Anime Pop Culture

Toshihiro Kawamoto Panel at SMASH! 2014

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The man behind the designs

Taking time away from the busy schedule that is to be expected of an anime heavyweight, Bones co-founder Toshihiro Kawamoto held a panel at SMASH! 2014 to answer a few of the questions that fans wish to know.

Harking back to his humble beginnings, Kawamoto began the panel by answering a fan question regarding how he began his career in the anime industry. He expressed that he has always possesses an interest in drawing, a simple fact that provided him with a respect of those who forge a career in the artistic field. More specifically, Kawamoto cited Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, the character designer of Mobile Suit Gundam, and Macross as early sources of inspiration. See anime fans, even the biggest names have to start somewhere, it’s as grounding as it is interesting honestly.

Leading on from Gundam, Kawamoto briefly explained just how he, along with some close friends, broke away from their respective companies in order to start what would become one of the most successful studios in the anime industry. Whilst working on Cowboy Bebop, a friend from Sunrise studio, who was himself working on a Gundam series at the time, noted that he was not entirely content with the work that was being produced. Agreeing with this setiment, they decided to go off on their own and make the anime that they wanted to make. Simple as that.

On the more specific topic of character design, the audience put forth a few questions regarding some of Kawamoto’s most well known designs. Proving true his opinion on drawing inspiration from others, he revealed that the basis for the design of Spike Spiegel, arguably one of anime’s most iconic characters, came from actor Yusaku Matsuda and his appearance in the film Tantei Monogateri. However, even with something to draw from, designs may simply take multiple iterations to complete, as was apparently the case with Wolf’s Rain. But regardless of the time it takes to finish a character, Kawamoto made clear to explain that one must always take into account the limits of the design they wish to implement. How will the character move? How will they act? Do the proportions laid out correctly allow for this? Never forget the basics. Continue to practice until you can reproduce the designs you envision in your mind and do not allow yourself to be confined in what you imagine. Stubborness and the refusal to change is the bane of design it would seem. A great lesson to learn.

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Some familiar faces

It’s also important to know that, amidst any great string of successes, there will always be at least a hint of negativity. Nothing too drastic, Kawamoto merely explained that throughout the existence of Bones, there have been some series that they simply did not obtain. He singled out a manga known as Natsume Yujincho, a series that he specifically wished to adapt. But alas, some things are not meant to be. Kawamoto also joked that if anyone in the audience knew of some popular current series that Bones should acquire, they should let him know.

However, despite all of the passion that character designers put into the work, it is an undeniable fact that CG animation is becoming more and more prevalent in the world of anime. Thus, following a question from an aspiring designer in the audience, Kawamoto disclosed his views on both forms of animation. He made it known that Bones still very much enjoys the traditional 2D style and strives to utilise it whenever possible. That being said, Kawamoto acknowledged the use of CG animation when it comes to more complex objects, such as vehicles and machinery, as well as its benefit in regards to staying within budget.

So there you have it. The fans wanted answers and Toshihiro Kawamoto was all to happy to provide them, along with a hefty serving of advice. Remember to work hard, keep an open mind and strive for what you want. Who knows, perhaps one day you could found a company that becomes synonymous with anime. Let the story of Bones inspire you. Oh, Kawamoto also ended the panel with a quick sketch (though a professionals definition of a “quick sketch” is vastly different than that of most people) of Spike. It was awesome.

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See You Space Cowboy…

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