Gianism – Takayuki Inagaki Part 1

April 28, 2012

After three grueling weeks, my copy of Gianism Vol. 2 FINALLY arrived.  A full 90 pages (almost half the magazine!) is devoted to Muv-Luv.  I’ll be translating the interviews with director Takayuki Inagaki and original creator Kouki Yoshimune.  I’ve decided to translate the whole Inagaki interview, breaking it up into two posts.  The Yoshimune interview is over twice as long, so I’ll probably just translate the most interesting parts for that one.

Q: First off, how did you became the director for Total Eclipse?

A: I had already played the game Muv-Luv in my spare time.  I also read the novel Total Eclipse as it was serialized in Tech Gian.  And so, since I work in the anime industry, when I wasn’t busy I would tell a producer I knew “Let’s make an anime of Age’s works!”  And then one day, by coincidence a friend of mine was transferred to the company managing the Muv-Luv copyright, and he told me “We’re moving forward with making an anime of Total Eclipse, so do you want to direct it?”  The Muv-Luv world is very large, and the setting is very detailed, so perhaps I got the job because they felt that somebody who didn’t know that world well would have a hard time as director.

Q: What did you think when you first played Muv-Luv?

A: Even though it starts out as a love game, when it gets into Unlimited these TSFs start appearing, and I was really surprised (laughs).  But I like time paradox stories, and I like mechs and beautiful girls, so I really got hooked on Muv-Luv since it has all of these.  But it sure was a long wait until Alternative came out (laughs).

Q: It was about three years between Muv-Luv and Alternative.

A: But I was a fan of Age since their debut work Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu, and I had played all of their games.  So even though I was thinking “Hurry up and release Alternative!”, I knew it takes a long time for Age to release their games, so I was used to waiting (laughs).

Q: What did you think when you played Alternative?

A: I remember not sleeping (laughs).  It was very long, and every time thought it was going to end, it never did.  It was tough to find a good spot to quit and take a break, so I finally thought, “If that’s the way it’s going to be, I’ll just keep going to the end!” (laughs).

Q: What did you think when you read the Total Eclipse novels?

A: Compared to Alternative, it seems like a simpler story, but I liked it too.  Alternative threw around ideas like parallel worlds and you had to read a lot to understand it, but Total Eclipse is more focused on the mechs, and it’s easier to read.  Also, during its serialization, Volks’ TSF action figures were also brought up a lot.  At first I didn’t bother to pick them up, but it seems they became very popular, so I thought it was pretty amazing that everybody was spending so much money on them (laughs).  I think there were some that you could only buy at certain events.  Lately, they’ve been putting out more variations, like plastic models and Revoltechs, so they’ve become easier to buy, and I finally started buying them myself (laughs).

Q: Did you particularly like the TSFs in the series?

A: I started out as an artist, and I loved doing the animation for mechs, so I was thrilled to see mechs appear in Muv-Luv.  TSFs are based on fighter aircraft, and I’m a huge fan of fighter aircraft as well, so I got a big kick out of seeing which TSF designs were based on which aircraft.  It’s the same feeling as when I first saw the Valkyries from Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which were based on the F-14 Tomcat.  I love seeing things like how the TSF jump units are modeled after the original aircraft’s designs.  The Total Eclipse novels include passages like “the Pratt & Whitney engine”, with lots of detailed setting descriptions, so I knew that somebody who really loves aircraft must be involved with this, and I really looked forward to each chapter (laughs).  The book “Integral Works”, with its collection of setting descriptions, is so huge.  Even the anime staff would tell me “Reading this is hard work!”  I’m amazed they managed to put together so many descriptions of the background setting (laughs).

Q: How are you depicting the TSFs in the anime?

A: The TSFs are being drawn in 3D CG.  We’re still creating the modeling data and going through tests, so we haven’t really started doing the final animations yet, but Satelight is handling the animation.  They did a lot of works with 3D CG like Genesis of Aquarion, so I’m confident that they will be able to make it as we are imagining it.  Also, Tech Gian and Hobby Japan run a lot of pictures of the action figures depicting fights between TSFs, so we’re referencing those to make our battle scenes as well.

Q: Are you designing the anime TSFs to be able to move easily?

A: We adjusted the design balance so that the polygons won’t interfere with other parts when they move.  However, as much as possible we tried to replicate the movements of the TSFs as they are portrayed in the original work, so I’m sure it won’t disappoint fans of the original.  We’ve included many of the dogfight-like movements described in the original, like the “Kukri Knife”, and I’d also like to include things like being able to fire the guns on the back as well as the ones in both hands for a 4-way attack.  One major headache is the way every country’s TSFs have different varieties, so completing the 3D CG for all of them will be tough, but we’ll be relying Satelight’s strength for that (laughs).

Q: What are you paying special attention to in the battle scenes?

A: I feel that in today’s anime, the trend is to stage scenes like the Transformers live-action film, where the movements are too quick and don’t remain in your memory.  I want to make something more like the Gundam vs. Gouf scene from Mobile Suit Gundam, which really remains in the memory of the people who watched it.

Q: In the old robot anime, they couldn’t show the robots moving very much, so they often directed the scenes that way instead.

A: Since techniques have improved so much now, CG itself is easy to move around, and it’s true that at first glance it looks cool to have everything moving, but that kind of direction easily fades from your memory.  When you watch films like Transformers or Starship Troopers, the first impression is really strong, but it feels like the fun of the battle scenes gets diluted.  But images like the fight scenes in Gundam, or the firing of the Wave Motion Gun in Space Battleship Yamato, leave an incredibly strong impact on you.  That kind of lasting scene gets passed down through different generations.  Those are the kinds of scenes I want to make in Total Eclipse.  But, having said all that, of course it’s not like there won’t be any movement at all; when they move, we’ll put all our efforts into making them move.  I want to make sure we capture that balance.