Hiromi Kato Interview @ Sakura-Con 2015
While in attendance at Sakura-Con 2015, we here at The-O Network had the privilege to interview long-time animation director and character designer Hiromi Kato (Digimon: The Movie (U.S.), Death Note (TV), Di Gi Charat (TV), Azumanga Daioh (TV), Ah! My Goddess (TV), Revolutionary Girl Utena (TV), and Guilty Crown (TV)), and asked him a few questions regarding his involvement in the upcoming anime adaptation of the popular smartphone series Chain Chronicle. Read about his thought processes on adapting an existing character vs original along with some information on his future works!
T-ONO: First of all thank you very much for taking some time to do this interview with us. We know that you've had a very prolific past working on various animation projects and character designs. For a lot of the projects that you worked for, you served as an animation designer and character designer. Can you comment a little bit on that?
Kato: It's a case-by-case basis kind of thing as there are projects where I am really only a character designer and some where I inherit the role of an animation director. What's really important in that type of (an artistic) pipeline role is that the design needs to look consistent across the many artists that are working on it.
When designing characters, I don't remove lines per se, but instead I try to organize them in a way so that the artists working on them can produce a consistent look and feeling.
Kato: In regards to Chain Chronicle, the process is really unique as there are a variety of illustrators who created the original designs. I asked the developers how they wanted me to adapt them, and they left it up to me to turn all of those unique designs into a single unified look.
For this particular series, we started with the main character's design and then worked on making the designs of everything else look consistent to that. So the main character, designed by the artist toi8, became a yard stick for how the other characters were going to look.
In the end, it comes down to a compromise as it has to be easy enough for others to draw while still keeping enough of the original designer's intent and look. So the process is really about finding the right balance for each aspect on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you go for something that's overly elaborate, you're going to have very stiff movement and it's just not going to look good.
T-ONO: Previously, there was an OVA for Chain Chronicle that was released, but we were curious. Is the newly announced television series going to be a reimagined version of the OVAs?
Kato: To be honest, I can't really answer that question at this time as there are still currently a lot of negotiations going on amongst the sponsors who will be funding the project. Things are still subject to change, so I don't know for sure regarding my level of involvement.
T-ONO: If that's the case, can we assume that there hasn't been any major work started on the production?
Kato: Your assumption is correct, and if I were to be involved I think I would probably only work on the character design.
T-ONO: Lastly, do you have anything that you would like to tell your American fans about either your past or future works?
Kato: Well, generally in the past, a lot of my projects have been based off of existing original works. Currently however, I have been preparing to start working on a series that we've been developing from the ground up, assuming it doesn't get cancelled that is (laughs). It's an animation project that will be completely original and will not have any existing characters or works tied to it. I think it will be my newest original character design work since the Tenshi ni Naru mon! series.
T-ONO: Is there anything else that you can tell us about it?
Kato: Well, I'm really not suppose to be saying too much about it (laughs). However, you might start seeing some more information being gradually released around next year or so. I can say that the character appearances will look a little bit similar to Guilty Crown though, so please look forward to it!