Rebellion Material Book
Akiyuki Shinbo (Chief Director)
I WANTED TO SEE THE CHARACTERS IN ACTION AGAIN
In your opinion, why didn't Rebellion get a so-called straightforward happy ending?
SHINBO: Well, I think one reason is because that's not how the story was leaning. There's also the fact that it wasn't easy to open new doors after the TV series had already ended once. With that being the case, we decided to go for that kind of ending.
So does that mean that you had the desire to make something new from Madoka Magica, despite the difficulty in doing so?
SHINBO: It wasn't so much that I wanted to continue building on the story, but rather that I had a strong desire to see those characters in action again, and that's probably why I made this film. The fans had embraces the characters, and everybody on the production team had a really great time, and I wanted to experience that again — that was my starting-off point. The one thing is that the distortion of those feelings must have seeped into the story. That it was as if we'd balanced everything out with this installment.
You're saying that you've balanced out the happy world of the first half with the second half, when it's revealed that it was much like a dream.
SHINBO: Part of me felt that our viewers probably wanted to see that kind of world, from the first half. But some people have said that it was precisely the upbeat first half that creeped them out. That wasn't my intention; I just thought that it was nice to see that kind of world, too. But for Madoka Magica fans, that kind of world might be "somehow off or contrived." That was an unexpected effect, but I think that may be why it turned out to be such an unexpected title.
Since it's so popular, you could say that what people seek in Madoka Magica as a title varies from person to person.
SHINBO: But I think that might be the impression of someone after they've seen it once. If you watch a second time, knowing the structure of the story, I think you can enjoy the first half. There's a difference between watching it without knowing the story, and watching it with full knowledge. If you watch it without knowing, then yes, the first half might really come off as everyone putting in a contrived performance to make it seem like this happy world. But if you know everything when you're watching, you can say to yourself, "Oh, I see, so that's what's going on," so that sense of falseness might actually start to wear off.
Either way, it's not as if you deliberately set out to create that sense of falseness, right?
SHINBO: That's right. because I wanted to see that scene where everyone's working together in battle. But that's not how the fans saw it; I think there was an unexpected synergistic effect. And that was probably a good thing. I don't think it would've been right for there to be only one way of interpreting the story. And that might be why, when you watch the ending, you get a different impression every time you re-watch it.
About the ending, on one hand it seems as if the story is starting right there; on the other, with the god and demon being born, it can also seem as if the "myth of creation" type of story has ended.
SHINBO: Although that doesn't mean that there's another story coming; that ending on its own should just be seen as the conclusion to this story. It does seem as if the story has come to an end after achieving a mysterious kind of balance. Considering the fact that it's the sequel to the TV series, it's really not that far-fetched to say that we planned to end that way from the start.
Kyubey, who you could say was the mastermind of the story since the TV series, has been reduced to a complete wreck.
SHINBO: Well, it does seem as if he's been defeated by Homura, but personally, I hope he doesn't surrender! After all, even if Kyubey dies, there's plenty more of him.
Did you propose anything specifically in terms of how you wanted Rebellion to turn out?
SHINBO: Yes, as I mentioned earlier, I said that I wanted them to create a situation where they'd all be battling side by side as friends. And not just the battle; I told them that I wanted to see them going to school, doing ordinary things like that. That's what I wanted to see myself. So in terms of creating the film, I was more motivated to put the characters in those kind of situations and set them in motion again, rather than focusing on the story. Without that, I don't think there would've been any point in making a new film. That's why this time around; we created a situation where Sayaka was fighting by Kyoko's side.
So it wasn't all about the story — what you wanted to do first was to depict the characters?
SHINBO: I've mentioned this in other interviews as well, but if our viewers have no interest in the characters, then no matter how engrossing the story is, no matter what kind of secrets there may be in the world, they'll just brush it off with an "Oh, I see. Hmmm..." It's because they have an emotional investment in the characters living in that world that they start wondering where the story will lead them, or what kind of world it is that they're observing.
In the case of Madoka Magica, would you say that those characters were developed well?
SHINBO: That's part of it, but to put it another way, I believe that Madoka Magica is a title whose characters were partially "raised" by its viewers. This brought on a synergistic effect, and so I wanted to set these characters that they'd raised in motion.
AN EMPHASIS ON KEEPING IT MADOKA MAGICA-ESQUE
Once you knew you were going to make the movie versions, was there anything that you personally made a point of doing that was different from how you made the TV series?
SHINBO: No, there wasn't. The concepts I came up with were like, "It's Madoka Magica, so why don't we include an OP theme?" If I were making it as a movie, I don't think I would've out in that TV series-like OP theme. As for the number of shots, I probably would've reduced them, and made it more movie-like. But the reason I went out of my way not to do that was because I was more intent on showing people Madoka Magica. I wanted it to be something that wouldn't make our fans feel uncomfortable with.
So do you think the staff wasn't really that self-conscious either? Of the fact that it was a movie this time?
SHINBO: No, I think the other staff members were conscious of it being a theatrical release. They all made adjustments, knowing that the visuals would be displayed on a huge screen. In that sense, even if we were working on the same film, I'm sure that the animators and directors approached it quite differently.
As far as the visuals were concerned, did you instruct them in any way?
SHINBO: I might have said something during the first meeting, but I don't really remember (laugh)! But I never did any micro-managing. It was Mr. Sasaki who expanded the gunfight scene between Homura and Mami. In the first draft of the script, they were supposed to battle it out in a parking structure, but I told them that they didn't have to do that, that it was totally okay to play with different ideas. But other than that, I didn't say anything specific. So when Homura points her gun at herself and shoots... that idea was developed out of Mr. Sasaki's storyboards. Actually, I did agonize over whether or not I should approve that!
Because the viewers might find that disturbing?
SHINBO: Yes. Like, what would we do if people see that scene and think she's really going to kill herself? Of course, I'm sure that they'd realize that she wasn't doing that at all, that it was all fake, but what if it just didn't come across as fake to some people? That's the kind of worrying that I did. Because if they misunderstood, and they saw it as Homura committing suicide, that would've been tough to take. But in that sense, Mr. Sasaki's storyboards were really intriguing.
Other than that, what were you cautious of, while making this film?
SHINBO: Production was mainly handled by the same staff that had worked on Madoka Magica since the TV series, so even if I didn't say much, "If these people are around, and we have storyboards like these, then this is how it will probably turn out..." I was able to get that kind of a read on it. Other than that, what I personally tried to be careful about was not to let it become too much of a burden for everybody, not to let it go on endlessly. So rather than me being the one to say, "More! More!" and keep adding things, I'd be like, "Will we be okay if we do this?" or "Won't it be risky in more ways than one if we do this?" That's how I operated.
Is that the job of a chief director?
SHINBO: I'm sure there are a lot of different ways to do it, but for this title, it was for me. Because the staff couldn't foresee how much work it would take to complete a movie. On top of that, they were making something that was nearly two hours long, so there was that added burden — you couldn't say it was merely 5 TV episodes' worth of work. Taking that into account, I tended not to say things like, "Let's do this, let's do that." Actually, Mr. Miyamoto and his team are fine with, "Let's do it, let's do it!" But I was acutely aware that if I added to that workload, we'd never be finished.
You incorporated a lot of Inu Curry's sequences in this film. I'm guessing that once you start working on those parts, it can be really time-consuming.
SHINBO: Yes, that's right. That did cause me some anxiety. So I think that even as I said such things as "This is too much, shouldn't we trim it down?" I was still pressuring them. And even as I told them to cut stuff out, they were thinking, "If we really cut that out, this guy is gonna be mad!" I'll bet that Mr. Miyamoto and the others were aware of that (laugh)!
I hear that in the end, Inu Curry's scenes weren't cut that drastically.
SHINBO: No, because I knew it was going to end up that way anyway, I deliberately told them to cut them out. I think that's a kind of teamwork.
I hear that you divided the overall film into 5 parts, A through E.
SHINBO: The reason why I divided them into parts was also because I basically wanted the story to conclude properly, as if it were a TV show. I did have the intention of concluding the story as an extension to the TV series. Like I was extinguishing the strange sense of it being some kind of epic by doing that. I do feel that it may have been necessary to do so. And I did want to see how far we could take it under those circumstances; I wanted to draw out that power.
I WANTED TO MAKE SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHER TITLES
After watching this film, I was struck by the fact that there were so many scenes with music and dancing. At what point did you get the idea to do that?
SHINBO: You'd have to say that in terms of the images, Inu Curry's skills played a huge role. As for the transformation scenes, I think we got the idea itself — of making them dance — from Mr. Sasaki's storyboards, but I believe that Inu Curry gave it a darker look and feel. All we really did was request them to come up with "a transformation scene like no other in any existing magical girl show." To think that they came up with something like that... it's incredible.
Personally, did you want to avoid transformation scenes that screamed "magical girl show?"
SHINBO: Well, I've already done the "girls get naked and transform with a boom while twirling around" thing in other titles. I probably don't have to do that with Madoka Magica. For the TV series, too, I asked them to come up with "transformation scenes that couldn't be less typical of magical girl shows," and I had each animator draw transformation scenes however they liked. That's why they're all different according to each character, and there's no uniformity. That's what I liked about them, but for this film, we showed everyone transforming one after the other, and because of that, it had a uniform look. And I do think that's a good look, as well.
Would you say Madoka Magica is the kind of title that makes you want to keep incorporating elements that you wouldn't find in any other existing title?
SHINBO: For all my titles, I've always preferred to go with whatever's different from anything else. Not just the visuals, but also the acting and everything else — I wanted them to be as different as possible. What I found particularly different about this film was the fact that, since the story was set inside a witch's barrier, Inu Curry's scenes were in the foreground.
Because they've merged, or rather, they were in the barrier from the start.
SHINBO: Right. That's another way that it's different from the TV series, Madoka Magica — this time, you can catch glimpses, little by little, of these foreign-looking aspects even in the scenes of their daily lives. The way the nightmares are exterminated was also Inu Curry's idea. But since they thought it out to the last detail, I do think ti went to waste. I think we could probably get 13 episodes worth out of those (laugh). I mean, it makes me want to try making at least one season, using just that.
In that sense, you also made lavish use of the world we see at the end of the TV series, where they're battling the wraiths. Because that world was hardly depicted at all during the episodes.
SHINBO: Yes. That's why I'd like to depict the story of what got them to that point. Why Homura was defeated, and why her soul gem became corrupted... the story leading up to the movie. Because normally, Homura wouldn't be defeated so easily. I'm sure that there's a reason why she ended up that way.
A MOVIE MADE BECAUSE THE FANS NURTURED IT
When you'd finished the film, the first thing you said was, "I want to make a film in which these characters take action." Do you feel that you were able to carry that out to the fullest?
SHINBO: Of course, I'm glad that I got it done, but I don't really feel as if I'd carried anything out. I've still got a long way to go. Story-wise, I can still go on making Rebellions if I want to, and I think Madoka could use a bit more action.
That was true of the TV series as well, but even though Madoka is the central figure of the story, it's hard to get a sense that she's active.
SHINBO: Or maybe it's just that she can't play an active role because the story centers on her so much. Regarding the story structure of this film, Madoka is there all right, but if she stood out too much from the start, it would be hard to make the story work. As a story based on the TV series, nothing should feel more out of place to the audience than Madoka's very existence, and that's why she's not very conspicuous. That's why in the first draft of the script written by Mr. (Gen) Urobuchi, Madoka has even less screen time. I asked him to give her a little more, and that's what we got.
I see. Due to the narrative flow, there were scenes that you weren't able to depict again.
SHINBO: Yes, although that can't be helped. I did want to do more with Kyoko and Sayaka's conversation. And since we'd gotten this new character, Nagisa, I wished that I could've done more with her.
Would you say that it's because the characters are so well-developed that you can get into that "We can do more!" mode?
SHINBO: The fact that the fans nurtured these characters played a major role in that. We threw something over to them, and the fans threw it back to us. These characters were raised through our game of catch with the fans. It's not that the characters got developed because we created them; they were developed depending on what the fans' reactions to them was. They don't seem like ready-made characters. Being able to do that is one of the virtues of an original title. Without that, we never wouldn't been able to make a sequel film out of nowhere.
And it doesn't have that "We just made this into a movie because the series was so popular" feel, either.
SHINBO: Yes. That's why I think a case could be made that the world of the first half of the story might have been created by the fans. Sayaka and Kyoko battling side by side was also something that the fans wanted to see. We were able to do it because the fans watched the TV series and nurtured these characters. I think Mr. Urobuchi was watching the fans' reactions pretty closely himself. I do believe that it must be reflected in the story. And when you think of it in that way, then the fact that Ms. Aoki was the original character designer was hugely significant, don't you think? The reason those characters are so consistent must be because Ms. Aoki's artwork already existed, like a ship's anchor.
So because of the power of Ms. Aoki's artwork, you didn't have all these different versions of the character images proliferating, and so you were able to play catch with the fans..
SHINBO: Yes. I think that with this film, we were able to achieve a perfect balance. And this was also a first-time experience for me. It really was a a once-in-a-lifetime title for me.
Yukihiro Miyamoto (Director) and Shinsaku Sasaki (Storyboards)
THIS MOVIE IS A STORY WITH UNEXPECTED TWISTS
MIYAMOTO: This time around, I thought of myself as a member of the directing team. I'm not saying that in a bad way; it's just that I kept things neutral doing it that way.
SASAKI: No, no, you were definitely the director.
SASAKI: I'm sure it wasn't as cut-and-dried as that (laugh). During the storyboarding process, I think I asked you the most questions. Of course, I'm sure that I must have gone to Mr. Shinbo whenever I had questions for him, but as far as the finer details were concerned, I initially went to you more than anyone else. I'd go to Mr. Shinbo when I wanted to know his thoughts on theme-related matters.
MIYAMOTO: The first thing Mr. Shinbo told me was not to turn it into a film that asked the question, "Is this all worthwhile?" I remember that he gave me such an instruction as this in general in the beginning.
SASAKI: That's understandable. It's not like Mr. Shinbo told us right to the last detail what his take on things were, but it was more like he was asking us to just toss the ball over to him. Not only that, but I also think Mr. Shinbo wouldn't have rejected anything we threw out there. Of course, I'm sure that we wouldn't have gotten away with tossing over half-baked ideas, but I got the sense that he was waiting with his mitt wide open for some kind of eye-opening pitch. I thought that that was what he was seeking from us.
MIYAMOTO: Well, in other words, we'd be fine as long as you let your imagination run free with the storyboards (laugh)!
SASAKI: Although it was pretty difficult. When we were working on the (Madoka) TV series, I thought I had a sure grasp of those things somehow. But as far as Rebellion was concerned, the story itself wasn't something I could wrap my head around that easily. Of course, I know that I was supposed to interpret it in my own way, but it's not like I could be confident that my take was right during the storyboarding phase. What I wanted to ask you, Mr. Miyamoto, was whether it was different to write the script for the film as opposed to writing it for the TV series. Would you mind telling me? Was it this kind of script from the beginning?
MIYAMOTO: I believe that Mr. Shinbo and Mr. Urobuchi gave it a lot of thought before ultimately deciding on this outcome. Although it has undergone some drastic changes since the very first draft, when I first read the script, I thought, "Oh, I see, so that's what happens." After all, this film was a sequel, and it was set in a world where witches no longer existed, so I thought that it was probably going to be about a battle between the surviving magical girls and the wraiths. But I was wrong.
STORYBOARDS DRAWN FROM HOMURA'S POV
SASAKI: I should probably also lay the blame for this on my way of drawing storyboards, but I always run out of visuals. For this film, I did a lot of layering during the scenes with heavy dialogue, which led to an increased number of shots, and I really felt bad about that. But I'd decided early on that we'd be doing it that way — rather than fit the lengthy line inside a single shot, we'd pile on the visuals. But since we kept running out of material that we could use for one scene, we asked Inu Curry to create lots of image boards for us.
MIYAMOTO: So that explains why there was more artwork by Inu Curry.
SASAKI: During the scripting phrase, there are notes such as "The town of Mitakihara," but once I started drawing the storyboards, I started thinking, "But this is a dream-like world seen from the eyes of Homura, right?" And so it's just not satisfying enough to draw ordinary sketches of the town; it even starts to feel wrong. If it's a world inside your mind or in your dreams, then we're going to need different visuals — and so we asked Inu Curry for additional image boards. Actually, I realized that I couldn't go on drawing without them. Initially, I was drawing them myself, but along the way I realized that it wouldn't be enough, so we had Inu Curry take on a substantial amount of the work. That really helped a lot.
MIYAMOTO: Once the storyboards were finalized, Mr. Shinbo asked me to trim as much of Inu Curry's work as I could. But in the end, the film didn't change that much after I did make some cuts. I'd say there was about 20% more before I trimmed than in the final film.
SASAKI: Of all the images that Inu Curry gave us, the easiest to describe is the scene near the beginning, with Hitomi's nightmare. We'd already come up with the scene of Sayaka planting a kick on Bebe's stomach, then having Bebe spit out something that looked like a soul. What we asked them to add was the part right after, where Sayaka's comforting Hitomi. We wanted to show Hitomi and Sayaka's relationship in a good light there; we wanted to bring those two together. So that's what we requested.
MIYAMOTO: Workload-wise, the further we got in the second-half, the more grueling it got. Our work didn't end on a close-up shot — we still had to incorporate with Inu Curry's visuals right after. After shooting, the characters still just seemed to be kind of moving around; we'd hand that off to Inu Curry, and they'd add the nightmare sequences. After that, we'd hand it back to the composite team, and it would all be rendered.
SASAKI: Since the film was made that way, I'm sure that some of our viewers thought that it was a deliberate choice from the beginning — having the so-called Inu Curry space co-exist with the normal space — but it's not as if we were really planning it that way during the storyboarding phrase.
MIYAMOTO: You'd see Inu Curry's artwork jumbled in with scenes of their ordinary lives, with that look of something somewhat out of place; as foreign objects. Later on, it's depicted more clearly. For instance, Bebe's outline is bolder.
SASAKI: In terms of what kind of visuals we were aiming for, I wanted to go with Homura's POV this time. Since that's a method I happen to use quite a lot, I'm not sure if it's a good fit for Mr. Shinbo's way, but personally, once it's decided who the main character of the story is, I prefer not to change the POV if it can be avoided. That's why for this movie, I felt strongly about wanting to go with Homura's POV. And so I started by imagining just what everything — objects and the scenery — looked like to Homura in each scene.
MIYAMOTO: It was after they'd defeated Hitomi's nightmare that Homura sensed that there was something off about their world, during the scene where the other students' faces appeared strange to her, wasn't it? That's when she realizes, "Something's not right with this space."
SASAKI: There's a description in the scripts as well. It said something about them not having faces, or being "doll-like people." That scene, too, is from Homura's POV, so we had Homura move a bit, looking at them. But the way I planned it, she actually began to sense it after the battle with Hitomi's nightmare, in the scene where she's watching the sun come up. Just like the line in the movie, at a glance, it should have been an enjoyable scene, but I wanted it to be somehow unusual as well.
MIYAMOTO: Overall, I did see in the storyboards that it was Homura's POV. And I thought it was brilliant, I thought, "Right, that's the answer!"
SASAKI: Of course, since there are dancing scenes and singing scenes, it wasn't all drawn from Homura's POV.
MIYAMOTO: Right, those theater-like parts that Inu Curry worked so hard on counted for a lot, too.
SASAKI: Telling a story from someone's POV. might be a departure as far as Mr. Shinbo's previous works are concerned. But for Madoka Magica, I was sure that even if I told it that way, Mr. Shinbo would find a way to make it his own. I have no idea if this was the right way to do it, but I made up my mind to just turn out storyboards that he could at least use as a foundation. To draw them in such a way that people would just know — "This is what was doing through Homura's mind at this time." Of course, it wouldn't be Madoka Magica anymore if we did that exclusively, so we did include some objective scenes. Although I'm sure that you and Mr. Shinbo did some tweaking.
MIYAMOTO: Sure, I do that thoroughly when it's an "Oh, so that's what this is supposed to mean" kind of scene. When we're trying to convey that "This is their daily life before Homura makes that realization," then I totally depict daily life. Or if it's a battle scene, I draw a serious battle scene. So you see, I draw everything differently according to each scene. In particular, when it's a magical girl vs. magical girl battle, since there's no such things as witches, there are no visuals by Inu Curry, so we have the animation team finish those scenes. I do recall thinking, "Since it's a cool battle scene, let's make it look cooler!" as if it were a grade schooler's essay or something!
THE CHARACTERS DISPLAYING NATURAL CHANGES IN THE FILM VERSION
SASAKI: For the scene in the beginning where Madoka's washing her face, Mr. Shinbo initially asked me, "Can't we just recycle the storyboards from the TV series?" While I did think it was possible, I did say something along the lines of "Do you think we might be able to show that in a way that's unique to the movie?" But when I decided to put pen to paper, I wasn't really able to come up with anything (laugh). After that, I thought it wouldn't do any good to put pressure on myself, and I should really leave those things alone.
MIYAMOTO: I thought about it too — doing something that could only be done with a film. But it might not have been about how to draw such scenes, or about the theme of the film. You know how there are all these commercials on TV for anime films? When I see them, I think, "Hey, it's a movie." Even when it's being aired on TV, after just seeing the first five minutes, I can tell: "Hey, it's a movie." But when it's a TV anime, I think, "Oh, it's a TV show." No matter what, TV anime only looks like TV anime. I've been wondering for the longest time why it's so easy to tell the difference, even though I'm seeing it on the same 16:9 screen. I'd always thought it was because there must be some kind of quality gap between theatrical releases and TV shows. So the whole time I was working on this film, I wanted to make sure it was "theatrical release quality."
SASAKI: I see. I think what you said was a very important point. And when I saw the final film for the first time, I thought, "This is amazing as a theatrical feature!"
MIYAMOTO: I'm glad to hear that. All the key animators' hard work has paid off.
SASAKI: I really wanted to do that scene in the beginning where Kyubey's in the bucket. As I was drawing, I thought, if Junko's left and there's nobody here but Madoka, then why not make Kyubey visible in the scene? But it ended up looking just like the storyboards for the TV Show, and I wasn't able to make Kyubey move. That's what I told Mr. Shinbo. "I did say that I wanted to do something that we could only do with a film, but it went a lot smoother when I thought of it as an extension of the TV series. Sorry!" Well, I did want to create something epic because it was the movie version, but in terms of how to go about it, it definitely was an extension, I thought.
MIYAMOTO: I wondered how to make people think, "Hey, it's a movie," just from catching a glimpse of the commercial. But I never found the answer (laugh). Although I did rack my brain — should the visuals be shot long, should we stuff as much information as possible into the visuals?
SASAKI: My impression was that the people on set really expanded on what I'd depicted in the storyboards. As for what had changed from the TV show, the characters were each a little different compared to how they'd been on the show. For example, Kyoko no longer had that lone wolf mentality; she was chummy with Sayaka.
MIYAMOTO: Well, Kyoko is the first one Homura counsels, after all. Saying things at the cafe over the water, "You're the oddest of all," and "Were you like this before?" (laugh)
SASAKI: She did say that (laugh)! The thing is, though, I didn't really sense that something was off there. I did recognize that they'd changed since the TV series, but I guess it was easy for me to accept it. I'm sure those kinds of things were incorporated because Mr. Shinbo wanted them in there, but I thought, "I guess we don't have to depict that cool-headed Kyoko from the TV Series," It's not as if I was conscious of that as I was drawing her, but I did start drawing her that way pretty naturally.
MIYAMOTO: I thought we could do something like that as far as the characters' personalities didn't change.
SASAKI: Right. I didn't give that a lot of thought. In that sense, it might have been pretty much according to the script. Well, of course there'd be no storyboards without the script. Maybe all the more because of that, I was able to go about my work without being conscious of all that. But on the other hand, it's not like I was thinking, "Let's thrill the audience!" when I drew Sayaka and Kyoko fighting side-by-side. Overall, I can say that personally, it was definitely an organic process for me.
BRUSHING UP OVER HALF OF THE SHOTS
MIYAMOTO: As far as our workflow on set, I don't think there were any stumbles like that. Whatever we received, there was no need to make any major revisions, and we'd just go right into the next process. Although I think there were times when we applies some minor tweaks in the next process.
SASAKI: To be honest, you gave us quite a lot of time to finish the storyboards. Although we were given more time than it would normally take, in the end it still wasn't enough for us. I really feel bad about that.
MIYAMOTO: Once the storyboards are done, Inu Curry takes a look, then Mr. Shinbo, and after that it comes to us on set. So we constantly had Inu Curry checking the artwork, so it would all be in place by the time it got to Mr. Shinbo.
SASAKI: I had mixed feelings — I was grateful to Inu Curry for giving us all these image boards; it may have been better to ask them to do even more; should I increase their workload even more? It was such a hard call to make. Like the cafe you just mentioned.
MIYAMOTO: Right, right.
SASAKI: In the script, it was just a normal cafe, but with Inu Curry's boards, it became a cafe on the water. Not only that, but it was also rotating! I was worried that if the cafe were rotating, it would make the animation team's lives pretty hard (laugh). I did add these notes in the storyboards because I was afraid it would be a lot of work, but when I saw it finished onscreen, I saw that the team had managed to streamline it nicely, which was a relief. But at the storyboard phase, I still felt that it was lacking something in terms of visuals. Glancing through the storyboards, I found a blimp, so I was graceful to use it in this scene. Initially, I think it was a blimp scattering flyers to commemorate the birth of a new magical girl.
MIYAMOTO: So even though we did struggle in carious ways, the film was received well by the audience — thank goodness! Although when I re-watch it, I think, "Information overload!" (laugh) I get the sense that you'd have to keep coming back to the theater to grasp what's going on — wow!
SASAKI: When I heard that it was considered a hit, I was just relieved. Because I couldn't tell myself what was going to happen. Since it's something I'm creating myself, I just can't feel calm about it when I watch it for the first time. On top of that, it wasn't made according to my own storyboards. Other people added their own "ingredients" to what I'd drawn. That's why I can't help staring at each scene — "How was this part interpreted, and what was added?" That's precisely why I can't get a full grasp on what kind of film it is. But the fact that it's a hit probably means that it was well-received by a good number of viewers, so I was just relieved by that.
MIYAMOTO: Also, for the Blu-ray version, we brushed up a lot of the theatrical version. It was quite a lot of tweaking. In all, there were about 2,300 shots, but we tweaked over half of them. It's not as if we turned it into a totally different product, with a different look, but I'm sure that it's been improved. But I'd like our viewers to not pause the film while watching. I hope they don't keep stopping it at each frame, saying, "This animation," or "These lines..." In other words, please don't watch it too closely (laugh)! Since the visuals come so thick and fast, I'd like everyone to go with the flow when they're watching it.
SASAKI: I actually made it, but instead of having me discuss it, I guess the fans do a better job of spreading the word about the film, and it enjoying it more thoroughly. It impresses me to see them, and it's very educational. That's why I hope everyone enjoys it that way. Whether or not there's a sequel in the works for this film might hinge on how much the fans enjoy it, and how the creators can surpass their expectations.
MIYAMOTO: Ah, I see. Pretty smooth way of putting it (laugh)!
Junichiro Taniguchi (Character Design & Animation Supervisor) and Hiroki Yamamura (Animation Supervisor)
- Characters in Rebellion -
CHARACTERS RETOOLED FOR REBELLION
TANIGUCHI: As the character designer, I had no particular desire to change the characters from the way they were in the TV series. Although Sayaka might be one of the characters who changed the most.
YAMAMURA: Well, since Sayaka had to go through so much in the TV series, we did want to make her look adorable (laugh).
TANIGUCHI: Though I did try not to be too conscious of that (laugh)... But this time around there was a sense that the roles had been reversed for Kyoko and Sayaka. Sayaka's the mysterious one, while Kyoko seems more upbeat. Also, it has to be Homura who changed the most, don't you think? That's partly because she's the main character this time, but in the TV series, she was more of a supporting player, a mysterious kind of character. Creating the designs for Homura as a demon was difficult. She's wearing pierced earrings at the end, which wasn't in the initial design, but either a key animator or the animation director applied some lipstick on her, so I thought we'd make the most of it.
YAMAMURA: Her facial expression in Mr. Sasaki's storyboards were fantastic. She's smirking.
TANIGUCHI: If we'd kept it close to how she was described in the script, she would've been pretty scary-looking. Since that was how she was depicted at first, I think Ms. (Chiwa) Saito played her as a scary character during the first recording session. Also, Kyubey changed a little too: his ears are somewhat longer. I was told by Mr. Shinbo to make him "an inexplicable-looking animal-type that doesn't exist," but I was like, "Okay, but how am I supposed to accomplish something like that?" (laugh)
YAMAMURA: For the TV series, Kyubey was a little more animal-like, but now he seems more like a mascot-type.
TANIGUCHI: When we were doing the TV series, Kyubey was the one who looked different depending on who'd drawn him, so I did tweak his design in some aspects. I'm glad we cleaned up the design charts, which made it easier to see everything. Because if we'd left anything vague, everyone would end up adding to the design, or drawing him with a different interpretation.
YAMAMURA: Even if the designs are rock-solid, some artists end up straying even if their intent is to emulate what's there. For the TV series, the design charts were still rough in some parts, so there may have been a lot of discrepancies in the way Sayaka looked. But since you cleaned them all up, it made my job a lot easier. Also, in terms of minute changes, there was a question of whether or not we should add a touch line inside the double-lines on her cheeks, but that was all made uniform. For the TV series, we basically colored in the cheek protrusions, but for the movie, we thought it might be better to add touch lines, as we were doing for inside the eyes. You suggested that, Mr. Taniguchi, didn't you?
TANIGUCHI: Right. Normally, we'd just color in the inside of the double-lines of the cheeks, but since the color was so pale, it really stood out oddly whenever we zoomed in.
YAMAMURA: This time around, we reexamined everything thoroughly — for example, the magical girls' costumes. Details like, should we go for lines with this part, or should they be divided by color? What should we do about the seams on the uniforms? Doing that made our work-flow a lot more efficient.
TANIGUCHI: Also, speaking of character designs, how about Nagisa? In Ms. Aoki's first draft, she was a little taller, and she was close to Madoka in age. But later on, she made her shorter, and I thought there must be a reason for that. So I gave her huge, round eyes, and a somewhat childish, impish appearance.
YAMAMURA: Also, among the scenes that I supervised the animation for, I really liked the one with the teacher, Kazuko. The storyboards for that scene were riveting, and it made my task fun. It really like those kinds of characters.
TANIGUCHI: You could see a little Hidamari Sketch in her, couldn't you?
YAMAMURA: And Junko Iwao's performance was a blast. I feel lucky that I got to work on a lot of those ordinary, slice-of-life scenes, the upbeat scenes in the first half. As for the scene where they're going to school, the key animator was amazingly talented, so even though there were tons of drawings to go through, it was a lot of fun.
A FILM THAT WE WERE ONLY ABLE TO MAKE AT THAT TIME, AND CAN NEVER MAKE AGAIN
YAMAMURA: When I got the scenario, I just though, "I see, so this is the kind of story we're doing this time," and I thought it was going to be really straightforward, but it was surprising to see the storyboards later on.
TANIGUCHI: Right. When I first read the scenario, I was able to go through it quickly. There was this secret code-like name, "Mx3."
YAMAMURA: "Mx3" turned out to stand for Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, right (laugh)?
TANIGUCHI: But during the animation meeting everyone was like, "What?"
YAMAMURA: That meeting went on from 3 pm till 9 pm, remember? And yet we still only managed to finish half of the first part.
TANIGUCHI: No one had any idea what the visuals were going to look like, including that Inu Curry space. But when it was done, and we compared the visuals to the storyboards, they'd followed them to a tee. Even though we were clueless as to what was going on just looking at the storyboards.
YAMAMURA: When we're drawing, of course we know what it is we're supposed to be doing in certain shots, but we don't know how it's going to end up looking onscreen. And I was sure that Inu Curry, Mr. Miyamoto, and Mr. Terao would take care of everything later on. This time especially, Inu Curry had added a lot to the storyboards. Even Mr. Miyamoto asked Inu Curry about them — "What's happening here?" Inu Curry's vision seemed to be clear, so we just did everything we could to get close to that.
TANIGUCHI: But it was the same for the TV series. Just looking at the storyboards, you'd have no idea what was going on. It was always that kind of title — nobody knew what it was about until it was done. In that sense, I think it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of miracle title. Well, since there were a lot of storyboards, it did end up being a lot of hard work. It was the first film for everyone on the production team, wasn't it?
YAMAMURA: Some had done short theatrical films before, but a whole feature film, with a run time of 2 hours, no less — I don't think anyone had ever experienced that. Even the animation sheets were bigger. We changed the size from A4 to B4 so that we could fill in more details, but it was tough just turning the pages. We got used to it later, but after that, when I went back to using A4 for other jobs, it felt really small (laugh).
TANIGUCHI: As a chief animation director, as the shots start piling up, you need to be able to see how to process them all, but since it was my first time working on a film as well, that was my biggest headache.
YAMAMURA: I had another kind of headache, as well. I was in charge of the parts where Homura showed up a lot, but I'm not particularly good at drawing Homura (laugh)! It was just so hard to add emotion to that face of hers. Even when she was supposed to look sad, those touch lines on her cheeks made her look sulky. I would think, "I have to make it look like her," but then her face would end up looking more and stiffer. But everyone on the animation team was so talented, and they handled it well, so I as able to focus on making the characters look even more like their designs. There were so many great scenes aside from the ones I was working on; I thought "The gunfight scene looks really tough. not only that, but it is pretty long, too," but the finished product was so overwhelmingly dramatic.
TANIGUCHI: It was as if I was being bombarded by shots of that gunfight scene, day after day, so that's what I was working on day after day (laugh). There'd usually be a pile of 12 shots or so on my desk each day, but at least 5 of those would be of the gunfight scene.
YAMAMURA: I was convinced that they'd never be able to release it on October 26th. I even thought it wouldn't reach the theaters till 2014! There was also a lot of Inu Curry-related work to be done. Inu Curry was doing all kinds of stuff for us, after all. They were responsible for the art setting, too. So I'd have that, and then I'd have the screen processing to do, and I'd also be revising the storyboards, so it was a ton of work.
TANIGUCHI: We went through everything that was possible to go through, including messing up in unexpected ways, or having things turn out unexpectedly well. So I don't think we can ever do anything like this again.
YAMAMURA: I agree. I think we only managed to do it because everything fell into place at that time. But since we were able to make basic revisions when we did the retakes for the Blu-Ray release, and also re-do the parts that we had to let go last time, and since we'll also be fine-tuning the Inu Curry parts, I'm sure the quality will be vastly improved for the Blu-ray.
TANIGUCHI: Right, I hope everyone will rewind it over and over, and watch it until they're satisfied. I never noticed this, even though I was actually working on it myself, but in Mami's room, when Mami walks behind Homura, you see a ribbon flash for a second. I had no idea about that! So that was something I never noticed even though I was drawing it, but it seemed like some people in the theater watched it over and over and caught it. It was so impressed (laugh)! That's why I'd like to take this opportunity to re-watch it carefully one more time.
Contribution from Inu Curry
"Thank you for watching." Inu.
Besides engaging in pigeon-chasing activities in the park as Japan's first dog filmmaker, Inu Curry is also in charge of the important job of randomly nipping at the feet of the people in the studio by designing alternate world for this film after doing so for the TV series. Inu Curry is a mixed breed.
Inu Curry Art Works
Alternate world designed by Inu Curry where they magical girls do battle against witches.
- Magic Room
- The Room where the magical girls corner the nightmare in the beginning of the film. The unique traits of each character are reflected in the room's tools and decorations.
- Hitomi's Bedroom
- Hitomi Shizuki frets as she lies in her canopy bed. Knitting wool bursts up from it, and Hitomi is swallowed up by the bed.
- Bebe's Escape
- Bebe puffs out a trail of colorful, bubble-like spheres as she flies through the air. They appear in the scene where Homura Akemi becomes suspicious of Bebe's true identity.
- Coffee Shop
- An unusual coffee shop that floats on the top of the water. Having sensed that something is wrong about their reality, Homura Akemi ask Kyoko Sakura to give her some advice here.
- Bus Stop
- Homura and Kyoko get on the bus from Mitakihara City to the neighboring city of Kazamino. The bus crosses a raised aqueduct that they have never seen before and returns to Mitakihara City without ever reaching Kazamino.
- False City
- The city that Homura wandered into. Furniture is lying in the alleys, and doll-like passerby and witch familiars surround her.
- The Mitakihara City created within Homura's barrier space. It is constructed with a nightmarish retro-futuristic design. Unsteady viaducts are stacked one on top of the other, and it is as if the screen is being projected in midair.
- Isolation Field
- The soul gem inside an isolation field that was placed inside an observation post in the real world. Due to many experiments conducted on it, the soul gem is severely damaged. Around the soul gem, the isolation field is formed by sharp beams of light.
- Ruins Imagery
- The observation post in the real world used by the Kyubeys to observe Homura and the soul gem. Inside it is Homura's pedestal, with a row of Kyubeys around it. They say that they took design cues from flower buds and courthouses for the exterior.
- Isolation Field and the Measurement Devices
- The influence isolation field that appeared in the skies of the Mitakihara barrier. Countless pairs of red Incubator eyes are looking down on the city.
- Welcoming Goddess Madoka
- Madoka Kaname, the Law of Cycles, appears to take away Homura, who has become a witch. Sayaka Miki and Nagisa Momoe try to return with her, riding in a pumpkin carriage.
- Stuffed Animal Made for Live-Action Photos
- For this film, they photographed a stuffed animal, and a technique called rotoscoping was used to create the artwork from the live-action photos.
- Its tongue sticks out from inside its mouth.
- Fur material used around the mouth.
- Patterned cloth. Any pattern will work, as long as it is small.
- The eye on its head: give it a brushed-on feel, like it was painted directly on with cosmetics.
- The spot pattern on the face can also be painted with a white background.
- Make this area look like a collar.
- Make it look like the stuffing in the mouth is bursting out.
- See also: Witches Artwork
The children of the false city. They play the role of mourners. These dress-up dolls fake crying in order to liven up the funeral procession.
The first one to come was Pride. Stepping over Good-for-Nothing's head that tumbled across the bare earth, she boldly spoke for all of them. “How arrogant. You think I'd forgive you? This feeling is ours alone.”
The second one to come was Gloominess. Walking out with a tapping sound, she sneered at Good-for-Nothing. “This is Good-for-Nothing! How very unbecoming.” These dolls are only disciples of Freedom, and are devoted to their lust for it.
The third one to come was Liar. She offered false tears to Good-for-Nothing's soul. “Alas, Mistress Good-for-Nothing. We are proud of your foolish soul.” These dolls will sneer at the foolish and become their ally.
From behind comes the fourth one, Coldheartedness. She stumbled over Good-for-Nothing's head and pouted a little. “Why don't we just cut Mistress Good-for-Nothing into tiny pieces to make her easier to carry?” When the Devil appears, these dolls will obediently follow.
Further comes the fifth, Selfishness, walking angrily. “Is this funeral procession still going? We practiced so we could cry quickly, didn't we? I won't wait even a little bit longer!” she huffed. These dolls are someone and no-one at all.
Coming out carefully is the sixth one, Slander. As usual, she says hurtful things. “Mistress Good-for-Nothing, you've been made into a clown.” These dolls play house with causality decided by entanglement.
At last arrives the seventh, Blockhead. This reticent doll laughs at the witch with her eyes. These dolls comply fairly well with the wishes of the witch, who is unlike a too-serious soldier.
The eighth to appear is Jealousy. Spellbound, she looks up towards the heavens. “Let's prepare a box. I want to lock away that radiance forever.” These dolls are a meeting of colors. They are not empty.
The ninth one, Laziness, chats while yawning. “Do I really have to participate in this game? Knitting is such a troublesome bother.” She kicked Good-for-Nothing's tumbling head, which was in her way. Since the funeral procession hasn't started yet, these dolls take a leave of absence and wander about the city for a while.
The tenth to come running is Vanity. She exaggeratedly avoids Good-for-Nothing's head and says a few words. “I wouldn't be able to bear dirtying my cape with that sticky blood!” These dolls make fun of the witch's self-mutilation.
The eleventh, trembling one is Cowardice. “If I am taken into the sky, I won't be able to eliminate the rabbits.” These dolls have a power like magic to implement a perfect recurrence.
Walking unsteadily comes the twelfth one, Stupidity. She goes out of her way to go around to everyone and tells them a story she heard from a bird some time ago. “I heard this story from the Goddess. She's a beautiful and radiant goddess. I'm sure she'll love us too.” These dolls only want things within reach.
The thirteenth's footsteps are Envy's. “Let's have a wonderful funeral procession like the ones I heard in a story once. Let's bury lots of beautiful girls and cute animals together with her too.” These dolls have power that is not inferior to those of magical girls.
Next is the fourteenth, Stubbornness. Pointing to the ground, she rejects the sky. “The abyss of this mortal world is our stage.” So, the mourners have gathered. They were pretty slow, but it's alright. All that's left to do now is to wait for the funeral procession.
The fifteenth and last one to come is Love. Nobody has seen this Devil yet. The night is not yet over. She will not end the night again. We are the mourners, the theater troupe of this mortal world.
The nutcracker witch's minion. Her duty is to carry out punishment. They are the tin army who conduct the funeral procession of the witch being taken to the guillotine-stage. They detest fools and convict them. So that these stern minds with seriousness cannot understand leniency, they never lend an ear to the witch. Apart from the human-sized ones, there are Brocken-class ones. They hate white mice.
The nutcracker witch's minion. Her duty is to exterminate mice. They are a cavalry of decaying teeth that flush out the white mice. They also assist the tin army and eliminate the rude ones who obstruct the progress of the funeral procession.
The nutcracker witch's servant. Its role is to chew. These nutcracker dolls chew and crush any unwanted foreign substances in place of the witch who can no longer crack any nuts. They can also fire a nut cannon from its mouth. As the rumours go, it is no exaggeration to say that their vaunted enamel has a hardness of 10.
The nutcracker witch's servant. Its role is to bear bad news. These stuffed birds announce the beginning of the witch's funeral procession. They receive food from the children of the false city, and follow their orders to a certain extent, but their basic intelligence is on par with an average bird. They fly in flocks, but their headgear impairs their vision, and they have a habit of ramming into moving objects. In addition to their usual size, there are also gigantic Brocken-types.
The nutcracker witch. Its nature is self-sufficiency. Its gallant form, which once split many nuts, is now useless. Without any other purpose, this witch's last wish is her own execution. However, a mere decapitation will not clear away the witch's sins. This foolish witch will forever remain in this realm, repeating the procession to her execution.
The nutcracker witch. Her nature is self-sufficiency. Her teeth are exposed, her skull has melted, and her eyeballs have fallen out. A promise is the only thing that pitifully planted in that head which can no longer crack any nuts, but within the husk of the awakened witch is the distinct form of a magical girl. Her servants shamefully refer to that thing as a good-for-nothing.
The mermaid witch. Once dreamt of love. This witch was cut loose once again from a part of the Law of Cycles. Unlike the Dessert Witch, the human and witch's body can act independently. She can appear anywhere as long as there is water.
The mermaid witch. Once dreamt of love. The Law of Cycles split off some of its souls and sent them to the earth. One of them took the form of sweets. Another took on the form of a mermaid. And the Law of Cycles itself descended upon the surface, more reverently than the morning dew. Her form was like that of a magical girl who once was.
Servants of the rose garden witch (rental ver.). They take the role of gardeners. As they are relatively docile and numerous, as far as familiars go, the rose garden witch dispatched them as the main combat force for saving Homura. As they are under the direct command of the mermaid witch, the influence of her magic has changed their appearances. The medals on their chests are a treasure added by the rose garden witch.
The witch of sweets. Once dreamt of tenacity. A mysterious creature who suddenly appeared in Mami's home. She as christened "Bebe", but it is actually the witch of sweets who arrived from the Law of Cycles. She was expressionless and silent when she was first encountered, but took on its current appearance out of the blue. A bit loud. Mami made its clothes by hand. Mami resembles someone who appeared in the final nightmare the witch saw.
PYOTR + POLINA
The fleeing witch of sweets and her servants. Their roles are to search for cheese and to nurse the cheese. When saving Homura, the nurse-like servants helped with Mami's trapezes, while the mouse-like servants generally ran circles around Nagisa's position.
Yota Tsuruoka (Sound Director)
- Sound directing Madoka Magica -
THE REASON HOMURA'S LINES IN THE SECOND HALF WERE RE-RECORDED
I think it's significant that two different performances from Homura in the second half of the movie were included as a bonus feature for the Blu-ray edition. Can you tell us how you ended up recording those two takes?
TSURUOKA: It's an interesting idea, having two takes in the Blu-ray, isn't it? The first version as the one we included as a bonus, and we stopped recording for a while after that. But as production went on, the producers and the director got to thinking, and they decided that we weren't going to try to "take a full swing with it," give 100%, for the movie version.
In other words, conversely speaking, Ms. Saito gave a full, 100% effort in her performance in the first take, which could have been the finished product.
TSURUOKA: Needless to say, Ms. Saito's acting was perfect. But precisely because of that — the way I saw it personally — if Homura's part reached the levels of a finished product, it would become too declarative, or maybe I should say that we wouldn't be able to give her lines any hidden meaning. If we had her unleash the decisive hit there, the game would be over. Even though it's known as the "new chapter," it would seem more like a "final chapter," rather than a starting-off point.
So you felt it was better to load her dialogue with implications, leaving it more open to interpretation by the fans.
TSURUOKA: That's why we ended up re-recording it, but since she'd done such a splendid job with that first take, none of felt right about sealing it away. That's probably why they decided to hold onto it for the Blu-ray edition. As for the fans, I think if they've already watched the feature once, they'll be able to get right into hearing the first version of the dialogue. By comparing the two takes, I think that they'll be able to perceive what Ms. Saito's intent was when she voiced that first take, and I'm sure they'll also realize just how wonderful it was.
But by not taking a full swing, weren't you worried about ending up with an ambiguous ending, for example?
TSURUOKA: No, I wasn't worried about that. The reason for that was, in terms of the story, it does reach a major conclusion in the first half. And then the second half serves as an epic "question" thrown into the viewers' faces. Instead of feeling satisfied after watching the first half, if the viewers started pondering over all sorts of things, and felt little lost and confused after watching the whole movie, then it would be exactly as we intended.
Specifically, what kind of direction did you take for the second take, which was the version you decided to go for?
TSURUOKA: Basically, the movie's purpose was to investigate Homura's psychological state, and as more of the story progresses, the more it escalates, until it's honed to a fine point. What I wanted to do was to revert a little to her psychological state near the beginning. The world might see her as evil, but I wanted it to be clear that she was just doing her best. That was what I focused on the most.
It's not as if Homura's soul turned evil when she became a demon; rather, she's just acting on emotions that she already had. Is that what you're saying?
TSURUOKA: That's what we wanted the performance to convey in a clear way. Mr. Urobuchi wrote the scenario, so, just like his other work, it turned out to be extremely logical — if you keep honing the performance, this is the conclusion you'll arrive at. I just wanted to tone it down a little.
THERE'S A ROBUST STORY IN THE FOUNDATION OF THIS FILM
In a way you could say that you tried to avoid any drastic changes to Homura's image from the TV series. Subtle changes to, for example, Kyoko and Sayaka, compared to the TV series, were alluded to within the story, but did you direct the actors to make slight changes from their earlier performances? Or did you think that they should match their performance to the way they did for the TV series?
TSURUOKA: It's true that as a story, it's the sequel to the previous work, but the characters have broken away, so to speak, from the previous world they lived in, and even if they look the same, they've begun to live as different people. So I did feel that we could have them do it in completely different ways this time. In Homura and Sayaka's case, they had to have an overall view of the entire story, from the TV series to the new arc, but as for the other characters, I thought that as long as they just lived in this world they were given in this film, we'd be fine.
So did you direct Homura and Sayaka in any special directions?
TSURUOKA: We recorded this film in two sessions, the first half and the second half. Since I thought that the only people who needed to know what happened in the second half when we were recording the first were those two, I told Ms. Saito and Ms. Kitamura everything that was going to happen. The others, I didn't tell them to change anything or keep it the same (laugh). Although I do think that they all had their TV performances in mind somewhat. From what I saw, they were voicing their characters as if it were an extension to the previous work.
Did you make any conscious decisions to clearly change the tone of the story in the second half?
TSURUOKA: I thought that in terms of structure, this story was extremely accessible; it was certainly extremely easy to work on for me, so although I wasn't consciously out to change the tone, I did feel that "it would be all right for a clear change to happen right here." The recording sessions were divided by the film's first and second halves mostly due to the production schedule, but I think it was a good place to split up the film.
Did any of the cast members seek instructions from you?
TSURUOKA: No, it didn't seem like anyone was really struggling with their roles, actually. They flew right through their sessions. I don't think anyone was overly worked up enough to be like "I'm going to do like this!" In that sense, I could see that they were all in character throughout. If someone were to stiffen up and turn in a performance that was somehow off, it wouldn't be good for the story, would it? If you go for drastic changes, there are times when you're just not able to pull it off physically. But I felt that everyone was perfectly in tune.
Did you hit any roadblocks during the recording sessions?
TSURUOKA: In terms of content, there was nothing that was too difficult. When things were difficult, they're really difficult, so thinking about it would get you nowhere. Like Homura and Kyubey's conversation; if we started thinking about it, we wouldn't stand a chance (laugh). So there were no issues in terms of content, and I think that everyone had a good enough grasp of the flow of the story that we were able to get through it without a hitch. With so much complex visuals, you might think it would be hard to grasp the overall flow, but the screenplay itself is actually pretty simple. I believe that everyone was able to perform without losing sight of that flow.
I do think that at the root of the film was a straightforward, robust story.
TSURUOKA: Right. If the scenario didn't have a strong story, and the film was merely dressed up in decorative visuals, it would be hard to figure out what to pick up on, what momentum to ride, but in terms of the story, I really thought it was quite simple. Personally, that scenario was my linchpin, and I made sure I never lost sight of it.
Did the director or Mr. Urobuchi give you any directions?
TSURUOKA: They didn't say anything about the characters. Although Mr. Urobuchi might have been thinking, "I have everyone in the palm of my hand..." (laugh).
EVERYTHING WAS A RESULT OF TRIAL-AND-ERROR I THINK THEY WERE ALL GOOD OUTCOMES
Personally, was there anything else you were conscious of, since this was an all-new theatrical release?
TSURUOKA: The beginning of the story is the same, in terms of structure, as Episode 1 of the TV series. It was a situation in which we'd be parroting that scene from the TV series wholesale, and that's why I was firm about telling everyone, "Let's just follow the TV series to the letter here." Another thing I made sure of, because this was a film, was to get those German phrases down pat. I even had some German kids come in and read the German lines. As a movie version special, it's turned out to be quite gorgeous (laugh).
True, this film's opening sequence was even closer to the opening sequence of the TV series than the previous film, Part I: Beginnings.
TSURUOKA: The music, the visuals, the set-up... there were a lot of references to the TV series, weren't there? That's why I felt that if we followed it to the letter, the viewers would stay with us for the rest even if we started going off in our own way.
About the music, I've heard that when you started recording and working on the audio, there was still no theme song. When you actually heard the theme song when the film was finished, what did you think?
TSURUOKA: It really fit in well; it was very Madoka Magica. Since we were trying to mimic the TV series' main titles, I thought the theme song matched up well, too (laugh). Even thought it was a theme song, it was also an introduction to the story; it lets the viewers know that the Madoka Magica movie is about to begin, and it's reassuring in that way and I think it functioned well.
What about the ED theme?
TSURUOKA: Again, for this film, the policy was to tone things down in the second half, so in the same way, the ED theme matched well, as it wasn't the kind of song that would stoke the viewers' anxiety.
Come to think of it, it was completely different in tone from the TV ED song.
TSURUOKA: I thought that Ms. Yuki Kajiura might write something heavy-sounding, but that's not how it turned out. I thought that in the end, it served as a nice summation. None of us were working on the film with the knowledge of how the finished product would look, so in many ways, there was a lot of trial-and-error going on. I think the end result turned out to be a good outcome.
What did you tell Ms. Kajiura regarding the overall direction you wanted to take with the film score?
TSURUOKA: First, regarding the main themes we'd used in the TV series, we decided to narrow down the ones we were going to use, and I spoke to her pretty specifically about where I wanted to hear them. Like, "We're using Homura's theme for this scene." But really, the only part that I explicitly specified was Homura's theme.
THE "CAKE SONG" WITH LYRICS BY INU CURRY WAS CHALLENGING
Did the director make any requests regarding the score?
TSURUOKA: The director was concerned with climatic scenes, like the scene at the end where everyone fought. Normally, the parts where you'd place an insert song or something are special scenes, so he did tell us that he wanted us to make them distinct from the other scenes.
The scene where everyone's battling together to liberate Homura is certainly climatic, but the story does go on from there. Did you consider how to distinguish it from the true ending?
TSURUOKA: The battle scenes are "special scenes" rather than climatic ones. In other words, they're highlights, so we decided to make the music dramatic as a type of service.
I hear that Ms. Kajiura watched the storyboards being shot while writing the music according to the content, but since you re-recorded the dialogue, the image of the music for the second half must have changed.
TSURUOKA: Yes. That's why for the second half especially, when we handed her the video, we told her, "We're re-doing the recording from this point." And we told her what kind of feel the second half would have. That there would also be changes to the visuals, and the voice acting would also be quite different. As far as the parts of the recording that we were re-doing, we were specific, and we told her that the voices would be softer in tone, and that the expressions would also change quite a bit.
So were communications between you and Ms. Kajiura smooth regarding the music for the first half?
TSURUOKA: Yes. As far as the story goes, there's nobody more knowledgeable than Ms. Kajiura, so there really wasn't anything for me to say. Maybe just for really unique parts: I told her what we were aiming for in those scenes. Like, "Here, a Cake Song is suddenly going to start."
That Cake Song scene did look like a challenging scene.
TSURUOKA: That was the part that gave us the most trouble during the recording sessions as well. The song wasn't finished yet, so we just decided on a tempo and made clicking sounds, and recorded the voices first. We gave that to Ms. Kajiura and had her write the song. But how to take Inu Curry's lyrics and arrange it to the tempo? That was a major headache for us on set. Not only that, but we had to match the action of the visuals with the tempo, so it was extremely challenging.
Regarding the lyrics written by Inu Curry, did they explain them to you in person?
TSURUOKA: Yes. They brought me the lyrics and said, "Please use these." But nobody would've understood what it meant unless we heard Inu Curry's explanation. No one but Inu Curry knew what the purpose of those lyrics was, and no one but Inu Curry could have explained them. Initially, the Cake Song was written to be recited aloud by everyone. It was like a melody to be hummed to a regular beat.
Do you mean that it was like a nursery song, or a song sung during a game, like "Kagome Kagome (Japanese folksong)?" Along with Inu Curry's song, this movie also boasted a dance motif making it a film packed with musical elements. Were you conscious of that while you were working on it?
TSURUOKA: It's not as if I was planning to move it along with music. But since the film is what it is, then I thought let's stick these kinds of songs in it — I did have that in mind. And so we ended up with over 60 songs in all.
I WANT PEOPLE TO WATCH IT OVER AND OVER AND ENJOY IT BY EAR AS WELL
Because it has so many musical elements, the music does add to its allure even if you're doing that consciously. It seems to me that thanks to all the music, the movie has a certain flow that runs through it in its entirety.
TSURUOKA: I don't think that we've created an overall flow. Well, we are seeking songs that match the flow of the visuals from the moment that we place our order for music. It's just that this time around, it was so difficult to read the storyboards. I just didn't have a clue what they were about (laugh)! Even if I looked at the storyboards, I couldn't envision how those visuals were going to be in the end.
If you couldn't envision it, it must be hard to decide what kind of song to add, too. Especially for the Inu Curry sequences, maybe?
TSURUOKA: Right. For me, the hardest part about making this film was trying to understand the storyboards in my own way so that I could order the music. I couldn't do it the way I would read normal storyboards. I've been doing this for nearly 30 years, and usually when I flip through storyboards, I can more or less get a sense of the rhythm, the scale of the music, and where to insert songs. That much I can grasp. But in Inu Curry's case, nothing I'd mastered till now worked for me, and I also had no idea what the visuals would look like in action. First, I figured out what was going to happen in each scene to find a way to grasp the overall story — "OK, that's what's going on here," — and only after that I was able to get a feel for the rhythm and scale.
After you'd seen the finished film, what was your personal opinion?
TSURUOKA: I've been working on Madoka Magica since the TV series, so in some ways I was just following a pattern, but on one hand it felt like a renewal; it really did have the atmosphere of a "new chapter (rebellion)." In particular, I felt that we were able to match the music to the film. As for the transformation scenes, I'm impressed that Ms. Kajiura was able to match the music up so perfectly. I was flabbergasted.
With the Blu-ray release, it looks like we'll be able to enjoy the music of the film again as well.
TSURUOKA: We deliberately created "secret meanings," so there might be parts that people won't understand even if they watch it over and over. But it's still a fun movie to watch and re-watch, and I'm sure people will find new input each time they see it. Because there's just so much information packed in there, including the music, so I'm sure that even those who've seen it in the theaters will find new angles and new discoveries by watching it repeatedly.
It's true that it's brimming over with information, so even those who've seen it in the theaters might not have a good grasp of it at all yet.
TSURUOKA: First of all, the way it's presented visually is incredible, so the first time you watch it, all you can do is just follow those visual expression with your eyes, and you're done. But that means that you won't be able to pay much attention to what we do (laugh), so I hope people re-watch it with this thought in mind: "My eyes are accustomed to it now, so this time let me really hear it." "Maybe this time I'll watch the performances." There are so many little details in this film, so I hope that people don't simply put it away as a collector's item, but watch it and enjoy it from time to time.
Yuki Kajiura (Music)
- The Music of Madoka Magica — Taking Advantage of the Movie Format -
WATCHING THE STORYBOARDS BEING SHOT OVER AND OVER AS I CREATED THE MUSICAL FLOW
The first thing I'd like to ask is how you felt about Rebellion as it was completed.
KAJIURA: Whenever I write music, I re-watch the unfinished product repeatedly. It's called storyboard shooting, and I wrote the music as I watched the visuals of the animated storyboards with the actors' voices added in. So when I saw the completed film, I was surprised by the visuals. They surpassed my expectations — "I'm sure this scene is doing to look intense" — and it was breath-taking to see. Another thing was that there were all these unique pauses that never would've worked in ordinary films, which seemed to have become even bolder than before. When I was writing the music, I wondered why on earth there were such long pauses in certain scenes, but then I saw why. It was really full of surprises for me. But my first impression was straightforward — "This is intriguing."
Did you see any big differences in the final film in terms of pictures and directing?
KAJIURA: In terms of changes, it had become something completely different. The storyboard shoots were in black and white, and the artwork was abridged. That's why, when I saw the finished film, all I could think of for every scene was "Wow! Amazing! Amazing!" But as for how the visuals would be set in motion, or what timing the dialogue would be inserted, nothing was changed from the storyboard shoot version. I think that's why the music for this film are all timed and they fit the atmosphere perfectly — they sound like music written for each scene.
You've done this before, haven't you? Written songs while watching the storyboard shoots for an animated feature?
KAJIURA: Yes, I have. I think this is unique to anime movies, but if you can look at the storyboard shoots, it's so much easier to add in the music. It's not as if you absolutely have to have them, but in terms of getting the timing down, like "After this line, the music will come in with a boom, and it'll fade out here." I'm really grateful to the animators for rushing to shoot the storyboards, and allowing me to write the music to them
So what kind of process is it, exactly?
KAJIURA: For this film, there are far more songs than we had for the TV series. So I wrote the music in two blocks, the first half and the second half. But when I started writing for the first half, I'd already decided what I was going to do with the second, so it was already an overwhelming process from the first half. The way I did it was, after first watching the storyboards to the end several times, I'd set music to them based on how I felt — "I want the music for this scene to be like so." But if you focus on just one scene while you're writing music, you start to get stuck in a rut, so I wouldn't finish any of them. Instead I'd think of the overall flow, and just create the atmosphere of each score. I'd make rough demos of each score, just developed enough for me to be able to grasp their respective images, and then I'd be like, "Okay, maybe this is what this part needs," by keeping the overall storyline in mind.
So it's not as through you finish one song at a time.
KAJIURA: It's more efficient that way. If I were to concentrate on just one song — "I want to make the song for this scene adorable!" even if I managed to do well with it, it may stand out in the overall flow. For example, in any story, you shouldn't insert your most moving song before the most moving scene comes up. No matter how great the melody may be, it has to go with the emotional flow of the overall story, or it can never become a masterpiece.
So it wouldn't work if you used nothing but songs written to be moving.
KAJIURA: That's right. If there's nothing but tearjerker-type songs, it's exhausting to listen to, right? In a single title, there's always something like a wave. I try to grasp what it is in my head, then start the detailed work after I've created the overall flow.
WRITING SONGS THAT MATCH THE INTENSITY OF EACH SCENE
What do you mainly use to visualize the intensity of each scene?
KAJIURA: A lot of it comes from my impression of the dialogue. That's why I might be writing songs while watching visuals that were shot before the dialogue was recorded, but then once the dialogue is added in, I have to do it all over. That happened quite a lot. For instance, I'd write a song thinking that someone was going to be saying, "Stop it!" But actually, sometimes the scene would feature a performance with the actor saying "Stop it..." So then the song wouldn't match at all.
How do you go about imagining the sounds? For example, do ideas strike you regarding what instruments you should use for a scene, or chord progressions?
KAJIURA: I think it depends on the situation. But since I do believe that the way the sound is first heard is so important, I often think about how the sounds are going to come in during that scene when I'm writing songs. Sometimes I'll have music in a way that no one will notice; it'll be playing before you know it. Other times, I'll try to make an impression with the first note.
I see. What kind of requests did you receive from the animation production staff for the songs for each scene?
KAJIURA: "We need a ballroom dancing song here," and instructions like that. I think that with Madoka Magica, I was always being instructed to use a waltz during the battle scenes. The familiars seem to be dancing, don't they? So this film has two songs that are a little waltz-like, that sound like ballroom dancing songs, and I think that was true of the TV series too. The battle scenes had no dialogue, and they often showcased just the music and the visuals, so it was very rewarding for me.
THE SONGS OF THE SECOND HALF WERE DIFFICULT, AS NO EMOTIONS WERE CONVEYED IN A STRAIGHTFORWARD MANNER
When you were writing the songs, were you conscious of following the pattern of the TV series?
KAJIURA: Yes, I was, although Rebellion was a bit different in tone from the TV series. At the beginning of the film, there's a slice-of-life scene that's very close to the one from the TV series, but it's not as sparkly as the latter. It is sparkly, but those aren't "true" sparkles. That's shy for the first half, I gave the music a bogus sparkly tone, meaning that I made it more cheerful than necessary — an extremely glittery-sounding song. For the transformation scenes, too, the songs are like, "Transform! Ta-dah!" Almost too cheery.
I see, so in that sense, it was a slightly different approach than the one you took with the TV series.
KAJIURA: While I believe that the musicality and the way sound is used both similar to the TV series, there just aren't that many songs that are simply about anger and nothing else, or just sadness. There are so many scenes with complex, tangled emotions, and as far as I can see, there aren't many scenes where you just think, "Oh, I feel sorry for this girl." So I think that compared to the soundtrack and the TV series, there were a lot less songs that conveyed emotions in a straightforward way. It might sound arrogant of me to say this, but if, for example, there's a scene where the two main characters are talking, and even if they don't really display their feelings clearly, by playing sad music, that scene automatically becomes a sad one. That's why music is such a terrifying thing. I know that I really need to grasp the intent of the movie, and work carefully.
So because there are no straightforward emotions, Rebellion is all the more difficult.
KAJIURA: I think you can divide the film in two major sections, the first half and the second half. It was a lot harder to work on the second half once I knew that the world of the first half was bogus. It was easy to create the flow up until that point. I just made all these sparkly songs, and then the anxiety starts creeping in, and finally, you realize that this world is fake. It was quite easy to build the musical storyline as well. If the ending, when everyone rescues Homura, and Madoka comes to get Homura is the climax, then it's easy to build. But although that was the climax, it wasn't the real climax.
But you still had to pump up the intensity there.
KAJIURA: Right. That was something I agonized over from the moment I first read the script. On top of that, in the scene after Homura becomes a demon, I think everyone's emotions were all over the map. But there's no music that can make everyone feel the same way. That's why it was hard. Because of that, there were several occasions when I had to consult the director — "What should I do here?" And the director said to me, "For Homura's music after she's become a demon, basically I'd like something beautiful." That might have been the biggest hint I was given as to how to write the music for the second half.
Does that mean that Demon Homura herself was beautiful?
KAJIURA: I think it's less about her being depicted as beautiful, and more about her being something that you want to play beautiful music in the background to.
Specifically, what kind of beauty do you think that is?
KAJIURA: I think it's an image of tolerance. But regarding Ms. Chiwa Saito's performance after Homura's transformation, two versions were actually recorded. I'm sure that they had a hard time deciding which to go with. Because there's no right answer it was the same for me, but I'm sure that there was a lot of trial-and-error involved.
IT TOOK A LONG TIME TO ADJUST THE TIMING OF THE TRANSFORMATION SCENES
The film has many musical elements — there are scenes of the characters singing, and the transformation scenes are directed like ballroom dancing sequences.
KAJIURA: Yes, there's even a rap song. When they first asked me to write a rap song, I thought, "Rap?!" But since it was Madoka Magica, I knew that an ordinary rap song wouldn't do, so I made it somewhat cute... actually I made it into a weird rap song. Initially, I thought, "Maybe I'll just make this one a full-blown rap song," and I used this extremely heavy rhythm. But it just wasn't a good fit. Once I made it into a Madoka Magica-esque rap, or should I say a pseudo-rap, it blended in rather well.
Including the rap, this time you had two songs that already had lyrics.
KAJIURA: Right. The "not yet" song from the first half, and the song of the witches' familiars in the second half. It's not just these songs, but usually when songs already have lyrics, the lyrics are longer than the scene. But I can't bring myself to say, "There's not enough time, so it's impossible." So it often turns into a challenge to see if I can fit the whole thing in. And these were lyrics written by Inu Curry, so I wanted to include them all, even if I had to stick them into a chorus. I did manage to fit it all of the lyrics that I was given.
Song-wise, were there any similarities with the TV series in terms of image?
KAJIURA: I did use a lot of the theme-like melodies from the TV series. For example, even in the first half, when no one's realized that it's a fake world, I have snippets of a more upbeat version of Homura's melody playing. And when she realizes that she's actually a witch, I have a version of Homura's original theme booming throughout. Also, there's a song that we called "Mami's Theme," which had an image that should raise red flags everywhere; this time, we played it where it belonged, when the magical girls are fighting so vivaciously.
So you're using each character's theme song in new ways?
KAJIURA: For the transformation scenes, if the character had her own theme, I tried to play it as much as I could. But Kyoko was the only one who didn't have a theme, so I did write her one from scratch.
What kind of image did you base Kyoko's song on?
KAJIURA: I could've written her a prettier, sweeter, more refreshing song, but in the storyboards, Kyoko's transformation scene was a little scary. So it has a slight ethnic flavor, and it's a bit dark.
In the transformation scenes, each magical girl shows a different dance motif, but were you conscious of that?
KAJIURA: Yes, I was. But they requested that I connect the songs for the transformation scenes. And it's difficult to change all those types of music. Since Mami's was the most like dance music, that was the only one I changed the beat for, but for the rest, I gave them a uniform tempo and changed the melodies. Also, for that scene, they already had the visuals for their poses, and I was asked to set them to music. That was pretty difficult and I spent about a week adjusting the sync — "If we go on this tempo, this girl's gonna go out of sync right here." That scene actually took a lot of time to make.
THE INTENT OF THE ENDING THEME THAT LEAVES THE AUDIENCE HANGING
What image did you base the ED theme on?
KAJIURA: This was hard, too. But the part that I was most careful about was not making Homura our to be neither good, nor evil in the ED theme. If you determine who's good or evil through music, then the viewers would think the same way. We have to keep it all to the audience to decide whether Homura becoming a demon is a good or a bad thing.
So for what happened in the story, you didn't write songs that would explain how things should be interpreted.
KAJIURA: That's right. I wanted to write songs that weren't from the girls' point of view. Normally, I think that music portraying the strong emotions of middle school-age girls would be a better fit for Madoka Magica. But in the case of Rebellion, if you emphasized the girls' feelings, you'd have to settle for one interpretation of the story.
I see. The meaning of the story is interpreted through those girls' emotions.
KAJIURA: I wanted to avoid making the lyrics determine whether Homura was a good person or a bad person. So both the lyrics and the song stayed neutral — she's neither good nor evil. It's as if the music drew further and further away, from the girls' emotions to the overlooking view. In that sense, I had no choice but to set the music to this film differently than when I did it for the TV series. Particularly in the second half, it's moving further away from the girls' emotions, and moving towards the background.
But it must have been so hard to write the ED theme, in other words, the main theme, without clarifying the meaning of the story.
KAJIURA: Yes. That part, I'd made up my mind to write from an overlooking view. it's not a song sung by young girls, but a song by "something" that's looking at the girls. It doesn't matter what that "something" is, but I meant for it to be the closest to the viewpoint of the people who'd come to see the movie. Either way, they're not thinking that the girls are right or wrong, they're just watching. I thought it would be good to have a song written from that point of view.
"Just watching" doesn't mean they're distancing themselves, but that they're quietly observing what the girls are doing.
KAJIURA: Right. I'm an atheist, but if God did exist, I'd think he was something that's "just watching." Even when we see ants, it's not as if we want to guide those ants the right way. If there is a god, then I'm sure that's what he's all about. It was one of my themes, to write from an objective point of view, neither affirming nor rejecting anything.
Did you think that that kind of attitude was necessary for this movie's ED theme?
KAJIURA: The people who finished watching the movie, especially those who saw it for the first time... I think that at least 95% of them were left in a daze. I don't think it is right to create lyrics that would lead them to one answer. You can't make them think, "This was actually a good story," or "This was a scary story." In a sense, when viewers are left hanging and then tossed out, you shouldn't let them land. I wanted the songs to leave them in that dangly state, and make them vacillate. I didn't want them to be songs that would dump its emotions somewhere, and that would be it.
HOMURA'S ACTIONS ARE NOT CONTRADICTORY, THEY ARE CONSISTENT
Do you always make an effort to write music that doesn't try to explain the story from the music side, like you did with this film?
KAJIURA: No, it was the first half of Rebellion, but when the content is the kind that will cause most people to feel the same way, I write songs that accommodate for that. If it's a title that makes its viewers happy, I write music that amplifies that happiness. But as far as this movie, especially the second half, was concerned, it would have been extremely difficult, and I felt that it shouldn't be done.
Do you think that it's the fact that it makes viewers feel like they're dangling that makes Rebellion so intriguing?
KAJIURA: I don't know. I think there are lots of other intriguing things about it. But I do feel that this title has no contradictions. Homura's actions are remarkably consistent. Whether or not she became a demon, in the end I don't think it mattered to her. It didn't matter whether she became a demon or an angel, if she lived or died; I think that if she could just go through with what she wanted to do, it would be enough for her. It was just that in the end, when she chose the best method, she happened to turn into a demon. That was all. In the final episode of the TV series, Madoka also chose the best method, and turned into the Law of Cycles. I think it's the same thing.
So that's what it means, not to be able to distinguish between right and wrong. That was just the end result.
KAJIURA: Yes, that's true. It may be a bit shocking to those watching, but after a process of trial-and-error, that turned out to be the best method for her.
I see. Lastly, Rebellion didn't explain the meaning of the story through the music, but do you have any thoughts on how you'd like people to watch the Blu-Ray?
KAJIURA: I never think, "I want people to see it this way," whether it's music or anything else. The viewers are free to do as they wish, and it doesn't matter to me how they feel about it or how they enjoy it. That said, it is a title that's chock-full of various elements, and personally, there were a lot of scenes that were so cool it gave me goosebumps, but I've still only seen the finished film twice. So once I get the Blu-ray, I'd like to watch it thoroughly myself.
Message from Gen Urobuchi (Screenplay)
Initially, I was planning to end this story when Homura is reunited with Madoka. There would be the classic magical girl scenes in the beginning, and then the narrative in which the secret of the town would be revealed; that would drive the beginning and middle parts, and in the end there'd be the final showdown with Kyubey.
But I had a hard time deciding on the ending. Ending the story with Homura and Madoka being reunited wasn't really the best outcome. After all, the instant Homura encounters her, she'll be guided by the Law of Cycles, and disappear. Would that make her happy? It was also the director, Mr. Shinbo's opinion that the outcome of the TV series, "a human becoming a god" might be too heavy a fate for a girl in middle school to bear. Since that was the case, I decided to try to come up with a way to create a story in which Madoka could escape that outcome.
But I'd already ended this story once, so it was hard to figure out how to expand it. That was when Mr. Shinbo suggested, "How about a story with Homura confronting Madoka as an enemy?" I thought, if that's at all permissible, then I'd suddenly have all these options open to me, and that's how the current plot developed.
Now that I look back on it, I think it might have pushed the boundaries of the viewers' sense of morality. I'm sure there are people who view that as a "bad end," and there are probably also people who are more forgiving. I think it's an outcome that straddles that borderline. But people watch because they want to ponder whether the outcome is good or bad, so if they knew from the start that it was either a "happy end" or a "bad end", then there'd be no point in watching it in the first place. And if it's clearly a "bad end", then worse and worse things would occur, and if ten people saw it, all ten of them would be holding their heads in their hands. This film left enough room for interpretation, so it wasn't a "bad end". In that sense, I think it was the kind of film that allowed people to accept whichever outcome they liked — "happy" or "bad".
But when the production staff turned the scenario into storyboards, they expanded the story in another remarkable way. Even if the Madoka Magica team does outrageous things with the scenario, they do an incredible job of depicting it with powerful visuals and wondrous directing. In an ordinary anime, we could never get away with scenes showing Kyubey droning on and on, but Madoka Magica allowed us to take on such challenges, too, and for me it was an invaluable, enjoyable experience.
Not only that, but when I saw the storyboards, I could tell that these visuals would demand an overwhelming amount of labor and massive amounts of time, so much that it worried me — "The content is great, but will it be possible to make it happen?" But SHAFT did end up making it happen. All I can say is that, "They sure produced something mind-blowing..." I'm filled with awe. And from the TV series, to the film, from the film to the Blu-ray, with each step, the visuals continued to evolve. Even if I think I've already watched a certain scene, each time I re-watch it, it's like it's been reborn.
I'm looking forward myself to seeing how the theatrical version evolved with the Blu-ray.