Whisper Me a Love Song #1 – The Rooftop, A Guitar, And Senpai



Staff List

Hiroki Uchida
Xinya Cai
Episode Direction:
Nobuhiro Mutou, Yuka Hashimoto

Chief Animation Direction:
Shiho Hoshino
Animation Direction:
Misae Kawakubo, ハンミンキ, Masashi Wakayama, Hikari Sakano, Minami Yoshida, Kiyoshi Nouji, Tsukasa Izumisaka, Kiyoshirou Katou
Cooking Animation Director:
Tsukasa Izumisaka

Key Animation:
Kimiko Tamai, Harumi Ozeki, Noa Kawamura, Jeong-Nam Kim, Rio Enomoto, Masato Okada, Takahiro Ninagawa, Rika Kanetaka, Nobuhiro Kashiwagi, Hidetoshi Namura, Ryouko Kawamura, Ayato Kumada, Takanori Suzuki, Kazuo Oohara, Yasunori Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Oikawa, Gorou Taki

You can check out my full first impression here with fellow Animehouse writer Brandon Piro for a more basic outline of my thoughts. It should serve as a TL;DR for my overall thoughts on the episode.

In this write-up, I want to talk more specifically about what made this episode so good, why there might have been a shift in the studio’s quality, and just the overall staff and visuals. We already know about all the troubles that surrounded this anime before its release. It had a director change, and the quality of Cloud Hearts / Yokohama Animation Lab productions has been rather low, even in cases where the direction shines through like in The Witch and the Beast (another of my favorite mangas). So people were quite wary of this anime production, including me. Yes, Yokohama Animation Lab has created shows with great productions before like Miru Tights and Lapis; Relights, but that was a while ago. So going into the anime based on the PVs, all we knew was that it was going to have great character designs by Minami Yoshida, as it didn’t give us much insight into its animation quality, on-modelness, direction, etc. However, early premiere reviews were generally very positive, so I had a feeling it would be fine. After watching the episode, though, it actually exceeded my expectations for the most part.

Right from the introductory sequence of Himari leaving her house to watching SSGIRLS perform, it’s a much more animated experience in the literal sense compared to anything Yokohama Animation Lab or Cloud Hearts has released in the last few years. Just take a look at the performance video; the sheer amount of movement and energy it presents to us is truly remarkable. It sets a great tone for the anime.

Live Performance Staff List

Tsumori Shindo
Animation Direction:
Misae Kawakubo
Key Animation:
Shouya Gotou, Miyuu Ookubo

It’s just a total blast of energy. I think it well demonstrates why Himari would fall in love with Yori at first sight. It exceeds by far the amount of movement I expected for the live performances, and I believe that’s mostly due to the specific allocation of staff. The live performance staff were listed separately in the credits rather than alongside the rest of the episode 1 crew. We have storyboarding and direction from Tsumori Shindo, whom I couldn’t find much information on aside from his Twitter, but he seems to be an extremely talented and creative visual artist. He has an indie anime movie coming out in the Summer of this year, and from the production materials provided on his socials, it almost gives me an ethereal, creepy vibe. It looks very unique, and if someone like him is going to be handling the direction of the live performances for this show throughout its airing, I truly don’t think we have anything to worry about. (Follow the movie’s progress here!)

The other staff members are more in line with what we’d expect from Yokohama Animation Lab. Misae Kawakubo, the animation director for the live performance, is quite a regular presence at Yokohama in general, as is key animator Shouya Gotou, whom we saw handling Monster Animation Direction in The Witch and the Beast (one of the better-animated aspects of that show), and Miyuu Ookubo, whom unfortunately I don’t know much about at the moment. All of them seem to be fairly new to the industry. The fact that they decided to seemingly have a dedicated group of staff just for the performance section of the episodes bodes quite well for the rest of the show. Shouya Gotou’s work in past Yokohama projects, while good, has never been quite this fluid and fun. It seems like they’re giving this project a lot of time for the staff to work with, possibly thanks to the delay, which could be credited to NUManimation, who’s airing this show, being quite consistent in terms of the anime they typically air being of pretty good quality. Being allowed to delay the anime by 4 months is not common. The fact that the animator staff seems to be Yokohama Animation Lab / Cloud Hearts regulars, if not just contracted to the studio, suggests that we’ll likely see them again for live performances in future episodes, which will be great.

That also seems to be the staff direction for this entire project; it’s filled with newer staff, which I actually expected to see in The Witch and the Beast. Yokohama / Cloud Hearts has been hiring a bunch of new animators on their recruitment site and has been trying to build up an in-house staff as mentioned in this interview. The original director for the anime, Cai Xinya, who still boarded this episode, is also quite a bit of a newer, homegrown staff member for Yokohama Animation Lab. So the staff that sticks out the most in this project is Akira Mano, the veteran director who replaced her. However, I don’t think he’ll be interrupting the flow of things as much as people might have expected. Mano has never been a big storyboarder even on his own shows, and if Xinya is on episode 1 here, she’ll probably be on other episodes. I’m assuming most of the storyboards to already be done by the time Xinya is replaced, and Mano will mostly just be doing a management job for the production. The only thing I’m predicting him to be directly influencing will be the opening, which he did storyboard and direct, though that seems to be done far after anything else, seeing as it wasn’t even aired for the early premiere back in March of this year.

I consider that to be a positive thing because, to be honest, the opening visuals were perhaps one of the weaker elements of the debut. Cai Xinya appears to have grasped the essence of the show far better than Mano, as evidenced by her storyboards in episode 1. She works in the chibi scenes for example seamlessly, and she gives a lot of opportunities for some fun expressions. The opening visual by Mano just feels a bit still at times, and it felt like he didn’t understand the vision of the project. I hope the show continues to feature these younger talents, as their vision and style align more closely with the heart of the series, which, in its own right, embodies a more new-age romantic narrative. Its pacing also sets it apart from traditional romance anime, offering a truly unique flow.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and am extremely excited to see what else they have in store this week. Also, I couldn’t find a specific section to mention this, but I wanted to note that they have a Cooking Animation Director for this show, despite there being almost no cooking in the source material. Once again, I feel like this demonstrates the extent to which they’re going all out with the show’s production compared to their recent projects. The newer staff at Yokohama / Cloud Hearts seem much more inclined towards experimentation and creating enjoyable projects, which I believe bodes well not only for the show, as previously mentioned, but also for the future of the two studios.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.