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Masaru Matsumoto: The Japanese director behind Rick and Morty’s new short

The director said production for the short started in April this year and the scenario was written by Naohiro Fukushima. (Supplied)
The director said production for the short started in April this year and the scenario was written by Naohiro Fukushima. (Supplied)
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01 Dec 2021 03:12:31 GMT9
01 Dec 2021 03:12:31 GMT9

 

Amin Abbas

DUBAI: Japanese director Masaru Matsumoto has recently worked on Rick and Morty’s latest video short for Rick and Morty ‘The Great Yokai Battle of Akihabara’.

Speaking to Arab News Japan, Matsumoto of SOLA DIGITAL ARTS said he was honored to work on the project as Rick and Morty was one of his favorite animated series.

However, he said he was worried he would have some difficulties as a Japanese person working on the project.

“I thought that the taste of ‘Rick and Morty’ could not be created by a Japanese person. At first glance, it is nothing more than a comedy. In actual fact, though it is very logical and philosophical in nature,” Matsumoto explained.

“The best way to make a short film is to make it artistic or action-packed. However, I felt that this would not convey the fun aspects of ‘Rick and Morty.’ So, I decided to create a short story that was set in Japan and make it similar to the main story of Rick and Morty.”

“The client gave us the subject of a ‘Halloween’ event. In ‘Rick and Morty’, there are aliens and creatures designed in many different ways that appear. These designs are interesting and original,” he said. “In Japan, there has long been the tradition of ghosts called ‘Yokai’ since ancient times, and various designs of yokai are depicted in picture scrolls called ‘Hyakkiyogyo’ (literally, pandemonium). By using these ‘yokai’ as a motif, I thought I would express the fact that there have been people who have used their imagination in interesting ways in Japan since ancient times, by linking it to Halloween.”

The director said production for the short started in April this year at SOLA DIGITAL ARTS and the scenario was written by Naohiro Fukushima.

“In June, I worked on the storyboard and the video storyboard, and did the prescoring. From July to September, we carried out the production with Yamatoworks,” he added.

Matsumoto said they created a 30-minute scenario, which was the same amount of content as one episode of a regular anime, to give it the same tempo of speed as the original ‘Rick and Morty’. “We struggled with the question of how to take these 30 minutes of content, cram them into a scale of 10 minutes and keep the story moving along quickly without losing its fun aspects. Unfortunately, we had to delete several ideas at this work stage.”

“Until now, I have been making full CG animation with a realistic look, but this was my first time to create a work with a 2D-look like this. Therefore, I found the differences in the workflow and check flow between the full CG and 2D look CG to be confusing,” he added.

Speaking of his inspiration for Japanese anime and manga, Matsumoto said: “The movie ‘AKIRA’, by Japanese director Katsuhiro Otomo amazed me with its imagination in that it was able to express in animation a form of super realism that even supersedes live action.”

“I also remember experiencing shock at the visuals of Mamoru Oshii’s film ‘PATLABOR 2’, which depicted visuals and human drama in a way that made anime bearable for adults to watch. Iou Kuroda’s ‘Japan Tengu Party’ is a manga work created using indigenous Japanese subject matter. This is one of my favorite manga.”

The Japanese director established his career at one of the few existing CG production companies in Japan.

“In terms of my work history, after working on game opening videos, commercials, and live-action films, I started working in full CG animation. Although at the time, I thought it would be difficult to create a long animation in full CG, I considered there to be value in embracing the challenge, so I started working on it,” he added.

Speaking of his first project in the animation industry, Matsumoto said: “The first projects that I was involved in as CG Director were Starship Troopers: Invasion, Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars, and Appleseed Alpha, all of which were produced by SOLA DIGITAL ARTS.”

In his upcoming projects, the director said he was working on the second season of ‘Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045,’ in which he participated as CG Director, and will be released soon on Netflix

Rick and Morty’s short ‘The Great Yokai Battle of Akihabara’ is Masaru Matsumoto’s first project with 2D animation along with CG animation effects.

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