Interview originally found on animate.tv. Thanks to Kerahna for translating!
“Entirely a story of the bottom of the sea”
— When you first approached this story, what were your thoughts?
Kajiura: Although I knew the title of the production, I hadn’t actually seen it. Because of this, before taking this job, I always thought it was “Sora no Kyoukai” (smile). Once I started properly reading the story, I couldn’t resist thinking “please let me take this project”.
— How did you find this project attractive?
Kajiura: It’s the world view. For example, although many things can occur, this is all happening at the bottom of the sea, and it evokes a feeling of recurring peace, as if the story at the surface would freeze into a single sheet of ice. There was also a feeling of a certain degree of strength, and this contrast I find is very interesting.
— Making a film out of this story is a difficult task in itself. Now they’ve decided to make it an animation; what are your thoughts on the decision to render the film as an animation?
Kajiura: It would definitely be a difficult task to fit the entire story in 2~3 hours, but now that they’re animating all seven chapters separately, I’m really looking forward to the results.
Music made by “subtraction”
— In the creation of the music for “Kara no Kyoukai”, what kind of music did you have in mind?
Kajiura: I already had an idea of what I was going to do while I was reading the story. While I was composing the actual music for Kara no Kyoukai, the most important element was not battle, song, or melody, rather the “boundary of emptiness” atmosphere. I put this as the first priority, and tried to lower the volume and minimize the usage of melody and in the BGM. I limited the number of main melodies used to 2~3, to create a stronger impression on the audience. This is also my first time creating a BGM with no music at all. All the melody is gone. As I created this track, the music slowly disappeared and I ended up with completely random noise, or sometimes pure piano. Even when the music starts again, it is possible that the listener does not even notice. I kept my focus on the “boundary of emptiness” theme to make this music. Whether I should release that track on the OST, I was really hesitant. Not too sure about having a background music track that doesn’t even contain music (smile).
— Each chapter of the story had a different atmosphere and color scheme; what difficulties did you encounter while dealing with this?
Kajiura: As for the impression that “Kara no Kyoukai” gives to the audience, I tried to demonstrate a unified colorful feeling, yet a noticeable difference between each chapter. This indeed caused me headaches. I used a lot of random noise, however, I used one type of noise throughout chapter 1, and a different type consistently throughout chapter 2. There are many subtle details like this that probably no one would notice. Even now with the first three chapters released, we can see that the second chapter’s impression is slightly different from that of the first chapter, and the transition past the second chapter is even easier to see. However, to produce the same type of atmosphere yet a noticeable concrete difference between each chapter, the punctuation and expression of the music, it is sometimes a challenge, and sometimes a really interesting task.
— Since the first chapter, the music has set some really deep impressions in viewers for some scenes!
Kajiura: As for the OP of the first chapter, I wrote that based on my emotions upon finishing reading the novel for the first time, even before discussion and research began for the soundtrack. The main theme is kind of sluggish, but when dealing with the main theme of all seven chapters, I found that there was no way I could use a single track to match the same type of scene in each chapter. That first track, to me, is like the theme of Shiki and is at the same level of significance as the main theme. Because of this, it would play from time to time until the end.
Where the drama is planned
— Can you explain to us the intended impression set by each of the first three chapters?
Kajiura: The first chapter aims to set an impression for the cast of characters in Kara no Kyoukai, which I worked very hard on. I also added some environmental sounds, for example, for the suspenseful scenes. There are also many sounds that didn’t become melodies, but their traces still echo in the background, giving a unified atmosphere.
The second chapter is a love story, so I tried to make it more gimmicky. Although I said I would avoid using melodies, I ended up doing it anyway. I knew that if I added too much, it would lose the “boundary of emptiness” world view; it felt a little lonely, but the feeling of heartache was still there. Kara no Kyoukai does have a dramatic story, so it would appear here.
The third chapter is quite scary, to the point of several times almost causing one to scream out “help me!” (smile). However frightening, it is also very sad, so in my mind I created a kind of Aria. It begins with a strong feeling of tragedy.
— How did you feel after watching the actual films?
Kajiura: I really love the world view of the entire series, and because of this the first movie surprised me a lot. A huge shock. I expected a certain level of quality for the film, but I didn’t expect it to be this impressive. The second chapter was also very strong. I watched it intending to verify the fitting of the music, but I was so much into watching the film that I totally forgot about doing that (smile).
Creation of 5.1ch music (tn: that’s the surround sound system for movies)
— As this is a movie to be played in theatres, are there high requirements for the music listening environment?
Kajiura: The theatres require 5.1ch, so it’s a bit difficult in some places. Although normal stereo sound won’t be affected much by the difference in music frequency, the 5.1ch sound may very greatly depending on the theatre and viewing location. Often when I worry that “what if no one hears the music I worked so hard on”, I remix the music. Stereo audio is unable to present the grandness of the composition, which is something that only 5.1ch can accomplish, so it’s really interesting. There are not many opportunities to hear sound in 5.1ch format, so I hope everyone can come and listen at a theatre presentation.
— But it’s due to the strict requirements of the theatre that the fans can now enjoy the highest quality sound and picture!
Kajiura: This is indeed an excellent way to allow fans to enjoy the highest quality presentation. Premiering the film at midnight is also a pretty neat idea! An artistic kind of feel. Although due to these restrictions, a large portion of fans are unable to see the film in theatres, we can also say that it in fact increases the chance that they will be able to see it, as the popularity and impact of Kara no Kyoukai increases.
The purpose of the main theme project: Kalafina
— The creation of a different main theme for each chapter is a challenge, isn’t it?
Kajiura: When I was first told that I was to create a different theme song for each chapter, my entire body began to burn. I proudly announced “I will definitely create a perfect composition for each chapter!”(smile). I agreed as this is a rare opportunity, and I want each theme to fit perfectly. It’s really enjoyable.
— What were the reasons for creating Kalafina?
Kajiura: when I was given the responsibility of creating theme songs, I thought of having a pop-music style group to make the music. I called it Kalafina, and wanted to find vocalists that fit the music of Kalafina that I had in mind, so I decided to hold auditions to find vocalists of varying unique voices.
— Regarding each theme song, what can you explain to us?
Kajiura: The ED for the first chapter, “oblivious”, acts as both an ending theme for the first film as well as a unifying impression setter for the Kara no Kyoukai series. As the lyrics were written especially for the first chapter, they reflected my feelings after reading the first chapter of the novel. The “kimi” in “kimi ga hikari ni kaete iku” refers to Kokuto-kun, and is sang from the perspective of Shiki. “Kizuato”, from the third film, is not from the perspective of any character in particular, as scars (kizuato) are something that each individual has. Each song and the lyrics in them were created for that specific chapter, and are speckled with the words in my mind after reading the chapter.
— Is there anything we should pay attention to in the voices?
Kajiura: When choosing vocalists, I intended to “not lose the transparent-like feeling”. The BGM was written to feel like it was played with only half of one’s full strength, as the best music was saved for the end, where I decided to use melody. This is how each theme song has a distinct melody.
— We heard that at the preview presentation, seiyuu Maaya Sakamoto was really impressed at Kajiura-sama’s creation, and ran towards Kajiura-sama while exclaiming”what a powerful song!”
Kajiura: I was really happy about that, to be able to receive recognition from one of the performers in the film.
— The CD released on January 23 contained the theme for the third film, but this was before the film was even released!
Kajiura: This was a result of many reasons (smile), but isn’t it kind of neat to be able to listen to the third theme song and wonder “is the third film going to be like this”?
— Wouldn’t there be a different feeling between listening to the three songs in a row, and watching them in the movie context?
Kajiura: I’m interested to see the results. The difference between listening at the theatre and at home is the 5.1ch sound system versus stereo sound, we get a difference in sound. However, to listen to a theme in the dark without seeing the story it is based around, there would be a difference in impression on the listener. I believe that taking the music alone and savoring it should still be enjoyable. The preorder box for the first single is very fancy, plus the singles for later episodes, would still make good gifts wouldn’t they? (smile)
Seven chapters’ of quality assurance is a creation of personal enthusiasm.
— Everyone involved with Kara no Kyoukai must have great enthusiasm for the project!
Kajiura: I feel that the fact that each staff member has maintained a “strive for excellence” attitude is all due to the magic of producer Hikaru Kondou. With Kondou-sensei steering the team, everyone works together to create something great, and the fans will give a huge response, and production is going smoothly…. using this kind of attitude, we shoot forward!
— Everyone on the production team gets along well, so production goes smoothly; Miss Sakamoto said after recording the third film, “I feel kind of lonely, now that there is only half of the project remaining”.
Kajiura: As for me, I feel that the project isn’t going to finish for about another three years (smile). There’s a lot of pressure right now, so I keep thinking “I want to get this done faster”. After finishing the series, I think I will feel kind of lonely too.
— Finally, please tell us a little bit about the music after the fourth film.
Kajiura: From the creation of the first theme in the first film, I had already chosen the kind of impression I wanted the music to create. That impression won’t change much in the future. However, from the fourth film on, more characters will be introduced, and the colors of the creation will change accordingly, so the music may change as well. The Kara no Kyoukai films which can only be fully enjoyed in a theatre, and where music and imagery shine and reflect each other… if everyone can find enjoyment in this, I will also be very happy.