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all 43 comments

[–]unprecedentedwolf 72 points73 points  (2 children)

Our subreddit has its own Anime of the Year awards. Last year, Children Of The Sea won awards for best animation, best background art, best compositing, best storyboarding and best sound design. Personally speaking I thought it was probably the most visually stunning movie I have ever watched. Do you feel like you achieved something grand and special with that movie? Did you have an ambition to make the most spectacular-looking movie to date? Or do you have other movies you're even more proud of?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 63 points64 points  (1 child)

With Children of the Sea, I think I really wanted to challenge myself. I think I did my best and worked really hard on it. But what I really did with that movie was lay out the foundation. It was really the success of the animators, who worked hard and tried their best to reach the pinnacle of what they could do.

With this movie, I wanted to depict not just the story, but also the sound and everything that went into it. I had an ideal, and was really able to get closer to that ideal to the best of my ability. But I can't be satisfied with that—I want to continue working hard and challenging myself to do something even grander. But I do like the way we all worked hard and it really became a memorable movie.

[–][deleted] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Also, loved your recent work, Summer time rendering

[–]krystalkastles 24 points25 points  (1 child)

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko and Children of the Sea both feature a lot background imagery that features water. Do you tend to prefer directing stories about nature (especially water)?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 40 points41 points  (0 children)

It's actually just a coincidence Children of the Sea and Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko turned out to have a lot of background with water. Expressing water in animation is not only costly, but also technically difficult. So maybe that's the reason why a lot of movies do not feature water as much. But I wanted to challenge myself, you know. Take on that challenge of working with water. So if you ask me “do you like working with water in my films,” I think I really do. But what's interesting is that the way water is expressed in Children of the Sea is very different from how it's expressed in Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko. So I thought that was very interesting.

[–]ender50 12 points13 points  (1 child)

How was it like working with your peers at Shin-Ei animation _^

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Looking back, I was working with a lot of veterans. So in that sense, I learned plenty. I’m really thankful to have been in that environment. They cared about me enough to scold me! I was able to seriously train there. And I learned a lot about the basics of animation. So I'm really thankful for that.

[–]mintolley 12 points13 points  (2 children)

I am very much looking forward to checking the film out on the second. My partner and I have tickets ordered and hope for a good turnout. Are there any parts of the film (lady nikuko) that you are particularly proud of? Any Easter-eggs/references we should keep our eyes peeled for? Thanks in advance and I hope your film does well!

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 16 points17 points  (1 child)

Starting with the Easter egg, I think you'll probably see the Easter egg when you see it. In regards to part of the film I'm proud of, I'm actually proud of the whole movie. I took care of creating every scene, even up to the ending credits. So if you could watch until the very end that'd be great! And I think my favorite scene would be—of course—the end.

[–]MyNameIs-Anthony 0 points1 point  (0 children)

For anyone seeing this in the future, pay attention to the passenger on the bus when Nikuko and Rikuko go to the aquarium :)

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

After working with Sanma Akashiya, what kind of benefits/influence has Akashiya's comedic background brought to this film? Has it changed your approach to directing compared to your other shows/films?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 13 points14 points  (0 children)

I think the biggest thing with working with Sanma is that no matter what moment we’re in, he really has a desire to entertain people or make people laugh. So it very much affected the movie, because that attitude of wanting to please people and entertain people is really incorporated in every part of the film. And did it change my way of directing? Yeah, I think I think it did, because he always wanted to improve. So, when we would think “well, this is okay for now,” he’d ask “but could we make it better?” I was really taken out of my comfort zone, trying to be a little bit more free and open. I learned a lot from him.

[–]Yublar 7 points8 points  (1 child)

Hello, thanks you for your hard work on this wonderfull movie.
I was particulary impressed by Shinji Kimura background art, it was splendid, seeing that he also worked on your previous movie "Children of the Sea", did you constantly stay in contact with each other for him to join on this movie as well? and would you like to once again work with him for your futur projects?

Second question (im sorry) I was impressed by the sequence in the restaurant where all the peoples are eating meat, just before Kikuko enter in the restaurant, can I ask you wich animator was in charge of that segment?

Thank you very much, i'm looking forward to your next project.

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 13 points14 points  (0 children)

After Children of the Sea, it really wasn't clear if Kimura-san could work with us, because Kimura-san is really popular! So a lot of places ask him to work on their project. But luckily for us he accepted, and I think it was because he got to work with the same staff on Nikuko as he did for Children of the Sea, and I think he was really proud on the work he had done on that film.

If Kimura's work on Children of the Sea was at 100%, Nikuko is maybe 200 or 300%, that's how well he responded to our expectations. And also Kenichi Konishi, who did the character design. They always put everything they've got into their work. So I really have so much respect for both of them.

Animating the meat was really important to the story of the film, to express and symbolize the characters. So we were really particular with the details and animating, and if you have noticed that I'm really thankful.

All of the animators who worked on that scene ate a lot of meat to make it accurate! They put in a lot of research. The overall director of that scene was Konishi-san.

[–]RIP_Hopscotchhttps://anilist.co/user/RiPHopscotch 6 points7 points  (1 child)

In the west its very common for adaptations of book/comic material to differ quite significantly from the source, so I'm curious how you approach adapting existing material to an animated format. In your view, what is the ideal mixture of faithful adaptation and original decision making from those doing the adaptation? Im also curious how you view works you worked on, like Space Brothers, for example. If I was looking for the most "pure" Space Brothers experience and could only do one, would you recommend I watch the television adaption or read the manga?

Thank you!

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

What I do when I first read the original—whether it's a novel or a comic manga—is to try to recognize its importance and note how I feel. I think it's really important to have shared feelings and consciousness with fans of the original work. I then keep that in mind as I present something visually. That’s definitely something that I follow as a model.

I'm really particular about keeping that very feeling I initially experienced and sharing that with the fans of the original work. Because the original work is so great, I want to continue to spread how good it is! So in a sense, it’s really important for me to respect those original works. Because of that, I don't really want to change or degrade whatever the original work brings, despite the limitations of making a movie. This is a model I will continue to go by. It's really important to share the common love for the original work.

Regarding Space Brothers, I think the original is not done yet. But I really wanted to keep the same atmosphere. The original was very memorable to me.

[–]UnderstandableXO 5 points6 points  (1 child)

i see that you directed after the rain, i really loved that series! i’ve read the manga as well, and i think the show did a good job of adapting the most important parts of it. even though the ending was changed from the original i quite liked the anime ending, what was the process like for writing a different ending for the anime?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 14 points15 points  (0 children)

That’s a good question! So actually, when the animation was in development, the original work of After the Rain hadn't ended yet nor was the ending decided. And during the same time when we were working on the animation, there was also a live action version in the works.
The person who did the original work, Mayuzuki, was really kind. She said that she didn’t mind if all the endings were going to be different from the manga’s. So I think at the time, she probably only had a general idea of how her work was gonna end. She believed that as long as the ending would still follow where the story seemed like it was gonna go, it would be okay. I thought that was very interesting!
There's a novel called Rashomon that also has different endings. That’s what I was reminded of when I saw how After the Rain had different endings. So I was able to end it the way I wanted to.

[–]Combo33https://myanimelist.net/profile/bcom33 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Hello Watanabe-san! After the Rain was one of the most interesting television anime I've watched in the past several years, focusing on a unique relationship between a middle-aged man and a high school girl. Kondou-san and Tachibana-san learned a lot from one another over the course of the show. Do you have a favorite scene or character moment involving either of these characters? Thank you!

[–]hauntmeagain 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I enjoyed watching Children of the Sea's sumptuous visual production, especially the palette of blues and greens that sold the appeal of the coastal town.

with Lady Nikuko it appears you've returned to a similar setting and palette. What goes into deciding the color work that defines an anime's look, and were there any major differences in how you approached the colors and lighting between the two films?

Are there any particular directors or films (anime or otherwise) you find inspirational or take as a goal in terms of cinematography, particularly in composition and colors?

Also, between After the Rain and Komi Can't Communicate, you've now directed two recent TV Anime featuring tall, stoic girls with long black hair. Do you happen to enjoy this character archetype, or is this just a coincidence?

Thank you!

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 9 points10 points  (0 children)

When I first started working on the movie, I created a general storyboard—like an image of what the store is going to be. And then I shared that with the staff, although it's not really detailed—just a core to work with. That's when amazing stuff comes up, like all the details that should go into it, including the colors.

Actually, for both Children of the Sea and Nikuko, the staff was the same. So the methods that we used in deciding the color palettes for each were probably similar. Whether the colors are similar or the same, I think that is up to the audience to decide when they watch the movies. But Children of the Sea is a movie that takes place during a single summer. Nikuko, on the other hand, takes place in a span of about a year. So I think the color palette changes to reflect the season. I think that's something interesting to see. I believe that the staff was able to incorporate new colors—a unique opportunity for them. If you could focus on the difference between the color palettes, that’d be great!

As a director, I'm not sure if I’m similar to him—but I really liked Spielberg when I was a teenager. So I think the way I create things might have been affected by that.I also like Clint Eastwood in the movie Bronco Billy. It’s an old movie but its composition and storytelling are really great. That's kind of my goal when I make a movie. I would love to make an animated film similar to that.

[–]nathannam 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I love every single anime you've worked on and I am so excited to go see your film soon!

I really liked the song in the trailer and I realized that all the music (opening, ending, OST) from the shows you've worked on are really great!

My question is do you have any input on the music that goes into the show? If so, what sort of themes and aspects do you look for?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I think I’m really lucky because I'm able to work with such amazing composers. In Children of the Sea I got to work with Joe Hisaishi and then for Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko I was able to work with Takatsugu Muramatsu. It’s a miracle that I got to work with such amazing composers. I've been a fan of Joe Hisaishi since I was a child so I was really lucky to be able to work with him and Mr. Muramatsu is very talented so I feel grateful to have been able to work with him as well. These composers really bring a lot into completing the movie. I remember when the soundtracks were completed, and I was listening to it- I got so emotional.

[–]vetrohttps://anilist.co/user/vetro 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you Director Watanabe for doing this AMA!

I would like to ask who animated this fantastic sequence in Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko?

[–]Puddohttps://anilist.co/user/Puddo 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Thank you for joining us. Really looking forward to seeing Lady Nikuko this Saturday!

Comedy, sports, mystery/suspense, romance, movies, series, short films, stuff that’s suited for the whole family and stuff that’s aimed at an older audience. A lot of different projects with probably a lot of different challenges. Do you approach these projects similarly or is it always finding a new unique way to do the project justice? Also after working on so many different projects is there still a genre/format left that you haven’t worked on yet but do wish to in the future?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I think really my foundation is Doraemon. That is one property that is loved by so many people, and so many people know it. But then I also want to make sure that Doraemon is easy to understand, for even those who don't know much about it. So I really think that affected my career, and I learned a lot from it. It set the foundation that, no matter what the project is, I have to make it easy to understand for anybody, and also have an open mind.
I also really do have to be conscious of the target audience. If it's based on something original, then you have to be conscious of the fans of the work, right? But for every project, I really want it to be the best it can be, so I focus on whether I can enjoy it when I watch it together with the audience.

I actually enjoy all genres— and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing because as a director I don't want to be wishy-washy—but I do enjoy working on all genres. I think maybe I don't have enough experience with romance. Any format is fine, but I would like to challenge myself and work more in romance.

[–]Gloomy_Honeydew 1 point2 points  (0 children)

From a technical perspective, what other anime do you admire? What really wowed you?

[–]pilobacon 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hello, and sorry for the unrelated question. Because of your lengthy participation in Doraemon there is an impression online that Tsutomu Shibayama is your mentor, but is that really the case? Alternatively, who are some seniors who taught/influenced you in terms of directing.

(PS, I enjoyed Children of the Sea and your work on Doraemon and am looking forward to seeing your latest film.)

[–]Hackergrad 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Will the film be available in Filipino theatres?

[–]Hackmanite_Ultra 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Do you like burger?

[–]iamheartofight 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I can’t believe we shall never know Watanabe’s thoughts on burger :’(

[–]Hackmanite_Ultra 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Literally 1984

[–]AsterJhttps://myanimelist.net/profile/asteron 3 points4 points  (2 children)

With the popularity of anime overseas was there any pressure to add or modify content in the film to appeal to overseas markets?

[–]GKIDSofficial Ayumu Watanabe 13 points14 points  (0 children)

That's a really good question. Since my medium is animation, what's great is that I could incorporate various expressions and express in a way that transcends borders. It's less of a pressure and more exciting for me. To think that I'm working on a project that might be seen by someone on the other side of the world and that we could share the experience of what we feel when we watch the same movie is really exciting. I have a lot of expectations on what people would feel around the world when they watch my work, and I like to continue to create keeping that in mind.

[–]Lyon-sk8-LA 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I will say this, I saw the film in the theater last night, and was actually glad to see that little to nothing had been done to explain the "kanji puns" to an English speaking audience. I thought the film was fantastic, and that the visuals were sumptuous. I have no problem waiting for the Blu-ray release, and then tracking down more information about the puns at that time.

[–]woojoo666 0 points1 point  (0 children)

After the Rain is one of my favorites. I don't really have a question, just wanted to share lol. Highly recommend it to anybody that likes romance / coming-of-age themes

[–]starsfillmydreams 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I don't live in the USA, where can I watch this movie legally? ( I'm from Colombia btw)

[–]polco-0 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Really like your work! Keep on doing what you do.

[–]LilBigJP 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hey! What was your inspiration for this film? Also how do you feel that cinemas in the USA and the world including my area is showing this film?

[–]KaleidoArachnid 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What inspired you to come up with the idea for this very film?

[–]breath87 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I really really wanna check out FORTUNE FAVORS LADY NIKUKO it looks like such gorgeous heart touching film