Kazuchika Kise Interview @ AX 2013
At this year's Anime Expo, we got to speak briefly with Kazuchika Kise about his directorial debut with Ghost in the Shell: Arise. Mr. Kise has worked on a number of titles as a character designer and/or animation director on series including xxxHOLIC, Patlabor, Blood, and of course Ghost in the Shell. Hear what he had to say about some of the challenges working on Arise as well as the reasons behind the cosmetic change for of main character, Motoko Kusanagi!
T-ONO: Is this your first time at an anime convention in the US?
Kise: Yes this is my first, unfortunately I haven’t had a lot of time to look around, but it looks fun.
T-ONO: A lot of animators adorn their desk with objects like toys and figures. What kind of desk ornaments do you have?
Kise: Oh yes, Masked Rider figures. [laughs]
T-ONO: Are you a fan of Masked Rider?
Kise: I am, my child started watching it and I only became one recently through him.
T-ONO: Who or what inspired you to get involved in animation?
Kise: Star Blazers (Space Battleship Yamato) was the first anime that got me into the animation industry.
T-ONO: Blood: The Last Vampire was one of early series to utilize digital animation. What do you think were some of the biggest changes in techniques?
Kise: Regarding animation, many things are still drawn by hand so that hasn't changed, but digital tools mostly affects production in ways such as the ease of coloring. There were teething troubles that were a little confusing at first, but the overall effect was positive.
T-ONO: We are seeing more anime series that blur the lines between 2D and 3D animation techniques. What is your opinion on this change?
Kise: Overall, I think that it is a positive trend fusing 2D and 3D. However, it really depends on each series itself. When producing a mech based series, it is easier to work in 3D, but when we do, animators often have trouble doing the 2D rendering.
T-ONO: On that note, were there were any challenges involved with the 3D and 2D techniques in Ghost in the Shell: Arise?
Kise: We were able to utilize most of the technology that was used in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex because the staff had largely remained the same. Thus we were well prepared for the challenge of switching between 2D and 3D without any issues.
T-ONO: Seeing as this is the first major series that you are directing, what was it like?
Kise: The first thing that hit me was confusion because of the different structures and tasks between animating and directing. I have to deal with that and more simultaneously when before, I just worried about one aspect such as drawing or the story.
T-ONO: What are some of the themes that you really wanted to focus on in Ghost in the Shell: Arise?
Kise: There is no one theme that I set my heart on, but I really wanted to bring out the freshness and the liveliness of the characters themselves. That is my goal.
T-ONO: Has the changes and improvement in modern technology affected mecha design?
Kise: We now have new examples and the current technology allows us to design mechs a lot easier than when we were limited to 2D.
Kise: The anime revolves around the Major. I would like to explore the other characters like Batou and Sato in depth but given the time constraints, we will be keeping the spotlight on the Major. We’ll work in as much background as we can for the supporting cast.
T-ONO: Since the last Ghost in the Shell series, the Major's design has changed. Could you tell us about the design choices that were made such her red jacket and features?
Kise: We considered how to portray the freshness of the character, and the first thing we came up with was to cut her hair shorter to give her some more personality. As for the clothing, I really wanted to draw legs and buttocks so we put her in pants to emphasize the lines of her lower body and animated that. [laughs]
The color of the jacket was rather serendipitous and the colors (red and black) we chose just seemed to fit.
T-ONO: What tips or pointers can you give to aspiring animators who are animating a fight scene?
Kise: It’s pretty hard to answer, but the first thing needed is a vivid imagination to the level where you can imagine the movements.
When we get into specifics with regards to action, you must have some contrast. To emphasize speed, one must first show something slow so that the contrast is readily apparent.
T-ONO: Are there any future or current projects that you are working with us that you can share?
Kise: I am still focused on Ghost in the Shell: Arise and right now I have no other projects.
T-ONO: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Kise: I look forward to meeting American fans for the first time. I hope that we can all have fun and enjoy Ghost in the Shell: Arise together.
Interview conducted by: Theodore Mak and Stanley Fung
Translator: Arthur Arends