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An Interview with Anime Directors Shinichiro Watanabe and Motonobu Hori

Date: 2019 November 09 17:03

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MCM Comic Con London and Anime Limited frequently team up to bring great guests to the event. MCM Comic Con London October 2019 was no exception, with not one, but two guests of honour - anime directors Shinichiro Watanabe (best known for Cowboy Bebop) and Motonobu Hori a rising star in the anime industry.

We caught up with the two directors at MCM Comic Con London to talk about their latest project the fanatic Carole & Tuesday.

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Motonobu Hori and Shinichiro Watanabe

Shinichiro Watanabe you're credited as the supervising director, while Motonobu Hori your credited as the director. What's the difference between these two roles?

Shinichiro Watanabe: The nuance changes depending on which translator is translating this, but really we're co-directors.

How much do you work together on the production?

Shinichiro Watanabe: We worked together most of the time on site. The role of director is huge. Therefore it's impossible to cover just by one person. So we collaborate and divide the tasks between us.

The basic division, the screenplay and storyboard would be taken on by myself and the step afterwards (the actual animation) would be taken on by Hori-san. Any other details might be more ad-hoc.

Carole & Tuesday

Where did the concept of Carole & Tuesday come from?

Shinichiro Watanabe: I've always been a music freak all my life. I had it in my mind someday I will make an animation about music. The time has come!

I received a message from a god. There was a messenger. (laughs) By god, I mean someone we actually have in this world Mr Sasaki from Flying Dog. Mr Sasaki is also a music freak like myself and he's the CEO of Fly Dog. He's about to retire, but before his retirement was an ambition to make the strongest most powerful music animation ever. He appointed me as a director for this and that's how Carole & Tuesday came about.

Tuesday

On the first episode of the Carole & Tuesday there's a clear homage to Kiki's Delivery Service, with Tuesday escaping on a train in a similar fashion to Kiki. Who put this in the show?

Shinichiro Watanabe: I thought about that scene. Is it that similar?! So I did the concept of that scene, but the storyboard was written by Hori-san. So maybe Hori-san had it subconsciously, because I completely forgot there was such a scene.

Motonobu Hori: If there were similarities it's all subconscious really. All the influences might be there, but I wasn't actively thinking about it.

Mermaid Sisters

What's the story behind the Galactic Mermaid or Mermaid Sisters song?

Both: *Laugh*

Shinichiro Watanabe: So you asked the meaning, to give you a bit of context for the auditioning scenes it was our intention to showcase many different types of personas existing in that world of Carole & Tuesday. So in terms of gender as well, we made some characters as well purposely ambivalent and ambiguous, as well as their sexuality. It's not black and white. So as one of the characters represents that more neutral fluid world, I thought about those sisters, but really it was a bit of a struggle to find a song that was suited to them. I terms of diversity I wasn't only just thinking about gender or sexuality it was mindset as well. So that became there characterisation. Their song lyrics were very natural for them to sing in such a way. It was very difficult to agree to explain this to the Japanese broadcasters! It was very challenging. Netflix just okayed it straight away! The Netflix people just laughed out loud when they listened to it!

There is an element when it's been visualised the effects just maximised! When we saw it on the lyrics, we didn't think it would be that impactful. But when it was combined with the animation it just blew up!

DJ Ertegun

Is DJ Ertegun based on anyone in particular? Was it fun creating such a narcissistic character?

Shinichiro Watanabe: He's not based on just one real person. He's an amalgamation of different narcissism of musicians I would say. But one thing we can say is we did watch the documentary of Steve Aoki again and again when we had the staff meeting. But we're not suggesting at all that Steve Aoki is egoistical at all.

Crystal

Are we right in assuming that Crystal's character design is based on Sharon Apple's from Macross Plus?

Shinichiro Watanabe: The designer is different for this one. It was by a designer called Eisaku Kubonouchi, he hasn't seen Macros Plus. So I think it's just a coincidence. He's not really well versed in anime.

Motonobu Hori: Maybe my hearing Watanabe's concept that resulted in a coincidental similar result.

Shinichiro Watanabe: But I wonder, maybe there image is quite close to what Japanese people imagine as a goddess perhaps?

In Terror in Resonance we have Nine and Twelve, in Kids on the Slope we have Kaoru and SentarĊ, while in Macross Plus we have Isamu and Guld, and of course in Carole and Tuesday we have Carole and Tuesday! What do you think makes duos so compelling with stories?

Shinichiro Watanabe: I've just realised it. I never really saw it that way ever. I never really saw the links before. I tend to like the duo action films and budding up films, so maybe there is a link there too.

Hori-san how does being a director compare to your previous roles?

Motonobu Hori: So for the previous two or three works that I've worked on I tended to be the number two in the production team. So it's not so much different for this one as well. Because my role was to get the concept accurately onto the screen.

Shinichiro Watanabe: Just to highlight though, this position of number two in the scheme is the hardest! It's the most challenging. It's because the director can do just whatever they wanted to do, but the second person needs to take on the concept and visualise it and manage the production team. It's such hard work. Just hearing Hori-san has worked on it for two or three times is a huge surprise.

Motonobu Hori: I quite like being in the position of number two actually. I wouldn't mind being in this position for a different directors actually forever, it might be fun!

Angela

What's your favourite song from the show?

Shinichiro Watanabe: That's hard to pick.

Motonobu Hori: For Carole & Tuesday I quite like Round & Laundry, but from Angela I do like Lights Go Out by Steve Aoki.

Shinichiro Watanabe: For me, the last song Mother, because it was born after a hard labour. It's one of the memorable songs. It's partly because we were released from the hard work of creating the anime after this song! That's partly why.

Motonobu Hori: Because Watanabe-san was working like crazy!

Carole & Tuesday

How much influence did Canadian Composer Mocky have on the show? Did you give him a specific brief? Was there a feedback cycle? What was he like to work with?

Shinichiro Watanabe: [In English]: I'm a long time fan of Mocky. I'm very inspired by his songs.

[In Japanese]: What we can say about Mocky, is when we went to see him at a gig you get his positivity so much, like how much he enjoys playing music. He was just smiling throughout the gig. That kind of positive energy is definitely influenced in the show, the energies of Carole & Tuesday, how much they love music and that kind of positivity is reflected as a vibe in the show.

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The first half of Carole & Tuesday is available to watch now on Netflix.

Otaku News would like to thank Shinichiro Watanabe and Motonobu Hori for being such awesome guests to interview, along with the good folks at MCM Comic Con London and Anime Limited for making the interview possible.

Source: Otaku News
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