With a new FLCL on the horizon, we had a chance to talk to character designer and animation director, Chikashi Kubota, whose works you may know such as One Punch Man, Space Dandy, Gurren Lagaan, and many others! We talked about his role in the upcoming sequel and how he feels about the new crop of animators coming up in the industry. Check it out below!
NTF: Let’s start off how you came be attached to FLCL Alternative?
Kubota: It happened by coincidence actually, my friend was involved in the production of FLCL 2 and so he invited me over to the project.
NTF: How did you work with Yoshiyuki Sadamoto to update the character designs for the new FLCL project?
Kubota: Sadamoto-san was pretty busy in regards to being involved, but I did get some influence from the scenario from him so I had the side characters as well as the main character to design. Other than the six original characters from the first one the rest were done by me.
NTF: I’d like to know the process you went to conforming the character designs to the existing universe of FLCL?
Kubota: I didn’t think too hard about it, it was easy for me to just draw them. Other than a FLCL-style of drawing, I just apply my own style as well.
NTF: As a animator, do you prefer designs that are have simplistic designs or character designs have a lot of detail?
Kubota: Definitely the easier to draw ones.
NTF: As Kubota-san designs characters, do you consider how the animation team will draw your characters?
Kubota: I think about it and I take the animator’s abilities into the consideration , it’s really hard to be able to design characters that every animator can approach or that can please everyone so I focus on my style and if they need reference I’m available to help them with that.
NTF: During your panel earlier, you mentioned a little but about international talent being able to collaborate on anime without actually being in Japan.
Kubota: That’s is something that I think about within my framework. It’s quite a different age now, with the phenomenon to upload and share your work on social media or video sites. Back in my day, we had to discover animation on our own at a video rental store on VHS or DVD or if you watched it on TV if you missed recording it you couldn’t watch it over. There’s no way to just search for it ike today. But now with the ability to just search for animation online on sites like sakugabooru vs the flipbooks that I use to use create the animation. Now people can use software to animate. As the general skill level of animators go up I think it’s good to have a lot of young people to become interested in animation however there is a little bit of a difference as to whether or not they can become professionals and there are a lot of problems connected with that, but that would be an entire different conversation on its own. Bahi JD, who you mentioned has been helping with animation, but he’s also an illustrator. So just doing full time animation for anime is pretty difficult and there are problems associated with It, but generally I think it is a positive movement with the amount of skill that is entering the anime industry.
NTF: I’ve noticed in a lot of your own work, you animate a lot of scenes with special effects. Do you often volunteer for these animation cuts or are they assigned to you due to your specialty in them?
Kubota: It’s actually both of those. As I became a key animation director, I’d be one of the first to see the storyboard and every scene was pretty much open because no one had select anything yet, so I was free to choose any scene to animate and veered towards my skill set.
NTF: During your panel, you said that after finishing One Punch Man, you believed that you had created the best anime, however after watching Hibiki! Euphonium you thought otherwise, how you feel about KyoAni?
Kubota: I super respect them. I’d love to work on a KyoAni show, but I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance too. In fact, most of us live in Tokyo and with a considerable distance between Tokyo and Kyoto. We have no idea exactly how they operate and how they’re able to make such good works and we still don’t know to this day.
NTF: We’re about out of time, but please leave us a messages for fans of production of animation.
Kubota: I’m very appreciative of those who want to learn more, such as 3D Animation, Character animation, and all of those put together: Making them move, bringing them to life. There’s so much more that they can delve into either just as a fan supporting us or if they want to really pursue it, I’d love to have them learn more about the animation process in general and even come work with us in Japan. So please continue to support the animation industry!
Thank you to Fanime staff for the interview opportunity. You can catch the start of FLCL Alternative this month on Adult Swim.