R.O.D. Staff

by Chris Macdonald, transcription: George Phillips, Apr 17th 2005
Why call a cartoon "Read or Die"? Because it started as a book, that's why. The cult hit came from the mind of Hideyuki Kurata, or whatever was left of it after he had scripted Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga. From his ragged thoughts, the team of director Koji Masunari, producer Yuki Matsukura, and character designer Masashi Ishihama used a ton of paper to create a cast of quirky characters, a story tinged with history, and...well, a ton of paper.

With that kind of talent and that much...paper...you'd think this crazy quartet could do anything they wanted. But even dream worlds have boundaries, as Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers' descendants reminded them. Edison a villain? The Wrights gone wrong? Permission denied.

Thank you very much for this opportunity. Mr. Ishihama, what were you focusing on with each character, with the paper sisters and Yomiko Readman? What were you trying to get across with their character designs? What features did you want to characterize and show the viewers? What did you want them to really get from their first impression of the characters?

Ishihama: In my case, it wasn't so much designing from scratch, as the original designer was there. So, my work was to try to add on to the original design, and to make them work in an animated format, while trying to be true to the original design. I wasn't really thinking about the first impression of the audience and such.

Mr. Masunari, did you make any special considerations when working on R.O.D. The TV, to make it follow up for people who have already seen the OVA series? Were there any considerations for how it would flow from the OVA series, given that it started with three characters of the series that the fans had not yet seen?

Masunari: The first episode is the most important, of course, because I wanted to show everyone that although the sibling characters were introduced, it was still R.O.D. and what they create is R.O.D. Really, all the work went into the first episode.

So far there's R.O.D. the TV and Read or Die the OVA series. But in the original novel, there's a lot of backstory that hasn't yet been animated. Would you like to do more animation based on Read or Die, or are there any other particular aspects of the story that you'd like to put forth for your viewers?

Masunari: As far as whether any other stories from the original would ever become an anime, we don't think so. In the future, if there is a new anime, it would come from an original work someplace. It would be adaptations of new stuff that haven't yet been written.

Prior to working on the animation, when you first became involved in the project, what was it that attracted you to the story? It's a very different anime from your typical anime, what aspects interested you? How did you first become involved, and how was it presented to you?

Ishihama: In this case, I got involved because I was working in the company. Basically, they requested me to create a story with a female spy character, and I was told that it could be as original as I wanted to make it. I let my imagination go and this is what I created; glasses, books, lamp posts, action, pigeons, white doves..

Masunari:I got involved because it was just a scheduling thing. I was just asked to direct the series, and that's how I got involved.

Matsukura: In reality, I wasn't really doing anything and was contacted by the director. I got involved from the TV series. They thought someone a little younger than the main staff would be better to control the staff. *laughter*

Ishihama: In this case, as with creating a story; I can't really work well with making the character sexy or overly cute, so I just did what came naturally. Those characters are, personally, the kind of girls I'm attracted to. So that's how it happened.

Masunari: The way I've been working with this is that I didn't want to force them to be cute, but I felt that if these characters dealt with particular situations that came up, it'll naturally evolve them to be what we have today. I didn't want anything to be forced, and I didn't want them to be cute by intentionally making them cute for the sake of it.

Ishihama: When I'm creating, I'm not really conscious that these characters are different than other anime characters or anything. It's pretty much being told what to do, and then realizing after-the-fact “Oh yeah, the characters turned out this way”.

Matsukura: Just to add what they're talking about, it feels like we're more focused on making a good story. Characters, as far as whether they're cute or attractive, are secondary to it. Of course, with Mr. Ishihama's work, so it's hard not to make them cute. But as the director was saying, we're not focusing in on making cute characters, but good stories.

Mr. Kurata, I was wondering “Why a library?” It was a very unique setting for the story. The characters and the whole concept is very original. What attracted you to this concept?

Kurata: I just love books, and so basically that's how I chose it. In a typical day, I go to six bookstores, and I do that 6 days a week.. for 34 years. I've also spent that much money on books, so I wanted to use books to get money back.. and this is the result.

What is your favorite book?

Kurata: It's hard to pick one favorite, but the one that left the most impression on me was “War of the Worlds” by Wells.

Thank you very much for your time.

All: Thank you!


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