Megami MAGAZINE 2011-04
Interview with Yukihiro Miyamoto - Series Director of PMMM
Source: . Translated by symbv from evageeks forum.
He started with participating in the animation team of Negima!? and since then he has worked for many Shaft anime. He was the chief animator for Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and the series director for MariaHolic and Arakawa under the bridge.
Q - Miyamoto-san, it is common to see you direct the first episode for Shaft works, including PMMM
A - They call me the bullet of Shaft lol. But since the first episode usually does not get compared with other episodes, so in a way this makes it easier for me to do lol.
Q - What did you think when you first read Urobuchi-san's screenplay?
A - I just read it quickly as usual, and finished it up in one go, but before I knew it tears just came out of me. I was so moved. I did not really keep in mind it was of mahou shoujo genre but I felt that "I would really want to animate this work as my next job".
Q - Anything you insisted for your directing?
A - I think it would be the fight scenes - how to make it more detailed. From the beginning I was a person who liked to ponder about the strategy that could match the opponent's style and weakness, so I think it would be great if the interactions in the fight scene can be developed from that. For PMMM, I also used this thinking for the fight scenes, although I think they are mostly on the part that is not shown in the anime.
Q - Is there any fight scene you particularly like?
A - The fight scene in Ep.5 is the best. Sayaka and Kyoko are similar in the sense that they both are the close combat type, but I want to make them a bit different. So if you know a bit about their characteristics it may make you enjoy watching that scene better. For example, Sayaka is the speed and power type but her skill level is low. Although Kyoko is also the speed and power type, she has better skills so her attack ability is higher than Sayaka. But Sayaka has better defense ability and recovery ability, while Kyoko has low defense ability. If she takes up hits from attack she can get weak pretty quickly. In fact she is not good at defense.. Something like that.
Q - And compared with Sayaka and Kyoko, what kind of mahou shoujo is Homura?
A - The design is that as a mahou shoujo, Homura is actually weak. Urobuchi said that she is not too different from an ordinary girl. Of course after transformation she becomes stronger than a normal human, but among mahou shoujo she can be put into absolutely the weakest category. So to make up with that, she got hold of other powers and fine-tuned what she already had. In Ep.8 when she was held by Kyoko and she could not escape, you know her power did not include teleportation. When she was chasing after Sayaka's soul gem, she only skipped over time and ran ahead. She is a special type of mahou shoujo.
Q - Mami's fight scene is very innovative. Is that your idea?
A - I cannot remember who came up with it, though I have memory of saying "let's put lots of gun in the space". But at that time it was not an idea that got much favorable view. Director (Shinbo) just said "Hmmmm..." I thought he was not going to take it up. But at the end it seems the result looked quite good lol.
Q - You worked with Director Shinbo in many works. From your point of view what kind of person is he?
A - He is a monster lol. He often said something like "You are saying this given the current schedule? You know we can't make it?" Obviously what he said was right. There is never much buffer in the schedule and we are doing the work at a very tight timing. And to create something that can be satisfactory to him is quite difficult.
Q - Besides the usual scenes, the anime also has witch scenes which InuCurry are responsible for. What are the steps for the animation operation?
A - It was very chaotic lol. First, InuCurry read the scenarios and came up with various witch designs. And then we put them into the storyboard, but the witches created by InuCurry could not move like the scenario asked for. For example in the scenario there may be words like "got tied up by tentacles" but then the witch design had no tentacles. In a few episodes we had to get Urobuchi-san to come back to the scenario annd adjusted the story to match the design by InuCurry.
Q - From an animation point of view, were there specific instructions from Shinbo or InuCurry?
A - Shinbo would say something on the drawings on the layout and the situation design, like "I want here to be like this". But he did not say much about the personality of the characters. He only said "A character that killed other people cannot get happy end". As for InuCurry, they kept explaining to me about the characteristics of the witches, and I thought "wow, that's really detailed!" lol
Q - You were at the same class with InuCurry back in vocational school. Did you bring them to work in Shinbo's works?
A - When we were working on the OAD of Zetsubou Sensei, Shinbo came and wanted to change the OP. At that time I thought "Not good. It would be my turn to take this thing." I had to come up with some "scarifice offering", so I introduced InuCurry to him lol. They had already worked as a team by then and I asked Shinbo "How about asking them to do this?", and he quickly said "OK" and gave the green light, so I gave them the full responsibility of the job... At that time I already knew the style of InuCurry, so I could generally predict what kind of thing they would come up with, but the video turned out to be much crazier than expected and even Shibo shouted "wow!". From then on Shinbo took a liking of InuCurry and got them more and more involvement in his anime.
Q - What do you think of the creation activities of InuCurry?
A - When I was a student, I thought "So genius means this kind of people..." I easily came to think "they are different from me" Very talented people may always be like that, but they are also different in day-to-day behavior. Actually the same can be said for Shinbo.
Q - By the way, do you have any particular memorable character for you in PMMM?
A - It'd be Kyubei. I think it looks cute when its expression does not change. It is also squishy. This is very much the right result.
Q - And fans would react to such dark characters...
A - That can't be helped. It may be a very rational creature but there is a side of its being overly so. But I tried to go for a change and did not make it give an evil face.
Q - The story development was not quite predictable and the feedback from the watchers was very strong. What do you think of that from the production staff point of view?
A - Of course I did not think a lot about it but I was really happy to see such reactions: So many were watching it carefully. It's just that at the time Kyubei came out, that "Kitaaaaaa!" antics of reaction was a bit strange to me lol. But the most important is everyone is enjoying it.
Q - Covering the general area of animation, is there any work you want to try your hands on in future?
A - I want to work on material that has fighting with a focus on the initial design. For example something like "Since this person has this character, so she cannot move" or "The protagonist could not do anything against the enemy but when he gets angry then he could do something against it" - Works that "had things turned this way because of the initial designs". It would be fun to work on such titles. Instead of the side with strong attack strength always winning without any reason, I want something that would say "oh, there is also this way!", a development that follow through the initial designs.
Q - Do you have any policy during your animating?
A - Never to mess up with the character design or initial background design. I for one am not an animator that has very flexible mind and I am not a very personally creative type of animator either. I like to make a clear direction and then studiously follow it in my work, so I want to produce animation that is loyal to the initial design.
Q - PMMM is now approaching the climactic stage. Is there anything to watch for at this final part?
A - Kyubei is still Kyubei at the end. And personally I am happy with that.
Q&A with Gekidan Inu Curry
Translation courtesy of symbv of evageeks forum
Q1 We would like to know how you got involved in the production of “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”
A1 Quite some time ago Shaft contacted us and said something like “There is some design we would like to ask you to help soon.”
Q2 Was it decided from the very beginning that you would be responsible for the design of the witches and the bewitched space?
A2 We heard about the details such as it is a mahou shoujo anime at the same time when we received the screenplay.
Q3 Regarding the design of the witches and the bewitched space, was there anything that gave you hints for the ideas?
A3 We paid attention to make it not look so much like other mahou shoujo anime.
Q4 In order to create the witch scenes for one episode how much production time was needed?
A4 If we tried to recall that somehow we started not feeling well.
Q5 Was there any idea or design that got NG during the production?
A5 We were aware of things like some elements were left out because of the limitation of the amount of time for the fight scenes. Guess that's about all. As for things that we did not use, since they were not used we cannot quite remember them.
Q6 On the concepts over the design or settei, was there any specific request from Director Shinbo?
A6 Anyhow, make it unusual.
Q7 You have participated many works by Director Shinbo so far. From Inu-curry-san's point of view, what kind of person is Director Shinbo?
A7 A strange person. But not with the meaning like a “fushigi-chan” [symbv: fushigi-chan is used to describe a girl who thinks on her own way and behaves eccentrically – one example would be Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter.] He had his own requirements but he was not the kind who would throw an ashtray at you so it was good.
Q8 We heard that you knew Miyamoto-san, the Series Director, very well since you were students. What kind of person is Miyamoto-san?
A8 A really strange person. It may not be an exaggeration to call him a “fushigi-chan”. He is always eating something, but he never gets fat. Even during he was taking interviews with multiple people, the only picture came out would be that he usually did not speak at all and quietly kept eating by himself. But he still did not get fat. He is “Miyamoto Not Fat”. Partly as a way of showing our gratitude we would like to actively inform the world of this bit of information. “Miyamoto Not Fat”.
Q9 We would like to know what you thought when you first read the screenplay by Urobuchi-san.
A9 Since we heard it was a mahou shoujo late night anime, we thought the contents would be like once every 20 seconds you can or cannot see the underwear. It turned out to be pretty serious so it was good. Came to think of it deeper, there is no lack of cases with contents that is serious but also has underwear visible. It was just that the image we first got from reading the screenplay we did not quite see it.
Q10 Of all the designs of the witches and bewitched space that have come out up in the 8 episodes that have been aired, is there anything you particularly like?
A10 We like the mustachioed familiars in Ep.1 and 2. They may be the only ones which could be called as the most faithful and loyal servants. They're courageous.
Q11 Regarding the depiction of witches and bewitched space, there seems to be many different interpretations from fans. What do you think about such repercussions?
A11 We put care not to end up reading about them somewhere inadvertently, as we might get influenced as a result.
Q12 Any key point in the climax that Gekidan Inu-Curry-san would like to highlight?
A12 Since you ask, we guess it should be about time Madoka should also get her transformation?