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Interview with Sophie Decroisette
 
 Welcome to our page on interviews with Sophie Decroisette, the writing director of Code Lyoko!

Here you'll find a goldmine of information on your favourite TV series Smiley

Those wary of spoilers have nothing to fear here; none of the details of season 4 were revealed during the interview (they're confidential). The only part where you'll find information on season 4 is "Yes/no questions about season 4," but it's still very vague (the only answers are yes or no!).

The exchange was partially reformatted and reorganised to make it as easy to read as possible!

Thanks again to Sophie for agreeing to this interview with us!

Quick access:

[Code Lyoko in general] [The episodes] [The characters] [Romance plots] [Season 4] [Yes/no questions about season 4] [Lyoko Events] [Some anecdotes]
 
 

Code Lyoko in general
 
CyberjujuM: Hello Sophie! First off, do you know who had the original idea for Code Lyoko?

Sophie: It was Tania Palumbo and Thomas Romain (students at the Gobelins school).

CyberjujuM: When you came on board, had Garage Kids already become Code Lyoko?

Sophie: No, the title Code Lyoko was thought of after I'd arrived, following a lot of thought about the concept with Jérôme.

CyberjujuM: Can you tell us about the transitional steps? Because a lot of things changed! Garage Kids is pretty vague, we don't really know what it was or why it became Code Lyoko.

Sophie: On a conceptual level, we did a lot of thinking to make everything coherent. Because to begin with, there were ideas, but no backstory, so the universe was very restricted. I know why Aelita is on Lyoko. That's part of the backstory. The backstory is what happened before the start of the series (who Franz Hopper really was, what he did...). Parts of it will remain secret, but I know everything!!

CyberjujuM: Did you change the name while working on the backstory (from Garage Kids to Code Lyoko)?

Sophie: The production team said Garage Kids wasn't very clear...but you could say the same about Code Lyoko!

CyberjujuM: Also, why this name? Because Aelita enters the Code Lyoko in almost every episode of season 1?

Sophie: No, Lyoko means Travel in Japanese. It was an idea thought of by Tania and the production manager at the time, Anne de Galard.

CyberjujuM: Some fans wonder if Matrix somehow inspired Code Lyoko?

Sophie: I think Tania and Thomas must love Matrix!

Shaka: When you were writing season 1, did you already have seasons 2 and 3 in mind?

Sophie: No, I only wrote the backstory after season 1! But when I wrote season 2, I knew there would be more after that...

Shaka: For example, when you wrote about Carthage for the first time, had you already decided that the Core Chamber exists?

Sophie: No, I knew the broad ideas, but not all the details!

Shaka: When the seasons are ready, can you watch them exclusively whenever you want?

Sophie: Yes, I saw "XANA Awakens" months ago!

Phoenix: Do you think Code Lyoko will be an "international" success?

Sophie: Code Lyoko is already an international success. We have incredible ratings on Cartoon Network, something very few French series have managed to do...

Shaka: When season 1 began airing... Did you expect it to be so successful?

Sophie: No. Honestly, I really enjoyed writing that season but I didn't think it would be so successful! But I'm very happy. It's rare, my other series (about 40 of them) haven't been as successful as that!
 

The episodes
 
CyberjujuM: With regards to the episodes, do you know how many people worked on each episode from start to finish, or how much time it took to make?

Sophie: I don't really have that sort of information, Jérôme would be the better person to ask. I can tell you it takes two or three weeks to write a 26-minute episode, and there are teams in China who do the animation, but otherwise I don't really know the details.

CyberjujuM: How did the writing go? (where did the ideas come from, how were tasks assigned, where did you fit in because if I understand correctly you supervise the writing but you also write episodes?)

Sophie: I'm both a writer and the writing director (except on season 4). So generally, I first ask the writers on my team for a pitch (story idea). I've written plenty of pitches for the series myself... Then, if I like the pitch and everyone approves it, the next step is the synopsis (about 4 pages). And then, the final step is the script. Between each step, the director, the production team and broadcasters offer their opinion and I have people, or myself, make corrections to the script.

CyberjujuM: And about how much time does it take for one episode?

Sophie: From writing the pitch to the final script, it takes about 3 weeks, but it can take longer if the various people reading it (producer, director) are slow to read it or don't like the story. Also, we have a quota to meet: 4 scripts approved each month!

Shaka: So are you the one who plans the big changes? Like the appearance of Aelita's power, William joining the group, all those things?

Sophie: Actually, the producers and director are involved too! But usually it's Jérôme and me who propose any changes to do with the bible!

Shaka: Were you generally all in agreement or were there disputes? Did anyone protest William joining the group, for example?

Sophie: No, everyone was happy with our idea of William becoming a dark warrior!

Shaka: How are the episodes split up among the writers? While making a section, I noticed that the writers don't do an equal number of episodes! Bruno Regeste and Laurent Turner, for example, they write a lot, especially key episodes or season finales! On the other hand, some writers only write one or two episodes, like Karine Lollichon who only wrote episode 37.

Sophie: Actually, I have a team of writers. Some of them write fast, others less so. Some of them are inspired by Code Lyoko, others aren't, but one thing is certain: I've written a lot and so has Bruno Regeste, for example.

Shaka: To finish with the writers, I noticed some of them often work in pairs too, right? I'm thinking of Alain Serluppus and Frédéeric Lenoir...

Sophie: Yes, writers like working in pairs (it's lonely work so sometimes it's nice to have a partner).

Johann: Also, did the writers for season 1 continue on to the following seasons?

Sophie: A lot of writers left after season 1. But the ones who've been here for all four seasons are Regeste, Merle, François, Turner and myself.

Shaka: Were you in contact with the translation teams for English and other languages?

Sophie: No, unfortunately. But I find them really good, compared to other series!

Shaka: I saw a note in one of your scripts that an Italian class should be changed to French class in the English dub. Did that come from you?

Sophie: No, I think that was Jérôme's decision, he decides a lot of things!! That's normal, he's the director!
Translator's note: They made it an Italian class in the end...

Phoenix: Do you know who'll take your place as writing director for season 4?

Sophie: It's Bruno Regeste, one of the other writers from previous seasons who's working on season 4.

CyberjujuM: And will you keep doing some writing for season 4, or none at all?

Sophie: Yes, I've already written 3 or 4 stories and Bruno and I are writing the final episodes.

CyberjujuM: Great news!

Shaka: Why was a scene cut in episode 12? The scene where Sissi confesses to Ulrich, I believe!

Sophie: There must have been an issue with the editing or something like that. It happens! I'll inquire about this episode.

Shaka: Was it you who came up with all the episodes of Jim's thrilling life??

Sophie: Yes. It was my idea, but all the other writers followed suit and added things to each episode. In the beginning, it was just a joke bit of dialogue.

Shaka: Do you have a favourite episode?

Sophie: Yes, I really like Ghost Channel and Contact. But I also really like XANA Awakens.

Shaka: Are you satisfied with the final result, or have you ever been disappointed with how an episode was adapted?

Sophie: No, I love what Jérôme does and I think he does a great job of directing. Plus, we both do a lot of work together!! So it's pretty rare that I'm ever disappointed!
 

The characters
 
CyberjujuM: Let's move on to characters now! Do you know where our heroes' names come from? Aelita for example, that's not a very common name...

Sophie: No, I don't know. I think Tania and Thomas, the series creators, came up with them. On the other hand there are some names, like William and the names of the other students, that I and Jérôme Mouscadet came up with. Same with XANA, when I came on board the villain already had that name too! I don't know why!

Phoenix: Where does the XANA logo (eye) come from?

Sophie: I don't know! It looks like the NOOS logo!

CyberjujuM: It started out rather vague and then grew clearer at the end of season 2...XANA really is a virus, and not the supercomputer itself?

Sophie: Yes, XANA is a program "running" on the quantum supercomputer in the factory (which it then escapes from).

CyberjujuM: Do you know who created the characters and new outfits for season 4?

Sophie: Tania created all the character models. Tania did the 3D ones too, working in the studio at Angoulème, I don't create anything on a visual level. Sometimes I put forward ideas with my stories, but that's it. The scyphozoa for example, I (and Jérôme) wanted a monster that could extract memory. Then, Tania created the Scyphozoa! As for the heroes' new looks, they told me there were new outfits and I worked with them!

CyberjujuM: Were you the one who created Aelita?

Sophie: I didn't create Aelita but I fleshed out her story. On a character level, it's true there was already some definition, but I added things...

Shaka: Why did Aelita's appearance change between episodes 26 and 27? She had different clothing and hair, her eyes were no longer green...

Sophie: I think there were some background changes to boost the series between seasons 1 and 2!

CyberjujuM: Can you tell us what the virtualised characters in 2D style at the Gobelins exhibition are about? Was it just to give the 3D artists an idea or will it be used in season 4?

Sophie: I can't answer...

Link-powerwarrior: In a lot of cartoons, the characters' appearance changes without explanation... In season 4, will our heroes' costume change have plot significance or will they just change all of a sudden?

Sophie: No, I think it's justified, because it's tied to the story.

CyberjujuM: In seasons 1/2/3, the characters don't grow up; between seasons 2 and 3 they begin a new school year; but by season 4, they've really grown up! So, will they still be attending Kadic?

Sophie: Though the heroes haven't aged until now, it's because of constraints imposed by the broadcasters. If the heroes evolved and grew older, the target audience would change and the broadcasters don't want that. But we still need to have some credibility, so they grow up in season 4. I still think the voices will stay the same...as for Kadic, it's a joint junior high/high school, so there's no issue there!

Link-powerwarrior: Why do the characters always wear the same outfits on Earth?

Sophie: Because otherwise, we'd have to redo the models for every episode, and it's too expensive. It's a question of budget and being able to recognise the characters. Just look at Gaston Lagaffe, he's always wearing the same sweater and sandals!

CyberjujuM: We've noticed a bit of cheating when it comes to Jeremy on Lyoko...we never see him there! Will this change in season 4?

Sophie: No. Honestly, Jeremie's character has nothing to do with the action... He's a geek, not warrior! I can't imagine him on Lyoko, but if you've seen all the episodes, you'll know he looks ridiculous!

Shaka: Do you have a favourite character?

Sophie: Yes, I love Jim! But otherwise, when it comes to the heroes, I love them all. Odd is particularly good to write because he's funny, and funny characters are easy to handle.
 

Romance plots
 
CyberjujuM: A lot of people are wondering about romance plots... Ulrich and Yumi's regressed in season 3, Aelita and Jeremy's hasn't really changed...Odd is still single! Will this change?

Sophie: I'll be frank, I would like to do more love-related stuff in the episodes, but we're restricted because the American audience don't like them as much as action! But if you want to know, Ulrich and Yumi are still in love, deep down. Odd being single won't change!

Johann: So the series isn't as French as all that...

Sophie: Yes, the series is French but the American broadcast brings in a lot of money, so we need to make everyone happy!

Shaka: Do you evenly split the work on episodes where there's a romance plot? I imagine the writers who worked on Routine must have felt privileged!

Sophie: Actually, for romance plots, there are two specialists: Bruno Regeste and myself.

Shaka: Did the channels put constraints on you with writing kiss scenes?

Sophie: Yes, it's difficult to show a kiss! It's the Americans who block them...

Link-powerwarrior: But there are more kisses in one episode of season 2 than all the seasons combined.

Sophie: The kisses in "XANA's Kiss" are more of a gag than anything else. All of them were!

Phoenix: Odd and Aelita, is it possible?

Shaka: Odd and Aelita is the big rumour on our forum at the moment...

Sophie: Odd and Aelita, I don't really think so. Jeremie is too jealous!

Shaka: Is the conclusion to Ulrich/Yumi's relationship already planned? (For better or for worse?)

Sophie: Actually, I don't yet know how it's going to end. I'm currently planning the last episodes of season 4. I'd like for them to kiss, but nothing's certain! At any rate, it'll end on a positive note.
 

Season 4
 
CyberjujuM: Now for a delicate subject, season 4! First off, the dates and the number of episodes...is it 30 or 40?

Sophie: Season 4 is 30 episodes long! Actually, there are 45 episodes in seasons 3 and 4 combined, with 15 episodes in season 3 and then 30 in season 4. Season 3 will undoubtedly be aired again before 4!

CyberjujuM: And when will it start airing?

Sophie: I don't really know... Writing will finish around January, then there's all the work to be done creating them! The first episodes can begin airing while the last episodes are still being made, but if you ask me, it won't be before the start of the 2007 school year... But I could be wrong!

CyberjujuM: That's a bit different to the last information we got (one part in March 2007, the other mid-2007)! But thanks anyway, we'll ask MoonScoop for confirmation.

Sophie: It could be spring 2007, I really don't know...

CyberjujuM: Will the heroes finally go onto the network itself?

Sophie: All I can tell you is that in season 4, they're still trying to destroy XANA, but I can't give you more information because it would spoil the start of season 4...

Shaka: Now that XANA's on the network and he doesn't have towers anymore, will he still be up to his old tricks, like xanafication... Will he still launch "attacks"?

Sophie: There'll be several options...

Shaka: There's some information from the official website I'd like you to verify! They say the network is in fact the digital sea? Is this true? Is Lyoko a world being generated in the heart of the network?

Sophie: You'll see in season 4. It's all explained! But the network is the world wide web: all the connections between all the computers in the world!

Johann: And the heart of Lyoko, is it just a core or is it more than that? Is Lyoko itself all inside it, for example?

Sophie: No, it's just the heart, the core!

Shaka: Do you know if, aside from their outfits changing, there'll be a link between their old powers as Lyoko Warriors and their new powers as Network Warriors? For example, will Yumi have a telekinesis-like power or will all of that change?

Sophie: The characters will all keep their warrior powers and typology (Odd like a cat; Yumi gymnast) but there will be some new ones.

CyberjujuM: Will Franz Hopper be saved, will we learn more about Aelita's mysterious past?

Sophie: You saw the last episode of season 3...so I can tell you that Franz Hopper's return will play a role in season 4.

CyberjujuM: And in season 4, will we see all the missing elements from the story of Franz, Aelita and Lyoko?

Sophie: No, you won't get the whole backstory, it's very complicated and dense and isn't really important to the story.

CyberjujuM: But as for the Carthage project, the men in black...will we learn more?

Sophie: Yes, you'll see some info, but not a lot.

CyberjujuM: Will the Lyoko Warriors' secret be revealed?

Sophie: The secret of the Supercomputer? I can't say anything...

Johann: Will the series end after season 4?

Sophie: The end of season 4 is a true ending (in other words, there won't be a cliffhanger) but there could be a season 5, I don't know... That's the producers' business, I have no idea what's in the works.

Shaka: My last question: So, on the subject of the ending, without revealing what it is, of course! Will the final scenes be too rushed? Like I hear that the last episode will be rich in action, but will we have time to see the heroes realise that their adventure is over, settle, remember what they're leaving behind...

Sophie: Yes. It will have a real ENDING. But I can't say anything more!

Shaka: It won't be rushed, at least? Because I'm really afraid of it being something stylish, the end of a fight; two minutes' pause; the end! I really like good endings!

Sophie: No, it'll be good, you'll see! I'm currently writing it...

CyberjujuM: And will it be more happy or...tragic?

Sophie: I can't say! I like drama, but it has to end well.
 

Yes/no questions about season 4
 
CyberjujuM: We have a lot of yes/no questions about season 4, I don't know if you can answer that way...!

Sophie: No problem!

CyberjujuM: Will there be new characters, new monsters, new sectors?

Sophie: Yes

CyberjujuM: New Lyoko Warrior?

Sophie: No

CyberjujuM: Will one of the heroes meet a tragic end?

Sophie: No... Well, you'll see. There will be suspense!

CyberjujuM: Will there be a new opening?

Sophie: I don't know...

Link-powerwarrior: In season 4, will Franz Hopper play an important role? I mean, will he take part in the fight against XANA or will his role in the story not change?

Sophie: Yes. He has an important role. I can't say anything more...

CyberjujuM: Will we see XANA manifest? Incarnate as his own being?

Sophie: I'd rather not say anything about these points, and I'm not allowed to anyway...

Shaka: Will we see any more of the heroes' parents? Aside from Yumi's, we rarely see them!

Sophie: We'll see them again, yes! A little bit...

Shaka: Will Odd's family appear? We've only heard his mother's voice...

Sophie: I don't know. Just to remind you, I'm not directing season 4, I'm writing some of the episodes for it. So I don't know all the details of every episode!
 

Lyoko Events
 
CyberjujuM: A lot of fans are wondering if it would be possible to visit the studios!

Sophie: Unfortunately I don't know the people at the Angoulême studios. I work in Paris, where the writing is done.

Johann: Can we hope for a meet-and-greet with the voice actors? I've heard of there being a meetup for fans and the voice actors/directors?

Sophie: I don't know...

CyberjujuM: A fan was wondering if a "Lyoko Bible" was in the works?

Sophie: The bible exists, but it's secret. I don't think it'll ever be for sale, because it's a very special document. It contains all the information on each season!

CyberjujuM: I'll ask for confirmation just in case: since "XANA Awakens" replaced the OVA, will there not be a Code Lyoko (short) film?

Sophie: No, the feature-length special is XANA Awakens.

Johann: Will there be a CD with music from the series? Or will we have to "make do" with what we have because...the tracks aren't much to do with the cartoon! Aside from "Break Away" which uses the music from the end credits and a few lyrics here and there... It's like a promo CD for a rock band!

Sophie: I think a CD will come out, but the music isn't my area. I just wrote the lyrics to the Subsonics hit!

Phoenix: We know a DS game will be out soon, did you write it?

Sophie: I had nothing to do with the game so I don't have any information on it! But it uses elements from the series...

CyberjujuM: Do you know if there will be a season 1 DVD set?

Sophie: I don't know, but I'd love for there to be one so we can have all the episodes in a lovely matching set!
 

Some anecdotes
 
About the bugs with France 3:
Do you want to know the reason behind the bugs in the France 3 broadcast? The employees loading the cassettes were interns! They didn't pay attention to the episode order and got it wrong...

About episode 7:
Image Problem was very difficult to write (change of writer in the middle of writing it). The author who wrote the synopsis left and was replaced by Bruno Regeste.