Interview: Tetsuya Nakatake

nakatakeTETSUYA NAKATAKE Profile
Tetsuya Nakatake: Born on November 16, 1979, in Ibaraki Prefecture. His first job at Production I.G was junior production manager for the PS2 game Surveillance. He then took part in the Tales of Destiny 2 project as the production manager. He then covered the role of line producer for Otogi Zoshi. Now, for Tsubasa Chronicle - The Princess of the Birdcage Kingdom, he is the producer who oversees the entire production.

Part 01

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Energetic young creators press on with the production

Q: How did Production I.G get involved in this project?
A: There was a lot going on leading to the decision, but basically it was Kodansha who brought us the work in the end. I think I.G was lucky to get to do these two short feature films ? timely and the right amount of work. They decided to put Toru Kawaguchi [note: the producer of xxxHOLiC] and myself as producers when the project started.

Have you seen the original manga by CLAMP or the TV series that's currently being aired?
I did a lot of homework. I'd read all the manga books and, as for the TV series, we'd all gather around a small TV and watch it when it was being broadcast. I would remind to everyone, "The show is on!" Since this is a very popular manga and is also a Production I.G project, everyone has great expectations. So I was determined to make an impressive anime right from the beginning.
xxxHOLiC - A Midsunner Night's Dream secured Kazuchika Kise as character designer/animation director and Shuichi Hirata as art director, who are well known in the industry. As for Tsubasa Chronicle - The Princess of the Birdcage Kingdom, my first idea was to bring together young people and make the most of their energy. I wanted to emphasize action and at the same time make it fun for kids to watch.
To achieve this, I felt we needed young animators to jump on our bandwagon. With an exciting group of new people, I hope to give a brand new look to anime. And I also wish this new experiment will be taken up again in subsequent projects as well.

Can you tell me a little bit about how you picked your staff?
In previous productions, I joined the team after they had picked the main staff. But this time, I could freely choose almost the entire staff starting from the director. It was fun. After I picked my director, I tried to put everything into shape, including the content of the anime and the list of staff members. I picked three of the best young animators at I.G, Kyoji Asano, Toru Okubo and Naoyoshi Shiotani. They are the key people in the production. Then I was lucky to have Yoko Kikuchi, who has the confidence of Director Itsuro Kawasaki, to join us as a character designer. She is consistent in providing inspiring drawings; this has helped us a lot both schedule and quality-wise. With respect to the quality of the anime, I think I made a good decision to ask Yasunori Miyazawa to do the production design. He's a very imaginative guy and we were really fortunate to be able to start creating storyboards with his work.
Director Kawasaki and the animation directors as well as myself had never done a feature film anime prior to this project, so it was like trial and error from the start. Luckily, xxxHOLiC's producer Kawaguchi had experience in feature film anime, so I asked him to divide the story into frames. I could concentrate on making a good quality anime and fit the pieces into each frame.

After discussions with Director Kawasaki, we decided to go with a tropical or Okinawa feel. We also decided to use red for our side and navy for the enemy to make an immediate distinction. Here too, Miyazawa-san expanded the worldview quite a bit for us; his drawings were really great too, which sure stimulated the creators' senses. It was fun just looking at his drawings. He completed the drawings, a pile of about five centimeters, in just 2 to 3 weeks. As for the prop design, I asked Ayumi Shiraishi to join us. She was one of the young artists whose work I was very impressed with. When I once worked with a freelance animator on another anime, I was told there was this "fabulous girl", so I checked out her drawing desk. I had a glimpse of her scribbles and right away I knew I found the right person. I felt her cute designs would fit in well. For this current project, I asked her to draw mainly birds. I think her birds are quite catchy.

Another thing I noticed was that the main staff was very self-motivated and was full of dynamite ideas. Asano, along with Idumi Hirose (color designer) and Shiotani, came up with endless ideas. I think the positive aspect of this project was that "the director was willing to absorb and organize a enormous number of ideas from his crew!" Usually, the director already has his own image of the project and picks his staff. But this time around, there was a crew full of ideas working for the director. This structure made it easy to have your own opinion and also share it with others. I had an awesome time working with them.

(to be continued...)


© 2005 CLAMP/Kodansha/" The Movie Tsubasa Chronicle The Princess in Birdcage Kingdom" Committee

Part 02

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The Importance of Sensitivity and Dramatic Setting

Q: What are the key scenes to watch for in an anime that's the product of the ideas of a young crew?
A: First, the highlights will be the three big action scenes. I entrusted each scene to one different animator, so eventually it turned out that each scene represents the inherent characteristics of each animator. In this project, my initial intention was to let the young artists totally accelerate the action scenes. First, Asano did the tricky action sequence at the beginning of the show. The animation is simply enjoyable to watch. Next comes the action part by Okubo. It is all volume and mass. When I saw the rush drawings, I couldn't stop my body moving with them. Lastly, Shiotani's action scene. It gives an impression that he'd put everything he wanted to put in. It is completely unbelievable. I think they have such strong personalities that you could enjoy three different styles of animation. One other thing is that they used up a lot of frames and we just barely have enough money left to complete the anime.
Another point is the way the emotive aspect of the characters is portrayed. From the start of this project, the director said the emotion of the characters and the dramatic setting made a short feature anime fun to watch. I think characters are the focus of any anime, so even with good drawings an anime would be boring to watch if it didn't illustrate the mentality and the sensitivity of the characters. So I asked Yuki Kajiura, who composed the music for the TV version of Tsubasa, to create a totally new score for our anime that would illustrate the characters' states of mind. I actually listened to the finished music and it was just as I hoped. Besides, there are two theme music scores for this project. The opening theme is a powerful song by Kinya and the ending song is sung by Yui Makino, who does the voice of the heroine Princess Sakura. I am really grateful that the composer truly listened to the director's intentions and made that happen. Since the anime features a sort of heart-warming ending for the characters as well as the serious action scenes, I needed this music to lead us to the end.

What did you do specifically in regards to the relationship with xxxHOLiC?
We read the manga, both of them, together. And we tried to come up with ideas for ways to link xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa Chronicle together. Actually, we rather had a smooth time of it. We planned the two anime so that you can only understand the whole story if you watch the two movies together.

Could you please send a message to the people who are really looking forward to the release of the feature?
I hope you will enjoy Syaoran and his group's travels across the movie's original setting of the Birdcage Land that was not in the manga or in the TV series. The anime is so rich in content that you will never get bored to the very last minute. So please come and watch the movie in theatres.


Recorded at Production I.G, Tokyo on June 21, 2005.


© 2005 CLAMP/Kodansha/" The Movie Tsubasa Chronicle The Princess in Birdcage Kingdom" Committee