Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness” is a full CG animated film based on Capcom’s popular survival horror game “Resident Evil”. It will be developed as the first CG drama series and will be distributed exclusively by the video distribution service Netflix. The story features popular characters from the series, Leon and Claire, as the main characters. There are also several original characters in this game, allowing you to enjoy the story of “Resident Evil” like never before.
This article features a conversation between Eiichiro Hazumi, the director of “Infinite Darkness”, and Hiroyuki Kobayashi, the man behind the Resident Evil series and the man behind this film.
They talk about the highlights of this first CG drama series, as well as what they focused on in the creation of the images.
Hiroyuki Kobayashi Producer at Capcom. In addition to the “Resident Evil” series, he has worked on “Dragon’s Dogma”, the “Sengoku Basara” series, and many other titles.
Eiichiro Hazumi Film director known for his work on the “Umizaru” series. His latest film is “The Sun Doesn’t Move,” starring Tatsuya Fujiwara and Ryoma Takeuchi, which was released in March 2021.
|Infinite Darkness” is a challenge unlike any other.
— “Resident Evil” is taking on an unprecedented challenge in the form of a CG drama series. Can you tell us about how you came to create “Infinite Darkness”?
Kobayashi. After the production of “Resident Evil: Vendetta” was finished, which was released in 2017, Hiroyasu Shinohara (Producer of “Resident Evil: Vendetta”. After the production of “Resident Evil: Vendetta” was finished, Hiroyasu Shinohara (producer of “Resident Evil: Vendetta” and executive officer of TMS Entertainment, Inc. We had talked about it.
–So it was agreed that you would continue to make “Resident Evil” films in the future.
Kobayashi After that, when we were talking again about what kind of film we were going to make, Mr. Shinohara ordered me to have Mr. Hazumi as the director.
–that it was a request from the producer.
Kobayashi Mr. Shinohara was an avid fan of Mr. Hazumi’s work, and he wanted to direct the next film with Mr. Hazumi.
–How did you feel when you received the offer?
Hazumi For me, this was my first time working on a film. It was my first time doing full CG animation, and although I knew of the “Resident Evil” games, I had never played them, so it was also my first experience with the series. However, the producers Kobayashi and Shinohara gave me a clear idea of what kind of work they were aiming for, so I said “I’d like to do it” with two words.
–What kind of work did you want to create?
Hazumi The offer was to bring suspense and drama to the forefront. It was my first time doing a full CG work, but it was a worthwhile challenge, so I was eager to try it.
–Director Hazumi, this is your first attempt at a full CG animation film.
Hazumi As for the approach, I tried to keep in mind that the camera work should be similar to that of a live-action film, and that in the case of CG, the camera can enter anywhere, but I tried not to use images from angles that people or cameras would not be able to enter. That’s what we paid attention to when creating the pictures.
The zombies are an important element of “Resident Evil”, and we discussed with the staff what kind of zombies would be best for this project. Also, in live-action movies, we discuss the characters and scenes with the actors, and it was very helpful to be able to do the same with the actors during the motion capture shoot.
–I see that you are using live-action film techniques in your production. Leon and Claire are on full display as the main characters in this film, how did you decide to use them?
Kobayashi Leon was chosen immediately, partly because he is my favorite character and also because he has appeared in almost all of the CG films. As for Claire, I wanted to have a female lead as well, and that’s why the other producers said, “Let’s go with Claire. She had also appeared in “Resident Evil RE:2” with Leon, and also in the CG film “Resident Evil: Degeneration”, so we decided to bring her in again. I talked to director Hazumi from the stage when it was already decided that they would be the main characters.
–This film was created with Leon and Claire in mind, wasn’t it?
Kobayashi That’s right. We started working out what Leon and Claire’s roles would be after Director Hazumi came on board.
–How did director Hazumi come up with the story in response to that?
Hazumi Leon and Claire are two of the main characters in the “Resident Evil” series, and I had the impression that they had a high degree of freedom of expression, so it was very easy to create their stories. Both of these characters are very popular, and I think I was able to fully express their appeal.
–The voice actors who have been casted are also quite talented.
Kobayashi Tomoyuki Morikawa, who plays Leon, and Hiroko Kaida, who plays Claire, are well known from the game series, so they were able to give stable performances. For the original characters in this game, we cast voice actors who fit the image of the characters. We asked Kazuhiko Inoue to play President Graham, and I think he was able to portray a president with a strong sense of justice. The dubbed version is also quite good, so I hope you will watch both versions along with the subtitled version.
–Infinite Darkness” is set in 2006, but is it a continuation of “Degeneration”?
Kobayashi There is no direct connection, but the timeline is in the order of “Resident Evil 4”, “Degeneration”, “Infinite Darkness”, and “Resident Evil 5”.
–What was the reason for choosing this age for the story?
Hazumi One of the reasons is that it was a good time to find a good balance between Leon, who was a rookie cop in Raccoon City and had a strong sense of justice, and the Leon depicted in “Vendetta,” who was tired of fighting against evil. It was a good time for a balance between the Leon of “Vendetta” and the Leon who was tired of fighting evil. In this film, Leon is on the side of the president, in other words, on the side of the regime, but for the sake of justice, he is in a position where he should not disclose the truth. I thought that the drama would expand with the appearance of the flat Claire.
–I see. So it was an age when it was easy for director Hazumi to expand the story.
Hazumi The story also depicts the differences between Leon and Claire, and in this movie, Leon appears wearing a suit. I think fans of the game will be able to see a Leon they’ve never seen before.
Kobayashi Leon and Claire are war buddies who survived the tragedy of Raccoon City*. There are conversations that remind you of that, so I hope you’ll pay attention to them. Claire has told me that I don’t look good in a suit
*The Raccoon City Incident depicted in “Resident Evil RE:2”.
–I think it’s a work that can be enjoyed on its own, but game fans will enjoy it even more.
Kobayashi That’s right. There are plenty of elements that will make fans of the series smile, so I hope you’ll watch it in detail.
–The story begins with a helicopter crash in the war zone of Penamstan. Many people think it’s an homage to “Black Hawk Down”, but on the other hand, the helicopter crashing is one of the typical situations in “Resident Evil”.
Hazumi That scene is based on the motif of the Battle of Mogadishu*. Since this is a Netflix original series, people generally watch it on their TVs at home, and unlike movies in theaters, they can stop watching whenever they feel bored. For this reason, I wanted to show the spectacular battle scene in Penamstan and the mystery of the events that followed at the beginning of the film to get the viewers interested.
The battle between American troops and Somali soldiers in the Somali city of Mogadishu in 1993.
–The structure of the video was designed with the characteristics of the distribution medium in mind, wasn’t it? It certainly drew me in from the beginning.
Hazumi This is also the reason why I included reminiscence scenes in the story, so that the audience can gradually understand what happened in the past. When I received the offer, I was particularly conscious of the fact that I wanted the story to have drama and suspense in the forefront.
–Is Penamstan a fictional country?
Hazumi That’s right. There is a map in the story, so you can get an idea of the location, but it is a fictional country close to China. Since it’s a fictional country, we couldn’t put up signs with words written on them in the city, so it was a little difficult to express the images.
Kobayashi If you use a language, you have to be specific about where the country is. Since it was only a fictional country, I was careful not to show any characters.
–The story features various locations, such as the White House and a submarine, and I would expect it to have been very difficult to produce in CG. ……
Kobayashi Rather than starting from the first episode like a normal animation, we started with the White House scene, then the submarine scene, and so on, creating images for each scene. I think it was easier than games, because you can’t move around as freely as in games, but it was still a lot of work.
–I see. The submarine scene, which is one of the settings of the first two episodes, gave me a sense of fear that I had never felt before.
Hazumi The idea of having a submarine in the story was also decided from the beginning. Resident Evil” is all about zombies, but zombies in a submarine would have been predictable, so we wanted to create something a little different and scary.
–Please tell us about other noteworthy points.
Hazumi It’s hard to get Leon to come out at first, isn’t it?
Kobayashi He makes you wait a long time.
Hazumi Resident Evil” is a series that has a lot of fans, so even if the main characters don’t show up, people will still be interested in watching. That’s why we were able to give the audience a sense of “we’re here” even if Leon only appears briefly. For those who are new to the series, there is a graceful way to explain Leon before he appears, and for fans, there is a sense of anticipation as to when he will appear. I think I was able to make both of those things work.
–The fact that he appears a little late is also typical of Leon.
Kobayashi. That’s true.
–The latest game, “Resident Evil: The Village” was just released in May, and it’s a lot of fun.
Kobayashi Of course, I’d like you to play “Village,” but the main characters of this game are Leon and Claire, so if you haven’t played it yet, I’d like you to play “RE:2,” in which they both appear. If you haven’t played RE:2 yet, I’d recommend you to play RE:2, which features both Leon and Claire. More specifically, I’d like to talk about Resident Evil 4, which features Leon, and Resident Evil Revelations 2, which features Claire. If you’re interested, please try playing the game as well.
–I’m looking forward to more and more excitement for both “Bio” as a game and “Bio” as a visual work. Lastly, could you give us an appeal for “Infinite Darkness”?
Hazumi Even if you’ve been a fan of “Resident Evil” for a long time, you’ll enjoy this film. I hope that people who say this is their first “Resident Evil” film will be inspired to watch other films and games.
Kobayashi Leon and Claire don’t appear in “The Village”, so if you want to see them in action, please check out “Infinite Darkness”. This is a film that you should watch not only once, but many times, and if you don’t understand something the first time, you will understand it the second time. You should watch it four times in total!
The more I learn about this level of dedication, the more my expectations for the work increase.
There are only about three weeks left until the film’s release. I’m really looking forward to it!