Interview: Toru Kawaguchi

kawaguchiTORU KAWAGUCHI: Profile
Born on November 9, 1969 in Kumamoto Prefecture, Toru Kawaguchi worked at Production I.G as production manager for the feature film Innocence and the TV series Cromartie High School. He is the producer for the current xxxHOLiC - A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Part 01


What was the reason that you decided to participate as producer for this project?
When they told me about it, they had already decided to go ahead with the project. At that time, I was working on a feature film The Prince of Tennis - Two Samurai: The First Game, so I guess they felt it was good timing for me to take on xxxHOLiC as my next project. They gave me the original manga book, but I was stunned when I saw the book cover ad saying, "Anime film version to be released in 2005."

How did you pick your staff?
President Ishikawa said, "The animation supervisor will be Kise-san. By the way, he said he would do the character designing as well, but you'll have to check with him yourself. Hirata will be the art director. I'll let you pick the rest." He said this while watching a baseball game at Jingu Stadium. (He went home after he talked to me.) As for the script, the producer from I.G Project Room, Katsuji Morishita told me that he had already arranged with company staffers Junichi Fujisaku (chief scriptwriter), Yoshiki Sakurai (for xxxHOLiC), and Midori Goto (for Tsubasa), so I appreciated what he had done.

Next, I had to choose the director of the film. (Some of you might think this is the other way around, but it sometimes happens this way.) After talking with Morishita and Tsubasa producer Tetsuya Nakatake, the name Tsutomu Mizushima came up as a candidate. I hadn't worked with him before, but he has directed several Crayon Shin-chan movies. So I thought he would be capable of handling some comical parts of the feature film xxxHOLiC - A Midsummer Night's Dream as he had done for Crayon Shin-chan. When I contacted him, he said, "Yes, I will do it," so I was very grateful.

As for character design, I'm not sure whether it was because of Kise-san's own preference or because he simply wanted to do something different, but the characters were all one to two heads taller than the original characters in the manga. Director Mizushima was the first to check the characters and was surprised. It would have been all right in a 4:3 TV frame, but in the theatre, with its 16:9 aspect ratio, the screen might just look too hollow. Anyway, we left the final decision to the original authors, CLAMP. And they said it would be fine, so we made up our minds to go with it.
As for the prop designer, the color designer, the inbetween checker and the camera director positions, I asked for the same group who were with me in The Prince of Tennis to join me again.
As for the background artist, since Shuichi Hirata was too busy with the last bit of background work on The Prince of Tennis, I asked Takashi Watabe, who was crew on Innocence, to join me again instead.
For the production of Tsubasa Chronicle - The Princess of the Birdcage Kingdom, the whole production was like a lot of young staff joining in to work together. In contrast, although xxxHOLiC was an I.G project, the director and animation supervisor worked in different buildings and they each did what they were supposed to do separately. So it was more adult-like in terms of attitude and atmosphere.

(to be continued...)


© 2005 CLAMP/Kodansha/"The Movie xxxHOLiC A Midsummer Night's Dream" Committee

Part 02

Did you do anything special to relate the content of your film with Tsubasa Chronicle, which will be shown together in theatres?
Both anime teams met at script meetings every time. And the directors and producers were all in the same room, so we didn't have to do anything special or put more effort into linking the two movies.
It's just that we were behind schedule in character design, which made it a bit difficult for the Tsubasa team.

Did you do anything experimental during the production process in particular?
Art director Hirata-san proposed that he wanted to construct a 3-D model of the interior of the mansion, which was the main setting for this anime. Firstly, Hirata-san generally likes to construct artifacts in 3D, but it was a realistic decision as well. If we had waited for all the layouts to come up to us, we might have run out of time, and it was also a waste of time if we had just sat around waiting. So we decided to make the stage setting first and when the layouts were ready, we only had to set the camera. If we hadn't done it this way, I don't think we could've finished the background in time, because the layouts were behind schedule as we'd expected. We were lucky to have constructed the background in 3D at the beginning.
It was very useful that our art designer Watabe-san could work with the 3Ds. The model building went efficiently as we split the work among I.G's 3D team. Every time a new storyboard was completed, we encountered new settings that did not exist originally. So we also had to hire an outside team.

What was the most challenging factor in turning a manga into a feature anime film?
This was never put into TV anime, so we were doing a direct adaptation to a feature film. I figured we'd have to work a lot with the advertising section. What we had to do was to cooperate as much as possible in preparing the illustrations for the various anime magazines. To do that we had to stop working on the film, so it was tough arranging schedules. For this project, our staff worked even on holidays, so we were able to produce a lot of illustrations. CLAMP fans and manga magazine readers would certainly know about xxxHOLiC, but since it could not rely on the media exposure of a TV series, we had to put out a lot of advertising illustrations for the general public to notice. Our staff worked really hard, so I hope a lot of people will come and see the film.

What should we not miss in the xxxHOLiC - A Midsummer Night's Dream?
The fascinating thing about this anime is that it's a mixture of comical, mysterious and serious elements. You can also enjoy the leading-edge technologies too. We simply enjoyed making this film, because we were able to do a range of things in just one film. We did some experimental things as well. This fitted well with what I.G is all about.

Do you have something to say to those people who are restlessly waiting for the theatre release?
Watanuki will be wandering through different dimensional spaces in the mansion. I suggest it would be fun to imagine that you were exploring along with him.


Recorded at Production I.G, Tokyo on June 14, 2005.


© 2005 CLAMP/Kodansha/"The Movie xxxHOLiC A Midsummer Night's Dream" Committee