Anime Corner had an exclusive opportunity to interview some of the staff members of the recent The Quintessential Quintuplets~ special at Otakon 2023. This interview was a true team effort: while our reporter Eric Himmelheber was on the scene, Sarcataclysmal contributed to writing the questions and the contents of this article. Although we did not have much time, and certainly not enough space for everything we wanted to ask these amazing anime industry veterans, we are more than happy with the results of our effort.
Junichiro Tanaka (田中 潤一朗) is a producer for TBS Sparkle who has been in the industry for more than 15 years now. Some of his earliest roles include assistant producing Rozen Maiden: Träumend (2005), and acting as TBS’ producer across every iteration of the Hidamari Sketch (2007-2013) television series and OVAs. Recently, he’s been involved with Quintuplets since its very first season, and has thus overseen both seasons and now both theatrically released projects.
Keiichiro Ohchi (大知 慶一郎) is a writer from Aichi Prefecture who has been in the industry for nearly 20 years. Originally an episodic screenplay writer, he has since in the past decade expanded his repertoire to overseeing the organization and supervising the screenplays of series like Hinamatsuri (2018), Adachi and Shimamura (2020), and also the Quintuplets franchise.
Kazuya Shiotsuki (潮月 一也) is an animator and character designer originating from Hadashi Pro who moved to studio SHAFT in the early 2000s. Shiotsuki has acted as a character designer in several prior series such as Gourmet Girl Graffiti (2015) and Luminous Witches (2022); but he’s taken a variety of other roles at the studio such as accessory and clothing design work, and acting as chief animation director for series such as Nisekoi (2014) and March Comes In like a Lion (2016-2018). Since 2022, he has been a part of SHAFT AOI, the company’s branch studio located in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Interview With The Quintessential Quintuplets∽ Staff
Q: The Quintuplets Special goes back and adapts portions of the manga that the television anime and movie weren’t able to fit into their runtimes, but even then, some stories remain unadapted. How were the particular stories featured in the special chosen for adaptation?
Tanaka: All of us had a common understanding that we wanted to have equal representation of all five of the quintuplets and that we wanted to have something to represent all five of them, so we chose some stories that would show their good parts and we combined them together. (Everyone laughs)
In a sense, we were lucky to find things that fit very nicely between the different parts of the chronologies so that we could combine them into one movie.
Q: Ohchi-san’s role as series composition writer is to pick and choose with the director how to organize and adapt the series with the episode count. Obviously, this means occasionally cutting out moments like those that are now being depicted afterwards in the Quintuplets Specials, so how have you as a writer approached visiting these moments after the main story has ended?
Ohchi: This is going to kind of merge with what Tanaka-san said in the previous question, but we did have a rough idea that we wanted to have something about “summer”, and we decided that one thing we wanted to do was portray the quintuplets in the summer. So, for “summer”, we chose to make Itsuki the main, as well as one main for Nino. We’ve also reversed the chronology a little bit, like the living room scene with Ichika and Miku.
As for Yotsuba—and you might know this—her scene is related to the scene that she had in the movie. In the movie, that scene works without the context of this special. But we heard from lots of our fans, “We, Yotsuba fans, really wanted to see that part”, and unfortunately it got cut in the movie. When I had the chance to revisit that scene for Yotsuba, I thought this was a really big chance for me to show that scene which I really wanted to put in but couldn’t the first time around.
Tanaka: “A Certain Boy and I,” that’s the title of the original chapter of the manga.
Q: Shiotsuki-san, the animators and character designers at your studio are ripe with unique characteristics, and the series you design for could be described as “puni-puni” (everyone laughs) going as far back as your work on the Shina Dark music videos.
Shiotsuki: Eh!? Shina Dark!?
Ohchi: You’re totally a fan!
Shiotsuki: (Laughs) I’m embarrassed…
Q: If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of series do you most enjoy working on or most enjoy outside of your work?
Shiotsuki: I would say Nisekoi, because Nisekoi had a really big impact on me. The designs are by Nobuhiro Sugiyama [one of Shiotsuki’s colleagues at SHAFT], and the key visuals and character sheets for that anime are godly. I was very strongly influenced by that anime.
Q: Swinging around back to Tanaka-san, you’ve been an anime producer for close to 20 years now, with some of the longest you’ve worked on being Hidamari Sketch (They laugh) which you were with for 6 or 7 years–but that was produced by one production studio. So, I’ve been wondering with Quintuplets: has there been any difficulty for you as a producer due to the various studio and team changes throughout the course of the series?
Tanaka: Actually, it happens that I have a few other anime that I’ve worked on that “studio hopped” as well, and you might know them as Dagashi Kashi and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU—so those started off at one studio and ended up at another studio, and I have experiences with that.
For various reasons, this might be because of timing and the studio that you started off with not being available for a second season—there are lots of factors, and there’s a bit more of that than you might see; but there are various challenges here and there. For example, there are voices that say, “we want to change the character designer,” or perhaps “we want to change ‘this’ and ‘that’”, when moving to other studios; so, there are indeed difficulties when it comes to logistics and things like that. My job is to kind of work those bumps out.
Q: Shiotsuki-san, Director [Yukihiro] Miyamoto and Producer [Yuuya] Matsukawa mentioned in an interview that certain changes were made in the special in regard to the setting material such as the swing set Fuutarou and Yotsuba are on in one part. Director Miyamoto said that this was to better suit the themes of the original work in regards to the visual depiction of Yotsuba’s character even if it didn’t match previous descriptions [referring to the same setting as it was depicted in the film]. As a character designer, were you asked to make changes to the designs or to your designs of the new characters?
Shiotsuki: The first thing that I wanted to make sure of was that people who watched the prior parts of the series would not feel an “otherness” to what comes up now that I’m in charge of the character designs. This is another thing that Miyamoto and Matsukawa were mentioning—it’s about revisiting the original work, the source material, and that’s one thing that we wanted to start off with. With regards to what we did, we agreed that we wanted to be truthful to the original work and we chose to adapt the individual panels from the source manga, thus we made the decision to not make character sheets for this new animation.
Q: As a final question, do you have a favorite character from the series, and could you give a brief explanation as to why?
Shiotsuki: I’m the animation director for the swing scene [between Fuutarou and Yotsuba], and the animator who worked on that scene is very good, so I didn’t have to make many corrections.
(Tanaka-san mentions that this doesn’t need to be translated since it’s not related to the question, but it’s interesting enough information either way..)
For me… I like Yotsuba, because I think her thinking is similar to mine in that she thinks about others before she thinks about herself, and I really cherish that kind of thinking.
Tanaka: Ichika (Everyone laughs). Ultimately, she doesn’t get what she wants, but I have a liking for characters like that.
Ohchi: I would personally say Raiha. The prior movie is about school life, so Raiha had to be cut a little bit, but I personally really like Raiha and I felt sorry for cutting that part. I was glad that I was able to portray Raiha as having a sort of maturity now that she’s in middle school, so I was really happy about that.
The Quintessential Quintuplets∽ Live-Drawing Panel at Otakon 2023
After the interview, Himmelheber attended the panel with the three. Shiotsuki showed one of the drawing corrections he did as chief animation director, mentioning that he wanted to make Nino look more like her design in the manga. Afterward, he began to do a live-drawing of his aforementioned favorite character, Yotsuba.
During this live-drawing, Shiotsuki mentioned that the character he feels is the hardest for him to draw is Itsuki: “No matter what I do, it starts looking like the other characters. I think it has to do with the way I draw them.”
A question was asked concerning the potential for plans to make more for the Quintuplets series, to which producer Tanaka replied with “I don’t know” in what Himmelheber described as “a funny tone.” Something else Tanaka mentioned is that he feels that Nino and Yotsuba have larger fandoms here in the West, whereas Miku tends to be more popular in Japan.
Another question was asked on where the three of them would take their favorite characters out on a date: Tanaka said he’d take Itsuki out to eat; Ohchi mentioned he’d take Miku somewhere historical; and Shiotsuki said “I’d like to take Yotsuba to a library or a very quiet setting.”
Thank you very much to Tanaka-san, Ohchi-san, and Shiotsuki-san for their time! And the Otakon staff for making this possible! We look forward to seeing The Quintessential Quintuplets ~ special.
Staff & Credits:
Interview – Junichiro Tanaka / Keiichiro Ohchi / Kazuya Shiotsuki
On-scene Interviewer & Reporter – Eric Himmelheber (Twitter)
Off-scene Interviewer & Article Writer – Sarcataclysmal (Twitter)
On-scene Translator – George Endo
Editor – Tamara Lazic (Twitter)
Special Thanks – Animmony (Twitter)