementioned drama CD in 2018 is particularly unusual. [↩]
- By the time of production for Digimon Tamers, Masako Nozawa was already well-acclaimed as a veteran voice actress who had been in many famous roles since the 1960s, including her most prominent role as Son Goku in the Dragon Ball series. [↩]
- Tsundere = an archetype of character who covers up “soft” (deredere) under a cold (tsuntsun) exterior. [↩]
- The term tsundere didn’t catch on in the mainstream until around 2006. [↩]
- At the time of the production of the drama CD, Renamon’s voice actress, Yuka Imai, was on hiatus in order to spend time raising her son, resulting in Renamon themself not being in the story. Shortly after the release of this Blu-ray box, Imai announced her full retirement from voice acting. [↩]
- Chiba refers to the song “Black X’mas ~Yamaki’s Theme~” from the album Digimon Tamers Christmas Illusion, originally released November 7, 2001. The song has Yamaki openly griping about having to work on Christmas. [↩]
- In literal terms, the role referred to here is series kousei (シリーズ構成, lit. “series composition”). [↩]
- The reason for the “mismatch” in the names as stated here is that the Japanese corruptions of the Chinese names (used for both the real-life actors and the Tamers characters) are based off the Mandarin readings of the names, whereas the actors’ names are read in Cantonese. [↩]
- Shaochung’s name corruption, “Shuuchon“, is based on the Cantonese reading (as is with the actor her name is taken from), but “Shaochung” is the official romanization on Konaka’s website. [↩]
- “Repatriate student” = A kikokushijo, referring to a student who has had education in a different country for at least a year and has “returned” to Japan. Jian is not one, having presumably been fully born and raised in Japan, but the following series Digimon Frontier would have one in the form of Izumi Orimoto, whose experiences in Italy lead to culture shock-induced friction between her and her classmates. [↩]
- A “cour” is used in descriptions of Japanese TV shows and anime to refer to a 12-14 episode block (i.e. Adventure is a 4-cour anime). [↩]
- “Arisawa-san” = Referring to Takanori Arisawa, the BGM composer for Adventure through Frontier. [↩]
- Tokusatsu: Refers to live-action productions that make use of a combination of practical and special effects. Notable works in the genre include hero shows such as Super Sentai (adapted in the West as Power Rangers) and giant monster shows such as Godzilla. [↩]