“A project I have wanted to make for many years is finally coming to fruition.”
Interviewer: Tell us the story of how Terror in Resonance came to be.
Watanabe: From the eyes of the world, I think it looked like I didn’t do any work from around 2007 until I made Kids on the Slope in 2012. But actually, during that time, I kept thinking that I wanted to make a something new. I prepared many project proposals, but it was hard to get any of them off the ground. Terror in Resonance was a project that I came up with during that period.
Interviewer: So it was something that you wanted to make since then?
Watanabe:That’s right. That was when I heard from Fuji TV about Kids on the Slope. At that time, I told them about Terror in Resonance, as well. When I did, the producer Koji Yamamoto from noitaminA said, “Well, why don’t we try having not just Kids on the Slope by itself, but also plan for an original work after that?” That was when we were finally able to start working on this.
Interviewer: We still don’t know much about Terror in Resonance. What kind of story will it be?
Watanabe: Let’s see… I think it’s probably closest to a foreign TV show. It has been said that foreign TV shows are of an especially high quality recently. Because they are longer than movies, they are able to pursue profound themes while still filling the work with many amusing components. I would like people who enjoy the entertainment provided by foreign TV shows to try Terror in Resonance.
Interviewer: Foreign TV shows?
Watanabe: Recently, I have been succinctly describing Terror in Resonance as “a series like 24” (laughs). Tokyo is the setting for a terrorist attack. And then an old detective guy comes out to go after those terrorists (laughs). It kind of ends up sounding like a joke when I explain it like this, but we spent a lot of time and effort working on the terrorist group “Sphinx” and their riddles in every episode. I think people who enjoy Sherlock and shows like it would also enjoy Terror in Resonance.
Interviewer: Looking at the announcement that the show will be about “two mysterious children who combine forces to form the clandestine entity ‘Sphinx’ and play a dangerous game with all of Japan,” it looks like this will be the most provocative show in your filmography to date.
Watanabe: This might be true.
Interviewer: Why do you say that?
Watanabe: It’s a little hard to explain in words. In creating an anime series, especially in the case of an original work like this, it’s not simply a matter of following a concept and sticking the parts into place. Because we have to create the setting from scratch in an original work, my own feelings and emotions while I’m working on it tend to be very apparent. That’s why, while it may seem provocative from an outsider’s perspective, it’s not like I awakened to a particular thought or ideology and wanted to create an anime based on that. However, it is true that my feelings and emotions are in that mode right now.
Interviewer: How have the feelings you put into the work changed from 2007 until now?
Watanabe: The basic idea of the work has not changed. However, I think the parts surrounding it have changed. When I thought of the idea in 2007, I feel like I focused a lot more on the characters, but now, while the central focus has not changed, I feel like there is a bit more of a widening perspective that includes the world around the characters.
Interviewer: Why did that change come about?
Watanabe: It wasn’t because of something that I decided; rather it was because of the changes in Japanese society itself. A major factor was the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. At that time, there were many people who talked to others in their neighborhoods that they had never talked to before, right? I myself had conversations with people at the store that I had never talked to before, and had ladies I didn’t know come and talk to me. Through that, I was able to learn more about the thoughts of people I had never spoken to before. I added those kinds of interactions with others when creating something in 2014 based on an idea I’d thought of in 2007.
Interviewer: The character designs were by Kazuto Nakazawa and the music was by Yoko Kanno. These two people are often connected to you, and they are both participating in this project.
Watanabe: What they both have in common is that neither needs very much explanation from me. When I say, “This is the kind of thing I’d like to do,” they both understand immediately and create what I’m looking for in their own specialties. It probably goes without saying, but there are very few people who can understand what is needed based on feeling. On the contrary, there seem to be more people who don’t get it even if everything is explained to them from beginning to end. …Speaking of which, they have something else in common. Both of them want as many people as possible to understand their work and try to present their work with that clear goal in mind. I, on the other hand, have a tendency to go for more minor things, so having the two of them always thinking about what’s popular also serves as a stimulus for me.
Interviewer: So there’s a very good reason why you have worked together so much.
Watanabe: Yes, that’s right. One thing I want to emphasize is that being able to quickly come to a mutual understanding is important, but it is not the most important reason for working together. The most important reason is that there are things that I want to do with this series, and I feel like Nakazawa and Kanno are the ones most suited to do those things. This is not limited to these two, but is in fact the most important thing for me when choosing who to work with-I ask people to work with me because I feel like, “This is the only person who can do what I want for this content.” And in this case, the two of them lived up to those expectations wonderfully.
Interviewer: What kind of series is Terror in Resonance? I know there is still a lot that has not been revealed yet, but can you give us some hints?
Watanabe: What can I say…? Well, I think in some sense, this is a series that paints a picture of adolescence. What I mean by adolescence is that strong feeling of incompleteness, immaturity, and prejudice. It is something that is nowhere near being completed. In that sense, adolescence has its own charm. Even though it’s immature and incomplete, I want to focus on the uncertainty, the transience, and the beauty, so we’re working on depicting those aspects on screen right now. Of course, like I said earlier, there is also the part that is inspired by foreign TV shows and the entertainment they provide. But, at the same time, part of it is the story of adolescence, and I myself went back to how I felt as a teenager in order to create it. In that sense, I feel like I am creating something new. It is something that I have wanted to make for a long time, so I am putting my heart and soul into it. I hope that you will all watch it.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.