At the end of last month, one of Scotland’s historic cities (that we’ll leave a mystery) hosted a special event for all fans of anime, Sci-Fi and comics culture – the Glasgow Comic Con. The event featured a number of special guests from across the related industries and we at AnimeUKNews were honoured with the opportunity to interview some special talent behind the first original anime title from WIT Studio (Attack On Titan) – Director Kotomi Deai and Mechanical Designer Hiroshi Shimizu, who worked on one of the first anime titles to be broadcast this year:
It’s a huge honour to be able to speak to you two today Deai-san and Shimizu-san. Would you be willing to share what it feels like to see your work appreciated in a country like Scotland, which is so far away from your domestic audience?
Kotomi Deai: I’m just really happy. It makes me really happy to think that people so far away are enjoying what I’ve made.
Hiroshi Shimizu: Same here. I love that so many different people are watching what I’ve drawn and enjoying it. It’s amazing for me to think that they’re enjoying my work and it’s something that I’ve been reminded of.
Thank you both for your hard work on The Rolling Girls. If you had to pinpoint one particular aspect of the series that drew you to the project, what would they be?
Kotomi Deai: The fact that it was an original title and also the scriptwriter Muto-san [Yasuyuki Muto] is an interesting writer, so I wanted to be involved with Muto-san.
Hiroshi Shimizu: When I was first offered the job, it was to design the motorbikes in The Rolling Girls and I like bikes, so it was something I was interested in doing. And also, I heard that it was going to be directed by Deai-san; we’d worked together on Michiko & Hatchin and I thought it would be good to work with her again.
Deai-san, with The Rolling Girls largely being an original work with supplementary manga, how would you say the directorial experience compares to adapting existing long-running material such as your work on Silver Spoon?
Kotomi Deai: When you’ve got a manga, then the most important thing that you’re focusing on is how to get the world of the manga and the intentions of the manga writer into the anime, but when it’s an original title, then you are trying to create that world and create a story from scratch.
Shimizu-san, with your work in animation spanning a number of years and resulting in a wonderful resumé of creative works, do you feel that the work of an animator has changed with new technological advances, or would you say that the day-to-day work is largely the same?
Hiroshi Shimizu: It is changing. Anime changes with each era and one of the biggest changes is that nowadays, people want much more realistic looking animation than when I started out and there are more and more animators trying to get that realistic effect. As a result, the quality of the drawings is going up in terms of better movement, characters drawn in more detail – so more better and better qualities being demanded all of the time, and people are needing to be more skilled as a result. I think it must be quite tough for people just entering the industry.
I think because we have better equipment available to us now which allows us to see our work straight away, we’re able to see what we’ve drawn and to correct it immediately. Even nowadays, non-professionals can create their own animation; there’s the software available for them to do that, so it’s becoming easier in a way to express yourself and that’s one big advantage, I think.
I absolutely love the beautiful and striking visual style used in The Rolling Girls. Was there any particular inspiration behind the series’ aesthetic and art direction?
Kotomi Deai: It was largely based on the image boards drawn by tanu-san, the illustrator, but there’s also input from Shibayama-san [Eriko Shibayama] and Kōno-san [Ryō Kōno] who were in charge of the background art; ideas of theirs were incorporated into it as well.
With the rise in legal streaming, international fans can now enjoy new titles as they are broadcast in Japan, such as The Rolling Girls being available on Viewster. Would you say that the growing global reach of a particular series has an effect on production, or are works still mainly focused on the domestic audience?
Kotomi Deai: I do think that the animation being made nowadays is fairly aware of the overseas market rather than being made specifically just for the domestic market. I think people are aware that people in other countries are going to be watching.
Is there a particular moment in the series that stands out for each of you and if so, why?
Kotomi Deai: Well as a director I like every scene, but in the very last episode there’s a part I like. All the way through the series, the main characters, even though they’re the main characters, they’re not actually the main characters because their job is to support the characters from each of the different regions of Japan. But at the very end there is a scene that really focuses on them doing their best trying to deliver something to a character called Kaguya, but it focuses on them and I really like that.
Hiroshi Shimizu: I love the whole thing as well, but as an animator, I really like what Imai-san [Arifumi Imai], who was animating the action, has done with it. He had lots and lots of ideas partly because the main characters are female, some of the effects that happen during action are actually quite cute effects and I really like that as an animator.
Thank you very much for answering my questions! To finish things off, do you have a message or any comments you would like me to pass on to fans of The Rolling Girls in the UK?
Kotomi Deai: Just watch it, enjoy it and roll with the girls!
Hiroshi Shimizu: I think The Rolling Girls is a really interesting series. Attack On Titan is WIT Studios’ other big title and it may never catch up with that, but it is definitely just as much fun in a different way, so you should definitely watch it.
Originally broadcast in Japan between January and March of this year, The Rolling Girls will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom next year, courtesy of Anime Limited.