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Blood+ Production Report (3): Character Settings

Hi, everyone! It's me, Peko, the new recruit in public relations. I've been interviewing Akiharu Ishii, and this time I'll ask him to describe his job as the chief animation supervisor.

What the Animation Supervisor does: Character Settings

Character setting does not mean deciding on birthdays and the likes and tastes of each character! It's sort of like the basics of animation drawing. You must show with illustrations certain essential information such as each character’s body build, facial expressions and outfits, because these drawings will be successively used by animators and color designers as reference for their work. The amount of illustrations is enormous. For every new character appearing throughout the series, or for every outfit change of existing characters, new character settings must be created. In the end, some characters may require 5 of more character setting sheets. (See the illustration on top.)

What do you keep in mind when you are designing characters?

As for the Blood+, Chizu Hashii was responsible for the original character designs. So I made sure I didn't ruin Hashii's ideas. And also, since I was the chief animation supervisor, I tried to create easy-to-draw characters... (lol)

I see. (lol) Riku surely maintained Hashii's style.

Yeah. I tried many things in the beginning, including checking Hashii's manga. The problem is that manga artists' works are not stylistically consistent, and the style of the drawing is constantly changing. This is not a negative fact at all , but would not be allowed in animation. At first, I tried to be consistent with Hashii-san, but as the series proceeded, I eventually started drawing my own way a lot. (lol)

Looking back, is there any character that you'd struggled with?

I'd say designing Saya's character right at the beginning. At that time, I didn't really have a concrete idea of Saya in my mind. I had a lot of doubts. You see, when I draw with doubts, the result can be a little short of satisfaction. But this is in retrospect, you know.

For instance?

Well, it's hard to say - the impression you get from the drawings is rigid, sort of. But at that time, it was the best I could do. If I had more time, I could have pushed harder and the result might have been different. But it's always like that. In fact, you are worth what you can do within the time frame you are given.

Before initiating the Blood+ project, you worked as the chief animation supervisor in an all-male anime like The Prince of Tennis feature. According to some rumors, that was the reason why you had difficult in drawing girls at first.

Well, I personally never connected the two things, and I'm wondering if there's any truth in such implication, but I quite remember that the staff around me used to say that. (lol)

That might have been the reason why Saya looks like a boy in your first design, perhaps?

That wasn't my intention. I just had this image of a girl who's into sports, so I designed a sporty and well-fit type. I didn't want to illustrate a "girl" with typical female body images of breasts and waistlines.

I also think that the male characters in Blood+ are all good-looking. Is this because you were instructed to "draw nice-looking faces"?

That wasn't really the case. (lol) It's just that I did what I could to fulfill the need. I mean, for instance, from the story plot, there was no real need to make David a good-looking character, but somehow I ended up with drawing a nice guy. If the fans are going to be happy, I thought, then why not?

Solomon will be popular for sure! He has such sweet features and nice manners...

Really? Actually, I thought he was too authentically handsome that people wouldn't care much about him. (lol)

Talking about character settings, I've just noticed that you've only created a few smiling faces for the Blood+.

Yeah, you are right. I don't think there is a full beaming smile anywhere.

Weren't you tempted to draw Saya smiling?

No, to the contrary. I thought it would be better not to have a definite smiling face for Saya. I tried to draw Saya smiling in the drafts, but I felt I should do that later when I had a more concrete Saya in my mind.

Right at the beginning of your facial expression designs, you have Saya with a faint smile.

You caught me there. You know, it's only in the first episode where Saya really smiles from the bottom of her heart. From episode 2 onward, her smiles are more melancholic and subdued in a way.

Are you telling me that you never designed Saya smiling for the entire series?

Well, no. I should say I couldn't, rather than I didn't. I had set my mind that she might have gloomy and rigid expressions, but never have happy and loosened up expressions.

(3 - to be continued)

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