Anime Staff Saliva Battle

Such a lively atmosphere, like never before!

Staff Introduction

Director: Takamatsu Shinji (高松信司)
Famous director of Gintama. Responsible for most of the anime extras. Rumored to be the man inside Elizabeth.

Co-Director: Fujita Yoichi (藤田陽一)
Co-director with Takamatsu Shinji, starting the 3rd year. Responsible for episodes such as 28 where Kondo has terrible luck, etc.

Series Composition: Yamatoya Akatsuki (大和屋暁)
Responsible for the story as a whole. Script writer for many important stories.

Script: Yokote Michiko (横手美智子)
Script writer. Prefers episodes with crude humor. Responsible for episode 34 where Eromes appears, and others.

Script: Shimoyama Taketo (下山健人)
Another script writer. The youngest among all of the script writers, so his position is weakest. Responsible for the group date episode and others.

Producer (Sunrise): Wakanabe Ryuta (若鍋竜太)
Producer for Sunrise. Responsible for coordinating others, but we discovered in our discussion that he’s not good with group work.

Producer (TV Tokyo): Azuma Fukashi (東不可止)
Producer for TV Tokyo. In an awkward position whenever he receives complaints from the audience. A person who contributes quietly from behind the scenes.

Producer (Dentsu): Mutou Daishi (武藤大司)
Producer for Dentsu. Rarely visits the recording studio, but is very popular among everyone.

——First, please introduce yourselves.

Shimoyama:
I’m Shimoyama, a script writer. I like a girl named “Hana” at a Ginza hotel.

All:
(laugh)

Mutou:
What offensive words. I’m Mutou, a producer from Dentsu. Nice to meet you.

Yamatoya:
I can’t come up with an interesting introduction.

Fujita:
I’m Fujita, the director. I’m in charge of directing at the start of our 3rd year.

Azuma:
I’m Azuma, from TV Tokyo. I guess I’m the 2nd producer.

Takamatsu:
I’m Takamatsu, also the director. Thank you, everyone!

All:
(laugh)

Yamatoya:
I’m Yamatoya, in charge of series composition. I... have nothing interesting to add. So let’s move on to the next person.

Wakanabe:
I’m Wakanabe, producer from Sunrise. It’s the 3rd year, and I have no idea what’ll happen to me. (laugh)

Yokote:
I’m Yokote, a script writer. We just need to pick interesting things to talk about, right? (laugh)

Yamatoya:
I think it’ll be most interesting if the people we gathered today act freely.

Yokote:
The problem is if you tell me to “speak properly!” I’ll end up like a cat stuck to duct tape, unable to move. (laugh)

Mutou:
Everyone’s all pretty shy. (laugh) Basically, we won’t be able to talk without beer. (laugh)

——How did Sunrise take on the Gintama anime?

Takamatsu:
The anime clip we showed at the Jump Festa Anime Tour 2005 was really popular, so they decided to swoop and make a TV series.

Yokote:
What do you mean “swoop”? (laugh)

All:
(laugh)

Yokote:
Today we’re promoting the word “swoop.” Everyone must add “swoop” to the end of their sentences. (laugh)

Wakanabe:
Gintama was pretty popular in our company to begin with. Even though I thought it’d be really difficult to adapt this series into an anime because of its questionable contents, it actually makes people want to try it out. So if Sunrise took charge of the anime, we should be able to create a piece of work that only Sunrise can do.

Yamatoya:
Your answer is so serious. Do you need more beer? (laugh)

——How did Takamatsu become the director?

Takamatsu:
I’m not sure how I became the director. Or rather, I didn’t volunteer myself. Sunrise decided to make the anime, so the Sunrise board director came to me after another work finished and asked, “Have you heard of Gintama? It’s a pretty good fit for you.” So that’s how I found out. I’ve read Gintama in Weekly Shonen Jump before, and thought it was a really weird manga. I guess that’s a bit rude. (laugh) Because I knew the series, I said please let me do it.

Yamatoya:
Now he’s become the big director in the 3rd year.

Takamatsu:
Oh, it’s not a big director, it’s more like a supervisor. Starting in April, I’ll be a co-director with Fujita.

——Yamatoya was put in charge of the story. What were your reasons for working on Gintama?

Yamatoya:
Every piece of work that I accept, I’ll see through it to the end!

Yokote:
This is coming from someone who really loves to argue!

Takamatsu:
Yeah, exactly. He always tries to push things off to other people.

All:
(laugh)

Yokote:
Actually, Yamatoya is someone who has artist characteristics.

Yamatoya:
No way! Even if I accept some work, I’ll give up right away if I come across any trouble! (laugh)

Yokote:
That’s what an artist is!

Takamatsu:
If you want to know what happened, it was after I decided to become the director that I thought about whom to put in charge of the script.

Wakanabe:
When I was discussing this matter with the same board director mentioned earlier, we both brought up the name Yamatoya. First time receiving such a big work load, and we both knew him. “Why don’t we try asking him?” So the person we asked to give him a call was the one that was most difficult for him to reject the offer. (laugh)

Yamatoya:
Yeah, yeah! The person who called me was Sunrise executive producer Mr. T. He took care of me when I was working on Inuyasha and Yakitate!! Japan, so he’s like my dad. One day, he suddenly called me and told me, “Yamatoya, Gintama is in your hands now!” (laugh)

Yokote:
“In your hands now.” That means he decided for you? (laugh)

Yamatoya:
He definitely said “Gintama is in your hands now!”

Fujita:
Mr. T’s tone means end of discussion. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
He had no other choice but to do it after Mr. T’s call. (laugh)

——Have you ever specified how you’d make this show?

Takamatsu:
We never actually meant to do it any particular way. “It just ended up like this.” (laugh)

Yokote:
A bit unexpected. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
If you really want to talk about a direction, the model for the entire anime is the 30-min special that aired during the Jump Festa Anime Tour. We took the original story, expanded on it for the anime, added in commercials and some extras, and that’s it. Feels like a master tape to get sponsor support. It went smoother than we expected, so we thought “This is pretty good?” Then we started on the anime production that way.

Yamatoya:
I still remember the girls’ screams when the clip aired at Jump Festa.

Yokote:
Do they still scream now? I can’t tell from the TV broadcast. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
We never really discussed it beforehand. We just did it, and it turned out like that! To put it nicely, we did it free style. (laugh)

Yamatoya:
The most emotional moment when we were making the clip for Jump Festa was when the Gundam designer Okawara Kunio designed ZURA. It’s the memory of a lifetime. That might’ve been the peak of my life.

Yokote:
Was it all downhill from there?!

Takamatsu:
Since Sunrise wanted to produce Gintama, we wanted to make something that had the Sunrise style. Yamatoya wrote “mobile suit” in the script, so we said, “In that case, wouldn’t it be more interesting to ask the original designer to design ZURA?” And every staff member was shocked. (laugh)

Yamatoya:
Because that’s power!

Wakanabe:
Takamatsu had worked with Okawara before. You were like his big brother at that time, weren’t you?

Takamatsu:
Nah, I wasn’t really his big brother.

Wakanabe:
But it felt that way, didn’t it? Takamatsu was in charge of the cultural setting for Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam at that time, and Okawara was the mechanical designer. You worked quite closely with him.

Takamatsu:
That’s true. (laugh)

——How do you design and add humor in the anime? During the storyboard phase?

Takamatsu:
It’s all different. When do you mean when you say design and humor? There’s no fixed form. For example, episode 50, a few script writers came together and wrote it like a relay race. Then the directors and animation team worked really hard to put together the final product.

Yokote:
The whole process became chaotic. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
It really was, and we almost didn’t make it in time for the broadcast. (laugh)

Wakanabe:
The first time we tried out something different was the Eromes episode (34), wasn’t it? It was too long so “to be continued!”

Yokote:
I’m sorry! (laugh)

Wakanabe:
I heard it was because Yokote’s pen couldn’t stop. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
The Eromes episode was already too long in the script, so we had to make it longer since it couldn’t fit into one episode. Then “let’s combine it with Kuriko’s story.”

Azuma:
“Eh, not enough time? Just make it two parts.”

Yokote:
“I feel like there’s too many words!” (laugh)

All:
(laugh)

Takamatsu:
We’ve had a lot of extras lately. That’s because we discovered there’s time left over after we finish making the episode, so we had to add something. (laugh)

Azuma:
They just say, “Azuma, we finished the storyboard!” and throw it to me, but none of it is in the script, so I’m confused. Like “episode 92 extra.” (laugh)

——That’s not in the script?

Takamatsu:
Not at all. I randomly decide to make the extras, but occasionally it’ll be in the script. Ginpachi-sensei in the Umibozu arc was put into Yamatoya’s script beforehand, and then we made it.

Azuma:
It’s like they took the material directly from the manga Q&A. Oh yeah, the creator of D.Gray-man, Hoshino Katsura, once said, “They mentioned Lavi, I’m so happy!”

Takamatsu:
That’s great!

All:
(laugh)

Takamatsu:
Speaking of Umibozu, his voice actor Hayami Sho is amazing.

Wakanabe:
Hayami is certainly amazing!

Yokote:
His interpretation is very good.

Azuma:
But it turned into a joke at the end.

Yokote:
It was so cool!

Takamatsu:
When we were selecting the voice actor for Umibozu, we thought that even though the character’s bald, he should still have a magnetic voice. For example, someone like Hayami Sho. And we actually managed to cast Hayami Sho. (laugh)

——The anime episodes have a different order compared to the manga chapters. Is there a particular reason?

Yamatoya:
Just a feeling!

All:
(laugh)

Azuma:
To be honest, we planned to have stories that wrapped up in a single episode. In the beginning, Gintama was still in the golden time slot, so if you missed one episode, you won’t know what’s going on, then you’d just stop watching it. The producer before me, Kobayashi, also thought this way.

Takamatsu:
Originally, we had everything in the manga order, but it became mixed in the middle.

Azuma:
To match with the season.

Takamatsu:
Not just the season. We also got kicked to an unpopular time slot... (laugh)

Azuma:
We didn’t get kicked to an unpopular time slot!

Takamatsu:
We got kicked to an unpopular time slot.

Wakanabe:
We got kicked to an unpopular time slot!

Yamatoya:
We got kicked to the minor league.

Shimoyama:
We got kicked to an unpopular time slot.

Yokote:
You’re being annoying! (laugh)

Takamatsu:
It was the first mix-up, but we didn’t change the order significantly. But under the circumstance where we have no idea when Gintama would end, we went ahead with the mentality that it should be ok whenever you yell “cut,” so we might as well make the episodes that we really wanted to make first. From then on, we gradually changed the order. The former producer Kobayashi said from the beginning that she’d be only in charge of one season. When I took over, they seemed to have already decided that they’d switch time slots in October. After she passed her job to Azuma, she left.

Azuma:
Kobayashi never announced the time slot switch. People asked me, “Did she say anything?” I said, “No.” They asked again, “It’s already July? We’re switching time slots in October, and she hasn’t said anything?” I said, “No!” and “Do you think I should say something?” This feels like I switched the time slots! (laugh)

All:
(laugh)

Wakanabe:
Didn’t you?

Azuma:
No way! This is ridiculous. After I took over, “the scripts are all done!” All the work was progressing very smoothly!

Yokote:
Exactly. Before the producer changed, we finished all the questionable stories.

Shimoyama:
Yes, that’s right. (laugh)

Azuma:
That’s really cool.

Yamatoya:
We were afraid some content wouldn’t be able to air properly, so we put them together and finished them at the same time. For example, XX’s story. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
But looking back...

Wakanabe:
It’s not that big a deal. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
Thinking about how we went out of control in our 2nd year, that time (second half of the 1st year) was nothing! But we’ve also gotten more and more into it since then. We worked on stories that we thought would be memorable for the audience first, so we became more daring about changing the order of the stories.

Mutou:
Felt like we were slowly getting used to the biting stories.

Takamatsu:
Why can’t we air it in order? Because we have pressure from the higher-ups!

All:
(laugh)

——So there’s no such feeling now?

Azuma:
We still think about the seasons. The original work changed with the seasons, so we wouldn’t be able to match the seasons on TV. If we don’t air a summer story during summer, people will miss out on the feeling, and the seasonal feel would be wrong, so we think about this quite a bit.

——Which episode had the most audience feedback, whether good or bad?

Azuma:
Basically whenever we air anything that’s somewhat unacceptable, TV Tokyo would receive a lot of audience letters. If we had too much crude humor, we’d get complaints like “how are we supposed to explain this to our children!”

Takamatsu:
Even though we didn’t mention Thai **** Massage in the episode, people were carrying strange mats. (laugh)

Mutou:
Ahahahaha!

Azuma:
So that’s what the joke is! Our higher-ups always read their emails, so it’s not so good to receive complaints all the time. But every time I post in my column “I’m worried about something this time, please support me!” the kind audience would write to the company “Gintama is very interesting!” So complaint and support letters mix together, and we don’t fall on one side. I’m grateful for them.

Mutou:
What a smart tactic!

Takamatsu:
I’m actually not very good at figuring out what parts of the taboo topic are bad. (laugh)

Yokote:
The biggest topic was “Virgos will die today!”

Mutou:
Ketsuno said it! That phrase is so cool!

Takamatsu:
In the sponsor clip, we only used “Virgos will die today!” and received a lot of complaints from Virgos!

Azuma:
Someone complained, “My child is a Virgo, and it scared him so much that he couldn’t stop crying.” Even I feel a bit...

Wakanabe:
Takamatsu also got scolded by his wife for this.

Takamatsu:
I got home and she lost her temper. “This is all your fault!”

All:
(laugh)

Yamatoya:
The next day, Takamatsu was so depressed, we’d never seen him like that before.

Azuma:
A lot of times, we have no idea what the audience reaction would be. Like Benizakura arc, we received a lot of audience feedback. Made us feel like our work was worth it.

Yokote:
It always feels like such a success!

Azuma:
“I accidentally did something,” and “I did it,” they feel different! (laugh)

——What was hard about the unique appearances of the animation?

Takamatsu:
I don’t think there’s any unique appearances, so I can’t express any opinion... How about letting director Fujita say something?

Fujita:
We’re just doing whatever we want. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
We really are just doing whatever we want. But this is a piece of work that has plenty of room for freedom. You can see the skills of each director. Everyone wants to make something better than the other person, so we try out all sorts of things and end up with something totally out of control. (laugh)

Azuma:
But this is Gintama, so it’s ok. If this were another show, I might get angry. This is also because a lot of things accumulated from the beginning. The audience would also think it’s because this is Gintama. If we suddenly moved this to another show, we might have a big problem. After all, it’s related to the audience acceptance. If we don’t have a good grasp of this, the TV show is a failure. So even though it looks like we’re just messing around, we still think things through.

——Ironically or sincerely, what kind of feedback do you get?

Shimoyama:
I become very popular at the hotel!

All:
(laugh)

Shimoyama:
This is the feedback after working on Gintama, isn’t it? After watching episode 50, everyone has something to say. The bar tender at the Ginza bar said, “There’s an interesting show called Gintama.” I replied, “That’s my show!” (laugh)

Takamatsu:
You’re really proud!

Shimoyama:
But that person is a man. (laugh)

Fujita:
So in the end, everyone does it to become more popular.

All:
(laugh)

Wakanabe:
After that episode aired, the board director we mentioned earlier asked for me! Our appointment was on the top floor of the Sunrise headquarters, like the scary CEO office. The board director asked me, “You’re making something that looks like Pr*tty C*re, what’s going on?” And he told me, “If something happens, I won’t be responsible.” (laugh) That time, I really felt like I was a high schooler caught smoking. The board director was laughing, but his eyes were serious. It was terrifying! (laugh)

Takamatsu:
About this, I don’t know why we start having constraints during production. In the scripting phase, we still think “we want to show this type of style,” but during the storyboard and animation phase, it feels more and more real. (laugh)

Azuma:
When we discuss the script, if we come across things like “is this going to be ok?” we’ll triple check that it’s ok, but when we actually watch the clip, we’ll think “this is definitely not ok!” (laugh) It’s hard to tell even in the storyboard!

Takamatsu:
As for feedback, we don’t have any on the spot, but even if we do, it’s all complaints.

Yokote:
It’ll be awesome if there weren’t complaints.

Takamatsu:
Rather than feedback, it’ll be great if there were no complaints. Ahh, we can’t use this! (laugh)

Yokote:
But the opening of the space heroine episode (93) was awesome!

Fujita:
When I was making the opening, I was thinking “I can’t believe I’m doing this...” I never thought I’d ever troll Ultr*man in my directing career. (laugh)

Wakanabe:
Even Sorachi strongly approved of that episode!

Takamatsu:
If we planned it according to the original story, we might not even have 25 seconds. So we immediately added that opening.

All:
(laugh)

Mutou:
How terrible. (laugh)

Azuma:
You didn’t have to say that. (laugh)

Wakanabe:
We immediately lose half of the nice things!

Takamatsu:
But that’s essentially Gintama.

Yokote:
Like the extra sides are always tastier.

——LaSalle Ishii had a guest appearance in episode 74. Was it related to Kochikame?

Takamatsu:
It’s because I used to direct the Kochikame anime. And LaSalle Ishii voiced Ryotsu Kankichi.

Wakanabe:
I went to the recording studio for the Kochikame special and saw Takamatsu recording for LaSalle Ishii!

Takamatsu:
He didn’t actually come to the recording studio for this. We recorded it when we were playing video games. (laugh)

Shimoyama:
It got to that point. (laugh)

Takamatsu:
Because of adult circumstances, we couldn’t broadcast it on TV, but in the DVD, there’s the conversation between Gin-san and Ryo-san. Please buy the DVD!

——Which DVD is it?

Takamatsu:
What one is it?

Yamatoya:
No need to say which one. Just buy all of them! (laugh)

——Starting from Wakanabe, is there anything you hope the director will let you off the hook?

Wakanabe:
Hmm... nothing.

Yokote:
How can that be? Why don’t you say it!

Wakanabe:
Um, I can’t think of anything. Really.

Azuma:
How about producer Mutou?

Takamatsu:
Mutou showed up as Mu-san in the anime!

Mutou:
Around episode 10, when you were airing Tales from Barfsea, parodying Tales from Earth***, I just so happened to be watching it at my office, and it shocked me.

Yamatoya:
We talked about letting you check the tape beforehand!

All:
(laugh)

Mutou:
I wasn’t worried at that point.

Yamatoya:
Didn’t you say you had no idea there was Ryo-san’s voice?

Mutou:
Why did you have to mention that! (laugh)

Takamatsu:
Didn’t you write on the new year’s card, “Please don’t play video games”?

Mutou:
I did. Many of the extras were never present when we first discussed the script. On days that I didn’t go to the recording studio, you ended up airing stories like Tales from Barfsea. It really shocked me. I wanted to say “you actually did something like this.”

Azuma:
Don’t worry, the producer at the TV station said it was ok.

Mutou:
But there’s still some effect. For example, the sponsors...

Azuma:
Who cares about that! (laugh)

Yokote:
Azuma suddenly became very assertive.

Wakanabe:
This wouldn’t have happened if you’d come! Why didn’t you come to the recording studio?! Did you tell the company that you were going to go to the recording studio, only to go somewhere else to slack off? Did you go to ** or XX and had fun?

Yokote:
What were you doing at XX?

Yamatoya:
Did you go during the day?

Yokote:
You have to explain ** in detail for those of us who don’t know. (laugh)

Azuma:
Excuse me, is it ok to publish this part without editing anything out?

Mutou:
Definitely not! (laugh)

Takamatsu:
Sunrise organized a trip to Kusatsu, but Wakanabe was drunk on the train, so he got off the train one stop too early.

Wakanabe:
That’s not what happened! I wanted to go to the restroom! But there wasn’t a restroom on the train.

Azuma:
Of course the train has restrooms! After he went missing, his first phone call was hilarious.

All:
(laugh)

Azuma:
After we discovered that Wakanabe was missing, we were all worried, so we tried to call him. Some time passed, and he called us. His first line was, “I seem to be standing alone on a foreign platform.” ...Everybody knows that already!

Takamatsu:
So he had to spend 20000 yen to take a cab from the place with no people to Kusatsu.

Yamatoya:
This is our hope for Wakanabe. Please don’t get off the train in the middle. (laugh) Remember to check carefully whether or not there’s restroom on the train.

Mutou:
I think this is going to become a title for an original story. (laugh)

——Finally, let’s have the directors say something.

Takamatsu:
Starting from episode 100, Fujita will be joining as a director, so I think the power will be even greater. Please continue to support us! Fujita, where is Gintama headed from now on?

Fujita:
I want to know that too! (laugh)

All:
(laugh)

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