“Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop” is an original anime which depicts a summer of youth for boys and girls with the keywords of “voice” and “music” as its theme..

The anime is a youthful graffiti of a boy Cherry, who can only express his feelings through haiku, and Smile, a girl with a facial mask who cannot overcome her complex about her appearance.

The director is Ishiguro Kyouhei, who is known for “Your Lie in April” and “Children of the Whales”, and this is his first original movie.

Here at Anime!Anime!, we conducted an interview with director Ishiguro Kyouhei, who produced his original movie that the fans have been waiting for.

We asked him to talk about his wish on what he wanted to create, his motif choice (music, haiku, etc.) his special favor on vividness of color and music with originality, and his future vision in regards to work in the future.
[Interview and Article Written By: Tanaka Shinobu]

■ This was your first original movie. What did you hope to express?

Director Ishiguro Kyouhei
※The actual release date is Thursday, July 22, 2021. There was an error in the release date.

—This was the first original movie for you (Director Ishiguro). How did the plan come to fruition in the beginning?

Ishiguro: After completing the broadcast of “Your Lie in April”, Flying Dog offered me a position to produce “an original movie closely related to music”. I believe it was around 2015.
I already came up with a plot for “musical movie with strong Sci-Fi factors”, but I preferred to “make a movie with realistic factors” more, so my plan shifted this way.

—How did you choose your staff, including Satou Dai (script writer)?

Ishiguro: A year after the start of the plan, I was stuck with the progress, since I was not sure how to put things that I want, including what I wanted to do, and what I want to express, into the story.
I offered Satou Dai-san, who I had a personal connection with, to participate in the production, and asked him to write “a positive story with the theme-music”. I started to decide character designs, brought this plan to SIGNAL.MD, and started to gather staff.
I started to do this, because I felt that an environment with staff will make something move forward.

—How did you make the story with Satou Dai?

Ishiguro: My order to Dai-san was “to set the story in the real world” and “a group drama similar to ‘The Goonies’”. To make a group drama evident, we set the story in a shopping mall in a rural area filled with paddy fields, and the protagonist became a boy living nearby. The plot at the point was already similar to “The Goonies” and had no factor of romance that the final version has.

※”The Goonies” is an American movie released in 1985, which depicted the adventures of a group of juveniles “The Goonies”, who are looking for pirate treasure.

—At what point did you choose to have “boy meets girl” as the center of the story?

Ishiguro: The story was already well-made at the point of the scenario, but there was the perspective that pointed out the lack of impact toward the audience. So we kept the main part of the story and started to focus on Cherry and Smile, instead of making the movie a group drama. Also, I am a big fan of Dai-san’s music, so I took in music as an important factor of the movie.

—Smile wears a facial mask to hide her teeth that stick out and Cherry is too shy, etc.. The movie seems to have “complex” as the theme.

Ishiguro: I love drama of children building up their own personality. So “romance” is a small factor in this movie, and I created the story so the characters overcome things that they don’t like about themselves.

What I finally wanted to tell was that things that you personally don’t think are sometimes an appealing factor for others. I want the audience to be encouraged about whatever complex they may have after watching the movie.

■ Reason of choosing the motifs-Haiku, Mask, Vocabulary, and Music.

—A heroine with a facial mask is not so popular in anime, but she was so appealing.

Ishiguro: I was certain about that. I was sure that I can make her appealing and cute in the anime, although it might be a bit difficult in a live-action movie.

When her design was complete, her teeth were sticking out a little bit when her mouth was closed, and that was cute, as she was like a small animal. I can relate to her, because I also have teeth sticking out from my mouth, and I didn’t like it.

—I believe that facial expression is an important factor for character design but Smile hides half of her face with a mask. What did you struggle about her direction?

Ishiguro: That was the point that I had to work on. I was certain that I can make her cute, but was not sure if I can express her emotions with her mouth being hidden.
But when I looked up on the method of creating emoji, I realized that Japanese read the emotions from “eyes”, while Europeans understand as “mouth”. So I decided to bet on that knowledge. I tried to design her eyes based on her emotions, whether she is happy or sad.

Also, since Smile is an energetic, optimistic boy, I chose to deliver his personality with full motion of his body and his actions.

—The balance between modern items like SNS and nostalgic items like a record was fantastic.

Ishiguro: There will be SNS, but also picture label records… This image, depicted in the key visual, was solidified from the beginning.
Picture labels (discs with not only text, but also multi-colored photos, pictures, etc.) are an important item on records, but I used them simply because I like them (laughs).

A picture of the record of “Love Call HIROKO” by Yakushimaru Hiroko (Ishiguro’s personal belonging)

—Why did you chose “haiku” as one of your motifs?

Ishiguro: Itou Seikou-san once advocated, “Haiku is the origin of Japanese rap” and he continued, “haiku rhymes and is sampling. This is the complete hip-hop”, and I got inspiration from this.

Cherry’s haiku is written by real high school students. It is fresh, young, and has momentum unique to their age.

■ Color with vividness-unrealistic color of exaggeration

Ishiguro: This coloring is 100% my hobby. I love Suzuki Hidehito-san and Watase Seizou-san, one of the best illustrators from the 1980’s. I like to structure the design with silhouette, not with details, and that appears evident in the movie.

The picture record of “FOR YOU” by Yamashita Tatsurou, which Suzuki Hidehito designed (personal belonging of director Ishiguro)

—Coloring is an important factor of choosing a movie’s style, and that for this movie is more like a vivid, exaggerated use of color than reality.

Ishiguro: In my opinion, it would be good if the color were to take a certain leap and become a part of the character of the film, rather than conforming to reality.
Shadow follows the same logic. Shadow can be absent on necessary scenes, and doesn’t have to be black. I did not direct vivid color, but art director Nakamura Chieko-san was the master of abnormal colors (laughter) and made it into an interesting use of color.

—I felt your “color” was evident in addition to use of color throughout the movie. Which point did you care more about?

Ishiguro: All movies that I produced killed characters in the story. So I advocated that I don’t want my first original work sad and dark. I want to have my story positive and end happy. Dai-san agreed with me.

—After producing this movie, did you find anything that you want to improve as a creator?

Ishiguro: When I was producing works with original work, I thought I don’t need much of my personality. It is because it is important to pick up necessary points from the original work and convert it into animation.

The original movie is completely from it.
There is no original work first of all, and I have to express what I want to do and create from it. Because I create with my ideas, and uniqueness and favorites are important for me.

The trend of recent years is to express what is shown in the original work to became the good director, rather than “expressing the personality of a director” in the anime. But back then, when I was a student, I produced “what I can call my own work”, I think I remembered what I was doing by producing this anime. It was a difficult but happy experience.

I want to produce more original works in the future.

—That is wonderful words for the fans.

Ishiguro: If I don’t do that, I don’t know why I chose this job. I want to participate in the anime with original works as an illustrator and other jobs. But I decided not to produce anime with original work any more. I want to express myself strongly in the future.