Production I.G> WORK LIST> Le Chevalier D'Eon> SPECIAL FEATURE> Les 24 Chevaliers Part XV: Yasutaka Kubota (Animation Director)

Les 24 Chevaliers Part XV: Yasutaka Kubota (Animation Director)

After Kyoji Asano (see Part XII), this fifteenth chapter of our special feature on Le Chevalier D'Eon introduces another animation director from the series, Yasutaka Kubota, who contributed his personal touch in episodes 3, 11 and 22.

Part XV
Yasutaka Kubota's In principio erat Verbum: "Consistency"!

Yasutaka Kubota
Animation director. Born in Aomori Prefecture, after graduating an animation school he joined Production I.G. Kubota main credits include the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series (key animator), xxxHOLiC - A Midsummer Night's Dream (key animator), Cromartie High School (animation director) and Windy Tales (animation director).

What was your first impression when you heard about Le Chevalier D'Eon project?
They gave me a list of characters. My immediate reaction was, "Too many lines!" (lol) Actually, until that day I did not know very much about Ozaki-san, the character designer, but one of the staff members at the studio happened to be huge fan of her and educated me a lot.

What was your impression of the story?
At first, I had an image of an occult anime for teenagers, but soon I realized that director Furuhashi had a different idea. His approach was to make a classic drama, both for the storytelling and the graphic and visual part. He wanted to avoid the stereotypes of magical fantasy anime. His objective was very clear. On the opposite, the storyline is very intricate! And it's not like a set pattern where you have the good guys and the bad guys fighting and then finishing off with a straightforward ending.

How about your impression of the animation?
Working on this animation felt similar to working on the S.A.C. series. We spent a lot of time coming up with the final picture, you know. I started working on Le Chevalier D'Eon after completing Windy Tales, so I felt lost in the space between the two animation styles. I had a difficult time figuring out the characters. (lol) For instance, Durand. He's represented as a well-built man in the character reference sheet, but I used my imagination and changed him to a slightly slender looking character in order to emphasize his mysteriousness. As for Teillagory, I broadened his neck a bit to better express his age. And for Robin... well, a girl from the key animation team drew him so passionately and he came up with such a beautiful face, that I had no objection to use it as was. (lol) But most of all, D'Eon was really a bit of a challenge. As this character is possessed by his sister's spirit as he fights, D'Eon could look either like a man or woman depending on the scene. At the end of the day, he could turn out quite a fuzzy character. This was really difficult. On the other hand, Maximilien was more straightforwardly "an enemy figure with a dark shady secret," which made him far easier to draw.

For Episode 11 where I was the animation director, it was difficult to grasp the characters; especially, Ekaterina. At first, I thought she was like a "sister character" to Yelizaveta in the same age group, but actually, she was a beautiful girl a lot younger than Yelizaveta. So I altered her moves and facial expressions. Koichi Hatsumi, who directed the episode covered a lot of work for me, and thanks to his help my work as animation supervisor went very well. Anyway, my aim was to avoid overacting. I am trying to accomplish whatever I have to do consistently.

The original film frame from episode 11 (above) and the layout drawn by Yasutaka Kubota (below).

The whole concept or the setting is based on history. Is there anything you pay special attention to?
The story took us to various countries, so we were not only being careful about the era, but also the locale. We have scenes of rain in both France and Russia, but I was careful to check about how it rained in the different locations. And also, of course, the clothes. I checked historical references to draw clothes that "looked" real. This might sound contradicting, but when I try to reproduce the "reality" in the drawing, it sometimes turns out "unreal."

Is there anything you discovered or gained after working on this project?
Character designer Ozaki-san is not originally an animation artist, so some of her drawing lines were truly eye opening for me. I was drawing everyday hoping to absorb that new style. It was also fun to watch other staff members work in different ways. I feel I was especially lucky to have worked with episode director and storyboarder Koichi Hatsumi. It was a wonderful experience - stimulating in many ways.

Who is your favorite character?
I'd say Vorontsov. As I drew him over and over, I kind of stretched his face and he sort of looked like Bodhi Dharma in the end. (lol) He was an amusing character to draw. In the fighting scene of D'Eon and Vorontsov, I used animation "on ones" in some parts to make brisk moves so that it wouldn't look too dramatic.

Do you have a message for the audience?
The storyline is very complicated with allies and enemies switching sides, so I recommend following the story step by step. I am sure that will double your enjoyment.

© Tow Ubukata·Production I.G/Project Chevalier 2006