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Interview With Yuri!!! on ICE Creator Sayo Yamamoto: Part 1

June 30, 2017 12:00am
by Lachlan Johnston

Sayo Yamamoto is, without a doubt, one of the most diversely talented individuals in the Japanese animation industry. She's a woman shrouded in a veil of mystery, cast simply to ensure attention is set on her work, rather than herself as an creator. Set aside a few convention appearances, Sayo Yamamoto has always been one to ensure that her own hard work does all the talking she could ever need to do herself. That's why when the unique opportunity to conduct the first ever English-language interview with Ms. Yamamoto presented itself, there was no way we would turn it down.

Even if you're not familiar with Sayo Yamamoto as a person, it's almost certain that you will be familiar with her works. From "Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine" to "Michiko and Hatchin", all the way to her more recent "Yuri!!! on ICE", it would appear that everything Sayo Yamamoto touches is destined to turn to gold. She started off at the bottom and worked her way to the top, one step at a time. Unafraid to move forward without ever looking back, Ms. Yamamoto is more than just a role model for women, she's a role model for society as a whole. Her signature style would go on to portray women as more than just side characters, but as powerful leaders that could do everything their male counterparts could and so much more.

Conducting the interview was Dai Sato -- an individual who is equal parts a collaborator and friend of Sayo Yamamoto's. In the past, the pair worked together on animated treasures such as "Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine", "Samurai Champloo", and "Space Dandy", amongst a diverse list of other titles. The interview had a distinct air to it, feeling more like a discussion between old friends than the nitty-gritty talks between publication and director. Split up into multiple-parts, you can find the first part of our interview with Sayo Yamamoto below:

Let’s talk about your latest animated series, “Yuri!!! on ICE”, and jump right into the deep-end of it. First off, in the credits there’s a section under the title of “Name (Rough Sketch)”, but what exactly entailed for this position? Both your name, as well as the established mangaka Misturo Kubo are both listed under this “Name” title, rather than the more traditional “screenplay”. Could you tell us why it is that you chose to work under this title?

Well, I originally sat down and thought about the structure and plot of the series; following this myself and Ms. Kubo worked out the details for episodes 1 - 5. From episode 6 onwards however, it was a totally different dimension (laughs). In the Grand Prix, we wanted to have at least six skaters go up against each other. The actual episode of the series ran for about 20 minutes and 10 seconds, with the actual short programs running for about 2 minutes and 50 seconds, while the free programs would run for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

When we ordered the music, we reduced the length of it to about 2 minutes. In a bid to keep all of the elements from the skating program, we had our choreographer Kenji Miyamoto make adjustments to transitions and spins so it would all fit the cut. Even then, we still had to make it shorter; this is where we decided how many minutes each character would skate, we pretty much calculated absolutely everything. Then both Ms. Kubo and I decided on the key elements we wanted to incorporate into each episode, and would write them into the plot. After all these discussions, this was the point in which Ms. Kubo would start writing the names.

When comparing a “name” to a “script”, the sketches are kind of like stage directions. It’s as if each drawing or sketch represented a different movement or scene. As a matter of fact, these “names” were the script. Try not to overthink it though, it’s essentially just the same thing as a regular script… (laughs). Given the nature of “names” however, they actually helped a whole lot when we began drawing details such as facial expressions for the characters.

Generally when an anime is created, it’s based on a pre-existing manga series or light novel, making it a little easier to work with. With “Yuri!!! on ICE” however, there was no source manga to be used as a basis. So the thought of you bringing on board a manga artist to work with you on an original anime was quite revolutionary. Where was it this idea came from?

When I first thought of the project, I was considering working together with a screenwriter, thus taking the traditional route. I quickly realized however that screenwriters are typically working on multiple projects simultaneously, so I felt as though it would be difficult to find someone who could dedicate all their time and think about figure skating as seriously as myself (laughs). Right around that time, I was avidly listening to a radio show called “All Night Nippon”, which featured both Ms. Kubo and Mineko Noumachi. Even though I was just a listener, I always thought I could probably become good friends with Ms. Kubo (laughs).

Eventually I heard her talk about figure skating on the radio, and I thought her perspective was extremely interesting. I knew she had contributed to the 2011 film “Moteki” as a screenwriter in the same “name” format we utilized. However, after doing some further research, I found out she had been writing for “Shonen Magazine” here in Japan for quite some time. It was after this discovery that I started to picture her writing scripts for a TV series. Admittedly, it was also a huge bonus to know that she was experienced in making manga based on novels as well. I had this idea that she must be accustomed to collaborating and creating various projects with others.

Were you acquainted with Ms. Kubo from the beginning?

No, not at all. I had previously made a PV for Japanese singer/songwriter Yasuyuki Okamura, and at the time Ms. Kubo was writing creating special manga boards as a bonus with Okamura’s releases. At a later point, I was invited for drinks with Mr. Okamura, and I mentioned me listening to Ms. Kubo on the radio, where he then mentioned him having her contact information (laughs). I guess you could say that my first real contact with Ms. Kubo was through this discussion with Mr. Okamura.  

“Yuri!!! on ICE” has been met with much praise internationally, and not just because of it’s figure skating theme. It features a diverse cast of foreign characters throughout the anime, and whilst that isn’t exactly very special in and of itself, it’s believed that they were drawn and animated extremely naturally. It isn’t exactly something that is done often in Japan, so was this done with a certain demographic in mind?

Actually, we weren’t thinking about a market demographic at all (laughs). It’s impossible to write about figure skating without depicting foreign characters, which is how that happened. What I always wanted to do was recreate and depict the stories of the top class skaters in each seasons final competitions. So it was kind of inevitable that the setting would take place on a global scale.

I went to the Figure Skating Championships which was held in the Czech Republic this past January and happened to see a spectator in cosplay. They were minding their own business, but I saw them in the hallways dressed like Victor. I accidentally yelled out “Wow! It’s Victor!” and they ended up hearing me, so they asked if I wanted to take a photo with them. I answered yes, and we ended up taking a picture together. I asked if they knew “Yuri!!! on ICE” and they said they knew about the show (laughs). Later on I saw the same person at the station, but this time they were dressed as Otabek… waiting and sitting there, just like Otabek would. It was really cute honestly.

It’s almost like there’s a totally different feeling when interacting with foreign fans, right?

Exactly! It wasn’t like they were jokingly going to the tournament wearing an outfit that just happened to look like cosplay either. I was completely overwhelmed with joy when I realized that people were starting to take interest in the sport of figure skating because they watched “Yuri!!! on ICE”. I’m sure you’re aware, but I’m not necessarily promoting the wearing of cosplay at figure skating tournaments. We wouldn’t want to distract the competitors, would we? (Laughs)

Since this was the first ever anime to revolve around the world of figure skating, there must have been quite a few challenges. After all, animating figure skating would appear to be an incredibly difficult process. Did MAPPA know what they were getting themselves into right from the early proposal stages of the project?

You know, there’s no real guarantee that any original anime will be a success. I realize how difficult it can be just to get a proposal through, but I thought that if I ever made something, I would just throw it out there regardless of how reckless it may seem (laughs). I believe it’s important that when proposing such an idea, you take a moment to think and verbalize as many interesting ideas as you possibly can.

As for whether or not the production staff were aware of the difficulty of the figure skating scenes, we had already given the work orders for the songs and the choreography during the series construction stage, so I’m sure they were aware. There were moments however where I was asked to reduce some aspects during production when the team were struggling to get the work done.  

How was the planning originally decided?

It was around the year 2012 when I started having these desires to make an anime about figure skating. I was previously the director for a project called “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine’, and it was during that process that I decided my next animated project would be about something I truly care about, which was of course figure skating. There were often times when people would approach me and ask if I had any original ideas, and when I would suggest a figure skating anime, they would typically reject the thought (laughs). Usually they’d simply shake their head due to the sheer difficulty of such a project. I’d also get a lot of questions regarding whether it would be a “student figure skating club”.

When talking about modern anime that share similar themes, such as “Yowamushi Pedal” and “Haikyuu!!”, it’s not often that you’ll see professionals of the sport being drawn, but I think that’s just the style of anime. With this work however, you flipped that convention on its head, and I think we all found that extremely interesting.

Thank you very much! When you’re in the process of planning an anime, you get a large amount of pressure to make the main characters young, and if the story is set in a modern time, they inevitably leads to the character being a student. I think that’s why a lot of the people who aren’t interested in figure skating thought this would be about a school club. On top of that, I feel as though people thought it would be easier to simply jump on the bandwagon of previous anime that have found success with amateur sports clubs. I also had a lot of people telling me that the series wouldn’t find success if it wasn’t based in Japan, and that nobody would follow it if the characters didn’t have Japanese names. But my usual reply was “Huh? What’s makes you think that?” (laughs).

Looking back now, I think that “Yuri!!! on Ice” was the result of me ignoring all this “advice”, and simply making an anime that I myself would enjoy watching -- the story of a character who has already matured and is taking on their final skating season, not some story about a character who is just getting started. I feel as though that would make conveying my ideal image so much more difficult. So when I shared the idea of “Yuri!!! on ICE” with everyone, people said “If you have more matches, we’d have to draw more skaters and that’d make things even more complicated!” (laughs). I couldn’t even get a nod or a “That sounds interesting.”, but I was absolutely determined to create something incredible. If I tried creating something that people would simply “like”, it’d end up being nothing but commonplace and mundane.

What kept me motivated through the whole process was the inspiration I received from actual figure skaters while watching their matches. Even when their retirement could be just around the corner, they’d continue to keep fighting and challenging themselves -- that compassion for what they loved really stuck with me. That’s why I first came up with the idea of Yuri and Victor; a skater on the edge of retirement and a world champion who becomes his coach, all while remaining both his hero and rival.

It almost seems like you were on some sort of lifelong mission to turn your passion for figure skating into an anime. Was there any particular moment that triggered this?

During the production process for “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, Japan was devastated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and then immediately after that, one of my relatives passed away. My mental state was a total disaster. Usually as a director, there’s a certain element that drives you to create something interesting based on what you’re given, but I’d lost any emotional capacity to do that. I started to think to myself that it would be impossible to pull anything great out of someone else’s idea. It was at this point I realized I needed to create something from the heart, and for me that was figure skating.

I’ve heard there’s a lot of writers and creators in the industry who are afraid to apply the things they truly like into their works.​

I hear that quite often too, the belief that you shouldn’t bring the things you like into your work. I had actually forgotten all about this, but the reason it was important for me to turn my figure skating passion into an anime was that doing anything else would have been impossible. The process of creating anime has become a really tough operation for me as of late. It was like I was creating, yet at the same time I was beating myself to death over it. My hands moved slow, and I would force myself to stay awake just in order to finish a project on time. So I thought to myself that I needed to work on a topic that I would never grow tired of, something that would keep me awake all day. Otherwise, I don’t think I could have ever made another anime, all while thinking “Someday I’m going to make something I like” (laughs).

A woman talented well beyond her years, Sayo Yamamoto is a model example of just what the Japanese animation industry needs. We continue to expand upon this in the second part of the interview which will be made available in the near future. A preview of the second part is featured in our 'Yuri!!! on ICE' film announcement piece, which was made available here.

Continue to part 2 of our interview with Sayo Yamamoto.


Special Fate/Grand Order Water-Mapping Show Coming to Tokyo

February 20, 2018 8:00pm
by Mike Tamburelli

Without a doubt, my absolute favorite thing to spring out of the advent of worlds like Fate and Kantai Collection is that you can Google any given historical figure or vessel, and there's a very high chance that your search results will be littered with dozens of cute anime girl versions of your query. 

In the case of Fate/Grand Order's take on legendary Japanese printmaker Hokusai, we're not quite at that level yet. However, the game's cute girl take on the painter does include some nifty shoutouts, such as the weapon she wields being a giant paintbrush, and her alternate outfit being very fishy -- in reference to Hokusai's "The Fisherman's Wife," perhaps the first piece of eroticism of a human being involved with an octopus ever conceived.

Of course, perhaps the best-known Hokusai ukuiyo-e style woodblock painting is "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," which is given a tasteful shoutout with the Fate character's Noble Phantasm, as seen in this article's header image.

All this newness surrounding the painter is finally coming to a head next month in Odaiba in Tokyo, where NAKED, an artistic technology company, plan to put on a unique water projection mapping display show for one night only atop the waters of Tokyo Bay. 

Fate/Grand Order's own Hokusai will gracefully paint the waves of Tokyo Bay with the actual master's own works.

Hokusai will be joined by characters Shuten Douji, Kiyohime, Musashi Miyamoto, and even Mash. A brand-new piece of collaboration artwork was released with the announcement.

Visitors are especially urged to board one of the event's special yakatabune, a traditional Japanese rowboat. Tickets are available through Lawson Ticket, for cruises leaving at 4:15, 5:00 and 5:45 pm on March 17. The tickets will set you back 16,000 yen (around $150 USD) a seat. 

As a one-day and likely one-time opportunity, I can't really think of any better way for both history buffs and Fate/Grand Order superfans to spend an evening in Odaiba. Be sure to check out their official website here.

Images: Aniplex, NAKED inc.


Taku Takahashi and DÉ DÉ MOUSE Talk Eureka Seven

February 20, 2018 6:00pm
by Mike Tamburelli

For a franchise as legendary and beloved by many as Eureka Seven, nothing less than all-out would be acceptable to commemorate the release of both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1. It's the first part of a new trilogy of films, the three of which aim to retell the classic story of the original anime series, with both updated cuts and a number of extra scenes. On top of all that is a promised brand-new ending, something we'll just have to wait until 2019 to witness. 

In commemoration of the upcoming release, Bandai Visual has called in two special guests to create a promotional discussion video, where both parties discuss the Eureka Seven series and the influence it's had.

The first round of interviews has already been made public, featuring both Taku Takahashi of m-flo and DÉ DÉ MOUSE. Taku is a self-described "Eureka Seven freak" who has been following the series from the very early days of the original anime. On the other hand,  DÉ DÉ MOUSE is a relative newcomer to the franchise, having only been immersed in Renton's world wholeheartedly with this latest movie release. This creates an interesting catalyst for discussion as the two share both of their experiences with the series.

While the videos are yet to be subtitled in English, the back and forth between the two musical contemporaries makes for quite the discussion. For many clued in on the series, Eureka Seven is a story filled to the brim with both musical and pop culture references. This is especially prevalent in areas such as Adroc Thurston's name being a play on "Ad-rock" from The Beastie Boys, or Renton's name being a homage to Mark Renton of the Trainspotting film. It was definitely clear that the two got a kick out of being able to discuss these neat little easter eggs throughout the series.

Within their discussions, there's also talk about the qualities they feel they share with main character Renton. They especially compare the overlap in musicians pursuing dreams of success, while Renton slowly but surely realizes his abilities, matures, and earns the respect of his peers. While the  Hi-Evolution films aren't remakes per se, the duo do agree that they fall more under the category of a "remix," something quite true to their musical roots. This method was compared to how J.J. Abrams chose to revive the  Star Wars universe in a new trilogy of films. By combining familiar story elements and tropes from the past, then fusing them with modern filmmaking and animation elements, the creators have achieved what can be considered a "remix" of Eureka Seven for both new audiences and diehard fans alike.

It's a fascinating discussion for sure, so here's hoping that the videos receive some official English translation.

The train doesn't stop there, however, as the next set of video interviews is slated for February 22, 2018. Just a day before the home video release, director Tomoki Kyouda, scriptwriter Dai Sato, sociologist and Wako University professor Toshiya Ueno, and anime critic Ryouta Fujitsu will all gather at Tokyo's Dommune nightclub to discuss all manner of topics surrounding Eureka Seven, its cultural impact around the world, and the new films. The individuals present for the talk, which will run from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm JST, make for a panel of guests from backgrounds you don't often see at these kinds of release events. Again, I'm hoping that this series gets some kind of official release in English too!

After the talk, there will be a special DJ set by Hiroshi Watanabe titled "Hi-Evolution 1 Special DJ Set!" As for the contents of his performance, the title certainly leaves little to the imagination. After all of this bombast for the release, I'm happy to give you all the juicy details on the various editions and formats you'll be able to get your hands on beginning February 23:

Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1 - Blu-ray Limited Edition
Price: 10,000yen + Tax
Duration: Main Disc - 98 Minutes // Bonus Disc - 178 Minutes
Main Disc Specifications: DTS-HD Master Audio(5.1ch)・Linear PCM(Stereo)/AVC/BD50G/16:9<1080p High Definition>/Japanese Subtitles(ON/OFF)
Bonus Disc Specifications: DTS-HD Master Audio(5.1ch)・Linear PCM(Stereo)/AVC/BD50G/16:9<1080p High Definition> ・Partial 16:9<1080i High Definition>/Japanese Subtitles(ON/OFF)
Main Disc Contents: Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1 Film, Film Commercial Collection
Bonus Disc Contents: Non-credit Contents (DTS-HD Master Audio5.1ch/Linear PCM2ch), Stage Greetings, Film Staff Cross Talk Movie, "Glory Days" Music Video (Anime Version), "Acperience 7" Music Video, "Get it by your hands HI-EVO MIX" Music Video, RaveSeane DJ MIX 1, RaveSean DJ MIX 2, 2 Soundtrack CDs, Booklet, Storyboard Booklet (Summer of Love part)

Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1 - Blu-ray Standard Edition
 7,000yen + Tax
Duration: 98 Minutes
Disc Specifications: DTS-HD Master Audio(5.1ch)・Linear PCM(Stereo)/AVC/BD50G/16:9<1080p High Definition>/Japanese Subtitles(ON/OFF)
Disc Contents: Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1 Film, Film Commercial Collection

Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1 - DVD Standard Edition
Price: 6,000yen + Tax
Duration: 98 Minutes
Disc Specifications: DTS(5.1ch)・Dolby Digital(Stereo)/Dual-layer Disc/16:9/ Japanese Subtitles(ON/OFF)
Disc Contents: Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution 1 Film, Film Commercial Collection

Those of you who are yet to check out the first entry into the trilogy, this is your best chance. Visually the film is an adventure from start to finish, especially with the incredible animation quality of the newer scenes. Alongside this announcement, we're happy to share that we'll be conducting an AMA session with Eureka Seven director Tomoki Kyoda in collaboration with Reddit's own /r/anime. The announcement for this can be found here.

Images: Bandai Visual


2x Gold Medalist Yuzuru Hanyu Gets 'Tokyo Ghoul' Treatment

February 20, 2018 4:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

For two-times Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, it'd be a complete and total understatement that this has been a big week. Not only did the legendary figure skater manage to secure his second gold medal during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Saturday, but he also received notable recognition from a creator he's expressed great appreciation for in the past. Uploaded to the Twitter account of Tokyo Ghoul manga creator Sui Ishida, Yuzuru Hanyu's likeness was captured in gorgeous style as he fearlessly dominated the ice.

It's undeniably been an incredible week for the 23-year-old figure skating icon, with just about every newspaper and magazine in Japan covered with his likeness. That being said, if I was in his position, I'd have to say this is a little cooler. It originally became apparent to the world that Yuzuru Hanyu was a fan of the series when he was spotted holding a Tokyo Ghoul tumbler in a joint photo with the Sailor Moon of the ice, Evgenia Medvedeva. It was also noted that in the photograph he was doing a pose similar to series protagonist Kaneki, making it all the more incredible. 

Perhaps more than ever this year, both in Japan and internationally, it felt as though more individuals had a keen eye for the ice skating performances. I'm not going to state it as a fact, but I'd dare suggest that the late-2016 animated series Yuri!!! on ICE might have just had a little to do with that. But hey, if that's the case, I'm sure it would make series creator Sayo Yamamoto happy, which is something she explicitly stated in our interview with her last year.

We wish the best of luck to the rest of the Olympians taking place in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and congratulate Yuzuru Hanyu on his much-deserved success. 


Sanrio Puroland Theme Park Introduces 'Kawaii Kabuki' Live

February 20, 2018 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Sanrio Puroland, the official home of Hello Kitty and all her fellow Sanrio friends, is getting a traditional Japanese makeover next month with the theme park starting their new 'Kawaii Kabuki' live musical show. Set to begin March 10, 2018, the live show will bring a piece of Japan's stage history to the Tama Center location in Tokyo with a special side of cute. The show will feature special costumes for all the characters and will utilize projection mapping technology to really impress attendees at the park's Meruhen Theatre. 

The stage show is set to incorporate traditional kabuki and acrobatic dance to create a memorable experience that will last about 40 minutes a session. It'll also feature characters such as Hello Kitty, Cinnamoroll, Dear Daniel, and Bad Batz Maru, with some of them pictured above. As someone who just so happens to live walking distance from Sanrio Puroland, this is definitely welcome news to me. The whole area surrounding the theme park is certainly unlike anything else in Tokyo, and I'd absolutely have to recommend checking it out.

Famed kabuki director Kensuke Yokouchi, best known for his work on Super Kabuki, is handling the script work and staging for the live show. Much like the stage works of creatives such as Shakespeare, many in Japan fall short in understanding the complexities of many kabuki performances. It's for this reason that Sanrio Puroland has opted to use the popular folk legend of Momotaro, a brave peach boy who defeats a band of marauding demons on a distant island so that audiences of all ages can follow along. 

If you're interested in checking out the show, you'll definitely want to head over to the official website for the theme park. While the show does begin March 10, it's undecided as of right now how long it will last, meaning you'll definitely want to get in while you still can. 


Cup Noodle Releases New 'Fries & Chicken Nugget' Flavor

February 20, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Since the very conception of Cup Noodles almost 60 years ago in 1958, manufacturer Nissin has constantly been looking for new ways to innovate. For some, innovation comes in the form of redesign and creation; for others, it comes in the form of 'Fried Potato & Chicken Nugget' flavored instant ramen. Today I was given the opportunity to partake in innovation, and honestly, it tastes pretty incredible. If given the chance, I'd probably go as far as to recommend you try this weird and wonderful flavor -- if you dare. 

For a Cup Noodle brand as easily identifiable as Nissin, you eventually reach the point where you have to do some pretty weird things to stay on top. Between their ridiculous 'Milk Seafood' flavor they released in 2017, the announcement that they would henceforward refer to their topping as 'Mystery Meat,' and the gorgeous animated ads the company produces, there's definitely a growing library of strange. Frequent OTAQUEST collaborator The Canipa Effect was even so wowed by some of the things the company had done in the anime department that he made a whole video about it:

Back to the topic at hand, however, Nissin Cup Noodle's latest 'Fried Potato & Chicken Nugget' flavor combination is an absolute fever dream. I'm a lazy boy, meaning there are basically three major food groups for me: instant noodles, fries, and chicken nuggets. This combines the three of those in an oddly coherent method, and I'm all for it.

The noodles use a black pepper soy sauce seasoning packet, with both small potato pieces and chicken nugget 'mystery meat' rests atop. Cook it up and you're given what's essentially boiled potato and chicken nuggets -- if you'd really call it that. Apart from that, however, it's basically your standard Cup Noodle affair, something else I'm totally cool with. If you're in the Japan area anytime soon and are dying to try these, I managed to find mine at a local Family Mart, making the restock process easy once I realized how much they ruled.

If Cup Noodle is your thing, you'll probably want to check out the official website. Following that, the Cup Noodle Twitter account absolutely slaps and is definitely worth checking out too.


Legendary Ghibli Composer Joe Hisaishi Talks 'Ni No Kuni II'

February 19, 2018 9:00pm
by Mike Tamburelli

It seems we've been waiting an eternity for the release of Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom. The sequel to one of my favorite RPGs of all time, the game has already been delayed multiple times having finally settled on the current simultaneous release date of March 23. No worry -- the extra time for polish will certainly only make it a much more worthy follow-up. With the first title, in addition to the action-RPG, monster-collection-focused gameplay, the audio and visual experience that the game offered was enough to practically move me to tears. The artistic direction for the title came from the creative minds at Studio Ghibli, who have said that they approached this game just like they would have approached one of their films. 

One of my absolute favorite aspects of the first title was the musical score by Joe Hisaishi, famed composer known for his personal and artistic bond with legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki. And while Studio Ghibli in its previous form is not associated with this sequel, many of the creative minds from the original have returned.

Similar to the previous behind-the-scenes video featuring character designer Yoshiyuki Momose, composer Joe Hisaishi gives us a rather personal inside look at the creation process for the game's score. Check it out below.

Joe Hisaishi creates music that goes beyond what is expected in gaming. The music used in the battle scenes is unlike anything you've seen in other RPGs. - Akihiro Hino, General Director

The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra has done an incredible job of bringing this world to life it seems, and I am super happy that Joe Hisaishi has been able to transcend any and all medium to deliver a superb and emotionally charged score every time. 

Images: ​Level-5 Games, Bandai Namco Entertainment


Signal.MD Remarks on Recovery of an MMO Junkie's Director

February 19, 2018 8:00pm
by Mike Tamburelli

At the beginning of the month, it came to light that a freelance anime director who handled directorial duties for studio Signal.MD's adaptation of Rin Kokuyo's Recovery of an MMO Junkie manga has been both posting and "liking" anti-Semitic content on his public Twitter account. Kazuyoshi Yaginuma, who posts under the handle @yaginuma_san on the platform, has consistently harbored the content on his account since joining in 2011.


A few things are clear after this event. Namely, that there is clearly no language barrier preventing Yaginuma's full understanding of the things he's sharing. He's gone on to discuss his views with other users who have taken to tweeting directly at him and often does so in both English and Japanese. In addition, he's shown no signs of backing down or apologizing for his remarks since this all came to light, and it almost appears as if he's doubling down on it.

This is all very troubling, and I can't imagine that the freelance director will be scoring any big jobs anytime soon, especially if the language in a recent news release from the studio that produced and animated  Recovery of an MMO Junkie is to be taken to heart:

Statement by SIGNAL MD concerning Tweets under the name of whom the director of “Recovery of an MMO Junkie”

It has come to our attention that a series of Tweets under the handle, @yaginuma_san, apparently made by Mr. Kazuyoshi Yaginuma have included anti-Semitic comments. SIGNAL MD wishes to make it clear that it is strongly opposed to and deprecates anti-Semitism and all forms of racism or discrimination.

Mr. Yaginuma was director of the anime “Recovery of an MMO Junkie” produced by SIGNAL MD, has never been our company member and is no longer employed by us.

Assuming the comments which appear under the Twitter handle @yaginuma_san, were indeed made by Mr. Yaginuma, they are not linked to his role as director of “Recovery of an MMO Junkie” and are not supported by SIGNAL MD.

We will continue to create works that are moving and enjoyable, with the philosophy of giving excitement to many viewers and working to create works that satisfy our clients.

Thank you for your support and understanding.


Additionally, it's also worth mentioning that Crunchyroll parent company Elation has also shared a statement regarding the actions of Kazuyoshi Yaginuma. This is particularly noteworthy as not only were Crunchyroll responsible for streaming the anime internationally, but they were also a member of the anime's production committee. Their statement can be found below:
Again, I think that it's worth mentioning that Kazuyoshi Yaginuma is a freelance director, and Recovery of an MMO Junkie originated as a manga by Rin Kokuyo. This news has certainly been the catalyst for much debate in the department of "separating the art from the artist," as the anime was generally seen as a good-hearted and wholesome attempt to characterize video game addiction, without even a hint of the ugliness we've since learned about. For those who are able to love the show and the original property without letting this taint it -- great, I think it stands on many, many of its other merits. For those who cannot bear to do so any longer, I think that is perfectly understandable.

Images: Signal.MD, Rin Kokuyo, Media Factory