Interview: Atsushi Ootsuki

by Bamboo Dong,

Last fall, we asked readers to send in questions for Atsushi Ootsuki, the director of Wagnaria!! Season 2.

Wagnaria!! Season 2 is currently available in North America from NIS America. The two-disc Blu-ray boxset was released on February 4, 2014 and includes a hardcover art book that includes an episode guide, character information for new characters, and full-color illustrations. The video extras include two clean endings.

Based on Karino Takatsu 's original manga, the story follows high school freshman Sota Takanashi (played by Jun Fukuyama) who works part-time at a restaurant with strange staff members. The first season of the restaurant comedy aired in Japan during the spring 2010 anime season. The series also stars Kana Asumi as Popura Taneshima and Saki Fujita as Mahiru Inami. Atsushi Ootsuki (To Love-Ru -Trouble- Darkness, Kanokon: The Girl Who Cried Fox) directed the second season at A-1 Pictures off of Takao Yoshioka 's (WATAMOTE, Elfen Lied) scripts.

Taking over from the previous director (Yoshimasa Hiraike), what were some cues you felt were important to change or carry over from the first season?

I'm not sure how successful I was, but ultimately I wanted to capture that feeling of “something's weird, but it's still fun” for this season as well.

Was it tough creating a flow or continuity for entire episodes from something that originally was just a 4-panel comic?

You have to be very cautious when converting materials that use different sentence structures. I'm sure this holds true for all anime titles that are based on comic strips. I think this is something I could've done better, too.

A manga isn't exactly written to encompass 13 episodes, so how do you decide what the main focus of a show or which arcs are used for a season such as Wagnaria!!'s 2nd season?

For the second season, we didn't want to focus that much on character growth or disrupting the status quo. Part of the reason for this is the amount of original material, as well as the first volume of the TV series. With that in mind, our attempt was to portray the characters as they lived their static lives. That way, the viewers could just keep watching it without it needing a specific ending.

Having previously directed comedy/fanservice shows (Ladies versus Butlers!, Motto To Love Ru), what drew your attention to a slice of life/comedy like Wagnaria!!?

I would say the personalities of the characters in the original series. Each character is strange in their own way. I like that they all take matters seriously and make logical decisions (within their own standard of logic), which results in even more confusion and silly drama.

Is it more challenging to direct a series that is already popular because there are higher fan expectations? Or less so, because you do not have to worry as much about whether the show will be successful?

It's definitely a challenge. When there's a new director, it's inevitable that something will be different, but I believe it's the director's responsibility to follow up on that.

People who work passionately on a project usually see themselves in it; which character on Wagnaria!! do you share this bond with?


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