compiled by Skye Lobell
Rie Matsumoto is an anime storyboard artist, screenwriter and director.
Matsumoto has a fondness for Japanese fairy tales, and growing up she would watch the many anime adaptations of those on TV. She was also fond of anime with anthropomorphized animals which dealt with heavy subjects in a palatable way. She was inspired to join the anime industry after watching the Digimon film Bokura no War Game (2000).
In 2006, Matsumoto started working as an assistant director on the prolific Toei animation franchise Pretty Cure, particularly Yes! Precure 5 GoGo! and Fresh Pretty Cure!, and quickly became an episode director. Although the Pretty Cure franchise’s main aim is to sell toys, she didn’t feel too restricted, and a certain absurdist zaniness would be apparent in episodes she was in charge of. Because she had worked with the film’s producer before and was taken notice of, she got the opportunity to direct the feature HeartCatch PreCure The Movie: Fashion Show in the Flower Capital… Really?!. Matsumoto describes herself as a fan of character drama and likes to explore the intricacies of emotion. HeartCatch PreCure deals with complex interpersonal relationships and familiar bonds, and the film solidified her approach to her core themes of family and belonging.
After Heartcatch Precures critical and financial success, she left the franchise in 2012 (but stayed at Toei Animation) to begin working on her passion project, Kyousougiga. She had first heard of doing an original anime project from the toy company and sponsor Banpresto, who wanted her as director for the anime. The project went through several iterations, from a 5-minute short film to a 25-minute short to a net series consisting of 6 episodes until, finally, a 10-episode TV series. Since she had the greatest amount of creative freedom with this project, it is considered the culmination of Matsumoto’s ideological and stylistic pursuits.
For the 5 minute film, she was given a concept of a girl with a weapon as the main character. Since there wasn’t much time for worldbuilding, Alice Through the Looking Glass was used as a motif. For the half-hour film, the setting ‘Mirror Kyoto’ was created, based on the real Kyoto. Since the short features yokai, Kyoto was chosen as a setting due to its connections with spirituality and the otherworldly as well as its recognizability and audience associations with the city. With the full series, she wanted to give all the characters a proper conclusion.
Matsumoto describes herself as a child of “the ghost story boom”. Horror stories were popular during her childhood. One popular book series, School Horror Stories, was adapted into several films, one of them featuring a thief dressed as a monk. The monk was the central inspiration for the design of Myoue, one of the main characters of Kyousougiga. She also has a particular interest in folkloristics. She still loves horror stories and often visits the library to read Yanagita Kunio’s folklore books. The ‘giga’ in Kyousougiga means ‘cartoon’ or ‘comic’, and the compositions and layouts were inspired by manga panels, since Matsumoto herself is a manga fan.
In 2015, she was hired by Studio Bones to direct the anime adaptation of Blood Blockade Battlefront, based on the manga by Yasuhiro Nightow. The main storyline, involving the protagonist and his younger sister, hadn’t been completed yet. Matsumoto contributed two anime-original characters, also a brother and sister, whose relationship paralleled that of the main siblings and could give a thematic conclusion to the story.
She still works at Bones and has done storyboard work for My Hero Academia. Her greatest hobby is watching movies, and she gets new ideas while riding her bike to work.
Josh Dunham, Rie Matsumoto – A New Generation of Directing Via Kyousougiga (originally posted on AnimeAnime 2013, translated by Twitter user @why1758): https://wavemotioncannon.com/2017/09/25/rie-matsumoto-a-new-generation-of-directing-via-kyousougiga/#
Sam Leach, My Hero Academia Episode 41: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/my-hero-academia/episode-41/.130691
Caitlin Moore, Sakura Con 2016: Rie Matsumoto/Toshihiro Kawamoto Interview Part 1: https://heroineproblem.com/2016/04/18/sakura-con-2016-rie-matsumototoshihiro-kawamoto-interview-part-1/
Caitlin Moore, Sakura Con 2016: Rie Matsumoto/Toshihiro Kawamoto Interview, Part 2: https://heroineproblem.com/2016/04/25/sakura-con-2016-rie-matsumototoshihiro-kawamoto-interview-part-2/
SeHNNG, Kyousougiga Artbook Interviews 1/3: PV and OVA (first published in Vol. 38 of Kikan Ace): https://catchercatch.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/kyousougiga-artbook-interviews-13-pv-and-ova/
Brandon Teteruck, FEATURE: Creative Spotlight: Rie Matsumoto Your family is your world – lose your family and your world shatters.: http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-feature/2016/12/12/feature-creative-spotlight-rie-matsumoto