Interview with the co-director Shojiro Nishimi

Animationweek (AW): How was the communication with Guillaume Renard and the French team through this project as the co-director and lead animator?

Shojiro Nishimi (SN): We had wide creative freedom on how we describe and direct the animation. So, we didn’t need to discuss much about the direction. However, we Japanese creators do not have very good ideas about the cultures outside of Japan and we asked a lot about cultural aspects of the USA and France. There are some manners, customs, and climate of the region, which is very different from those of Japan, and we needed their advice. The level of censorship and what’s ok or not are different from country to country. So, it was really helpful that we could always talk with them about the cultural side of the story.

AW: How did you develop the visuals of the film?

SN: RUN [Guillaume Renard] San had so much passion and attachment to the film, and his level of expectation was very high. So it was our challenge to develop the visuals that could meet the expectation. Also, the color design of Lino and Makabe were a bit unusual in Japanese animation production, so we had to go the uncharted road to decide the direction.

We felt closely RUN San’s big love for the film, and so we tried our best to respond to it and proposed the best we could do. I remember that I was very passionate about the character development. I also tried not to be pulled too much by the descriptive style of the bande dessinée series and make sure to pursue the uniqueness of animation.

AW: Were there any differences or difficulties in directing and animating, compared to a 100% Japanese project you have worked for?

SN: I didn’t have to think of this as a French-Japanese co-production and I could work on the production just like in creating a Japanese animated film, as Ankama trusted us to create most of the scenes. I’m actually not so familiar with production flow and style outside of Japan, so instead, I focused more on making the best use of what I know as a Japanese animation creator.

AW: As the lead animator, could you please let us know if you have anything you considered carefully in particular through the film?

SN: What I kept in mind through the whole production was to make this one good entertaining film. I wanted to make the film as amusing as possible, not only in the animation aspect but also the direction. I could not know how other people would think about the film, so I made up my mind to create, at the very least, what I could truly be satisfied with.

AW: Could you please let us know your favourite scene in the film as the lead animator?

SN: My favourite scene is when Lino and Vinz escape from pursuit and end up in the Mexican cuisine. This is when Lino realizes Luna’s betrayal and becomes awakened. This scene is a turning point and various facts get revealed from here. This one scene also contains many elements, such as Lino’s complex emotions, Luna’s betrayal and the awakened Lino’s actions. His awakening has a cathartic effect, in a way.

I also think the direction went very well with the scene where Lino, Vinz, and Willy are chased by the Crocodiles in the alley. In this scene, you can see comical sequences in a critical situation, and the tension and relief are in harmony.


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AW: What message or experience did you want to deliver to the audience through this film?

SN: The message delivered by the story is RUN San’s, so I wanted to give the great experience to audience. To do that, I tried to create entertaining images and decided not to make any compromises in the direction nor the animation. My goal was to create a film that the audience would say “That was great!” after watching it. All hard work will be rewarded if audiences feel something from this movie. It was my great pleasure to work on the film with RUN San and the French team, and I hope it will be a great entertainment for everyone.

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