Production I.G> WORK LIST> UNIVERSE> SPECIAL FEATURE> Maaya Sakamoto & Gekidan INU Curry special interview (II)

Maaya Sakamoto & Gekidan INU Curry special interview (II)

- Maaya Sakamoto meets Gekidan INU Curry -
The untold story behind the production of Universe (II)

Maaya Sakamoto's 2007 album 30minutes night flight was released on March 21st, after seventeen months following her last work. An animated promotional DVD was produced for Universe, the sixth song in the album, and included as a bonus DVD in the limited edition of the album. The animation was made at Production I.G's Studio 4 (IGPX) and almost entirely crafted by Gekidan INU Curry, the creative duo composed by Doroinu and 2shiroinu.. In this interview, Maaya Sakamoto and Gekidan INU Curry look back at the production of the video clip and talk about how they put their feelings into the song and video.

Profile: Maaya Sakamoto - Born on March 31, 1980, Maaya Sakamoto started her professional career as a singer at 15, when her talent was discovered by world-famous composer and music producer Yoko Kanno. At that time, she performed the opening song for the animated TV series The Vision of Escaflowne (1996) while giving her voice to the heroine of the series, Hitomi Kanzaki. Her career as voice actor and singer continued in both animation and live action productions, her credits including Nathalie Portman / Padme Amidala in the Star Wars saga. Maaya's 10th album 30minutes night flight is a musical concept work that the artist herself describes as "a 30-minute night flight dedicated to all the people who experienced at least one sleepless night."

Profile: Gekidan INU Curry - Translating 'Theatrical Company Dog Curry', it is a creative team composed by two young artists, 2shiroinu. (2white Dog., picture right) and Doroinu (Muddy Dog, picture left), who after a career in commercially-based animation decided to focus exclusively on art films that can express their sensitiveness. "We both had set our eyes on Russian and Czech animation styles. Rather than working with a lot of people like in an orchestra, we prefer to create miniature landscapes that can be accomplished by working individually." A few years after Universe, they were to receive global attention for designing the witches in the hit franchise Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

In Universe, it is impressive to see a panning searchlight at the start, which sort of anticipates the dancing at the climax of the song.
Doroinu: What impressed me was Sakamoto-san's concept story which goes like this, "From a planet called Earth, the gaze of each living being extends straight out to light up to outer space like a searchlight." Actually, at the beginning of the video, the searchlight reaches out from the back of the Little Girl who is walking on Earth. From that very point, we carefully choreographed the pictures. It might fall short of a musical production, but we did try to synchronize the sound and the movement so that they flow together nicely.
Sakamoto: When the sphere that the girl is sitting on flashes, the searchlight beams from it. Just like a lighthouse. I love the way the light moves. I didn't use the word, "lighthouse" in the lyrics of Universe, but it is a motif I often use in my writings and lyrics. It's a symbolic object that points to your destination. So, when I found the searchlight turning like the lamp in a lighthouse in the video, I was astounded and at the same time, very delighted.
Doroinu: When we were drawing the storyboard for that scene, the image we had was of a planet and the lighthouse. And the movement was of a beacon lamp.

"Lighthouse" is one of the key themes for Maaya Sakamoto when she writes lyrics. In the video clip, the lighthouse and its light glitters with the music and become particles of light.

You communicated very well.
Sakamoto: I am so grateful. I asked them to wait a bit until I completed the lyrics. When the entire arrangement was finished, I asked them to listen to it again.
2shiroinu.: The lyrics showed the vast scale of the universe as well as the solitude within you, expressed by the line, "six billion solitudes." When I got the lyrics, I was a little puzzled, because I had not associated that kind of subject with my work before.
Doroinu: In the lyrics of Universe, there is a phrase that goes, "Extending out straight." And one of the images I had of the searchlight was dashing straight on, so I wanted to somehow correspond that to the phrase.

How did you choose the cast for the PV?
Doroinu: We initially decided to include the Prince, one of the main characters in DecoBlog. (*) Then we contemplated to have other little devils starring into the film, such as Momeme, Usako, and Kotori. Later, we decided to develop an original character with the lead role, that is the Little Girl, and we eventually used more Humans instead of little devils.
2shiroinu.: Actually, I was planning to add more new characters. Sorry, I was slow at drawing...
Sakamoto: You really put a lot into that character with a silk hat. I just love the scene where the Humans are in motion. It reminds me of a musical. I cried just looking at the storyboards.

(*) DecoBlog, or Decoration Blog, was a web service started in March 2007 by Amimo LLP and for which Gekidan INU Curry designed all the characters (called "little devils") and decorative elements. When Maaya Sakamoto saw the early sketches that the duo was preparing for DecoBlog, she immediately decided the graphic style for Universe. The DecoBlog service is no longer available.

(2 - to be continued)

© Gekidan INU Curry · Production I.G / Victor Entertainment