September 2000 Animedia interview with Shigeyasu Yamauchi on Digimon Hurricane Touchdown

A translation of an interview with Digimon Hurricane Touchdown!!/Transcendent Evolution! The Golden Digimentals director Shigeyasu Yamauchi, from the “Let’s Hear What This Person Has to Say!” section in the September 2000 issue of Animedia.

Here’s someone whom we’ve always wanted to have on for this column. On top of being known as a master of action animation at Toei Animation, he’s a director who’s presented works with a strong sense of individuality and expression. That dense mood is eaxctly what gives his work so much appeal. The recently-released Digimon Adventure 02 theatrical movie is also a shining example of a work filled with his uniqueness.

Interviewer: Yuuichirou Oguro

–First, I’d like to start off by asking about the Digimon Adventure 02 theatrical movie. I just want to confirm, but you believe that this movie came out exactly the way you wanted, right?
Yamauchi: Yes, it ended up pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. You could say that I’ve never been able to make anything that’s been so memorable for me before.

–Oh, really?
Yamauchi: To put it another way, I was able to fully materialize something that I wasn’t able to clearly do in any of my previous works.

–Like what specifically?
Yamauchi: I didn’t have to have the characters fight off some bad guy and force him into submission in a dramatic manner.

–Ah, I see.
Yamauchi: This time, I didn’t worry too much about the production process. It doesn’t usually happen very often, but I was able to have production be based entirely on my base outline. We had a ton of very skilled animators, so I was able to draw up the storyboard with a focus on the smaller nuances. And once it was finished, the overall flow was still exactly the way I’d outlined it to be. As for whether you think my outline is good or not, I’ll let others judge for themselves.

–There’s no doubt that this is a very unique movie. You’re also keenly aware of this yourself, right?

–But I think the elements considered to be “unique” are also exactly what you’d been deliberately aiming for.
I think so, too.

–Were you particularly aiming for having the movie give off that atmosphere? In particular, the mood in the second half of the movie felt rather suffocating.
It’s not just what’s expressed through the dialogue or the art on the screen, but as you’re watching, you find that there’s a certain “something” permeating through you. And as it does, those who watch start feeling that they can’t escape from it, no matter how much it hurts.

–Yes. I think it’s exactly that. If I’d seen just the storyboard before the movie was finished, I probably wouldn’t have understood that. Without the sound, you can’t understand what that feeling is. It’s like something you can only understand once you see the colors and sounds added to it.
Yamauchi: That’s probably it. We had the background scenery be made that way, and the music was a perfect fit too. So I’m sure that little by little, the audience will feel they’re being driven into a corner…or that’s how it’s intended to be. The story drama, the visuals, the music, all of that together will make everything that wasn’t in the storyboard alone pop into your head.

–Oh, so that was all according to your plan. Or I guess I should say, knowing you, of course it was.
But it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to do something like this (wry laugh).

–What do you mean by not having been able to do this in a while?
I really like this kind of thing, and I tried to use it in works like Saint Seiya, for example. But in the case of Seiya, you’ll have things like the protagonist going “I’ll protect everyone!”, and that part stuck out more conspicuously.

–So you used the same style, but the story drama ended up coming out more to the forefront.
Yamauchi: And the flashiness of the special attacks, too. I could have done that for this movie too, but if I’d done that during the finale, everything we’d been building up until that moment would have vanished in an instant. That was what I was most concerned about. I’m known to be a specialist in that kind of “coolness”, and when I was thinking about what to do, I decided to go all the way into doing something different instead.

–I’d like to ask more about that in detail later. What was the starting point for you in regards tot his movie? Was it from the atmosphere or from the story?
The story. I put quite a lot of serious thought into it. The first issue was “what is evolution in the first place?” The word “evolve” comes up a lot in Digimon, doesn’t it? “Evolution” is defined here as getting stronger in power levels and defeating their enemies, but is that really okay? Of course, I know that this is normal convention for this kind of story, and that it wouldn’t have been possible to completely delve into the issue in such a short theatrical movie.

–Even if you try to tackle the theme of evolution as directly as possible, there’s only so much you can do.
The other thing was actually what I wanted to do most of all. I don’t think children in real life are properly able to express what they think in words. So for instance, even if they say things like “I hate you!”, you can’t be sure that this is what they actually think.
So I wanted the kids in this movie to be those kinds of normal children. They may be anime characters, but if they were normal children, what would they think, and how would they act? I made the movie with that in mind so that the kids watching could relate to the main characters’ feelings, and I think kids will probably be able to understand it better than adults will because of that.

–So in other words, when you have anime protagonists who are super-smart or are able to make sharp decisions on the spot despite being children…
I didn’t want that to happen in this movie.

–Can you tell us a little more about that question “what is evolution in the first place?”
To be a bit blunt about it, when I was working on it, I realized I didn’t even know what evolution was anymore. When they get strong and beat up their enemies, is that really the “correct” way to evolve? Is that really growth? I didn’t really know anymore. It’s a pretty vague question in itself, after all.So while I was thinking about it, my own personal answer became…well, it may be strange to put it into words like this, but it’s like living your life and thinking, “right or left?” You pick one, and you continue to change. In Digimon terms, its form would change as a result, and I suppose that would be what you call evolution.

–That personal choice of “right or left?” is tied to personal change, and that change is equivalent to growth and evolution.
I don’t think you can consciously decide “this is the right choice!” on the spot just like that. It’s more like something you choose as you go through life, influenced by your surroundings.

–Oh, I see. For example, when a child is making a choice between becoming a baseball player or becoming an artist.
Right. It’s not like they instantly decide “I’ll be a baseball player!” on the spot.

–It just so happens that they gravitated towards baseball, and they became a baseball player as a result of that.
And before that decision was made, they were probably experiencing changes in their thoughts until they became a huge baseball fan.

–Right, I see. So if Wallace can be said to be the protagonist of this movie, what are his two Digimon to him? (*1)
Yamauchi: I think they’re also part of the same thing.

(*1) Wallace is a character who can be said to be the protagonist of this Digimon Adventure 02 theatrical movie. He initially lived with two Digimon, Gummymon and Chocomon, but seven years prior tot he start of the movie, a mysterious incident caused Chocomon to disappear. Wallace and Gummymon set off on a journey to find Chocomon and encounter Daisuke and his friends in the midst of it.

–If you take it at face value, it seems that the story has both “good” and “evil” sides in it, but that’s not actually the case at all. It’s more about making a choice that happened to turn out that way. Just like “should I become a baseball player or an artist?”, he had to pick between Chocomon and Gummymon, and he ended up picking Gummymon. Not because he actively decided he wanted to, but because that’s how things turned out.
Yamauchi: Exactly. Let’s say you have a kid who had twin cats that he loved, and one of them suddenly disappeared. Maybe someone else had taken it away from him, but if they were a particularly kind-hearted child, they might blame themself for it.
Wallace doesn’t think logically about whether his own actions or feelings caused Chocomon to disappear, but I think even the children watching the movie would understand his feelings. If he had a different sort of personality, he could have forgotten about Chocomon and gone on to live happily with just Gummymon. But Wallace kept blaming himself for it and kept looking for Chocomon, wanting to live with him the way he used to. Chocomon felt the same way. But in the case of Chocomon, he’d gotten to the point where he’d started forcing other kids to turn younger so that he could go back to the older days. (*2)

(*2) During the course of the story, Chocomon kidnaps Chosen Children and regresses them to a younger age so that he can bring back the younger Wallace.

–And during the climax, Wallace rejects Chocomon.
It’s the first time Wallace makes a proper decision. But it’s not like he’d instantly decided on the spot that he’d lost Chocomon. Him going out on a journey to find Chocomon in the first place wasn’t an instant decision that he clearly made on the spot. I think humans are like that. It’s rare that we ever think about things and come to a clear decision at once. More often, all sorts of things happen, and we act on those without consciously thinking it through.
Right before Wallace says “I can’t go with you,” there’s a cut of Gummymon in there. Wallace had been thinking about Chocomon this entire time, but he’d also been spending his daily life together with Gummymon. So when they reunited with Chocomon, Chocomon had completely changed, while there was Gummymon, who’d been living with him this entire time. At that moment, Wallace’s thoughts were torn between Chocomon and Gummymon, and he made his decision. So that’s why it was a very harsh-looking cut there.

–It’s not easy to make that decision between “right or left”.
Right. It took Wallace seven years to make a single decision.

–It’s a very realistic depiction of how a child feels.
I feel like we as adults don’t really understand children, despite the fact that children are actually very good at intuitively absorbing new things. So when we label things as “children’s works”, we end up ignoring that. But I wasn’t trying to fight back against the trend just because we were ignoring that, but because I hated feeling like I was lying to the kids. So I apologize to poor Wallace, but I wanted to use him to make an animated movie that would capture the hearts and mind of the kids who were watching it.
I didn’t make it just for the story or the theme, but to make it something that I could be convinced would draw in the children watching it.
I’m a lot like Wallace, too. I feel like I’ve been making movies by telling “lies” to everyone in the world. I may be able to make something cool or something eccentric that would be called “Japanimation” these days, and I’d be satisfied. But while maybe it’s because I’m getting older, I started feeling like I wasn’t actually conveying anything at all.

–Going back to the original topic a bit, I actually watched the movie twice…
Oh, really? Thank you very much (laughs).

–The first time, I was absorbed in the mood, so absorbed that I stopped paying attention to what was even going on in the movie anymore. And then it ended, and I was in shock. I’d been completely immersed in the mood, but I didn’t understand the story very well, and moreover, I could’t understand how exactly that mood was created. So I decided I should watch it one more time, and since I knew I was going to get stuck in the mood again, I deliberately started watching from the middle.
Yamauchi: What?! (nervous laugh)

–I have to admit, it’s kind of embarrassing, but once I started watching from the middle instead, I could tell exactly what was going on, the story was very well-made, the entire progression of everything made sense, and there wasn’t anything lacking.
Right. I made it in such a way that the story would be very clear.

–It’s a very respectable storyline, and even just from reading the storyboard, you can easily understand it. But what’s really surprising is that once you add the music to the cuts, the mood suddenly overtakes the story. I have no doubt that the mood is the most critical part of this movie. Based on what we were talking about earlier, that’s what you said ended up getting overtaken by the story when you worked on things like Seiya and Magical Taruroute, right?

–But this time, you were able to flip things around and make the mood, which had only been a secondary part of your works up until now, to the forefront.
Right. Comparatively speaking, the story should be much easier to understand.

–I’m using the word “mood” to to refer to it, but is that really the right way to call it?
Well, if you’re describing it that way, then that’s what it is, even if it may not quite be the exact thing.

–We touched on this earlier, but it’s about it being something that permeates through the hearts of the audience, right?

–It’s not so much the goal of the movie as much as it’s your goal as director, and it’s not like you’re trying to be cruel to the audience by inflicting pain on them, but by having them empathize with the feelings in the movie and feel that same pain. For instance, like when there’s a nightmare in the movie, you can actually experience it.
It feels painful, yet you feel like you can’t run away from it. For this movie in particular, it feels like something unnerving slipped in. Once you enter, you find you can’t escape. Even if it’s harsh, you want to see this through to the end.

–It’s about getting caught up in how intense the mood is.
Right. I think movies should be able to set off more than just humans’ five senses into something like six or seven. That’s what I want to aim for.

–It’s really amazing. I’m a hardcore moviegoer, so when I go to see one, I try to make predictions about what’ll happen in it. I think, when this movie is made with this kind of style, this is probably going to happen in the end. But with this summer Digimon theatrical movie, when I first watched it, everything went completely outside my expectations. It went all the way to the midway point with a certain kind of mood, and so I’d figured it must have some kidn of action sequence that’d be all about the catharsis. But in fact, it didn’t end that way at all. That intense mood just kept going until almost the very end.
Yamauchi: (laughs)

–I don’t think there’s ever been anything that prioritized this mood as a part of it.
When we were putting together the storyboard, the scenes with the intense mood you’re talking about were actually the first to be done. I thought, “I’m gonna do this!” and started with the most important parts.

–Did the key animation also start from there?
The key animation also started from there.

–I see. I just want to confirm, but this movie isn’t actually a road movie, right?
It has the feel of a road movie, but it’s not a road movie.

–You see a very realistically-depicted New York at first, but when you’re in the middle of the story, the background has only the ground and signs. And then you get to the whole second half…
Right, right (laughs awkwardly), the second half barely has any background at all.

–And if it really were a road movie, they’d have talked with the driver when they were hitchhiking, but you didn’t even show that part.
We didn’t.

–And then after that, when they showed up at the field for the final battle, we never get to see how they got there. They’re just standing in the field all of a sudden. To put it simply, it feels more like they gradually shifted from New York to the inner universe.
And then on top of that, during the climax, the evolved Chocomon uses his abilities, and they even say things like “he’s trying to alter the world!”, but we don’t get to see the process of it.
Right (wry laugh). We also didn’t show what happened in the process of Taichi and the others being taken away. Of course, it would have been easier to understand the story if we showed things in more detail here and there, but if we did that, the final scene would just gradually lose impact.

–So you wanted to have the final scene come off more intensely and get the audience absorbed and allured by it.
Yeah. I took out everything that would have gotten in the way of that. But I did my best to put in little crowd-pleasers as well. Like the characters running into a billboard (laughs).

–Or when the Digimon show up and Miyako and the others start making comments like “he could have spoken with more oomph after all that work he put into his entrance.”
There was that too. Those characters were another thing I wanted to focus on with this movie. Whether it was Daisuke, Miyako, or Iori, I wanted to bring out more of their individual unique traits. I really like that kind of thing in the end. If I had more time, I wanted to have more scenes with Miyako and Iori, but if I did, the movie’s cohesiveness would end up falling all over the place, so I couldn’t.

–The importance of the story came first. For this movie, as far as you’re concerned, you wanted to emphasize portraying children realistically, right?
Right. Well, not just with Digimon. Whenever I do any kind of theatrical movie work in the future, what I want to do most is have it be made with the same kind of thought patterns and feelings a child would have. Of course, I’m the one making it, so I have to make it my own way. But anyway, everything we’ve been making for the kids so far has been full of too many lies. When you’re a real kid, there are so many things that won’t be clear, like what’s good or what’s evil, and so many things you can’t make a firm decision on, and I wanted to focus on those weaknesses of the heart, or rather, I didn’t want to put those aside. So that’s what led to Wallace in this movie.

–So Wallace’s story was an attempt at making something that would hit home for the children. After thinking seriously about what Digimon evolution is in the first place, that’s what you came up with.
That’s right.

–Like the question of “is it okay to only have evolution be something used to fight?”
Right, right.

–And evolving also means throwing something else away.

–Which makes you think about how painful it must be to think about what happened to everything that was thrown away.
Right, right (wry laugh). That’s why it’s hard for the audience to watch. And there are people who might argue that this kind of thing is inappropriate for a movie that’s supposed to be entertainment.

–It becomes a question of what constitutes entertainment to begin with. How far can something go while you can still call it entertainment?
Right. And of course, this isn’t the kind of movie where you laugh along all the time when watching, but when I actually showed up to the movie theater, the kids weren’t running or frolicking around, but staring at the movie with utmost concentration.

–You really did think a lot about what evolution is supposed to be.
I did. As you said earlier, it’s what forms the question of whether evolution should really just be a transformation for the sake of fighting.

–There’s a Digimon that can revert evolutions, and the protagonists also end up getting turned younger. That’s part of the theme too, isn’t it?
It did turn that way. That said, I hadn’t put much conscious thought into that one. That was an idea that came up when we were working on the story with Producer (Hiromi) Seki and story writer (Reiko) Yoshida-san.

–It’s not a denial of evolution in itself.
It’s not. We may be questioning if it’s okay, but we’re still including the evolution scenes and having them evolve, aren’t we? It’s not a denial, it’s just putting out a question. We’re addressing the fact that evolution may have been oversimplified before then.

Stimulating something beyond just the usual five senses into six or seven

–I see. I’d like to change the subject a tiny bit, but have you always wanted to make a movie with this kind of mood?
Yamauchi: I have. I personally really like movies like Hécate by Daniel Schmid and The Hairdresser’s Husband by Patrice Leconte. I think there’s something beyond the usual human five senses, something beyond just hearing and feeling, that makes you feel things like anxiety or pleasure. There’s something in those components beyond the five senses that human beings need to survive, so we might be able to figure out what that is if we keep thinking about what it is. That’s what I want to incorporate into my movies.

–I’d like to go backwards and start asking about the past. Is that okay?
Please, go ahead.

–What got you into the world of anime?
It’s already been 30 years by now. I dropped out of university and was going through the newspaper trying to find a part-time job, and I found a job advertisement for an animation production company. I didn’t know much about anime, but I thought, “this is the world of visual images, right?” And then I stepped in, and this was the world I entered. It wasn’t that I liked anime to begin with and went in because of that as much as I always admired the world of images and wanted to do that kind of work. Incidentally, the first company I joined was Ashi Productions.

It was when they were working on Blocker Army IV Machine Blaster under director Masami Anno-san. You could say he was my first mentor. When I first started, I didn’t know a single thing about animation, but he gave me a taste of episode direction for the first six months. He’d give me a storyboard and say “try doing management for this.” And then somehow I ended up full of confidence that I could actually do it! Thinking back on it now, I think the reason I was able to think that way was simply that I was young (laughs).
After that, I started working at Toei, where I received a lot of help from Kouzou (Morishita)-san (*3) and mainly participated on action works.

(*3) Kouzou Morishita: A producer from Toei Animation who worked very often with Yamauchi-san. As far as direction goes, he is Yamauchi-san’s senior.

–Looking back at your work in animation, what was the major turning point for you?
I’ve been doing action works for as long as I’ve been a director. And I developed a specialty in action, and I did like it, but I realized that there were a lot of other more appealing things in normal discussion scenes, so I started having discussions within the company about wanting to do something centered on more normal scenes. I was first able to achieve that in Boys Over Flowers, but the real turning point was my encounter with Shingo Araki-san (*4) while working on Saint Seiya. At the time, I liked Masami Suda-san’s more Tatsunoko-style art, so when I first saw Araki-san’s art, I felt a little odd about it.
But when I started working on Seiya, started becoming fascinated by how Araki-san would draw normal facial expressions. Not anger or smiles, but calm, straightforward expressions. Araki-san’s facial expressions were so good. Maybe there was something tied to what I saw in Daniel Schmid’s movies, like we discussed earlier. And soon enough, my own storyboards started aiming to capture those kinds of expressions. As I continued working with Araki-san, I came to realize the power of his portrayal of humanity. So for me, the big turning point was less Seiya itself and more Araki-san’s art. That was a pretty big thing for me, and even now, when I see him working so hard despite being such a veteran, it makes me want to work hard as well.

(*4) Shingo Araki: A veteran animator known for works such as The Rose of Versailles and Saint Seiya. Also known as a leading figure in drawing characters with beautiful faces.

–What do you think about Araki’s sense of aesthetics?
You mean in terms of his beautiful-looking characters?

–Including action sequences too.
Yamauchi: I also thought his action sequences were amazing. Araki-san is always very careful when it comes to trying to limit the number of frames, but when he really needs to do it, he puts a lot of it in, and you can tell that he’s studied and researched movement quite a bit. Also, he worked on Blue Legend Shoot!, didn’t he? I didn’t work on that one, but Araki-san’s art was outright sensual. Araki-san’s art is just sensual in general. They’re not even showing skin, they’re just sitting down, and yet they are.

–It’s alluring.
Yeah, it’s really alluring. And I don’t think he’s consciously trying to make it like that, but I also think that’s exactly what gives it that distinctiveness.

–Personally, I consider your work on Saint Seiya: The Heated Battle of the Gods to be very special. It made me feel like when I would watch things like Space Battleship Yamato back in the day and feel “wow, anime can really do stuff like this!”

–Or in other words, like in Yamato, it was a huge-scale thing with flashy and gorgeous music and visuals. It really enthralls me when I watch that kind of thing. I thought there might be a lot of works I could say that about, but when I actually think about it, there aren’t that many (laughs). Of course, there’s a lot of things that I like in different ways, but when it comes to things that make me feel the way I did with Yamato, I draw a blank. But The Heated Battle of the Gods came really close to that, and I got to feel the sensation I had during Yamato in a more refined reform.
Yamauchi: I’m very happy to hear you say that (laughs). Back when doing nothing but action movies, people would often call me “Yamauchi the Light Guy”.

–Oh, the translucency of the lights was also incredible.
Yamauchi: For The Heated Battle of the Gods, Araki-san’s art was naturally incredible, but you also had Seiji Yokoyama-san’s wonderful music, too.

–The visuals and music matched up to astounding degrees.
Yokoyama-san’s work is always finely calibrated to the art. He was very meticulous about it back then, too. Personally, I always want to achieve a trio of story drama, visuals, and sound, and I think we were able to pull that off very well in The Heated Battle of the Gods.

–Also, when it comes to your works, we can’t ignore the episode of Boys Over Flowers where they go to the villa. This came up when we talked with Seki-san and Yuki-san earlier on this column as well, so it really did leave quite the impact. (*5)
Oh, that one. For that one, I really wanted to bring the most out of the amazingness of (Yoshihiko) Umakoshi’s art. (*6) I often tell animators, “you need to make your art and composition in a way that it can be properly appreciated even if you hang only a single frame on the wall.” I wanted to make a whole accumulated collection of those kinds of images in that episode. So for example, even if we were just showing nothing but the legs, it’d have its own sense of glamour to it. It would be a whole stack of those kinds of cuts.
I was also quite particular about the sound for that episode. It was winter and it was quiet, so I included the creaking of the floor and the sound of snow falling from trees in the distance. I wanted to pick up all of the sounds that we would normally gloss over when hearing, so I asked Takahisa Ishino-san, who was in charge of SFX, to add those sounds, and for the part near the end, we couldn’t find a song that would fit it, so I had (Makiko) Chihara-san compose one that we could use.
This goes for the new Digimon movie as well, but whenever I make something, all the things I want to do often spread around and fills it up as I make it. Seki-san will often make the joke “we’re all getting drawn into Yamauchi-san’s world of madness.”

(*5) Boys Over Flowers episode 43, “Deep Wounds of the Heart”.
(*6) Yoshihiko Umakoshi is the character designer for works such as Neighborhood Story and Boys Over Flowers. Currently, he is involved with Magical DoReMi.

–A world of madness (laughs).
Yamauchi: Yeah. A “world of madness” may sound like a scary thing, but it’s not supposed to be a horror thing. As we talked about earlier, it’s something that makes you feel something outside of the five human senses. This was also a part of the theatrical movie for Taruroute, too. I want to have this conveyed to the main staff, then have it spread throughout the company, and then finally to the people watching it. Since a long time ago, I’ve been trying to create that “world of madness” here and there.

–The theatrical movie for Boys Over Flowers was also…ah, maybe I shouldn’t say this.
Huh? Why? Please, do go ahead.

–It was certainly a very unique work.
Yamauchi: (wry laugh) Well, I didn’t quite succeed with that one. The Boys Before Flowers movie didn’t have the music go in the direction I’d have liked, so in terms of that trio of story drama, visuals, and sound that I wanted, the music went off in the wrong direction, and it came out feeling more menacing than I’d wanted.

–I see, so you were hoping for it to come out more like Saint Seiya or Digimon. You also have a very clear difference in approach between movies and TV shows, don’t you?
Do I?

–To put it simply, with TV shows, the theory seems to be more based on story, but with movies, there’s more emphasis on expression. So in other words, the mood takes priority over the story.
That wasn’t quite the case for TV series like Boys Before Flowers. My goal was to create a shift within the TV series itself.

–You wanted to induce a focus on the mood from that point in the middle of the series.
Right. Well, at least for the episodes I directed. At first, I would start off with clear action at a good pace, but starting from the midpoint of the episode, I would push it more towards an emphasis on the mood. They gave me quite a bit of freedom with that series.

–Would you ever be interested in becoming the primary director for a full series? Not just series director as a position title, but one who gets involved with every single episode.
I have thought about trying it, but right now, I’m not sure if there would really be a series that fits me that well. If I had to do one, it’d be something like what (Junichi) Satou-kun is doing over at Hal Film. I’d like to try something like that.

–Something like Strange Dawn?
Something like that. That one has some pretty scary parts to it, doesn’t it? Back when Satou-kun was at Toei, he never showed off anything like that, but now that he’s somewhere else, he’s doing that kind of thing.

–It has such cute characters, but it has a harsh feel to it.
Satou-kun had been hiding that kind of thing up his sleeve up until now, so I guess he was tired of holding it back. If he’s got that kind of shamelessness to him, then I think it’d be better for him to keep showing that off.

–You generally prefer very intense story drama, don’t you?
I love it.

–Even in Magical DoReMi, there were a lot of dramatic sparks flying everywhere.
Which episode? (nervous laugh)

–Like the one with Onpu, for instance. That one was pretty intense. (*7)
Yamauchi: That one was a direction-related issue. I wasn’t fond of the way DoReMi went about trying to make the audience cry. I don’t mean this in a “good” or “bad” judgment sense, though.
DoReMi has a very good story in itself, so the story alone would make people cry. But in that kind of series, even if you make the audience cry, it doesn’t induce that kind of shuddering feeling. So in the episode I did for Onpu-chan, I made it so that people would cry in places they wouldn’t normally expect. Just from looking back at home, or going into the train, it makes you want to cry. I paid attention to how the music was used. And so, it became an episode that really did make people cry.

(*7) Magical DoReMi episode 49, “I Want to Meet Papa! The Dream Places on the Overnight Express”. An episode known for being an explosion of Yamauchi-san’s unique style.

–So you have a clear desire to do your job as an episode director. Or in other words, you don’t want to do something that just involves putting the story on the screen.
Yamauchi: If that were all we did, I don’t think there’d be any need for episode direction. You could just get by with the people who are good at key animation and get it on the film. Anything beyond that requires an actual episode director.
When I do my current work in the animation industry, I keep thinking “why am I getting so much money by doing such a comfortable job?” I don’t know about how much would be normal for an office worker or other jobs, but I think I’m getting too much money for what I’m doing right now. I’m not saying that I’m rich or anything, of course (awkward laugh). But when I compare the amount of time focusing on my work and the amount of time I don’t really do anything, I spend more time not doing anything. So I wonder, is it really okay for me to be receiving this amount of salary?

–So you feel like you want to be pushed harder to your limits.
But I think I’m starting to want to break out of the current trends in anime. If there aren’t any changes in the current major triends, I feel like I’ll have no choice but to do it myself.

–By creating your own original work or becoming a writer?
Right. But I’m not confident enough to believe I have enough motivation or ability or proactiveness to do that kind of thing right now. I also have a household and children, so there’s other problems to worry about too (awkward laugh).

(Interview taken July 17, 2000, in Oizumi-gakuen, Tokyo)

Shigeyasu Yamauchi notable works list

  • 1981: TV series Tiger Mask II (episode director)
  • 1982: TV series Armored Fleet Dairugger XV (episode director)
  • 1983: TV series Lightspeed Electroid Albegas (episode director)
  • 1984: TV series Video Warrior Laserion (episode director)
  • 1986: TV series Saint Seiya (episode director)
  • 1988: Theatrical movie Saint Seiya: The Heated Battle of the Gods (director); theatrical movie Saint Seiya: The Legend of Crimson Youth (director)
  • 1989: TV series Akuma-kun (episode director); theatrical movie The Transformers: The Movie (part direction)1
  • 1990: TV series Magical Taruroute (series director, episode director); TV series Dragon Ball Z (episode director)
  • 1991: Theatrical movie Magical Taruroute (director); OVA Inferious Interplanetary War Chronicle CONDITION GREEN (general director); OVA Dragon Fist (director); OVA Crying Freeman 4: A Taste of Revenge – Oshu Tohgoku (director)
  • 1992: OVA Crying Freeman 5: Abduction in Chinatown – Battlefield of Kishibojin (director)
  • 1993: Theatrical movie Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (director); theatrical movie Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (supervising director)
  • 1994: OVA Crying Freeman Finale: The Russian Connection – The Light in the Darkness (director); theatrical movie Dragon Ball Z: Broly – Second Coming (director); theatrical movie Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (supervising director)
  • 1995: Theatrical movie Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (director); theatrical movie Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (supervising director)
  • 1996: Theatrical movie Dragon Ball Z: The Path to Power (director); TV series Boys Over Flowers (series director); TV series Hell Teacher Nube (episode director)
  • 1997: Theatrical movie Boys Over Flowers (director), TV series Dr. Slump (series director), TV series The Crayon Kingdom of Dreams (episode director)
  • 1998: TV series Brain Powerd (storyboard); TV series Cowboy Bebop (storyboard)
  • 1999: Theatrical movie Doctor Slump: Arale’s Surprise Burn (director); TV series Magical DoReMi (episode director); TV series One Piece (episode director)
  • 2000: TV series Magical DoReMi # (cooperative series director, episode director); OVA Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation

Shigeyasu Yamauchi’s profile
Born April 10, 1963 (Showa year 28). Born in Hakodate, Hokkaido. Blood type O. Entered the world of anime via Ashi Productions. Aftewrards, moved to Toei Douga (currently Toei Animation). After becoming known for his directorial work on action anime such as Video Warrior Laserion and Saint Seiya, he made his full directorial debut with the theatrical movie Saint Seiya: The Heated Battle of the Gods. He has also worked as series director for many other TV series such as Magical Taruroute, Boys Over Flowers, and Dr. Slump, and has also participated in many other works such as Dragon Ball Z theatrical movies. Currently, he is serving as a series director for Magical DoReMi # in conjunction with Takuya Igarashi-san.

Yuuichirou Oguro’s profile
Born May 1, 1974. From Saitama Prefecture. Blood type AB. Managing director of Studio You. Will do anything related to anime, whether it’s planning, magazine coverage, or even program publicity. Has worked on projects such as the OVA Gekiganger III: Hot-Blooded Great Battle!! (setting and screenplay), Neon Genesis Evangelion (LaserDisc jacket composition), and Revolutionary Girl Utena (planning).

Translator's notes
  1. The article places The Transformers: The Movie as being from 1989 instead of 1986 because it wasn’t until October 1989 when it released in Japan. []

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