Kato: When it was decided that these two episodes would be produced this time around, my first impression was that the two stories were opposites. In At a Confessional, Rohan truly does not move, as the story is based on what he sees and hears. In contrast, The Run is full of movement. I think the contrast between the two is interesting, but they are both extreme. In At a Confessional, which is extremely motionless, we focused on how to express the tension within the closed room and the mysterious events that happened to the young man. Also, the use of tricks that only work in the manga is a feature of the episode, so I had to be careful about how I handled that part of the story and who exactly I had to make confess their sins at the confessional. On the other hand, The Run does move, but in reality it's just two people running side-by-side on treadmills.
Ishimoto: In terms of art, the character designs of the TV series are constantly being updated, so I thought about how to reflect the aspects of the time in Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan, which I was helping to produce in the midst of the TV series. Even though it's a spin-off, it's still a work from the JoJo series, so I want the audience to experience a kind of live performance. That said, The Run and At a Confessional were created at different times, so the most difficult part for me was deciding how to incorporate Araki's style into each of them.
I understand that Mr. Ishimoto was initially going to change the character designs between The Run and At a Confessional.
Ishimoto: The animation staff from Part 5 slid right into this production, but considering the schedule, I also asked Daisuke Tsumagari to take on the role of chief animation director. In addition to the differences in the original works, since the work was divided between the two of us, we thought it would be a good idea to have different character designs in order to split the perspectives of the two episodes. However, there was an order to "unify the perspective," so we ended up making them consistent. Incidentally, as for how we divided the chief animation director role, I did At a Confessional and Tsumagari did The Run.
There are many horror stories in Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan, and I felt that the direction was done in such a way as to highlight the horror in the animation. Could you tell us more details regarding that area?
Kato: That stems from the origin of the Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan anime. When we created the first part of the series, Millionaire Village, Yasufumi Soejima was ordered to join me in production. Mr. Soejima was the visual director for the JoJo TV series, and he is exceptional at creating a unique look. In Millionaire Village, there is a clear separation between the daily life of Rohan and Kyoka talking at the café and the part where they are bound by the rules of "the other world," to borrow a phrase from Ikkyu. So we decided to have Soejima take charge of the "other world," where he can be free and unrestrained and show us his dynamic visuals, while I take care of the bridge from the everyday to the "other world," so that the audience can enjoy the contrast between the two. This sandwich style of daily life, unusual life, and daily life was followed in Mutsu-kabe Hill, as well as in The Run and At a Confessional. In At a Confessional especially, the time between the twist and the end of the story in the original work is very short. When I produced the video, I thought it would be better to have a lingering effect at the end, so that the audience could understand this strange story. I was going to do the same for The Run at first, but if I had gone through with it, the setup leading up to the most delicious part―the battle between Rohan and Yoma Hashimoto―would have been too long. So I decided to cut out the original part during the storyboarding stage. In the end, we ended up with a structure close to the taste of the original work.
Please tell us about the designs of Koichi, Okuyasu, and Yukako, as director Kato mentioned. Koichi appeared in Part 5, and Yukako appeared in the original work, but Okuyasu's appearance in Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan is exclusive to the anime.
Ishimoto: Okuyasu also appeared in Millionaire Village, but when I looked back at it, I thought to myself that the way he was drawn was too stiff. In At a Confessional, I changed his facial expression a little to emphasize the comical aspect of him.
I couldn't help but laugh at the fact that he ordered tapioca milk tea, with that facial expression.
Ishimoto: Was the tapioca milk tea your idea, Mr. Kato?
Kato: Yes, it was. I get the feeling that Okuyasu's the type of person who can adjust to any trend in real time, haha.
Ishimoto: I thought about leaving Koichi's hair in the Polnareff style he has in Part 4, as I did for Millionaire Village, but since he was going to Italy, I decided to change it to the style he has in Part 5.
Kato: Koichi and Yukako both have new costumes, don't they?
Ishimoto: That's right. Yukako has the kanji for the "yu" in her name on her chest.
What kind of orders did Mr. Araki give you for the production?
Kato: He wanted a number of changes made to certain characters from The Run, such as Yoma. The initial character designs emphasized their physical builds because the story was about weight training, but he said to make them "even more muscular."
Ishimoto: He said to make them about as buff as they were between Parts 1 and 3. The bald-headed gym patron in particular was the character that required the most revision. During the design process, Mr. Araki said to make him "about as buff as Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson," and we thought he was kidding because that would deviate quite a bit from the original work, but it turns out he was serious. Haha. I can somewhat understand why he was so particular about it, though. I got the impression that At a Confessional was finalized rather easily.
Thank you so much for this insightful conversation. Finally, do you have a message for the fans?
Kato: As an animator, I put a lot of effort into this work, respecting the worldview created by Mr. Araki and trying to find the best way to incorporate it into the animation. I believe that the overall quality of the work, including the actors' performances and the music direction, is very high, and I hope that you enjoy it. If this is your first encounter with Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan, there are already two comic volumes' worth of bizarre stories, so please read those as well.
Ishimoto: Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan is a work in which we explored various aspects of the drawing process. I hope you enjoy the intentional differences in the art style.
Kato: Especially in the way the eyes are drawn, the use of BL shadows (shadows drawn with black paint) is much more extensive than in the TV series. Even though they're part of the same series, there are some differences in expression between the main JoJo series and its spin-offs, so I'd appreciate it if you paid close attention to them. Regarding the BL shadow processing, we also challenged ourselves to not use the same flourishes present in Part 5.
Ishimoto: Indeed. I hope you all enjoy the various tastes. However, the story is interesting to begin with, so please enjoy the story first and foremost. While the "bizarre adventure" of the main JoJo series focuses on Stand battles, this "bizarre tale" focuses on the unearthly. I think it will be interesting to relive Rohan's experiences, so please enjoy the story.
[Translated by HudgynS]