The jazz-themed anime movie Blue Giant, based on the popular manga by Shinichi Ishizuka, will be hitting select theaters on October 8 and 9, and tickets are available for preorder here. The film is directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa, who has directed everything from Mob Psycho 100 to Case Closed: Zero the Enforcer to Death Parade. Tachikawa spoke to Otaku USA about his career path, working with Grammy Award-winning jazz composer Hiromi, and his mantra to have every film he works on be different from his last.
You have a very impressive résumé. How did you get involved in making anime?
I started at Madhouse. I was in production and actually how Madhouse at the time was structured is that if you wanted to be a producer you go down the producer track and if you wanted to be a director you go down the director track. So I went down the director track. I did that for two years. I became an anime director at Madhouse. I was there for about a total of six or seven years before I went freelance.
You’ve directed very different types of anime. How do you approach each project?
When I was at Madhouse I really learned that as an employee I didn’t have the power to choose what I wanted to do or what kind of stories I wanted to tell. Once I became freelance one of my main mantras is that my next film will always be different than my last one. That comes with challenges. In the case of Blue Giant, it’s a music film, and I’m not a musician, so I thought that was my next thing to do.
So since you’re not a musician, how did you get involved with doing a musical anime?
As far as me becoming director for Blue Giant, the producer approached me with the original manga. Upon reading it I felt it was more appropriate as a TV series, but the producers were really pushing the idea of having it be a feature because that way audiences can actually experience the full jazz sound in a theater environment, which is pretty much surround sound. So I ended up taking on the project.
My mother, who has been a professional musician, saw the trailer with me and said she was sure you played an instrument because the music was so good.
[laughs] I only learned piano until sixth grade. Thank you.
The music is great. How did you get to working with Hiromi?
So in the manga there’s actually some extra chapters. In those chapters the manga artist mentions Hiromi and having gone to her shows. We were pretty sure from the very beginning that she would be involved because she was already embedded in the original manga. And you see some scenes with sheet music there. I asked her to make the actual sheet music you see.
So what was it about Blue Giant that really drew you into it?
I was really drawn to the story. It’s really unusual to see a main character with so much determination and strength achieve his goals. That doesn’t apply to jazz. That applies to a lot of different aspects in life. It’s a great, overall human story. That’s what really hooked me in.
Are you more interested in jazz these days?
Of course! As part of making this film I took saxophone lessons for two years and went to a lot of jazz shows. So I have a great appreciation for jazz now.
Is there anything else you’d like your American fans to know about you and your work?
Blue Giant was created during COVID and so production obviously could not be made as we would usually want to. But we really felt that Dai’s strength in believing in himself and staying on his path — that really affected us and it really helped us. I’m hoping this movie connects to anyone who is looking to find what their North Star is, what they want to do. . . I hope I can at least touch one person and encourage them.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.