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Behind the Scenes Part 6: Masayuki Yoshihara (Storyboarder and Sequence Director)

Three sequence directors eventually worked on S.S.S. In this sixth installment, we have invited Masayuki Yoshihara, who directed Part C and worked on the storyboards with Kenji Kamiyama. We asked Yoshihara-san what his thoughts were after finishing S.S.S.

Part 6: Masayuki Yoshihara (Storyboarder and Sequence Director)
"When I read the script, I felt S.S.S. was a piece of work filled with excitement from the start to the end."

Profile Masayuki Yoshihara is a professional in force of the studio P.A. Works. For the Stand Alone Complex series, he was responsible for episode 3, "Android and I" and episode 12, "Escape From" as episode director and storyboarder. The start of his collaboration with Kamiyama dates back to the days when Kamiyama was still working in the background art section of studio AIC.

When asked about the director, Yoshihara smiling responded, "Kamiyama-san hasn't changed since the old days. He knows the goal clearly. I feel he was meant to take up the position he has now. When I first got a job to do the storyboards and direct the animation, I secretly asked him for advice. Kamiyama-san is my mentor in directing. I have learned my trade through working as his assistant".

The two are responsible for storyboards for S.S.S.

"It is interesting to notice that we didn't direct the part we drew storyboards for. Toshiyuki Kono worked with storyboards done by myself and Kamiyama, and Masaki Tachibana and I worked with Kamiyama's storyboards."

In the S.A.C. series you can find a solid portion of detective drama as well as a lot of everyday-life scenes. With respect to S.S.S., it is true that people talk about the abundance of action scenes in, but actually, you should not miss the great emphasis given to the everyday-life scenes. "I am being conscious of things like from what angle a cameraman would shoot if this was a live action film. This is not a sort of anime with thunderbolts and characters jumping up high. We have a strong sense of making a conventional detective drama and portraying real people. Of course, the members of Section 9 are all super-humans with capabilities 50% more than the real people."

Studio 9 is equipped with 3D CG and camera shooting facilities for anime productions. Yoshihara stresses on the fact that this in-house production system eventually turned extremely advantageous for the staff. "For instance, there is a scene where Saito and Batou give chase on a highway. It was indeed a painstaking process involving 3D and filming sections. We even asked Kazuchika Kise to help us with the 'after image' effects."

"Everyone is under unbelievable pressure with tight schedules and situations, but when you are faced with an unsolvable problem, you can easily ask someone in another section without spending the day over the phone or going to external studios one driving hour away from your workplace. This was truly a helpful environment."

Yoshihara thus looks back at the production process. We asked him about his favorite scene.

"It has to be the scene with Aramaki and Colonel Tonoda. I had a meeting with Kamiyama, in which we had so many things to talk about for that scene. And also at the meeting with the key animators, we felt it was the most emotional scene of all. We loved it."

"You see, Colonel Tonoda was beginning to have a memory disorder and he asked funny questions. But at the end, he makes a remark to Aramaki, 'I'm glad you didn't take after me. It's like that proverb: a kite gives birth to a hawk. I am proud of you.' Aramaki replies with a nod.
All I can remember about Part C is that there were too many things going on and lots of action scenes as well. (lol) I felt I came to a frightful place to work. But to be honest, the fact that this scene with Aramaki and Colonel Tonoda was in Part C kept me going."

"Nowadays, there are quite a few anime works that are simply not viable. And I'm not even talking about the quality of storyboards. But for this project, I could carry on with my genuine job, that consist in adding extra detail to the storyboards and decide how you are going to present the scene. That meant I suffered as a sequence director, but I had a tough time in doing what I was supposed to do. It made me feel good to be working on this project."

In the very limited time available, it must have been a continuous struggle for Yoshihara-san. You can't decipher what he went through from the gentle look on his face now. The joy of accomplishment was much greater than the hardship endured to deliver it.


These are storyboards from Part C of S.S.S. where Yoshihara-san directed. There were so many cuts that he had to divide the part into three batches. Portions colored with red colored-pencil on the left hand side of each cut shows the progress, whether the key animation is done or it's in the process of filming. You can tell Yoshihara-san was in control of the progress of each cut as he worked along.

"Part B is a dialogue drama, but I think this part is the core drama of the entire story. Owing perhaps to Kono-san's skillful processing, it turned out really impressive. The part mainly goes on with describing the situation and I was sort of worried it might be a little boring with less action, but it describes the relationship between indecisive Batou and the members of the new Section 9 quite well."

"As a storyboarder, I get really intense doing these types of parts than the action scenes. (lol) For instance, the scene where Batou is late coming into the briefing room and Togusa says a word or two to him; surprisingly enough, there is nothing extraordinary about it. I had a very tough time making that shot where they speak to each other. But I really had fun creating the storyboard. Especially where I had to render Batou's feelings as he wondered what others thought about him."

© 2006 Shirow Masamune - Production I.G/KODANSHA