“April 1995, I met her.”
An older schoolmate and a high school upper-classman of Mikiya Kokutou and Shiki Ryougi, Lio first fell in love at the sight of Shiki at the start of April 1995. After a month, Lio would then go on to befriend Mikiya, finding great comfort in having him as his only friend, even meeting up with him on occasion. His initial love for Shiki slowly became an obsession that consumed his daily life. Unable to confront Shiki about his feelings, instead he begins to stalk her, regularly taking photos of her as well as recording her daily activities using a video camera. On July, he finally confessed his love to Shiki but only to be rejected due to Shiki's supposed dislike for "weak people".
Feeling depressed after being rejected, Lio decided to seek out an infamous schoolmate who was known for bullying others over arcade games. As a way to vent his frustrations, Lio plans to provoke said schoolmate through a series of arcade matches, in hopes of confronting him afterwards to prove his worth. Lio challenges the schoolmate in an arcade game, winning against him in consecutive matches for almost an hour until the schoolmate prompts Lio to follow him in a dark alley. Before the schoolmate could react, Lio hits him on the head, instantly killing him in the process. Surprised, Lio breaks down as he fears the consequences of his actions.
With no means to dispose of the body, his origin partially takes effect and he concludes that the "natural" course of action would be to eat the body to remove the evidence. He begins to devour the body, initially sucking out the blood to drain it. However he begins to feel sick, thus unable to continue further. Here he encounters Souren Araya who praises him for developing an awareness of his origin.
Araya claims Lio to be insane, and thus prompts him to continue eating for he claims that it is only natural for an insane person to do so. Lio overcomes his moral paralysis and in one hour, he is able to devour his schoolmate's whole body, causing his lower jaw to break in the process. Araya asks Lio if he wishes to have his origin awakened as a way of becoming a transcendental man, to which Lio consents under the belief that it would help relinquish his state as a "weak" person. With his origin awakened, Lio begins to manifest a carnivorous hunger for human flesh.
Starting from September 1995, Lio would begin his murderous campaign while continuing to stalk Shiki by taking photos of her and recording her activities using a handheld camera. Due to his connection to Araya, he is somehow able to discover about Shiki's murderous impulse. Finding relief in the fact that Shiki, the girl he loves, is suppressing a similar murderous instinct like his own, he begins to orchestrate his crimes with the intention of influencing Shiki's mental state so as to allow her to succumb to her murderous impulse. He decides to conduct his murders at night, while picking his victims based on location so that Shiki would be able to come across them based on her daily routine and activities.
His first murder involved cutting off the victim’s hands and feet, leaving the victim to die. His second victim was vertically sliced in half from the crotch to the head with the other half being stuck to a wall. His third victim had his limbs cut off, in which the arms were sewn to the legs. The fourth was cut into pieces, with what looked like a Yin-Yang/Taijitu symbol carved onto the body. It was at this point that Lio drops out of school while attempting to manipulate Shiki into thinking that she is the real killer. He would then conduct his fifth murder, arranging the severed parts in such a way that the arms and legs formed a manji symbol.
At some point in time he would have dinner with Mikiya in a restaurant until Mikiya decides to visit the Ryougi estate. Lio would then conduct his sixth murder on the path covered with bamboo trees near the Ryougi estate in an attempt to bring out Shiki's murderous impulse while framing her for the crime. Lio hides behind the bamboo trees, as Shiki discovers the victim on the path with Mikiya witnessing the whole scene.
Due to Lio's murders and its influence on Shiki's mental state, Shiki gets involved in an incident where she nearly kills Mikiya as well as being caught in a car accident. Having nearly driven Shiki to her death, Araya stops Lio from conducting his murders in order to prevent him from causing further problems for his plan. It is at this point that Araya deems Lio to be a failure, resorting to using other powered individuals to divert Shiki's attention while keeping Lio at bay.
Lio halts his murderous campaign, and on occasion, he would stay in the Ogawa Apartment Complex while continuing to observe Shiki's activities after she had recovered from her two-year coma.
A twenty-years old youth, though handsome, Lio initially did not stand out due to his quiet personality. Lio originally had brown hair and brown eyes and he often wore simple casual clothes. His hair color would later turn into a golden blonde and he would also gain reptilian/feline red-orange eyes, and retractable claws. This is due to his awakened origin causing his body to mutate and restructure itself, with physical qualities akin to that of various carnivorous animals. He would later change his hairstyle and wear a red leather jacket, a dark purple shirt and skirt (originally black in the novel), causing his overall appearance to drastically change. Even his facial features have been cosmetically altered to become more feminine in appearance. He sports this image with the intention of appearing visually reminiscent of Shiki, even to the point of using a military combat knife as his weapon of choice. In a twist of irony, Lio would go on to lose his left arm during his first fight with Shiki, much like how Shiki lost her left arm during the incident with Asagami Fujino, drawing further comparison between the two.
PersonalityEditLio was originally a socially withdrawn and quiet individual. He had befriended Mikiya Kokuto and initially had a crush on Shiki Ryougi. When his love for Shiki turned into an obsession he began to stalk her, taking photographs as well as recording her activities using a video camera. Aside from this, he keeps a personal diary and is depicted as an amateur artist, having sketched portraits of Shiki. Lio developed an inferiority-complex as he internalized Shiki's given reason for rejecting him, in which Shiki claimed that she dislikes "weak people". Lio's motivation for initially wanting to confront the infamous school bully in a fight was based on his misguided perception that he can only prove his worth as a "weak" person based on a real fist-fight. Upon realizing that he had killed his schoolmate, Lio instantly became distressed as he feared the responsibility of his crime.
Lio had an affinity for the "anima", in which he was drawn towards the inner feminine traits of a male persona. It is heavily implied that this may be the cause of his attraction towards Shiki. Alternatively, it is also possible that he may possess a gender identity disorder that he was not aware of, in which he was able to identify with Shiki through his attraction towards the feminine characteristics of her male personality SHIKI, as opposed to the female personality Shiki.
Mikiya was the only person that Lio could call a friend as the two had a simple senior/junior relationship. While Mikiya viewed it as a perfectly normal acquaintanceship, Lio viewed his relationship with him as an unbelievable friendship bordering on unrequited love. A fastidious misanthrope by nature, Lio doesn't have many friends. Though he normally hates both men and women alike, Shiki remains an exception because he viewed her as neither one or the other.
Despite his introverted nature, Lio has been shown to be actually very manipulative, having nearly convinced Shiki that she was the true killer of the 1995 murders. After awakening his origin, Lio developed a superiority-complex, albeit prompted by Araya's words of praise. He subconsciously recognizes his guilt as a murderer, but chooses to live in denial. As such, whenever he killed someone he blamed his origin as the cause of his actions as well as the fact that he is supposedly insane to begin with. Despite his claims of insanity, Lio only became insane based on how his willful experiences affected his mentality, unlike Shiki whose struggles revolved around her preference for murder.
Recognizing himself as the only "special being", Lio grew frightened of his solitude, deciding that he would only be content if he sought out and created companions of his own. He tried to create a cocktail drug, which he dubbed as "Bloodchip", to make other people turn into "special people". His delusions made him believe that by soaking the drug into his own blood. it would allow others to awaken their origin like him. With Shiki being the girl he always loved and Mikiya being what he considers to be his only true friend, Lio interchanges between wanting to convert either Shiki or Mikiya to his side either as a murderous killer or as a "special being". Despite his preference in recruiting either Shiki or Mikiya, he is not above recruiting other teenagers as he slowly grew desperate in seeking out a companion. It is eventually revealed that his goal of creating murderous companions is prompted by his desire to share the burden of having a guilty mind. His carelessness in regards to his life and his risk-taking behaviour can be attributed to his subconscious fear of living with a guilty mind, though this does not mean he harbours any suicidal tendencies as he simply relishes in tempting his fate during combat.
Lio's desire to devour Shiki is not inherent of his personality as it is derived from his origin of "consumption". This provides a pseudo-split personality on his part as Lio is depicted as switching between different moods from being feral to suddenly becoming calm and collected. In this regard, his obsession towards Shiki manifested into a desire to devour her, glorifying her as his "special" meal. It was only near the end before his final battle that he begins to doubt his need for companions as he deduced that a special being is only "special" if it were truly alone, though this thought process could be attributed to his sanity breaking down after Mikiya's presumed death. His original personality had been described to completely fade away after he had finally realized the guilt of his crimes when he "killed" Mikiya. During his final battle with Shiki, Lio's mental state becomes primarily dominated by his carnivorous instincts due to his origin of "consumption" slowly taking over his mind. This combined with his eventual acceptance of Shiki and Mikiya's rejection towards him meant that he had truly intended to kill and devour Shiki during their final fight.
While the subtitle in Kara no Kyoukai: The Garden Of Sinners may possibly refer to the internal conflict that the central characters had been suffering through in each respective chapter/film, the term Garden of Sinners is also an alluded within the story in regards to Lio's detrimental obsession towards Shiki; in which Lio describes Shiki as being at the center of his "garden of sin".
Lio's role as an antagonist did not fit within the full scope of Kara no Kyoukai, which served as more of Araya's story surrounding his manipulations. As such, Lio's role was supposed to end before Araya had presented himself as the "the evil mastermind". However, in order to provide a resolution to the story of Mikiya Kokutou and Shiki Ryougi, Lio's role as the true serial killer was a vital factor in his becoming the series' final antagonist.
Due to Lio's appearance being noted as that of a handsome young man, the Ufotable staff members noted that he had to be voiced with a "pretty boy" quality in his voice delivery. As such, Souichirou Hoshi was entrusted with the role due to his experience, in which Nasu found his voice work to be exactly how he had imagined Lio's voice and character portrayal, to the point that the scene in which Lio pleads before Mikiya in his apartment brought Nasu to tears.
Kara no KyoukaiEdit
Chapter 2: Murder Speculation Part 1Edit
In 1995 at the height of the murders occurring within the city, Lio makes his first full appearance on the day of his farewell party in which he attempts to psychologically manipulate Shiki Ryougi into believing that she had conducted all of the four grisly murders at the time, nearly convincing her into thinking that she was an actual killer. He is then referenced by Mikiya Kokuto, in which he is described as having had a farewell party after suddenly dropping out of school due to having found "something he wanted to do". He would later be shown having dinner with Mikiya in a restaurant, this being the last time that Mikiya ever sees Lio before their eventual meeting four years later.
Chapter 7: Murder Speculation Part 2Edit
On February 1999, after Araya Souren had already been confronted and killed by Shiki during the previous year, murders begin to occur in the city once again. The new murders are described by the media as being conducted by a "bloodthirsty killer" and TV broadcasts describe it as the continuation of the grisly murders in 1995. Shiki, having had her lost memories reawakened by Satsuki Kurogiri, and having been previously convinced that she was the killer of the 1995 murders, begins to stalk the streets as she looks for the true culprit. During her pursuit, she encounters a gang intent on murdering her in which she easily incapacitates them. At the same time Mikiya gathers clues as he begins to investigate about the distribution of a new modified variation of cannabis as well as a supposed new drug cocktail called the "Bloodchip", due to its connection to the victims of the recent murders. The identity of the Bloodchip drug-dealer is revealed to him by a local drug-dealer with Mikiya showing genuine shock at the revelation. After some period of time, Shiki is finally able to track down the true culprit, cornering him in an alley.
Lio is revealed to be the serial killer from 1995 to 1996 as well as the "bloodthirsty killer" conducting the new murders, He is revealed to have changed his hairstyle while adopting a new attire that mimics Shiki's general appearance. Lio and Shiki would then fight at which point, Shiki is unable to kill Lio. Lio claims that he conducted his most recent murders in order to lure Shiki out while framing her for the crimes by dressing up like her. He intended for Shiki to confront him with hopes of making her realize her true self as a natural-born killer. He deduces that Shiki is simply being held back by someone (implied to be Mikiya), and that disposing said person would finally allow her to return to her true self. It is at this point that Shiki severs Lio's left arm, causing Lio to retreat in the city rooftops while continuing to taunt her.
Mikiya locates and enter Lio's apartment. Here he finds a collection of photos, videos, and sketches of Shiki. He finds Lio's diary which details his experiences since 1995. From the first time he fell in love at the sight of Shiki, as well as his befriending of Mikiya, to his inner turmoil caused by his first murder.
Discovering that Lio harbors a strong obsession towards Shiki and in fact confessed to her early in the series, Mikiya decides to stay in order to confront his old friend. Lio would then return to his apartment after his confrontation with Shiki, only to find Mikiya in his apartment room. Lio claims that Shiki was the true killer of the 1995 murders, but Mikiya refutes this saying that Lio is lying, and that he is simply resuming his murders since 1995. Lio presents his moral dilemma, in which he is slowly succumbing to his origin of "consumption" until his mind is no more. Lio desperately claims that only Shiki could become his true companion due to being similar to him, and that Mikiya is the one holding her back from realizing her true self. After a conflicted discussion in which Lio realizes that he still considers Mikiya as a friend and ally, Lio decides to leave, declaring that if Mikiya were to see him again, he would truly have to kill him.
Shiki would continue to track down Lio, finally discovering his lair in a warehouse. Surrounded by a field of cannabis, Shiki enters the warehouse only to be confronted by Lio. Shiki and Lio fight once again, this time with Shiki overpowering Lio, the end result being that Shiki manages to pin him down as she prepares the final blow. Lio taunts her to return to her true self until Shiki holds back at the last moment upon realizing her internal conflict of desiring a normal life with Mikiya. Lio escapes and runs away from her, until Shiki surrenders herself at which point Lio knocks her unconscious.
Shiki wakes up, surprised at the fact that she is still alive. She finds herself paralyzed and handcuffed while Lio reveals that he had drugged her with a muscle relaxant, keeping her captive in the warehouse. He relates his experiences with Araya to her, claiming that Araya's demise should allow them both to finally roam free as murdering companions. With his origin slowly taking over him, Lio heavily salivates and licks all over Shiki as he slowly grows tempted to devour her, only to hold back so as to allow her a chance to still revert to her murderious self and join him as his companion. As Shiki remains defiant, Lio grows frustrated, biting Shiki's neck as he grows more tempted to devour her. Suddenly, Lio's attention is diverted by Mikiya's arrival who had broken into the lower level of the warehouse. Lio heads downstairs and ambushes Mikiya, knocking him unconscious with an iron pipe.
When Mikiya regains consciousness, Lio vents his frustrations about his situation as an unwilling killer, stomping on Mikiya's leg in the process. Mikiya reveals that he has uncovered the real reason behind Lio's role as a drug-dealer. He deduces that Lio began distributing the modified drugs hoping that it would help awaken other people's origin so that the world would be filled with more people like him. Lio admits that despite having soaked it in his inhuman blood, no one ever truly withstood the effects of the Bloodchip cocktail, causing those who ingested it to either die or go insane. He reveals himself to be the one to have sent the gang to attack Shiki previously in order to draw out her muderous impulse, though he concludes that Shiki still spared the gang thus making Lio consume unnecessary victims. Despite this, Lio defiantly declares that only Shiki could truly become someone like him. Mikiya struggles upon realizing that Lio holds Shiki captive, upon which Lio injures Mikiya and decides to forcefeed him with a lethal dose of Araya's magically-enhanced cannabis. He taunts Mikiya to take his Bloodchip cocktail, claiming that ingesting the modified drug would save his life while turning him into a "special being" like Lio. Lio makes desperate attempts to force Mikiya to take the Bloodchip cocktail but Mikiya refuses. As Lio grows sad and frustrated, Mikiya berates Lio, declaring that he is a coward that does not recognize the guilt and responsibility of his crimes, unworthy of being called a "bloodthirsty killer", as well as being the complete opposite to Shiki. Lio grows furious, grievously injuring Mikiya by stabbing him near the left eye, knocking him out in the process. Having thought that he killed his only true friend, Lio undergoes a mental breakdown. He recalls his own claims of Shiki being held back by Mikiya, and decides to confront her once again as his last hope of gaining a murderous companion, all while hysterically laughing in shock as he heads upstairs.
Upon returning on the main floor of the warehouse, Lio finds Shiki standing before him. He realizes that Shiki had freed her left hand from the handcuffs, having bitten off her left thumb. Excited by Shiki's resilience, Lio decides that she is ready to become a killer that would join him as his companion. Shiki rejects Lio once again for the final time, deciding to leave the warehouse to return to Mikiya. Accepting his rejection from both Mikiya and Shiki, Lio taunts Shiki, revealing that he had already "killed" Mikiya inside the warehouse. He gives back Shiki's knife, having used it to "kill" Mikiya beforehand. Lio insists that he and Shiki are truly similar despite Mikiya's previous objections, while Shiki laments her loss.Steadily clutching her knife close to her chest, Shiki challenges Lio to a final battle. With nothing held back, Lio's origin of "consumption" takes over his mind, unleashing a set of claws as his primary weapon as well as doubling his speed. Like a predator playing with its prey, Lio begins to methodically injure each of Shiki's limbs, in order to incapacitate her before finally killing her. Shiki is unable to react to Lio's attacks due to still being affected by the lingering effects of the muscle relaxant drugs that were previously injected into her. Despite the deadly assault, Shiki reflects on her loss believing that Lio had already done his worst by killing the one person that she truly cares about. Having injured all of her limbs, Lio prepares to deliver the final blow, with his claws aimed at Shiki's neck. After reflecting and expressing her grief at the "loss" of Mikiya, Shiki suddenly gains her resolve. Shiki takes advantage of the amount of space between her and Lio, first slicing his attacking right arm, then both of his legs, until finally delivering the killing blow as she plunges her knife deep into his back, thus taking him out in one fell swoop. Shiki falls down unconscious as Lio's corpse lay on the ground with Shiki's knife still embedded into his back.
Having awakened his origin of "Consumption" (literally translated from "to eat"), the chaotic force of the origin takes form as it begins to dominate over Lio's entire body and mind. This causes his body to change and gain superhuman reflexes with a cannibalistic instinct. Due to his origin being "consumption", Touko theorizes that Lio was probably a predator in all his past lives, with the awakening of the origin causing all of his past lives to manifest into one collective being, essentially becoming a "herd of beasts".
Through his awakened origin, Lio becomes incredibly agile, able to jump great heights and climb walls. He also possesses super-human strength having physically overpowered Shiki during their knife fights as well as being able to shatter one of Shiki's throwing knives with his bare teeth. Aside from his eyes becoming more reptilian/feline with a red-orange color, as well as his hair turning blonde, he begins to develop retractable claws. He also gains the ability to regrow lost limbs. Despite Lio's insistence that his blood-soaked cocktail drug called Bloodchip could cause other individuals to transform and awaken their own origin, this is only a mere delusion on his part as the drug is known to drive people insane; in which it slowly cripples their bodies to death due to the effects of his own blood.
The prolonged irreversible awakening of his origin slowly causes Lio to become less and less like a human as his biological structure continues to mutate and reform. As he continues to lose his original personality, he begins to gain attributes akin to that of a predatory beast. His attacks and movement have been likened to that of various animals such as a lion, alligator, monkey, spider, bird, and snake.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1
 Kara no Kyoukai Special Pamphlet - Encyclopedia: Shirazumi Lio [Person's Name], p.033-034 [T]
Lio Shirazumi [Person's name]
A twenty years old youth. Kokutou Mikiya's senior during high school, and he was more or less familiar with Shiki. He had handsome features, but did not stand out due to his quiet personality. He was one of the three who made contact (with Araya/Shiki?).
He quit school for some reason shortly before graduation.
Lio was the first chess piece Souren Araya prepared, and also the one he saved for last. However, the magus was defeated by the Counter Force before Lio could take the stage.
Although Shirazumi Lio lost his commander, he considered it a fortunate turn of events. With the obstructive Araya out of the way, Lio was able to realize his own desire.
He made his face to resemble Shiki, and chose the same clothing as Shiki. Only his hair was left golden, which conjured the image of a lion.
The obsession with the Anima was in his nature. Or, it was a gender identity disorder that he was not aware of. ... As far as his attraction to Shiki was concerned, it might be that he was attracted to the male personality rather than the female one.
Lio was something that fell out of Kara no Kyoukai Shi, which was the story of Araya. He was supposed to make his exit before the evil mastermind presented himself. However, in order to provide a resolution of the story of Kokutou Mikiya and Ryougi Shiki, the serial killer must stay.
 Kara no Kyoukai - Chapter 2: “A Study in Murder (Part 1)” Movies Q & A Pamphlets
Q: What was the relationship between Mikiya and Shirazumi Lio like?
Q: What was the relationship between Mikiya and Shirazumi Lio like?
Nasu: They had a simple senior/junior relationship. Though to Mikiya it was a perfectly normal acquaintanceship, to Shirazumi it was an unbelievable friendship. Or to put it another way, it was an unrequited love.
Takeuchi: Shirazumi didn’t have any friends?
Nasu: Going by his standards, the only person you could call his friend was Kokutou. Well, he’s a fastidious misanthrope by nature, so it stands to reason he wouldn’t have many friends. He hates both men and women alike. As for why Shiki was an exception, it’s because she was neither.
 Kara no Kyoukai - Chapter 7: "A Study in Murder (Part 2)" Movies Q & A Pamphlets
Q: Lio wanted to make people like himself using the Bloodchips, but does the blood of somebody with an awakened origin really have the ability to awaken the origin of others?
Q: Lio wanted to make people like himself using the Bloodchips, but does the blood of somebody with an awakened origin really have the ability to awaken the origin of others? <Kyonpechi>
Nasu: Nope. That was all Lio's delusions. The narcotics in the cocktail were still dangerous, though.
Takeuchi: It had narcotic ingredients?
Nasu: Yes. The cannabis is treated as an as-of-yet unanalyzed narcotic in the era of the work. It was used in the novel as a way to demonstrate Mikiya's encyclopedic knowledge. …It was a long time ago, okay?
 Kara no Kyoukai - Chapter 7: "A Study in Murder (Part 2)" Movies Q & A Pamphlets
Q: Is there anything Lio could have done to get with Shiki?
Q: Is there anything Lio could have done to get with Shiki? <Jungle Detective>
Takeuchi: That's like asking if you can have a marriage to a 2D girl officially recognized by a court of law. Totally, utterly hopeless.
Nasu: Regretfully, that Adventure Log has vanished!
 The Garden of Sinners Visual Chronicle English Translation
the Garden of sinners
The page number preceding the English translated text corresponds to the respective page number from the Deluxe Visual Chronicle Book.
Message from KINOKO NASU / the author
This is the final boxset for the Garden of sinners, which began as an unprecedented endeavor, a seven-part theatrical series. The original on which it was based, the Garden of sinners, was buried as a "collectors' edition." In a glorious black coffin unbefitting a novel. In my mind, the Garden of sinners had, at that point, gone out of my reach, but years later, thanks to the talent of numerous staff members, it has now come back to life. I hope that you come to see this Blu-ray Disc Box as the same thing as that novel box, and that you continue to love it for many years to come. As someone who could do no more than watch over the stormy and miraculous production process, that's all I can really say to you. That was truly a stimulating three years for me. Now it's already receded into the past, and all I can do is look back on all the excitement and regrets, but I know that that period of my life will live on in my heart, and never fade away.
My heartfelt thanks to this era that I live in, to all staff members, and to you, who offered me moral support.
~ KINOKO NASU
The following (P26-29) is an interview between the Garden of sinners Co-creators Takashi Takeuchi (Character Concept) and Kinoko Nasu (Original Story) along with Voice Actress Maaya Sakamoto (Shiki Ryougi). The three provide insight and introspection to the novels and the theatrical chapters, as well as reflect back upon their experiences during the movies' various production stages.
■The Roots of the Garden of sinners
Takashi Takeuchi: Around the time that the Garden of sinners was written, Nasu had long been involved in a table-talk RPG with his friends, serving as its game-master. A typical TRPG is like the "Record of Lodoss War" game, where players gather and chat amongst each other during gameplay. He'd been at it practically every week, so I'm sure it was pretty intense. At the time, the Internet was really starting to take off as a medium for releasing new work, and I'd been thinking that I'd like to do something myself. I thought, "Maybe I can do something with Nasu" and asked him to come aboard. That's what started the ball rolling. I think we both really wanted to do something new.
Kinoko Nasu: Takeuchi was a man of action, but I was pretty timid about the whole thing. Back then, I really had an aversion to the thought of releasing my work on a website. For one thing, I wanted people to read my work on paper, and for another, I didn't like the fact that unlike artwork, there were no clear-cut lines regarding copyright.
Whatever you wrote could be easily copied and pasted, and there was a risk that your material could show up elsewhere. That really scared me. And so at first I was resistant to the idea, but Takeuchi was so positive about it, telling me, "I hear you, but we've got to do something, or we'll never move forward." So he talked me into it, and I decided to forget about the bottom line and just do what I wanted to do.
Takeuchi: Back then, we used to show our work among friends. We thought that if we ever wanted the public to see it, our only option would be to go professional. But it's just so hard to get your foot in the door as a professional, and it doesn't always work out. So I thought that by releasing our work on the Internet, we could a find a way to get by without going pro, and without confining ourselves to our circle of friends - sort of the middle ground. And I thought it would give Nasu a brand-new outlet for his creativity.
Nasu: Well, it did provide me with an opportunity, but my initial motivation was just to do only what I wanted to do, so for me, 50% of it was self-gratification, nothing more. But by the time I'd written the third chapter, my focus had shifted from self-gratification; I found myself in a different mode, that is, I was now conscious that this project could very well be the sum of everything I'd done till that point. And from that moment on, I stopped looking at the project as just something we were uploading to test the waters - I suddenly felt that I had to give it my all, so I started pushing myself to.
Maaya Sakamoto: So you didn't feel that way until midway through the series?
Nasu: When I wrote the third chapter, I felt as if I'd achieved a kind of balance. There was still that element of me doing it for my own amusement until the second chapter. But when I got to the third chapter, I thought, "This is something I can probably recommend to others with confidence. If I can keep this up until the very end, then it will probably become meaningful in some way." And so I prepared myself for the task.
Sakamoto: I see. So Mr. Takcuchi, did you sometimes take on the role of editor for what Mr. Nasu had written? Were there times when you had to ask him, "What's the meaning of this scene?" or "Don't you think we should do it this way?"
Takeuchi: Before we launched the project, I did make certain suggestions, such as "Since we're having people read it on the web, let's try to release something on a somewhat regular basis." And although in my mind, we were going to go with a detailed, short piece, he told me that he wanted to do a series called the Garden of sinners. Once we'd settled on that, I would say things like, "If the storyline's too heavy, it won't be easy to read, so let's keep it short." Aside from that, I think I may have advised him to keep the title simple, but as for the content itself, I was really just waiting around for what he had written. And the thing is, even though I'd told him to keep it short, what he turned in was of epic proportions, right from Chapter One! (laughs) But of course, I found myself hooked on the storyline from the very start. It was like a one-man show featuring the talents of the novelist Kinoko Nasu.
Nasu: Still, you can't get around the fact that print media doesn't fare well on the Internet. You can have 10 visitors, but nine of them won't read your story. I know that for Takeuchi, that was a source of frustration. So after the web series ended, he said to me, "If we can't get any accolades after having written something this good, then let's go where we'll get some recognition."
Takeuchi: It was a lot tougher than we'd thought to get people to read a novel on the Internet, and not being able to overcome those barriers made the whole venture a bitter failure for us. We did end up producing it as a physical book at comic markets and events like Comitia, but I couldn't shrug off the feeling that far more people should be reading it. So I began to think strategically and hit upon the idea of creating a game for TYPE-MOON, a doujin circle for reading what Nasu had written.
Nasu: There are so many different kinds of talent in this world, but the talent for creating something and the talent for making people appreciate those creations are two different things. And I probably lacked the latter. Or maybe I should say that I wasn't focusing on that aspect. I was just being stubborn, rationalizing that: "As long as you write something exceptional, there's no way that people won't flock to it." I'm still that way today. But then Takeuchi told me, "That's not enough. You've got to make an effort to get the word out about your work." And so we embarked on a project to create a doujin software called Tsukihime. And it actually took off, and this led to our end-users realizing, "Hey, this guy's written a novel, too!" And that's how people came to know about the Garden of Sinners.
Takeuchi: Unlike my experience with the Garden of sinners, when we were creating the game, I ended up doing a significant amount of editing, to ensure that we'd get a lot of readers. I threw out a lot of suggestions, such as "Let's change the setting to something more easily understandable," or "Let's just get rid of this whole section." In the end, most of them worked out, so I think it was good for the project.
Sakamoto: You two seem to have such a great rapport. It's like you're in a band! (laughs) I think relationships always work the best when you each have something the other doesn't. But aside from complementing each other, do you also have any similarities? Such as liking the same kind of titles.
Takeuchi: Well, being that we've known each other since junior high, we've both been pretty much moved and influenced by the same things. Needless to say, we tend to be drawn to the same kind of thing, but I think it's less a matter of sharing the same sensibilities than sharing common perceptions. You know, like when you say, "Hey, that's just like how we felt that day," and the other one says, "Hey, you're right."
Nasu: Takeuchi's thing is manga, mine is novels; we'd each been working hard in our respective genres. After we created that first game, we discovered how fun and rewarding it could be to work on something together, and we'd decided to just focus on the game, exclusively...but then the Garden of sinners began to draw praise here and there, and then a Kodansha editor Mr. Katsushi Ohta actually pursued us for more than four years (laughs), so we ended up releasing it in book form. The truth is, though, that when we created that game, I'd told myself, "Now that I've claimed my spot in the gaming industry, I'll drop novel-writing and become a game writer."
Takeuchi: For Nasu, it was a matter of pride. But the reason we created the game in the first place was to encourage people to read the Garden of sinners. It's typical of Nasu to be so stoic about it, but for him to reject his identity as a novelist would be to make the most fundamental part of him, his standing, a precarious one. That's why I want him to go on writing novels.
Nasu: Out of all the forms of entertainment we have, the novel is unique in that all you need is one author, and everything gets done. And that's why a novelist will get consumed by his own ideas and values, and balk at changing them. As you can probably tell from the nature of my work, I'm the obstinate type myself, but since I have my best friend to tell me to grow up, I think I've been able to balance it all out.
Sakamoto: That's amazing! It's like Mr. Takeuchi is Mr. Nasu's producer. You make such an incredible team.
Nasu: Still, I wrote the Garden of sinners at a time when I was really obstinate. Garden of sinners was written by a twenty-something author who felt he only needed his own beliefs. So it may be somewhat heavy, but that's also why I think it's meaningful as a project.
■the Garden of sinners (Theatrical Version) is launched
Nasu: Come to think of it, the internet project you're doing with Mr. Ohta —"Maaya Sakamoto's Full Moon Dramatic Reading Hall"— is recorded at the same studio where we held the Garden of sinners auditions. The other day I saw you, when I stopped by the studio.
Sakamoto: That's right, that's right. Oh, and I just remembered this now, but for the Garden of sinners, I auditioned not only for Shiki, but for Azaka as well.
Nasu: Right, right.
Sakamoto: Looking back, I have no idea what possessed me to audition for Azaka. (laughs) Now that I think about it, all I can say is that it was so not me. But I guess back then, I still had the image of someone who played younger sisters, or vivacious young girls. Actually, Shiki wasn't the kind of role I usually took, being such a cool-headed character. But I did sense that the Shiki type of character was a good fit for me. even before the Garden of sinners. So during my audition, I was able to play Shiki just the way I wanted, the way that I saw her in my mind. So when I heard that I'd gotten the role, I was pretty surprised...it made me happy that my own perception of the character had been so well received.
Nasu: I thought it would be good to have a newness to Shiki's image. I discussed what we should do with the producers, Mr. Iwakami from Aniplex, and Mr. Kondo from ufotable, and as soon as we heard your voice Mr. Iwakami-san and I both said, "Yes! This is the one, don't you think?" We couldn't praise you enough. It was exactly how we'd imagined Shiki would sound, and also, we all felt that the actress's own expressiveness was coming through. As it turned out, during that meeting we said, "OK, we're going with Ms. Sakamoto. End of discussion." And when I got back to the office and told Takeuchi, he was thrilled. (laughs)
Takeuchi: Well, of course, since I thought that Maaya Sakamoto was as unattainable as the sun or moon.
Sakamoto: I appreciate your saying that! (laughs)
Nasu: At the time, you were voicing the character Aigis in a game called Persona 3. So Takeuchi and I were like, "If Ms. Sakamoto's willing to take on game roles too, then we might as well ask her, right?" And we approached you about auditioning, and you said OK.
Takeuchi: Come to think of it, the first time Ms. Sakamoto voiced Shiki for us was in the TYPE-MOON drama CD "A Day at Ahnenerbe."
Sakamoto: That's right... (laughs)
Nasu: Oh, that was pretty unreasonable of us. Forgive us!
Sakamoto: Well, it was. (laughs) I was summoned to appear in a drama CD before we'd even started recording the movie itself.
Nasu: Since we'd gotten the go-ahead to do the movie, we had you appear in the drama CD before the movie. And it wasn't even the Garden of sinners, but a drama featuring a TYPE-MOON all-star cast, so I can only imagine how difficult it must've been for you to nail down your character...
Sakamoto: I was worried that I might destroy everyone's image of Shiki.
Takeuchi: Oh, no, that was the point where we knew without a doubt. We were marveling at your performance: "Amazing...She's perfect!"
Nasu: Since this was well before the theatrical version kicked into high gear, we asked you to do the drama CD so that you could get a feel for your character. So compared to the current Shiki, that earlier one seemed more upbeat. Even so, we were certain that you were on the right track.
Sakamoto: Shiki was a breath of fresh air for me, a type of character I'd never encountered before. That's precisely why she intrigued me, and why I was so into taking on the challenge of voicing her. When I saw the promotions for the theatrical version, I got a real sense of how much it was being eagerly anticipated by the fans of the original novels, and that in turn became a source of pressure for me: "Wow, I've been given an epic role!" Back then, I'm sure there were a lot of people who couldn't imagine me voicing Shiki, and I remember people being surprised that I was doing it. the Garden of sinners fans have such a profound affection for the original novels, after all, so I think there were a lot of people who were living in dread right up until Chapter One was released. Everyone has their own image of what Shiki's voice should sound like in their minds. There are tens of thousands of "right answers," yet everyone hopes that the actual voice will be at least a little close to what they have in mind. So at first I was pretty apprehensive about how they'd take my performance.
Nasu: But the opinion of the fans who saw Chapter One - of course, most of them said that the movie itself was very good, but about the same number of fans said that, "Ms. Sakamoto's voice was a better match than I'd imagined." I'm sure everyone had their own image in their head until they actually heard you, but as far as your acting was concerned, I'd say that everyone embraced you: "This is, without question, Shiki."
Sakamoto: But for some reason, I never had any misgivings about the role. I'm an avid reader, and as far as novels go I always know without a doubt whether a book is for me or not. So normally, a novel would be the most difficult genre for me to take on. But in the case of the Garden of sinners, after passing my audition, I took the time to settle down and read the original novel, and it was amazing how quickly I found myself "immersed" in the storyline. Many of the motifs in the novel are fantasy-oriented, and yet the story never came off as unrealistic. I could totally relate to it and found it very close to my heart. For example, the book discussed the reasons why it's wrong to kill other people, and showed a world in which "boy meets girl" was repeated over and over. So for me, the most basic messages, the simplest messages that anyone would want to infuse their work of art with could all be found in this long novel.
Nasu: You're embarrassing me, but thank you very much. As I mentioned earlier, I wrote the Garden of sinners based upon my own beliefs; perhaps it was because of my youth, but I made a conscious effort to include a good number of prose poem-like passages. I guess I wanted to describe what was happening as poetically as possible. Maybe that's why it ended up slipping right into your heart like that.
Sakamoto: Normally, there wouldn't be an outlet for expressing what you want, as much as you want. Because the older you get, and the more you come to understand what your job is, the more you find yourself trying to live up to someone's expectations, or do whatever is most appropriate - that becomes your priority. But I'm sure that you wrote the Garden of sinners just for yourself...and I mean that in a positive way. It may sound egotistical, but I realized that doing something just for yourself actually shows that you have a burning energy that can find its way into people's hearts. I certainly think that this novel has the energy of something that was "created without any restrictions."
Nasu: Well, you're absolutely right. Even I'm taken aback by my own fervor at that age.
Sakamoto: It made me think, "So there are books like this in the world; are there any other books out there that make this kind of argument?" Being a performer and singer, as well as someone who writes herself, it's reassuring to know that there are creators like you, and it really struck a chord in me. Even so, I found nothing mysterious about Shiki. There was no reason for me to wonder, "Why did Shiki say that?" That's why even though there was always an interval between each recording session, and I had to return to the role of Shiki after months of hiatus, I never had any misgivings. I may have had some questions about the script, like "What is she feeling right now?" but as soon as I looked at the novel, I'd find my answer: "Oh, right, I see." I could sense that Shiki and I had become one, so much that even if we recorded every single scene one after the other, as Shiki, SHIKI, or the early Shiki, I probably wouldn't have given it a second thought. It's rare to come across such a role as that, and I found it to be a unique experience.
Nasu: About the recording sessions, I thought that Shiki and Mikiya were spot-on from Chapter Three onward. You would turn in your best performances even without our prodding. In that sense, we could really count on you, as the guest actors for each chapter would come in and adjust to this unwavering world that you two had created.
Sakamoto: That's why, to be honest, since I'd fallen so completely for the world depicted in the novel, I was totally looking at it from a fan's point of view. I was even thinking, "How are they going to turn this into a movie? Is the movie going to live up to my expectations?" (laughs) So when Chapter One was finished and I saw it for the first time, it couldn't have been more thrilling for me. Like, "I see!" The novel had been sublimated into entertainment and yet, it seemed as though nothing was being compromised; when I saw the film, I thought, "This is what happens when grownups get serious about something!" Or should I say, "They're serious about bringing this world to the big screen!" (laughs)
Nasu: During the recording sessions, the film wasn't yet complete - there was no color, and so on. So even though we knew what shape the film was going to take, all of us — except for those at ufotable, who had the full picture — were pretty nervous. So I think we were even more surprised at the screening than our viewers. Like, "Hey! Hold on, this is really amazing!" (laughs) I don't think I've ever felt the same kind of excitement as I did that day. I remember that Chapter One was released just when we were recording Chapter Two, and we went up on the stage to speak to the viewers right after we were done recording. After that, there was a toast, but the whole staff was unbelievably pumped up (laughs).
Sakamoto: Yes, it was crazy.
Nasu: After seeing the film in its finished form, we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves at the party, knowing that we were set. To put it the other way around, until then we were probably apprehensive, wondering how we were going to make a movie out of that novel.
■ Shiki Ryougi as played by Maaya Sakamoto
Takeuchi: Since Nasu always gives his worldview a strong backbone, I think it's significant that Ms. Sakamoto felt no qualms about the character, as she mentioned earlier. The book really allows you to immerse yourself deeply. Just as Ms. Sakamoto was able to read it while deeply immersed in its world, numerous other readers were able to do the same. And that's probably why everyone had their own respective the Garden of sinners built up inside them. I'm sure there are many kinds of authors, but Nasu is the kind whose readers are able to let their own personal worldviews take root within. In other words, he allows his readers a lot of leeway. Normally, an exceptional script would be clear about how the finished product should be; it should be like a blueprint, for example indicating things like "this character should have this kind of face, and have that actor's voice." But in Nasu's case, readers are invited to add their own take to the finished product, creating their own respective "right answers."
Sakamoto: I can see that.
Takeuchi: When I read and think, "This is it!" it makes me feel as though I'm eliciting the answer on my own, and this makes it all the more fun for me to create the visuals. There's no sense that I'm being made to draw - I do it because I want to draw. I really enjoy reading a passage and thinking, "This is how it should be!" and transfer the image in my mind to the page. The same was true for the theatrical version of the Garden of sinners, and when I saw the movie, it occurred to me that we didn't just visualize the book, just the way it was written. For example, if you look at the Fujou Building in Chapter One; although it was just a single building in the novel, we turned it into massive ruins for the movie. That gave me more of a jolt than anything else, but the impression it gave me couldn't have been more in keeping with the Garden of sinners. That was a significant point regarding Chapter One.
Sakamoto: Yes, you're right.
Takeuchi: As Gen Urobuchi said, the movie would have fallen short if we'd only visualized Nasu's book as is. In the novel, the Fujou Building was a single building, but I think that the director was well aware that there was much more to our image of the Fujou Building, as readers. It's not so much that making it a cluster of high-rises was the right answer, but probably more along the lines of that being one of the right answers. Either way, the director, Aoki-san, did quite a remarkable job of creating visuals for what Nasu had indicated on the written page. And personally, I'd like to emulate him in that sense when I work on future TYPE-MOON projects. You can't say, "Turning a single high-rise into a cluster of buildings? That's not going to fly." You've got to look at it this way: "What is this passage trying to convey?"
Nasu: Of all of the novels, Chapter One involved the most snap decisions...or maybe I should say it was a series of trial-and-error, so there was a real need for us to make some fundamental revisions for the movie. I can't thank Mr. Aoki (director of Chapter One) and the ufotable team enough for all that they did to raise it up to such a high level of entertainment. Also, with the novels, the content changes by chapter, so you can't just go out and create the same kind of entertainment for Chapter Two onward as you did with Chapter One. Chapter Two was subdued, but there's no way to change that storyline. I did think it would be boring to just turn it into a movie. So at the meeting we decided that the best thing to do would be to "believe in our viewers for Chapter Two and give them a story with nothing flamboyant, just a quiet, contemplative piece." But I was still worried that our viewers might not understand the ebb and flow of each chapter. In the end, of course, they responded just as I'd hoped.
Takeuchi: The opening visuals for Chapter Two are gorgeous-looking.
Nasu: Unlike Chapter One, it starts out with a shot of a beautiful shore. From the start, you can see our intention to create different visuals for all seven chapters.
Sakamoto: I love it. I like all of the chapters, but the contemplative nature of Chapters Two and Four are especially my favorites. In particular, it really struck me how after all of the sweeping drama and passion of Chapter One, Chapter Two cooled you down in such a seamless fashion. Also for me, the Garden of sinners is Mikiya's and Shiki's story. It seemed as though this incredible world was expanding just for the sake of their story; I really believe that it was because of Chapter Two that we were able to make the transition to the next chapters, Three and Four.
Nasu: True, this chapter is all about Mikiya's and Shiki's world.
Sakamoto: It was very rewarding for me as a performer, switching back and forth between Shiki and SHIKI. There was also a lot of dialogue that really resonated with me, and some scenes were like being in a play. Especially that scene where Mikiya and Shiki are talking in the classroom at sunset; it was such an intense scene that I could feel my body and skin tingling throughout the performance. That was quite memorable. Also, I was struck by Shiki's line to Mikiya at the commencement ceremony: "Who are you?" It's a crucial scene, in which Shiki makes her first appearance in the world of the Garden of sinners, so I thought I should be careful with my delivery, but during the recording session, the director never said a word. So the whole time I was thinking, "Are you sure this is what you want?!" (laughs)
Nasu: Mr. Nonaka (director of Chapter Two) is a very quiet person. Even if you ask him during recording sessions, "What do you think, Mr. Nonaka?" he's like, "Oh, we're good now." (laughs)
Sakamoto: I was thinking, "Well, this is my take on it, but is everyone else okay with it?" but since we just kept on recording without him saying anything, I thought it must have meant that things were fine, but I was a little nervous.
Nasu: Well, but you were actually perfect. (laughs)
Sakamoto: In this series, a character's lines aren't always necessarily the truth. "This isn't what I'm thinking, but that's how I put it into words"; "I haven't said all that I want to say" or "You can't really tell who she's actually talking about." There were a lot of omissions like that.
Nasu: There are quite a lot of instances of "This is what I'm saying, but I actually mean the opposite." I thought that it wouldn't be very clear to the voice actors, so I decided to attend every recording session. I know it's hard to pick up on subtle nuances, so I thought it would save time to have the writer himself see the recording process, and explain the meanings of certain lines then and there. But at the sessions, I never once pointed out that "You're saying this, but you actually mean the opposite." I found that incredible. It really surprised me.
Sakamoto: Since it's not as if we just say what's written in the script, it's really hard to find a way to convey those nuances. I think that the Garden of sinners provided me with the most difficult homework ever. I especially found Chapter Two to be the most Japanese in style. It felt like a Japanese film. There was a lot left unsaid, a lot of significant beats, and it left a lot unexplained in the dialogue.
Nasu: Actually, at the first meeting for Chapter Two, we discussed the fact that, if we were to compare it to a Japanese film, it would be close in atmosphere to the director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's CURE. Simply bringing over that same atmosphere would definitely be too scary, but we did want to convey a convincing sense of fear within the flow of the story itself, while not doing anything too showy, like scaring the audience with loud noises or using threatening camera angles. And we wanted to keep the atmosphere transparent. So we wanted someone with a down-to-earth approach to directing, and we turned to Mr. Nonaka for Chapter Two. We decided on directors for each chapter according to their areas of expertise; for example, for Chapter Five, with its acrobatic structure and frenzied storyline, we turned to the edgier Mr. Hirao.
■The end of the first theatrical phase
Sakamoto: The first phase of the theatrical release of the Garden of sinners went up to the next episode, Chapter Three. After Chapter Three, we sort of went on hiatus unintentionally. (laughs)
Nasu: The release was delayed for a month. But let's not talk about that anymore. (laughs) Chapter Three, which was directed by Mr. Obunai, was bursting with spectacular visuals, featured charismatic characters, and had a lot of action scenes. It was emotionally appealing for viewers.
Takeuchi: It has storyline characteristics similar to those found in shonen manga.
Nasu: In Chapter Three of the novel, I was able to consolidate the entertainment and mystery elements, along with what I myself wanted to do, so as I said before, it became a good index for the Garden of sinners. I thought it was a story that readers would naturally find themselves drawn into. On the other hand, I didn't think the mystery elements could be visualized, so we cut them all out of the theatrical version. After making those cuts, I realized that we were left with a pretty straightforward story and I thought, "That was a bad move... But oh well!" (laughs)
Takeuchi: But in the movie, the scene where the bridge collapses was really dynamic. Like the Fujou Building in Chapter One, I was curious as to how it would translate to film and I found myself surprised: "So that's how it turned out."
Sakamoto: It's like a Hollywood movie, don't you think?
Takeuchi: In the book, there was really only a rather brief description of the destruction of the bridge. In the film version, it became a spectacle, like "BOOM!" I was really impressed. (laughs) It was just too cool. I couldn't believe how intense that scene was.
Nasu: What you can depict in just a single line on paper can turn into a visual spectacle. After the Garden of sinners, I was working on a game when I was told, "We can only provide you with 20 backgrounds." At first I thought, "What kind of story do you expect me to come up with if you're only giving me 20 scenes?" But later on, I realized that I was thinking in terms of "film production costs." Since then, I've tried to be vigilant about how much artwork I'm going to need for games, but I had no such perception when I was writing the Garden of sinners.... When they were creating the visuals for the bridge scene in Chapter Three, I thought, "This is harsh, it's really a lot of work adapting a novel to the big screen."
Sakamoto: Oh, I see!
Nasu: About the guest character Fujino, as someone who can feel nothing, due to the loss of her sense of pain, she's like a counterpart to Shiki, who has no sense of being alive. Compared to Chapters One and Two, which were more in the "only readers who get it are welcome" vein, Chapter Three should be more accessible, making readers think, "Oh, so that's what that's all about," regarding Shiki's issues. I think it served as a good conclusion to the first half of the seven-chapter series. I also wanted to depict Fujino as a girl who was a good match for Shiki. I'd wanted to explore the issue of insensitivity to pain before I started writing the Garden of sinners, so it was like a last resort, which I had up my sleeve for quite a while.
Sakamoto: But not just in the case of Mamiko Noto, who played Fujino, all of the voice talent seems to have slid comfortably into their roles; it makes you wonder just how they did the casting for this project. Until the Garden of sinners, I never really had the chance to work with Mamiko, but in the scene where Mamiko and I — as Fujino and Shiki — battled it out verbally, it felt so natural for the two of us to be facing off like that. So when we were done, we found that we'd bonded in a strange way, like we were "comrades." We gripped each other's hands as if to say "Thanks!" - that's how intense that recording session was. I think that in many ways, Shiki felt that Fujino had the upper hand over her. She was completely different from herself, but that difference was precisely why she harbored this inexplicable sense of not being able to recognize her.
Nasu: Regarding the difference between Shiki and Fujino, when Mr. Kondo said to me, "I don't understand the meaning of what Shiki says to Mikiya after the battle," I answered, "Fujino kills for the sake of killing, but Shiki kills in order to live." Meaning that deep down inside, Shiki does have the desire to live a normal life. To give you a crude metaphor, it's like the dilemma of having to kill and eat animals in order to live. On the other hand, Fujino is nothing like that; she's been going on killing sprees as a way to avoid reality because she has no desire to live a normal life. In the end, Shiki realizes this about Fujino and is relieved; that's why she has the following epiphany: "I thought I was a beast like Fujino, but at the very root of my being, I have the desire (even if it's never fulfilled) to be with Mikiya." After losing SHIKI and regaining consciousness, Shiki has been full of self-loathing, but then she realizes that she still has someone she can lean on, and that's why she smiles here. ...That's what I explained to Mr. Kondo and he said, "Well, I never would've known if you hadn't told me!" (laughs)
Sakamoto: That's why we were given a glimpse of the Shiki we never got to see in Chapter One or Chapter Two. I think Chapter Three is the one in which Shiki finally shows us the passion she never lets surface. So it was a little different playing her in Chapter Three, and when at the very end there's only Mikiya and Shiki in the scene, you realize that this is how this project is going to end, with these two. I really like the way she smiles in that scene. After waging that violent battle, and giving Mikiya such an adorable smile at the end...well, for a second, I don't think I'd know what to do myself. (laughs) I'd be like, "Is it okay for Shiki to be this sweet?"
Nasu: Initially, I wasn't going to have Shiki smile like that in the final scene. (laughs) The fact is, a powerful smile like that is quite disarming, but it's a good visual and she looks strong. I thought it was the kind of expression we could only get away with in the theatrical version, so I gave it the go-ahead. But perhaps you'll notice that it's not a refreshing kind of smile. We needed something somewhat ephemeral, and yet it had to be a strong smile to close out the movie, so that's what we ended up with.
Sakamoto: It turned out to be a good scene, don't you think? I think it was amazing.
■ And on to Phase Two
Nasu: Next up is Chapter Four, the first episode of Phase Two. Chapter Four...was simply magnificent.
Sakamoto: Yes, it was.
Takeuchi: Chapter Four really has an exquisite balance to it. At the end, there's Shiki's awakening scene. I think it qualifies as solid entertainment as well. The opening scene in the hospital was pretty intense, too.
Nasu: If you want to know what a hassle it was to create that scene where Shiki's being carted into the hospital... Every time I ran into Mr. Kondo he'd tell me, "This is where I'm all stiff, this is how much effort it's taking, this is how far we're going to achieve results." (laughs)
Sakamoto: I really liked the novel for Chapter Four. There were so many memorable lines. But at first, I couldn't imagine how you could make a whole movie out of this one chapter. When I saw the finished film, I could see that it moved at a good pace, and there was intensity, and I was really surprised: "Wow, they've made it into such a spectacular piece of entertainment!" Also, you really start liking Touko. "You're giving up and running away? Go, Touko!"
Nasu: On one level, Chapter Four was the story of Shiki's awakening, but at the same time it's also Touko's story. Until now, we'd seen her as cynical, but here we discover that she's a good person at heart, or at least that she's not evil.
Sakamoto: Also, the scene at the end where Shiki awakens and goes into battle was so exciting.
Nasu: When Takeuchi saw that scene, he said, "Shiki with long hair is too perfect for words!" (laughs)
Takeuchi: That was pretty amazing. Like when she removed her bandages.
Sakamoto: The part where she cuts off her hair...that was really cool!
Nasu: But Takeuchi was like, "Don't cut it off! Leave it long!" (laughs)
Takeuchi: Actually, the long-haired version of Shiki was a link to the creation of "that" character in "Future Gospel."
Nasu: What, you mean that was what inspired you? I see! Anyway, Phase Two turned out to be a great two-episode series, with two contrasting chapters - Mr. Takiguchi's Chapter Four and Mr. Hirao's Chapter Five. Because of the timing for their release, Phase Two only contained Chapter Four and Chapter Five, but I'm really fond of Chapter Five. There are a lot of differences with the novel, and actually, out of all seven chapters, it's the only one that I find somewhat strange compared to the novel, or should I say it's the one film that resoundingly emphasizes my ego. So I think there may be some readers who wanted the film to stay faithful to the novel, but I thought it was a film that could stand alone and sparkle, that its strangeness, or perhaps its extremeness was most appropriate for Chapter Five.
Takeuchi: Normally, you'd think that if we were going to make a theatrical version of the Garden of sinners, we could've gotten by if we just made a film of Chapter Five. That's how much it stood out from the others, from Chapters One through Four; it could definitely stand on its own.
Nasu: There's a definite philosophical undercurrent throughout the entire film. The opening scene, where Tomoe stabs his mother and is escaping down the hall of the apartment complex, is shown from an extremely objective point of view. Chapter Five is just very surreal overall. But then there's also the director Mr. Hirao's unique solidness, so that you never feel that it's surreal.
Takeuchi: Chapter Five has that "This is the Garden of sinners" feel to it, in a different way that Chapter One does.
Nasu: Right, if we were to depict the Garden of sinners seriously, like a romantic novel, this is probably how it would turn out. But doing all seven of the chapters in this style wouldn't have worked. This is what makes it so the Garden of sinners-esque.
Sakamoto: Having each of the directors bring their respective styles to the table was certainly an interesting idea. But something occurred to me while we were working on Chapter Five. When I received the script for Chapter Five, I had to re-read it over and over just to figure out where the scenes transitioned, and when the timeline shifted. I had no idea how it would be portrayed on film, but when I saw the finished film, I thought, "So he wrote this with this structure in his head! Amazing!" Tomoe was one of my favorite characters, so I was also looking forward to see how he'd be portrayed.
Takeuchi: When you first see him, the character Tomoe allows viewers to relate to him. I think that's one aspect that sets Chapter Five apart from the others.
Nasu: Unlike the previous chapters, it's not about Mikiya and Shiki - it's about Tomoe and Souren Araya, so that might have given it a sense of uniqueness.
Sakamoto: Also, Shiki's battle scene is incredible. Shiki's too powerful to be true! I remember there were no visuals whatsoever when we recorded that scene. (laughs) I had no idea what I was doing, and later when I saw the film, I thought, "Wow, that's amazing! I didn't know Shiki was moving around that much!" (everyone bursts into laughter) But my favorite scene from this movie is at the end - the conversation between Araya and Touko. Both their acting and their lines were just incredible. I got the feeling that we'd have a really tight ending for this series.
Nasu: For some reason, no one's really brought this up, even though she's appeared in all seven of the chapters, but Takako Honda's acting (as Touko Aozaki) is impeccable every time. Since she's famous for dubbing foreign actors, it was something of a gamble to feature that calm voice in the Garden of sinners, but she was simply amazing. Touko is the least realistic of the characters, and yet she played her as a grounded person.
Sakamoto: For this chapter, it seemed to me that Tomoe was doing most of the talking. There are a lot of Tomoe/Shiki conversations, but since it's always been Mikiya and Shiki talking in the previous chapters, having Shiki suddenly talk only to Tomoe just shows how out of sync they are, in terms of what Tomoe's saying and what Shiki's saying. (laughs) There's just no conversation where they're on the same page.
Nasu: That's true. Those two are fundamentally on different wavelengths. (laughs)
Sakamoto: Really, when Shiki starts talking it has absolutely nothing to do with what Tomoe just said. And there's over an hour's worth of those out-of-sync conversations! (laughs) But after doing those scenes, I realized that Shiki and Mikiya's relationship must be really special. Tomoe's a good guy, but Shiki's off living in an entirely different world. I'm sure this was planned from the start, but at the end, when you see Shiki speaking with Mikiya, you can tell what kind of relationship they have, compared to what she had with Tomoe. But the more you watch, the sadder it gets. Tomoe is really a sort of foreign object. I felt that he was a foreign object that had entered the Garden of sinners world. He's unlike any of the other characters who appeared in previous episodes. That might also be due to the atmosphere given off by Mr. Tetsuya Kakihara (the voice for Tomoe).
Nasu: Mr. Kakihara's voice is just a bit higher in quality than the rest of the cast. Because of that, we were able to give the impression that Tomoe wasn't like the characters in the other chapters. He was a newcomer who made his first appearance in Chapter Five, or should I say he was a brand-new entity in the Garden of sinners world. You called him a foreign object, Ms. Sakamoto, but actually he's...
Sakamoto: Yes, he's the opposite. But since I always take Shiki's viewpoint, I can't help but see him as a foreign object.
Nasu: That's right. It's exactly the way you just described it.
Sakamoto: Combined with the surrealistic direction of Chapter Five, I thought he was a fresh existence.
Nasu: At first, Tomoe comes off as the kind of character who you think can't pick up on subtext. But in the scene where he's telling Mikiya goodbye, viewers realize, "Hey, he's just like us, he's a normal person." To put it the other way, as someone who's completely ordinary, yet can converse with Shiki and have a relationship with her...well, Mikiya is actually the strangest of them all. (laughs)
Sakamoto: I know, that boy is definitely abnormal. (laughs)
■Completion of all seven chapters, and on to the future
Nasu: Chapter Six was another episode with a lot of ebb and flow, and it was something of a breather.
Sakamoto: Oh, I thought it was another fun chapter.
Nasu: First and foremost, this chapter shows how cute Azaka is, so we decided to grant extraterritorial rights and carte blanche to the director, and turned to ufotable's No. 1 "cute girl" director, Mr. Miura.
Sakamoto: Extraterritorial rights! (laughs)
Nasu: Ayumi Fujimura, who played Azaka, had worked with us on the Garden of sinners web radio show. Since the Garden of sinners ended up being a longer-term project than what we'd originally envisioned, she was a tireless, unsung hero for us, working behind the scenes. She would communicate with our audience over the radio, even when we weren't releasing anything, and drummed up a lot of anticipation, so they could look forward to the release dates. I can't thank her enough.
Sakamoto: Ms. Fujimura is such a serious actor. When she first set foot in the studio, you could tell that she'd already prepared on her own, extensively, to build the Azaka character on her own. That aspect was really in sync with Azaka herself. She's younger than me, so I really came to see her as a kid sister. When we started recording Chapter Six, in which Azaka was finally featured, you could see that from the start, Ms. Fujimura was totally pumped up about it, so the scene where Azaka's being a straight arrow and Shiki's like "Calm down, now" and they're sitting together at a table...that made me think, "Isn't this what Shiki's feeling?" It's like Shiki's really so fond of Azaka that she can't help herself. Azaka may view Shiki as her rival, but Shiki's probably feeling all big-sisterly. That's the feeling that I got.
Nasu: From Chapter One, Ms. Fujimura would show up at the studio in the morning, even if she had no lines. She's really diligent.
Sakamoto: But just when I was thinking that Chapter Six was going to take a different turn from the other chapters, which were all packed with emotion, I found myself surprised at the screening. It might have been just the women, but that last scene, where Azaka's delivering her monologue about her feelings for her big brother, really brought everyone to tears. During the screening, the members of Kalafina were sitting in front of me, but after the film was over we were like, "I actually cried!" "I know, I know!" For girls, there may be something about Azaka that tugs at our hearts, like "Azaka...how painfully sad!" You start to think that maybe Azaka's the one you should pity the most and it makes you tear up. Also, from Chapter Six, I'll never forget Misaya's "Very well!" (laugh)
Nasu: Yes, that "Very well!" of Ms. (Nana) Mizuki's was beyond anything we'd imagined. (laughs)
Sakamoto: Really, it was awesome to hear.
Nasu: I know. We didn't think it would be that manic. So in the studio, we were all gushing about it: "Amazing! Incredible!"
Takeuchi: There was no "Very well!" in the novel, was there?
Nasu: No, no. When we were discussing how to establish Misaya's character after abridging the novel for the movie, Mr. Hiramatsu, the screenwriter, asked me, "In your mind, Mr. Nasu, is Misaya a well-bred young lady?" and I answered, "Hmm, well...'Very well!'"
Everyone: What?! (laughs)
Nasu: So then we decided to have her say that and when I saw the finished script I said, "Mr. Hiramatsu, you're making her say it too much!" (laughs)
Sakamoto: I love it when she says, "Very well, Ms. Kokutou!" I just adore hearing that "Ms. Kokutou" after the "Very well." (laughs) And moving on to Chapter Seven, the last chapter, we can't really convey much about it in the short time that we have.
Nasu: That's a very strong statement. (laughs)
Sakamoto: Well, it was like a general mobilization by the director...the fact that everyone from the previous chapters had gathered once more to make the final chapter really seemed to fire everyone up. I was really impressed by the whole atmosphere. There was a real sense that it was a team effort, for those of us who were involved in making this film. And even though everyone was a full-fledged, adult professional, it was all so uplifting to be working together, as if it were like a club for college students. And everyone seemed like a "grown-up kid" doing what they wanted. That was true of both the staff and cast, but the thing was, it seemed like one last compilation before graduation - that was what making Chapter Seven was like, and I could see that it was a work of passion.
Nasu: Based on the quality we'd maintained through Chapter Six, I could feel everyone's enthusiasm for doing everything we possibly could in this genre, since this was going to be our final compilation. And as a result, we ended up with a 2-hour movie - "Huh, what are you talking about?" That's what happened. (laughs) But as for the cast, while watching the recording sessions I could feel the intensity through the glass window. For the previous chapters, the staff was always double-checking scripts or talking during the recording sessions, but in the case of Chapter Seven, everyone was completely silent and tense.
Sakamoto: The impact of Rio (Shirazumi), played by Soichiro Hoshi, was tremendous during the recording. I was completely blown away. All I could do was sigh in amazement. (laughs)
Nasu: Before recording started, Hoshi-san wasn't the least bit nervous. I don't remember who it was, but someone said, "Rio is transforming into a beast, but he has to remain a 'pretty boy' till the end." Unlike Souren Araya in Chapter Five, he shouldn't be like a Big Boss, but at the same time he shouldn't seem like a low-level boss, either. "What I liked about Mr. Hoshi's performance was that even as his voice became more beast-like, he never lost that 'pretty boy' quality." When I heard that comment, I thought, "Right, I see." In the novel, Rio was someone I wanted to sympathize with; he was someone I really hated and he was someone I wanted to know more about; he was a very mysterious character. The Rio that Mr. Hoshi portrayed captured the essence of the character at the very end, and so Rio's lines really brought me to tears. The scene where he's confronting Mikiya...You could tell that part of him wanted to cry out, "Help me" while another part of him was warning, "Stay away from me" and it was just unbearable for me to watch him in conflict like that. I wanted to cry over Mikiya's and Shiki's lines at the end, but I wound up crying over Rio's lines in the preceding scenes.
Takeuchi: There was no flashy action or crumbling bridges in Chapter Seven, but it still had the greatest visual impact of all of the chapters.
Nasu: When you get right down to it, Chapter Seven is pretty drab. There are only scenes of the city and the factory. I'm impressed that we were still able to make a film of this scale despite its drabness. The visuals and music for Chapter Seven were all, without exception, dignified and splendid. The music throughout the entire series — by Ms. Yuki Kajiura and Kalafina — was so amazing that I couldn't imagine anyone else taking over. They didn't just make music to be played in the background - I got a strong sense that they were trying to create a kind of synergy between the visuals and the music to maximize the effect of the movie. So as you might expect, each song matches each scene perfectly. Initially, I was surprised that they were going to use seven different theme songs, one apiece for each chapter, but now I'm really glad that they did it that way.
Sakamoto: When work on Chapter Seven ended. I felt a strange mixture of sadness and a sense of achievement. While I was playing Shiki, even if there was some downtime until the next recording session, I could look forward to receiving the next script and thinking, "I wonder what kind of film they're going to make next?" I really feel as though this project was always close to me, not just during those times. I'm really glad to have been involved in a project that was made with such care, taking so much time. When it was over, I was as moved as if I'd just graduated from school. And then I somehow felt some closure. That's why, when we recorded the Final Chapter, I felt that I was able to overlook the progression of all seven chapters. And that may be why it was easy for me to portray Shiki's new personality, which appeared in the Final Chapter.
Takeuchi: It's the same for any production site, particularly whenever production drags on longer than planned - the things that sustain your motivation are perseverance and love, and also tension. At first, you're able to move at a certain speed, but as you grow more exhausted, it gets harder and harder to keep moving at the same pace as you'd originally planned, the Garden of sinners ended up taking a lot longer than we'd estimated, but the reason why we were all able to keep up our pace till the end was because we had a staff that had perseverance and love. Not just the production staff, but also everyone from the producers to the cast, to the advertising/PR staff - everyone had love and respect for the project, and nothing was more reassuring to me than that. In that sense, I really think the Garden of sinners production was blessed. It's a shame that such a happy time has to come to an end, but I hope that we can treasure all of the many connections we made throughout the series, and move on to accomplish something new.
Nasu: When all seven chapters were done, I felt sad too: "So it's over now." Nevertheless, I was happy that the series was finished. It was because I was able to say to myself, "It ended well, I have no regrets," that after some time had gone by, I could think, "Let me look back on that project" and work on the Epilogue. If I'd written the Final Chapter right after Chapter Seven, I don't think I could've achieved the same level of farsightedness. I really think we were blessed with timing and opportunities with the Garden of sinners, right until the very end. It took a long time, but at the same time everything worked out. When I first wrote the novels, I'd already reached a resolution within myself regarding the project, and it was basically over as far as Kinoko Nasu was concerned. I only thought it would become "something I did a long time ago." Now that we're done with the theatrical version, I look upon it as "a project that will remain in my heart forever." For example, when I make something like "A Day at Ahnenerbe," it's reassuring to know that I always have, as a matter of course, the characters from the Garden of sinners inside me. Although it did come to an end once inside my head, as part of the TYPE-MOON project, I can go on adding Shiki Ryougi to future projects. And I think that's the ultimate result for the title, for the staff, and for all of the users who loved the Garden of sinners.
Message from HIKARU KONDO / president of ufotable
the Garden of sinners (Theatrical Version) was produced by a studio named ufotable, during a crucial, once-in-a-lifetime period. You could call it the accumulation of time during which a child climbs the stairway to adulthood, chapter by chapter. For that reason, it would be difficult for us to remake it if we were asked to do so. It was only made possible because of that timing. We were able to set aside all production conditions and schedules, and all complexities, to focus solely on making the Garden of sinners an exceptional film. And the pace only got faster with each chapter.
The air that flows inside these visuals only existed during this time, and it will live on forever inside this Blu-ray Disc Box.
The conflicting emotions, "I have to grow up" and "I want to stay the way I am" will never go away, no matter how old you are.
~ ufotable President Hikaru Kondo
the Art Works of Takashi TAKEUCHI
Blu-ray Disc Box Cover Art / finishing: Hirokazu Koyama
This is the long-awaited Blu-ray Box set release. Not only is the artwork for this box set the last stop of the Garden of sinners movie project, I also wanted it to be a sort of recap for the entire series. It didn't take long to decide on Shiki as the central character, but I took a long time picking who should be positioned behind her and also on the layout. I also agonized over the final look, but when I placed the Spiral of Origin in the center of the illustration, I felt as though everything had come into sharp focus. I take my hat off to the color-setting and finishing by Hirokazu Koyama, who managed to bring out the finalized version from my rough color-setting guidelines.
Theatrical Announcement Key Art #1 / finishing: Hirokazu Koyama
An illustration created for the first announcement of the theatrical version. It's a simple design, centering on the characters and it also draws upon the unique images of the story. The image of Shiki thrusting the knife towards the sky was one of the first that came to my mind, and I later created five to six more rough drafts, but this layout turned out to be the most powerful. Those are Death Lines racing across the sky. This is the only drawing featuring the Death Lines. All of the teaser visuals, starting with this announcement, were color-set/ finished by Hirokazu Koyama.
Theatrical Announcement Key Art #2 / finishing: Hirokazu Koyama
This was the illustration that introduced Touko's redesign. In the first one, she seemed quite sharp, so this time I decided to draw on the Garden of sinners' youth novel-like qualities and expose that side of her. Since I was clear about the concept, I had no qualms while working on the drafts. The composition is simple, but it's finished with soft hues and I feel that it reflects Shiki's image of melting into the sky. I couldn't have asked for better timing to redesign Touko.
Theatrical Announcement Key Art #3 / finishing: Hirokazu Koyama
This is a bona fide "key visual for a movie called the Garden of sinners." The concept is straightforward and romantic, the Garden of sinners brings to mind back alleys and blood, so right away I decided to use that as a base. I think I made about 10 drafts. There were mixed opinions among the staff, so the producer, Mr. Iwakami (producer), chose this one. Personally, I had another one in mind, but now that I look over it again I find it a bit too frenetic, so I think the right choice was made.
Theatrical Announcement Key Art #4 / finishing: Hirokazu Koyama
The concept is the same as for No. 3 - a "royal road of occult" concept. But this one is more active. It's also known as "the Garden of sinners - Fierce Battle Version." As for colors, I had them go with red as the main hue, to counter the blue of No. 3. Mr. Kondo of ufotable commanded me to have Alba pose with his finger to his lip, and it matches the scene in the movie where he makes his first appearance. During the draft stages, I contemplated putting Touko and Azaka in there as well, but it ended up being one of the rare illustrations with Shiki as the lone female.
Theatrical Announcement Key Art #5 / finishing: Hirokazu Koyama
This was used as the key visual for Phase Three. I hadn't planned to draw something like this, so at first I was quite reluctant, but I did it after Mr. Iwakami talked me into it. The gorgeous, golden location and the white kimono-clad Shiki was a motif that I'd been drawing since the doujin version. Since it depicted my image of the end of the Garden of sinners, I feel quite attached to it. Although it was an unplanned visual, it's become my favorite of all the Garden of sinners illustrations.
"Thanatos." Limited DVD Art / finishing: MORIYA
For the DVD artwork, the concept was single characters. Needless to say, the first one depicted Shiki. Before starting work on Volume One, I had a rough idea of the overall image, but what I had in mind at the time was "Volume One: Shiki", "Volume Two: SHIKI", "Volume Three: Fujino", "Volume Four: Mikiya", "Volume Five: Touko", "Volume Six: Azaka", "Volume Seven: Shiki (kimono)." Since we were going to include illustrated postcards, I thought I might as well create slightly different versions. It was a lot of fun to think about, since a lot of the characters have dual personalities. But this would come back to haunt me later on...
"...and nothing heart." Limited DVD Art / finishing: MORIYA
This is Shiki as a high school student. The variation was SHIKI, smiling in the rain of blood. I believe I was able to encompass pretty much everything that I had in mind, including the variation with SHIKI. For DVD artwork, I draw the most significant scene of the volume. The bamboo forest background in Chapter Two was beautiful and left a deep impression on me. As a film, I found Chapter Two to have a different tone than that of Chapter One, perhaps because each chapter is helmed by a different director, but in watching the films, I felt that this influenced the diversity of the Garden of sinners.
"ever cry, never life." Limited DVD Art / finishing: MORIYA
I remember having a hard time working on the layout for this. If you go by scene, there's no way you can omit Broad Bridge, but in the movie, they didn't really battle it out on the bridge for that long. Also, I agonized a lot over Fujino. My personal concept of Fujino was too strong, and I couldn't stop drawing her the same way every time. The more I drew, the worse it became, which you might be able to tell by looking. (sweat beads forming) The variation was the power activation version. Those eyes, distorted by suffering, and those lips twisting with joy are Fujino staples.
"garan-no-dou." Limited DVD Art / finishing: MORIYA
Garan no Dou and Touko. The initial design featured Mikiya, but I thought it would be better to use a female character, and after all, the title of Chapter Four was garan-no-dou... And so it got changed. And that was another thing that later came back to haunt me.... The variation was Touko without her glasses, under a rainy sky. Since this character represents duality, it was a no-brainer. As the rainy scene in the movie left a deep impression on me, I was eager to use the rainy variation. I'm quite attached to the change in atmosphere in the background.
"Paradox Paradigm." Limited DVD Art / finishing: TYPE-MOON
Abandoning my initial design, I used Touko in Volume Four, so for this volume I thought I'd look at the visuals and choose the most significant scene... How naive of me. But my eyes kept straying, as I was unable to narrow down the scenes that best represented Chapter Five, and I found myself hopelessly lost. What I drew either looked too similar to something I'd drawn earlier for the paperback version, or was just an attempt to escape it, or was only an attempt to bring out the essence of Chapter Five, so I had trouble with both the line art and the color setting, and even after the color-setting was done I remember having a lot of trouble.
"Fairy Tale." Limited DVD Art / finishing: Sidzuki Morii
The peerless Azaka. Unlike Volume Five, I had no problems finishing the line art. Starting with this volume, the painting was handled by another team. Even so... For some reason, every time I draw Azaka, her hair seems to get longer... The variation I used was Azaka playing with the fairies. Some people thought I should use this smiling Azaka as the main illustration, but I decided that I should go with the image of Azaka from the movie. I'm rather fond of the design of Azaka's gloves.
"...not nothing heart." Limited DVD Art / finishing: TYPE-MOON
Volume Seven was the hardest of all. This volume... I suffered a lot. Since it was a staple of the final volume to feature "a golden meadow and Shiki clad in a kimono," my first design would've had me set to do just that. But since I'd already used that motif, I had to choose something else from the movie, just as I had with Chapter Five. And also just as I had to do with Chapter Five, I found myself straying off the path. I produced the most rough drafts of my career - 16. But all that suffering won me pretty good reviews, so I patted myself on the back.
Theatrical Program Book Exclusive Art / finishing: Chihiro Aikura
For each pamphlet, I had been submitting illustrations and lame writing that was supposed to pass as a column, but we switched gears a bit for Chapter Seven. The concept was a teaser for the Final Chapter. Some people grumbled: "After ending Chapter Seven on such a beautiful note, what's the point of adding a promo for the next chapter?" So I suggested that we do it with the pamphlet instead. I used the "final performance" image, the golden background and white kimono, as my motif. I wish I'd given her a more mysterious expression...
The Art Works of Tomonori SUDO
(Comments by Tomonori SUDO / Character Designer & Animation Director)
"Thanatos." Poster Image / background: Nobutaka Ike / finishing: ufotable
Regarding the key visuals for the Garden of sinners, I match them to the characteristics of each chapter, rather than the series as a whole. For the first episode, Chapter One, I wanted to include the following: "night"/"moon"/"knife"/"overlooking view of the city". And that's how I ended up with this design. Most of it is hidden behind the characters, but since the background art is so gorgeous, I wouldn't mind showing a version with just the background.
"...and nothing heart." Poster Image / background: Nobutaka Ike / finishing: ufotable
For Chapter Two, I wanted to depict "sunset"/"school days"/"atmosphere", which is how I ended up with this layout. I have to say that it took a lot of courage for me to use a long shot as a key visual for animation. I do think it's important to have such gumption at times, but... Again, I have to thank Mr. Ike for his beautiful background art. And I'm also grateful to all those who approved of this layout image. Thank you very much.
"ever cry, never life." Poster Image / background: Kazuo Ogura / finishing: ufotable
Switching gears from Chapter Two, I created a key visual heavily featuring the characters. Fujino is a personal favorite of mine. For Chapter Three, I used "rain" as my theme. There are many ways to interpret this, but it seemed to Fujino that the rain, which had been falling steadily for a long time, had stopped for a moment, giving way to sun. But the weather is always changing. That's when I wondered, "What's Fujino going to do?" and I ended up with this illustration. I really enjoyed the thought process that went along with creating this design, even if the content itself wasn't fun.
"garan-no-dou." Poster Image / background: Kazuo Fbisawa / finishing: ufotable
For Chapter Four, instead of plucking a key visual from a certain scene, I created a collage-like visual. I found it very difficult to express this chapter in art. I wanted to somehow depict Chapter Four in one sheet, but since I had such a generalized impression of it, it was quite a chore to turn it into art. That's why I really respect the director, Mr. Takiguchi, who was able to bring Chapter Four together as this amazing movie. I hope I'll become a nice middle-ager like him in 10 years (laughs).
"Paradox Paradigm" Poster Image/ background: Nobutaka Ike/ finishing: ufotable
I had a lot of trouble coming up with the key visual for Chapter Five. You could call it a difficult birth. In the end, I created a layout with Tomoe running toward Ogawa Mansion in the center, sandwiched between Araya and Shiki. The fact that Araya is slightly twisting something in his hand was not really noticed by many, but is actually quite significant. The finishing exceeded my expectations, and I found myself in awe of Mr. Terao's fantastic work as a director of photography.
"Fairy Tale." Poster Image / background: Koji Eto / finishing: ufotable
The theme for Chapter Six was, in terms of TV dramas, a "buddy drama" like "Aibou (Partners)." So while I did have some idea of what I was supposed to do, when I'd actually drawn it I found that the juxtaposition of Shiki and Azaka worked even better than I'd imagined. But the two people in the background are clearly the villains of the story. I don't know about inserting spoilers in a key visual... (laughs)
"...not nothing heart." Poster Image / background: Koji Eto / finishing: ufotable
I had trouble with the key visual for Chapter Seven, as it was the last chapter. I didn't know whether or not to include Rio Shirazumi... I like Rio as a character, but I decided to go with just Shiki and Kokutou for Chapter Seven. After all, Rio had so much impact in the movie that I'm sure everyone had enough of him. (laughs) What you're seeing here is the last scene, but now that I look at it I see that Mikiya's wearing his glasses. That's not right... I'm so sorry.
"Remix" Poster Image / finishing: ufotable
I thought I'd used a new scene from the film, but somewhere along the way it turned into the key visual for the release of the Remix. You can appreciate the wonders of technology, thanks to the Digital Department.
"Thanatos." DVD Cover Art / background: Nobutaka Ike / finishing: ufotable
Unlike the key visual for the theatrical version, the DVD cover art is created after production for the film ends, so sometimes I come up with a new image. In the case of Chapter One, the battle scene with Kirie left a deep impression, so I came up with this illustration. As always, the processing by Mr. Terao is awesome.
"...and nothing heart." DVD Cover Art / background: Mami Saito / finishing: ufotable
I thought I'd create such warm-hued cover art, and using this much pink, only for Chapter Two. The cherry blossoms signify "a beginning." In terms of timeline as well, this story is "the beginning." I did struggle over whether or not to include Kokutou, but in the end, I opted to use Shiki and SHIKI as my main images.
"ever cry, never life." DVD Cover Art / background: Kazuo Ogura / finishing: ufotable
Here, I drew Fujino in a way that made me want to display her next to Shiki from the cover art for Chapter One. It seems to me that somehow, whenever I draw characters, they always look scarier, but I had a lot of fun drawing this deranged-looking Fujino.
"garan-no-dou." DVD Cover Art / background: Kazuo Ebisawa / finishing: ufotable
For Chapter Four, I used a collage-like layout, just as I had with the key visual. To be precise, I made a collage of each situation from the movie. I really wanted to use Touko as my main image, but in that case maybe I should've placed her in the top half? Layouts are really tough.
"Paradox Paradigm" DVD Cover Art / background: Miho Sugiura / finishing: ufotable
My themes were "keys" and "doors." It's a complete collage layout. From the start, I thought of using Tomoe as my main image. I believe Tomoe is a beloved character. But now that I look at it, it seems as if Alba's the most dominant of the characters. Even though the rest are cool and collected, it looks like he's the only one all fired up...
"Fairy Tale." DVD Cover Art / background: Koji Eto / finishing: ufotable
I thought I'd try to create a layout like a conventional school anime. You can see that I was a bit playful, scattering books around the room, and so on. "Brainwashed Detective" (Hisui?), "Ghost Cat Holmes" (Neko Arc?), etc. And this might be a minor detail, but Shiki and the dog's eyes are on the abandoned fairies, while Azaka's gaze is slightly off. I wonder if you've noticed that?
"...not nothing heart." DVD Cover Art / background: Koji Eto / finishing: ufotable
For this one, I tried to focus on the atmosphere. But layouts that turn out well as posters, such as those for live-action films, don't really fare as well when they're converted to illustrations, and so I still have some regrets, such as "I think I left too much dead space..." I was able to incorporate the "Shiki and Mikiya's story" theme, but I also found my own theme, to improve my skills.
"the Garden of sinners." DVD Cover Art / background: Koji Eto / finishing: ufotable
The theme for this was "invitation." The mysterious background art is laid out like a Yin-Yang chart. The pattern for Shiki's kimono was transposed by the Digital Department. It's very beautiful and looks incredible. They used this same technique on moving images in the Final Chapter as well, so I have nothing but respect for them. Good job!
© KINOKO NASU / Kodansha. Aniplex. Notes, ufotable
ANZX-3921 - 3928 NOT FOR SALE.
| Main characters: Shiki Ryougi • Mikiya Kokutou • Touko Aozaki • Azaka Kokutou|
Secondary characters: Cornelius Alba • Daisuke Akimi • Fujino Asagami • Kirie Fujou • Lio Shirazumi • Mana Ryougi • Misaya Ouji • Mitsuru Kamekura • Satsuki Kurogiri • Shizune Seo • Souren Araya • Tomoe Enjou