Marui Group and the creative studio “Gugenka” have teamed up to release the AR stage performance “Lost child travels on a mysterious train”, in which Bullet Train will appear.

What exactly is an AR stage performance? How will Bullet Train appear? There are so many “questions” for Mikami Masashi, the producer of this work and CEO of Gugenka! He talked about how to attract many people into a fascinating world.
[Interview / text = Noshita Nao / Photo = Ayumi Fujita]

Producer Mikami Masashi
■ A book with pictures that adults can enjoy in AR
――How did you come up with the idea of Bullet Train’s appearance in the AR stage performance?

Mikami: Originally, Gugenka used an app called “HoloModels” to create digital figures for popular anime, and I was wondering if AR could be used to create a different kind of work.

Therefore, I decided to work with Marui Group and thought about this project. I’ve been making anime figures for a long time, so I wanted to it be seen by someone from other fields, so I asked Bullet Train.

――The cast that colors the world of the work is the popular band Bullet Train. How was it decided?

Mikami: Assuming that most of the people who come to see this stage performance are adult women, who are a big part of the Bullet Train’s fun community, but Bullet Train are also known for their variety of activities.
The AR stage performance this time has a cheerful story development, and I think that you can feel the difference from the usual charm of Bullet Train.

――It feels refreshing when 5 members of Bullet Train appear as digital figures.

From the left, conductor Kyle (Kai), priest Ricardo (Ryuga), boy Taku (Takuya), station staff Yuri (Yuki), conductor Turner (Takashi)

Mikami: I also thought about letting the actual person appear in the AR world as it is. However, if it is converted to 3DCG, it will feel fake. Partly because of that, I used digital figures.

This project also had the purpose of “entering a world which is like a book with pictures”, so I thought about entering a flat picture.
It’s pop and cute deformed design, so I think it’s easy for fans as well as other people to get into it.

――Even if they are figures, I think it is nice to get closer to Bullet Train.

Mikami: Even if it’s deformed, it’s easier to inflate the image when you see it, so you should feel like you’re enjoying the story with Bullet Train.
Many people receive the deformed view of the world without any discomfort, so I think that kind of feeling is perfect for this work.

――Did you make any orders in terms of acting?

Mikami: I couldn’t attend the recording sessions, but director Ito Yuuichi gave me acting guidance. He asked for something in between dubbing and narration.

Before recording, I thought it was like reading a book, but in reality, it felt like a performance atmosphere. It made me feel like I’m reading aloud while someone is whispering in my ear, so I think that both men and women will like it.

■ I want you to be moved and immerse yourself in the story
――Did the story become a cheerful story because your target audience is adult women?

Mikami: Probably. Recently, the number of picture books for adults is increasing, so I aimed for that direction. The script was written by director Ito, but during the meeting, I wanted it to be more, “Work that interests me”, “Have a slightly mysterious feeling from the beginning”.

Also, some people choose picture books by title, so we worked on it too.

――How did you make the offer to director Ito?

Mikami: Previously, at Suntopia World, an amusement park in Agano City, Niigata Prefecture, we worked together on a project called “Aurora Forest,” where you can get lost in a mysterious world of projection mapping and illuminations.

The director is very enthusiastic about trying new things, so I thought he would be perfect for this project and made him an offer.

――What is your impression of the finished AR stage?

Mikami: Until I saw the completed video, I was worried because I couldn’t imagine how it would look when everything is combined. But when I saw it, it’s just amazing.
I surprisingly discovered that it is possible to create a nice image only on a flat surface without using CG. It was a success to stick to the 2d surface and create the background because you can feel the presence in the picture.

――It seems that a flat surface is also interesting.

Mikami: In picture books, there are parts that have nothing to do with the storyline,, and sometimes they are drawn in detail in the corners.

――Discoveries like that could give you some advantages.

Mikami: That’s right. In the same way this time, I asked to draw the background picture in detail. So if you read it more than once, you will find something new.

――Since it’s a stage that you can watch using your smartphone, it seems that there are many ways to enjoy it.

Mikami: First of all, you can enjoy it in your break time. Also, I think that you can watch it like a movie, and if you watch it while wearing earphones or headphones, you can feel like you are in a movie theater.

Also, in this AR stage, basically, when you tap the screen, the story progresses automatically, but you can move the screen according to the movement of the person watching . Therefore, if you make the same movements, such as standing up when the main character of the story stands up, sitting down when you sit down, you can feel more like entering the world of picture books.

For those who will try the AR stage for the first time this time, it may seem difficult to operate, but Bullet Train will explain in the tutorial video. While learning the operation with Bullet Train, I want you to get immersed in this world. I hope you will watch it many times and every time find something new.

(C) SDR (C) GugenkaR (C) 2020 MARUI GROUP CO., LTD.