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Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers Interview with Director Takahashi

by Pony Canyon (Paid Advertisement),

In anticipation of PONYCAN's upcoming home video release of Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers, we sat down with director Takeo Takahashi to find out why Rokka is so damned good.

The visuals seem to have a South American influence. What were some of the inspirations you used for the backgrounds and sets?

Around the time when I was in middle school, there was this sci-fi anime series on TV titled The Mysterious Cities of Gold. It focused on Central and South American civilizations, and I couldn't wait to watch the show every week. I've had an interest in Central and South American history and culture ever since. I like novels and films set in Central and South America, as well. Even now, I go to museums that have exhibits on South American civilizations.

The poncho Adlet wore in episode one wasn't originally in the novels, but it was something that was added because of the association with the South American motif. The poncho also led to other ideas we tried to include, like the surprise in A Fistful of Dollars and Back to the Future III when they lift up the poncho, and bang! I'm also a fan of Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns, actually.

The cinematography is really great, with some very dynamic and unusual camera movements. Can you talk about your thought process when planning these shots?

When it was decided to adapt the first novel over a full cour, I wanted to make the most of the camerawork to make up for the lack of change in setting. It boiled down to the fact that because we were using a full cour for the first volume, we didn't want to bore the viewers with the lack of changes to the artwork during conversations and the scenery. However, doing three-dimensional camerawork by using 3DCG for a hand-drawn anime requires quite the budget and time to execute. TV anime series follow a strict budget and schedule, so production won't finish in time if we wait until after the script or storyboards arrive. We took the finalized parts of the script in stages and worked out which scenes we needed to do more camerawork on in advance, then placed requests for the art design. Once the art boards were finished, we requested the 3DCG that was used for the camerawork. While the script and storyboards were being worked on, the 3D modelling was already in progress as well.

Rokka has very natural, yet informative dialogue between main characters, something that seems characteristic of all the series you've directed. What is the process that you and the writers go through to create the dialogue?

The most important thing for me when writing a scenario is what each scene is trying to express, and whether this can be done through the characters or not. I don't really include specific details about each line of dialogue. The dialogue just comes together naturally when doing the work that comes after writing it: the storyboards, the editing, and the dialogue recording. The writer focuses on the plot and story, so the storyboard, episode, editing, and sound directors collectively handle the dialogue. I think that making the lines of dialogue exchanged between characters feel like they have more meaning to them, rather than just words, is one of the tricks to make conversation scenes come alive.

Despite Rokka's large cast of characters, none slip into old stereotypes - the characters are always changing. Was it important for you to have a constantly evolving cast??

I think that due to the gradual pace the series had by adapting the first volume over an entire cour, the viewers were able to notice the character development more clearly. If we had have gone and made a series with a faster pace, I think the character development would've gotten lost in the story, and they would have slipped into stereotypes. I think that the reason the characters seemed to be constantly changing is a result of the pacing.

How did you manage to keep the suspense and tension surrounding the identity of the traitor alive for so long?

To make sure we kept the identity of the culprit a mystery, we were careful not to include inner monologues or flashbacks scenes for any characters other than Adlet. If you accept the objective reality of the viewer's perspective- that there is a camera inside someone's mind- you also have to accept that it would be unfair to the viewer to remove that later (I believe Hitchcock mentioned this in his book Le cinéma selon Alfred Hitchcock, known in English as Hitchcock by François Truffaut).

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What were some of the challenges in planning a show where everyone is potentially a traitor?

I was very careful not to overly obfuscate the mystery. There have been many mystery-themed TV series in the past, but I believe the ones that fail are the ones that obfuscate their mystery too much so the viewer won't be able to know what's going to happen ahead of time, and this displeases the audience. Creators are afraid of the viewer figuring out the culprit, so they end up repeating the same mistake of just revealing the culprit or crime without any foreshadowing over and over, so I was particularly mindful of avoiding that.

Rokka has elements of a mystery story, in addition to being an adventure and action story. How did this influence the way you directed the series?

In order to add a mystery to an animated work with a genre that isn't based in reality and where anything goes, like fantasy, we paid careful attention to keeping the level of reality consistent. The series I've worked on up until now have more or less had some mystery or suspense elements to them, (for example, Spice and Wolf) so there wasn't really a big difference in how I directed.

What were some of the challenges in directing a series with such a large cast?

As far as the drawing, for the scenes where there were multiple characters in the same area at the same time, we adjusted the character placement and arrangement to match the flow of the story in order to avoid confusing the audience. The voice actors and actresses this time were all highly skilled, so recording was incredibly smooth every time. For this project, the recording studio was the least stressful place during production.

What are some of your favorite aspects of Rokka?

The developments at the end of episode four leading into episode five. I like the moment it switches from the fantasy story it had been until that point into a mystery story. I've always liked movies like Psycho. It has a surprise, which completely changes how I view the movie due to the midpoint surprise. It changes your viewpoint.

If you were a Saint, what would your powers be?

I'd like to be the Saint of Time. Deadlines are always the greatest enemy of animation production, after all.


Takeo Takahashi

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers- can be ordered now on RightStuf.com

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers-
Collector's Edition 01 (Blu-ray, DVD, & CD Combo Set)


Release Date: 12/10/15
Price: SRP $89.98 / Store Price $71.98

Disc Features
・Spoken Languages: Japanese
・Subtitles: English/Spanish
・Aspect Ratio: 16:9 widescreen
・Episodes: Episodes 1-4
・Number of Discs: 3 Discs (1 BD + 1 DVD + 1 CD)
・Total Run Time: approx. 96 min.
・Rating: ALL

・Clean Opening ver.1
・Clean Ending ver.1

・Exclusive Mega Tall size “DODEKA” Disc Case
・Original Soundtrack vol.1
・Double-sided cover illustrated by Sayaka Koiso
・Deluxe booklet
・Character Card 3pcs
・Exclusive “PONYCAN US” Plastic Slipcase

Customers who pre-order Collector's Edition 01 by November 20, 2015 will also receive a replica key frame set!

In addition to the original GWP offer, customers will also get one ORIGINAL animation key frame while supplies last!!

Special limited offer!
You will be able to receive an episode storyboard done by Takeo Takahashi with the
purchase of all three Collector's Editions (1-3) while supplies last. Eligibility for this
special limited offer lasts until the end of the pre-order period for Collector's Edition 3.

PONYCAN USA Official Site:
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Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Official Site: rokka-anime.us

(C)Ishio Yamagata/SHUEISHA,ProjectROKKA

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