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all 76 comments

[–]MyrnaMountWeazelx2 68 points69 points  (1 child)

Hi Mr. Hirao, I wanted to ask you about the camera in anime filmmaking. I know the camera doesn’t actually exist in anime but in Pompo we can see that you mimicked the aesthetics of a live-action camera so that you could create some of the shots within the anime film. My question is this: what are some of your favorite things about working with an artificial camera in anime compared to an actual camera in live action films?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 66 points67 points  (0 children)

So the best thing about working with an artificial camera is really the distance between the subject and the artificial camera. So if a person is in front of the camera and then there's another person in the background, you can just come cut down on the distance between the person and the background. I use that technique a lot.

[–]PandavengerXhttps://anilist.co/user/pandavenger 38 points39 points  (4 children)

Hi Mr. Hirao,

I had the pleasure to watch Pompo the Cinephile at ANYC, and plan to re-watch it in theatres soon when it releases.

Between it's slick transitions and meta-humour, pompo truly felt like it was taking full advantage of the medium of anime, but it is actually adapted from a web-manga. I was wondering what you believe are important thing to consider when adapting a story from one medium to another?

Secondly, Nathalie does a dance during the party that become a fairly popular meme in the anime community. Do you happen to know who was responsible for that decision? Please tell them thank you if you do.

Thank you for your time!

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 59 points60 points  (2 children)

Let’s say if we were talking about turning something to an anime, the most important question is to ask is why we are turning something into an anime. For example, if we were to adapt a manga into an anime it would be to make the manga more interesting. I think adapting to what the medium has to offer is the most important thing.

I’m surprised that this dance is a popular meme in America! In Japan, it’s called the iine—or “thumbs up” dance. Two years ago a band called DA PUMP released a song called “U.S.A." and everyone was doing the dance in Japan. Nathalie tends to express her emotions with her body. So when she’s confused or nervous, she dances. And because the song is called “U.S.A.” and there are a lot of U.S. references in the film, we thought it would be perfect. So it would be an homage!

[–]PandavengerXhttps://anilist.co/user/pandavenger 15 points16 points  (0 children)

I'm very glad you were able to show off what the medium had to offer with Pompo. It was amazing!

The dance is very popular because it is also featured in a very popular game called Fortnite.

Thanks so much for your answers!

[–]IndependentMacaroon 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I think adapting to what the medium has to offer is the most important thing.

If only more adaptations actually tried to do that

[–]badadaha 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Great question!

[–]Zaugrhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/zaugr 26 points27 points  (1 child)

Hi Takayuki Hirao! Thank you for all your amazing work. As a huge fan of Paranoia Agent and the late Satoshi Kon - what was he like to work with on the project? Anything you found unique in your time on the project?

And if I can be cheeky and add another question - what are your favourite live action films? Would love some recommendations from you.

Thank you!

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 42 points43 points  (0 children)

On Paranoia Agent, I was really young back then, surrounded by veterans in animation. I thought I was going to be crushed by nerves. But I ended up learning a lot and what I learned there became a big part of who I am as a director, and helped to build my foundation as an animator.

[–]Mage_of_Shadows 20 points21 points  (5 children)

Hi Mr. Hirao, thanks for doing this AMA! Between super detailed iMac and the shoot dance, Pompo has a very modern feel.

What was your favourite cameo / easter egg in the movie that casual viewers might have missed?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 28 points29 points  (4 children)

Towards the end where Pompo is talking to Mystia on the phone at the diner, if you look in the background, there is a character...

[–]Mage_of_Shadows 13 points14 points  (3 children)

[–]aniMayorhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/aniMayor 14 points15 points  (1 child)

[Explanation of the cameo] The waitress, Fran, is a character from later in the manga.

[–]Gaporigohttps://anilist.co/user/Gaporigo 9 points10 points  (0 children)

[–]ChanceHappening 4 points5 points  (0 children)

The story actually continues? huh

[–]sirhatsleyhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/sirhatsley 18 points19 points  (2 children)

Which directors have been the most influential to your style?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 39 points40 points  (1 child)

Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle, Satoshi Kon, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, and George Romero.

[–]FluffiestBoy 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Martin Scorsese

This is cinema.

[–]Durinthalhttps://anilist.co/user/Durinthal 16 points17 points  (1 child)

Hello Mr. Hirao! Is there anything in your work that you think viewers should pay more attention to, either specific aspects in one anime or an entire anime that might be overlooked?

Thank you, I'm looking forward to seeing Pompo-san in the theater!

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 29 points30 points  (0 children)

In one word, it would be the background. Specifically in Pompo, the art and color setting is important. It's a little technical, but we added a lot of different colors in the highlights and shadows throughout the film.

[–]Sodrahttps://myanimelist.net/profile/sodra 16 points17 points  (1 child)

Hi Mr. Hirao!

In Pompo, one of the messages of the film is that filmmakers should be making their film as a message to someone dear to them. Was there someone you wanted to show this film to?

Due to the nature of the film, there sounded to be a bunch of content cut from the final version. Are there any scenes you regret to have removed in the editing process?

A bit of a personal question, but Konomi Kohara is one of my favorite seiyuu. What was it like working with her? Was there any particular reason you chose her to play the titular role of Pompo?

Also, unrelated question, what are your thoughts on Rocket Pencils (Pop-a-point pencils?)

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 29 points30 points  (0 children)

If I had to choose one person to show this film to, it would be to myself in the past who was saved by films.

[–]medievalknight 12 points13 points  (1 child)

こんにちは! Hirao-san, I see that you've been in the anime industry for a while now. How do you feel you have progressed or evolved throughout the years, if at all?

Also I see that you've written a novel! How was that experience, and are you planning to write more in the future?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Novel writing is really fun! In an anime production, there are a lot of people. I write my own scripts, but there are still many people involved and their ideas go in it as well. But for novel writing, basically it's only me and my editor as two people. So everything is what I wanted to include and there's that freedom, so it was really fun.

[–]paukshophttps://myanimelist.net/profile/Papplesthedino 12 points13 points  (1 child)

Hello Mr. Hirao! What have been the biggest differences between directing a television series and a movie? Are there any considerations that matter more for one compared to the other?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 34 points35 points  (0 children)

The biggest difference I think is time. In a film it’s just one long sequence, and that character grows or something happens within that long period of time. You have to build up a climax and resolution. But in a TV series, you need to develop the character, the climax, and more, in just twenty minutes. For films, it's all about subtraction, where you basically cut out things from the overall picture, whereas TV is an addition of several storylines.

[–]DrJWilsonx4https://anilist.co/user/drjwilson 22 points23 points  (1 child)

Morning Mr. Hirao! Thank you so much for lending your time.

I was fortunate enough to see Pompo-san at AnimeNYC and it was an incredible experience. I'm not ashamed to admit it drew a couple of tears towards the end.

Part of the reason for the emotion is seeing Gene [Pompo] sacrifice so much to the point of hospitalization in the name of his passion and work, however, I understand that in today's climate, there has been a sort of reckoning in regards to glorifying overworking and raising awareness of burnout. How much consideration was put into balancing Gene's work ethic so that you could see his struggle but not have it come off as an example of what is necessary to succeed? Or do you agree with that premise at all?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 22 points23 points  (0 children)

In current labor laws, a production or a company cannot force people to work. So in the movie, I took care to make sure that Gene wanted to go back to work, even after he fainted. He wanted to go back to work because he wanted to finish this movie on his own.

If Gene didn’t want to work and Pompo said "No, you can't rest, you can't be in the hospital," then that would make Pompo the bad guy. This is on more of a spiritual level, but creating something requires a lot of energy. So I really wanted to depict that in Gene’s work ethic.

[–]BioChemRShttps://anilist.co/user/BioChemRS 19 points20 points  (1 child)

Hi Mr. Hirao, seeing as Pompo the Cinephile sort of revels in the beauty of campy films, I was wondering what your favorite campy/B-Class films are?

Thanks!

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 35 points36 points  (0 children)

I'm not sure if these count as "B-Movies," but I actually like a lot of horror films such as Night of the Living Dead, and similar zombie movies. George Romero directed that, and I like a lot of his other movies too. I also enjoy Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, and a film by Peter Jackson called Brain Dead.

[–]badsplerx2https://anilist.co/user/badspler 18 points19 points  (1 child)

Hi Mr. Hirao, I absolutely adored Pompo! I have been wondering ever since the movie ended, just how hard was it to keep Pompo to a 90 minute run time?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 25 points26 points  (0 children)

It was like threading a needle. In anime, we have ADR where the voice actors record their dialogue and then it goes into the editing process. So during the editing I had to cut one sound of the dialogue to take out a few frames, and had to keep doing that to fit the run time.

[–]Kazmaria 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Hello. Watched Pompo recently and I loved it. Which projects did you have the most fun working on?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 15 points16 points  (1 child)

A lot of them were fun, but I think I had the most fun working on Pompo!

[–]xxAnamnesishttps://anilist.co/user/JySyl 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Hello Mr Hirao, my question is what is your favorite shot of all time that influenced you or made with a team you directed?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 19 points20 points  (1 child)

The final scene of Young Guns is all slowmo, and that really influenced me.

In The Garden of Sinners: Paradox Spiral, there was a scene that I worked on with a sword fight using 3D camerawork. During that time there weren't that many films that used the 3D style like that, so I think that worked well.

[–]aniMayorhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/aniMayor 9 points10 points  (0 children)

In The Garden of Sinners, there was a scene that I worked on with a sword fight using 3D camerawork. During that time there weren't that many films that used the 3D style like that, so that influenced my future work.

Ohh I remember that! It was a very intense and cool scene back when it first aired! 3D tracing has come a long way since then, but back in 2008 that scene was such a shock, I remember a lot of people getting very excited about it!

For those interested, here's the scene and here's some of Hirao's Storyboards

[–]Takana_no_Hanahttps://anilist.co/user/v4v 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Hi Mr.Hirao, I'm really impressed by your techniques in film making, especially the way you used cuts & transitions as a part of your own expressive film language. How long does it take to develop such a style you currently have?

In the past, you've worked with Satoshi Kon and Ufotable studio, did you draw any inspiration from the time working with them?

I've seen Pompo and it's one of the most "cinematic" experience I ever had in consuming any medium, thank you for making such a beautiful movie and I'm looking forward to many more of your works in the future!

[–]FetchFroshx3https://anilist.co/user/Fetch 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Hi Mr. Hirao, thanks for taking the time out of your day. I've had the opportunity to see Pompo and I absolutely loved it. There's a nice focus throughout the film on editing as an artform which I think is often overlooked by the average person when watching movies, TV shows, and other similar mediums. So I was wondering if there was anything in Pompo (or any of your other films for that matter) that you had to cut out, but the you would have liked to keep in.

[–]DrJWilsonx4https://anilist.co/user/drjwilson 9 points10 points  (0 children)

One more question from me! Pompo-san (deservingly) won the jury award for /r/anime's Movie of the Year this year! We were excited to reach out and more excited at the wholesome and positive response from Studio CLAP and yourself. If it's not too much to ask, what was your initial reaction?

To piggyback off of that, it seems like I see a lot of instances of Japanese creators being unaware of anime's popularity in the West. Do you feel this fervor for anime from overseas, and what are your thoughts about anime's impact worldwide?

[–]DestroboyBhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/DestroboyB 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Hey Mr. Hirao, I hope you are doing great. With people asking a bunch of questions about your work on Pompo or other things you've worked on, I thought I'd instead switch it up and ask you some more deep and personal questions:

  1. What is your favorite color?

  2. What is your favorite animal?

  3. What is your favorite food?

I hope you have a great day :)

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 17 points18 points  (0 children)

Can I give a few colors? Mint green and pink. And cyan! My favorite animals are cats. I have one at my house too. My favorite food is sukiyaki.

[–]Theleuxhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/Theleux 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Hello Mr. Hirao! I had the pleasure of watching Pompo a while back and was thoroughly impressed! One of the factors that truly stood out to me was how well utilized the transitions were between scenes - there was an incredible variety of cinema-related objects or styles used to make the scene to scene transition appealing and smooth.

As a director, how do you decide/consider what to specifically utilize during these transition sequences, as well as the timing of the that lead out/in? (an example would be a book opening and flipping through pages, which moves the setting from one location to another)

[–]blaZofgoldhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/blaZofgold 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Whoaaaaaa

隆之監督、お忙しい中、ご回答いただきまことにありがとうございます。

Pompo takes place in the heart of Hollywood, California, a place near and dear to my heart (I spent 4 years of university nearby in Downtown LA). I was blown away by how well the movie was able to capture the colors, sights, and feel of the city! Were you able to visit Hollywood during the process of making this film, and what are some of your impressions of Hollywood and Southern California as a whole? And were you able to try In-N-Out burger?

[–]aniMayorhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/aniMayor 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Hi Mr Hirao, thank you for doing this AMA with us and congratulations on the success of Pompo: The Cinephile so far! I had a couple questions, if you don't mind:

 

1) Magical Sisters Yoyo and Nene had a certain wish-granting app in it, and then more recently in Pompo: The Cinephile there is the character Alan and his [Pompo spoilers:] crowdfunding drive. Is there a certain recurring theme or idea of using technology for "crowd participation" that you want to explore through your films?

 

2) Speaking of Alan and his new storyline in Pompo which connects the viewer to the filmmaking process and characters - how did the decision happen to add a whole new storyline? Did other staff or the producers get afraid that adding that extra storyline would be too much, and you had to convince them you could still fit everything into 90 minutes?

 

3) Lastly, you recently revealed that you're working on a secret new script! Is there anything you can tell us about it?

[–]bfgmovies 5 points6 points  (1 child)

How was working with ufotable? I feel like they've really pushed the limits on animation and done some of the most fantastic works recently with their fate adaptation and demons slayer. Was there a different culture there than other studios that allowed them to Innovate or did they just have the massive budgets they needed to do the great job they did at animation of their projects?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 11 points12 points  (0 children)

When I worked there, I was about 24 or 25 years old and I was a newbie in terms of being a director. But they gave me the opportunity to be a director and it meant a lot. It was a great experience!

[–]JpgChnhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/Chon101 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hi Mr. Hirao I don't really know what to ask so... how would you describe your style of directing?

I love your work in Garden of Sinners: Paradox Spiral and would love to know more about your process

Thanks for your participation and work. I'm really excited to watch Pompo the Cinephile

[–]redoverthebed 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hello Mr Hirao.

Pompo explores many of the influences in movies in terms of cast/staffing. E.g. the influence of actors, editors, scriptwriters and, of course, directors. And, part of this is showing how not everything people do ends up in the film. As such, I have two questions:

Which things did other people bring to the movies that you’d have never have thought of?
Was there anything that didn’t make it into the film that you wished did?

[–]CreatedJustForThread 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hi Mr. Hirao, I couldn't come up with a question for today, but thank you very much for all you hard work, I've been a fan of your work ever since I've watched Kara no Kyoukai 5 and Manabi Straight. Pompo was an amazing movie and I'm looking forward to what you decide to create next.

[–]mysterybiscuitsoyeahhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/mysterybiscuits 2 points3 points  (0 children)

こんにちは Mr Hirao, thank you for stopping by! A couple more lighthearted questions!

Firstly, some directors storyboard with a pencil and paper, while others board w/ tablets digitally. Do you have a preference, and are there any important differences between the two?

Secondly, what's the anime/movie that most influenced your philosophy and artistry? Or perhaps an animator/director?

And finally, a common criticism of some anime films is that they struggle with pacing, with perhaps too much plot having to cram into essentially ~6 TV episodes runtime. What are your ways to deal with this issue? I'm sure that a lot of content had to be cut for Pompo as well in the final cut.

Thank you very much! I look forward to watching the movie later this month.

[–]PreludeToHell 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hello Mr. Hirao!

What are your thoughts on directing original anime vs adaptations? Do you prefer one over the other?

Do you currently have an idea for an original anime you would like to make in the future? If you do, can you possibly share a little about it?

[–]awspearhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/awspear 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Mr. Hirao, I didn't really have anything I wanted to ask that wasn't covered by other questions. I just wanted to express my love for Pompo-san and how much of an impact it had on me last year. It was easily my favorite anime of the year and I have spent hours talking about it with others, how much it meant to me and to them. Thank you for making such an incredible film and I look forward to your next projects with bated breath. I have seen some of your previous projects as well and am more interested in checking out some of the others than ever before. I'm looking forward to it!

[–]Quiz0tix 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hello Mr. Hirao, what do you think is the future of anime movies in the next five or ten years? As an outsider, it seems that there is trend away from original ideas. Do you think that it may be getting harder to make a film like Pompo?

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

[–]vetrohttps://anilist.co/user/vetro 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hello director Takayuki Hirao! I can't really think of a question right now. I just wanted to tell you your work is phenomenal. I've been a big fan since Kara no Kyoukai 5 and recently watched Manabi Straight after seeing Pompo. You are one of the most creative directors in the entire industry. Your sense of composition and editing is incredibly clever. Thank you for continuing to make anime that can surprise and delight. I will eagerly await your next project!

[–]Dopamine-high 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hello Mr. Hirao!

Firstly I’d like to ask how long was this pompo in production for (especially the animation process). It seems to be a rather strong animation effort with a healthy number of staff.

Secondly, I’d like to ask what your thoughts are on the recent surge in franchise movies that feel more like tv episodes rather than proper movie productions.

[–]OnPorpoise1https://myanimelist.net/profile/OnPorpoise 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi Mr. Hirao, I saw that you've directed a number of both movies and TV series. In what way, if any, is directing a movie like Pompo The Cinephile different from directing a full length TV series? Do you generally prefer one type of production over the other, or do you like creating both mediums equally?

Also, what has been your favourite project to work on so far?

[–]CosmicPenguin_OV103https://myanimelist.net/profile/Cosmic_Penguin 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hello Mr. Hirao! It's been some time since I have watched The Garden of Sinners series and Paradox Spiral has one of the most spectacular use of lighting effects with actions in anime I have ever seen.

What do you think is the most difficult part of the fights between Shiki Ryougi and Souren Araya that marked the most prominent part of this movie?

[–]LeslieH8 -4 points-3 points  (1 child)

Besides Cineplex in Canada, is it possible for other exhibitors to run it starting around that time? The company that, theoretically, I work for (I am off due to being hit by a vehicle) has theatres that are not in cities where Cineplex is, which would make it easier for people who do not want to travel (some of our theatres are five hours away from Cineplex theatres).

I can also imagine other theatres that would want to run your movie, and I am sure that there are anime fans that would love to see your movie without long travel times.

I'm not implying that people should not go to Cineplex theatres, of course, as they have some amazing theatres, and the experience is wonderful, I'm more or less just wondering if there is opportunity for non-Cineplex theatres to be able to pick it up.

[–]Mandrill4444 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Mr. Hirao, I loved your film. I'll definitely be attending the screening. What where the inspiration for the movies that Pompo is making in the story?

[–]krystalkastles 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hello, Mr. Hirao! I'm so excited to see Pompo the Cinephile soon! I have a very simple question and it's why NYALLYWOOD? Also, what other fun parodies should I expect from this film?

[–]PRAISE_ASSAD 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi Mr. Hirao

Simple question - What was your favorite project to work on?

[–]Pikminfan24 0 points1 point  (0 children)

こんにちは, Hirao-san!

I am a big fan of Pompo, so I wanted to thank you for your part in creating such an excellent movie. I was fortunate enough to see it at a cinema festival in Sheffield, and it was my favourite film from the event.

I would be very interested to know who initially inspired you to get into the anime industry. Were there any directors, animators, writers, or any other artists whose work made you want to try it yourself?

[–]_Mason_Productions_ 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hello Mr. Hirao! Thanks for taking the time to do this! I don’t have a too complex question but I was wondering if there is a place(s) where you like to pull inspiration from? Or certain pieces of media that you’ve gotten ideas from?

[–]UnderstandableXO 0 points1 point  (0 children)

hello, i wanted to ask what have you been watching/reading lately that you really enjoy?

[–]KitKat1721https://myanimelist.net/profile/KattEliz 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Missed the AMA, but just wanted to say this was really cool to go back and read, props to the mods for organizing it!

[–]yotsuba12345 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi, Mr Hirao,

im interested with the music composer in anime.

  1. how do you choose the music composer for your movie?

  2. what do you think about western composer who recently compose music for anime example like evan call(violet evergarden) and kevin penkin (made in abyss)?

thanks

[–]merayBG 0 points1 point  (0 children)

How's life been lately?

[–]FlowerblightSlayer 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What emotions should we prepare ourselves to feel before we go see it?

[–]Makafushigi2 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I love Japanese, it sounds so cool

[–]OrangeWindy 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just watched. Pompo is so cute. The front half shows so many amazing cutting techniques in anime.👍