Japanese magazine Newtype had the opportunity to interview Toshiyuki Kubooka, director who is in charge of the anime adaptation for the light novel series written by Jougi Shiraishi and illustrated by Azure, Majo no Tabitabi (The Journey of Elaina). The talk in question covered various topics related to the director's participation in the play and his opinion on the various aspects of this franchise. He also mentioned that the series will premiere an episode with a ‘dark‘ plot.
How did you feel when you received the job offer to direct the anime?
This is the first time I have worked on the adaptation of a novel, so I felt that I had more freedom to work on it because you do not have to follow the same graphic sequence of a manga. It is well known that when adapting a manga you have to be as faithful as possible to the development of the cartoons to achieve a work attached to what the fans expect. This was what caught my attention when I received the invitation to participate in the series.
What is your impression of the Majo no Tabitabi light novels?
Several things attracted me. Elaina, the protagonist was one of them. In fact, it struck me that almost all the characters are female. I also liked the illustrations that Azure created to accompany this beautiful story. The latter helped us a lot to manage the adaptation, since it gave us a guideline to better understand the context of the stories told, whether they are comic stories or dramatic scenes.
Novels generate a certain emotion for you since their main character spends his time traveling and meeting many people. As a director, I wanted to produce something that conveys that same emotion. There were several very interesting talks and discussions to create scripts, however, I think we are achieving that goal in our audience and that leaves us quite satisfied.
What was the biggest challenge when adapting the story to an anime series?
Elaina spends her time traveling through many countries, this means that she will know different cultures and customs. This was difficult to adapt due to all those locations being fictional and based on a medieval world with magic included. It is somewhat difficult to graphically capture a cultural diversity with so many fantastic elements. However, thanks to the staff that was in charge of the art, we were able to create a wonderful world full of quite beautiful landscapes. The art is definitely one of the strong points of the series.
How do you feel that your direction influenced the art of the series?
At first I was wondering why we need to draw great walls to medieval cities in history. Witches can blow up the sky with brooms and can easily pierce them. Soon after, I began to think that witches are very likely to be respectful people who come down from the sky to fix bureaucratic procedures when entering each country, and that is exactly what is shown in the anime. Those small details that are somewhat ambiguous in the novel were considered and that gives extra support to the plot. That coherence helped a lot for graphic planning and I suppose it was my most remarkable contribution in art. In everything else we have to thank the staff in charge.
What was your impression when you first saw the character sketches for the anime?
When I chatted with the people in charge of the color and design of the characters I mentioned to them: "The palette for the anime will be clear, I think that a color also light for the contours could contrast quite well." They understood the idea immediately and followed my directions to the letter.
What is your opinion of Elaina?
Elaina is a very lucky girl and I am quite amused that she is so stingy. This, rather than a character flaw, I think is rather charming. Since Elaina is the main character, we paid a lot of attention when animating her.
There is a little gag that Elaina often repeats a lot in the novel, her famous phrase "That's me." For adaptation reasons, this phrase was about to be left out of the series, but we found a way to preserve it by doing a little Elaina monologue at the beginning of the episodes.
What is your opinion of Saya, Fran and Sheila?
Saya is an intelligent and determined girl who knows what she likes and what she doesn't like. This can be seen in the second episode where she hatches a whole trap not to cure her loneliness with Elaina's company.
Fran is an enigmatic character, you don't know what she is thinking or up to. However, being Elaina's teacher, we were very careful to include the parts where she is strict with her with cooler shades and grays to highlight that a cheerful person can also be cruel. I think Fran sees Elaina as a daughter. I am a father of a family and on some occasions, I felt very identified with her.
Sheila is an attractive and easy to understand character. Personally, she is the character that I like the most.
What's next for anime in the future?
Episode 9 of the Majo no Tabitabi series will possibly be the 'darkest'. Remember that this is an anime about witches, so the story can get a bit grim from time to time. Personally, I think this is going to be a pretty shocking episode. However, I hope you can continue to support us until the end of the broadcast. All staff are trying their best to finish production as soon as possible.
Shiraishi began publishing the Majo no Tabitabi light novels with illustrations by Azure through SB Creative publisher's GA Bunko imprint in April 2016. The publisher published the fourteenth volume on October 14. The work also inspires a manga adaptation by Itsuki Nanao, which has been published since November 2018.
The play is inspiring a twelve-episode anime adaptation produced by C2C studios, under the direction of Toshiyuki Kubooka and scripts written by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, which has been on air since October 2.
Synopsis of Majo no Tabitabi
In a certain place there is a traveling witch named Elaina. Being a traveler, she has met many people and countries as she continues on her long, long road. A city that only accepts wizards, a muscle-loving giant, a young man wanting to reconnect with his deceased beloved, an abandoned princess in a destroyed city, and the story of the witch will be intertwined with all of them, when meeting incredibly strange people and make beautiful memories together, now, even now, the witch cannot prevent her whole life from continuing to be of encounters and farewells.
(C) 白石 定規 ・ SB ク リ エ イ テ ィ ブ / 魔女 の 旅 々 製作 委員会