At MCM London Comic Con last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with the anime guest of honour, Shigeto Koyama, and conduct a short interview. During this interview, I asked five questions; these are below, alongside his responses.
1. You’ve worked on Mechanical Designs for some very iconic series such as Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagann, and the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, so what is the process for creating such iconic designs?
“The most important thing is the director’s idea, and the job of the designer is to turn it into reality. Not just that, but they give back more than the director was expecting. The ideas of the designer need to give a boost, not just respond to ideas of the director.”
2. As the Art Director for a series as visually unique as Kill la Kill, what inspires you to achieve a particular look and how do you go about making sure it comes to life?
“I was inspired by old school japanese comics and wanted to respect those with this. But not just old school, it needed to be something people would watch now. I incorporated the latest designs; I love foregin design and american design. The staff loved toys, so we had in mind how it would work as a toy when designing it.
In terms of manga, we were mostly inspired by manga from the ’70s and ’80s, not much from ’90s and 21st century. As for how we go about developing, there were meetings after meetings working on designs until everyone agreed the design had impact. It took two years because we weren’t going to use something we were not satisfied with.”
3. How has working in different roles during the production process of anime affected your decisions when working as an Art Director?
“I think you need to use the things you couldn’t do on your last project as motivation on the next and to use what you’ve learnt as well. As a result, I find myself able to do more and more which is interesting. I always approach projects with fresh eyes, feeling like a newbie; I don’t feel like an old hand. Every project feels new and fresh so I don’t get fed up.”
4. How do different animation studios in Japan compare to one another when producing anime, for example Studio Trigger and Bones?
“Each studio is different, whether Trigger, Disney, Bones, Khara. Different strengths, seeing from outside, see differences and help them develop their strengths.
I always compare myself to a travelling poet, going around different courts and writing poetry for the kings – I don’t belong to any of them.”
5. Having worked on some very successful series, in various roles, what would you say has been your favourite to work on?
“It’s difficult as there are so many.
Ones that stand out, and their reasons, are:
Diebuster – first anime worked on.
Heroman – sole character designer.
Big Hero 6 – widest known of the projects worked on.