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NITABOH main page / Interview of the director Akio Nishizawa  
Nitaboh's way of life is a strong message to modern people.
Q Why did you decide to tell a story about the Shamisen of Tsugaru?
A: 20 years ago, I have been deeply moved when I heard a tape of TikuzanTakahashi playing the Shamisen of Tsugaru. When I read Daijo I learned that this special way of striking the strings was attributed to Nitaboh who lived at the end of the Edo era. In times of changes and difficult life he dedicated his life to his art and finally created what we call the Shamisen of Tsugaru. I was fascinated and I began to imagine the life of this character.
I thought that if we made this story an ani,ation movie it could become a strong message to developped societies and the japanese people who are losing their roots. We had a lot of difficulties to adapt this story. As for the screenplay the link between the real Nitaboh and the fictionous parts were not obvious so we had to rewrite the screenplay a lot of times. And I wanted the characters and the backgrounds to be realistic, so the artists should have had a hard time. For the last scene, the shamisen performance, we had to follow the movement of the hands and digits of Hiromitsu Agatsuma, this scene alone required around 7000 drawings.
Q What is the WAO corporation way of thinking a movie?
A: WAO Group is a private schools network, a place to expand knowledge, that covers the whole country. The main principle is "education". On this basis we set some rules to describe what should be a WAO animation.
First, make works that everyone can see and enjoy. Second, move the heart of children. Third, through a setting, an epoch and the life of characters, propose contents which help to think and which can be argued. Then work the tints and the music in detail. About this last point we wanted with the beauty of the tints and the rigorous nature of Tsugaru represent the original Japan, as well for the music with the shamisen of Hiromitsu Agatsuma, songs and shakuhachi (bamboo flute). I also wanted that Yae, Tokiko Kato's daughter, sings the main theme. Her wonderful voice made everyone shiver. I also asked to the composer Makoto Kuriya to supervise the music and to compose a piano performance. Jobs he did perfectly. With this movie we made the first step, and we intend to follow Nitaboh's steps : 'Do not copy others, make animations only WAO! can do".
Q Could you tell a few words on the next animation movie?
A: The next movie is "Furusato-Japan". It is an original scenario and a semi-autobiography set in 1956 when Japan enters the UNO and is at the start of its economic developpement. The theme is the children's song "furusato" and the story is about a teacher and his pupils that live with the motto "continue to walk in singing".
We intend to achieve the movie in Autumn 2005. In may 2006 WAO corporation celebrates its 30th birthday and this movie will symbolize this event. At the same time I would like to organize a caravan screening to show not only this movie but also other wonderful ones to the childrens all around the country.
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