Home Film & TVAnime Meet Hiroyasu Ishida & Hibiki Saito: Director & Producer of ‘Drifting Home’

Meet Hiroyasu Ishida & Hibiki Saito: Director & Producer of ‘Drifting Home’

by Neil Bui

The Dorkaholics team had the incredible opportunity to interview the director and producer of the latest anime film available on Netflix, Drifting Home. Being that this is an anime film, director Hiroyasu Ishida and producer Hibiki Saito are Japanese natives, which required the presence of a translator, marking this historic interview as Dorkaholics’ first international interview conducted in two languages. (Thank you again, Emily and Ashley for helping coordinate this momentous occasion)

Neil Bui (NB): In your own words, how would you describe the plot of Drifting Home?

Hiroyasu Ishida (HI): So in a nutshell, the story is about this girl, Natsume, and her process of along with the passage of time, her process of having to come to terms with losing one’s place in order to discover a new place to be. 

NB: As someone who grew up with parents that fought a lot, I was really drawn to Natsume’s character and found her incredibly relatable. How did the characterization for Natsume come about?

HI: So in thinking about this and creating this character of Natsume what really went in the back of my mind was to start with anybody who is anybody needs a place where he or she belongs to, a place that is his or her own. And as I said before, this is a character having to part with that place in order to discover a new one. And so, this story of her character arc was really about how she processes this transition. And that all went into the tiny little details, for example when they visit Grandpa Yasuji’s hospital and there’s a little bit of a misunderstanding or falling out with Kosuke and how does she nevertheless march forward through her interactions after that and her relationship with Kosuke, and how Kosuke little by little figures out how to support her as well. And in depicting these instances, I really had to reflect upon my own emotions and sentiments as well.  

NB: What ideas or feelings would you like viewers to leave with after watching Drifting Home?

Hibiki Saito (HS): This concept about that special place that we had, for example in our childhood that was very precious to us, and if this film could remind you of that certain place and sort of infuse you with a sense of nostalgia or attachment towards that place that would be great.

HI: Through these characters of Kosuke and Natsume, I hope that the viewers or audience members can think about what it is to march forward or come to terms with a certain truth for example. And through that process of going forward or that process of growth, it is very important to have someone that you can talk to, someone that you can build a relationship with. And maybe you think you have no one, but someone might be there that you haven’t noticed, and if there is a certain someone like that, that you can rely on as you go through your transitions, perhaps think about that person after you watch this film.

NB: For the director, what lessons from your first film, Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl, did you bring into this film?

HI: Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl was indeed the first commercial film that I made and of course the personalities and the way they interact with each other’s characters are quite different from this one in Drifting Home. But I think one attitude as a director that I gained or learned to have as a director was that in Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl it was all about giving myself to the film through the main protagonist. So all my sentiments, all my thoughts are infused into the main protagonist’s and you have to have that, especially when working with a large group of people. And so, I think I’ve been able to do that or establish that this time around with Natsume and Kosuke as well. As complicated of characters they are, I think I’ve been able to draw from my experiences of doing Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl and utilize that in this one as well. 

Drifting Home is out on Netflix now!

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