Bright: Samurai Soul Director Kyōhei Ishiguro on the Anime Prequel - VRGyani News and Media

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Bright: Samurai Soul Director Kyōhei Ishiguro on the Anime Prequel

With the anime prequel Bright: Samurai Soul now streaming on Netflix, I recently spoke with director Kyōhei Ishiguro about expanding the world of the 2017 David Ayer film. Unlike many prequel films, which try to heavily connect to the original and explain how we got there, Bright: Samurai Soul takes place hundreds of years earlier, on the other wise of the world. The film takes place in Japan during the 19th century, mixing Western fantasy tropes with Japanese sensitivities for a unique and thrilling action anime film. Whether you're a fan of the original, or just want a cool anime film full of gory action and orc violence, this is a film worth watching.

During the interview, Ishiguro talks about the using motion capture for the action sequences, the freedom to explore the story they wanted to tell, and why Disney 3D animation is not as memorable as Japanese 2D anime.

COLLIDER: How did you get involved with the project?

KYOHEI ISHIGURO: I got involved very soon after the project started. At the beginning, the CG studio Arect was going to be making this project and I got a call from a producer. At the time, the only things that were stipulated was that this project was going to be based on Bright, the live action film with Will Smith. It was going to be an animated spinoff, and it would have 3D characters. The writer was going to be Michiko Yokote and that it was going to be staged in Japan, not modern Japan, but sort of late Edo period or around the major restoration period. So that was all that was decided at that time.

What makes that time period exciting for this story?

ISHIGURO: The film Bright was a set in contemporary times, but it had characters like, orcs and elves who were of different species from human. And I really like that mixture, that diversity. As someone who is very curious and who studies about Japanese history, living in Japan, this particular period is very interesting because it's an era of intense change.

So when I was thinking of, which sort of period to replace the story in, I thought it was a great match because you get to introduce these species from the Western countries, if you will, the elves and the orcs into this story in this setting. I thought that would be able to update the source material in a really intriguing way. So as I was offered to direct, I was taught about this period. I thought that would be really interesting. So I just took it and furthered it.

Orcs and elves are not creatures we often see in Japanese media. How was it to mix these ideas with Japanese culture and history?

ISHIGURO: At the very early stages of brainstorming with producer Sakurai and the writer Yokote, we did toy with the idea, what would happen if we bring in a creature from Japan, like Oni and how that would look, but we didn't think that that would make it Bright. So we wanted to run with the Western creatures. It's not a mixture that you often see in Japanese anime. So we were going to take that as an advantage.

RELATED: New 'Bright: Samurai Soul' Behind the Scenes Video Introduces the Anime Movie's Villain

The film has a unique visual style, what was the influence for that?

ISHIGURO: There is this collection of artwork by the artist, Hiroshi Yoshida who started working from about a hundred years ago in the Taisho era. He is a wood block print artist, and he is completely our inspiration in terms of the visuals, because for me, the essence of animation is the picture is the visuals. Even when I say visuals, it's not about the details, it's more about the silhouettes for me. It's about how the silhouettes can capture the character itself and the background. I think that is the strength and the appeal of animation for me. The way that you in wood block prints, where you start with the silhouette and then you color it kind of color in or pencil in the inside is how we actually color or the same technique as used in an animation as well.

So about five, six years ago from about then, I had always been thinking about, how to bring in those wood block prints, aesthetics and approach into animation to create a new style of animation. But in order to do that, you need to work in 3D because you need to have it move three dimensionally, including the background.

Can you talk a bit about making the action sequences and the techniques involved?

ISHIGURO: Actually, in terms of the character performances, this time around is all motion capture. There are people who are portraying those movements. In terms of the fight choreography itself. It was done by Keiji Yamada who resides in Hokkaido. I'm not good, that well trained in the arts of fight choreography. So he came in to give us a helping hand, including the right way or manners that the Samurai of the period would have.

When it came to the mo-cap, the key for me is whether it creates a picture or not. So in order to do that, sometimes in the translation into animation, we might exaggerate a few things and he was talking about using, not doing all the frames. So you take out a few frames, if you will. We do that a lot in anime, and that is a very Japanese way of approaching animation, where it slow downs, the movement of the characters. Somehow that makes them more memorable.

On the other hand, Pixar and Disney, they do full frame, 3D animation, and sometimes it is too smooth and it is not memorable. Whereas, in Japanese animation you have a slower movement, or sometimes you can even tell a story just by a stopped frame, where the character's not moving at all. Somehow that does stay with your memory. So we wanted to bring that frame rate idea into these mo-cap performances.

How much thought went into whether you wanted to reference the original film?

ISHIGURO: When they approached me, they did tell me that I could really have a lot of freedom in creating what I wanted and that's what I did to bring this Bright to life. But of course it has a source material, and I wanted to show my respect as my attitude towards it. That is seen in the way we approach the main characters, especially how you have a human and orc, that combination, something that we took from the source material. Also the elements like a tool like the wand or the existence of the Dark Lord. These are things that we wanted that people who know the source material to feel like, oh yeah, I know them.



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