A popular TV series, MOZU, was aired in 2014 and became a huge hit with its innovative cinematography.
MOZU the Movie inspired by this popular TV seriesreleased on November 7. Season 1 – The Night Cry of the MOZU was nominated for the Drama Series Awards at the 43rd International Emmy Awards. The TV series is gathering more attention now than ever before.
Eiichiro Hasumi, the director of the popular MOZU series, is also known for directing the Umizaru and the Assassination Classroom series. We interviewed Hasumi as he prepares for the release of MOZU the Movie and the IMAGICA post-production team about the process.
The Synergy between Hasumi and the IMAGICA Team
“My first experience working with IMAGICA was for SAMURAI CODE (2010) and their post-production was impeccable. It made a huge impression because I had never worked with that many people in my previous post-production experiences. When I got an offer for Aji Ichimonme, I thought to myself, SAMURAI CODE—if I could do something like that again. So I asked IMAGICA. Ever since then, IMAGICA has been handling my post-production work. IMAGICA also did the MOZU series as well—the staffs and editors were all IMAGICA members,” says Hasumi.
An editor for MOZU, Mitsuo Nishio, has been working with Hasumi since the Samurai Code.
“I was an assistant for SAMURAI CODE and Aji Ichimonme (2011). Then Hasumi offered me a position as amain editor for Double Face (2012). When you are a part of his team, you are motivated to step it up every day. It goes for any work we do. You can’t just produce a new film with the same level of quality as your last film; you have to keep improving. You feel and see that quality in the materials when working with Hasumi. He ignites the fire in me to keep doing a better job. Although it depends on the work itself and the process, but when you work with Hasumi, he gives you the freedom to do your thing. It is not that he doesn’t have a vision. He has a clear vision, and he knows where each part belongs. Of course, when he gives you that freedom, it takes more time because there are many choices, but that is what makes it interesting.” (Editor, Nishio)
Ever-changing Work and Process
VFX Producer Tomofumi Akahane has also been working with Hasumi since SAMURAI CODE. We asked him about his impression of the process.
“It’s all fast-paced. The shooting process itself is fast, and Hasumi has the ability to make decisions quickly.
The impression I got from the very beginning is that they work fast. But CG and composition are a complicated process that takes time. When you work with Hasumi, you have to keep up with the process. I try not to break the speed. He often gives general ideas and will not give detailed instructions. I like that style. Hasumi has a clear vision of what he wants to convey in that scene, and my job is to sense that and go off from there. I fully enjoy that creativity.” (VFX Producer, Akahane)
Hasumi and his team are always trying new things. We interviewed the post-production coordinator, Koji Okada.
“I became initially involved with MOZU’s first season and then the second season. Then Assassination Classroom, MOZU the Movie and MOZU Spin-off afterward. Just as Nishio said, Hasumi is always looking for ways to outdo his previous works. This work ethic also goes for the post-production team. We were always trying to do something we’ve never done before. You have a plan, but you need to be able to come up with ideas. It’s not easy, but seeing the end product proves that it was all worth it.
This is how it would usually happen. Hasumi share his ideas, and that starts the dialog for the entire team to start sharing their ideas. He has a hands-on approach throughout the process for post-production. All of our ideas and requests would come up right then and there. We work hard with equal passion.” (Post-production Coordinator, Okada)
We also interviewed Tetsuji Yamashita, a color grading engineer.
“THE LAST MESSAGE Umizaru (2010) was my first work for Hasumi. Ever since then, I have been involved in all his works, both TV and movies. His works are always evolving for the better. Hasumi would work so hard to outdo his previous work, even if it is just a TV series. For him, there are no boundaries between TV series and movies. He expects the TV series to be just as good as his films. When MOZU TV series was aired, the people from theindustry were astounded with our quality. They would refer to MOZU when describing specific film qualities. I think we’ve made a huge impact on the industry.” (Color Grador, Yamashita)
Going Beyond in Post-production
Yamashita often spoke about going beyond what is expected. In shooting MOZU the Movie, Hasumi would ask his cast and the crew to go beyond expectations, and it was no different for the post-production team.
“Hasumi would often tell us to go beyond expectations. He stressed that in MOZU the Movie. The crew shooting the film pushed themselves to go beyond the expectations. That is probably why the film had so much intensity and impact. It was difficult for me to push the limits even further in color grading because the crew already had set a perspective in the materials for me to work with. Not to mention that the cameraman and the lighting designers had already pushed it way beyond the expectations [laughs]. So I had to think about how I could develop it from there. I added my own flavors to push it in the direction they were going. I wanted it to have a specific look that would capture the audience—it comes with the job. Luckily, Hasumi and his team didn’t have a boundary between a TV series and a film. I focused on looks and how that would affect the TV series as a whole. After MOZU was aired and I found out that people realized that there was something about the visuals, and they somehow understood the look that I was going for. This meant a lot to me. I want to take people by surprise. I look forward to working with Hasumi again.”(Color Grading Engineer, Yamashita)
Individual Skill and Technique in the Work
We interviewed Hasumi about his thoughts on going beyond expectations and the IMAGICA team.
“They all have something to offer. But they work under restrictions. Post-production work is not where you can bring out your style and technique. I want to give them that opportunity when they work with me. They all have great potential, and they do an amazing job if you just leave it to them. I think—or I hope—that when they work with us, they feel free to do just that.”
We also interviewed Akira Morii from ROBOT COMMUNICATIONS who produced Hasumi’s works of SAMURAI CODE and MOZU series.
“They are great technicians who are multifaceted. Unfortunately, TV commercials and music videos don’t require much effort because the technicians can’t spend time in editing to accomplish their ideas, they do what is asked of them, and nothing more. The IMAGICA team used to call Hasumi’s work, ‘the long one’ even though the SAMURAI CODE was a short TV series that was only five minutes per episode. They were unsure at first, but when they learned that it was okay to put their best in Hasumi’s work—or rather Hasumi required that—they were finally in their element.”
Beyond the Trust
Hasumi pushes them to produce better works because he trusts them and knows how skilled they are. The IMAGICA team would genuinely try to go beyond what he asks of them. That kind of relationship in a creative media setting is ideal, even when there is a pressure to excel.
“I try not to take it for granted. Honestly, I work on every project with the mindset that if we mess up, this is the last. It has been like that ever since his offer for Double Face. It is not the connection between IMAGICA and ROBOT COMMUNICATIONS that gets me the job. I have to keep improving and make use of my experience so that he will want to work with me again. That is how I am for all the past works I have done.” (Editor, Nishio)
That kind of pressure to excel is what makes the job worthwhile and contributes to the growth of the team. Although Hasumi and his team are known for large and difficult projects, Hasumi’s reasoning for that is obvious. The outcome is much better when the process is challenging. The post-production IMAGICA team knows acknowledge how rewarding it is at the end.
“There is a deadline, so when we schedule, we have to fit the shooting and the editing in the set time frame. We can’t wait until Hasumi asks us so we have to think ahead and prepare or adjust for anything that might come up. It feels great when that works out. He always have something new that we wouldn’t even dare to think about, but we try to be prepared for anything he throws at us. Hasumi and his team are very passionate. I hope that we can keep that fire burning throughout the editing process and bring it to the level of perfection.” (Post-production Coordinator, Okada)
“I’m not going to deny the pressure that comes with the job. The standard of Hasumi’s work raises every time. For example, MOZU and Korosensei (a character from Assassination Classroom) have two distinct styles. The first step is to get used to that style. Post-production work is going to be a handful, and you have to do what you can right then and there in order to accomplish the post-production work smoothly. Hasumi is a great leader. He has a very good grasp of what is happening. Hasumi always brings us to a new level with his creative mind. We have already done Korosensei, a non-human character, so I am wondering what is in store next. I’m not quite sure if I want to know [laughs]. I believe in Hasumi though.” (VFX Producer, Akahane)
Hasumi’s next step in creation inspires the IMAGICA team for amazing possibilities.
MOZU the DVD&Blu-ray are now on sale!
MOZU shocked the film and television industry when it aired in 2014. TBS and WOWOW collaborated on this TV series based on a popular novel, MOZU Series by Go Osaka, which had a total of 2.4 million sales. It was said to be impossible to make visualization of the Mozu Series. When Hasumi and his team took on the challenge to create a revolutionary TV series, it produced many MOZU fans.
MOZU the Movie has been national released 2015, and has been a big hit.
MOZU the DVD&Blu-ray are now on sale!
MOZU the Movie Official Website http://mozu-movie.jp/