Dougram: A Short Interview with Director Takahashi Ryosuke

This interview is from the 1983 August edition of OUT with a brief word from Takahashi Ryosuke on his, at the time, recently completed series Fang of the Sun Dougram. I will warn you right now that this interview has MASSIVE SPOILERS, so if you absolutely despise spoilers and haven’t seen the show, it might be best to sit this one out.


EB6A9616-46FB-4BD6-AF1D-27CFB841EA62

Takahashi Ryosuke in 1983

— With Dougram telling the story in the form of a documentary, didn’t that leave character development as an afterthought?

Takahashi: Well, I honestly wanted to focus on both the plot and the characters’ development (laughs). I mean, I probably could have filled out all seventy-five episodes with Rick Boyard and his administration in Palmina. He plays fair and isn’t an old Scrooge. He’s not the worn out elite he makes himself out to be, but instead is an idealist and that’s what Crinn liked about him. Unfortunately, Palmina closed its doors off to society. That was enough to keep Rick content, though. It’s stuff like that, that I didn’t get to write. It’s really a shame that I couldn’t, but everything needed to fit nicely into one story, so I did the best with what I could.

— Can you tell us a bit about Dougram’s murky division between good and bad?

Takahashi: Of course, in our lives, there is good and evil everywhere you look, but not everything functions perfectly on one side or the other. Rules and morals manifest because of that divide, but they’re not perfect—they’re made by humans after all. It’s okay not to always follows those rules. You can question the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. When our main characters get wrapped up in a situation, they have to weigh what’s important to them. First and foremost, they’re still at war. If they sent a bomb over to the enemy, people would lose their lives. I put in a lot of tough situations in Dougram that even I don’t know how I’d go about solving them.

Those were the times when Crinn struggled the most. I let him struggle because that’s the kind of character he is. Instead of coming to a clear-cut decision, as long as he could convince himself by, say, 70% then he could come to terms with leaving behind the other 30% of his feelings. By doing that, I think he slowly grows as a character. If he was able to make decisions without any hesitation, I think he’d die without ever becoming an adult (laughs).

—Can you tell us the reason behind ending the TV series the way you did?

Takahashi: Recently, I’ve found that humans getting double-crossed to be incredibly dynamic. After the gears on a plan get put into motion, they keep moving, but the person that initiated it loses their place. There is a high probability that humans, almost like clockwork, will die part way through their efforts. It doesn’t matter if it was the Meiji Restoration or anything else; history is always moving. That’s why it didn’t matter if Donan, or Samalin, or Lecoque died—history would just keep moving.

— At the heart of all the problems and developments in Deloyer were two men—Donan and Samalin. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Takahashi: Despite Crinn and his gang being our main characters, at the end of the day, this is a story that revolves around the acts of the various adults like Donan, Samalin, Lecoque, and Carmel.

9DA10060-B340-4439-81AD-5B1CBC2CB1E6

The Fang of the Sun group gets lumped together while the rest of the primarily adult cast gets shown.

Donan’s way of thinking led him to prioritize and be satisfied with a society where 80% of the population was happy. Before, only 20% had been happy, but with hard work under his leadership, he was able to bring that up to 80%. The people of Deloyer were, of course, included in that 20%, but that was not unnoticed. It might have taken some decades, but he strived for bringing that 80% up to 90% or even 100%. Samalin is in the same boat as Donan, by the way. But if Donan were the aggressive side of the theoretical coin, Samalin would be the passive side. On top of that, to Donan, fighting is something you can only do with two participants. If all of humanity was unified under one federation, there wouldn’t be any reason or possibility for a fight to break out. That’s why Deloyer trying to attain independence was such a huge step backward in his book. The fighting that he had been striving so hard to avoid ended up happening regardless.

cybpi1jvqaqakr8

Samalin was always saying that the group had to create their own history, but he didn’t mean taking events of the past and working them in your favor. No, he meant that if they feel there is something they wanted to do, then they should be able to do it. Even if they get something wrong, or make a mistake, that becomes another stepping stone towards their goal. They keep progressing, no matter what. If blood is spilled, they would have to accept the consequences—it’s a bit romanticized. He’s not as realistic as Donan, so it’s a lot easier for the younger generation to latch onto his kind of thinking. If I’m honest, I’m a fan of Donan. Being an adult means looking at Donan and thinking, “ahh I get what he’s doing.” That’s why I had him in there as the adult representative and a pillar of the central drama.

There’s something else Donan, Samalin, and even Crinn have, and that’s personal ambition. However, the character that represented this to a sinister degree, of course, was Lecoque. In terms of intelligence, he’s the man to turn to, but he isn’t the type to personally get into a physical altercation. It’s possible that he’s actually strong, but he would never initiate a fight. He gets punched around a lot but believes that in this society, the one that does the hitting is the loser. I’m sure there are a lot of people just like Lecoque who have grown used to getting punched around a lot (laughs). Me, for instances, but man, I have to hand it to him for pulling through after all those hits (laughs).

Finally, there’s Carmel that we have to bring up. At first, he felt like your average diplomat, but the lines started blurring, and it was difficult to tell if he was a diplomat trying to assure safety or a just a salesman trying to pitch his ideals. Amidst all the confusion, he started as a soldier and could’ve either gradually worked his way to the heart of an organization—trading in his military garb for a suit—or he could’ve pressed forward to defeat their enemy. He may be considered weak by the standards of the show, but I’m sure there are many like him thinking ‘it’s like I’m looking in a mirror’ (laughs). I mean, even I hope I can reach such a cool resolve as the other characters if I get the chance. In that situation, I’d like to try at least (laughs).

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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