Violet Evergarden-Behind the Scenes- Part06


Continued from Part05

The day came—first meeting with Evan; for ordering a sound composition.
We decided to meet in the office of Evan’s agency at that time.

It was in September 2013. Almost seven years ago.

For the order, I previously had sent a memo–noted what kind of music I was longing– to Evan.

When I entered the office on that day, Evan was there, seemingly a little nervous. I recall he didn’t talk that much. But looking back on it now, I think I was kind of nervous too. Maybe.

Evan would have been in his early twenties, and I was around 37 or so.

By the way, when I talk with foreign language native speaker, I try to deliver my words in brief phrases as much as possible.
Speaking in a row of short sentences— this is what I had learned in the oversea conventions. When we talked in a long-phrase, the interpreters had seemed quite hard to catch up with. I believe that it is often better to convey the message in a series of short sentences or in small chunks.
In reverse, if I was spoken to in English, I guarantee that this will make it easier for me to understand English. So I had talked to Evan as well.

Even now, basically, Evan would concentrate on being a pious listener at a music product meeting, therefore, there are only little questions.
But for me, I feel more comfortable if the composer(or whoever I was to work with) asked me plenty of questions because I believe that would make us understand the music that we are going to create mutually.

But Evan didn’t ask me any questions at that time, either.
He said he could understand almost everything from the memo I sent and the explanation I made. I was expecting questions of this and that, so I was quite surprised–No, I guess this is only an excuse. Maybe I just wanted to talk with Evan a lot only for my curiosity.

Evan had come to Japan “to create Japanese anime music.”
Understandably he must have had a firm willingness.

I was keen to know why he was so sticking into “Anime music”, and also about the catalyst. Furthermore, what do his parents think of his activity when rooting their son working in Japan?
With what kind of music he was listening to while growing up? Who is the favorite musician? The movies?

…there was vast of things I wanted to know.

When we work with creators, I think it is good to know about their backgrounds as much as possible. This may develop more respect for them, and you could tell your requests in a more sophisticated way.
–Well, to be simple, maybe I just want to know their culture.

And this time, it was the first time for me to make an order to a composer who was born and raised in other countries so it made me more eager.

There are indeed many differences among cultures, so it is good to know their cultural backgrounds beforehand. Diversity is a natural thing, and of course, no reason to deny.

In contrast, I was thinking of knowing about me would make Evan more comfortable to work.

So with these considerations, I wanted to establish lots of communications with him.

There was only a little time to communicate with Evan at a meeting, so I first told him only the core things. Evan said that he had understood our purpose.
After this, it seemed better for us to interact in the actual process of creation.

Soon after the meeting, I had received a demo and text message from Evan. It was written in Japanese and was very lucid.
And the demo was indeed a well-comprehended one. It was a surprise that he likely comprehended the feelings which we intended to include in the music.

Naturally, we decided to use the piece with no retake.
THAT was the song ” Neverending Dream.”

We could feel his fantastic sense in the song elsewhere, and it seemed to be led to the Violet Evergarden’s Geki-han.

At this time in the studio, I talked with Evan a lot. In that, I once asked him why did he choose Anime music.

–I want to create various types of music. But in the live-action contents, you can only make pieces related to the real world. On the other hand, Anime can create any world you want to.

This was Evan’s key to obsess himself into the anime world, and
I was really impressed with this point of view.
“Anime can generate any types of the world”=”You can create music infinitely”–how fantastic.

The next work of me & Evans collaboration on work was an arrangement of Faylan(former credit was飛欄 )’ s single CD [ Yasashisa-no-Tubomi]. It was a ballade. Being arranged with beautiful layers of strings and woodwinds. I think one of Evan’s specialties is his proficiency in using woodwind.

優しさの蕾 Faylan – Garo Makai No Hana .

Then We worked together with several Anime soundtracks(劇伴)
and he also had arranged some Uta-mono(song with vocal).

After I realized that Evan was a good singer, I made an order for his singing the chorus. Even I asked him to sing the main vocal part of the rock tune in a film.
He was truly a good singer. When I first listened to his song, I was so amazed that the voice was beyond my expectations.

2014, we had created Geki-han for the first time.

Evan began to show more individuality. Some of the music turned out to be a little different from what was ordered, but the project’s Audiography Director looked somewhat enjoyable.

Then, it was in 2017, the second time working together with Evan.
The Audiography Director was the same person as the first time, and he laughed in the meeting, saying, “Since Evan won’t listen to our request..”
But eventually, he made an order to Evan’s work.

I knew what he wanted to say in those words; it was like this–
Evan creates music that has plenty of his comprehension in it. I do look forward to the music being generated by Evan, and I know his music is brilliant, so I’d love to accept Evan’s free creations–

The director was truly admitting Evan’s talent.

And, who would it be, that director was Mr.Tsuruoka–the director who
was to be involved in Violet Evergarden several years later.

The interaction with Evan was stimulating. Listening to his music, I always felt that every piece of them was something that only Evan could create. And I loved his pieces.

Since Evan was so friendly, we got to know each other increasingly well.

He told me stories about his family and his family home.

One day, Evan’s family was coming to Japan, so I decided to have dinner with them. It was an odd combination though. Evan, Evan’s family, me and my wife.

Since they are staying in Japan, I thought I should choose a restaurant that could enjoy Japan’s atmosphere.
If I were to travel abroad, I would prefer to eat at a restaurant where I could feel that country’s culture. I was sure Evan’s family would feel the same way.

Thus, I chose “Gonpachi” in Nishi-Azabu.

With these kinds of communication, Evan and I had built up a trusting relationship, both musically and personally.

Because of these backgrounds, I knew that Evan would be the right person to take on the role of accompanist for “Violet Evergarden.

The very first piece that Evan composed for Violet was the music for the trailer.

Violet Evergarden CM Second version

The footage was made for the original novel’s second trailer–and the music for this was the initial “Violet’s music” of Evan.

Incidentally, Yui Ishikawa had been joining as Violet’s voice from this trailer.

When you listen to this trailer’s music, you could recognize that it contains a memorable phrase that repeatedly appears in the accompaniment afterward, and these are connected to each other.

Also, I want to mention one thing here. Using the typewriter sound as an instrument was Evan’s idea. So chic. I was struck by how sophisticated it was. I was thrilled to hear such an idea. He understands how important and meaningful the typewriter is to Violet’s world, and that’s why he had this idea. This is the kind of loving approach that really inspires me.

After listening to typewriter sounds on the instruments, I felt comfortable trusting Evan with Violet’s music. (Even though we haven’t worked on the full series yet)

I desired to create an environment where better musical accompaniment could be produced and wished to increase more interaction among the staff. Violet’s staff must be able to get along with Evan, in the same way that I got along with him. And with this, it would make all of us easier to exchange ideas.

Then, what is the best way to set for communication between the accompany music composer and the animation staff?

Usually, when production is in progress, the only occasion for the composer and staff to communicate are the meetings and sound dubbing.

Maybe you could ask them to come to every dubbing session, but in many cases, there’s no time for them to go to each of the sessions. Then, how about setting up a dinner party? -This is not a bad idea, but they need to share the same experiences in a more intensive way.

As part of the anime production process, we sometimes make location scouting(“Roke-han” in Japanese)–Going to see the areas where the film will be set. Sometimes it’s an actual town that is featured in the movie, and sometimes it’s a place that is close to the world we are trying to portray.

We had a plan on location scouting in Violet Evergarden as well. I felt this was a unique opportunity, so I asked Evan to come along for the shoot. We spent a few days working with the director, producer, and staff from each section. Seeing the same things and thinking about the same goals, and then, made discussions. It was a truly dense period of time, and because we all move with the common goal of “making the film,” gradually we begin to share a common language.

Also because we ate together, we could talk a lot about various things. Through this, we would have been able to understand each other’s personalities more deeply.

These days of location scouting trip was impressive.
More than just deepened our communication, it was a live experience of what the Violet world can be based on in the landscape.
And also, it had a great influence on the dramatic accompaniment that was later produced. Even Evan had said that the trip expanded his imagination.
I can say that the overwhelming synchronization of Violet’s soundtrack and the visuals had been strongly affected by this location scouting.

Anyway, the accompaniment was created through these series of common experiences.

The collaboration between Tsuruoka-san and Evan had been done several times at that time, so they were in perfect harmony. It was an ordering meeting that showed that Mr. Tsuruoka knew what kind of order to place and what kind of creation Evan would do.

The recording of the accompaniment was played with a large orchestra. For the series, it was recorded in Japan. (After Gaiden, overseas recordings were also made). There aren’t many studios near Tokyo that can record a large orchestra, but we decided to record at one of the largest studios in the city. The musicians for the recording were superbly selected, studio musicians.

When I met Evan for the first time, I had always wanted to have him create in a large orchestra environment, and now, we finally did.


I think all of Evan’s energy was put into it, not only in the great melody but also in the way the sounds were stacked and rung. I just watched him on the recording site, giving non of the advice. His concentration and heat were overwhelming. And most of all, Evan seemed to be having fun.

Of course, there is the pain of giving birth, but he seemed to be having a lot of fun on the recording site, despite the nervousness of the situation.

These intangible thoughts certainly raise the level of creativity.
Putting your heart into it” is extremely essential in creative work.

The same thing applies to cooking. There is an obvious difference in taste between a dish that you put your heart into and a dish that you don’t. You have to be a professional, so it’s natural for you to be above a certain level. To create something more than just an excellent technique, it’s important to put “feelings” and “emotions” into it.

So, the producers need to create an environment where creators can put those feelings and emotions into their work.

The accompaniment of Violet Evergarden contains strong feelings from Evan. But from Evan’s point of view, he would have put his feelings into every production, so Violet is not the only one special.

However, I’m a “doting parent”. It’s natural for parents to love and be proud of their children desperately.

The soundtrack for both the Gaiden and the theatrical version is fantastic. Both films have not yet been released as soundtracks, but they will be eventually. The first thing I want the fans to do is to enjoy the set with the images, but at the same time, I wish all of the audience to fully enjoy the music alone.

The soundtrack of the series is already out, so you can listen to it anytime you want. I highly recommend everyone to listen to it.

Also, I hope that when you listen to it, you’ll be able to sense the feelings that have been put into these creations.

What Ms. Chie Ayato (a very wonderful singer) said on the radio was:

The intro is life.

All of the events of our lives up to that point, what was there before, what we talked about before, the singer’s MC just before the music was played–are all part of the intro to the music.

Music is retribution.

Everything that happened right up to the moment the first note of the performance was uttered is an introduction. The singer’s words and actions, his/her life, his/her parents’ generation, the flow of the times, etc., are all introductions.

The creator puts everything into the work he creates, but the recipient is free to take it as they wish. You can enjoy it by feeling the work alone, or you can enjoy it by understanding the history and life of the creator by thinking that everything is an introduction.

For instance, Beethoven’s music is wonderful, and you can enjoy it even if you only listen to the music. In addition to that, if you know that “Beethoven lost his hearing since his late 20s,” his music brings a different kind of excitement.

I think that’s what Chie Ayato means by “intro”.

Violet’s music was written for Violet, so if you can simply enjoy it first, that’s enough for me.
But I’m still a “doting parent”, so I’ll be even happier if you can enjoy the accompaniment after getting to know a lot of Evan’s previous “intros”.

Now, anime music is not only for the accompaniment but also for the opening and ending songs.

The opening and ending songs are also necessary.

Well, I’d better leave this to another time.

Shigeru Saito’s Profile


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