FEATURE: An Interview with Kudo Susumu, Director of the "Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club" Anime
New series now simulcasting on Crunchyroll
“Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club,” the upcoming Winter 2017 show, is a story about girls devoting their youth to cycling in Kamakura. The show will simulcast on Crunchyroll! We recently visited the studio and interviewed anime director, Kudo Susumu at the end of year 2016.
Kudo Susumu is a Japanese anime director. He is known for directing multiple titles such as Kotenko Tenko, They Are My Noble Masters, and Mardock Scramble.
What did you think when you were chosen as a director for this title?
Kudo Susumu: I started reading the manga after I decided to be the anime director. I found out that “Cycling Club” comes up quite later part of the manga volume 2, so I thought I should make the club appear earlier on in the anime. The story takes place in Kamakura, but I’m trying not to make the anime like a city PR video. I want to make the show filled with the girls’ youthfulness while not losing the manga’s original taste.
Is there any production or audio section you especially put effort into while making the anime?
I mentioned that I’m not trying to make a city PR video… but still, Kamakura is a city that actually exists, so I’m trying to portray the sight as precisely as possible. During the script production, I made “Cycling Club” and Sandy, one of the main characters, appear earlier than the original manga. Also, I thought we definitely needed to show off the cycling jersey more. Of course I paid special attention to not ruin the flow of the storytelling.
Additionally, I knew we could not make an anime about cycling without using 3D models… and I knew we just need to do this(w)… so we put lots of effort into the 3D section.
How was the location hunting in Kamakura?
I first received every piece of photo references Matsumoto Noriyuki sensei has for the original manga development. The studio production managers went to Kamakura for a brief inspection to see the route and street the girls are cycling. Then I joined the location hunting, but we had done shooting throughout several seasons, so we had to be careful when drawing the background art based on the photographs.
How did you and your team develop such beautiful background art?
I first ordered the background art director to make image board for the location that appears in #1 and the first key art, “Gokurakuji Station.” I gave him only a little art direction, but the first shot he came up with was in almost the same state as what we see now. If he’d drawn something that looks like a photograph, I’d needed to ask for more test shots, but he captured the soft light and atmosphere of the location just how I wanted. I only asked him to change the color of the sign of “Gokurakuji Station” to less bright green. It’s always hard to verbally explain what kind of art I want. I don’t want to make something like a photograph, so I was looking forward to see how the background art director comprehends the concept and give it his own arrangements.
Do you have any favorite character or sequence?
We made the sequence of Hiromi encountering Tomoe in front of Gokurakuji Station at very early stage of the development. The background art is very beautiful and I want my viewers to enjoy the sequence. Many manga fans should already know this, but I think lots of people can enjoy how Sandy first appears. For the favorite character, I’d choose Nastumi, she’s very moderate. I think Hiromi’s a bit too hyper (w).
We heard Kudo-san likes riding motorcycles. Do you think there’s something common between motorcycling and biking?
Kudo I used to be a production manager and was driving around Kichijoji all the time. I was recently hanging out around the town and it surprised me to find the place has changed so much since then. When I go to the places where is too far to walk but close enough to bike, there’s always some rediscovery and surprises. I think that’s the interesting point of biking.
The show will simulcast overseas. Please give the overseas fans your comment.
Nowadays people can find lots of Kamakura’s cool places and pics on the internet, but I think visiting Kamakura after watching the anime, your experience will be filled with more fun and rediscoveries. I know Kamakura’s not a place everyone can just go, not even for us, but I hope overseas fans visit the place.