Director Tatsuma Minamikawa and producer Yohei Ito attended MCM London Comic Con as the guests of Anime Limited to promote the new film Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry, based on the world famous manga and its anime adaptation. Toonzone News had the opportunity to sit down with both guests and talk about this cinematic adventure.
TOONZONE NEWS: Would you mind telling us a bit about how each of you came to work on Fairy Tail?
YOHEI ITO: I was in the rights division working on Rave, another creation of Hiro Mashima which was being made into a video game. So that was my first time working with Mashima. Another producer was actually handling Fairy Tail at that time but he left and I assumed his former role.
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: And I came on board with the Dragon Cry film. I got a call from a producer at A-1 Pictures offering me the job.
TOONZONE NEWS: Dragon Cry is being released as the original manga nears its conclusion. As such, is the film designed to enrich/foreshadow the end of the overall story?
YOHEI ITO: The story of Dragon Cry happens between volume 51 and 52 of the manga and it tells you what happens at the beginning of the final chapter. So rather than the ending it gives you more depth to the final chapter.
TOONZONE NEWS: Fairy Tail has enjoyed wild success outside of Japan, including here in the UK. Why do you think it holds appeal for fans the world over?
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: When I got the offer to be involved in the production of Dragon Cry I studied Fairy Tail and what I felt personally was that, out of all the variety of manga available in Japan, this feels different. It feels more similar maybe to Marvel comics, to American comics in terms of the way it’s laid out and the pacing of the story. It’s a bit different to other Japanese manga but at the same time it feels familiar to Japanese readers. So maybe that has something to do with the popularity overseas, that people feel that it’s something they are familiar with.
YOHEI ITO: I’m always surprised when I go to overseas events how many Fairy Tail cosplayers there are and I think that the popularity has to do with the characters. There are a lot of characters and each one has their own backstory, personality, things to like about them, reasons you might fancy them [laughs] and they’re very deep. There’s going to be somebody for everyone to place themselves in the shoes of and these characters are in a very appealing fantasy world, leading me to feel it’s quite easy for fans to empathise with the characters.
TOONZONE NEWS: To carry on from that, Dragon Cry is seeing international theatrical release. Knowing that it would be screening to audiences outside of Japan, did that change anything about the film’s content?
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: As the director in charge of what the film looks like I tried to make parts of Dragon Cry reminiscent of foreign films. For example, with the techniques for the flashbacks in the film. Hiro Mashima mentioned that there were actually some serious similarities to this film and Fight Club and so suggested I could try to bring elements of that into the film [laughs]. So that’s what I tried to do, referencing western movies.
TOONZONE NEWS: Is there a scene in the film you’re particularly proud of?
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: There are two that I’m particularly proud of. One would be the action scenes in the second half, the fights with the dragons and the guild members. I intentionally used especially high quality animation there to make them feel special.
The others are Carla and Erza’s transformation scenes, ones with…quite a bit of exposed flesh. The sexy bits, which I decided to take my time over.
TOONZONE NEWS: Ah, time well spent [all laugh].
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: I mentioned this at the panel yesterday but they originally showed a lot more before Ito-san had me change it, which may well have been because it was being released internationally! [all laugh]
TOONZONE NEWS: By any chance would you accept a bribe for that footage?
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: [Laughs broadly] Fine by me, I WANT people to see it!
TOONZONE NEWS: Fairy Tail boasts a diverse range of characters. Do you have a favourite amongst them?
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: I like Juvia Lockser, ‘cause she’s straight talking and wears her heart on her sleeve.
YOHEI ITO: I really like Happy, because he’s cute and…he’s a really useful character, if I’m allowed to say that [laughs]. He works in cute scenes and serious scenes.
TOONZONE NEWS: In the series many characters wield magic. If you could have one magical ability, what would it be and why?
[Both Ito and Minamikawa ponder deeply.]
YOHEI ITO: I’d like to be able to teleport, so that I can get to work even if I oversleep [laughs]. I could visit places like here as well.
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: I’d like to be invisible.
YOHEI ITO: [Laughs] That sounds dodgy!
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: What do you mean? No no, if someone was chasing me I’d be able to get away and use it to get away from work!
[All laugh, with Minamikawa laughing into his hands]
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: Sorry, I’m starting to realise that sounds really bad! Can you just write that in a nice way?
TOONZONE NEWS: [Laughs] I’ll embellish it.
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: Thank you! [Bows]
TOONZONE NEWS: To conclude, is there a sentiment you’d like audiences to take away after seeing the film/a message for the fans?
TATSUMA MINAMIKAWA: Well it’s been a while since there’s been a Fairy Tail movie and this is particularly high quality. There’s something there for existing Fairy Tail fans to enjoy and there’s also something first timers can enjoy. There’s lots of entertaining stuff happening in the movie so I recommend people see it over and over and find more details they can enjoy in each viewing and laugh at.
YOHEI ITO: [Ponders] Not much to add, really [laughs]. Fairy Tail always has a positive message and a positive theme and I think with the film we’ve managed to get the themes of camaraderie and caring for your friends, not giving up when you face strong enemies. So if audiences watch it and come away feeling positive that’s good.
Toonzone would like to thank Tatsuma Minamikawa & Yohei Ito for taking the time to speak with us, Jeremy Graves & Kerry Kasim of Anime Limited for helping to facilitate this interview and Bethan Jones for interpreting.