Violet Evergarden-Behind the Scenes- Part03


The original Japanese text was written by Shigeru Saito.
Translated by Jun F

Continued from Part02


In creating a 30-second commercial for Violet Evergarden, the theme presented was not “Geki-han,” but “Song.”

A song.

Not geki-han, a song.

I had no doubt that Violet Evergarden will continue to expand widely in its future. So, the music we make here will be the cornerstone. No matter how it develops or arranged after it has first launched, this is going to be the very origin music of Violet Evergarden.

That, is going to be “a song.”

To go with a song, of course—there are lyrics, and, a singer.

This strategy would make Violet’s image more overwhelmingly fixed than the Geki-han indeed.

What a worthy challenge.

But at the same time, both the lyrics and the singer had to be decided carefully.

Violet Evergarden is undoubtedly going to be a work that will be loved for years and decades. And also, to be appreciated all over the world. Therefore, the lyrics and the singer should be able to shoulder such a future along with the work.

—Ishidate-san said that he would entrust me to express (the music) in the way Saito’s image of Violet’s worldview. He had shared various images of the music playing in his mind. Still, eventually, the entire thing had become in my hands.

A mission to express Violet in song.

Here’s what I told him:

-I want the song to be able to break out into the world.

-It should be spectacular music that is in line with Violet Evergarden’s worldview.

-The lyrics desire to portray Violet’s innocence.

Ishidate-san shared with us what kind of 30-second visual he had in mind.

At that meeting, he seemed to be in a mindset of several patterns, but in either way, his main plan was to “promote the person Violet” and to “show various images of Violet.”

So, here comes a big question. What kind of song would be a good song to describe Violet?

This footage will represent the entirety of “Violet Evergarden, the original novel”. That means it’s not a limited representation of a particular episode or a certain point of time. It needs to describe the entire world of “Violet Evergarden”.

—But what actually does it mean to depict “Violet Evergarden” as an entirety?

I already had read the book over and over by then. The extent of my comprehension was getting deeper. I was analyzing in my own way—what was so fantastic, where it touched, and why it struck a chord. So, I decided the best way, as Ishidate-san said, to simply form from what I think Violet Evergarden should be.

When thinking about the basis of being deeply moved by Violet Evergarden, it comes to the charm of the girl herself. Of course, the story and the style of writing are fantastic, but what is fascinating about this story is the very existence of the girl with a magnificent mind.

Watch over what the girl has in mind, what she thinks, how she moves, and how she interacts with people—I thought this was the core element. Hence, I decided that it would be better to express “Violet” herself” in song, rather than to express the story of “Violet Evergarden”.

Then again, it comes to this point: What kind of a person is “Violet”?

To get the answer to this question, maybe it should be able to figure out by analyzing. I had put all my thoughts together in my own way as follows:

Violet is:

(1) A loving image of a mother watching over her baby

(2) A vulnerability that will cause death if left alone.

(3) Courageous, pure white, innocent girl

(4) The idea of the music is not like a Kayo-kyoku (歌謡曲:Standard Japanese pop), I wanted the taste of Western music.

(1) An image full of love, like a mother watching over her baby

In this case, the mother is the reader, and the child is Violet.

Come to think of it, I was portraying Violet through the perspective of a parent while reading the novel.

How will she accomplish her next task? Can she handle this trouble properly? Will she be in good spirits? Is she eating well enough? Is she happy?

— Although I am a male, I felt being a mother rather than a father. —Wishing to watch over her tenderly— some sort of feeling like that.

(2) A vulnerability that will cause death if left alone

In the novel, Violet is always acting tough. In other ways, heroic. She has a strong body and a brave mind. She could accomplish every request, yet with brilliance.

All in all, there is a sense of supremacy— I wonder why, though. I was always feeling a sense of vulnerability along reading the story. That sense was as if she was on the brink of something. If there’s a trigger, it will fall apart. She appears to be tough than anyone else, but something makes me feel that she needs support, some backup. I was always feeling her weakness in some way.

(3) Courageous, pure white, innocent girl

No double-face. Straightforwardly. Could write a letter with a complete understanding of what the client is seeking. Be able to draw out the true feelings from the fragments of words that the client wishes to deliver. Sometimes she even could extract emotions from their environment and actions instead of words. Her existence and the interaction with people around her would make everything “gets better” in the end.

She could make people better.

However, I guess it’s a little different from being a Saint.

She is not so big a figure to be the savior of all people, nor is she going to save the world. She is nothing more than a single individual. Indeed, she has the power to make people better, but that’s only to a very limited and small extent. In her day-to-day life, she makes people better in a small but sure way. She is very much down to earth.
If I start acting like Violet from tomorrow, this might also happen to me in my everyday life, and maybe I could make people better—

Violet’s behavior and the way she treats people give me the feeling that I can apply it to my real life.

But this isn’t a “life enlightenment book” kind of lesson; Violet is just doing her thing, although there are countless things that can learn from her.

One of my recurring thoughts throughout reading the novel “Violet Evergarden” was, —“If I ever had a child, how could I raise a child like Violet? “

I was likely to be inspired so much by the girl Violet that I couldn’t help myself ponder like that.

(4) The song image is not like a Kayo-kyoku(歌謡曲), but need to be a sort of Western music.

—This part is not an analysis of the person Violet, but of the image of the song to be made for the footage. The world portrayed in the novel is not a realistic story of this Planet Earth. But the world I imagine from the sentences had a strong European sense. I suppose that in the novel, it was assumed to be in some era when electricity was not used. So it was likely to be more like Europe around the time of the industrial revolution in the mid-18th or 19th century.

If I was asked whether the music that suits Violet Evergarden’s world is Japanese or Western, I think it fits rather Western. To say in music, “Yo-gaku(洋楽)” -a genre of music which means western based music in Japanese- would fit. But like other music genres, “Yo-gaku” also vary in ways.

I wondered about Western music—Which was popular among people in the mid-18th century to the 19th century in Europe, during the industrial revolution? would it be like Beethoven or Wagner? —It was a good hint for the music’s image, but I thought a classical type of it was an inappropriate choice for this time.

—With contemplating back and forth in these ideas, the overall image of the music was solidified.

The next step was to determine the specific “shape”.

Here are the notes I wrote at that time:

-No rhythm in the first 5-8 seconds. Then rhythm in, To the end.

-Not a ballad, but a mid-tempo POP style to make easy for camera blocking.

Actually, there are two ways to create a song:

A: Decide on a writer and place an order by nomination

B: Competition style which we don’t nominate, but instead call out to a wide range of creators and ask them to propose songs, then choose one

In fact, I think I’m not the type of person that does a lot of competitions, but I instinctively felt the competition was better for this case.

It was because the “image of the music” in everyone’s mind, including the production staff, had not been solidified yet. We try to unify the image of music by exchanging words, but indeed it is hard to grasp the music unless we hear the actual “sound”.

Music is so close to our everyday life, so the soil varies from one’s life experiences. A common language (of the music) is often difficult to find.

For example, if you asked, “What kind of song that you think is cool?”, probably the music sounds in mind of each one of us are somewhat different. The same goes for the musical image that represents Violet. The “Violet’s music” that is ringing in everyone’s mind would be a wide variety of different ways.

Therefore, if I went with only one song on a nomination, even if that was my ideal type, it might not be so much in the sense of the rest of the staff. Maybe then we could try at the next phase, but that would require too much time. The iron should be struck while it’s hot, and above all, the time is not infinite. Because of this, I preferred the style of competition so we could have many options.

—Listening to the songs we’ve gathered, and each of us identifies what kind of music is playing in our own minds, then, we will integrate the opinions—
The song is going to be determined in a competition.

This was my solution.

Then, the lyrics?

The lyrics could have been determined by competition as well.

But I had a feeling this should be done by designation.

Because the requirements for the lyricist this time were quite specific. I didn’t think I could find any number of lyricists by competition who fit the criteria I was looking for.

There was something I had already decided on this time.

English lyrics.

Because of this, I needed someone who could write lyrics in English, and not only that, but also written in a certain way that could be listened to by people all over the world without discomfort.

I had a strong faith that “Violet Evergarden” must be presented to the world, so I also needed to show that attitude in my music.

Moreover, there were more several requirements for lyricists. To be able to communicate effectively with us. Peruse the novel and be able to comprehend the whole of its world. And, have a great love for Violet.

So, the ideal lyricist should be Japanese and at the same time, the person should be fluent in English. We needed to find someone capable of this.

And then what about the arrangers?

—This shall be considered depending on the mood of the song as the composition is finished. So, this can be put off.

And the singer—

Who should sing this song? —this was a fundamental issue.

I had to make a very delicate decision.

It goes without saying that it should be a good singer.

It seemed crucial to meet the other elements.

Violet Evergarden will be a masterpiece that is sure to be retold for years and decades to come. This song will also be sung for generations to come. So, the singer should be a long-time performer. We can’t assign a singer who might retire after a year or two. And she/he has to accept the idea of the project that starts with a 30-second commercial, which is sort of experimental in a sense. Plus, there will be many occasional approaches, so flexible enough to go along with. Someone who can communicate tightly and closely with us. Someone who loves this work with the utmost respect.

And, the voice must be full of tenderness.

—But to be honest, from the moment we started the idea of creating the song of Violet, I had the only person in my mind that would ever fit this project.

That person can fulfill the whole requirement.

It’s definitely going to be a success.

I decided to contact her.

Her name was— Aira Yuuki.

Continues to part04

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