Okada Mari on Mayoiga interview
Jun 8, 2016 7:02 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
The writing this episode was a mess...which is understandable, after the head writer disclosed that the director wants double the normal script of an anime episode.
Source? Thanks if you can.
This is an interview that Okada Mari gave for a companion book released after the start of Mayoiga. She talks about both her work on the series, general work environment and characters (the last I have excluded so far).
I think this interview sheds a little light on why this anime turned out the way it did. What do you think? Is it an excuse for the writing and pacing being quite messed up most of the time? Should we maybe treat this more as an experiment than an actual honest piece of fiction?
- Mrs. Okada, what brought you to working as a series composer on Mayoiga?
It seemed liked there were already plans between diomedia and Mr. Mizushima, our director, to create an original anime. I was only called in after that.
- It's the first time that you are working together with Mr. Mizushima. What was your first impression?
I had already heard rumors about him, and upon meeting him I felt like he was a very interesting character with his own pace, just as the rumors said. But I was fascinated that behind the facade of neat exterior and words there was something like a "dark Mizushima" shining through in his expressions. There was a point where I mentioned, "You are actually quite a dark character, Mr. Mizushima", to which he replied, "I'd loose to you any day." (laugh)
- What is your impression of working with him?
I had already followed several of his wors, but there were so many points where I couldn't understand how it had been made just by watching it. While watching anime I automatically enter work-mode. I start imagining how the original scenario might have looked like and though what development steps it went. With Mr. Mizushimas works I was just left wondering how they were created. Only through working with him I could actually experience the workmanship of his process.
What exactly do you mean?
For starters, our script has many more pages than usual. A regular scenario of a single anime episode has about 75 pages with 200 characters per page. Many people say that even that is too much already, and in many cases cuts have to be made. But Mr Mizushima told us, "I want 100 pages." He forces all that scenario content, story and dialogue, into an episode where there would normally never be room. Still, upon completion it doesn't seem rushed. It's impressive how he uses the highs and lows of pace and rythm to fill even the last crevice. Until now I have always been subconsciously counting when writing a scenario. To disregard all that and just start writing, to just trust Mizushimas judgement...it was a very emotional process of creation.
- Was it difficult to use a completely different writing-process than before?
It was basically all about writing more dialogue and not about writing any more scenes. But since I was doubting whether I could really pull off a good pace with so much more dialgue, I was left doubting a lot in the beginning. I never consciously noticed how much dialogue piles up when heading towards a set line...but this time I couldn't help but think about it. But only because I knew that Mr. Mizushima is quite skilled in terms of pacing, when converting a script into a scene, I could keep going. An anime is always a team-effort, so I decided to trust our director...or rather to go along with his talent. The same goes for both length and content. There were certaily lots of moments where I was unsure and worried, but when he told me, "That's quite okay like this," I could relax and continue working.
Well, I say relax, but comfortable writing it really wasn't. Mr. Mizushima has, just like the pace of his animations, a very forceful attitude. That doesn't only influence the product but also the workplace atmosphere.
- That can be considered a strength as a director, right?
I'm not very good with punctuality and precise procedures, so I was very happy that I had Mr. Mizushima at my side. But the gap between this way of working and a "Here you can let a few things slide", is very wide with him. So I wasn' always able to see where his limits were (laugh). Of course I am aware that he had his own worries as well, but he doesn't let it show at all. That's why I felt like I had to give my very best.
-How was the composition of this series actually decided?
Even though this is an original concept, I did not write the scenario. All participants take part in meetings and contribute their own ideas, which I have to piece together into a big whole. Our director told us not to work out all details from the beginning, but rather contribute ideas while working "live" and then include them. Of course our ending we want to arrive at and certain hard scenes are set in stone, but since we had to develop this anime in fragments, episode by episode, I was afraid until the end that the plot would end up to bloated or that we wouldn't reach our goal. To write a script for something that is about mysteries and tricks practically "live" caused some stress for me, and there were many points where we had to revise the plot we decided on in the beginning.
- In a story with 31 characters the development changes with every action they take...
First, I was surprised that there were 31 characters. Normally there would be calls for a romantic side-plot in a scenario with so many boys and girls. But Mitzushima followed a line on which he didn't want to focus on romance that much, which caused that aspect of the story to end up quite shallow. They all take part in a "re-do your life tour" and thus must have made horrible experiences in life as well as a dark past. But since our characters are people in their teens and 20s, I found it very hard to find words and deeds to express those problems.
- Did you create a timeline to keep from getting confused with all those characters?
We don't really have anything like a timeline, but you really do get confused when you don't plan ahead in a piece like this. They are all in a closed room scenario but still have their own thoughts and approaches, and then there are also additional events...I have long lost any oversight over what all the background elements of our main-story are just by memory.
I also have to take care that the individual information for every character is adhered by. It almost became a kind of puzzle. There are so many ideas that come up during our meetings, and while we are at it I think, "That's really good," but when I get home to think about it, I notice how we need to go back several episodes and make changes for this idea to work. It's like this: When you want to change one detail, suddenly there is this chain of stuff that starts washing ashore that you need to change. To be perfectly honest, it was horribly how many revisions we had to do. Even things that we thought to be set in stone had to be rewritten several times.
Here is the second part of the interview,
-So, our tour-guests have arrived in Nanakimura. Did you have any place in mind when you wrote the script?
It was supposed to be a village that suggested that people might have lived here until recently. There were to be facilities and objects that make it possible to sustain a normal life in that place...that's the atmosphere I was going for. So the image I had in mind was that of dash-mura from the popular TV-show “Za! Tetsuwan! DASH!”. I thought, the situation of several people coming to a place like that and having to live there together was quite similar. The actual appearance of the village gradually turned into that of an 80s mountain village during production.
- What is the focus of episode 1 for you?
I think the most important point is, that most of it happens inside the bus. They take short breaks at reststops, but they are always heading towards their goal. In a first draft I wrote, I had a segment with our protaonist Mitsumune on his way to the bus. But our director said, "It's enough if their already on the bus," to which I could only reply with an "I see." In the second half, there are some scenes outside the bus, but even here he pressed, "Limit yourself to the bus!" (laughs). While writing a scenario it's actually not that difficult to just let everything happen in one place. I would even say, it's very easy to do so, but it becomes harder to actually translate that into pictures. So when our director told me the things above, I immediately thought that he is putting a lot of pressure on us (laughs).
- Episode 1 seems a little like going on holiday.
I don't have much experience of going on vacation by car, so I found it quite exciting to stop at a rest- or service-area. During location-hunting we actually went to a lot of service-areas and it was awesome. But after doing it again and again, our director and the staff seemed to grow quite bored. I think even I had my fill of service-areas for a while (laughs). They seemed so impressive at first, because I didn't have any experience with them, but now that glow has faded a little. That's how it goes in life, right?! (laughs)
- How did you come up with those 31 characters?
First I created a loose setting for all 31 on my own, we held a meeting on that basis and gathered everyone's ideas. It was really difficult to think of 31 names and personalities. But this time our boys and girls were not supposed to be bishounen and bishoujo, they were supposed to be social outcasts that seem like they could actually exist. Characters who don't really exist even though they should. Mr Mizushima was also very open for characters that are atypical for anime, which surprised me a lot. During our meeting the age of several characters was changed as well, to create a larger variety than in my first draft. There are other anime featuring a huge cast, but we wanted characters that are different even from those. This way of thinking was very complicated but also fascinating.
- Who is your favourite character?
I like Nanko best. She is a little plump and pinches her stomach when she gets worried. She is a female character that's a little different, going her own way in life. She also seems to be a little boyish, but not in a cute way, I like that. I also like Yamauchi. He doesn't really have any extremes and seems to be a typical "nice guy". He is the average human in every way, and he does some very on the point remarks. I was very happy to have a guy like him in a situation like this. The complete opposite of that would be a character like Hyouketsu no Judgness, who's very easy to understand. There are some like Dahara who could really exist, and then you kinda wish that some of them wouldn't exist. There is a lot of stuff happening in the background. There are, for example, Manbe and Piitan, two lovers who kind of fail at running away together.
- On the other hand, are there any characters you wouldn't want to spent time with?
Hyouketsu is a real pain in the butt (laughs). If he was around me, I'd constantly wish for him to shut up. I wouldn't get along with Yuuna either. She is so organized, I would be afraid that she'd yell at a person like me, who is very unorganized and doesn't function in groups. I also didn't like Yottsun at all in the beginning, but at the end I came to like him. He's that kind of person who I wouldn't come into contact with, the archetype of a poser, and yet I got attached to him.
- How about the characters that are a little bit more in the center of attention?
Our protagonist, Mitsumune, is somebody who suffers a lot. He doesn't reveal a lot about himself, but he also isn't a gloomy guy, that was a difficult ballance to keep. Along with his past, his actions as a character served as quite the trigger for character growth for him. Unser Protagonist Mitsumune ist ein ziemlich leidender Charakter. And Masaki is...cute, right?!
- I really wonder if everything's alright with her.
With her very own, peculiar worldview, she has a slightly ominous air. I hope nobody is in danger of maybe getting caught up in that? I want to cry, "Mitsumune! Behind you, behind you!!" (laughs). But she does appear really cute. I'd like it if there was something to counter that. (laughs)
- I think Hayato will do a good job of mediating between the two.
Hayato is more something like a parent or legal guardian for Mitsumune. Mitsumune is very held back, but sometimes he doesn't seem to consider the consequences, which is why he has a helpful big brother...or maybe even something like a big sister in Hayato. That is one fragment of Hayato, but he also carries his own darkness in his heart.
- Everyone appears normal but isn't....or rather, they all carry some emotional baggage they don't want to reveal.
Exactly. They are all people who want a fresh start in life. They didn't come to Nanakimura to work together with others, but because of what they suffered through. Be it because of individualism or missing the willingness to cooperate with others. It was in front of that background that our group of individualists was formed. It's not about gender. Many different things will happen in Nanakimura, but one of the central points of our story is to observe their reactions to those events.
- How do you create the relationship between characters, when you write the scenario only after the characters have been decided?
I actually always put my character motivation first and write my stories based on that. Everytime I start with the setting or the events, it ends up very unsatisfactory. But, since we worked on Mayoiga as a team and had to combine several ideas, the setting had to be first priority. Who did what when this happened? It gets really interesting when it comes to combining characters in these situations. So it was a completely different order of structuring than usual for me. It was very refreshing and fascinating though. It was good to be able to make new experiences.
- The setting is a little bit like reality-TV, right?!
You are correct. 31 characters are stranded in a certain location, and then we can observe their reactions to different events...We always talked about actions and reactions of our characters during meetings. They all carry a certain darkness in their hearts, so they immediately switch behaviour when confronted with a problem.
- Even the characters that seem bubbly and carefree have something about them...
You could even say that they are the most dangerous bunch. I think I can say that here. Of course, if people are stranded in an unfamiliar situation they start behaving in an atypical manner and act or think different than usual, they loose the grip on their personality. This decline is very extreme, almost as if you would flay somebody alive. I think it should be interesting to observe those 31 change.
- Was there a work that inspired you while writing for Mayoiga?
Like I mentioned before, I took Tetsuwan DASH as inspiration for the atmosphere of working together in an unknown environment. Beyond that there were things like “Animal Crossing”, where you create a tiny microcosm for yourself...but retrospectively this is of course not a work that screams, aber im Nachhinein ist es jetzt natürlich kein Werk das schreit, “Join us!” or “Come along!” (laughs). And of course I read a lot on urban legends and traditional lore and stories on mysterious villages.
- What is something that we should look out for when watching Mayoiga?
There are people who gather at a new place to forge new bonds with others, but in the end it's important whether you harmonize or not. There are also some incidents right when they enter the village. An ominous shadow has followed them into the village, and many relationships are about to change. People tend to disregard interpersonal ties and let them decay, as soon as they are confronted with fear or a dilemma. And sometimes it is those you don't suspect, who end up helping you. I would be happy if you could have an eye open for that.
- Please, give us a final message for the viewers of Mayoiga.
I think those who watched the first episode of Mayoiga will have thought, "What is this stuff?!" (laughs). I am quite anxious myself, because I went many new ways for this. So I would appreaciate it, if you could enjoy this series without any expectations.
Modified by seizonsha, Jun 14, 2016 5:01 AM
Jun 10, 2016 11:18 PM
Jun 11, 2016 5:12 AM
Jun 11, 2016 7:24 AM
Jun 11, 2016 1:30 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
I can't take it anymore, everything was so stupid and the anime actually trying to take itself seriously, that it isn't funny anymore, cringeworthy beyond believe! halp
Who should be blamed for this garbage?
- Mari Okada (script and series composition)?
But her writing for Gundam IBO and Ano Hana are quite good
But then there's M3 and Wixoss.......
- Tsutomu Mizushima? (Director)
We all know he's a capable director (Shirobaki, GuP, Prison School), BUT then there was BLOOD-C and Another
- Shinsuke Oonishi (Script)
Like literally who but maybe this ojii-san is the real culprit.
Whoever wrote the STORY the CHARACTER the TWIST and the OVER THE TOP FLASHBACK DRAMA REALNESS obviously has a questionable talent and to be honest mayoiga is kinda a traumatic experience for me that it has become my NANAKI and i want to avoid someone who's responsible for this mess as much as possible.
Not just one person must have contributed to this mess...
"No matter how miserable your life becomes, never let your heart become miserable as well."
Jun 12, 2016 4:02 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
It sounds like she just had too much to work with.
Reading the Japanese version really gave me the feeling that she was searching for polite ways to express her utter discomfort and lack of satisfaction with this project. It being published in a companion book she couldn't very well come out and say, this anime is no good, even if that was what she thought about it.
But seeing what a good job she is doing on the Kiznaiver writing (despite that series' shortcomings of not actually telling it's background story), one can only assume that she had, like you said, simply too much to work with and not enough time to actually put it in there.
Add to that, that I think Mizushima's approach of "having more stuff is better" is totally unfitting for a mystery series. She said that she had problems writing the characters and she herself got lost in the series' lore at points...that's not something that should happen in a series like this.
This way of "over-writing" might work for comedies very well. God knows that Mizushima produced some really good products in that department, among others one of my all time favourites "Jungle ha itsumo hare nochi guu". But in a mystery series you should concentrate on building atmosphere and planting clues around a premise that (at the end) should be quite easy to understand.
Jun 20, 2016 12:25 AM