- Interview with Ryu Nakayama ChainsawMan
- Ryu Nakayama and 12 different ending songs
- What Ryu Nakayama thought of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Twitter feed
- Ryu Nakayama’s Views on Extreme Depictions in Anime
- Ryu Nakayama considers the respective strengths of hand-drawn animation and 3DCG
- Ryu Nakayama 「I want to take on challenges with a broad perspective.」
Interview with Ryu Nakayama ChainsawMan
Famitsu.com interviews people of interest in the anime industry in the series 「Let’s Go Talk about Anime!」 In this fifth installment of the series, we present an interview with Ryu Nakayama, director of the anime 「ChainsawMan」.
The TV anime 「ChainsawMan」 began broadcasting with high expectations. It is an interesting and well-received anime that lives up to those expectations, and every week, it is one of the best of the fall 2022 anime series.
Click on the image to go to the youtube video. ↓
The original work is a work by the genius Tatsuki Fujimoto, who started serialization in 「Weekly Shonen Jump」 and quickly rose to become one of the magazine’s major billboards.
「ChainsawMan」 has a dry atmosphere, extreme expressions, a storyline that is completely unpredictable, and a character modeling that is yet intensely captivating. The pressure to visualize these must have been unimaginable. ……
In this interview, we talked to the director Ryu Nakayama, who is putting together the production of 「ChainsawMan,」 an animation that boasts of its outstanding quality under such heavy pressure.
His thoughts on Tatsuki Fujimoto’s works, his attention to the expression of violence, the use of CG and drawing, and other topics that will be of interest to both fans of the original work and those new to 「ChainsawMan」 through the anime, so be sure to read to the end!
Ryu Nakayama and 12 different ending songs
-The quality of the drawings in the anime 「Chainsaw Man」 is amazing every week.
Nakayama Thank you very much. The drawing of 「ChainsawMan」 is aiming for a very high standard in TV animation, so the whole staff is working together to get through to the end.
-I think there must be a lot of pressure to be chosen as the director of a popular manga 「ChainsawMan」 even though it is your first work as a director. How did you feel when you were asked to direct the anime?
Nakayama: I had originally communicated with Mr. Keisuke Seshita, the producer of this project, on various other animated works, and I was surprised when the name 「ChainsawMan」 came up when he asked me for a job.
I have been reading Tatsuki Fujimoto sensei’s works in real time every week since the first episode of 「Fire Punch」 was distributed on 「Shonen Jump+」(web manga). I have also seen the atmosphere of the serialization and how it became popular among readers. Because of this personal attachment, I remember telling Mr. Seshita that if he would allow me to direct, I would definitely give it a try.
The 「Fire Punch」. The first serialized work by Mr. Tatsuki Fujimoto, it was serialized in Shonen Jump+ from 2016 to 2018.
-You were originally an avid fan of Fujimoto’s work. The anime (ChainsawMan ) is also talked about for having a different ending every week, was this idea also the director’s?
Nakayama: Me, producer Mr Keisuke Seshita and music producer Makoto Kimura discussed the idea of changing the ending of every episode together, saying that it would be interesting to make a special ending.
-Isn’t it difficult for the animation producers to change the ending every week?
Nakayama: It was very difficult (Bitter smile).
-ha ha .
Nakayama However, as we discussed it, we agreed that if the different aspects of ChainsawMan as read by the creators responsible for ‘each’ ending could be expressed, then this approach would be a positive one.
From there, Mr Kimura coordinated with the music artists and their staff, while Mr Seshita and I worked relentlessly to talk to the filmmakers and animators we wanted to commission for the endings, and we managed to make it happen. I think that having a different song for each episode, with images by the director in charge of each, helped the viewer to understand the main anime even better. We also think that it helped to express the multi-faceted nature of the work and its implications.
-So there are many different aspects to ChainsawMan, and depending on what you take out of it, the way you look at the animation will change?
Nakayama: I think all of them are the answer to what makes 「ChainsawMan」 unique. For example, the song for the ending of episode 2, 「zutomayosan」, has a cute element to it, or the song by Maximum The Hormone for episode 3 uses vivid colours like the one used on the cover of the original story, to create a world view closer to the total image of the original manga.
It would be a spoiler for both of you, but episode 4, which airs tonight (the interview was recorded on 1 November), has an ending song that is closer to Power-chan’s image.
-I’m looking forward to that!
Nakayama: We’re going to make sure that the main anime is something that a lot of people can enjoy, and at any rate we’re going to compete on the quality front. On top of that, if, for example, the episode of the week is an episode in which Power-chan’s appeal comes to the fore, we’ll have the ending feature that aspect in an even more appealing way.
We’re making various things based on the idea that if fans get a sense of both worlds, they’ll be able to feel the various aspects of Chainsaw Man and it will reinforce the atmosphere of the work.
What Ryu Nakayama thought of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Twitter feed
-Did you receive any orders from Tatsuki Fujimoto sensei for the anime adaptation?
Nakayama: I received a push from Tatsuki Fujimoto, who said, Please take good care of 「ChainsawMan」. I like Fujimoto’s manga to begin with, I like 「ChainsawMan」, and I also like 「Fire Punch」. I also like ‘short stories’ such as 「Look Back」 and 「Sayonara Eri」. So rather than trying to put my own colour into the work, I wanted to convey the appeal of FUJIMOTO SENSEI’s work to as many people as possible, so that’s what we discussed about.
Also, in the course of our discussions with Fujimoto sensei, he respected our ideas, and I feel that he gave us an environment that made it very easy for us to create animation.
-What do you, the director, think is the appeal of ChainsawMan and Tatsuki Fujimoto’s work?
Nakayama: Many people know that Fujimoto sensei likes films from his comments in the original comic, but I think he is a person who really knows the various interesting aspects of many different works.
I have an image of Fujimoto sensei as a cook with a unique and ‘amazing’ talent, who has summarised these various interesting aspects in his own original work, and is able to present it in a form that is easy for everyone to read.
What I find truly exquisite about his work is that it doesn’t become too core, but it also doesn’t lose the core that’s why appeal, which is why it can remain cloaked in a “core atmosphere” despite being serialised in the ultra-major magazine Jump. I think that’s what’s so great about it.
I wanted to keep that perfect balance in the anime adaptation. When a manga is made into an anime, someone else takes on the role of director, but since the author and director are completely different people, they inevitably have to create the work from different perspectives. In this context, I want to create a work that expresses the core atmosphere in an important way, while at the same time making it interesting for people who come into contact with 「Chainsaw Man」 for the first time through the anime.
-Oh, by the way, on Twitter, Fujimoto-sensei himself tweeted that he would be doing a live broadcast of the anime starting with episode 4, which airs tonight.
Nakayama: I first heard about it through a tweet too (laugh). In the past, Sensei’s sister’s account has tweeted a lot of things. She has said things like it was good and it was interesting in the anime.
Fujimoto-sensei’s more detailed impressions of Chainsaw Man were heard through his editor, Mr Rinshihei, so in part I was able to continue working on it with peace of mind, but to think that I might see those impressions in real time makes me nervous (wry smile).
-As a viewer, it adds to the pleasure of watching the ChainsawMan animation in real-time, but for the director, it might be unsettling (laugh).
Nakayama: Originally I’m nervous on broadcast day, but it seems like I’m going to get even more nervous. But it seems that Fujimoto-sensei is enjoying it, so I hope I can continue to make it in a way that does not disappoint.
Ryu Nakayama’s Views on Extreme Depictions in Anime
-The anime 「ChainsawMan」 had a rather intense expression in the first episode from the beginning. Looking at past patterns, when there were extreme depictions, TV animation was sometimes broadcast with restrictions such as blacking out. What is your stance on extreme expressions in the production of 「ChainsawMan」?
Nakayama: First of all, we take the stance that what happens in the original manga will be depicted in the anime. When you cut open a zombie, blood and guts come out, and this is a normal situation, so we have a like feeling that we want what happened to be broadcast as it is. I am not intentionally trying to incorporate grotesque elements into my animations, but rather, I have the feeling that I am depicting what I actually see, the natural reality as seen on camera, in my animations.
Nakayama: If we save that part, it would not be 「ChainsawMan」. However, although this is a bit of a realistic talk in terms of production, I think there is a big aspect of being able to depict demons and zombies in the animation because the targets to be cut to death are not human beings. Of course, the TV stations have their own screening process, and after consulting with them, I made sure there were no problems before drawing the animation.
Also, even if there are grotesque or splatter-like depictions, it is important that they do not cause discomfort to viewers as long as they are broadcast on TV, where many people can see them. Our basic premise is to depict everything that happened in the original manga in the anime, but we are always thinking about how to express these depictions in a way that everyone can enjoy.
-It is true that in the original 「ChainsawMan,」 there are some gruesome things happening in the battle scenes, but for some reason, the manga is refreshing to read without giving the impression that it is depressing or grotesque. Is there a methodology to reproduce that atmosphere in the anime?
Nakayama: Manga and visual works have a completely different structure of expression, so if you tried to depict the same thing in anime, it would end up looking quite horrifying. It is possible to pursue more extreme splatter expression in the anime, but I think the appeal of 「Chainsaw Man」 is not only in that aspect, so if we make the viewer feel more uncomfortable than necessary, it would be a far cry from the visualization that is typical of 「ChainsawMan」. I think it is important to make adjustments so that the anime will have the same depth as the original
-Why do you think that the manga is more frightening when it is made into an animated as is? For example, when you look at the depiction of cutting down an enemy, in manga, you only need one frame of the picture after the enemy is cut down to get the message across, but in anime, the whole sequence of actions is depicted, so does that make it seem more horrifying?
Nakayama: That’s one reason, and I think the addition of sound is also a big factor in animation. Manga allows the reader to take the initiative in reading the manga. It is you who turn the pages of the comic, and it is also you who is conscious of the next panel. Therefore, if you are not a fan of grotesque depictions, you will probably unconsciously skip over such panels in a manga.
-Oh, I see.
Nakayama: Read manga the way you want to read it, and You can read manga in a way that suits your own sensibilities, which is what manga is. ChainsawMan is a work with particularly large margins. For example, when you turn the page, the story takes a completely different turn. Because it is a manga with such a unique tempo, what you feel in the margins and what feelings you subconsciously apply to it will vary greatly from person to person.
I think the way readers feel about 「ChainsawMan」 will differ depending on when they come into contact with it. There are people who have always liked Mr. Fujimoto’s works from his past works, and there are also people who started reading 「ChainsawMan」 in the later stages of its serialization after hearing about its reputation. There are also those who picked up the book recently, saying, I heard there’s going to be an anime adaptation, so I’d better study up on it. The way you read manga will depend on the atmosphere surrounding the work at that time and, moreover, on the genre contents you have been exposed to.
In the case of anime, however, the viewer is basically supposed to receive the 「sense of tempo」 and the 「way to fill in the blanks」 that we present. Whether or not the expression of 「there is this way of looking at this work」 results in a good way of presentation is one of the difficulties and challenges of media mixing.
Ryu Nakayama considers the respective strengths of hand-drawn animation and 3DCG
How do you use both hand-drawn artwork and CG in 「ChainsawMan」?
Nakayama: There are various criteria (in animation), but when I think about what is important in that cut, I first consider which advantage is appropriate for that scene, drawing or 3DCG, and make a judgment. The strength of drawing is its fuzziness, or the expressive power to lie in a good sense, while CG has a sense of stability that keeps the character firmly in place.
It is technically difficult to express camera work that follows a character from back to front while going around with hand-drawn drawings, but CG makes it easy to express the direction that takes advantage of this.
(Animation) People tend to think that CG does not cost much, but that is not the case. Of course, there are areas where labor can be saved compared to drawing, but on the other hand, there are tasks that are not included in drawing. It means that there are different areas where costs are incurred. For example, CG is very expensive in the initial preparation and the rendering of the output image. We choose the best option depending on the situation.
I think it is important to use both drawing and CG in a balance that is satisfactory to many people when creating animation. Because we do this, we have been able to maintain the high quality of the drawings in important scenes and have been able to broadcast our works up to this point.
-What kind of situation is the use of CG and drawing in animation best suited for?
Nakayama: It is difficult to clearly define which scene requires the use of CG and which scene requires drawing. When I mentioned earlier that “the location of the cost will differ depending on which is used, I think that judgment on how to balance the labor of the staff is just as important. Thinking more broadly, the first episode is of course important because it is the first step in getting the viewer’s attention, but the second and third episodes and onward are all important as well.
The amount of staff effort that can be applied to each drawing scene (of animation) is estimated to some extent, and production has started after that. In the production of animation, it is necessary to set priorities such as What we want to show here is the denji and chainsaw man rather than zombies. The use of CG and drawing is also based on the image of deciding whether to use CG or drawing as a means to realize what we want to show first and foremost.
If you look closely at a 「chainsawman」 , you will see dozens of wires on his head, and it is often difficult for a human to express them with hand-drawn drawings in real life. The expression of the fine details of each wire and the action of the chainsaw as it rotates are points where the strengths of computer graphics can be utilized.
Ryu Nakayama 「I want to take on challenges with a broad perspective.」
-Director Nakayama has been responsible for many of the action scenes that have been the highlight of his works so far. What do you think are your strengths as an animator?
Nakayama: well, I don’t consider my skills as an animator to be very high. ……
-Did you have any areas of strength in animated drawings?
Nakayama: I really didn’t have any special area that I was good at.
If I was asked to draw a play, I could draw it in a certain way, and if I was asked to draw an action scene, I could draw it in a certain way. I guess you could say that my strength is that I can respond to various requests in a flexible manner.
You are an all-rounder who can handle a wide range of situations.
Nakayama: If anything, yes. I don’t think I am the type of animator who has the skill to say, I can’t lose to anyone in this field.
-As for the 「ending talk」 mentioned earlier, there may be a part of it that you were able to tackle due to your all-rounder nature.
Nakayama: That’s right. I like such challenges more in my work, and I think I am suited to them.
-I think that Director Nakayama, who has followed Mr. Fujimoto’s works as a fan for a long time, has an extraordinary passion for ChainsawMan. What was the most particular part of your work in making the anime?
Nakayama: I cherish the feeling of conveying all the essence of the original manga to people who have not read his manga and are experiencing for「ChainsawMan」 the first time through the anime. I hope to convey the tension of Fujimoto’s works when they were first serialized.
-What do you mean by the essence of the original manga?
Nakayama: One of the charms of 「ChainsawMan」 is the unfathomable awesomeness of Fujimoto sensei, who is usually unsure of what he is thinking (laugh). On the surface, Denji-kun and Power-chan’s stupidity and their messed up feeling with their ups and downs of tension is also a definite attraction.
It is not that one or the other is the essence of 「ChainsawMan,」 but I think both are important parts of 「Chainsaw Man.」 I want to convey this multifaceted appeal to the anime audience as much as possible.
I hope to continue to bring out the various aspects that the 「ChainsawMan」 has, so please look forward to it!
Thank you for watching. See you soon!
chainsaw man. (World’s largest number of translations)