At Anime NYC 2022, we had the chance to sit down and chat with Aoi Koga (Kaguya Shinomiya's VA), Yuichiro Kikuchi (A-1 Pictures Producer), and Tatsuya Ishikawa (Aniplex Producer) before the International Premiere of Kaguya-Sama: Love is War- The First Kiss That Never Ends-. This movie will only be in theaters on February 14-15th, so be sure to grab your tickets before then!
Aoi Koga: I am very excited to watch the movie myself, and being able to watch it with everyone is another ray of excitement!
Yuichiro Kikuchi: I'm not sure how the overseas fans will react so I'm very eager to see their reactions today!
Tatsuya Ishikawa: I'm really happy about how the screening is during the holiday season. Seeing all the decorations in New York is really fitting for this holiday-themed film!
Kikuchi: We've had a longstanding relationship with Vercreek, so we are eager to continue working with them and seeing if there's any ideas to bounce off of each other.
Translator: Seeing Kikuchi-san and Vercreek's interactions on twitter is very entertaining.
Kikuchi: Shh, don't tell them about our secret new project!
Koga: I was really shocked!
Ishikawa: Kaguya's story is very Japanese, very esoteric. It's quite surprising to me that it resonates so much globally. And yet, seeing the boundaries between Japan and overseas disappearing make me very happy.
Kikuchi: To be able to keep on doing something that I enjoy doing, and seeing it have such an impact is both surprising and satisfying. It's a win-win situation!
Kikuchi: We really try to bring out the best in everyone involved, from letting the actors do what they feel most comfortable with, or bouncing ideas off all the staff. Getting new blood in, such as Vercreek, really helps us open up to new ideas and makes Kaguya-sama what it is today.
Ishikawa: Because it's fun for us, we hope the passion really carries across to the audience. Although I am an anime producer, before that I am a big fan of the manga. When I talk to Kikuchi-san, I'll rave about how "this part's so good!" And from there it's dialing things up from 100% to 120%, 140% and more. We really put all the love we have for the manga into the anime.
Ishikawa: Making one season takes a long time, but I wanted to close the gap between Ultra Romantic (Season 3) and First Kiss, so we decided to really focus on the First Kiss part. As fans ourselves we know how frustrating it can be to wait week after week during an especially exciting arc, so we decided to make it a movie so fans can experience all the hype in one sitting. We took a similar approach in the dual confessions arc as well. In both Japan and America, we broadcasted those episodes back to back on the same day.
Kikuchi: A little different from the rom-com TV series, this is a lot more about Shirogane and Kaguya. I felt that a condensed, theatrical release would suit this situation a lot better.
Koga: At first, I thought I was completely opposite from Kaguya, in terms of her wealthy background and how she can be harsh and cold. But there's things I really admire about Kaguya, like how cool, elegant, and ladylike she can be. For similarities, if we dive a bit deeper beyond Kaguya's icy exterior, I feel like I can really relate to her hidden sides. Like if she sees someone she has a crush on be nice to someone else, that bothers her a little bit, things like that.
Ishikawa: Personally for me, nothing has changed. But for this screening, I decided to premiere it in New York because of the fan's reaction. Although we did not change the production side, we made a lot of changes on the delivery side. The international audience reception at events like Anime Expo really left an impression on me and helped to make decisions like the international premiere here.
Kikuchi: Although we didn't produce the anime to specifically cater to international tastes, as Kaguya-sama gained popularity overseas, international animators and creators expressed interest in wanting to work on Kaguya. The natural progression is that we gain new ideas that would make things more interesting in the anime.
Kikuchi: After establishing the anime with 3 seasons and First Kiss, we are fortunate to see the source material completed. Now we're just chasing to animate the final chapters and do it justice.
Koga: I was really shocked to hear it was completed and thought, "Oh, it ends?!?" I'm very thankful that Kaguya has always been with me, thanks to the mangaka, Aka Akasaka-sensei. I've gotten the opportunity to meet all kinds of amazing people, and even come overseas. I'm still shocked to hear it's ended, but full of gratitude to everyone involved.
Kikuchi: You can only pick one.
Koga: (Laughs) Ahhhhh! One episode… It'd have to be Ultra Romantic, the clock tower. After being with Kaguya from Season 1 all the way to 3, it's the whole feeling of "Finally, you did it, girl! I'm so proud of you!" There's a lot of emotion and pride as her voice actor.
Kikuchi: I agree with that Ultra Romantic Episode–
Ishikawa: Really? Not episode 5? (everyone laughs)
Kikuchi: I think these things are extra memorable and emotional because of all the passion that goes into it. Much like the storyline, I feel like the work is like that, too, just building up all these feelings into this moment. That's why the final episode is so memorable.
Q. So Ishikawa-san, Episode 5?
Ishikawa: Yes, I really love episode 5, but also Season 2's episode 11. During the Sports Festival arc, where Ishigami's character progression was very special to me.
Koga: Kaguya-Sama was born in Japan, but I'm so glad it was able to cross the pond and make it to everyone here. The passion and love from overseas fans really come through, and I'm extremely fortunate and blessed to be able to watch it here with everyone! Thank you very much for your support, I love you guys!
Kikuchi: Seeing and feeling the response from international fans through Kaguya really inspires me for the animations I plan to produce going forward as well. Coming here has really impressed me with how anime can cross borders and bring people together. My dream as a producer continues to grow with your support, and I am very grateful for joining me on my journey.
Ishikawa: If there are any overseas animators out there interested in working with us, please DM Kikuchi-san on Twitter. Not me, Kikuchi-san. I hope that just like how everyone here worked hard together on Kaguya, I hope everyone can watch and enjoy Kaguya together. It's fun to make, fun to watch, and happiness all around.
Kaguya-Sama: Love is War - The First Kiss That Never Ends will only be in theaters February 14-15th, so make sure to reserve your tickets!