An Interview with Scissor Seven Director He Xiaofeng

Interviewed by Ma Xiaogua and Bi Fang (Anim-babblers Study Group); translated by Nick Stember

Scissor Seven(2018) has become the first Chinese animated series ever to sign a Netflix Original distribution deal and be rebroadcast on the online streaming giant. According to official sources, Netflix will be deploying a fleet of pro dubbers to create English, Japanese, French, Spanish dubs of the show. The lead in each of these languages will be played respectivelyby Ronny Chieng, Shinji Saito, Max Boublil, and Daniel Sosa, all famous comedy actors. Additionally, subtitles will be produced in 29 different languages, allowing the show to appear online in 190 countries around the world.[1]

The first season of Scissor Seven came out in 2018, and has over 180 million views on Bilibili, with over 1 billion views across the internet. Meanwhile, the second season of Scissor Seven is likewise pulling in eyeballs from all over. Only five episodes in, the show has already racked up 5,915,000 views on Bilibili, plus 500,000 followers and 20,000 reviews with a crazy high average of 9.8 — a score that shows the second season is every bit as popular and talked about as the first. In light of all this, we specially invited the director of Scissor Seven, He Xiaofeng (Fig 1) to our editorial office to really grill him on how he made the show and get him to share some of the things he’s learned along the way.

He Xiaofeng graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA) Digital Art Department having majored in Animation. Way back in 2010, He enjoyed some early fame with The Big Girl, which was awarded Best Short Film at the China Image Film Festival in London, along with a whole pile of other awards at home and abroad. The most amazing thing is thatThe Big Girl was actually just his graduation project!

Fig 1: He Xiaofeng (1987-)

Scissor Seven (Fig 2) is something of a one man show for He Xiaofeng, who is responsible for not only directing, but also writing, character design, storyboarding, and editing. As if that wasn’t enough, he also wrote the lyrics to the end theme song, and provides the voice for the main character, Seven! Jack-of-all-trade directors like He are seldom seen. So, how did the Renaissance man He Xiaofeng master so many skills? And what secrets does he have to reveal about Scissor Seven? Read on to find out!

Fig 2: a poster of Scissor Seven

Study Group: What was the turning point when you decided you wanted to become an animator?

He Xiaofeng: I graduated in the animation major from GAFA, but when I started my college, I wasn’t planning to do animation. Like most of my classmates, I wanted to do games. Later on, I made Big Girl so that I could graduate, and it kind of took off online. That’s when I started thinking I might have a gift for this, so I decided to keep at it, and eventually ended up continuing on as an animator.

Study Group: In Big Girl, the film tells the story of a fat little girl who goes to save her prince. Why’d you want to do a story like that?

He Xiaofeng: When I was working on my final project for graduation, I was doing everything all on my own, so I didn’t need to think about things too much. At the time, I didn’t need to come up with a bunch of proposals, and just came up with this story.

At first, it was more like a joke, I wanted to make fun of fairy tales for always having the princess be really pretty. Like what, the prince only falls in love with Cinderella cause she’s good looking? So I made this story, which is actually just a reverse fairytale: What if the princess wasn’t just unattractive, but what if she actually became unattractive to save the prince? How would the story go on from there? When I was making it, I thought about lots of girls I knew like this, who did a lot for other people, but because of their looks, nobody appreciated them. So bit by bit, that’s how the story of Big Girl developed.

Study Group: This film started out as your final graduation project. How did it end up getting turned into a series? Did you plan it like that from the beginning?

He Xiaofeng: No way. To start, I planned to quit animation after I finished the film, because I was planning to go into making games. But as it turned out, I flunked two interviews with two different gaming companies, haha, nobody wanted me.

But like I was just saying, finishing Big Girl made me see another possibility for myself, one that I hadn’t thought of before. For me, it was like opening a sliding door. I realized that I could keep going with animation. But at the time I didn’t have a clue about commercial animation, I’d just graduated, you know? When I was in school I’d never looked into it, so I was pretty clueless. I just wanted to give it a try. And then I ran into the company I used to work for, and decided to give it a try with everyone.

Study Group: I remember in a previous interview you mentioned that you thought that animation, for you at least, was the best way of expressing your feelings. I want to ask, what did you think are the advantages to animation compared to other art forms? And why do you think that it’s the best way for you to express yourself?

He Xiaofeng: I was mostly comparing it to other media, like live action fiction film and live action TV. Because I’ve come up with lots of other stories, and some of them I don’t think would work the best as animation, and others wouldn’t work well as live action.Like Scissor Seven for example, I think that it’s a story that really only would work as animation. Because there are some really wild and crazy parts. The other thing is that animation is really the only thing I know how to do, when it comes to expressing myself.

Study Group: Big Girl came out in 2014 with 8 episodes. From then until when the first season of Scissor Seven came out, four years had passed. What’d you work on between these two projects?

He Xiaofeng: (laughing) So that’s how long it was! Never thought about it that way. At the time, when Big Girl finished, there was about a year where I didn’t do anything at all. I didn’t make anything, didn’t do any animation, just took a long break. That whole year I was kind of in daze, and I kept thinking about all the decisions I’d made in the past, if they had been the right ones.After about a year like that, I suddenly felt it was time to start on something new. At the same time, I’d taken in some lessons from my experience with Big Girl, so now I knew how to create amore mature commercial work.

Study Group: What were some of the problems that you think Big Girl ran into on the business side of things?

He Xiaofeng: As a project, Big Girl wasn’t successful for a lot of reasons. But I don’t want to criticize other people’s work, so I can just speak to my own contributions in the creative department. The worst thing I think that I did was that for an animated series, I was too interested in doing some things that really would have worked best in an independent animation.

Because in every episode I was looking for new ways of expressing myself, but they were the sort of things that you’ll run into big problems with if you’re making an animated series. The team had to set up the production from scratch for every episode, which meant the work process could never get up to steam. And I discovered that some of the things I was trying to do don’t really serve much purpose in a commercial animated series. 

So I went into something of a funk: on the one hand, I felt like I was trying to make art, but I wasn’t really doing a very good job of it. From my own perspective as a creator, I wasn’t satisfied with the final product; and as far as the commercial animated series went, all of that created a huge amount of work, which really wore me out. So the result was I failed at both.

Study Group: How did the idea to make Scissor Seven come together?

He Xiaofeng: Since I really didn’t have very much going on that year, I had a lot of time on my hands. I kept thinking, if I want to keep making animation, what kind of story should I do? I actually came up with a bunch of ideas, but some of them weren’t very fleshed out. But there were a few that I thought I could give a shot, and of those I decided to do Scissor Seven. I also thought that, given the abilities of my team and I, this was a project that would be relatively easy to do, while also giving me the chance to express some of my ways of looking at life.

Study Group: Was there anything in particular that inspired you to make Scissor Seven?

He Xiaofeng: Let me think. Actually, not really, haha! Lots of people ask this question, but I never know how to answer. There really wasn’t, I guess I’m just that kind of creator.

Study Group: How many people were on your team to start?

He Xiaofeng: Including me, there were 5 of us. At the time we had Hou Junjie, who did the concept art, which is what he is still working on; and then Jiang Huiqin, our current art director, but at the time was just helping out, she actually has her own projects to work on; and then there was Zhu Mao, which is a pseudonym, he’s in charge of backgrounds, at the time he’d just graduated, amazing painter, but not very good at drawing, so we’re still teaching him the ropes. And then there’s Huang Xiaobin, who was my classmate back when I made Big Girl. He also does concept art. Finally, we had one guy leave to get married and have kids, so he’s not working with us on the show anymore. In the beginning there were just the 5 of us, and for the first year, that’s how it went.

Study Group: Did you run into any problems making that first season?

He Xiaofeng: Actually, the production really didn’t have anything that was too hard to figure out. Probably because our team was on the smaller side, or maybe we just didn’t know what we were doing. Worst case you just muddle your way though, right? So there weren’t any totally unsolvable, inevitable problems that we had to come up with solutions for.

Study Group: Before, with Big Girl, you said there were some problems when it came to making the business side of things work. How did things improve with Scissor Seven?

He Xiaofeng: Well, for example, to begin with, Big Girl was my final graduation project. So when it came to the relationships between the characters, how they developed over the series, or how they looked at the world, I really never thought about that stuff. And as far as how the story should keep going, how it should develop, at first I didn’t really think it through. So those all became problems for me.

But when it came time to make Scissor Seven, I sat down and really thought through the details as much as I could. For example, the main character, Seven, I sketched out a backstory, where he was from. But it’s not like I think creating is some sort of dark, mystical art. Is it always the case that you get better results if you plan every little thing out? It’s hard to say. Actually, when I was making the show, I kept changing things, so I can’t say if this really is a better way of working.

Study Group: Besides being the director, you also write lyrics to the songs, and your concept artist, Hou Junjie is also a composer. That’s really not the sort of thing you usually see on your average animation team! Why did you decide to do the music yourselves for this series?

He Xiaofeng: It all started because of Hou Junjie’s talent for composing. He’s different from me like that, haha. He was originally the guitarist for a local group in Zhanjiang. Of course, I didn’t know that he had this talent, it was only later that I found out he had written a bunch of songs, so we asked him to give it a try. To be honest, he’d never made this kind of music before, because in the past he was composing for pop music. But he gave it a shot.

In the beginning, it was pretty rough. He didn’t know anything about post-production, and he mostly used an acoustic or electric guitar to make music. Because that’s all he knows how to play. But I really like the melodies he writes, so sometimes I ask him to compose a song, and then have someone else arrange it. Later on, he started picking up arranging and post-production, at any rate, we were all giving it a try. Maybe it’s just because we started out using his music, but at any rate, now I really feel like his style has become the style of the whole series. Since Hou doesn’t have any professional training, I also hired a professional music producer, Zhang Jiacheng, to fill in some of the gaps. That way the music in the series sounds a little more filled out.

As far as my lyrics writing abilities go, I actually don’t actually have any special talent for it. Since we chose the end credit theme from a song that Hou Junjie had written before, the lyrics weren’t like this at all, so we had to change them.  But the literary ability of our team on the whole is pretty low (laughs). Even though I’m not any better myself, since we’re all so low, we needed someone who understands the show to write them, so that’s how it ended up being me.

Study Group: So this was also something that came out of thinking about the tone of the series.

He Xiaofeng: Right, because I thought if I wanted some really literary lyrics, then I wouldn’t write them myself. We also tried finding someone else to write the lyrics, but the tone wasn’t right, what they wrote wasn’t what I wanted to say. But words, they can be really hard to get just right. So in the end I wrote the lyrics myself.

Study Group: Just like how you ended up doing voice acting for the show, in a way, there were a lot of amateurs working on this project. Was this also a part of keeping the tone you were going for with Scissor Seven?

He Xiaofeng: In the beginning, no. When you make animation, you have to record the voice actors first, pre-record the music and so on. Originally I wanted to hire a professional voice acting team, since I’m not 100% confident when it comes to my own voice acting. But after the voice acting director Jiang Guangtao gave it a listen, he thought we could try leaving it to keep some of the unique flavor of the show.

Because I’m a director, if I’m also doing voice acting, it really influences my way of thinking about a lot of things. Like I thought my Mandarin voice acting was really terrible, really, so I gave the voice acting director a sample of my voice acting in Cantonese. And afterwards he thought I should just stick to voice acting for the Mandarin version.

For a long time, I felt super anxious about it. I wasn’t sure if it would really work. Especially since when I hear my own voice it sounds really unfamiliar — actually, everyone is unfamiliar with their own voice. Of course, when you watch the series now, you get the feeling that it has a kind of style, but at the time that wasn’t what I was thinking at all. Because I didn’t think this was what the story needed—

Study Group: It was just the result of something that was decided later.

He Xiaofeng: Right.

Study Group: How did you choose the music for Scissor Seven?  I noticed that you guys used a lot of folk music and rock. Do you have a soft spot for folk music?

He Xiaofeng: I don’t know much about music. I’ve got terrible pitch, my friends all say that when I sing I’m always going off-tune, but I can’t hear it. And when it came to writing the lyrics, it was really tough, like one word at a time. So I can’t really say that I’ve really gotten into folk or rock music. Does “Ah Zhen Loves Ah Qiang” count? I’m not really clear what genre that falls into…

When I’m choosing songs, it’s actually really simple. Mostly I just use them to match up with my visuals, and don’t worry too much about what genre they’re in. It’s just that if this song seems right here, I’ll try and put it in. (sighs) If the mood is OK, I’ll use it.

For the parts that use rock music, that’s all Hou Junjie. His composing style tilts toward pop & rock. Actually, creating things collectively is sometimes like that. When I’m doing music with Hou Junjie, I often think that that’s just what this work needs, so I’m pretty open to his style.

Study Group: How did you settle on the character designs for Scissor Seven?

He Xiaofeng: Actually, before I’d even come up with the story, I had already designed the characters. I drew them way before the story.

Study Group: Was there anything in particular that you paid attention to?

He Xiaofeng: All the sorts of tricks we learned in college. You want to find some detail to focus on, like the three hairs on the top of Seven’s head, they match up with the feathers on Dai Bo’s head.

Or to make him more recognizable, that’s a big part of character design for me. Seven should be one of a kind, so that you can pick him out from other characters with just one look. I’m really afraid of drawing the kind of characters who you couldn’t pick out from a crowd, really pretty characters. I don’t know how to make those sort of characters visually distinct. So in the beginning I’m looking for stuff that’s unique to the characters and the way they look, and also what’s unique about their personalities.

Study Group: Since you also do Seven’s voice, lots of people think that you’ve put some of your own traits into Seven. Is that the case?

He Xiaofeng: When I was just starting out designing him, that definitely wasn’t the case. When I’m making something, I don’t explicitly try to make things connect back to myself, that’s too limiting. If you want to make a character like yourself — the problem is, how can you be sure that people will like you, right? (laughes) But after we had the final product, everyone said they thought they saw a resemblance there.

As a character, Seven doesn’t have anything to do with my everyday life. But the stories that happen to some of the supporting characters, those do come from things that I’ve thought about and perspectives I’ve gained from things that happened to me in real life. For example, the episode where Seven is hired to assassinate the underwear guy, Seven doesn’t actually do much to express this. But through the supporting character’s story, we get to talk about whether or not we should try to understand and accept other people’s interests and hobbies that might be different from our own. If someone’s hobby isn’t hurting anyone, why should we look at them funny or exclude them?

Thoughts like these all come from my everyday life, and in most cases I use the supporting characters to express them. The main character is more useful for connecting these sorts of things together.

Study Group: The character designs and art style for Scissor Seven are really uncommon for animation that’s produced in China. What were some of the things you took into consideration with your character designs and art?

He Xiaofeng: In the beginning, I didn’t really think about trying to make certain kinds of designs or layouts. It was just my drawing style, something that happened pretty naturally. Like Seven, when I designed the character myself, I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular. I just drew him, and the style of drawing that I used is more or less how he ended up.

From the beginning, the setting and art style were decided by two artists I’ve worked with. I only had input into the architectural style of the island, since I wanted the buildings to be pretty low. And then I combined that with some details from the buildings here in Lingnan, and that was that.

But basically the drawing style, that came from everyone using their own style, and grew naturally out of that. We didn’t purposely think about the different styles on the market. So when we were making it, we didn’t think our style was anything special. But when we went to market, that’s when we found out other people didn’t think the way we did, and as it turns out, we ended up with something that’s pretty different from everyone else.

Study Group: And yet lots of fans of Scissor Seven have praised the action and blocking. How do you approach the action scenarios? 

He Xiaofeng: As a professionalmedia outlet covering animation, do you guys think we did a good job? (laughs)

Study Group: The art is a little rough, but the actions and movements are good. (laugh)

He Xiaofeng: Actually, I don’t think we did a good job with the actions. Even if I was at work, I’d say the same thing. But if you want to talk about actions and movements, my way of looking at it is this — when I’m sketching out a sequence, do I want to show off my skills, or do I want to move the story forward while still making sure that the characters are expressed really clearly and distinctly. I’m the same at work, sometimes my coworkers draw these really fancy things — because concept artists like to show off that they can draw like Nakamura Yutaka or something. I get it, but sometimes even when they draw something that’s really great, I give it the thumbs down because it doesn’t fit the plot, or doesn’t fit the character.

Study Group: The way most people think, there’s just no way to make these kinds of movements.

He Xiaofeng: At the time, if he hadn’t been so badass, he wouldn’t have been able to come up with those movements. But for me, I really care about whether there’s a conscious design that goes in my character’s actions and movements. 

Sometimes I see some good actions and movements that other people do a really good job with. But even though I can’t do the same, I don’t really think what they are doing is design, it’s showing off their skills. It’s kind of a waste, really. If you brought in some design work on top of this foundation… For example, when should Seven take out Xiao Fei, and when should he take out the Gaiba Egg? How do you surprise the audience, and turn it into something different? I think design questions like these are more important.

After all, the majority of viewers aren’t professionals, so they are not necessarily going to “get” how awesome your drawing skills are. Sometimes I see artistic animation that’s so awesome you can hardly tell what’s going on. But it still looks pretty cool. But on the other hand, if you never studied animation, would you feel the same way? Or would you think it’s all just a flashy show-off? I’m not making my work for professionals; I’m making it for the general public. So I’m going to pay more attention to whether the average viewer can actually understand what I’m trying to convey with a specific action and movement, and what the character is actually doing.

Study Group: Can you take a specific sequence from Scissor Seven to give an example of the kind of action and movement design that you’re talking about here? It doesn’t need to be anything special, just something that you think really shows your idea.

He Xiaofeng: Take for example a scene that everyone thinks is really classic, the one where Seven and Thirteen kiss. For a scene like this one, you really need to design the right animation, and think about how you can make two people kiss by accident. At the time, when I figured it out, I thought I’d come up with a really special scene, because I hadn’t seen it used anywhere else!

In some TV shows, you often get this scene where the guy and the girl accidentally trip and fall on the ground. The female lead is lying on the guy’s body, and they kiss. There are too many scenes like this! But since I thought of a way of doing this scene that I hadn’t seen before, when the audience sees it, they’ll remember it. I thought I’d come up with an interesting action. Scenes like this are what I mean when I talk about action and movement being a kind of design. But maybe we don’t show off our skills enough, the way we draw really isn’t very badass. More often it comes out funny.

Study Group: Scissor Seven uses a lot of “Mantonese” and Cantonese. Just now when we talked about voice acting, you also brought this up. Originally, this wasn’t part of the plan, was it?

He Xiaofeng: Right…actually, I originally wanted to make something more mainstream. I’m always warning myself not to fall in love with puns. If you want to make comedy, it’s really easy to fall in love with puns! Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Especially for people who grew up speaking Cantonese, because Cantonese has lots of really fun puns which lose a lot of their flavor when you translate them into Mandarin. But I don’t think it’s such a bad thing, you just don’t fall in love with puns, that’s all. Because puns are actually a pretty narrow form of comedy, sometimes I even think using them is kind of like cheating. It’s like an inside joke that you have with your friends at work — people who speak the same language all get puns, so if you make a joke that uses one, the audience who gets it will feel like you have something in common, which makes it easier to get them to laugh. But if you set those aside, how else can you get the audience on your side? This might be the hardest thing to get right.

Study Group: Wacky humor and absurd, nonsense humor both come across as key elements in your work. Where did the inspiration for this kind of humor come from? Are there any works you were especially influenced by?

He Xiaofeng: I think a lot of people would bring up Stephen Chow at this point. I’ve never tried to avoid being influenced, because my generation, especially here in Guangdong, from when we were little we grew up under the influence of Lingnan culture. So it’s really been a big influence on my life, it’s like it’s in your blood. You can’t get rid of it, and you don’t really need to do anything special to try and imitate it. Unless you go the opposite direction and try to avoid it on purpose. But I’m not interested in trying too hard one way or the other. When you’re making things, the closer you get to your own stuff the easier it is, I think.

Study Group: In addition to Lingnan culture, were you influenced by any funny Japanese anime?

He Xiaofeng: In terms of humor, the Japanese influence probably isn’t too big. But the way the main theme is expressed was definitely influenced by Japanese animation. When I was a kid, they often broadcast Japanese shows and anime on TV, and we all grew up watching anime, too. How could you not be influenced?

But as far as my style of humor, sometimes I think it’s a little mysterious. Because I tried getting a coworker to do some of the storyboarding and blocking work, and the result is really different from what I would come up with. Maybe it has something to do with my personal sense of humor. It’s not like I try to do a certain kind of humor. Basically, if I think it’s funny, then that’s how I do it.

Study Group: You just mentioned that you asked a coworker to try storyboarding an episode, but the style was really different from your own. Did you end up using their boards in the end?

He Xiaofeng: I’ll change them in certain places, but I still use them. Creating animation isn’t a solo thing, it’s something you do as a team. As long as they don’t get too far off track, I’m okay with my coworkers bringing in their own style to their work.

Since I’ve invited them to contribute, after all, that already shows that in some way or another I recognize their talent, and that I think having them join in is going to bring in some things I’m not expecting, or can’t do myself. Of course, the work is going to lose some of the things that would make it look like my style. It’s a question of balance, it cuts both ways. As long as there’s no conflict in the overall direction, though, I think the audience can accept seeing some different sorts of things.

Study Group: When the first season of Scissor Seven came out, did you have any sense of how it was going to do? In terms of audience, did you have a clear idea of the group you were targeting?

He Xiaofeng: We definitely had a target audience. At the time I was thinking of someone between 14 and 24. Even though that’s a pretty big range, if you get too specific, there’s no way to make that work. At the time I thought some of the things that the story gets into, viewers should be at least in middle school, a second-year middle school student is about 14 years old. And on the other end, you haven’t graduated from college yet. So middle school to college students, in that range more or less.

At the time I also thought that Scissor Seven maybe wasn’t too mainstream. Because people often judge things the same way — they look at whatever is really hot on in the marketplace right now, and then look at their own work, and they say okay, my thing probably isn’t going to fit into the mainstream. So at the time, I didn’t expect it to take off like it did. My goal at the time wasn’t for it to become super popular. I just hoped it could find an audience, even if it was just a small one, as long as they really like it, that would be enough.

Study Group: In that case, now that the show has really blown up, has your way of thinking changed at all? Do you find yourself looking at the work differently?

He Xiaofeng: Sometimes I feel like there’s more pressure now. I’m the kind of person who rarely looks at reviews, but obviously you can’t help it if your friends send you screenshots from your reviews. What jerks! So in that case I can’t help but read a little, and then I feel pressure. But all I can do it is keep telling myself to not be too influenced by what other people say, that I don’t need to think about what people out there think about my work. I don’t want to let the popularity of the work change it.

But the strange thing is, the more you tell yourself to ignore them, that turns into its own kind of pressure. Am I being influenced? So dealing with your emotions around this is also a creative challenge that you have to face.

Study Group: The second season of Scissor Seven has already started being broadcast. Compared to the first season, are there any changes in the theme or structure?

He Xiaofeng: Actually, it’s really different. In the past, when I thought about doing the second season, I wasn’t sure if I should try to copy over the successful parts of the first season, and bring together the parts that the audience really liked to carry those over. But in the end I decided against this, because I thought no matter how I did it, the show would just die.

If you do the same thing, people will point that out. But if you do something different, other people will point that out and say you’ve changed. So you can’t pay attention to this sort of thing. You just need to focus on how to keep the story going. There’s no point in worrying if the first season is like the second season. If it’s the same, then that’s great, and if it’s different, then that’s great too. All I thought about was how the story would continue if you set everything else aside. What are the problems that Seven is going to run into?

So the second season actually follows in a linear way from the first, especially if you look at the last 5 episodes. I think it’ll become clear to everyone who watches it that the second season develops in a way that the first season really couldn’t. Because when I was originally sketching out this story, I knew it wasn’t going to be an endless episodic series, like Detective Conan for example.

Study Group: This is something we really noticed. The first season feels more episodic, or at least it doesn’t go beyond this format as much.

He Xiaofeng: That might be because I’m not interested in doing an infinite episodic series. Actually, the thing I really care about is constructing the characters, and their motivations. And constructing characters and building motivations are things that take a long narrative arc to do. There’s only so much you can fit into the script for a single episode. Characters are actually really hard to put together. They need to face lots of different things, and they need to have an abundance of motivations, relationships that develop with other characters. I’m more interested in doing all kinds of characters, and continuing to dig out their backstories. So when you watch the second season, you’ll see that actually mostly you have characters from the first season who are getting more fleshed out, rather than starting a bunch of new stories.

I think that these might be two different directions you can take, but I also don’t know which choice is better and which is worse. Maybe there isn’t about better or worse, it’s just about what kind of ending you hope the story will have. And for me, I’m more interested in telling a story with a beginning and an end. Just let the story develop to the end, I don’t want to do one of those “Cradle to Grave” shows. (laughs) 

Study Group: How about some spoilers, can you tell what’s going to happen in the second half of season two? Anything we should look forward, specifically?

He Xiaofeng: Oh, lots. (laughs) The big baddies make their entrance. And Seven sings…

Study Group: So he can sing!

He Xiaofeng: There’s also a big reveal, but I really can’t say more than that. In general, the story moves towards the climax, revealing something of the bigger picture.

Study Group: When you mention the bigger picture, can you say more? Do you have a general plan for Scissor Seven, in terms of the number of seasons?

He Xiaofeng: I used to think that there would be around X seasons (number redacted). But whether my plans will change in the future is hard to say. I’m not planning to do an infinite number of episodes, since I’m more into making characters and watching them grow. So actually, I’ve already figured out the ending, even down to the specific details of the last episode.

Study Group: There are more maps in the second season. Will Seven travel to other places?

He Xiaofeng: That’s what season 3 is going to be about. (big laugh)

Study Group: We’ll just have to wait and see then! On that note, I think we can bring out interview to an end, thank you Director Xiaofeng.

[1]The original interview in Chinese was published by the Anim-babblers Study Group on November 20, 2019. Adapted and republished with permission.


Nick Stember is currently a PhD student in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, UK. He is a translator and historian of Chinese comics and science fiction. He completed an MA in Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia with his thesis on the Shanghai Manhua Society.    

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