Otaku USA Magazine
Anohana’s Creators Share the Secrets of Their Success

More than a few hearts and minds were captured back in 2011 with the release of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, and the creative team behind that series is back this year with Anthem of the Heart, an original film set to debut September 19.

The three key members of that creative team, writer Mari Okada, director Tatsuyuki Nagai, and animation director/character designer Masayoshi Tanaka recently sat down with Japanese news source Anime Anime and shared just what makes their creative juices flow.

When asked why a new original title instead of a continuation of Anohana, director Nagai replied that after the success of Anohana, the team was told “go ahead and do whatever you like,” so rather than try to repeat that series, the three got together and naturally created a new story.

Asked to describe their idea-making process, Nagai says he and Tanaka come up with an idea and say “yeah, it should be like this,” but in the end Okada says, “nah, maybe more like this.”

Okada jumps in and disagrees, saying that in the end, the final decision is up to the director, and that Anthem of the Heart benefitted well from Nagai’s judgement.

While Anthem is an original story, it does share several elements with Anohana: it’s set in the same town, Chichibu, and is another “seishun” (youth) story. Anime Anime asked the trio why.

“Actually, at the start we were thinking of doing something totally different from Anohana. We didn’t even want to set it in contemporary times,” said Tanaka. “We’ve been planning this for years, and it’s changed many times, but just somehow turned out this way in the end.”

Nagai added that doing something concerning high school students was set from the very beginning. With that basis set, Anthem naturally took its current form.

Next, the team was asked about fitting four main characters into a movie runtime.

“We definitely had doubts about whether we could do it,” said Nagai. “The devil is in the details.”

What do the trio, who usually work in TV, think about the differences between television and theatrical anime?

Nagai said that they’re used to making TV anime, so making a 2-hour film for the first time was largely a process of trial and error. He said he finally really understood it only after doing the final dubbing.

Added Tanaka, “yeah, they’re totally different. The gap is huge.”

Nagai said that even the difference between the Anohana film, which was comprised of a lot of new footage, and making a film from scratch was a totally different process, and one he’s still bewildered by.

Finally, Anime Anime asked for the trio’s final thoughts about the process of making Anthem.

Nagai: “There were good parts and bad parts and it took a long time, but basically it was really fun.”

Okada: “Making a film as a team has its difficulties, but it has its own unique feeling.”

Tanaka: “Depending on whether you count the Anohana film as a separate project, this is either the third or fourth anime we’ve made together… naturally, not every day is all smiles, but we always try to aim to accomplish things we haven’t before and go to the next level. You might think the more things we make together, the more diluted our work might become, but that hasn’t been the case.”

Anthem of the Heart debuts September 19, and we’ll have a review right here.

Source: Anime Anime

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Matt Schley

Matt Schley (rhymes with "guy") lives in Tokyo, and has been OUSA's "man in Japan" since 2012. He's also written about anime and Japanese film for the Japan Times, Screen Daily and more.