Full Metal Alchemist Press Conference @ Anime Expo 2017
With the release of the live action Full Metal Alchemist movie earlier this month in Japan, hear what Director Fumihiko Sori and actor Ryosuke Yamada had to say about the film behind closed doors at their press conference earlier this year at Anime Expo 2017. Due to popular demand, we have also released a raw portion of the conference video on the bottom after the transcript.
Note: Questions were asked by various members of the press in attendance. Minor grammatical corrections have been made to some of the questions.
What was the most memorable scene, or perhaps the scene that you spent the most efforts in?
Yamada: I put a lot of effort in all the scenes, but if I were to choose, it would have to be the scenes with Alphonse. All the staff and the casts put a lot of passion into these scenes and I believe they came out very well.
This is for Director Sori, what was the biggest challenge in blending the animation into a live action movie?
Sori: The CG in Japan is growing to the level of Hollywood movies, so blending a 3D image with a live person, such as Yamada-kun isn’t the hard part. Creating the feelings towards how to connect the 3D image is the hardest part. There was actually an actor who played Alphonse in the movie which allowed us to capture the feelings of the character. This made the movie come to life.
This is for Director Sori, do you think live action offers something different than animation and what would that be?
Sori: Live action allows the actors to show their feelings more visually than animation does. It also allows us to see the deeper parts of that character and focus more on them. You can also change your facial expressions, and those little changes will allow us to change the entire scene. Unlike animation, you can reflect your expressions and feelings through those changes which makes it more interesting.
This is for Yamada. What are the similarities with your character Ed, and if not Ed, which character do you think has the most similarities to you?
Yamada: The height is the biggest factor, but also in Japan, I am known to have a baby face. People think I am a shy or calm person. Ed on the other hand, is different. He uses more aggressive words and I am actually similar to him in those regards. I am more manly than people think. If there are any differences, I think that is a hard question because I am very similar to Ed. There really isn’t any other character that is similar to me, and I’m not saying that because I play Ed, but because again, Ed and I are very similar.
Since you are so similar to Ed, how did you get into the mindset of portraying yourself to play a character that has experienced so much tragedy and dedicating his life to bring back his brother’s body?
Yamada: I read the manga many, many times, and tried relating myself to him. But I also drew influences from the set and I tried to naturally act as the character. So preparations-wise I didn’t do anything special for it. I tried to act as natural as possible.
What are some of the differences between adapting a live-action movie from a manga series, such as Ping Pong that doesn’t have any anime series, to creating something that has two anime series like Full Metal Alchemist?
Sori: There really aren’t any differences. Full Metal Alchemist has an amazing storyline just like Ping Pong and it’s just the difference between having to use any visual effects or not. It all just comes down to the original narrative.
The Japanese cinemas are set to release the movie on December 1st, but are there any plans to releasing the movie here in America?
Sori: We actually don’t know.
This is for Yamada, what are the differences you experienced from acting between the movie Assassination Classroom to Full Metal Alchemist? One might be more action-based to the other more school-based. Can you please compare your role of Nagisa to Ed?
Yamada: The manga are very different.. Nagisa was more of a girly-guy, more shy and quiet. Ed is more outgoing and a man within a man, so they were very different types and I have never really compared the characters before.
In this story, there is Alchemy's First Law of Equivalent Exchange. Is there anything in the world that you would exchange for losing a part of your body?
Yamada: I may be exaggerating it, but the cast and the staff have tried to treasure the original manga as much as possible so if I were to say one thing, I just hope that there will be as many people as possible to watch the movie and enjoy it.
This is for Yamada, you do many things such as acting and singing in an idol group. How do you balance these roles and do you think you will taking on more acting in the future?
Yamada: Working as an idol and working as an actor are very different types of jobs. I think as an idol you need to push yourself forward, but when you are acting, at times you need to push yourself back. I like myself as an idol, but I do also like acting. Thankfully I have 9 members in my group so I can watch the balance between them all and try my best to continue doing both jobs.
Both of you are award-winning film artists. So how do you express yourself artistically in the adaptation in a live-action movie from the original works?
Yamada: I tried to use all my skills in this movie, and I think there were even scenes of myself that I have never seen before. I think that is the most exciting part about acting because there really aren’t any other opportunities that you can see another part of yourself. I just hope that part will be expressed to the viewers.
Sori: I really like action and visual effects, but I don’t think that is the main part of the movie. The balance of acting and the visual effects is what creates the movie and that is main part that I focus on the most. I think this movie portrays that the most and it came out very well.
This is for Yamada, are there any rituals that you do before acting in your works?
Yamada: It really depends on the scenes, but if the scene requires for me to put more feeling into it, I go into dark places. There was a scene in this movie as well, and I went to that place and stayed there for about 1 to 2 minutes and changed my mindset and came back in front of the cameras.
This is for Director Sori, in the panel, you stated that you wanted to create movies that have the visual effects from American movies, such as the recent superhero movies. What aspects would you like to bring to the Japanese films?
Sori: Recently, American comic books have been remade into live-action movies and I believe they are very faithful to the original series. I think they expressed the cultural aspects the right way, but when Japanese comics are adapted into American movies, I feel there are cultural differences in the stories. Full Metal Alchemist isn’t set in Japan, but contains a lot of Japanese cultural ideas. I think if it was to be made here in America, it could be a good movie as well; however, being created by a Japanese team, I think we have caught the nuances as much as possible and this movie will express our greatest efforts.
Full Metal Alchemist has been a beloved series for a very long time. Why do you think it has been a loved series and what was the biggest reason why you wanted to recreate this into a live action movie?
Sori: I believe this series is loved by many and we were given the opportunity to recreate it into a live action film. This movie is not just about action but more about the human feelings and the mechanics behind it. It goes deeper than other stories, so I think it is appropriate to be remade into a live action movie. I also believe that it will appeal to people who have seen the animation. I want to create a bigger fanbase by attracting other people who have never seen the series by having them watch the movie and like the series from a different viewpoint.
This is for Director Sori. During the panel you had stated there is an interest in creating a part 2, but by the end of the panel you had stated, “I look forward to part 2.” Is there any confirmation about part 2?
Sori: We really look forward to this, but if enough fans out there watch the movie, we hope this will be a confirmed project.
This is for Yamada. You have many fans, not just in Japan, but also internationally. How do you feel about this and where do you want to take it from here?
Yamada: This makes me really happy. I have done concerts in Asia, and this is my first time in America. This makes me really happy that we can go globally with this.
For this movie, you shot scenes in Italy. Were there any cultural differences that surprised you?
Yamada: In Japan, it is normal to shoot from morning to night. I’m not too sure if it is a cultural shock or anything, but when we were overseas, there weren’t any nonstop filming from day to night. The staff there were very surprised and that made us surprised too because of the differences. The movie isn’t created by just the Japanese staff, but there were additional Italian staff as well, creating a bond with them. Creating the sets and scenes together made me feel motivated to create a better movie.
This is for Director Sori. You stated you wanted to create something similar to the original series, but how did you incorporate your own style into the film?
Sori: Balance is the most important part for this movie. If you add just the visual effects, it will be a very simple and boring movie, and I did not want that. The theme that I created was a mixture of visuals and emotions, and that is what I like about my style. I hope this film expresses it.
Are there any background stories that you could share that happened behind the scenes?
Yamada: Director Sori looks to be a kind and sweet director, but I do understand this is very important, and he never gives up. It was a lot of work, but until he gets a scene that he approves, we must redo it as much as possible until we get his okay.
Sori: In the movie, there is a scene where Yamada-kun jumps off a very high cliff. and he actually had to jump off of it himself. There was a mattress but the cliff is higher than this ceiling, and of course usually you will rehearse or practice such a scene first before the real shoot. This scene was shot outside and there was a stuntman who tried it out first and of course it took a while to get it in the right way. So finally when the mattress came out and it was Yamada-kun’s turn, we advised that he practiced a few times, but he said, “No, no practice.” We ended up filming the scene on the first try and he had to run 25 meters and jump. The scene was a great shot and it only took that one time to film it. Even Tom Cruise wouldn’t be able to do this. Please look forward to it.