CFM: As the co-founder of Science SARU, what is your vision and development plan for the studio?
Eunyoung Choi: As a reason for launching a new studio with Mr. Yuasa, we started from the idea that we would like to deliver his work to many people, rather than to simply sell his work. To make that come true, film itself, its message and its content are most important, and I have to work on it harder to deliver his work as broadly as possible. I think there are types of stories that many people feel touched by, and also there are stories addressing various problems, but either way, we hope they will be able to break walls or boundaries somehow. Yuasa tries to suggest a world-view to his story and show audiences a wider world, and I also want to show his work in various places. It is the same theme we did in LU OVER THE WALL, we may not be able to break the wall, but we try to push it even only 1 cm.
Even though there are various problems, I always have the idea of breaking the wall with such power at the end, including the power of love (romance), a person’s connected feelings or family love, etc. We think it is the base or core of future development for us.
In DEVILMAN CRYBABY, there is a main protagonist called Akira, who tries to break through the wall with love or strong feeling, and his best friend Ryo, who thinks more reasonably. They seem very different but in the end Akira’s feeling reaches Ryo. Reaching his feeling means breaking the wall or at least pushing it even a little, and I think it is tremendously important.
CFM: Science SARU gets talented animators from all over the world. How do you coordinate everybody’s concept and style? How do you protect creators’ creative enthusiasm and uniqueness?
Eunyoung Choi: As a way of thinking, even if it is a group of people who are a little bit different from each other, I guess, the group becomes a good place for them if they can discuss their differences rather than a group of people who have the same point of view, and are raised in the same environment and imagine same thing. I think it means the boundary line in a way. The wider the boundary line or frame gets, the more the idea clashes others and as a result, the frame expands.
I think that there might be creator and artist who thinks the same way as us in Japan, and I believe that if we work together with those in other countries, it makes a big contribution to the team. Of course, we have certain a direction to go, but rather than setting a goal, it is important to be interested in people who have different ideas for producing good chemical reactions. The range of the way of thinking expands by recruiting members who have different ideas. I think there is more sparkle to gather members who are interested in various genres to create new ideas, and one of the choices could be recruiting staff from abroad.
Working alone would produce something 100%, but I believe it doesn’t mean much if it becomes only 200% by two people together. If we have 100% and 100%, there should be chemical reactions between these two, and it’s important to initiate 250% of chemical reaction. We should always keep the space for this chemical reaction, not thinking small; otherwise we can’t produce brand new things especially for animation or art. Films and animation have a lot of practical work, so I think it is important to balance these two. In fact, practical matters will be between 70% and 80%, but for 20% to 30%, I remind myself to play and challenge with new things, otherwise, it could be easily 100% practical work. Considering that percentage, I am constantly conscious about challenging new things.
CFM: Three of Mr. Masaaki Yuasa’s works are released now on Netflix. Could you share your thoughts on this collaboration with Netflix? Are there any plans for Science SARU to distribute more works overseas? Will there be international collaboration in the future?
Eunyung Choi: From now on, the world will be more easily connected, and the time gap will be eventually gone, meaning that the world gets closer in terms of space and time. Netflix seems to be getting more and more popular in the US because there are such needs from customers. And for the same reason, I think Netflix will spread in Japan as well. It’s an attractive tool that can distribute contents simultaneously, deleting the time gap. Films and television have some kind of time gap, but it seems very new and fascinating that everyone around the world can watch worldwide at the same time. Depending on the content, we don’t aim at a wide range of audience, but we want to deeply explore the theme. In that case, the audience will not expand if we show elaborate work in a narrow space, but if we show the same content worldwide from the beginning, the pie of audience expands. I think Netflix could be a good strategy to distribute work with deeper themes but that not all audiences may enjoy. It might be difficult for DEVILMAN CRYBABY to screen at the theater, but considering fans on a world scale, it was a good decision to distribute on Netflix.
We want to plan to gradually reach audiences abroad. However, as our team, including me and Mr. Yuasa are based in Japan, I assume that what we feel and experience here are the most likely to be reflected in our work. So it is quite important for us that people around us can sympathize in what we create first. It is hard to imagine putting it aside and giving priority to overseas people. Although the content may include many Japanese elements, the themes we work on are universal, so our challenge here is how far we can deliver it to our overseas audience. I believe the distance between us and these audiences will gradually become closer, and we would like to be conscious about overseas expansion. In the future, the production side and the audience will get closer which will change the whole situation.
We are thinking about co-productions positively. The main story may change depending on what theme we put focus on for the co-production, but I believe if we can successfully collaborate together, the collaborative work should be something good.
The Japanese market is attractive, but I feel that the scale will not likely expand much. So what should we do in the future? I believe that Japanese contents have the strongest appeal in the world, and now we are thinking what kind of partners we should work with to expand these contents. We tend to consider partners in Japan, but if we can find good ones, we would like to look for possibilities around the world.
CFM: What do you think of the influence of the application of VR, AR technology on the production of animations?
Eunyoung Choi: I think adopting those technologies will surely have an impact on animation production, and I myself have been paying attention from three years ago. When I go abroad, there are many people trying to pioneer at the forefront, but nobody has grasped what kind of chemical reaction it will bring and how it will be developed yet. I feel, however, that it will be developed explosively at some point.
AR was not recognized so much until Pokemon came out, but actually we thought about it with LU OVER THE WALL. It could be a good idea to collaborate with the park nearby holding a water-show with Lu through AR. This technology is the democratization of entertainment because we can see it anywhere but these who don’t want to see it can choose not to. Regarding the VR, I was really impressed when I actually first saw it and had such a fun experience, for example, the feeling of flying. It allows us to have a sense that we become a main character of the story. In movies, for example, there is some flow or guide for where the audiences look or pay attention by fixing the camera angle. However, those who use VR technology can look wherever, and at whatever they want by changing angles, so it is quite challenging how to create space. However, I think creating something new should start from trying out various things at the beginning, and it is eventually established as a culture at some point, so I believe that VR will expand in the future. As our company name is Science SARU, we would like to be flexible and openminded to future changes and advanced technologies, working actively without being afraid of whatever happens. Even if the environment would change and a mountain would appear in front of us, I would like to think actively.
CFM: Could you please share with us your thoughts on and experience Flash animation creation?
Eunyoung Choi: I had a chance to use Flash animation when I worked for another foreign capital company. It still had a cartoon-like movement, so I tried to work on more real, Japanese animation like movement with other Japanese staff and achieved natural movements, but due to the 311 disaster in 2011 (the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake), the project was canceled. Afterwards, there was a chance to do one story for Adventure Time with Mr.Yuasa, and at that time, we decided to establish the studio. Since our studio was small, I thought it was a good place to challenge animation production created with Flash, which I had tried before and had confidence in. Flash animation allows us to reduce the process of work, so we can create work in a small group, which I thought was very suitable for us since we are small group. It enables us both to improve efficiency and quality, which Mr. Yuasa requests.
CFM: Are those works which you created after establishing Science SARU created with Flash animation?
Eunyoung Choi: No, not all the works Flash animation. When we work on TV series, we have to produce many pieces, so 60% are hand animation. If we use 100% Flash animation, the person who can use it may have to do all the work. Also the volume of work in animation production suddenly increases or decreases, so it is quite risky to use Flash animation only. We don’t stick to Flash but we are very flexible about trying out the latest technologies, and if it is good, we would like to shift to it.