Kotaro Tamura interview: ‘Josee, the Tiger and the Fish’ director

“Josee, the Tiger and the Fish,” a new anime film based on the 1987 short story of the same name, tells the tale of a young woman named Josee, who uses a wheelchair and develops a relationship with her caretaker, Tsuneo. Kotaro Tamura directs this adaptation of the story, which comes after multiple film adaptations in recent years. So what did Tamura want to do differently with this film? “A lot of the other adaptations and movies tend to end the film in a sadder ending, with a darker tone, with a more realistic view of what it means to have a disability or handicap,” says Tamura in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “We wanted to have a very uplifting and positive message.” Watch the video interview above.

As Tamura suggests, there is a stereotype with films centering on disabled characters to make the conflict about their hardships. The director knew that the depiction of Josee would be key to the experience of the film for the audience, so he took special care to design her in the right way. “We wanted to make sure that her facial expressions were very clear to the audience, so we made sure to cut her bangs a little bit shorter, so that you can see her entire face, so that her emotions can be displayed clearly,” he explains. He and his team also paid special attention to Josee’s emotional journey from the start to the end. “She has trouble being honest with her feelings, but as the story progresses, in the latter half, she starts to really show her inner honesty a lot more.”

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While much of “Josee, the Tiger and the Fish” feels natural and lived-in, it also makes great use of color, especially in the exterior scenes. Everything from the water to the trees to the cherry blossoms are eye-popping, reflecting Josee’s own exploration of the outside world she’s largely been kept from. “Films that are more geared towards adults and grownups tend to be a little bit flatter in terms of the color tonality and vibrancy,” observes Tamura, “but we wanted to make sure that this was a love story, very romantic love story, so we wanted to make sure that that feeling of vibrancy was there.” For example, he points out that many films tend to depict winter as bleak and flat, but he wanted to still maintain that vibrant tone by adding flowers and giving pops of color throughout.

Tamura has directed a number of TV series in the past, but “Josee, the Tiger and the Fish” is his feature directorial debut. He relates TV to a more passive experience than film, which, in the case of the latter, the public is actively going out to see. “It’s just more intentional, so we wanted to make sure that we don’t skimp out on design on the concepting phase or anything like that,” he notes. “What the characters are going through emotionally and letting the audience use their imagination to take those visual cues and use their imaginations to really see what the characters are feeling, what they’re thinking, was something that we really focused on.”

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UPLOADED Dec 28, 2021 11:00 am