Kirara Magica Interview Shinbo Akiyuki

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Director - Shinbo Akiyuki

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From Season 2 to a Movie Trilogy - How It All Started
Kirara What led to the development of the Madoka Magica Movies?
Shinbo Originally, I planned to work on Season 2. When we reviewed Gen Urobuchi's sequel proposal, however, we felt that the content was not enough for a full second season. This led producer Atsuhiro Iwakami to suggest, "With this storyline, wouldn't a movie be better?" For this, we needed to build the connection between the TV series and the new movie, so we started by making the compilation movies.
Kirara Did you plan from the start to make the compilation movies, in addition to the new sequel? Or had you considered making a special TV edition on TV instead?
Shinbo We didn't consider a TV edition. If the sequel was to be a movie, we needed the full story to be available on the big screen. The staff never considered making a TV compilation instead.
Kirara As the supervisor, what is your approach to the series compilation? Do you have an overarching concept in mind?
Shinbo I don't have anything special in mind. For my generation, "Space Battleship Yamato (1974)" was definitely the cultural milestone. So in some vague fashion, I want to make something like that. There are plenty of examples for compilation movies.
Kirara Like "Mobile Suit Gundam (1981)" and "Densetsu Kyojin Ideon (1982)"?
Shinbo And "Homeless Remi (1977)" and "3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (1980)" as well. Many of these franchises left me with strong impressions. For a niche title to reach the big screens in the form of a movie compilation, I think it is not bad.
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The Compilation Movies Decision and Importance of a Sequel
Kirara When did you really start working on the project?
Shinbo Around the end of 2011; I still remember drafting the storyboard in the first month (of the lunar calendar). I was working even during Lunar New Year's Day (laughter)!
Kirara That's a bit too much (laughter)! Was drafting the storyboard the first step?
Shinbo Not quite. First, I worked with Ms. Rie Matsuhara, editor for the compilation movies, to create a compilation outline. From this outline, we tried to improve weak parts, smooth out any conflicting points, and eliminate unnecessary scenes. Trying to get everything just right. It's an editing-as-we-are-watch feel, scene by scene. The final product was put together this way.
Kirara For the compilation movies, the editor has quite a heavy responsibility.
Shinbo Definitely. Thanks to Ms. Rie, the project proceeded smoothly.
Kirara While we are at it, I want to ask the supervisor - have you ever produced a compilation of your own TV series before?
Shinbo This is my first time.
Kirara Ah, so it's like this.
Shinbo Honestly, not my area of expertise.
Kirara This is a surprise!
Shinbo Even though this was ancient history, before working on the "Soreyuke! Uchuu Senkan Yamamoto Yohko II (1997)" OVAs, I was asked to make the Season 1 compilation. I instantly rejected the offer and suggested someone else (forced laughter). I feel uninspired working on this type of editing work. I always felt, "need to splice this scene, got to add this angle." With existing footage, I am helpless with these ideas.
Kirara Sounds like this is a new challenge to the supervisor.
Shinbo Yes. However, I have Ms. Rie to lead the way (laughter).
Kirara In interviews, you often bring up Rie Matsuhara, Kazuhiko Seki (Editor, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) and such editors.
Shinbo Because series editing is a very important job. It's up to the editor to build cohesion within a piece of work. In some ways, editing can be considered the most important part of a project. Additionally, sometimes I will force in some shots that don't really obviously connect. If they do make sense, it's really to the editor's credit. I feel a work's cohesion is largely dependent on the editor.

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Anticipations for the Madoka Magica Movie
Kirara Do you plan to add any new sequences? Redraw existing scenes? The fans are eager to find out what you might do.
Shinbo If we need new scenes to connect sequences together, we'll draw them. Most scenes through wouldn't see much changes. On the other hand, voice acting will be re-recorded, as well as the soundtrack.
Kirara So we can look forward to the higher-fidelity sound in the theater?
Shinbo I plan to redo the original soundtrack in 5.1 surround sound, as well as add new pieces. Additionally in the Witch sequences, I want to merge the sound and runes into one form, while retaining Gekidan Inu Curry's unique visual presentation. Hopefully this will change the impression slightly.
Kirara What about the seiyuu side of it?
Shinbo Most voice acting was re-recorded, except for some parts of Episode 10. I am somewhat hesitant on whether to keep the original TV recording for that episode. This work was built on voice acting. Superb voice acting doesn't really need to be redone. Furthermore, with all other parts re-recorded, the contrast will highlight how special Episode 10 is. Right now, the biggest uncertainty is whether to redo Episode 10.
Kirara Besides yourself and Ms. Rie, who else are working on this project?
Shinbo Production is headed by the TV series director Yukihiro Miyamoto, because the atmosphere of the series wouldn't see significant changes. Still, each performance will inevitably bring about slightly different pacing and atmosphere, creating a conflicting feeling. To remove this, we need Mr. Miyamoto to make the necessary adjustments (the timings of animation, special effect directions, design type stuff).
Kirara As Supervisor, do you plan to bring a different style or meaning from the TV version?
Shinbo There will be some difference between the TV and theatrical versions, but my focus is to avoid making our original fans uncomfortable. Because it's an special activity, even if the theatrical presentation and style are not obvious, it would be good enough for the job. Instead of highlighting the theatrical style, what's important is to focus on the Madoka Magica style. I do believe this type of work will be the best.
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The Franchise's Inspirations and Its Legacy
Kirara Wrapping up, Madoka Magica has quite an impact since release. Again, what does this franchise mean to you?
Shinbo Through working on this project, I gained many new experiences. For example, this was my first work to be spoofed, and I truly enjoy all the fanworks. If we include everything that came out, this series probably has had the greatest impact that I worked on. We had some grannies that lived near the studio. When they saw the studio posters, they said "Oh, it's Homura!" For my work to have such widespread recognition, I am overjoyed!
Kirara Do you feel pressured now that you have a larger audience?
Shinbo It really is a sigh of relief, because creating an original work already has significant pressure. If it had failed, people may consider the original magical girl genre as not viable. Not only that, it may also make pitching future original anime more difficult as well. Not being a dud gave me a sigh of relief. At least I didn't kill off this genre. Previous to Madoka Magica, I made the original anime "Le Portrait de Petit Cossette." That ended without much exposure. With that experience, the popularity of this work made me really happy.
Kirara To have consequences for the entire genre, must be scary to be the creative mind behind an original anime.
Shinbo ANIPLEX's "Ano Hana (2011)" was also very successful. With the success of these types of original works, everyone will want to try making their own. This is a great trend. Besides relief, it also made me a bit self-conscious.
Kirara Success made the movie possible, so you must be very grateful?
Shinbo If we can continue this, I want to keep going. I want to discover the big direction in animation. I also want to expand the Madoka Magica franchise a bit more. For all this, I have to work hard to complete the Madoka Magica Movie. That's all.
Retranslated from a Chinese source