INTERVIEW: Sasaki and Miyano Director Shinji Ishihira

©2022 Shou Harusono /KADOKAWA/ Sasaki and Miyano Partners

Sasaki and Miyano follows the budding relationship between two titular characters — Sasaki and Miyano. Miyano is a closeted fudanshi who’s part of the school disciplinary committee. Sasaki looks like the bad-boy type but in reality is a really sweet and confident senpai. The two meet when Sasaki intercedes on Miyano’s behalf to stop a bullying situation. Instantly earning Miyano’s admiration, Sasaki also finds himself attracted to Miyano quickly after meeting. To get closer, he asks Miyano to teach him about BL. Thus, an adorable romance blossomed between the two boys, reaching the hearts of many in the anime community.

Anime Trending spoke with the director of Sasaki and Miyano, Shinji Ishihira, who shared some insights behind anime series and creative process of the anime.

Anime Trending: What were your first thoughts about the source material?

Shinji Ishihira: I was taken by how cute the artwork was the first time I saw it. The expressions of the characters really draw you in, and the lack of any real “villain” as the story progresses makes it quite an enjoyable read. There are important story beats such as Sasaki and his sister’s past, Miyano’s history with Makimura, and Hanzawa’s situation at home, which kept me binge-reading through the whole thing. The full-color pages were also impressive 

Which aspect of the manga was the most important for you to convey or enhance for the anime?

One key goal was to bring the same impression the source material offers into a video format. We focused on the coloring and working of the atmosphere, the sense of life, and the feeling of youth into our depictions and settings. I think presenting Assistant Director [Takehiro] Ueno with some other works, which offered concrete examples of what we were trying to do, helped us truly pull off the feel we were going for. We also put extra focus on hand movements and cats.

©2022 Shou Harusono /KADOKAWA/ Sasaki and Miyano Partners

Speaking of color, there are many stylized moments that feature shapes and patterns instead of scenery in the background. What was the process of deciding the color combinations for all these shots like?

These design effects are what we call “decorative art.” Back when I was working on Super Lovers, I wanted to bring the stylized backgrounds of the manga to video and had some luck trying out various methods, so I used those here as well. Some scenes simply use rays of light and such for effect, but there were many points in which I wanted to emphasize more exciting emotional moments or add more dazzling effects. It is also useful for comical ways as well.

During the show’s emotional moments, the “camera” purposefully blurs. What sort of meaning or feeling is that effect meant to convey?

Our camerawork is mostly determined at the storyboarding stage, but the more minute details like blurring and such were the result of much trial and error by Assistant Director Ueno.

Yusuke Shirai and Soma Saito have had incredible chemistry playing Sasaki and Miyano respectively. What were the qualities that led to their casting, and what sort of directions were the two seiyuus given?

There was already an audio drama for this series before it was made into an anime, and casting for that was done before I had any involvement. A lot of times for various reasons there are different voice actors for audio dramas and anime, but I was glad we got to keep the very same cast.

©2022 Shou Harusono /KADOKAWA/ Sasaki and Miyano Partners

What stands out to you about Sasaki and Miyano’s relationship?

Miyano offers a good mix-and-match with his cute looks but more boyish personality, and even though he gets caught up in his own fantasies he’s a fun kohai character who has great interactions with his friends and senpai. Sasaki seems scary at first, but is clumsy in a way that is really adorable, and this mismatch of his looks and his almost heroine-like characterization is really enjoyable. The excitement this cute kohai character and their admired senpai offer as they slowly grow closer and realize their feelings is what makes this story great.

Any final comments to fans watching Sasaki and Miyano

I’m glad this series is generating a big response. I hope that people might be able to forget the stress of their daily lives, at least while they are watching this.

©2022 Shou Harusono /KADOKAWA/ Sasaki and Miyano Partners

Sasaki and Miyano is currently streaming on Funimation. Stay tuned for an additional Sasaki and Miyano interview exclusively on Anime Trending. 

Translation by Deven Neel

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