Interview with 7SEEDS Director Yukio Takahashi

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7SEEDS is an anime based on the manga of the same name by Yumi Tamura, which ran from 2001 to 2017. Although a shojo manga (i.e. targeted at a young female demographic), 7SEEDS is a sci-fi survival story that has accumulated many fans, selling a total of over 6 million volumes (including digital sales). The first part of the anime adaptation was released on Netflix Japan in June 2019, and was later followed by a TV broadcast in January 2020. The second part of the adaptation was released on Netflix Japan on 26 March 2020.

When Natsu opens her eyes, she is surrounded by ocean. The raging waves take her to an island together with strangers Arashi, Semimaru and Botan. The island is covered by wild jungle inhabited by giant plants, ferocious animals and humongous insects. As they struggle against these new natural enemies, a woman who claims to be their guide tells them the unbelievable truth about the 7SEEDS plan. This involved cryogenically preserving young, healthy humans so that they could survive a global disaster and thus save mankind from extinction. Natsu and the others are shocked to learn that they are the results of the 7SEEDS project, and now these hand-picked survivors must fight for their lives.

How will they live in a post-apocalyptic world?
MANGA.TOKYO were delighted to be given the opportunity to interview series director Yukio Takahashi.

Could you tell us how you came to work on this project?

I’ve worked on anime for GONZO before, and a producer at the time said I might be good for the job. I think it was my directing work on previous series that landed me the job.

What was your first impression of the manga?

The manga has a lot of serious human drama so it’s easy to get sucked into. I was very engaged as I read it.

Did it feel like a shojo manga?

Honestly I read it without even thinking about whether it was a ‘shojo’ or ‘seinen’ manga, or whether the target demographic was male or female. I was worried about how we would be able to adapt it into anime, as the manga was already a brilliant storyline with well-depicted characters.. However, I think the way it portrays the state of mind of the characters is what gives it away as a shojo manga. What makes shojo manga difficult to adapt into anime is the need to express the characters’ emotions with the monologues and direction rather than simply with dialog. If we portray their feelings entirely through dialog, then we’d just have a lot of talking and each scene would visually look too similar. When we had meetings regarding the scenario, we would discuss how much we should be condensing the narrative and how we could draw out the true core of the story. It isn’t too problematic for shonen manga, as the characters tend to simply say what they are thinking.

What did you pay particular attention to when making this series?

With it having such a large cast of characters, the psychological depiction of each one would become central to the story, so it was important to be careful in how we depicted them in relation to each other. Most of the developments in the anime happen in the same order as in the manga. We also had to keep in mind that the anime would be streaming overseas as well, so we wrote the scenes so that the overseas audience would enjoy them too. I asked the photography unit to pay attention to how they visually expressed the depth of the spaces.

I’m sure it must have been difficult to portray a post-apocalyptic world.

We needed to create backgrounds unlike anything in the real world, so I’m sure it was a lot of work for the art team. What made it more difficult yet more compelling was the fact that we had these completely fictional backdrops, but with real buildings that had eroded with time. We discussed how eroded the buildings should be with the art director.

Did you pay particular attention to how you were to depict the characters? Was it quite difficult as there were so many of them?

Each character has their own individual charm, so I think they’ve each attracted their own set of fans. Unfortunately there just isn’t enough time to put focus on every single character. I consulted with the head of series composition, and we decided to only really focus on the main characters. By main characters I mean Natsu, Arashi and Semimaru of Team Summer B, Hana and Haru of Team Spring, Ango, Ryo and Koruri of Team Summer A and Aramaki of Team Winter. We basically just tried to focus on the characters who were essential to the progression of the story.

There are some characters with a lot of action scenes and some without.

According to Tamura herself, the story would progress too slowly if the focus were solely on Natsu, which is why Hana was added to add more action-packed scenes for contrast. However, Natsu is still the protagonist at the end of the day. It is essentially the story of her growth, so we were careful in showing her mature little by little as time went by.

If you had to choose, which team would you join?

I think it could be fun to join Team Summer B.

Are there any characters in particular that you relate to?

I think I am closest to Natsu. I tend to be a bit reserved, like her.

Are there any scenes that you put extra heart into, or that you would like us to pay extra attention to?

As the director, I’d like you to pay attention to all of it. However, if I had to pick one episode from the first 12 episodes, then it would probably be the story of the Ryugu shelter (from Episode 7). The subject matter is quite heavy, so when we tried to depict it fully the episode ended up clocking in at 32 minutes. As we needed to be able to also broadcast the episode on TV, I was almost in tears as I had to find ways to cut it down. The TV version is about 22 minutes long. We definitely worked hard on the Ryugu Shelter arc. The Netflix version is the full length, so I recommend that fans check it out on there.

We have a question from one of our readers:
_eclipso_ asks: What will be your next project after 7SEEDS

There’s nothing that I can announce right now. I just finished 7SEEDS at the end of last year, so we’ll have to see from here.

Do you have a message for the fans?

First of all, I’d be happy if you could watch the series. If you got into this series via the anime, I would be very happy if you could read the manga as there is so much we couldn’t put in. For fans who started with the manga, I would like for you to enjoy seeing the characters moving and talking on-screen.

Thank you for your time.

Yukio Takahashi

From Kanagawa Prefecture.
After working in anime as photography staff and an assistant production manager, Takahashi made his directorial debut as an episode director of Pokonyan!. He has worked on many shows with GONZO, and was a chief episode director on LASTEXILE -Fam, The Silver Wing-. His first work as a director was Dog & Scissors. He worked as a director on LASTEXILE -Fam, The Silver Wing- Over The Wishes and 18if (Episodes 6 and 11).

7SEEDS

Original Work

Yumi Tamura 7SEEDS (serialized in Shogakukan’s “flowers” flower Comics α)

Staff

Director: Yukio Takahashi
Series Composition: Toko Machida
Character Design: Yoko Sato
Animation Production: GONZO/Studio KAI

Cast

Natsu Iwashimizu: Nao Toyama
Arashi Aota: Jun Fukuyama
Semimaru Asai: Katsuyuki Konishi
Botan Saotome: Yoko Soumi
Matsuri Tendo: Kana Asumi
Chimaki Yamori: Akira Ishida
Hotaru Kusakari: Aoi Yuki

Official Website (Japanese): http://7seeds.jp/
Official Twitter (Japanese): https://twitter.com/7SEEDS_anime

Official Streaming Sites: Netflix

©2019 Yumi Tamura, Shogakukan / 7SEEDS Project
Based on the original graphic novel “7SEEDS” by Yumi Tamura published by Shogakukan Inc. (flowers flower comics α)

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