What did you tell Ms. Kajiura regarding the overall direction you wanted to take with the film score?
TSURUOKA: First, regarding the main themes we’d used in the TV series, we decided to narrow down the ones we were going to use, and I spoke to her pretty specifically about where I wanted to hear them. Like, “We’re using Homura’s theme for this scene.” But really the only part that I explicitly specifiied was Homura’s theme.
[THE “CAKE RAP” WITH LYRICS BY INU CURRY WAS CHALLENGING]
Did the director make any requests regarding the score?
TSURUOKA: The director was concerned with climactic scenes, like the scene at the end where everyon fought. Normally the parts where you’d place an insert song or something are special scenes, so he did tell us that he wanted us to make them distinct from the other scenes.
The scene where everyone’s battling together to liberate Homura is certainly climactic, but the story does go on from there. Did you consider how to distinguish it from the true ending?
TSURUOKA: The battle scenes are “special scenes” rather than climactic ones. In other words, they’re highlights, so we decided to make the music dramatic as a type of service.
I hear that Ms. Kajiura watched the storyboards being shot while writing the music according to the content, but since you re-recorded the dialogue, the image of the music for the second half must have changed.
TSURUOKA: Yes. That’s why for the second half especially, when we handed her the video, we told her,”We’re re-doing the recording from this point.” And we told her what kind of feel the second half would have. That there would also be changes to the visuals, and the voice acting would also be quite different. As for the parts of the recording that we were re-doing, we were specific, and we toldher that the voices would be softer in tone, and that the expressions would also change quite a bit.
So were communications between you and Ms. Kajiura smooth regarding the music for the first half?
TSURUOKA: Yes. As far as the story goes, there’s nobody more knowledgeable than Ms. Kajiura, so there wasn’t anything for me to say. Maybe just for really unique parts: I told her what we were aiming for in those scenes. Like, “Here, a Cake Rap is suddenly going to start.”
That Cake Rap scene did look like a challenging scene.
TSURUOKA: That was the part that gave us the most trouble during the recording sessions as well. The song wasn’t finished yet, so we just decided on a tempo and made clicking sounds, and recorded the voices first. We gave that to Ms. Kajiura and had her write the song. But how to take Inu Curry’s lyrics and arrange it to this tempo? That was a major headache for us on set. Not only that, but we had to match the action of the visuals with that tempo, so it was extremely challenging.
Regarding the lyrics written by Inu Curry, did they explain them to you in person?
TSURUOKA: Yes. They brough me the lyrics and said, “Please use these.” But nobody would’ve understood what it meant unless we heard Inu Curry’s explanation. No one but Inu Curry knew what the purpose of those lyrics was, and no one but Inu Curry could have explained them. Initially, the Cake Rap was written to be recited aloud by everyone. It was like a melody to be hummed at a regular beat.
Do you mean that it was like a nursery son, or a song sung during a game, like “Kagome Kagome (Japanese folksong)?” Along with Inu Curry’s song, this movie also boasted a dance motif, making it a film packed with musical elements. Were you conscious of that while you were working on it?
TSURUOKA: It’snot as if I was planning to move it along with music. But since the film iswhat it is, then I thought let’s stick these kinds of songs in it – I did have that in mind. And so we ended up with over 60 songs in all.
[I WANT PEOPLE TO WATCH IT OVER AND OVER AND ENJOY IT BY EAR AS WELL]
Because it has so many musical elements, the music does add to its allure even if you’re doing that consciously. It seems to me that thanks to all the music, the movie has a certain flow that runs through its entirety.
TSURUOKA: I do that that we’ve created an overall flow. Well we are seeking songs that match the flow of the visuals from the moment that we place our order for music. It’s just that this time around, it was so difficult to read the storyboards, I just didn’t have a clue what they were about (laugh)! Even if I looked at the story boards, I couldn’t envision how these visuals were going to be in the end.
If you can’t envision it, it must be hard to decide what kind of song to add, too. Especially for the Inu Curry sequences, maybe?
TSURUOKA: Right. For me, the hardest part about making this film was trying to understand the storyboards in my own way so that I could order the music. I couldn’t do it the way I would read normal storyboards. I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years, and usually when I flip through storyboards, I can more or less get a sense of the rhythm, the scale of the music, and where to insert songs. That much I can grasp. But in Inu Curry’s case, nothing I’d master till now worked for me, and I also had no idea what the visuals would look like in action. First, I figured out what was going to happen in each scene to find a way to grasp the overall story – “OK, that’s what’s going on here,” – and only after that I was able to get a feel for the rhythm and scale.
After you’d seen the finished film, what was your personal opinion?
TSURUOKA: I’ve been working on Madoka Magica since the TV series, so in some ways I was just following a pattern, but on one hand it felt like a renewal; it really did have the atmosphere of a “New Chapter (Rebellion).” In particular, I felt that we were able to match the music to the film. As for the transformation scenes, I’m impressed that Ms. Kajiura was able to match the music up so perfectly, I was flabbergasted.
With the Blu-ray release, it looks like we’ll be able to enjoy the music of the film as well.
TSURUOKA: We deliberately created “secret meanings”, so there might be parts that people won’t understand even if they watch it over and over. But it’s still a fun movie to watch and re-watch, and I’m sure that even those who’ve seen it in the theaters will find new angles and new discoveries by watching it repeatedly.
It’s true that it’s brimming over with information, so even those who’ve seen it in the theaters might not have a good grasp of it all yet.
TSURUOKA: First of all, the way it’s presented visually is incredible, so the first time you watch it, all you can do is just follow those visual expressions with your eyes, and you’re done. But that means that you won’t be able to pay much attention to what we do (laugh), so I hope people re-watch it with this thought in mind: “My eyes are accustomed to it now, so this time let me really hear it.” “Maybe this time I’ll watch the performances”. There are so many little details in this film, so I hope that people don’t simply put it away as a collector’s item, but watch it and enjoy it from time to time.
YOTA TSURUOKA: Animation Sound Director, CEO of Rakuonsha. Has worked on the sound for numerous animated series such as Monogatari Series Second Season, Saki.