OGIUE MANIAX

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[AnimeNEXT 2017] TMS/Re:Life Interview

At AnimeNext 2017 back in June, I got to speak to the staff of the anime Re:Life. It was a short but informative interview that also went into other shows they’ve worked on, including an anime from the same studio as Kemono Friends.

Re:Life is about a man who gets the chance to relive his high school days. When creating and animating the show, is there anything you had to consider in terms of body language, such as how an older man would act or move that a younger man would not?

Yamanaka Junko: So in terms of body language, by the time you’re 17 you’re pretty much grown as a male. So in terms of the body itself, nothing really changes between 17 and 27. If anything, it’s more the voice actors and actresses who have to portray the 10 years of change, of mental instability.

My next question is for Ueda-san. You worked on a very humorous anime called Tesagure! Bukatsumono. What was it like? It seems like a very unique and interesting experience.

Ueda Reina: Pertaining to this particular series, what we would do is record three minutes of airtime for one hour. There was no dialogue written out. The beginning and ending were set but everything in the middle was all ad-lib. So for the next fifteen minutes, we would do three-minute segments of ad-libbing the entire time, and then we would take multiple episodes in one day. During the set, the actual recording process, there was so much laughing because everyone was laughing at each other’s ad-libbing. It was really fun to work on.

Yamanaka-san, you’ve worked on Detective Conan for many years, on multiple movies and the TV series. When working on the series, are there any golden rules that you must adhere to, like things you must do to make it feel like Conan?

Yamanaka: Someone has to die (ha ha).

The dart hitting Kogoro is an iconic moment.

Because it’s a story about detectives, the actual solving part is where we spend the most energy.

Because Re:Life is about NEETS and redoing your past, do you think this is a more universal or timeless theme, or is it specifically relevant to modern times?

Yamanaka: This is a very difficult question because it’s hard to assume things, but the perspective of the NEET has been around for a while, and the creation of the word is further back. Maybe it’ll still be timeless, but it’d be better for Japan if this is not timeless, and no one remembers what a NEET is anymore.

Thank you for the interview!

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You’ve Finished Kemono Friends! What Next?

So you’ve watched the last episode Kemono Friends, and found it to be an excellent conclusion to a surprisingly good anime. Its portrayal of friendship and its exploration of defines humanity has left you with lots of laughs and maybe a couple of tears. Now you’re looking for more, and you find that the studio behind Kemono Friends, YAOYOROZU, only has one other anime to its name. Its title is confusing and maybe even a little difficult to pronounce. Should you watch it? Is it as good as Kemono Friends?

The answer is yes, yes, YES.

Tesagure! Bukatsumono does not take place in a mysterious zoo/amusement park. Its characters are not animal-human hybrids. What it does have in common with Kemono Friends, however, is a keen sense of humor that uses both excellent timing and a kind of anti-timing to great effect. To begin to get an idea of what this show is all about, I recommend watching the opening with subtitles on:

Perpetually tongue-in-cheek, the self-aware and often aimless Tesagure! Bukatsumono revolves around four girls in the same club, whose main activity is trying to imagine what other clubs are like. As they all talk through their preconceived notions and try to make up their own “new and improved” versions of other school clubs, their answers become increasingly absurd, providing much of the humor of the series. The title of the anime roughly translates to “Let’s Find a Club!”

You might notice that something feels a little different about those “new and improved” suggestions that the girls of Tesagure! Bukatsumono make. The reason is that those sections are not scripted—they’re actually improv. The back-and-forth between the characters/actors is genuine, and any gaffes are kept in. If you enjoyed the next-episode previews of Kemono Friends with the penguin idol group PPP (or even their dedicated episode), Tesagure! Bukatsumono is that times ten.

Currently on Crunchyroll, each episode is roughly 13 minutes. Much like Kemono Friends, you’ll know if you enjoy the series after one or two episodes.

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Sound! Euphonium, Tesagure! Bukatsumono, and Intimate Conversations

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Ever since the end of Sound! Euphonium Season 1, I’ve found the conversations between protagonist euphonium player Kumiko and trumpeter Reina remarkable in their intimacy. While the acting is overall solid as each member of the Kitauji High School music club brings personality and history, there’s something noticeably different when it comes to those two.

Often when voice actors in anime are playing their roles, there is a sense of performance. This is not a bad thing, at least not inherently. They are, for all intents and purposes, actors on a stage bringing their characters to life. When Taki-sensei speaks with this slightly hoarse yet alluring voice, for example, one gets the sense of a teacher who’s dedicated, clever, and expects the best of his students, but seems to carry an internal emotional pain at all times. When Kumiko and Reina are talking to other characters, one senses the way in which Kumiko is constantly trying to find herself while Reina’s dedication and drive are ever-present. Together, howver, it’s as if their outer-facing selves begin to crumble, and we’re witness to the hush tones of a more naturalistic conversation between close friends (or something more).

I do not know how Sound! Euphonium accomplishes this. Perhaps they do something different in terms of the recording environment or the voice direction. What I can say is that this style of dialogue reminds me of a certain type of Japanese animation: the off-the-cuff humor shows that began with gdgd Fairies and include series such as Straight Title Robot Anime and Tesagure! Bukatsumono.

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Made “on the cheap” using the 3D modeling and animation program “Miku Miku Dance,” these shows tend to feature offbeat comedy culminating in a special “improv” section. For example, in Tesagure! Bukatsumono (currently the best show of its kind in my opinion), the show is about a club where characters try to imagine what other school clubs would be like. In the middle of every episode, there is always a scene where the girls are supposed to come up with never-before-seen version of familiar clubs (like a baseball club where everyone has to dress fashionably), an in these moments the audio noticeably changes. To start, here’s a lot more mumbling. And where anime normally has characters speak and even interrupt each other so perfectly that you can’t call it anything but “staged” (because of course it is), these improv scenes have characters talking over each other like it’s a radio show. The fact that the actors often end up breaking character because of the success (or failure) of their own jokes makes it feel that much more like a private conversation that we the viewer are happening to eavesdrop on.

That’s more or less the feeling I get when I listen to Kumiko and Reina talk to each other. Whenever they’re together, it’s as if the rest of their world vanishes, and we’re privy to a space where only they reside. In it, even their outer selves fall away, and what we’re left is with is openness and comfort.

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