by Erwin Limawan
Nishimura: Hello, Iím Nishimura. I donít have a lot of experience with these sorts of events in Japan. I started my career around 85-86 in Japan as assistant animator in Studio Live, working on titles like Dr. Slump. In 1990, I worked as key animator on Heroic Legend Wataru. I also worked on the sequel to that as an episode director. In terms of directing work, I did Cyber Formula, Midori no Makiba o. Trigun was my first real directing project, and in 2000 I worked on Hajime no Ippo.
Q: What do you think of the popularity of Trigun, walking around the con and seeing so many Trigun cosplayers? Were you surprised by how popular it is here?
Nishimura: Yes, Iím very surprised about this popularity in the US. I was busy during production, so I didnít really have any time to think about anything else. Iím really curious to find out which parts of the animation the US audiences really like.
Q: For the production of Trigun, Yasuhiro Nightow (the manga artist) was working with you. What were some of the problems you encountered since the manga series wasnít finished yet?
Nishimura: Yes, when the animation was in production, the manga wasnít finished yet, so the question was how we would bring everything to a conclusion. So we sat down and talked with Mr. Nightow to really find out what he wanted in the story. In Japanese animation, when itís manga to anime, they are usually produced separately. Itís very rare for the creator to get any involvement in the creation. For Trigun, since the manga wasnít finished, we had to have discussions with Mr. Nightow. I think those discussions really helped us to get a good sense of Trigun for the animation.
Q: Thereís a wide variety of anime right now, and directors usually specialize in their approach. Do you feel that you have a specialty, or can you take on a variety of themes and genres?
Nishimura: In terms of a favorite genre, I havenít really thought of it myself. At the production house for Trigun and Hajime no Ippo, Studio Madhouse, the head of the studio said Iím very good at expressing the desires of a manís heart.
Q: The setting for Trigun can be described as a post-apocalyptic western. How do you keep this balance in the anime?
Nishimura: In terms of balance, I can put it this way; in Japanese animation, science fiction is a big topic. We usually spend a lot of time explaining the setting in the story, but in Trigun, I deliberately did not spend any time explaining the setting. I thought it would feel much better in terms of balance if I showed the setting through the characterís actions and words instead of explaining it. In science fiction, there is a lot of imagination involved in the unknown sciences of the settings. They can be fun, and I have no problems with those. But with Trigun, I wanted to show more of Vash and his personality. I think thatís the fun part, and thatís the balance I tried to strike in Trigun.
Q: Anime is now popular outside of Japan. Have you noticed that and tried to make a wider appeal to the global audience, or are you just mainly targeting the Japanese audience?
Nishimura: Yes, I was aware of the increase of animeís popularity throughout the world. I usually try and make it appealing to as many people as possible. Looking at countries like Asia, America, Canada, etc, I think the fun and interesting things I donít need to make specific to any one people.
Q: After the first 13 episodes, thereís a change in feel in Trigun. Was it difficult to change the feel of the anime?
Nishimura: Iím not sure what to say here, but I donít think it was very difficult. I think a lot of it was about Vash, and heís not really human, heís more of a superhuman. He has his ideal methods of solving problems. I wanted to challenge him with issues that wonít offer a complete solution when he uses his methods. I feel if I didnít do that, he wouldnít really grow. I think the first half of the series was showing the main components that make Vash who he is, and the second half is about his growth.
Q: What do you think is the most critical element to manage when directing, given the collaborative effort of anime?
Nishimura: For me, what I try to do is think of what the most interesting and fun part of the project is, then I try to use that as a guiding principle for the staff, telling them that this is what I think is the most important parts of the project, and I need your help to do it. I think for animation from piece to piece, they all have fun and interesting parts to them. If I canít comprehend that element, I canít really work on it. If there really is a project that I canít comprehend, I probably wonít take that job. That was from the position of a director. I think if I was an animator, the important points would be different.
Q: Did the experience of working on Trigun influence your career and personality?
Nishimura: Of course it did. I think weíve all experienced the gap between ideal and reality. I think Vashís growth was about tackling that gap, and I believe thatís a really important idea you have to keep in mind, and that has really influenced me as a person.
I think a significant amount of the anime fans in the world, they might think anime has a lot of violence to it, but I personally think itís just entertainment. Some people might think the violence has a negative impact on children. But I believe if the animation is done correctly, the children will be able to see it as entertainment.
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