Interview with Director Tomohisa Taguchi from Japanese Kizuna Deluxe Blu-ray Booklet

MarcFBR

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Time for a nice big interview!



The Japanese Deluxe Blu-ray of Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution came with a number of extras in various booklets.

When we did our breakdown of the Blu-ray release, we mentioned we would revisit content as we could.




And with the release of the movie in the US on Blu-ray and DVD yesterday, it seemed like a good time to go over something big! A decent chunk of the book was a relatively detailed interview with director Tomohisa Taguchi about the movie.

He goes over a ton of stuff, and it's a pretty good read.


The interview is filled with spoilers, so make sure you've watched the movie first!


Huge thanks to onkei for translating the interview. She even formatted the translation like the actual article was formatted and I did my best to reproduce much of that formatting using forum tools.

Enjoy!




A special interview with Director Tomohisa Taguchi

[Profile] Animation director and episode director. He has worked on series such as “Persona 4 The Golden,” “Twin Star Exorcists,” “Kino's Journey - the Beautiful World- the Animated Series” etc.


CREATING WHILE FIGHTING THE PRESSURE
—Please tell us how you felt when you were chosen as the director for this film.
Taguchi:
Since the series has a history of 20 years behind it, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I created the film while fighting with apprehension, wondering if what I was making would meet the fans’ expectations.


—After seeing the fans’ reactions when it went live in theaters February 2020, what did you think?
Taguchi:
There were reviews from those who’d seen it saying “The film is fitting as an end of the childrens’ story.” I was both very happy and grateful to see many people appearing to have accepted it. It’s enormously bad luck that the theatrical run was affected by the coronavirus, but even so, I received messages from my friends in high school about “how long it’s been” so I guess I should have expected nothing less of Digimon’s enormous influence.


—Did you receive advice from Hiromi Seki on how to make this film more “Digimon”-like?
Taguchi:
She told me it would be good to include scenes with the Chosen Children mulling over their troubles, with the addition of what was happening in the world as an added spice. She also gave minute direction on characterizations, pointing out things like “This one won’t say something like this” or “This one would express it more like this.” I really got the impression from Ms. Seki that the Digimon characters are her children. Also, she never told me that the film “absolutely had to have” a certain thing. In fact, her very words to me were “Whatever you think Digimon can do, go ahead and keep bringing them into the pile.” Those words helped me a great deal, and I think that enabled me to pursue and form the most interesting story that is possible now.


MENOA BELLUCCI, MORE THAN JUST A SIMPLE “BADDIE”
—What were your interactions like with the screenplay writer, Akatsuki Yamatoya?
Taguchi:
I submitted the film’s plot (the story’s outline) to Mr. Yamatoya, and he seemed to like it a lot. As we fleshed out the story from its plot into the scenario, we talked back and forth about how characters move, and how to organize their emotional states. The initial plot didn’t have plans for the cast of “Digimon Adventure 02” to appear, but in the scenario, we discussed very thoroughly on how the 02 cast would act.



Menoa Bellucci, modeled to not simply be the enemy but also a character that can be sympathized with.


—What did you discuss with Mr. Yamatoya about the new character Menoa Bellucci?
Taguchi:
When making the script, I told him that I wanted him to make sure that Menoa didn’t appear as just a villain. Since the “Digimon Adventure” anime is originally made for children, it had a tendency to make it very clear that “evil = the enemy.” But for this film, I endeavored for her to be an enemy where people watching her understand her backbone and sympathized with her, while also being the psychological “wall” that Taichi and Yamato must rightfully face. Also, since she only appears for this film, I thought about what sort of trait she should have so she didn’t end up being bland -- so we proceeded with the scenario by having her be someone who speaks a lot of English (laughs). It was so much English that during the process of putting the scenario into animation, we considerably cut down on the amount of English that Menoa says.


—Was there anything you were particular about in terms of her appearance?
Taguchi:
When commissioning her design from Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, I told him that I wanted her to look like “Anne of Green Gables.” Someone energetic and willful, who is more cool-looking rather than cute. Ms. Seki was sitting with us during the briefing session, and it was her suggestion that, if we were going to give her braids, then she’d look good with one loose pigtail, and so we went from there.


—The butterfly motif is incorporated everywhere, such as Menoa’s hairpin and her partner Morphomon. What was your intention for doing that?
Taguchi:
It was decided, at the start of the project, that the Digimon opposing Taichi and Yamato would have a butterfly motif. The opening song “Butter-Fly” has been almost deified, in a sense, so I wanted the theme to be about surpassing that itself. In the scene where Agumon and Gabumon disappear and two butterflies fly off into the distance, I felt like that was a good place to put a pause on the series. All in all, I think it was inevitable that the butterfly was used as the motif.



The “butterflies” that evoke various emotions.


THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE FILM THROUGH MUSIC
—What were your interactions like with the music composer, Harumi Fuuki?
Taguchi:
I don’t recall demanding a lot from her. I asked her to make the kind of songs where the viewer could watch the film and automatically have the theme song play in their heads or, on the opposite end, listen to a song and have it bring up memories of what was happening in the film as it was playing. A memorable melody that I replay over and over is “Menoa’s Theme.” It’s very pleasing to the ears. Even after the demo was completed, she went out of her way to modify it to match Menoa’s emotions, which I’m both apologetic and grateful for.



The song playing during her first appearance is Menoa’s theme song.


The first half of the film has many homages on screen, and even the existing music is arranged to match that intent. However, for the second half, we went full throttle with original songs made specifically for the film.


—There is a scene near the beginning of the film that only had music playing and no voiced lines which felt very impactful.


A scene of their everyday lives without any voiced lines. You get to see glimpses of how they each live.


Taguchi: I wanted to bring out the feeling that Taichi and Yamato were stuck in a moratorium that is characteristic of university students. However, since that subject barely comes up as a focal point in the story, that scene run was the technique that I came up with in order to leave it in somehow. It only lasts for about 1 to 2 minutes, but I tried to show through the art and music that the two of them still weren’t influential people yet, that their lives were focused on the part-time job in front of them, or how they felt giving up on music.


—Please tell us behind-the-scenes info on production of the new songs “What Lies Ahead” and “Even if We're Apart.”
Taguchi:
There was a lot of back and forth discussion on “What Lies Ahead” before it was completed, and the resulting song came out to be very good. The song plays in what will be *the* representative scene of the film, where Taichi and Agumon’s, Yamato and Gabumon’s feelings synchronize at their ultimate peak and evolve. Even though the atmosphere feels sad and lonesome, I wanted to make it a song where they were being blessed, rather than the “go-and-get-em” feeling you’ll see in shonen manga. The song that resulted matched remarkably with Ayumi Miyazaki’s voice, and it’s so well made that I don’t think it can be outdone.
“Even if We're Apart,” on the other hand, I feel settled into its final shape rather smoothly. I wanted the ending to end with a positive outlook, not with sadness, so I thought it would be better not to make the song a ballad. With Mayo Okamoto’s song arrangement and AiM’s voice, it’s a song where the lyrics are sentimental but helps you to face tomorrow.



As a fierce battle rages on, the new evolution song “What Lies Ahead” quietly plays in the background.


A FILM THAT BLENDS BOTH NOSTALGIA AND FRESHNESS
—You used a variety of colors for this film. What were your interactions like with Saori Goda, the color coordinator?
Taguchi:
I always ask Ms. Goda to do the color coordinating in my films. In all of the works that we’ve collaborated in thus far, we’ve ventured with changing an overall color using what are called “normal” colors to match the tone of scenery. Within that, I wanted to pursue the use of colors to express emotion. When considering the balance of the scenes, we produced it so the first half of the film was vibrant with warm colors, while the second half gradually loses color as it makes a serious turn, looking closer to cyan. Also, this is a bit off-topic from coloring, but in the last evolution scene with Agumon and Gabumon, their outlines are gone. I wanted to give off a special feel for that scene, as if they were melting into the surrounding light.



The characters’ lined forms are gone, giving off a special aura.


—The movie is formatted with the first half being an homage, while the second half had components that were unique to the film. What was your intention or aim for that?
Taguchi:
“Digimon” carries a weight of 20 years with it, so I felt that the fans would have expectations of the film’s art style and format. That’s why we paid tribute to past movies, like the fight with Parrotmon in Nakano and the fight in cyberspace. I wanted to make the introduction something easily grasped, where already existing Digimon fans watching it would look at it and say straight away “This was Digimon!” and new fans would say “So this is Digimon.”
However, if the entire film was filled with fanservice, then it would turn into the sort of movie where people would focus more on the tiny details in the animation rather than the actual story. Therefore, we dive into the actual content of the film at about 30 minutes in. I was very conscious about that progression while drawing up the plot.


—The film’s theme is “To become an adult,” so what were your thoughts as you tackled this?
Taguchi:
You may think that this film was made because the creators understood what it means “to be an adult,” but I disagree. Looking back on it now, I actually think that I myself was pondering over what “being an adult” means during the creative process. If this movie had been made by someone who knew that answer, then it would have clearly shown something distinct; there would have been an obvious sign of “This is what being an adult is!” I feel that, in the end, it’s a movie that struggles in the space between wanting to remain a child but needing to grow up.



The scene of them heading into cyberspace, an homage to “Digimon Adventure Our War Game!”


—Having to separate from their Digimon partners was a shocking twist. What was your intention for having that sort of ending for this film?
Taguchi:
I think that “Digimon Adventure” overall already has many scenes where the children separate from their Digimon. But on that point, I wondered if there was a way to connect that to “becoming an adult.” Like, turning into an adult would mean having to separate once from your Digimon, the symbol of your childhood. If you don’t do so, then you can’t be an adult… Something like that. But even if the partners “separate,” they can still go to the Digital World and reunite at Primary Village, and that wouldn’t be any different from how separations occurred in previous works. That’s why for this film, we used the additional setup of them “disappearing.”


— Taichi’s words of “We have to keep moving forward!” felt like a very strong message.
Taguchi:
I wanted this film to act as encouragement for someone, first and foremost. For the people who were held back by their memories and so couldn’t bring themselves to step forward from there. Even if we end up making a small mistake, or sacrificing something, or having to throw away something important, I think it’s important to keep moving forward in order for us to keep living. I hoped that the story would be one that anyone could identify with and apply to themselves.



Taichi, heading to the future, blows on the whistle with all of his might.


SMALL JOKES AND EMOTIONAL CAPS SCATTERED THROUGHOUT
—Since the audience can repeatedly watch their copy of the Blu-ray/DVD, are there any particular points you’d like them to notice?
Taguchi:
In one of the scene cuts where Chosen Children around the world and their Digimon fight with Eosmon, there’s a young girl with her Numemon. This Numemon is the only one who hasn’t evolved. I could make an entire 30 minute anime episode with these two partners. (laughs) I promise you, it would be an awesome story that has you convulsing with laughter but ends in a tearjerker. (laughs)


Numemon VS Eosmon in Paris.


There’s also… In the opening, a chat box is shown on Koushiro’s laptop. You can see in the chat a conversation between him and Taichi, about how Taichi swiped Koushiro’s AR goggles. I think that cut is only there for a second, but that’s the sort of material that we put into the film here and there.



You get to see the entire sequence of events on Taichi swiping the goggles and about him asking how to power them on.


Also, I got the sense that there were very few who realized it from only watching once, but there’s Sora’s digivice. The digivice with the countdown timer that appears for just a second in the opening is actually the one in Sora’s room. In the middle of the movie, you see that it’s turned to stone. Creating a work by putting in components that I think people would only be able to catch by rewatching was a new experience for me.



Sora’s Digivice in the opening. Since it’s only shown for a second, you can’t tell who it belongs to.


And throughout the film, you’ll see several different flowers. We intentionally put these flowers in based on what was going on in that particular scene, and amplified that scene by their flower meaning. For instance, in the opening, there is a butterfly perched on top of a morning glory. The flower meaning for the morning glory is not only “love” and “firm bonds,” but it apparently has an additional implication of “I will tighten myself around you and never let go.” That part depicts how Menoa’s feelings are stuck in the past. Also, for the Japanese culture, the cherry blossoms symbolize the start of something new. That’s why at the beginning of production, I decided that the last scene would end in cherry blossoms. I took away the music and voiced lines for it, hoping that just the images would be able to convey emotion. It’s various stuff like that we’ve put intentionally into the film, so it would please me greatly if people enjoyed it.

The morning glory in the opening, and the lined cherry blossom trees in the last scene.

—Thank you!




Really fun one, with a ton of information and insight into the thoughts of the director on parts of the movie.



The Japanese Blu-ray and DVD releases are still available to order. CDJapan links are affiliate links:
Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna Blu-ray Deluxe Version (CDJapan)
Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna Blu-ray (CDJapan)
Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna DVD (CDJapan)


The US version of the movie is also out, and we did a full review and breakdown which can be found here.

The US version of the release is up to order at Amazon if you haven't ordered it yet: (affiliate link)
Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna BD/DVD Combo
Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna DVD
 

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Digiforlife

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Amazing stuff!! I really hope he will come back to direct another digimon movie later on. I also want to thank him for this amazing movie (the best anime movie I've seen for the last few years):)
 

MFbM

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Reading this insights from the writer/director is really great. No wonder why the film connects so much to us fans, it has "heart".
 

AppliFang

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lol I did hear about Sora until recently this week
Maybe thats why she was useless and did do anything xD

But the she made her decision in that special side episode...
 

Shikshin

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Just read the questions in this, and looks like I'll just come back and read all the responses after I get to watch the movie for the first time. Then I can rewatch after reading all of this!
 

Naal

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Interesting! I'm glad that in the end the 02 crew was included. While they are not my favourite bunch, it's still extremely unreasonable for them to be cast aside like they did in tri.

Lol, I remember that scene with Numemon. Now I'm curious about that girl's story! And the reference to butterflies and all those flowers that I failed to catch...I'll need to re-watch this as expected.
 
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