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By Andrew Osmond.
The film Blue GiantThis Wednesday, the film opens in UK cinemas. It’s a music drama about the fortunes of three teen boys in Tokyo – sax player prodigy Dai, haughty pianist Yukinori, and greenhorn drummer Tamada – trying to make it as a jazz trio. You can read more on Blue Giant’s story Here’s how to get in touch with usThere are also details of the UK screenings Here’s how to get in touch with us.
In the run-up to the film’s opening, I interviewed Blue Giant’s director Yuzuru Tachikawa when he visited London. Before Blue GiantTachikawa is best known for his role in the TV action-comedy series anime Mob Psycho 100. He also created the short film, “Death Billiards,” about trials in the afterlife, which was the basis for his later TV series Death Parade. Tachikawa’s other credits include Deca-Dence, a SF series with some The following are some examples of how to use unexpected developments, and he was also Assistant Director on Shinichiro Watanabe’s Terrorism in ResidenceAs mentioned in the Interview.
I’d like to start by asking about the big “performance” sequences in Blue Giant. They’re very fast, with a dizzying number of shots, some almost subliminally quick, and they’re very different kinds of shots from each other. How much effort is required to create such a sequence?
Three of us did the storyboards for live performances. As a first test, we created one piece. There were many shots, and it became apparent that if they were all storyboarded in the same manner, the film would be far too long. We would have way too many shots. We needed to balance the longer and shorter shots.
Is it true those sequences were created using both motion capture and rotoscoping, (animation traced off of live-action footage)?
It is correct. First, we had created a 3D space for these scenes. So, with the camera work within the 3D space I also needed to have the characters in 3D. Motion capture was the answer. Rotoscoping is a technique that uses live-action videos to create animations. It was used more for close-ups and fine detail.
The late director Satoshi Kon once said that in animation there’s less unnecessary detail, but it’s possible to communicate information faster than in live-action, in terms of the speed of the shots. Would you agree?
Maybe if what he meant is that in live-action, there’s a lot more information on the screen, whereas with animation, you can hone in and focus on what you want to say – if that’s what he meant, then I would agree with that.
Regarding the three main boys in the film, are any of them are types that you’ve met in real life; for example, in high school, or working in anime?
I’ve never met anyone as strong and single-minded as Dai. I’ve met people similar to Yukinori and Tamada, while working.
I have to ask about the scene where Dai and Yukinori first meet, and there’s a brief misunderstanding. It’s very funny, and for a moment you wonder if the story will turn into Boy’s Love. Was it the exact same in the Manga?
It’s more or less the same as the manga. But in the film Dai approaches Yukinori to ask to if they can play together, whereas in the manga it’s the other way round and Yukinori asks Dai.
There have been a couple of previous animations that have depicted jazz performances – Shinichiro Watanabe’s series Kids on the Slope and the Pixar film Soul. Did you watch either to get inspiration or did you avoid them?
I’ve watched both. I worked with Watanabe in the film industry as an assistant. Terrorism in Residence. And I love Cowboy BebopI love Pixar and also the movies.
What I find most striking about the performance scenes is that they are a mixture of both a performance and a scene. Blue Giant are the solos, the expressionist abstract nature of those scenes, which I don’t think you had in SoulThe following are some examples of how to use Kids on the Slope. With Blue Giant, what I’ve tried to put on the screen is what the players are seeing in that moment.
When you see Dai practising his saxophone, he’s often playing outside next to water. Why did he see it this way?
That stood out for me in the manga – the fact that Dai would practice by this nameless river in Sendai [where he grew up]. And apparently it’s better to practice with a saxophone in an open space, rather than in a room. It makes the sound resonate more and it allows you to “grow” your sound, and I thought that was quite fitting for the character.
The next question contains a spoiler. I’d like to ask about the central scene, where Yukinori has an encounter that goes badly and destroys Yukinori’s self-confidence. What effect were you trying to achieve with this particular scene?
Yukinori wants to be the winner. He knows that the solos (on piano) that he’s always played will be winners. And that’s how he chooses to play, and also in his past, there’s this young girl that he’s known who had to give up playing. He knows there are certain conditions to continue playing, so he wants to win. He’s very handsome, he looks like a winner… but this is the moment where he is brought down and experiences despair.
And this is in contrast, of course, to Dai, who when he’s playing has no thought of winning or losing. He wants to express himself through music.
In general, the animation of the boys felt very physical. For example, the way the move their heads when they talk. In terms of their physicality and design, they reminded me of the boys from Akira. Can you comment?
I’m honoured that you think that. I was aware that the three protagonists are teenagers, so I wanted this to be clear. I wanted to give them that teenage feel, so if that does come across, then I’m glad of that.
It was also a stark contrast to your previous anime Mob Psycho 100 where the main character Mob was usually a very quiet young boy. Did it feel good going from one extreme to another?
It’s fun to work on different projects with different characters. And it’s certainly more fun to work on different projects with different kinds of characters.