The Record of Ragnarok anime series is now streaming on Netflix worldwide! We had the special chance to ask director Masao Ōkubo his thoughts about the series before its debut. He has storyboarding and key animation credits in anime series like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and School Rumble Season 2.
What was your initial reaction when you were asked to direct the anime adaptation of Record of Ragnarok? Were you previously familiar with the manga?
I first read the original manga when the job was offered. I thought it was great and wanted to read further on!
The entire series is focused on a gigantic tournament arc between humans and gods. What were the challenges behind balancing exposition and fighting scenes?
Overall, I focused on not only the balance but how I can convey the initial feeling I got from reading the manga into anime.
I often wondered if I was balancing the fight scenes and the characters’ interesting back story well enough.
The manga is not available to English-speaking fans yet. What would you like to tell anime fans as they watch the series?
This is not only for the English-speaking fans but I always had those who never read the manga in my mind when I composed the anime.
How would humans accomplish the impossible task of winning against the Gods? I hope you will feel and enjoy the unprecedented plots, character development, and passion that makes the original manga so special.
What was your approach to adapting the source material (manga)? How involved were the original authors?
I made sure anime didn’t go off track from the original manga. As I mentioned before, I tried to include things that I was most excited about when reading the manga and leave them untouched. I was always conscious of making the anime as close to the manga as possible.
Although the original authors did check the plot, storyboard, and character settings, I was grateful to have the creative freedom as well. I was able to do pretty much what I wanted because the authors understood manga and anime have different ways of expressing the same scenes.
What is your favorite fight in the series so far?
What was the approach to the character design and how were you able to apply it in the animation? Was it difficult? (i.e. going from manga designs to final anime designs).
As the original manga has too many lines (as in literal lines, not text & character dialogues), it would’ve been impossible to animate just like it. I tried to reduce as many lines as possible but I still received complaints from the staff later on… I learned my lesson.
You’ve previously worked on key animation and storyboards for various other titles. Were you involved in any of that in Record of Ragnarok?
Same as always. I can adapt to any other way. I was involved in the storyboard, drawing, some editing in the effects up till the mid-part, and adding touches to the cels.
Animators usually get to express their quirks and styles through their key animation, but as the director, what sort of general tone and feel did you want the fights and show to convey at the same time?
Please watch out for the heated battles! Not only for the fight scenes but also how they lived their lives as well. I really hope that message is delivered.
This is your first time directing a series. Can you share the experience with us?
It’s basically the same as what I usually do but I have to keep track of what happens in which episode as the production of the episodes takes place simultaneously.
Any final comments to anime fans as they watch the anime series?
Gods vs Humanity! I hope you feel involved in the battles while watching the anime.
Special thanks to Masao Ōkubo for his time and Warner Bros. Japan for the opportunity.
ⒸAzychika, Shinya Umemura, Takumi Fukui/Coamix,RagnarokProject