Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] (2014) Production Booklet Transcription
Production Booklet I
It was at the end of January 2004 when TYPE-MOON released Fate/stay night as a PC game. TYPE-MOON had already achieved popularity as a game brand at the turn of the century thanks to its previous work, Lunar Legend - Tsukihime. But CEO Takeuchi Takashi apparently felt that such popularity meant that they should ensure that players enjoy themselves even more when they play Fate/stay night, their next release. Wanting their users to enjoy themselves no matter what is a policy that TYPE-MOON prides itself on, so everyone gave their all to complete this new title. No compromises were made. But be that as it may, it is undeniable that the Fate/stay night that they released created something that they could not have imagined. Simply from a sales standpoint, this game — combined with Fate/hollow ataraxia, the semi-sequel fan disc that was released afterwards — moved 400,000 units, earning it a place in PC game software history. And tthat momentum continued unabated. Many derivative works continue to be produced to this day, most noticeably being made into a manga and being animated, including a theatrical release, as well as the prequel spinoff novel Fate/Zero being written by Urobuchi Gen of Nitroplus. Naturally, the fans have also given these titles their wildly enthusiastic support, and it is not unusual to hear it lauded as the best of any title they have come into contact with, be it in terms of story or characters, or writing or artwork, or music or acting. And so, what sort of story was Fate/stay night, which gripped the hearts of so many? First and foremost, it is a record of stirring and grand battle that unfolds amid the backdrop of Fuyuki City. The notion of a world of illusion and magic secretly pervading the underbelly of a provincial city can be seen in Tsukihime, as well as scenario writer Nasu Kinoko's prototypical novel The Garden of Sinners and game With on the Holy Night. Each entry in this body of work has hints of connections in terms of world-building, so perhaps similarities are to be expected.
But back to Fate/stay night. In this new story, seven mages pair up with seven Servants and attempt to slay the other teams in order to gain the Holy Grail, an item which can grant any wish. Each combatant fights on an equal footing with his own ulterior motives. Going beyond a mere contest of strength, it is a war with constant alliances and feuding, strategizing and reversals of fortune. And a system in which heroes from throughout human history are summoned by mages and made to fight at their side. These appealing story conceits gave people the sense that they were witnessing the rise of something entirely new. First is the appearance of the many appealing characters that take to this stage. It is now probably safe to say that the most iconic is the heroine named Saber, who has gone down in TYPE-MOON history. Also, although the detailed construction of each and every character can be seen in the previous works of Nasu Kinoko and TYPE-MOON, in this case, they have created a profound human drama as an ensemble piece whose scale goes beyond anything they had ever done. It is said that this show contains a story that fairly exudes passion, like that of a shounen manga. The honest hard work and affection — as well as the repeated energetic battles — of Emiya Shirou, the protagonist who strives to be a "hero of justice" certainly deserve to be called a successful formula, so it can't help but draw you in.
However, it is safe to conclusively state that Fate/stay night was more than that. This story, in which each character is caught up in the war and is fighting out his own personal beliefs would by necessity never be wrapped up in a simplistic "the good are rewarded and the wicked are punished" ending. It depicts the theme of complex human relationships that can't be captured in thrilling action pieces alone ultimately coming to a head over their individual notions of justice, giving the piece nuance and profundity, as well as a sense of foreboding.
It could be said that Nasu Kinoko's writing, with its mix of rousingness and theatricality and elegance, was what made everything work. In pop culture in general, works like this that are both action pieces following an established formula while at the same timebeing suffused with complex conflict were rare indeed prior to Fate/stay night. That is why this title marked a turning point and remains as fresh and vibrant as ever. The appeal of this tale of a battle royale has been inherited by all of its derivative titles, starting with the aforementioned spinoff, and to be blunt, it has given rise to many followers that have surpassed the original. In a manner of speaking, this title has gone beyond the dimensions of sales or popularity and has altered the course of all pop culture that would follow. Fate/stay night was that big a deal.
And so, the package that you now hold in your hands contains the animated adaptation of Unlimited Blade Works, the Fate/stay night scenario that has Toosaka Rin as its heroine. Inside, you will find its first season, which comprises the first half of the story, which aired from October through December of 2014.
ufotable oversaw the animation production. This studio made The Garden of Sinners, a series of animated theatrical releases from 2007 to 2009, and was also involved in the animated TV series Fate/Zero in 2011 to 2012. What's more, the very first animated adaptation of Heaven's Feel, another Fate/stay night scenario, has been greenlit as a theatrical release. The director of this TV series is Miura Takahiro, who also directed an installment of The Garden of Sinners and was also a storyboard artist [episode 15] and episode director [episode 15 and episode 19] for Fate/Zero. He also worked on the opening visuals when the original Fate/stay night was ported to the PS Vita.
It was his deep understanding of TYPE-MOON material, as well as his own talents, that landed him the director job. Those who saw this show must have been taken aback when they were presented with such a massive amount of story over the course of episode 00 and 01, which ran an hour each. And these wide-ranging battle scenes and minute depictions of everyday life are all presented in exquisite detail that could easily be mistaken for a theatrical release.
How long can they keep up this level of animation that boasted such high quality right from the outset? Staffers who worked on previous TYPE-MOON titles — beginning with Miura, and including Sudou Tomonori, Ikariya Atsushi, and Tabata Hisayuki — are pulling out all the stops to try to reproduce the game's world as a high-quality visual title. Fukasawa Hideyuki, who scores every episode using film scoring, and music from guest composer Kajiura Yuki unfailingly suppoort the material. It goes without saying that their love for the source material is palpable, but at the same time, one gets the impression that TYPE-MOON's policy of giving 110% to ensuring that the users enjoy their experience has been inherited unchanged by the anime staff.
Furthermore, incidents featuring the main characters that weren't depicted in the game have been added throughout under the guidence of Nasu Kinoko while this anime adaptation was being made. This was made possible by the fact that the Fate series is an elaborate ensemble piece, and that most of them can be said to be additional elements that could only happen in an animated medium, as opposed to a game that is told from the point of view of the protagonist. And even in the scenes that stick close to the source material, dialogue where characters are emotional yet evasive in that typically TYPE-MOON style has not been heavily simplified for the sake of adapting it to a visual medium, and are rather left almost entirely as they were in the original. This is apparently because a great deal of input regarding the characters' states of mind was provided by Nasu Kinoko himself.
It is probably safe to say that this in particular was of great significance in how Unlimited Blade Works was adapted. Also, this scenario smoothly blended together the aforementioned Fate/stay night's epic battles and profound themes, and we can see the story ramping up as it progresses as young adults Shirou and Rin confront its grand drama. The first season contained in this volume climaxes with the relationship between Shirou and Saber reaching a conclusive turning point. In this construction, the show's sense of tension and scale ramp up as the episodes progress in a way that can only happen in a TV series.
And so, the staff of ufotable, who are so familiar with the passion and foreboding of TYPE-MOON's material, etch Shirou's spirit, Saber's nobility, Rin's boldness, Archer's machismo, and Caster's sensuousness into each frame of the video. The more the audience watches, the less they will be able to look away. What is it creating as a visual work? Our eyes are transfixed on it, and we are not given time to ponder that question, as if we have been placed on a roller coaster. However, getting caught up in the material in that manner is part of the appeal that Fate/stay night has always had. TYPE-MOON is always trying to create material that will grab people's hearts and not let go. And this version possesses the same power that people experienced in the original.
Looking back on it, precisely 10 years have passed between the appearance of the original game and the airing of this animated TV series. In this constantly changing world, this work created a particular moment in time and has remained there. We are able to experience the unchanged passion that the title has held onto these past 10 years by way of this completely new animation. Contained herein is a Fate/stay night that is in its tenth year and is even now being handed down unchanged into the future. We are viewing it as a visual work in the present progressive tense. Right now.
Director x Producer Cross Talk: Miura Takahiro (DIRECTOR) x Kondou Hikaru (PRODUCER)
A show that lay beyond a point they never thought they would reach
—Miura-san and Kondou-san, what sort of piece did you consider Fate/stay night (FSN from here onwards) to be?
Kondou: There was a lot of opposition from the staff, but I said flat-out that we would do it. Everybody came around when they learned what was going to happen. It turned into an all-out war at the end there.
Miura: The staff gave it all they had. So there was nothing more for me to say.
Kondou: I think it's the result of ufotable being at it for 10-odd years. Lots of staffers pull together to create a great product. Among them is Miura-san, and it's significant that those many staffers are members who have come up with Miura-san. That's why they can give 110%.
— So it's a show that Miura-san's career makes possible, then. Although I believe that Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!, which he was a key animator on, might be the one that put him in the spotlight after he started working on ufotable titles.
Kondou: Yeah, Manabi Straight! was like a student film for Miura and his crew. (laughs) I put together a main staff with members like Miura: who were about to turn 30. I thought "They'll probably get married soon and so on, so their priorities will change. I probably wouldn't be able to put together a lineup like this again, one that can crash at the studio and throw themselves completely into the show." So I thought I should make this a commemorative piece for the guys.
Miura: We worked frantically. That was an incredible time. But you would do stuff like breathe down the key animator's neck for 10-plus hours. (laughs)
Kondou: I think the fact that those members such as Miura who cut their teeth together on shows like Dokkoida?! (2003, the first ufotable show Miura-san worked on) and Manabi Straight! have stayed with the studio and has been a real asset for FSN.
— This time out, what kind of product development did you engage in with Fate/stay night creators Nasu and Takeuchi?
Kondou: Scenario meetings for the previous show, Zero, were held with Urobuchi-san, the creator, but since Urobuchi-san was the lead, Nasu-san only came to the studio a handful of times. But Nasu-san is the lead this time on FSN. Plus, he has a lot more experience under his belt now, so he knows what we can do. So, well, he loves to ask the impossible of us. (laughs) And he floats various ideas right from the scriptwriting stage. And even after the storyboards are done, he'll voice his opinions and tell us how he wants things done.
Miura: Nasu-san even sits in on the recording sessions, and he'll make various requests even there. Just the other day, Nasu-san mentioned me over at the recording studio, saying, "There's something I'd like to discuss..."
Kondou: Right, right. He'll call out and wave you over.
Miura: So anyway, there's an additional scene I did storyboards for that wasn't written in the script. We did it as a surprise, but Nasu-san saw it and loved it and said he wanted me to do more. There's a bunch of cases like that.
Kondou: Miura can draw, so he can accurately reflect Nasu-san's instructions, so maybe it's out of realization or happiness. Also, there's a lot of cases where we trim things out rather than add them in. He'd cut lines, saying, "When the art is good, you don't need to spell it out."
Miura: Nasu-san's the brains behind FSN, so we go toi him for assistance without any qualms. I think it's pretty rare for the creator of the source material to make himself so readily available at the studio.
Kondou: Nasu-san coming to the studio is something that we look forward to. It's definitely reassuring.
— So, with all that said, what sort of show did you want to make 2014's Unlimited Blade Works (UBW from here onwards) into?
Kondou: I worked with TYPE-MOON on The Garden of Sinners, and while that definitely led to Fate/Zero, it was a piece that was beyond that. The two of us, along with Takeuchi-san and Nasu-san, as well as Aniplex producer Iwakami Atsuhiro, tried to make something even better as a team. Maybe you call it a piece that we arrived at by building on those experiences. That said, at the time Miura-san was tapped to direct the opening cinematic for the 2012 game Fate/stay night: Réalta Nua (Réalta from here on), trying to make an anime version of FSN was the furthest thing from my mind.
Miura: When we were making the opening cinematic for Réalta, we were working concurrently on the Fate/Zero anime (Zero from here on), so my only impression is that we were busy.
Kondou: After finishing work on the storyboards and episode direction of Zero episode 19, you jumped straight into Réalta's opening cinematic, didn't you?
Miura: That's right. Even after work was done on Zero, I played the FSN game as a refresher.
Kondou: The fact is, the Zero studio was just getting to the good stuff, so I was wavering over whether or not to accept the Réalta job. But then I was told by Takeuchi-san that they were holding a festival to celebrate TYPE-MOON's 10-year anniversary, so he wanted to play it there. We've been through thick and thin together, you know? So I bit the bullet, figuring that I had to do it.
Miura: There was going to be a festival, so the way things were scheduled, we couldn't wait for Zero to wrap first.
Kondou: Right. And even though that was the situation we were facing, we were committed to making three versions (the Saber Route, Rin Route, and Sakura Route). At first, the plan was for there to be just one opening song, but midway through production, Sudou (Sudou Tomonori: character designer / chief animation director) suggested that maybe we should change the opening theme for the Sakura Route. Everybody got more and more enthusiastic about it, and we eventually went with three songs, one for each route. That was rough, wasn't it?
Miura: It was brutal.
- Saber Route (Fate): https://jii.moe/4kzaELy-b.mp4 - Rin Route (Unlimited Blade Works): https://jii.moe/NycelG_WZ.mp4 - Sakura Route (Heaven's Feel): https://jii.moe/VyM7rU1ZZ.mp4
Kondou: Still, I never imagined it to lead us to this (this Unlimited Blade Works anime). We premiered the Réalta opening cinematic at the TYPE-MOON FES. I mentioned earlier, which was held in the summer of 2012. When we did, it was met with enthusiastic cheers from the fans. It's not as if there hadn't been any talk of animating FSN prior to that. That said, though, I wanted to focus on Zero and didn't give it much thought. But that made me determined, so I broached the topic, saying, "If there's an audience for it, let's do it." Of course, we managed to take it in that direction thanks to Takeuchi-san, Nasu-san, Iwakami-san, and the fans on the consumer side. And given how things had played out, I thought that Miura-san should be the one to direct the anime version.
Miura: When they initially passed it on, rather than being happy, I was scared at first.
Kondou: Only the 1st season is finished at this point, but I think you've done a terrific job.
Miura: Well, even though it's called the 1st season (13 episodes in total), there are three 1-hour special episodes, so if you include the original editions, we're talking the equivalent of 16 episodes.
Kondou: Oh, I'm well aware of that. (laughs) Plus, since the opening and endings were created as part of the episodes, each 1-hour special is 3 minutes longer than what normal episodes would be. There are three episodes like that, making for nearly half a season's worth of material. That's heavy workload.
Miura: #00 and #01 were designed from the ground up as 1-hour specials, but we decided to make #12 a 1-hour special partway through the scriptwriting process, remember? We decided to do it when we were talking about where to start #13, the first episode of season two.
Kondou: That's right. #00 and #01 start with Rin and Shirou acting at cross purposes, so we thought it would be good to have Rin and Shirou acting as cross purposes again in #12. I floated the idea of playing the insert song "THIS ILLUSION" in #12, and considering the overall groove and impact of the climax, there was no other choice but to make it a 1-hour special. Though I was told by Miura-san, "We can't handle it" with a grim look on his face.
Miura: I thought it was impossible. When I told the guys in the studio that #12 was going to be a 1-hour special, they looked like they were going to kill me.
Kondou: I kept saying that if we're going to do FSN's UBW, we need to draw Shirou coolly, and that the show's success hinges on Shirou becoming the main character. Miura went as far as to say that we had to make it his coming-of-age story.
Miura: For our part, we thought about making UBW using one of the classic formulas, "the protagonist grows and matures and achieves catharsis." Speaking of which, from the very early meeting stages, Nasu-san was telling us flat-out that Shirou was a character who doesn't grow or mature. Of course, that's Nasu-san's particular style of saying things, but, speaking for myself, that left a profound impression on me. To restate it in our terms, he was saying that Shirou is such an unwavering character that you think he never grows or matures. That's proven to be a crucial stepping-off point as I draw the storyboards for this series. When we have meetings with Nasu-san like that, one or two pearls of wisdom that leave an impression sometimes come out of nowhere. Seeing how a creator's mind works up close was really stimulating.
Kondou: For us, our challenge is to come up with how to visually adapt it in a way that takes into account the creator's thinking. If we don't strike a balance and make things clear when needed, it won't make sense to the audience. It was tricky. Miura: At the outset, Nasu-san told us, "I want you to never let Shirou smile." I sometimes thought that was flat-out impossible. But the thing is, Shirou is that sharply defined a person inside Nasu-san's head.
— At the beginning, what sort of look were you thinking of for this version of FSN?
Kondou: Well, since there was a stylistic flow from The Garden of Sinners to Zero, it's basically a development from those.
Miura: I think it was a big win for us to get Etou Kouji, who was an art director on The Garden of Sinners and Zero to work with us again on this one. I think he's capable of using art as a weapon. In fact, he's been doing tightly-packed background artwork that's the equal of — or even surpasses — that of The Garden of Sinners, and that was a theatrical release.
Kondou: We were told by Etou-san, "I'm going to make this my new challenge." In The Garden of Sinners and Zero, his thing was to paint the backgrounds with higher level detail, but this time, he said that he wanted them to look solid even with the details erased. And in addition to Etou-san, we also got Ebisawa Kazuo, who was an art director on The Garden of Sinners, as well as the art director on Tales of Zestiria to ply his trade as a first-class background artist. They're reliable, and it ended up being an extravagant setup. In addition to them, Etou-san and photography director Terao Yuuichi meshed really well together. I guess he trusts Terao because he came up as a background man himself. That's the sort of interaction they have for us.
Miura: If the artwork is weak, you can't do layouts where the camera is pulled back. But when the art is excellent, you can tackle it with master shots (shots that form the basis for a scene). Artwork's becoming indispensable in anime lately, don't you think?
Kondou: The backgrounds have to be good, or nothing works.
Miura: Right, you used to do background retakes yourself, didn't you?
Kondou: In the old days, yeah. Depending on the show, I would sometimes review all the shots. But I haven't been doing that lately. "With our (ufotable) stuff, we have to go the extra mile" has been instilled in the staff.
—Miura-san has been drawing lots of storyboards for this show. How was his work on the episode director team?
Kondou: Miura's storyboards are great on this. Those of Suhara Takashi, who was also active on Zero, as well as Shirai Toshiyuki's, were also great.
Miura: Yeah, Shirai's one of those all-around athletes who can do everything from animation to episode direction.
Kondou: At the studio for this show, there's an array of chairs of staffers that Miura turns to for assistance arranged around Miura's desk. I think it's becoming a very densely-packed space.
Miura: I gathered the rookie staffers around me.
Kondou: Shirai, Suhara, Abe Nozomu, the key animator...
Miura: I surround myself with those three.
Kondou: That's probably the most convenient setup when you're drawing storyboards and doing episode direction work. It lets you keep working while they go, "How's this?"
Miura: True. It's also a real life-saver, psychologically speaking.
Kondou: It depends on the episode director, but some can't draw storyboards unless they're outside the studio. They have to be in their own world or they can't draw. But Miura understands the importance of a director sitting in the studio.
Miura: Yeah, I drew all of the storyboards at my own desk except for days when I wasn't feeling well. I'm frequently hit with a barrage of questions from the staff, so not being in the studio would be a bad idea.
Kondou: I actually wanted to put Sudou next to Miura, but Sudou is a smoker. Sudou seemed so lonely, plugging away by himself in the smoker's lounge, so I moved Tabata, who was originally next to Miura, over next to Sudou even though Tabata doesn't smoke. I thought they worked really well together.
— At the event before the premiere, you said that you wanted to personally check every shot of every episode, Miura-san. Did you?
Miura: I wasn't able to go through all of #09, but other than that one, I checked every single shot. Not everybody is the fast-working type, so this time out, I made full use of my time to finish it all... It was sort of like that. There's a limit to how fast you can physically work, after all. Frankly, I think whether or not the job moved forward was up to differences in concentration ability.
Kondou: The reason you delegated #09 was because the episode director was Uda Akihiko, so you decided it would be safe.
Miura: Yeah. I handed it off out of trust in him. Also, even though I did check all of the shots in the final episode, everything was done so well that I didn't really do anything. Kondou: Yeah, because those storyboards were by Takahashi Takuro or Shirai. I bet there weren't many issues or revisions to make.
— I think that one of the unique traits of this FSN is the theatricality of the action scenes. How did you go about making the fight scenes?
Miura: Basically, we don't just use the script, we also include the descriptive text from the original game when we make the storyboards.
Kondou: You draw the storyboards with the assumption that the action shots will be done by studio key animators like Kunihiro Masayuki, Obunai Mitsuru, and Kimura Takeshi (Kimura Gou?), right?
Miura: That's right. Action shots are tailored to the staffer who will oversee it.
Kondou: If you didn't do it that way, you'd never be able to draw battles like those. I think the action scene that Kunihiro did that stands out to me is the battle between Lancer and Archer in #00. - https://sakuga.yshi.org/data/b902e372f11314365691dc092d35b7fd.webm
Miura: I think you're right. When the key animation is done by someone who's really skilled, you can practically hear the sounds. The key animation of action parts like that are drawn with such excellent tempo that it seemed like I could hear the "bam-bambam!" sounds coming from them just from looking at the individual keyframes.
Kondou: In #12, the part where Shirou loses his Command Seals and Saber charges at Caster was also done by Kunihiro, right? - https://sakuga.yshi.org/data/fa9e123532c1525b52f9bbe5a6f9fc2f.mp4
Miura: The part in #10 where Saber is strangled by Kuzuki Souichirou was also done by Kunihiro. Saber's face was so beaten up, I thought she was the Anime Tenchou (Kunihiro-san was in charge of the character design for the Anime Tenchou in the short "Anime Tenchou x Touhou Project," which was released in 2010.) - https://sakuga.yshi.org/data/9f80dfccbef400b70247b3f3835c6f4e.webm
Kondou: And Obunai-san sure proved his manliness in #12, don't you think?
Miura: He was lead on a huge number of shots.
Kondou: The battle in the church in #12 between Kirei and Caster is animated by Obunai-san. Sudou and Tabata had nothing but praise for it. - https://sakuga.yshi.org/data/33d181463453bf89d65fa075254ee5e8.mp4
— How are you going about making the shots where Noble Phantasms like the Gae Bolg are activated?
Kondou: Work on the Gae Bolg was so time-consuming... - https://sakuga.yshi.org/data/84e8caadb39ee215e54983abdece064e.mp4
Miura: That's for sure. Even after the animation was done, I was constantly running over to Photography for discussions. ufotable's photography staff apply photographic filters after they've heard the sound effects. That's why the adutio and the visuals are inherently tightly synced.
Kondou: We also get a lot of suggestions from Photography. We get lots of ideas where they go, "I want to make it look like this."
Miura: That's a huge help. I'm the kind of guy whose catch phrase is, "Just make it look cool," you see.
— Oh, so there are action scenes where the studio staff came to you with ideas.
Kondou: Rookies who did animation on The Garden of Sinners went on to survive Zero, and are now battle-ready for FSN. To name a few, there are Takeuchi Susumu, Koyama Shouji, Umeda Takashi, Aoki Takuya... Those are the mainstays that are playing such a huge role this time out.
Miura: Yeah, people who thought, "No way am I gonna be able to do this" back when they took the company's animation test are now confidently serving as animation directors.
Kondou: At ufotable, the main staff instruct the rookie key animators. Even Miura here watches over a few rookies.
Miura: That's true. Takeuchi, Kawamura Ikumi, Ishizuka Miyuki... Ishizuka is so high-end that she flew off somewhere. (laughs)
Kondou: Takeuchi is in high demand in the office right now. In this series, he did the picnic scene in #12.
Miura: And the Tsubame Gaeshi in #07. He's someone who can plug away at unglamorous work. - http://i.imgur.com/mBklWzP.gif
Kondou: His personality comes through, doesn't it? Kawamura did key animation on all the episodes, and Ishizuka played a big role as the animation director for #02, #06, #09, and #12.
Miura: The person who really worked hard at ufotable's Tokushima Studio was Nagamori Masato, who animated Fujimura Taiga. He's the person who's doing the character designs for Ohenro., and he's incredibly good at drawing girls. He's devoted his life to it.
Kondou: Right, right. He himself is one of those soothing types, and is incredibly popular at the studio.
Miura: Whenever I hand off a tricky shot to a rookie, I picture the rookie's face as I draw. I think, "I bet he can do it." Because when you draw storyboards without thinking about who will be in charge, it causes the keyframe cel count to skyrocket.
Kondou: You worry about the cel count? I don't pay any attention to that at all.
Miura: I pay incredibly close attention to it! There's nothing more painful than storyboards that will never make it to the screen no matter how hard the animators try. When I'm drawing the storyboards, I try to make them pretentious to make them look as good as possible.
—Miura-san, if there were any particular details you obsessed over this time, please tell us what they were.
Kondou: If I had to point out parts where Miura's individuality was on display... I guess it would have to be the Track Girl Trio (Himuro Kane, Makidera Kaede, and Saegusa Yukika). Personally, I thought that maybe they didn't need to show up quite so often, but Miura kept rolling them out more and more, and they ended up showing up in even the ending credits. (laughs)
Miura: When I played the FSN sequel fan disk Fate/hollow ataraxia, my impression of the three girls definitely changed. When I think about it logically, having them in the show makes Rin look better.
Kondou: Uh... There's nothing logical about it! (laughs) You didn't have to use them that much! In the 2nd season, I've been sensing your obsessiveness with Sella and Leysritt, Miura. Hm, is it "obsessiveness" or "personal tastes"?
— When Shirou is taken in by Emiya Kiritsugu in #01, and there is speculation that the scene where he is thinking with his arms crossed and one eye closed is a callback to the scene in Zero episode 02 where Illya is talking to Kiritsugu with her arms crossed and one eye closed. Are things like that something you obsess over, Miura-san?
Miura: Ah, some people noticed that, huh? I'm constantly doing stuff like that.
Kondou: So that piece of speculation was right then.
Miura: I suppose it is. Another one is the scene in #06 where Taiga is holding an orange. There's a scene in a different route where Taiga is eating an orange, so I used it as a prop that inherits that image.
Kondou: Oh, so that's what that was. As far as ufotable shows go, I think there are some people who have seen a common thread linking everything from The Garden of Sinners onwards. It feels like oranges and coffee have been like ufotable's symbol ever since Futakoi Alternative.
Miura: Takuro-san, who was the episode director on #06, said to me, "I've been doing oranges so often that I have a system now."
— Are there any other items that you obsessed over, Miura-san?
Miura: I wonder if anyone has made any comments about the bed that Taiga sleeps in during #12... The bed that Taiga sleeps in at Rin's house is a double. And there are two pillow, too. That's the bed that Rin's father, Toosaka Tokiomi, and her mother, Aoi, slept in.
Miura: It doesn't seem like the audience has caught onto it, but Fuyuki City, the setting for the Fate series, has locations that they are clearly modeled after. As before, each episode's staff went location hunting and took reference photos. I suppose that's something else I obsess over.
— There are many, many more topics of speculation where that earlier one came from. But in any case, thank you for your hard work on the 1st season.
Miura: To be perfectly honest, it doesn't feel like it's over.
Kondou: That's because we still have the 2nd season to go.
Miura: After I submitted the storyboards for #12, each episode's director then worked hard to make them. I've been prepping for the 2nd season ever since.
Kondou: Did you ever feel left out? (laughs)
Miura: No, not at all, but I did think that maybe I should pitch in since everybody seemed to be having it so rough.
Kondou: Back on The Garden of Sinners, it felt like it was all hands on deck each time, and as soon as one was done, it was on to the next. But it made us stronger as a studio. Now, it's like the staff can head off in various directions, but they know exactly where we're going, and so we can meet up again up ahead.
Miura: Looking back on the 1st season now that it's over, #00 and #01 were the toughest for me, personally. It was my first time tackling 1-hour special broadcasts, you know? I didn't know what it would feel like to do an hour.
Kondou: But I think that turned into a FSN that we only could have done in 2014, largely because of your hard work. The fight against Berserker in #03 was short in the original game, but you managed to flesh it out and were able to draw not only the battle between fellow Servants, but between fellow Masters as well. Considering that defeating Masters is a time-honored tactic in the Holy Grail War, if you think about Rin's personality, she would never pass up the opportunity. And when she does, Illya is far stronger than she imagined... You managed to dovetail together bits of drama like that. And you managed to take us to a point where in #12, a Servant casts a Reality Marble on Fuyuki Bridge and a massive battle between Servants and Masters ensues. And now the story can finally get started for real.
Miura: Wow, you're right about that. I want to make the 2nd season even better, right down to the opening credit sequence.
1st Season Playback
#00: Prologue - #00 began with fumbling around
Kondou: About how long did it take to do the storyboards for #00?
Miura: There wasn't any concept art at first. On the contrary, there were times when we were basing the concepts off of the storyboards, so it definitely took a long time.
Kondou: I think #00 is nicely done. Even as an entry point, combination tricks were used to smoothly dovetail it into #01. Speaking personally, I had a sense of accomplishment even though it was only #00. And at the same time, I also thought, "We'll be able to pull this off!" The Magic Circuit imagery in the ending credits was animated separately, but it fit in fine. I'm satisfied.
#01: Winter Days, A fateful Night - What is effectively the first episode, in which the Tokushima studio came into their own
Kondou: This time out, the Tokushima studio played a big role, not just in #01.
Miura: The Tokushima studio was my spiritual support all through the first season. They always stay on schedule, so when I ask Tokushima to do something, I check those sheets off as done.
Kondou: That's only for you, Miura! The production is just getting started at that point! Still, Tokushima's activity beginning with #01 was incredible. Especially Mogi Takayuki and Satou Tetsuhito, who rally the young key animators. Those two rallied the team as animation directors. I'm genuinely grateful to them.
Miura: Also, what they said to the Tokushima team was "#01 is effectively the first episode." They laid on the pressure, saying, "This is episode 1 for Emiya Shirou, so if we blow this, it's all over."
#02: The Curtain Goes Up - Kirei appears. The 3rd episode, in which the workings of the world are explained
Miura: What I kept in mind throughout was that the story was beginning with the protagonist, Shirou, already being interested in the heroine. But Rin has absolutely no interest in Shirou.
Kondou: Right, Rin only showed concern for Shirou because of Sakura.
Miura: Rin tries to protect Shirou because she's Sakura's favourite.
Kondou: #02 had to touch on Kirei Walking around the church. As you all know, this is a callback to Zero, but we got worked up during the scenario meetings. Even Iwakami Atsuhiro, the producer, got on board, saying. "We ought to do it." http://i.imgur.com/NkfP3L5.gif
Miura: I said, Please explain this to Aoki Ei-san (the director of Zero)." (laughs)
Kondou: The church itself is rectangular in terms of structure, so you really wouldn't walk that much. But well, I guess it's a "History comes full circle" thing.
Miura: The career animation directors worked hard, too.
Kondou: They really started to shine after Ishizuka Miyuki joined. Aotaku (Aoki Takuya) is a hard worker. I'm happy with what they accomplished.
#03: The First Battle - A grand battle between Berserker and Saber
Miura: The storyboards were brutal.
Kondou: Did you get a sense of accomplishment?
Miura: Yeah. I kept thinking that there shouldn't be too many shots, but there ended up being around 400.
Kondou: Illya didn't have many chances to play an active role in the original, but I think it's great that we were able to show Illya's overwhelming power by having her fight Rin.
Miura: During a plot meeting, scriptwriter Satou Kazuharu said, "Knowing Rin, wouldn't she have something up her sleeve?" The battle between Rin and Illya was wild. The concept of Illya creating familiars from her hair was Nasu Kinoko's idea.
Kondou: In terms of original elements and action, that incident was really tightly bound to the material.
#04: Finding the Will to Fight - A turning point in the story
Kondou: #04 was relatively hard.
Miura: Stuff like meal scenes are tough.
Kondou: Also, Mitsuzuri Ayako was great. (laughs) And I guess it's the music that I remember. The music uses a method called film scoring, which tailors the music to the visuals. Around the time this episode was finished, I dropped by Fukasawa Hideyuki's house. We discussed the music of the finished episode and made adjustments to the pieces of music as we watched the visuals together.
Miura: Fukasawa-san's music is incredibly cool.
Kondou: It's a huge help to have him come in to the mixing sessions and make tweaks to the music.
#05: Dancing After School - Precise action, meticulously drawn
Miura: #05 was the episode where Shirai Toshiyuki was really active in. It was so polished that I had little to do. Nothing really stands out in my memory.
Kondou: That's always how it is. You remember more on the difficult episodes.
Miura: Shirai did the storyboards, so it ended up being a serious episode. If I'd have done the storyboards, I might have had Rin trip over a bucket or something while chasing Shirou and hitting her head and knocking herself out. (laughs)
Kondou: Rin looked so cool when she jumps from the stairs and fires Gandr shots. That's a shot where Shirai's personality comes through. http://i.imgur.com/DPnAEQW.gif
Miura: That episode had a relatively large number of shots.
Kondou: Rider's chain was a nightmare. http://i.imgur.com/MHQhwGB.gif
Miura: Koyama Shouji came in as an assistant animator and helped out a lot.
#06: Mirage - Incidents where the episode director's individuality makes an impact
Kondou: I've known Takahashi Takuro for ages, so whenever I watch the works in progress, I'd think, "I bet that's Takuro!" and start grinning.
Miura: Actually, I didn't touch up the storyboards for this episode very much. You can really sense Takuro's touch in the flow of the conversations and the camera placement. When I direct FSN, I try to make it feel natural so that you don't sense the staging, but Takuro stages the staging, you know? He positions the camera where there will be the most symmetry, uses wide-angle lenses and that kind of thing.
Kondou: Animator Katou Yasuhisa has been with ufotable since Majokko Shimai no Yoyo to Nene, and he's done great things as an all-arounder.
Miura: He's a battle-hardened soldier, that one.
#07: The Reward for the Fight to the Death - The trial and error that went into Assassin's Tsubame Gaeshi
Miura: At the start, I said to Suhara Takashi, "This will be the episode where UBW's title turns up." It's the episode where Archer's famous "Let your ideals drag you down to your death" line appears.
Kondou: I love Suhara's fight scenes. The Assassin fight scene was terrific. http://i.imgur.com/B6y9lih.gif
Miura: What he really wants to do is period dramas. He made Assassin so courteous. (laughs) At the time, we agonized over the processing on the Tsubame Gaeshi. It's a technique that launches three blows simultaneously, so it would be crazy if we did it exactly as it was in the original. A lot of trial and error went into it.
Kondou: I guess you could say that Part C was my contribution. I thought that it needed a Part C to wrap up the episode. The animation work was winding down, but I made the call and brought in Miura, Suhara, and Production. Shots were added, too, right? That sense that everything is always in motion is what's most interesting about TV series work, I think.
#08: Winter Days, Where the Heart is - Shirou's warped nature, the development of Rider's exit
Miura: #08 has a personal tweak in it. It's the episode where you learn that Shirou is clearly a warped character. Since there are elements showing that Rin is starting to realize this, I thought we should have her act politely. Actually, there was an idea in the plotting stage to have a Rider vs. Saber battle on the roof. But Iwakami-san, the producer, said that we should stick to the original.
Kondou: Right, he did.
Miura: Nasu-san said that maybe the scene where Rider is knocked out of the running might be a little over the top, but I thought we needed to do at least that much to leave an impression.
Kondou: As for the music at the end, I had Fukasawa-san write three different styles, and then talked it over with Miura and Nonaka Takuya-san at the mixing studio and decided which to go with there. What you hear is the result.
Miura: You went with the tried and true style.
Kondou: He also wrote one with more of a "bad aftertaste" vibe, but we rejected it. (laughs)
#09 The Distance between them - Issei walked away with the episode
Miura: Kamiya Hiroshi, the actor who plays Matou Shinji, is so good. His voice alone is enough to create a picture. I really thought he was amazing.
Kondou: There's a scene where Rin is talking to Shirou about adopted children, and I love how it makes you want to butt in and go, "How can you ask him that?"
Miura: Actually, I thought about having Sakura watching from a window, as those two (Rin and Shirou) are sneaking around outside the Matou house. But the idea was nixed by Sudou-san, so I scrapped it.
Kondou: Well, I guess I can see why.
Miura: I was worried about how to handle Sakura's exit, so I wanted to give her a proper sendoff. I set it up meticulously, but in the end, Issei ran away with the episode. (laughs)
#10: The Fifth Contractor - Blondie walked away with the episode
Kondou: The Kuzuki battle was the biggest challenge in UBW. I was personally finding it hard to swallow the plot twist of a human defeating a Heroic Spirit. As a result, we added the explanation that Caster was imbuing Kuzuki with the life force she had been siphoning from the residents of Fuyuki.
Miura: Originally, we were showing that as his fists being strenghtened with mana, but Nasu-san requested that we have mana flowing through his entire body. A mana filter (effect) is applied to all of Kuzuki's movements. The staff took to calling it "Time Alter." (laughs) My plan was to show Shirou as a hero in this episode, but, well...
Kondou: But a certain blond Servant walked away with the episode, didn't he?
Miura: As Nasu-san would write, "Shinji is as inconsequential as air to the blond Servant." He doesn't even bat an eye at Shinji's overly-familiar attitude.
#11: A Visitor Approaches Lightly - Incidents that set up the climax
Kondou: #11 is mundane in terms of story at first glance, but I thought it was a crucial episode.
Miura: Yes, to lead up to #12. It delved into the various characters and reiterated their positions. We had to lay the groundwork for the date, too. Rin thinks, "This guy is hopeless" about Shirou and wants to show him that there is plenty of fun to be had in life. Oh, and Taiga. Shirou never goes to Kiritsugu's grave. That was foreshadowing that let us send Taiga to the grave alone.
#12: The Final Decision - The 1st season finale, which provided a sense of accomplishment
Kondou: #12 gave me a sense of accomplishment, too.
Miura: It was all-hand-on-deck total war, with direction from both Shirai and Takahashi, as well as eight animation directors.
Kondou: Right, we even brought in Sotozaki Haruo, the Tales series director, and character designer Matsushima Akira as secondary key animators. If I had to point out one issue, it would be the depiction of Assassin in Part D. The key animation included his internal organs in excruciating detail. I said, "This will never make it on air." I talked with Terao Yuuichi, out Photography director, and had him think up of some filters.
Miura: The organs were on a seperate layer, so I thought we should simply remove it.
Kondou: He dropped in the gems with their magic activated. The photography team did a killer job this time, too. I admired the way things like rain were shown.
Miura: That's right. We had various kinds of water this time. The one that had me banging my head against the desk the most was the dragon-tooth warriors.
Kondou: After the mix was done, I remember being psyched and thinking, "We can pull this off!" We just need to splice it in and finish up the artwork, I thought. But another tough battle was waiting after that.
Miura: It sure was a tough battle, huh?
Kondou: The staff has my gratitude.
Bonus: 2nd Season Preview
Kondou: Happily, ufotable's production department has grown, too, and when I think about what's to come, it makes me want to hand off as much as possible to them. That's why I left this preview in the hands of Production Manager Kondou Ryou. I told him, "Think up a preview that will make people want to watch the 2nd season."
Miura: He came to me for advice. He even handled the direction himself.
Kondou: He worked on it until the very last minute.
Miura: A preview that focused on that season and would be a parade of its major shots. Even the animation director became emotionally involved and there was no flow to the shots. Thank goodness they finished it in time.
Kondou: I think it ended up being a preview that made even me want to watch the 2nd season.
Miura: Nasu-san was referenced by the scene with Berserker in preview. That drove home one more time how invested they were.
Kondou: I want people to get psyched about the 2nd season over stuff like that. The battle with Berserker in the original game isn't all that long, you know? I think we're gonna pull out all the stops on that one.
Miura: I plan to work just as hard on the 2nd season.