16 Years After Working Together On s-CRY-ed, Taniguchi And Kuroda Return To Tackle ID-0

 

ID-0 was a show that might not have caught a lot of attention during Spring 2017 due to Netflix picking it up or the fact that it is a 100% 3DCG show. Regardless, I found it to be one of the more enjoyable shows that season! It seems that Netflix has finally released it for streaming, so I thought an interview with Taniguchi Goro [Code Geass, GUNxSWORD, Maria the Virgin Witch] and Kuroda Yousuke [My Hero Academia, Gundam 00, Gundam Build Fighters] would be a fine way to try and spark interest in this fantastic robot show.

Originally posted to Anime!Anime! [6.28.2017]

After 16 years, why Taniguchi and Kuroda create their anime the same way.

— The reunion tag team of Taniguchi Goro and Kuroda Yousuke has become as much of a topic as ID-0 itself. Can you first tell us how this plan came to fruition?

Taniguchi: The original plan for ID-0 started from a discussion at the World Cosplay Summit (WCS) about wanting to make a new anime. The committee running the WCS was a company based in Aichi Prefecture’s Nagoya city. At first, they wanted to make an anime with only Aichi natives, but that is a pretty high hurdle (laughs). So, they juggled with the idea of Tokai region [Aichi, Shizuoka, Mie and southern Gifu prefectures] and Gifu native Kuroda floated into my head (laughs). It had been sixteen years since we worked on s-CRY-ed together. Our situations are different, and our thought processes have changed with age, so I wanted to come together once again and tackle a project from our current position. That’s what I felt at the time. That and I’d recently worked on Maria the Virgin Witch with Kurata Hideyuki (who worked as a scriptwriter at same Studio ORPHEE with Kuroda) after ten years, and it was a great experience to see what changed and what didn’t when working together.

2

— Kuroda, how did you feel when you received the offer from director Taniguchi.

Kuroda: Nothing in particular (laughs).

Taniguchi: (Cracking up) Everyone expected some kind of dramatic scene.

Kuroda: (Laughs) It was more like director Taniguchi and I had spoken briefly about it when we’d met up previously, so when I got the offer, it was like “Ah, it’s here.” It was when I heard the general story that I started to get motivated to work on the project. A story like ID-0 isn’t something that anyone could put together, so I felt a need to be part of the team. I had worked with Taniguchi in 2011 and 2012 for s-CRY-ed: Alteration, but it’s been over ten years since we wrote from the ground up. I was most looking forward to that.

Taniguchi: From where I stood, it didn’t seem like Kuroda had changed, and that saved me.

— When you both first worked on s-CRY-ed you were in your mid-thirties but, now as you enter into your fifties do you find it surprising that you both haven’t changed much?

Taniguchi: We’re just a couple of idiots (laughs).

Kuroda: Our mental age isn’t going up any more than this. Putting it nicely, we are young at heart; not so nicely, we are just immature (laughs).

Taniguchi: We can never forget our youthful spirits (laughs). In the anime industry, if you don’t do that, you can’t create anything. Kuroda’s values haven’t slipped off the deep end, but he knows what’s cool and we can come to an agreement on that. Some ten years ago we were able to agree on going out drinking every night.

Kuroda: We’ve gathered a lot of knowledge and techniques over the years, but our foundation stayed the same. That’s how our reunion felt.

Taniguchi: Because our values haven’t changed, there wasn’t this dramatic showdown during the book reading (meeting about the script). There was no knock-down drag-out fight with someone scream “How dare you come here with this piece of garbage! Get out!” (laughs)

3

Molding the Character into the World

— Before any requests were made of Kuroda, to what extent had you filled in the bones of the story?

Taniguchi: Well, Kuroda only received a bulk order from the production committee once. It was stuff like “We want robots to appear.” We research and lay the tracks along those lines.

Kuroda: That order — that there had to be robots — was put forward to appeal to an older audience. Based on that decision, we met to discuss what we would whip up.

— Was it decided from the start that this would be a 3DCG project?

Taniguchi: It wasn’t decided at first. Once Kuroda came on board, they decided it would be 3DCG. It was kind of like: if there was trouble, of any kind, we had a capable scriptwriter that could save us. Not only that but because the World Cosplay Summit name would be attached, it seemed like a show that would not only aimed at Japan but the whole world as well. It’s not that planned to ignore Japan but instead would set our roots here while we branched out to the rest of the world. I told Kuroda that we needed to drop the spirit-of-robots idea, instead, opting to have robots with spirits basically possessing them; and Shirato [Seiichi]  (credited as the setting researcher) followed along after some back and forth while creating the characters.

Kuroda: When Bandai Visual’s Chief Producer Yukawa (Jun) evaluated it, he told us to age it down a little bit (laughs).

Taniguchi: Originally we had the cast littered with older men getting wrapped up in the idea that they don’t need women, but we were quickly told to cut out our shenanigans (laughs).

Kuroda: I have a rather extreme personality, so when I heard this I ended up putting a tiny little girl… (laughs) They got mad again telling us that was too young. Sorry about that!

4

— When was it decided this would focus on a team?

Taniguchi: From the beginning. I thought that having a lone wolf hero would prove difficult for the Japanese viewers. That’s why, while Ido is our hero, he had the Excavate employees working alongside him as a team. We talked about them being similar to a Suicide Attack A-Team.

Kuroda: Thunderbird is the same way. There is also a number of modeling lines that you have to take into account when working on 3DCG projects. We could place cameras in the Stulti and it would end up being easier, or rather necessary, in creating a central point of drama for developments. If you put those together with some resemblance of a storyline, it all comes together. And since we went to the trouble of creating the characters’ relationships we wanted them to shine through. If we thought of something better, we would’ve naturally headed that way.

— Not long ago, Anime!Anime! invited three members to discuss ID-0 and they pointed out how much of ID-0 is an outlaw team story.

Kuroda: Yeah, it’s virtually Fast and the Furious — A group that lives life in an extremely dark gray area.

Taniguchi: Everyone likes Fast and the Furious; I like Fast and the Furious. Moreover, those kind of realistic hands-on stories are fading out. We were making this for a worldwide audience, so I didn’t want to contain anything.

Kuroda: We wanted the characters personalities to be very pronounced since we anticipated a worldwide release. It was necessary to have them easily understood no matter what country you were watching from. Ido is the quiet type, and Rick is the mood maker — easily identifiable marker to pick up.

— ID-0 has a heavy theme dealing with identity, but the characters never seemed to be bogged down by this.

Taniguchi: That wasn’t intentional.

Kuroda: When I’ve participated in other projects, I’ve been told that if there were plans to sell overseas the character had to be assertive. Passive characters were a no-go. When an enemy attacks, it’s not a hesitant “Is fighting my only option?”, it’s an aggressive “Let’s fight!”

Taniguchi: Definitely. Overseas, the Gundam series that are the most appreciated are the ones like Mobile Fighters G Gundam and Gundam Wing — both which feature fighting without remorse. Both of us are also the types who are just like “Go and hit him!” (laughs) so the cast was never one to struggle.

**Slight Spoilers**

— As the episodes played out the story was at a constant simmer, but as soon as episode ten came out, things exploded.

Taniguchi: Addams’s voice actor, Koyasu (Takehito), really blew up there (laughs). Up until then, he’d been saving it all up. Actually, Koyasu was the only one we explained the whole story to from the start, so he recorded knowing the entire situation. He didn’t discuss it with any of the other cast members, so he must have been worrying over it all by himself (laughs). Episode ten finally liberated him.

Kuroda: He was so liberated his voice went falsetto (laughs).

5

— Why did you only inform some of the cast of the whole story?

Taniguchi: If they know the whole story beforehand, there is a risk of them performing as if they have that knowledge. If the character didn’t know, then the voice actor didn’t have to, either. Television is a battle with time. This might sound a bit cold, but we want raw voices. In order to get the best of that, unnecessary information merely becomes an obstacle. That’s why, a lot of the time, we don’t say anything. We told Koyasu everything because Addams knew everything.

Kuroda: By not telling them, their characters also didn’t know what was what in the opening for episode two. They were wondering what it meant by “the remains of hateful memories.” (laughs)

Taniguchi: The voice actors were rather troubled on how to maintain a composed performance (laughs). That wasn’t exactly what we wanted.

**End Slight Spoilers**

Kuroda Yousuke — The actual meaning behind calling ID-0 a pure science fiction?

— Kuroda, on Studio Orphee’s Twitter page you wrote: “This is probably the first time I’ve worked on a true work of science fiction.” What did you mean by this?

Kuroda: What I wrote about was the science fiction rooted theme. ID-0 isn’t a drama merely using science fiction as a vessel, but a show that started with the science fiction and added in the drama later. Transferring a person’s consciousness and Orichalt are often melted into the story. They were such a pivotal point that without them, it would have been impossible to bring the story to life. Usually, it’s the other way around. That’s why I phrased it the way I did. So it’s not an issue of appearance, but the matter of how I worked on it.

— How did you find that method?

Kuroda: I don’t get a lot of chances to work on a project like this often, so it was like slowly, bit by bit, opening up ten years worth of ideas. That was fun. I was able to struggle on ideas with Taniguchi, just like when we butted heads while making s-CRY-ed and [Infinite] Ryvius. The science fiction research that Shirato did saved me, as well. I could write in peace knowing he was there check what was plausible and what was not. I’m glad he was able to follow along with my inadequate terminology. Without Shirato I would have been like “Well, this gets the point across at least.” (laughs) I was able to ask him if there was better wording to convey a certain feeling or if a tactic was scientifically plausible. Just like how I checked my ideas with Taniguchi, I checked with Shirato before continuing. Something I appreciated about Shirato was he never gave a flat out “no” but offered up alternatives in a more hands-on approach. Consulting with him was easy. Taniguchi and I have worked on countless projects with him, so we create in sync. On the poster, it’s written Taniguchi Goro x Kuroda Yousuke x SANZIGEN, but Shirato put so much effort in, I wouldn’t mind if his name were added on. I’m so thankful.

6

Taniguchi: I’ve also found the chances to go all out on SF has declined with the times. I was ecstatic just being able to work with SF again. That is because Shirato was right there walking in that SF world — without people like him, there are parts too daunting to be made.

— Director Taniguchi, what do you enjoy about making SF?

Taniguchi: I think a whole lot more anime should be SF. Just leave the definition of SF to the side for a moment (laughs), that’s just business. Recently fantasy set games have been picking up. With these conditions even if we were to get across that SF is enjoyable and entertaining, the plan doesn’t get accepted. ID-0 as an SF, with robots on top of that, in this day and age there was no way it would get ok’ed.

Kuroda: Stepping on a landmine aren’t you? (laughs)

Taniguchi: No, not me (laughs). In these conditions, we’re allowed to make SF, but only because it’s not only aimed at the Japanese market. In that way, it returns to being an anime genre boasted by Japan. Even right now in Japan, shows like KADO: The Right Answer and BLAME! are — strangely — completely 3D animation but, they are establishing a resurgence of creating SF. I’m glad ID-0 was able to ride along with that.

Kuroda: If it were a story just for Japan, it wouldn’t have been written the same way. I’d be forced to make the robots more weapon-like. The characters being robots is part of the charm of ID-0. At the very least I’d have written the scenario with the thought of a large character on set or written in someone special that, even if they got their arm ripped off, wouldn’t feel pain. It’s why Ebikawa (Kanetake) is credited as the mechanical character designer, no the mechanical designer. This was something we were rather particular about. He designed our characters. It might be placed under the robot genre, but, personally, I didn’t categorize it as such while writing.

7

Taniguchi: I’m so thankful for Ebikawa’s work. When it came to the designs, he was able to create a backbone for them that was very similar to humans. He understood how strict this needed to be. There is a very indistinguishable line in the difference between how a human skeleton is created and how a robot one is created. On top of that, we needed the possibility for the units not to be too unique but mass producible and he beautifully designed them that way.

The Contrast in Taniguchi and Kuroda’s Creative Drive

— Since we’re here discussing the planning process, and you two talk about knowing each other so long, please tell us what makes Taniguchi Goro, Taniguchi Goro and what makes Kuroda Yousuke, Kuroda Yousuke?

Kuroda: This is just my personal thoughts on it, but when I watch Taniguchi’s works I think, Taniguchi Goro must hate humans (laughs).

Taniguchi: What!?

Kuroda: There are some really cold scenes sometimes.

Taniguchi: Ahh, I’m told that every so often.

Kuroda: There are some seriously frigid performances where characters plan to backstab another character. But if you know what’s coming up, it actually kind of is pleasant to spot. I’ve been stabbed so many times now I’m used to it (laughs).

— Did ID-0 have that kind of scene?

Kuroda: It does. Someone who’s watching it for the first time is bound to see through rose-colored glasses and refrain from raising suspicion on some of the more concrete scenes, but there are at least two places.

Taniguchi: Probably, it’s because I admire Takahata Isao [Grave of the Fireflies] and Takahashi Ryousuke [Armored Troopers Votoms] (laughs). Both of them had human observations as subjects in their works. But, yeah, huh, I wonder why I do that. My thoughts on Kuroda are on the completely opposite field. I think he goes too deep into affection; you don’t have to drown yourself in it.

Kuroda: I’m a cowardly person. Before someone gets angry, I splash them with kindness.

Taniguchi: What I’m saying is it’s too much kindness. If you keep adding and adding so much, your limiter is going to have a moment where it just burst. There is some fun in that, though. Kuroda has faith in people — he wants to have faith in people. I probably don’t have that in me. I mean, I think I do, but other people tell me differently (laughs). Kuroda believes in humans or anything similar and doesn’t so much rely on it, but sets it as his center. That is a clear distinction between him and other screenwriters. Maybe it’s best put that he reviews humans’ true worth. People perceive the world differently, so it’s not always a matter of what is right or wrong. Even more than the different experiences everyone has, it’s probably dependent on their way of life, or how they were brought up. When we needed to have meetings, there was a broad range of values that clashed, and we had to figure out how to bundle them up nicely. I’m pretty happy with the results despite our differences.

8

— On August 29th the Bluray Box is set to release. Looking at your work again, please tell us what you, as the creator, think are the important points.

Taniguchi: First, I think there should be a focus on the characters, but if it’s your second time through, I really want people to pay attention to the backgrounds. Our art director Kaneko (Yuuji) faced many challenges with the bridge and the halls in the Stulti. When we had our first meeting with the CG animation director and the editing director we called in Kon (Yoshikazu), our 3DCG supervisor, Okumura (Daisuke), our director of photography, as well as Kaneko the art director in order to ensure we were starting off on the right foot with the 3D style. If we were all able to come to a mutual understanding in one go, we’d be able to discuss other things in more detail. Without that, there would have been plenty of unfaceable challenges for Kaneko.

— Because a lot of the people have experienced the story, what fun can one look forward to in the second viewing?

Kuroda: Rewatching the opening to the second episode will have a new meaning, as you’ll have seen the details pertaining to it. Going in knowing the truth you’ll see the subtle trembling in what Ido says and does — you’ll see the directors artistic flavor bubble up. I also intended for ID-0 to be very dense in material, and while I’ll defend the ending of episode one till the bitter end I still felt like I wrote enough to warrant an apology for its massive quantity.

Taniguchi: When I think about the stage ID-0 was put on, a one-cour TV anime on our budget and schedule, I’m pretty proud of the high quality we put out. I’d be so thankful if everyone enjoyed the artistic challenges and excitement. Finally, there is the performance put on by the voice actors. Even with restrictions in place, they were able to perform in their way. If you listen at home, with the episodes on repeat, it might be possible to understand what in the world Fa-Loser is saying. Oh, and don’t forget there are bonuses in the Bluray!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s