Revolutionary Girl Utena

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Postby Seen » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:23 pm

Just so this doesn't get forgotten:

View Original PostSeen wrote:There's going to be an all-night screening event of the series in HD with Ikuhara in Japan on December 8. It'll start at 10:30pm and end at 5:30am.

There's also going to be some sort of tribute to Tomoko Kawakami.

Here's a link, if anyone would be kind enough to try and translate it:

http://www.starchild.co.jp/special/utena/1208.html


View Original PostBagheera wrote:39 episodes in 7 hours? :uhh:

Maybe it's just selected episodes with commentary. That would be cool.


Probably. What really interests me is the Tomoko Kawakami tribute.

View Original PostC.A.P. wrote:Still not in the mood to talk about the show, but I just got the first Utena boxset, and Ikuhara's commentary on each episode were so ripe for discussion, I thought I transcribe them and let everybody read them and arrive at their own conclusions at what he said. I don't really have to the time to transcribe those notes right at this moment, so for now, I'll just post the one for the first episode and see if anyone else wants more...

EPISODE 1



I've always been interested in Ikuhara's full commentary, so if you could keep going, I'd love to read and analyze it all. Plus, the production of the show is so interesting to read, too.
Utena figures out why the duelists are dueling but what the hell kind of answers does she get? "Because I want to find the power of miracles, I'm going to chop bitches with a sword so I can get a creepy aspie girlfriend who waters roses and shit. which will grant me the power of miracles. I KNOW THIS GODDAMNIT DON'T ASK HOW" -Azathoth

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Postby BrikHaus » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:53 am

Those booklets that came with the boxsets are pretty massive. But yeah, they are all fascinating in documenting the various aspects of the series.
Awesomely Shitty
-"That purace has more badassu maddafaakas zan supermax spaceland."
-On EMF, as a thread becomes longer, the likelihood that fem-Kaworu will be mentioned increases exponentially.
-the only English language novel actually being developed in parallel to its Japanese version involving a pan-human Soviet in a galactic struggle to survive and to export the communist utopia/revolution to all the down trodden alien class and race- one of the premise being that Khrushchev remains and has abandoned Lysenko stupidity

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Postby C.A.P. » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:31 pm

Sorry for the wait, but now's the time to post some more of Ikurhara's thoughts. There's much more interviews inside this little book (there's one interview that talks about how the show was remastered into HD, making it "closer" to Ikuhara's "original vision"), so I'll try to post those sometime later...

2: "FOR WHOM THE ROSE SMILES" [EPISODE 2]

"The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God's name is Abraxas."

--Hermann Hesse, Demian (translated from the German by Michael Roloff and Michael Lebeck)

When I was in middle school, my classmate T. recommended to me a book by Hesse.

He said, "Inside the book is everything about me." I didn't know what he was on about.

However, that particular quote stuck with me. One day long afterwards, T. and I met up again after not seeing each other for over a decade, and I brought it up.

"What was that again?"

He didn't even remember the book existed, let alone that he'd recommended it to me. To think he'd just forget "everything about himself"... I wonder if Heese wasn't needed in the world T. lived in after middle school. In which case, I wonder why I didn't forget. I experimentally added another passage to Heese's:

If we don't crack the world's shell, we will die without being born.

Smash the world's shell. For the revolution of the world.


Assistant Director Kaneko and I discussed Anthy's character time and again because I was obsessed with the idea that whether or not it was "good," nobody would want to watch a dark and depressing show. That cooking smock over gym clothes was the result of our conversations. And she finally turned fun...no, she turned into a mysterious girl (!).

Anthy is another Utena. In the initial stages of planning, I thought of the main character as someone who wants to be a prince, but at the same time also wanted to remain a princess. However, I decided to divide that personality into two different characters. What did "also want to remain a princess" mean? I would agonize over the expression of Anthy for the entire series.


3: "ON THE NIGHT OF THE BALL" [EPISODE 3]

The basic plot of this episode was ready quite soon after planning started. I believe the thinking was, “We need to bring the mood of Ms. Saito’s manga into this.” But the truth is, you don’t see clichéd plotlines like this in Ms. Saito’s manga. The way Touga approaches Utena is almost uncomfortably stereotypical shoujo, but thanks to that, we were able to strongly impress upon the audience that this was a “shoujo manga anime.” Given the story’s later development, episodes like this were absolutely necessary.

Production-wise, we were in disorder. In the background art meeting, we discover that the master layout drawing (the base sketches for the backgrounds) that were supposed to have been ready were more or less nonexistent. As the ashen-faced staff looked on, Mr. Kobayashi and I sketched like mad. It was an ordeal, but I think that, over the course of dealing with it, the two of us were able to achieve a consensus about the direction the art should take for the rest of the series.


4: "THE SUNLIT GARDEN - PRELUDE" [EPISODE 4]

"The Sunlit Garden” is a song about the world you can never get back; the nostalgic world you can never return to again. Its true meaning will become clear during the climax of the series.

I made such a radical departure in the second half of this that you might as well ask yourself, "Is this the same show?" I did it to solidify the positions of Nanami’s and Anthy’s characters, but by the storyboarding stage, Anthy was becoming even more of a mysterious girl (!). Meanwhile, Nanami became more of an entertaining girl.

Is that all right? Sure it’s all right.

I decided to operate according to the rule "Never give a character only one personality." I didn’t want to reject "fun" on the grounds of "I can’t get this character to be uniformly consistent."


5: "THE SUNLIT GARDEN - FINALE" [EPISODE 5]

Around that time in production, I read an interview with a certain pair of pop idols in a magazine I was thumbing through at the store.

"Our motto is 'get hold of eternity.' It’s a brilliantly glittering thing."

I was a little surprised.

"Get hold of eternity" was such an abstract phrase, and yet for some reason, I readily accepted it. It was as if from that single phrase I could indirectly sense the details that shaped their personalities; the look of the place they grew up; what they saw of current affairs on the TV news; the manga, anime, and popular songs that affected them. Call it the empathy between contemporaries, I guess.

When I brought it up with Enokido, who was doing the screenplays, he was onboard. Up until that point, we’d spent a lot of time arguing in the abstract about the spirit of the show, but I felt like it was a few words from these pop idols that got us to the heart of the matter.

At the same time, the process of producing this two-parter set of episodes brought home to me again that Utena is a story about the relationship between Utena and Anthy. So I decided to apply that same style to the stories of the supporting characters, too.

From then on, I would be very conscious of "get hold of eternity" and "a story about relationships" as key motifs of the show.


6: "TAKE CARE, MISS NANAMI!" [EPISODE 6]

This episode originally went into production as "Episode 8." It was "in production as Episode 8" during scripting, storyboarding, and even after animation started. But it got switched in the broadcast order with "Episode 6 ("Curried High Trip," which broadcast as episode 8)," because that episode fell behind schedule.

Because I always called this "Episode 8" during the production process, the impression stuck in my mind to this day is: "Curry is Ep 6; the kangaroo is Ep 8."

It’s a comedic story, but it shows Nanami’s feelings for Touga. This wasn’t just about Nanami; it was also about how we’d present Touga. The original plan was to connect stories with a “Touga Episodes” theme: first in episode 8 we’d show Nanami’s feelings for Touga is a comedic way, then in episode 9 we'd show Touga in contrast with Saionji, then in episode 10 we’d show Touga using Nanami’s feeling for him, and finally in episode 11 we’d show Touga facing off against Utena.

I’d used a group of three identical characters before, in Sailor Moon S. It was strangely fun, so I tried sticking them in this show, too. The staff liked them, too (it was probably more like the staff found them convenient), so we turned them into semi-regular characters. It’s largely thanks to Ms. Hayashi, the animation director, that the production troubles weren’t reflected in the quality of the episode. I like how Touga looks so unnecessarily cool during the climax, when he defeats the kangaroo.


7: "UNFULFILLED JURY" [EPISODE 7]

This story came together quickly as a "story about relationships." "He" and "she" only appear within Jury’s memories. The ending in the final script is different than it was in the first draft. The endgame is still about getting a better idea of who Jury really is; that didn’t change. But the first draft ended on a "Could it be?" sort of a note. As the script was finalized, I decided to come right out and say, "She was in love with a girl."

Jury’s story is "a metaphor of unrequited love." If you watch it from that perspective, I think it’s an easy one for anybody to understand. Shiori’s design referenced the heroine of Ms. Saito’s short manga Himegoto no Natsu. It’s about a brother and sister entering a forbidden relationship; I enjoyed the total mismatch between the heroine’s sweet prettiness and the story’s bold development. I think we borrowed her looks because we wanted to hide something behind prettiness.


8: "CURRIED HIGH TRIP" [EPISODE 8]

As I said before, this was planned as episode 6. We’d originally contracted an outside studio to do it, but a few days before ADR was supposed to start, it became clear that virtually none of the production was done. We hurriedly swapped it with episode 8 (broadcast episode 6) in the schedule. The whole series of knockabout insanity that got bandied back and forth there was traumatically intense.

I don’t want to assign blame and try anyone in absentia here, so I won’t say any more about it.

But if you were to ask me whether I hate the episode because of that fuss, I’d say no, not really. In fact, there are many parts of it that I’m quite fond of. I think the colossal effort the staff put in with their backs against the wall like that sublimated the episode’s cheapness into solid humor.

That scene when out heroines’ daily lives with their switched personalities are stung together with snapshots… I’ve thought for a long time that the audio mix was kind of thin there, but in this 5.1 remaster, it’s finally got nice, lively sound.

Which reminds me: What had me worried during production was this episode’s "climax."

"Which scene is the climactic one?!", I agonized.

Looking back on it now, maybe it was the part when Nanami slipped on the banana peel?


And then, for Ep 9-12, Ikuhara begins to take a more philosophic turn to his comments...

9: "THE CASTLE SAID TO HOLD ETERNITY" [EPISODE 9]

"There was a little princess, and she was very sad for her mother and father had died…"

That’s a fragment of the myth that we tell in the prologue.

"Loving on… It’s just making me sick.”

We lined up plot development and visuals suggestive of the series climax. Our goal was to "get viewers anticipating the series’ final scene."

Utena saves Anthy.
Huh, so that’s what the story’s about.
But what does she saves Anthy from?
That’s the central issue.

Two boys discovered an unusual toy one day.
"You got hold of it, didn’t you?"
"That’s right, I have it now."
"Really?"

That’s when the game began.

It often happens that a relationship becomes stifling because of a shared past. Even if you have no particular interest in a toy, when you find out he has it, you think, “I need it too.”

They say that in that world, only one princess is chosen.


10: "NANAMI'S PRECIOUS THING" [EPISODE 10]

When I was a child, the center of the party always seemed to sparkle.

I was always standing on the sidelines, gazing at that sparkle from afar. I thought the sidelines were my place. Surely I could never approach the center of the room.

But then, I was chosen! I touched that sparkle in the center of the room, and no mistake. Still, I know full well that it’s something that won’t last forever. The day the contract ends, I’ll turn into an "unchosen girl."

So I'll go back to the sidelines again, eh?

--Smash the egg’s shell.

For the revolution of the world.


11: "GRACEFULLY CRUEL - THE ONE WHO PICKS THAT FLOWER" [EPISODE 11]

I tried to live true to myself.

"You’re just like an alien," someone said to me one day. They must have been telling me, "You’re not normal."

In other words, apparently "living true to yourself" means "living as an alien." And so I became "an alien all alone in this world."

There’s a certain natural law that goes, "To gain something, you must lose something." There’s nobody in this world who gains everything. Otherwise, there would be people who could live forever.

That is something she is blind to.

That’s why she loses what’s important to her.

Why did she want to become a prince?
Who was it who wanted to become a princess?
Do you want to be chosen by someone, too?
Or--?


12: "FOR FRIENDSHIP, PERHAPS" [EPISODE 12]

Why did I join that battle (that game) in the first place?
Naturally, I would never forget that.
And yet.
There’s no sense of reality to that memory.

Who was I, exactly?

"I’m saying this for your sake." How many times did I hear that as a child?

An "adult" is not someone who has lived a certain number of years. We call someone who can exercise power an "adult."

A prince isn’t "someone who looks cool"; nor, of course, is a prince "a girl who dresses as a boy."

Oh.

A "prince" is "someone who can exercise power."

What is that power for?
Who is it for?

I stopped seeking to be sought after. That wasn’t being true to myself.

I want to become "someone who can exercise power." I want to become a prince.

--For friendship, perhaps.


If there's any small mistakes too, please let me know ASAP.
Last edited by C.A.P. on Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:49 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Seen » Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:19 pm

I'm going to contribute a bit, too. Here are Ikuhara's commentaries from the Black Rose Saga:



EPISODE 13

This is just between you and me, but when I was fourteen, I saw a UFO.

That UFO telepathically told me this prophecy:

"When you grow up, you will direct an anime about girls revolutionizing various things."

Surely you jest.

"You must not tell anyone about me. If you ever do..."

Wh-What will happen to me?

"People will call you a sketchy guy."




EPISODE 14

I saw a certain horror movie when I was in middle school. There was a secret mortuary in an underground chamber, and the dead were electronically transmitted (!), still in their coffins, to the "other world," where they were forced into slavery.

The movie's story was utterly absurd, but the division of the world into opposite poles of "living" and "dead" felt real to me, somehow.

Our world has been spoken of in bipolar fashion for ages.

In my student days, there was a popular book that compared the "affluent" with the "non-affluent," and sorted everything into categories called "loaded" and "broke." It was the bubble era, and the aim of the book was probably to get a laugh by saying "They call us wealthy, but our lifestyle's practically in the trash can!"

But for some reason, I couldn't laugh.

Years later, the phrase "the winning side" was popular in the media. I thought it was horrid. And sure enough, people started using the opposite phrase "the losing side" as a masochistic joke. I still couldn't laugh, though.

One day, a girl I saw on TV said, "There are only two types of people in this world: the ones who are chosen and the ones who aren't chosen."

That gave me a start.

"To not be chosen is to die," said the girl.

I decided to try my hand at that.

The Black Rose arc.




EPISODE 15

This is something that happened quite a long time ago. I told a certain girl that I loved her, but she turned me down.

I'd thought there were good vibes between us.
To think that it was all in my head!

Why?

"I love my big brother," she said.

...That's a lie. That story was fiction.

The reason sexuality of so often expressed in brother-sister relationships in the world of fiction is probably because there's the illusion that "blood relationships are eternal." It's the dream of the "eternal lover."

Continuing with the lie:

I tried pathetically, refusing to back down.
I couldn't accept it. "But you're brother and sister!"

She declared that she was "not a woman." Then she said, "My brother isn't a man."

So what are you, exactly?

"My brother's body is a part of me, and my body is a part of him," she said.




EPISODE 16

To tell you the truth, I didn't know the "Dona Dona" song. While we were meeting about the plot, I heard someone on staff say, "This is 'Dona Dona' material, huh?"

I found the song and had a listen.

Nice.

I decided to use it. Two versions of it, in fact.

Bring me a blanket, someone, and soo-o-on...




EPISODE 17

I finally realized the truth.

To think that she loved me back! What a miracle! But...

"The loser in love is the one who lets their heart be ruled by it."

Everyone's adopted a provocative attitude toward someone of the opposite sex that they like at least once or twice, to get that person to notice them. So it's okay if I do that.

This love will crumble if we touch. But when people don't touch, the love eventually dies away.

That's why I decided to keep your love prisoner. To make sure that you love me forever.

That game will make our love "eternal." I'm sure of it.

We were "lovers lost from the beginning."*

*This is a reference to a film that has never been released in the U.S.; a film made in 1971 entitled Arakajime ushinawareteita koibitotachi yo.




EPISODE 18

When I was a kid, I really liked the Candies (a '70s idol group). When someone asked me, "Who's your favorite?", I was seriously torn between Ran and Su.

When I was a kid, I really liked Pink Lady too.
Someone asked me, "Who's your favorite?"

I liked Mie, but for some reason I had the feeling that I shouldn't say that, so I fudged and said "Well, I don't really like one more than the other."

The Candies got their big break with the song "Toshishita no Otoko no Ko (Younger Boy)." It was a song where girls sang about a younger boy, "You drive me crazy, but I love you."; that lyric made my heart go pitter-patter. It was just as if they were saying "I love you" to me!

...How delusional.

Love and delusion are only separated by a very fine line.




His talk about episode 14 is really interesting. It seems he continued with that quote in his head for Penguindrum.
I'll do episodes 19 - 24 later. I hope you enjoy it.
Utena figures out why the duelists are dueling but what the hell kind of answers does she get? "Because I want to find the power of miracles, I'm going to chop bitches with a sword so I can get a creepy aspie girlfriend who waters roses and shit. which will grant me the power of miracles. I KNOW THIS GODDAMNIT DON'T ASK HOW" -Azathoth

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Postby C.A.P. » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:02 am

Alright, here comes some more words. Here's one for the opening credits for every episode sans ep 39...

RONDO REVOLUTION
KUNIHIKO IKUHARA’S THOUGHTS

There were several forks in the road to the theme song "Rondo – revolution."

First I had X, the producer at the time, play me several demo melodies. One of them really felt like “the one,” so I decided on that one with X (naturally, the chosen one was the melody that would become "Rondo – revolution," but we also released it separately later in a form close to that original one, under the title "Rose&release").

Next, X set up a meeting for us with a certain lyricist at a restaurant in Shibuya. We explained the project, presenting Ms. Saito’s drawings, and the lyricist seemed really raring to go.

But.

The lyrics that came back to us some days later didn’t sit well with me.

"They’re just not quite right…" X agreed, and fell silent.

Several days later, I got a phone call from X saying, "She says she wants to do it. I’ll have her call you, so stay put." This phone call was how I found out that Ms. Okui would be singing the theme song. And that she would be singing the theme song. And that she would take charge of the lyrics herself, too. Right after X hung up, I got a phone call from Ms. Okui, and we ended up having a meeting.

I’ll dredge up my memories of that period to write the rest of this story. This all happened a long time ago, though, so there will be some details I can’t remember.

I got a phone call from Ms. Okui.

We started our planning meeting on the spot, but production was still ongoing, for one thing, so in terms of the show’s content… I couldn’t tell her a lot of crucial things. Nevertheless, she’d thankfully read several of Ms. Saito’s works, so she already understood the "spirit of the work" very well.

That meant that in our meeting, we were able to focus on "what we’re trying to express" instead of on the story. By their very natures, there’s no way to perfectly reconcile "the world of song" and "the world of anime stories." But I felt there ought to be a way to bring together the spirits of “song” and “anime.”

"I want you to think of this as a song that will play during the story’s last scene."

That’s what I told her. Like I said, we hadn’t decided what the last scene would be yet. Still, I had a vague suspicion that it would depict a "parting." At the time I didn’t have a concrete image of what kind it might be; there’s—

parting with a lover,
parting with a dear friend,
parting with a beloved sibling or
family member,
parting with the entire milieu in which
you live…


Those were my nebulous thoughts.

What could a person who’d lost all those things gain in the final scene…? It would be magnificent if that could be captured to a song… Surely the viewers who watched the series through the end would think, "I see, so the theme song was about this final scene" …

Some days later, I faxed her a note.

Even if the two of us are torn apart,
the time that we spent together
wasn’t wasted
So I can change the world


I asked her if she could express something along those lines. And I also had the temerity to ask her to include a few keywords in the lyrics that expressed the world of the show:

"sunlit garden"
"revolutionize"
"lose everything"
"strip down to nothing at all"
"change the world"

Several days after that, the finished lyrics were faxed back to me. My "garden" and "revolution" suggestions in Japanese were there in English. I thought the show’s spirit was expressed brilliantly.

Above the lyrics was a note saying, "What should the title be?" (I think). I also think that "Take my revolution" was there as a provisional title. And in another display of temerity, I asked if she’d be willing to write the kanji for rinbu ("round dance") but gloss it as "rondo" to arrive at a title of "rondorevolution." She agreed, on the condition that we inset a hyphen and make it "Rondo – revolution." (Or maybe the changes went like this: "Rondo – Take my revolution" → “Rondorevolu – tion” → "Rondo – revolution".) I took my inspiration from Ms. Saito’s manga for the word “rondo.”

Later, even when production circumstances were harsh, this song really bolstered my spirits. This is only occurring to me in hindsight, but maybe it was able to me in hindsight, but maybe it was able to express the "Utena" spirit so well because Ms. Okui and I were in very similar frames of mind at the time.

…Nah. It was probably just the fruit of Ms. Okui’s talents.

Or on second thought, maybe it was X’s skill as a producer after all.


Now for the first closing. The book I have actually has pictures of what Ikuhara's about to talk about in the last paragraph, so there's another reason to get those DVDs while you can...

ENDING ANIMATION
THE MAKING OF

The Revolutionary Girl Utena endings were divided into Season 1 (episodes 1-24) and Season 2 (episodes 25-38), with a final episode getting a scat version of the theme song “Rondo – revolution.”

The first season’s sequence had romantic visuals, with Utena in a dress dancing with Dios. Utena and Anthy give us glimpses of serious looks in their eyes, and in the latter half Anthy appears with Dios as well, in the exact same pose as Utena. The whole mood of it is mysterious; it makes you think, "This is no simple prince-and-princess romance."

The ending theme song is "truth." It’s performed by Ruka Yumi. You can see key art for this sequence on the next page. Shinya Hasegawa said that he put Hiroshi Nagahama in charge of it because his sharp style, with its striking silhouettes, would be a good fit for something with so little motion. Within beautiful animation that projects a noble impression; the main characters dance all dressed up. He’s directed them brilliantly.

And starting in episode 25, the staff made the ending theme song J.A. Caesar’s "Virtual Star Embryology," and changed the visuals as well. Maki Uetani did the vocals. It was different from the choral pieces in the duel scenes, and the more piercing ring of the solo vocals was pleasing. Shinya Hasegawa, Yoko Kadokami, and Hiroshi Nagahama were in charge of the key animation for this sequence. Tall, thin visuals of Utena and the ornamentation behind her, drawn in black silhouette, climb up into the blue sky as if on an elevator. Partway through, cuts of Utena and Anthy holding roses come in, timed to the music, and then it’s silhouettes of the two standing facing each other, with Anthy in her bridal gear. At the end, birds soar up to the castle in the sky, scattering feathers, and rays of light break through the clouds. There’s also an "Akio Car version" of this second ending as well, which was on episode 33 of the TV broadcast. On the LD and VHS releases, episode 25 also had the Akio Car version, but on DVD it was only in episode 33. The theme song is the same, but the Akio Car shows up in the video, and no characters appear. It shows a scene of he Akio Car zooming along, switching from cut to cut in time with the song’s chorus, until it finally arrives at the dueling arena. It’s a playful arrangement that got people talking even at the time.

Also, apparently a humorous, cute ending featuring Chu-Chu was conceived during Season 2 production as well. The idea was to have close-up of Chu-Chu’s face that took up the whole screen, with Utena, Anthy, and the other main characters appearing inside his eyes. To the right are some rough storyboards drawn for that sequence by Shinya Hasegawa. Chu-Chu’s facial expression would change depending on which characters were in his eyes, so the visuals were very humorous, with anger and tears and everything else. If that ending sequence had been used, it probably would have been given a cute song, but if "Virtual Star Embryology" had been paired with that close-up of Chu-Chu, the peculiar mismatched feel of it would have surely surprised viewers.


And that's pretty much it for Ikuhara in the book, other than a passage from the LD notes. Now it's time for a doozy: an interview with the people who were involved with the HD process. Lots of great Ikuhara stories in this, so we here go!

HD VIDEO REMASTERING
INTERVIEW WITH THE STAFF

Hiroshi Kaneda
Film Transferring/Colorist

Haruyasu Yamazaki
Technical Coordinator

Tomomi Takemura
Master Editing/Online Editor

Hideki Ito
Line Coordinator

Let’s start off by talking about the production process for HD remastering. Revolutionary Girl Utena (hereafter referred to as "Utena") was originally done on 16mm film, wasn’t it?

Ito: We convert that to the high-definition "HD" format, create new materials, and then process them to produce a new master. "HD remastering" means trying to raise the quality of the master by updating it to a new generation of media.

Please tell us what your impressions of Utena were when you converted the first materials.

Kaneda: The theatrical version of Utena was 35mm, and the TV version was 16mm. Given that this is an HD remaster, I think first off you can sense the difference in quality that comes from the difference in film type. Also, the old TV vision was created for broadcast, so only about 90% of the cel art is visible after fitting it to the TV frame. So if the rest of the cell had stuff in it that shouldn’t be there, it didn’t matter because nobody would see it anyway. But now we have full-display TVs, like LCD TVs for example, and everything is 100% visible. That meant that when we were first recording the HD type, how much of the frame to use became an issue. Ultimately, we ended up showing everything, since that was the director’s preference. And so the 10% that was never visible before got cleaned up and generally corrected, and now you can see the whole frame as it was originally drawn.

That’s something to be happy about. What about adjustments to the whole screen?

Kaneda: There were aspects of the look of that outer-space background in Utena and Anthy’s dance scene in the movie that didn’t fit the director’s image. He said it needed more depth, more profundity, so we altered the way we transferred the film. We tested three different categories of original film elements – positive film, negative film, and interpositive – and used the one that yielded the best image.

So he wanted to express more translucence and depth, then?

Kaneda: That was the one scene where we adjusted the parameters most minutely, to bring out the sense of translucence and depth. The director and I went through each individual cut together, with endless trial and error.

Did he have requests about the coloring of the characters, too?

Kaneda: As an example, Utena’s hair is pink, but there’s pink and then there’s pink. You have your reddish pinks, your yellowish pinks, and all that. For this project there was no order chart or other basis for color matching in the film, so we started by getting permission to examine actual cels of the main characters, and we decided to match those. The character that I especially felt had the most variation in her coloring was Anthy. Her skin was difficult. I think there were probably several different versions from the beginning. You see, it was a slightly different color each time. As we worked, we consciously worked to avoid letting those color variations make anything seem off within a given scene. For example, one part of a sequence of evening scenes abruptly had a more daylight sort of coloring, so we consulted the director: "Should we match this bit to the evening hues for continuity?" And then we adjusted the skin tones to fit the overall tonality.

Are the colors any more vivid than when we watched the show on TV?

Kaneda: None of the colors got drastically more vivid. After all, it’s not good to make them too far removed from the video you’ve seen up until now. They are sharper now, though. We’ve revised them to be clearer, so I think they’re easier on the eyes.

I see. And after that, you need to clean up any defects in the frame, right?

Takemura: In terms of order, first you have digital remastering, and then you set up filter parameters to do the denoising. You remove all of the noise and distortions in the frame. Then you bring this processed footage to the editing room and check it with the director.

But when we watch anime on TV, we don’t really think "Look at all that noise!", do we?

Ito: Most of the anime shows made in recent times were produced digitally, so there isn’t any noise, but even though this Utena is a "digital remaster," I think there’s bound to be a certain amount of noise in it, because the original materials were film. Still, I think this is far and away cleaner than the previous DVD release. It’s not even comparable. You see, that was a seriously mad dash to the finish.

Takemura: To start with, I did about 100 corrections per episode.

Yamazaki: That was after my team cleaned up each cut, though. We’d remove the noise, cue and paste things from other places, and generally make it look clean. Ultimately, it’s almost like compositing work. Then we’d lay that back to tape again and check it with the director, at which point we’d receive additional corrections… (laughs)

Ito: Yamazaki would input the tape media to a nonlinear machine and work on it, and then Takemura would edit it on tape media, and that would become the final master.

Yamazaki: You were saying that to start with the director check would yield about 100 corrections, but how many did he give you on the second half of the work?

Takemura: About 300. Because after we’d done one full pass on the show, more corrections would come up during rechecking.

That sounds like a lot of revisions. Is that more than average?

All: Oh, yes… (laughter)

Takemura: Basically you’re doing frame-by-frame recording of the cels, right? And when there’s lip flaps with layered cels, the noise you end up with ultimately stands out. That stays in the picture throughout.

I see. And I understand that when it came to pieces like the onscreen text put in during original video recording, you changed them to digital elements. Could you tell us what that means?

Yamazaki: Things like the final "to be continued" and the eyecatchers weren’t on the film itself, so we recreated them. Then there were things like the rotating roses in the four corners of the screen.

In the TV broadcast the movement of the roses was jerky. Has that changed now that they’re been redone?

Yamazaki: We tried not to break the atmosphere the show’s had up until now. Out motto on this project has been, "Try to keep the image of the show as intact as possible." Still, we did want the audience to feel like we’d done something, so we tried to get that to show through, but then it was like, "Mmm, no, that’s going too far." The director and us tossed back and forth various opinions and ideas as we pinned down the right feel.

There are also some places where the key art is new, am I right? I’m told Mr. Shinya Hasegawa drew it.

Takemura: That’s right. The new materials are static image data (the digital version of cel drawings), so they’re sparkling clean. We take them and blend them in with the texture of the old film. We input the new materials we receive to an editing system called "DS," and then composite them while adding motion. In the final stage we add grain to make it fit in with the grittiness of the film.

Are there any other scenes that changed?

Takemura: The eyecatch that says the show title is completely new in the HD version.

Yamazaki: The director was very respectful of the image of the original, so we did out best to work according to the goal of using original materials as much as possible, but this part apparently just didn’t fit the image… There were those silver plates in the four corners of the eyecatch, and the idea was broached that "Maybe these are just in the way," so we took them out, and it really did look better. When you look closely, the red backgrounds that’s unfolded beneath the lettering is different in the pre- and post-commercial bumpers, too. The eyecatches took a ton of time, because in the beginning we had no idea what direction to go in. We couldn’t even begin to figure out how they’d given the letters those rolling motions back then. There’s a certain analog-style awkwardness there, as if it got done by coincidence. The idea was to trace that, but it was no easy thing to get that bit done digitally. Once we had the motion, our next problem was the texture. The original opening bumper had a yellow logo with a bit of gradation, and there was this sort of green bud thing rotating above it. It was quite a vivid eyecatch. But we were asked to make it all gray this time, and to give the texture a crystal-clear feel when the letters were finished unfurling. So we thought maybe we should make it metallic, ad we experimented a lot with different textures, until finally we found that that just wasn’t the right direction to go in… But you know, the logo in the show’s opening sequence was a silvery, chic monotone. So we figured we might as well try spinning it that way, and then it was like, "This is it!" We could finally see the finish line ahead of us. Ultimately, we got eyecatches where silver is born from a slightly darkened screen, and then when the spotlight hits it, the red of the background rises up and the bud at the top gives off a pink shine. In the end, when the director finally told us "OK!", there was applause. (laughs)

Ito: I can understand the director’s pickiness, since eyecatches are things that appear every episode. With proposed revisions like this, we had Takemura find the middle ground in terms of how we’d make this all hang together as a final work. He’s the one who had the most communication with the director.

What types of things would the director say to you, Mr. Takemura?

Takemura: He’d say, "Do something about this part." But Director Ikuhara isn’t someone who just says "Do something about this" and leaves it at that. He’s good enough to ask, "What options do we have for fixing this?" When I grope for a few answers and propose them, he’ll make a decision: "Okay, let’s use this method here." He really listens to our suggestions and makes his decisions after taking them into account. It was the same way with the denoising. There were some cuts where we were like, "This is a tough one; it might not get clean," but the director said, "That’s OK." Well, when someone tells you that, you think, "I have to do something about this!"

And you had to synch up the timing, too, didn’t you?

Takemura: You see, the film in use at the time was already gone. That meant the video and audio didn’t synch up, so we had to balance the accounts at both ends, so to speak. And the scenes in the duels when the prince descends – some episodes didn’t have anything that really fit, and we had to adjust them in editing.

I see. So all of you listened to the director’s various wishes and put them into practice.

Yamazaki: In the beginning I wasn’t directly discussing things with the director. But when things came to crisis point, he said "Let’s walk this path together," or something along those lines. At first, I thought he meant we’d have a talk every week or something, but we started emailing back and forth on the principle that “That’s nowhere near enough!” And I’ll tell you something… he replies really quickly. During the eyecatch thing, I’d message him with "How about footage like this", and immediately I’d get back something like "I want to see an example of this pattern, too."

Could you all sense the director’s enthusiasm?

Yamazaki: Absolutely! If he’s like this with a remaster, I wonder what he’d be like if he decided to do something new.

Ito: His enthusiasm is amazing.

Takemura: He’s a passionate person, isn’t he? We talked about various things in our spare moments on the job, and I can tell you one thing: he watches all kinds of stuff. I mean, if it’d been a week since you’d last gotten together, he’d tell you about this movie or that DVD that he’d seen in the meantime. I thought he must be trying to absorb into himself anything and everything good that might be out there.

Ito: Yes, he was always watching things with curiosity: "How did that scene in that show come out?"

Takemura: Like, "That was beautiful, huh? How do you they did it? Can we do that too?"

He’d talk about those things even in the studio with you, then.

Takemura: When he does checks, he has his eyes glued to the screen the whole time, and I think he concentrates pretty intensely, so he probably gets worn out. He’d spend over three hours on one episode of Utena, so we’d usually take a break after each one.

Mr. Kaneda, can you share any impressions of the director or happenings during production?

Kaneda: He’s picky down to the last detail. I only noticed this as I was working, but – you know how there were all those scenes of the Akio Car speeding away? There was a point when there were three people in the car, but in the speeding-away shot, only two people were there. We fixed things like that at his request. But fundamentally, even when we were redoing things, he would always say he wanted to faithfully convey the image of the original, from back when it was first made.

Ito: It seemed like he wanted to do the things he couldn't do back in the day, the things he wished he'd done, the things he had a chance to do over now.

Kaneda: Yes. Basically he wanted to get it that much closer to perfection.

What about you, Mr. Yamazaki?

Yamazaki: I think I’ll just be repeating the other two, but in the studio with us he had a "Let’s do this as a team!" mentality, and that in turn made us think “I want to do something to make this good!” He keeps getting more and more of the people around him on his side. He has that kind of charm, I think. "Look how much love he gives to his works!" – that much was plain as day. And that’s exactly what makes us start thinking, "We’ve gotta do this thing!" This isn’t the nicest way of putting it, but there are sort of "hired director" types in this world, you know? He’s not like that at all. He’s the polar opposite. His type of director is rare these days.

Ito: He’s a man among men. Because he hates dishonesty and unreason. Can it be done or not? If not, he won’t do it. But if there’s a chance it can be done, he goes all the way with it.

Yamazaki: Before he decides whether something is possible or not, though, he’ll try various things. Right now we’re don with the show itself and we’re working on the DVD menus – and he refuses to compromise about them, too. For him this isn’t just about the work called "Utena"; right now he’s trying to create the work called "The Utena DVD Box Set." That’s the sense I got.

That’s so true; I can see you’re all striving together as one to make "The Utena DVD Box Set" happen. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.


I got some more, along with some thoughts that I hinted earlier at the thread, but I say let's wait until we get some more response in this thread so I can split things up.
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Postby EvangelionFan » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:02 pm

Apparently food and drink were served at the blu-ray release event, and... see for yourselves:

SPOILER: Show
Image

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Postby Atropos » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:53 pm

After seeing the new Saito art, I might just buy this. Assuming I can get it for a reasonable price. :lol: Like that'll happen!

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Postby C.A.P. » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:12 am

Quick update: I'm working with gwern right now to get all my notes on the first booklet (and some of Seen's comments from the second) into a webpage that'll compile a lot of Utena info, just like his EVA page on his website. If things are not that busy with me--there's a lot of typos I made that I'm going out of my way to fix, and right now, I can't do it all in one day--I'm hoping it'll be up sometime next week.
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Postby Redtophat » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:32 pm

This is the next anime to watch on my list. I absolutely loved Mawaru penguindrum, so this will be a real treat. Fabulous max!

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Postby ath » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:17 pm

View Original PostC.A.P. wrote:Quick update: I'm working with gwern right now to get all my notes on the first booklet (and some of Seen's comments from the second) into a webpage that'll compile a lot of Utena info, just like his EVA page on his website. If things are not that busy with me--there's a lot of typos I made that I'm going out of my way to fix, and right now, I can't do it all in one day--I'm hoping it'll be up sometime next week.

Thanks a lot to both of you! Can't wait for that.

I know I'll buy the remastered edition someday, if only for the booklet. Too bad that having it shipped this side of the Atlantic is ridiculously expensive.
Of course, it can't help that I had finally managed to find and buy a pristine original DVD boxset just a few months before Nozomi announced the remaster...

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Postby C.A.P. » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:45 pm

View Original Postath wrote:Thanks a lot to both of you! Can't wait for that.


Honestly, thank YOU for influencing the two of us to actually do it (or at least, get gwern interested to the point of believing in my transcripts). If it wasn't for that post, all the notes would of just be stuck here forever, and I doubt people want to come here and check it.

But yeah, again, I'm hoping that gwern can get it public sometime this week. My computer is on the fitzs right now, so the file I originally typed them in is possibly gone forever. Therefore, something tells me there's a few typos I never bothered to check, so be on the lookout for them.
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Postby Atropos » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:03 pm

I hope I won't be flayed alive for this, but...

I saw Utena three years ago, and I'm still disappointed by the ending. AT TIMES.

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Postby gwern » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:27 pm

http://www.gwern.net/docs/1997-utena

Source code: http://www.gwern.net/docs/1997-utena.page

Feel free to suggest links to add, rearrangements, etc.
Last edited by gwern on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Xard » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:29 pm

As always: Wonderful job, gwern

thanks for hard transcribing work, CAP
ran1: Oh gosh this sentence gave me an internet boner. You're so tsundere.
Mugwump: Goddamn it, Xard! Take me in your arms, you magnificent sex god bastard!
And don't forget to wear the Ran mask.
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Gob Hobblin: Sanctimonious, subtly racist, vaguely misogynist, somehow says something while at the same time saying...nothing, really, at all....

Nice, Xard. That's nice.

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Postby ath » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:43 pm

...that was seriously quick. Thanks!

Loved the parts about the remastering and the new audio mix. I've always nitpicked over the video remaster, but the work they did on the audio track was amazing. Akio's car sounds just perfect in the new mix.

View Original Postgwern wrote: http://www.gwern.net/docs/1997-utena

Feel free to suggest links to add, rearrangements, etc.

Looks good. Taking a quick look, I've found two possible typos:
Episode 9:
"Loving on… It’s just making me sick."

Animation And Music: Secretly Androgynous
the perfect chance to unleash his songs on out present eta.


Also, I'm pretty sure I saw some pieces of the transcription of the second (or third?) booklet on /a/ back when Penguindrum was airing in Japan. I know I've saved them somewhere, they could be useful to save some typing.

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Postby gwern » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:56 pm

> "Loving on… It’s just making me sick."

Should that be 'living on'?

> the perfect chance to unleash his songs on out present eta.

Well, I guess that should be 'on our present era'...

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Postby ath » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:27 pm

View Original Postgwern wrote:Should that be 'living on'?

Right, I've just checked on the DVDs, it should be "living".

Another small one:
Episode 13:
parts of the second chuck of Ikurhara’s Episode Commentaries

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Postby gwern » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:17 pm

View Original Postath wrote:parts of the second chuck of Ikurhara’s Episode Commentaries


I already asked CAP what 'chuck' meant (chapter?) but he hasn't gotten back to me yet.

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Postby C.A.P. » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:08 pm

View Original PostXard wrote:thanks for hard transcribing work, CAP


D'aw, gosh. Tweren't nothing. Again, my apologies for all those typos; I kept urging gwern to find other people who had the booklets, in case something like this would happen. :redface:

View Original Postgwern wrote:I already asked CAP what 'chuck' meant (chapter?) but he hasn't gotten back to me yet.


Well, by "chuck", I meant that the transcripts for 13-18 were not in the first booklet, and I went under the assumption that they were all in the second booklet. However, since those Commentaries weren't everything in that booklet, I put in "chuck" to mean that the material Seen posted in this thread was all he was able to put up, for whatever reason.

With gwern's comments, it's probably best to find another word/phrase for this. "Group of Director's Commentaries"? ""Next Batch"? I can't think of a term right now...

(Also, I'm going to try to look into that page during this week, finish what I started, and try to find other typos I made with the Interviews and the stuff afterwards that I didn't mange to check this weekend. Maybe Dream can help me out on that...)
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Postby moonwolf2024 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:45 pm

Beautiful series, but it was a little weird. I can't remember how it ended so i'll need to rewatch it.

Guess i'll put it on my list for the week.
Maybe if you shut up and stop over analyzing everything you just might get it........


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