Interview with Kuttsukiboshi Director/Animator, Naoya Ishikawa

With the help of @clar__a for translation, I present an exclusive interview with the director of Clione no Akari and Kuttsukiboshi, Naoya Ishikawa. Ishikawa is a deeply interesting figure and I’m incredibly happy to have gotten the chance to interview him. Please enjoy, and check this for a translation of some Kuttsukiboshi production details.

Ishikawa: This is my reply to your interview. I am also very glad that I could go through these memories again. Thank you very much.

Q1: When did you decide to become an animator and what motivated that decision?

I: It’s not that I decided to become one. Back when I was in middle school, I used to watch a lot of anime like Sailor Moon, Idol Bouei-tai Hummingbird, Bannou Bunka Neko-Musume, Tenchi Muyou! and Ranma ½, because I loved “Bishoujo”-type characters. And when these anime ended, I couldn’t meet these characters anymore, so I made the anime myself in order to meet them again. Gradually, I began making characters that I would like to see, making anime with original characters according to my preferences.

Q2: Why did you decide to work independently instead of working in an established studio structure?

I: Like I said in my first answer, I didn’t start making anime because I wanted to work on it in the future, I just did it as a hobby because I wanted to meet characters. I didn’t even think about joining a studio and working in anime production. As I spent 4 years in university enjoying making anime by myself, I continued to search for jobs as usual. Then, around my graduation, I watched Hoshi no Koe. After learning that an independently-made anime could turn into an actual product, I stopped job hunting and kept making anime for fun, which brings us to now. In short, it was simply because I wanted to keep working on anime production as a hobby.

Q3: What is it that made you so interested in yuri from such an early point, especially as a man?

I: I liked female characters, and wanted to become a female character myself, so I made many anime featuring female characters as the leads so I could feel like I was them. I also made works featuring friendship between women. But, if I wanted to make romance stories, I had to draw male characters, and as I was struggling with this fact, I saw an anime called Koutetsu Tenshi Kurumi, and learned about the Yuri genre. After that I started watching a lot of Yuri anime, which made me want to make one, and so Kuttsukiboshi was created.

Q4: In Mahou no Chocolate you voice Mami’s father. Was that just to save money and time or do you have an interest in voice acting?

I: It was my college graduation project, so I just wanted to have that experience. I’m the one who created Mami, the protagonist, so I’m her father! That was it.

Q5: One of your more interesting projects was starting a company focused on making affordable animation for local governments. What was it that motivated that decision?

I: Ishikawa Pro got a request from the Iwate prefecture to make Kataribe Shoujo Honoka, and it was fun to work on animation for a local government, so I founded the company in the hopes of being able to have more opportunities to do that kind of work. I also made the company because I wanted to establish a separation between work and hobby.

Q6: You’ve made Kuttsukiboshi works for almost a decade now, to the point that it comes off as your favorite of your works. What led to its creation and why do you continue to work on it today? Additionally, do you plan on eventually making further Kuttsukiboshi anime, and if so, would these follow from the current anime or from the doujinshi?

I: I worked on Kuttsukiboshi’s concept for 8 years, and spent 3 years actually making it, so it’s very dear to me. It’s a compilation of various hobby anime ideas that I had always wanted to see throughout those 10 years. The reason I continue to work on it is because of the fans, since there are some who are very invested in it. If I were to make more Yuri anime in the future, they wouldn’t be Kuttsukiboshi, but I’d like to make something similar to it. I already have plans for that.

Q7: Over the last 15 years of your work on anime, a lot has changed for independent animators, especially with the internet enabling easier discovery. How do you feel about all this and how has your own role changed in the process?

I: Shinkai-san was the person who encouraged me to stop looking for a job, so I respect him a lot. There are other people from the same line of work who also give me courage.

I was able to work on animation and make a living out of it because my works got many views on Nico Nico Douga. Now that social media is so prominent, I feel like I should make use of it as well, but I haven’t been able to do so yet, which I should change. I wasn’t the one who posted my works on Nico Nico Douga, so I think I got lucky. However, luck won’t always be there for me, so I’d like to express the appeal of my work to the world in my own way.

Q8: How does it feel knowing you have fans in the US and other foreign countries?

I: It makes me feel very happy. I’ve been to Hong Kong before, and was shocked to know that there were way more Kuttsukiboshi fans there than I imagined. It felt like my love for Yuri anime was a widespread thing. It was as if I had friends from all over the world, and it made me really happy.

Q9: How did you end up working on Clione no Akari despite not previously working with studio drop or on TV anime as a whole?

I: Apparently the producer, Mitani-san, used to watch the anime I made. They(editor’s note: I’m unsure as to Mitani’s gender) contacted me so that we could work together. Originally, we were working on a piece written by myself, however, due to various circumstances, the project changed to making the actual Clione no Akari anime. Since I wouldn’t be able to make it independently, Studio Drop, which the producer Mitani was familiar with, was chosen to make it. So I took part in it as a director.

Q10: What was it like working on a TV anime after years of doing independent work? Would you do so again, or do you plan to return to your previous role and remain there?

I: Compared to working independently, where you just keep at it without consulting anyone, cooperating with a group to make an anime ends up with most of your time being spent on meetings. It was fun to be able to experience new challenges. From now on, no matter if it’s TV or not, if it’s independently or with a team, I want to try everything. If it seems interesting I will dive right into it. Making independent work is my biggest hobby, so while I don’t get any interesting requests, I’ll keep at it.

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