White Album 2 anime interview with Maruto, Ando and Shimokawa (part 2)

Were there any points of particular focus in composing the music?

White Album 2 itself is a calm story, not at all flashy or showy. My biggest fixation was upon how much of an aura to put out within a form that aligned with that. Therefore, I aimed for a sound that came close to a theatrical quality. On top of that, this was an unadorned human drama, so in general I avoided programmed music and focused on acoustic sounds. This may be trivial thing to be picky about, but the sound that depicts human drama is natural human sound. A drama is heightened and carried by the “twists” that arise as humans perform, so I insisted very strongly upon hall recordings, using stringed instruments and classical piano, and so on. As a result, the budget wound up being three or four times that of a typical anime. So, looking at it a certain way, I suppose you could sell the anime on how much money went into the sound design. (laughs)

How many of the tracks were newly written for the anime?

Shimokawa:

Well, a portion of them. The game itself had a total of about forty tracks, and by rearranging them I could basically make them into anime tracks, so it’s not quite correct to call them new tracks. For people who are newly seeing the anime, the tracks from the game are new tracks, and for existing users, these tracks that they’re familiar with have been given a quality boost, so personally, I don’t feel that there’s much reason for bringing entirely new tracks in. So my intention was on rearranging, and I saw that through, but there was some pressure from the scriptwriter to write something new, so I wrote a new track for the ending…

Maruto:

That was another bartering transaction. (laughs)

Ando:

Even there in the audio studio, when that wonderfully rearranged BGM came in, the whole staff went, “Ah, now it’s White Album 2 for real.” It put us all at ease.

Shimokawa:

The anime staff are the ones who ultimately finish up the production, so—and I think Maruto-san will agree with me on this—we do as much as we can with our work to boost the staff’s motivation. At the end of the day, when you’re creating something, what boosts motivation the most isn’t how well you get along, but the quality of the creation. Here’s a good script, here’s some music I’m happy with to attach to it—when the ingredients are good, then the people who put it all together will be more fired up about it, too.

Maruto:

You’re singing your own praises pretty casually. (laughs)

Shimokawa:

Because the music produced was good! Granted, (makes “money” gesture) this has proven pretty effective. (laughs) We’ve been given the freedom to do whatever we want this time around, which has brought its own set of troubles, but I feel like what comes out of it will be a sort of fusion between game creators and anime creators, and I’m a little excited about it. At this point, dubbing has already been finished on several episodes, and I can say that I’m fully satisfied with what I’ve seen. It’s that compelling.

Maruto:

Now you’ve set the bar really high…! (all laugh)

As the director, were there any particular points of important focus for you?

Ando:

First of all, IC is a story about high school, so I believed if we could really capture the atmosphere of being in school, it would be accessible to and accepted by a great number of people. Giving shape to the longings that everybody holds is what brings that school into being. That was my mindset as we worked on this. Not everyone was happy with their life at that point, so it’s almost impossible that all the feelings inspired were positive, but I think everyone has known something of unrequited love, so I wanted to create a link to those memories…

Shimokawa:

It doesn’t link up with my memories!

Ando:

Whaaat?! There’s a flat denial coming from right beside me. (laughs)

Shimokawa:

Honestly, all I feel is envy!

Ando:

Well, if you’re feeling envious, I think it’s probably because you’re picturing yourself as one of those high school students. Maybe the people watching will also find themselves back in the high school of their memories.

Shimokawa:

I’m fine with just stepping back into the middle stage. I don’t need to go any further than that. I’m not interested in having any of that happen to me!

Ando:

Of course. (laughs)

Maruto:

But what comes after is where the real thrill lies. (laughs)

Ando:

In terms of practical production, there’s figuring out how best to get close to the atmosphere of the original work, through character design and other factors, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how much of the beautiful nuance of the original artwork can be reproduced in the moving images of anime. There’s a certain touch of blue overall in the art of the original. We’ve endeavored to express that in the anime. The character images in the anime are often in monochrome, and the image crew have done a lot of good work in adding blue tinges to the shadows, for example, taking care to produce hues that don’t make the atmosphere too heavy.

Please give us your impressions on the dubbing process.

Ando:

I imagine it’s far off from dubbing for games, but what would you say?

Maruto:

There may have been some parts that were forgotten the first time around, but from the second time on, everyone was perfectly on top of it. I was impressed with them as professionals, and I was also really happy that they had memorized the characters so well.

Shimokawa:

It’s probably because recording for games takes a long time, so they’ve been using those voices more than long enough to grasp the characters.

Maruto:

In the first place, the amount you have to record for a game is somewhere between two and four anime seasons’ worth.

Shimokawa:

Isn’t it more than that? If we’re talking about the amount of voice recording done, I think it’s way more than four seasons.

Maruto:

Since we’d spent that much time together, it felt really nice being back in that kind of setting with them.

Ando:

For the voice actors, it must feel something like the revival of a play. They’ve already acted it out once before, and they’re doing this anime dub with their respective roles already fleshed out, so from where I’m standing, there’s nothing to worry about. Actually, I think I might have a lot to learn from them.

Shimokawa:

As someone who’s familiar with the voice work for the original, I feel a sense of security watching them—actually, I could even say they have a better grasp of the characters now. I guess that could be because there are images attached.

Maruto:

But, in a way, you could say they’re rebuilding these characters, bringing in new interpretations…

Shimokawa:

They performed the game all the way to the end, and now, having completed that one round, they’re starting from the beginning again. It makes sense that things would change, and I think it’s in a good direction.

Maruto:

I had a talk on the radio with [Hitomi] Nabatame-san about this, too. During the initial recording, she didn’t know anything about the second round, for example, so at the time, she was playing certain parts without knowing everything Kazusa was carrying. On the other hand, as she was playing Kazusa from the beginning again, she already knew all of it, so how should she go about it? While playing a Kazusa that has already run through to the end, how much of that should she reenact, or incorporate? She really put a lot of consideration into those kinds of questions.

The White Album 2 anime is finally just around the corner. To finish up, will you tell us what you think viewers should note in the first episode?

Maruto:

First of all, I want people who played the game to watch the whole thing, starting with the prologue, so that you don’t miss anything. If you’re just watching for the first time, please don’t think too deeply about the prologue. (laughs)

Ando:

I was surprised the first time I read the scenario. “Oh, so this is where it starts!”

Maruto:

There are a lot of clues packed into this show, so if you watch the prologue, I think your imagination might be able to make sense of things.

Shimokawa:

As for highlights where the music is concerned, I don’t think there’s any especial need to pay extra close attention to the music while you watch. But, after you’ve finished watching, I hope you find yourself with a lasting impression of the balance struck between image, scenario, and music, and the immensity that exists even within a quiet story like this. I believe this is the kind of work that will pull you in before you know it.

Ando:

Apart from that, I’d say the ending of the first episode. That last scene will give you a perfect impression from Episode 1, and it has a pull that I think will keep viewers watching the rest of the series.

Maruto:

If the first episode makes the viewers feel at ease, it will be that much easier for them to get caught up in what awaits them from that point on. (laughs)

Shimokawa:

In order to show as much of the story as possible in the length we’ve been given for the anime, we’ll be cutting out previews when necessary, shaving down the opening, and the ending will disappear at certain points, too. I think that will prove interesting to watch in and of itself.

Ando:

To compare it with taiyaki, it’s not “stuffed to the tail with red bean jam” so much as it’s “already overflowing.” Comparing it with taiyaki might be sullying its appearance a bit (laughs), but I want everyone to see that density.


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