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Masaaki Yuasa Interview Part 2 (Lu Over The Wall)

Masaaki Yuasa's second feature film release this year, following The Night is Short, Walk On Girl, Lu Over the Wall is a marvel in every sense. Imbued with unmistakable Yuasa energy, it is also unlike anything he's ever made before. Arguably the most orthodox effort from the prolific director, none of his charm, dynamism or expressionism is tamped down in this wild teenage fairy tale.

I caught up with the director himself a few weeks ago to talk about his first foray into general audience movies, his influences, his directing style and his collaborators. Read the first part of our interview here.

AFA: The film is so different to anything you’ve made before. It seems like it’s your first film that is wholly suitable for younger audiences too, how did you find that change?

Y -- I tried different styles before, but this time I wanted to make something that I used to love as a child, something for everyone.

Are there any particular movies you’re thinking about? I gotta say as a fan of Japanese animation I felt the spirit of the old Toei Douga movies for sure.

Y -- That’s right, Toei Douga, Disney, Tex Avery, something more orthodox really.

Also maybe Fleischer? Especially in the dancing scenes.

Y -- Maybe, it’s hard to see [influences] in my own work.

Since this wasn’t an adaptation, your first original story in a while, what challenges did that bring for you?

Y -- I think we discussed pretty much every aspect, there was a lot of teamwork. There was much more time spent communicating with the team.

More than usual?

Y -- Yes, in the past I think I tended more to do things myself but this time I had more discussions.

You must trust your team a lot.

Y -- Yes! I mean, I’m not sure I trust them that much, but I want them to feel like they’re having fun and are able to make their own input. So I just try to create an environment where they feel it’s their film, and they’re not just working for someone else.

How does this work when there are scenes that are extreme? In particular, there’s a scene when the characters are trying to turn a big wheel to release water, and the animation gets very distorted. How does something like that come about? Would you just trust the animator to do it, or would you specifically say, ‘this one has to be really crazy”? 

Y --I do give them instructions at meetings, discussions and layout check. And the team really understands what I try to say. Sometimes I get more than I expect, too. So long as they keep the essence, that’s fantastic, and if they give more than I expect, that’s usually great too and I’ll want to keep it.

It was exciting for me, as a real animation nerd, to see the work of some of your past collaborators and animation superstars.

Y -- Especially the water scenes done by Takayuki Hamada. For his animation, there was nothing to correct. As for Ohira, he’s really good. There was a fair amount I altered but he always came up with something I never expected, and he expanded the image in a way I never expected. He’s so dynamic, and a very strong force in the team too.

I’d like to talk about Flash, and the unique way to you use it, how did you develop it?

Y -- Yes, Flash is great for detailed work, you can inbetween very easily, especially for things that are moving very slowly. It’s also great for making things bigger, because when you change the size, the line detail stays consistent. However, I don't’ really want to rely too much on Flash cause you know, it’s not just about technology, a good story is the most important thing. But it is time and cost-effective, and with it one person can do a few different things. If the animator is talented in that way, I don't’ have to give them endless details, I can give an overall description and they can just run with it, so I benefit from it in that respect.

Thank you for taking your time Mr Yuasa, finally I want to say I’m looking forward to Devilman Crybaby.

Thank you!

Lu Over The Wall is in UK & Irish Cinemas on December 6 for one night only via Anime Limited, Find a screening here.  Thanks to Mr Yuasa and the good people at Fetch Publicity and Anime Limited for making this interview possible.