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OTAQUEST CONNECT - Seiji Mizushima

Seiji Mizushima Interview Pt. 1 [OTAQUEST CONNECT Transcript]

We were beyond pleased to have accomplished director Seiji Mizushima join us as a guest for the inaugural OTAQUEST CONNECT event in August. For those of you who are not immediately familiar with his name, you’ll surely be familiar with his work as the director of numerous iconic franchises over the course of his career. His experience in the industry resulted in an incredibly fascinating conversation about the creation of anime, the state of the industry today, and of course, his own background as a director. In this first part transcript of his interview during the event, he touches on some of these topics in a candid fashion. If you enjoy what you read below, you can watch the entire archived interview on YouTube!


OTAQUEST: Hello everyone, I’m Nishihara, an editor at OTAQUEST. Today I’m sitting down with the director of such famous works like Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Expelled from Paradise, Beatless, and countless others, Mr, Seiji Mizushima. I’d like to speak with you about yourself, as well as about the Japanese anime industry, directors’ world, and behind the stories. If you could introduce yourself.

Seiji Mizushima: I’m Seiji Mizushima, an animation director. Like Nishihara said earlier, I’ve worked on a number of major titles, like Gundam 00, Full Metal Alchemist, and Expelled from Paradise. I’m also currently working for Bushiroad as the director for D4DJ. I’m also the music producer for a project called Photon Maiden. Thank you for having me.

OTAQUEST: We can relax and talk. We’ve known each other for a long time.

Seiji Mizushima: Yes, we have, almost 10 years I believe. It’s thanks to you inviting me to work on that magazine that ended up getting serialized that I’ve been able to work with Bushiroad as a music director.

OTAQUEST: It’s a great honor for me.

Seiji Mizushima: If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here doing all the things that I do.

OTAQUEST CONNECT - Fumiaki Nishihara & Seiji Mizushima
OTAQUEST: If I could be a part of it, it is such an honor. I think there are quite a few people who’re watching you for the first time, so if you could explain your career history and how things led to you becoming a director, I thought you started your career as a production assistant and eventually became a director. For viewers, do you mind sharing with me about what being a unit director was like, and what the role entails in the production of animation?

Seiji Mizushima: Regardless of if it’s a TV series or a movie, the director typically is at the top, and the unit director (also known as an episode director) will take care of each episode, followed by the producer, who takes care of specific tasks or episodes or for movies, specific parts, and compiles them from other creators based on the director’s plan. That’s the unit director’s job. It typically starts from receiving the story, then storyboarding and having the director look over it, then they bring the approved storyboard to the animators and each section, and have meetings with them based on the approved storyboard and check the works of animators, compile all of the work, etc. and turn it into an actual film. That’s how unit directors work. There are some directors that do all of this work, and there are some that get involved quite a lot, and there are some that take a very hands-off approach as well. There are many different types of directors. The directors are also included in the unit directors.

OTAQUEST: So, you are saying, the director is always looking at the bigger picture, while the unit director is splitting that work up and taking care of specific sections, like directors for smaller units.

Seiji Mizushima: Yes. In that sense, depending on the production, there are cases where there will be a director and chief director, So, it’s not categorized perfectly, and there are cases like where there are assistant directors or co-directors. Simply, there’s a lot of work to do [during a production] so, splitting the work up and sharing it to meet the schedule is necessary. Like in a case we need to put music in the animation, we split the works and each unit will be responsible for each work and create the work together among people who can take care of specific tasks is sometimes the most effective way.

OTAQUEST: I think if you are working in the direction team, you will spend a lot of time working with many different animators and other staff, right?

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah, while they are working on their individual work, they do it by themselves, so we don’t communicate with each other for over a few weeks. The majority of the work is looking at the work that’s submitted and asking for fixes, Basically, what I do is to check the works that are submitted and ask again for fixes. So only if the animators and other teams are in the same studio, they’d probably have a different way to communicate and handle the work. Most of the time, you just check the stuff that lands on your desk and either send it down the line or ask for revisions. So, while it’s a group effort, we don’t necessarily all work as a single group in the same place. Especially now with the Coronavirus situation, a lot of people are working from home.

OTAQUEST: I’m sure there are some fans overseas who’ve gotten an idea of how things are done through anime like Shirobako. So that means the production assistant’s job is to help support the director and have things work smoothly?

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah, the production assistant should actually be the person who is in a higher position. They maintain relationships with all the other teams and have to be able to communicate efficiently and nicely with each one, and most importantly, they need to maintain the schedule and quality for the production. They are actually in charge of it. So, in that sense, I think it’s definitely a very tedious position.

OTAQUEST: You started your career from that position and eventually got offered a job as a director. However, recently in the Japanese anime industry, there have been more directors coming from a variety of backgrounds, like direction or art, not specifically from production. Is there a specific way to becoming a director?

Seiji Mizushima: The most orthodox way of becoming a director is to first be a unit director. The most popular way to become a unit director is to start from a production assistant. To learn more about production, there is a way to become a desk-working producer, then they can go on to become a producer. Instead, there is a way to become a scenario producer after production assistant, who deals with the settings in the story and manages and organizes all sorts of settings in the story by attending the scenario meetings. Because managing the settings in the story is very familiar to direction, and then become either an assistant director or director. Then, if they do good, from there, it’s a matter of waiting for the opportunity to become a director. However, nowadays there are artists that get offered a co-directing position, or many other patterns. There isn’t just a single way. A director isn’t necessarily management, so I think if someone seems fit for the role they should be able to have it. For people becoming a director from a production background, you have to show that you have a vision only you can realize. If you can do that it’s easier to get a chance at directing something. I was talking big, so they gave me a chance to prove my worth. You need to make them feel to let you try. If you can prove yourself, then more opportunities follow.

OTAQUEST CONNECT - Seiji Mizushima
OTAQUEST: How old were you when you first directed?

Seiji Mizushima: I was 31.

OTAQUEST: Oh, 31 years old…. So young…

Seiji Mizushima: Maybe. I think being able to become a director in your 30s is the most optimal. At the time I didn’t even have ten storyboards under my belt, and there was a person that came after me and became a director but that had only drawn two. He stole my unique selling point (laughs). So, I didn’t have much of a career as a producer but could become a director. So at the time many people told me I was lucky, and I also considered myself lucky.

OTAQUEST: Actually, we also had the opportunity to speak with Shingo Natsume for OTAQUEST CONNECT, and I believe he also became a director rather quickly.

Seiji Mizushima: Well, but he’s also an incredibly skilled animator. There have been more cases of people from an animation background having the perspective of a unit director, and subsequently becoming a director, and I think that’s a good thing. They’re able to be much more persuasive. If their art is good, it’s not as difficult to fake your ability as a director, but I think Mr. Natsume is the real deal. It’s easy to spot when someone is suited for being a director versus someone that isn’t through their work. Before there was a set path to becoming a director but now you can skip that so the ability to tell who is suited for being a director has become more important.

OTAQUEST: That’s another responsibility of those appointed to the director for sure.

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah it is. I think that’s a very important responsibility. Inversely, there are some people who want to hire these young and lower-level producers so when I hear from animators that I’ve worked with that are given an opportunity to direct, I worry a little for them, and offer them help if they need it. There are some people that do things that could be risky because they don’t have that awareness that other producers do. I think it is more important to raise good producers than to have good directors.

OTAQUEST: I see.

Seiji Mizushima: I’ve worked with a lot of really talented and tough producers, people that have a proper vision for what they want to achieve and find proper staff/resources to work with and can build a team. The majority of people I’ve worked with have been like this. However, recently, there’s people that believe that if you find the director everything else will fall into place but neither the producer nor the staff under him is capable to bring good staff. Those people tend to work together but they struggle with doing things the director wants to achieve because of a lack of talent. There are cases where they invite well-known staff, but when the series actually begins airing, they still don’t have the kinks ironed out and finishes around episode 3. I find that is the most wasteful. So, in that sense, think we should raise more capable producers who can build up a team. All over in the industry, they’re saying they don’t have the manpower and I just feel like “then stop making so many shows!”

OTAQUEST: Exactly.

Seiji Mizushima: I’m digressing, but I’m just saying how I feel.

OTAQUEST: No worries. It’s an interesting opinion.

Seiji Mizushima: I’ve been saying this forever, and I think to just make half as many shows is enough. Why is there a need to make so many?

OTAQUEST: There’s also the impact on quality.

Seiji Mizushima: There are some people in the industry that say they won’t be able to live off of half the workload, but honestly the pay is already low to start with so that’s something they should understand. Honestly, the [anime] creators should take a closer look at the plans and increase the budget for each series. Nowadays lots of companies that stream overseas like Netflix will give us a good budget, but that doesn’t trickle down to the lower staff who are actually working on the creation of the shows. Unfortunately, that way of doing things has been around for a long time and it’s hard to change. So, I think places that are able to offer more resources should get priority, and to lessen the number of overall shows produced. But the number of projects never really goes down.

OTAQUEST CONNECT - Fumiaki Nishihara & Seiji Mizushima
OTAQUEST: I was going to ask you how you felt about Netflix and Amazon and other streaming services. Do you believe in these past 2-3 years the way that anime series are created as a whole in the industry has changed, like the way to simply rely on the video making companies?

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah, it has. Before, there was more investment from China. They tend to approach us expecting the anime to be profitable, and if it isn’t profitable, they pull out. What I like about Netflix is that streaming services want as many titles as they can have, so they ask for many titles to be made, and they have the capacity to do so. So being able to keep up with those requests has gotten to be more important. However, as far as working on an anime in the studio, the actual staff, a lower level than the production company, working on the shows don’t really see the benefits to work with such streaming companies. So, I think even as the number of sponsors and “investors” grow, and more money comes in, the actual staff working on the show don’t really have a change in pay. More importantly, the companies want to hold the rights to the shows, but they need other people to create characters and the world of the work which is going to be the basics of such IPs. Even though they need other people to do the work for them they want to reap all the rewards and take advantage of the people working with them by making them to agree to waive their right in advance. A very Japanese way of doing things. Especially independent creators, they’re in an incredibly weak position. That was one of the reasons why I joined a management company. If you’re part of a company then it’s about holding the rights jointly between companies, but if you’re working independently it might even say in the contract to forfeit rights to the show, which doesn’t sit right with me. I just don’t agree with it.

OTAQUEST: Yeah, I see.

Seiji Mizushima: The risk of not being able to advance because one person said no is one that I hear all the time and understand but to benefit the companies at the cost of the independent creator is something that is going to limit independent creators’ ability who is l, looking forward in the animation industry and has ideas what they want to create, and is something I’d like to see changed moving forward in the animation industry. Of course, there are many companies that do take into account the director’s royalties, but I’d like if they could consider more about sharing the rights with the studios and the creators as well.

OTAQUEST: Not to say Hollywood is necessarily the right way to do things, but the Japanese movie industry is also quite similar to what you described. But I feel like if there were talented and independent producers and the funding went to them so they could create better teams then there’d be less of a corporate hand involved in the creation of these things and there’s be more money in the hands of the people actually creating the shows and a desire to actually create good content.

Seiji Mizushima: I think that’s an area that wasn’t really looked at before now, so I think the generation after mine will be able to figure out a way to make it so the people actually making the content can get paid and enjoy the work they do.

OTAQUEST: There’s quite a number of people overseas who would like to be involved in the production of anime, and I feel animation production companies themselves need to change how they manage their workflow and staff work for them. I think the animation studios are actually creating the works, not the production companies.

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah, that’s one reason why I feel it’s very important to own the rights. There are a few companies that are starting to do that. Besides that, in Japan, there’s a lot of freelancers in the anime industry and while I think that also plays into the issue I’d like if the people working could make more money.

OTAQUEST CONNECT - Seiji Mizushima

OTAQUEST: You’ve pointed out some issues in the anime industry in Japan now, and I was wondering if you could talk to me about some of the shows you’ve worked on. One of my favorite sayings from you was in regard to Mobile Suit Gundam 00. You mentioned that it was “an encounter with the unknown,” but I can’t remember if you mentioned this in any official capacity or while we were out drinking.

Seiji Mizushima: Did I mention anything like “an encounter with the unknown”?

OTAQUEST: You were saying it was a story about the first contact with an unknown entity, and that was what you wanted to do from the beginning. That’s always stuck with me. Even your projects after that, you often include that familiarity with sci-fi in your works. What are your thoughts on this?

Seiji Mizushima: When the offer for Gundam came, the director, Tomino, for the first Gundam that came before had based it off of World War II, and it was easy to visualize. Understanding that after 9/11 it was impossible to write a story that didn’t involve war, I thought about what I could base the story around, and what I came up with was the concept of not knowing or seeing where the enemy was and by using all of space as the setting I thought making a Gundam story centered around meeting an unknown species and the story surrounding that would make for a new kind of Gundam story. That and another story which was the course of the actual creation of Gundam 00 were the two stories I decided to go with. When I brought the stories to SUNRISE and mentioned it’s a story about extraterrestrial life invading the earth, something like that, and I told them some ideas that would help to create the show. And they seriously asked me if the extraterrestrial life is going to be similar to an octopus. I immediately knew and thought “man this is no good”, and they decided to go with the other plotline (laughs). Macross had also covered the story of contact with an alien species, and it was also compared to that. They chose to go with the story that ended up being used for the first and second seasons. The quarrel between people has always been a concept covered in Gundam, so, I thought the concept of making communication with a group that you cannot communicate with would be interesting. How humanity would deal with an overwhelmingly powerful force would be a concept that hadn’t been explored before. . That’s why I gave them that idea.

OTAQUEST: So you were not trying to make a sci-fi story?

Seiji Mizushima: Not at all, in fact, I don’t think I’m particularly good at writing a sci-fi story, just most of the stories that come my way happen to be science fiction. I try to make shows where communication is a driving theme and, for example, the same for BEATLESS. Everyone else just has the idea that I like to create sci-fi shows in their head. If you read it, you would think that is a type of theme I would choose. Like, for AI, at what point will it surpass a machine and become a human and this kind of sci-fi concept, but that is what we did similar in “Expelled from Paradise.” That was Urobuchi’s idea, I just went with it. But during our meeting, we spoke about many things and he probably picked some of them and ended as it is right now, but for “Expelled from Paradise”, I just said, “let’s make a story where people don’t die.” Everyone around me thinks “Mr. Mizushima is good at sci-fi” and it’s like I am labeled like that. So I tend to get those kinds of offers.

OTAQUEST: Ah, I see, I see.

Seiji Mizushima: So honestly, it’s not like I’m personally this huge sci-fi fan, nor I am like big sci-fi nerds, either. For a while, I would say that my sci-fi stories are a bit out of the ordinary.

OTAQUEST: Ah yeah right around the time of Natsuiro Kiseki, right?

Seiji Mizushima: Well that’s kind of a weird fantasy story, like what is the Oishi-sama? It’s not so much that I wanted to make those kinds of stories, but about a year before it was planned to air, they got me on board to help wrap the story up. Along with the script they sent me they had this note with ideas for girls with strange powers like ESP and it was like where is that in the current script?! How am I supposed to do that?

So while I was wrapping the story up I also threw some of those ideas in there, pulling inspiration from Japanese folklore like Ishigai Densetsu (Believing in Gods in Stone) Tori-Miki, my favorite manga authors have also pulled from. The idea of gods in stone isn’t uncommon in Japanese folklore so we took that idea and said that the gods messing around gave the girls those powers. So, we took that idea and we ran with it. We made it so the girls with that power have small supernatural encounters in that summer and build up their friendship, then everything they requested we’d be able to fulfill, even on such a tight deadline like “We need to start working on the script right now otherwise we can’t meet the deadline!” I often say that was the hardest job I’ve done so far. It was really like an “are you kidding me” kind of job. The first broadcast date was already set, and I was looking at the time frame and realized I had less than 12 months to pull it off. I was like, oh my. There’s gigs like that one too.

OTAQUEST: Earlier you were saying that in order to be a director you have to prove that you have the vision to make a work that nobody else would be able to make.

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah.

OTAQUEST: How did you go about doing that? Can you think of any works brought you to this position as a director now? How did you analyze yourself?

Seiji Mizushima: Well in my case, as an episode director, I became quite friendly with a number of the animator’s so it was more like a producer in the animator’s circle. It wasn’t like I asked them to make a really serious anime but more I was invited along when they went for karaoke or for drinks but at the time I was a lightweight so I didn’t drink much but I was able to enjoy the atmosphere with the rest of them and I had a car so I was able to drive people home after last train. So, through having those kinds or relationships I would suddenly be called out around 3 in the morning and would go drinking until the morning and even though the first train is running, I’d still take them home. Through these interactions we became closer. So, when I was put in charge of episode direction, I’d just call on my animator friends, without permission from my boss, and I’d have a group of animators. And almost like it was automatic, the film would be something wonderful. So, through that I got this reputation for being able to pull people together someone able to gather people and get along with them and make a good anime. Generator Gawl was an example of this. That was my first time being a director, so I’d asked people to join and help out and lots of big names like Mr. Imaishi, the director of PROMARE, Fuminori Kizaki, the director of Basilisk, Keiji Gotoh, and Yutaka Nakamura came together, and each lent a hand.  Oops, I forgot to name him, but Takashi Tomioka as well. He did character designs and was creation director. I became seen as this person at the center of all these young people who were making an anime and from then on, I’ve been able to work as a director. All of them have gotten to be big names and do their own things now. So, in that sense, rather than how unique my works were, it was more my ability to gather talented and suitable people for projects by myself as a director. It’s not that I can make a really impressive show by myself, but rather everyone is able to help me make a really good show. My goal is to make a show that’s well made and easy to understand I am not an art-type director. And I have been doing that for a long time, and it just so happened that the animators I’d teamed up with from a young age happened to be really skilled and as a result, the quality level I demand became pretty high and I bring animators who can meet that level by myself. Even now I’m quite picky about the quality of my work and by guaranteeing the quality of my works, it leads to me being trusted and being able to secure more work. It’s not so much that I have this aesthetic or anything, right?

OTAQUEST: And I somehow disrupted the flow, hahaha. So, you’re the opposite type from someone like Makoto Shinkai, who does most of the things by himself. You rather started off knowing fairly talented people, and you can create a team if you have any opportunity.

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah. When someone says I’m a producer type they probably mean that part. Even now when I get a job, I first think about who would be suited for the job, and how I would be able to have those people join my team. I talk about this well before I actually start working. Although at the end of the day, it depends on how it’s written. Mainly I just want to make something that someone watching for the first time could follow along with. Even as I say that, when I work with Sho Aikawa, we make something difficult to follow though. But, I think the scenario is the most important, and ever since I became a director, I’ve always been picky about it. If it’s not interesting, then there’s no point in making it. So, I want to make sure I get it right. I make sure to only work with scriptwriters that I feel are suitable, and in cases where the studio wants me to work with someone, I make sure that we both work with an understanding and a desire to make something good, and that leads to good projects. Putting importance on the script is invaluable. I think to an extent up until now the industry was too carefree. Now we have investors from foreign countries, and even for Japanese companies realize that animation itself and its promotion are quite effective. People also understand that you can’t eat off of anime alone, I think it’s important to create something interesting by understanding that we are all in the same project and which part you are responsible for in the project and considering well how good the quality should be.

OTAQUEST: That’s true. Recently I’ve been interviewing focusing on 3DCG a lot. I feel like I want to take more the structural matters into consideration like the cash flow in the creation of animation, how the animation is created, what kind of things worked out, and what not. As a form of media, I want to continue interviewing on those matters deeper.

Seiji Mizushima: It’d be nice if during the initial planning phase, the people actually making the anime and that hold the responsibility for it could assign, too. But I think we’re still in the transitional phase toward it, right now, but right now social games still make up the majority of sales so those social games companies and the makers come together and make a plan and then the anime staff come in and make an anime version. That’s the normal way, right now. Anime requires a lot of information and is something the customer views directly which is different from something like video games. We don’t see full animation video games. It’s not as though there’s that much dialogue either. The job of an anime is to express to the viewer an image of the characters in the video games, by creating drama etc. so it’s quite difficult process to convert a game to an anime. I think it’d go a lot smoother if the game staff and the anime staff work together from the beginning, and plan the project, we can create something better.

OTAQUEST: In a way, it’s like the manga artist and the anime director coming together and creating something.

Seiji Mizushima: Well yeah, what was it, uh, I believe Yuri on Ice!! was done like that. With D4DJ a number of the units that appear are done as anime with the story and characters being developed in the anime. I think this style will continue to grow.

OTAQUEST: You just mentioned D4DJ, your new project. To the extent in which you can talk about right now, what exactly are you working on for D4DJ?

Seiji Mizushima: I’m mainly working as an animation director, while also being the music producer for one of the units called Photon Maiden which is the girls group playing mainly EDM music. But Mr. Kidani from Bushiroad thinks that the game, anime and the live shows should all began simultaneously, because it’d be a better viewing experience for the viewer. I’ve been a part of their plans since at least two years ago. At the time they shared with me the stuff they wanted to work on and the stuff they were having the games division work on, and from there I basically helped as far as the anime stuff was concerned and set it up in a way so everyone was able to access the same information. So, in that sense, I’m involved in every facet of D4DJ. We work while sharing opinions so in that sense it’s not just a one-sided thing where they ask me to animate certain things. We all work together, and we also discuss what exactly should be conveyed using anime as a medium for D4DJ. It’s a very interesting and rewarding job. The only area I don’t touch is casting. Basically, they make decision on the casting and it’s more like how I utilize them to the best of my ability to create works. I’m flexing muscles I haven’t really used before, so I think it’s a really good experience. I feel that I’ve been able to make something unlike anything I’ve made before. There’s two music videos that are up right now, and the production is done in 3D and the quality of the 3D is pretty high. The story is also pretty interesting.

OTAQUEST: The reason we’re doing OTAQUEST CONNECT this year, coronavirus, has been an event that’s impacted the globe. Have you had any direct impact to your work due to coronavirus?

Seiji Mizushima: Well to avoid spreading it more we’ve started having the voice actors in more private sessions during recording, which takes more time. I’d say that’s probably the biggest impact. I guess the other thing is, aside from meetings we had done all of the work for it remotely, so it’s not that much different. So even when we had the lockdown, work didn’t completely stop. So, in that sense there wasn’t that much of an impact on my work, but it did impact the workflow when it came to other sections and what we needed them to do.

OTAQUEST: You had mentioned earlier 9/11 and also the Tohoku earthquake and those were pretty big events, but have you noticed any sort of big change in the world of anime entertainment because of coronavirus?

Seiji Mizushima: Well like you mentioned in my lifetime 9/11 happened in America, the Tohoku earthquake had happened in Sendai, and before that there was the Hanshin earthquake in Kansai. When a big event like that happens, you have to take into account the feelings of the people watching your entertainment and have to have the characters moods be able to both acknowledge and reflect that. The thing is coronavirus is a little different, the way people are looking at it is different from how they would look at a disaster. Disasters are like big accidents that occurs instantaneously and change your life or change the world around you. But for coronavirus, unless someone close to you catches coronavirus the world around you doesn’t necessarily reflect any major change. That lack of change is rather scary. I’m already over 50, so thinking about what would happen if I caught is incredibly scary. I worry as I walk home, but inversely the young people are running and not bothered by it at all. So, in that sense it’s a lot different to other disasters that have happened.

So how do you address that impact in the media that you choose to create moving forward? I personally wont address it at all, it’ll be business as usual. I’ve heard younger people writing their stories who’ve decided to insert staying at home because of coronavirus into their stories, that was interesting. But I was like “wait a second.” There’s definitely that fear that is hard to grasp, and the situation is still on going and a lot of people are under a lot of stress because of it and may get mentally ill. So, I’m sure there’s going to be some works that are influenced by that. The thing is before, especially with the Tohoku incident, creators were like “we shouldn’t be talking about entertainment in that situation.” But people put aside this mindset and worked together to put out a lot of content to help alleviate the stress of the average person. I think that’s the biggest difference.

OTAQUEST: Because there’s no easily tangible ending.

Seiji Mizushima: When I think about having a lot of people cheer up and be happy, you can’t do live events.

So if you use streaming as the medium, then you’re creating a different space, this new reality. Back then if something happened you could go to the people in the affected area and do something to cheer them up. You could gather people together and meet them face to face. but now, we’re unable to do that. So talking about how you interact with others, while the youth may have latched onto that idea fairly quickly, what’s to say for the older people? So in that sense, it is hard to keep the proper distance with others. For us, we’ve always been working for people we can’t see, so it doesn’t make that much of a difference, but I think there’s an impact because how each creator feels about must have changed. Compared to the Tohoku incident, I think everyone is looking at in different ways. Do you think it will change?

OTAQUEST: I think some sentimental works influenced by coronavirus will come out.

Seiji Mizushima: Yeah, there will be. The thing I think the most right now is that I’m glad I’m doing stuff for D4DJ, because the songs are upbeat and happy. If I was doing a story that had to do with life or any of the other themes I normally deal with, like communication, it’d be a lot harder to make the stories fictional, especially because we’re in a world where it can be hard to communicate with others and lives are at stake all the time now. And if I need to work on those themes, I need to think more fictional things and I’d be stressed out. I’d want to give up. So in that sense I’m glad that the projects I’m working on are both positive. I don’t want to make a negative work, it’s too real.

OTAQUEST: Yeah, anime and projects about despair and helplessness might not be as prevalent.

Seiji Mizushima: Also, stories about viruses and the like will probably be a little different in the way they draw. There would be no scene like people coughing and bleeding from their mouth and die. Like what people felt scary in their real lives. The biggest thing about entertainment is the understanding that it won’t actually happen. The fear surrounding coronavirus, especially because depending on the person that can change so much, is very real.

OTAQUEST: Thank you so much for such a fun conversation.

Seiji Mizushima: Was that good?

OTAQUEST: It really was entertaining.

Seiji Mizushima: Thank you, thank you.

OTAQUEST: To round it off I wanted to ask you say a few words for our foreign fans that are watching.

Seiji Mizushima: Being able to have a livestreamed event like this during these turbulent times will be a very unique and interesting memory looking back once the dust has settled. Let’s all look forward to that day together. Until then there’s plenty more ways for people to connect and communicate over the internet. My works will also be more available to view through the internet. So, let’s enjoy the time we have now especially because I think otaku have that strength within them. Let’s move forward and make a better, more fun world. Thank you very much.

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