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Behind the Scenes Part 9: Kenji Teraoka (Mechanical Designer)

In this ninth interview, we talked to Kenji Teraoka, who worked mechanical designs throughout the S.A.C. series along with Shinobu Tsuneki, featured in the previous Behind the Scenes interview. We asked about his impressions as he wrapped up his assignment on S.S.S.

Part 9: Kenji Teraoka (Mechanical Designer)
"I don't think we could do the same in other projects."

Profile Born on March 28, 1962, in Shimane Prefecture. Mechanical designer, he worked for AIC in Gun x Sword (2005), in Noir (2001) and Spider Riders (2006) for Beat Rain, and for Sunrise in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006). Regarding Production I.G's title, Teraoka is probably best known for being the irreplaceable designer in the Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. series, but fans may enjoy his work also in Blood+.

What was your first impression when you were approached to work on S.S.S.?
I had previously been working on the TV series, so to be honest, I thought, "Wow, I could be in real trouble." The TV series was over at last and I was virtually drained. If I were to do another project that meant I had to gear up and start over again!

But I looked forward to it, of course. I felt that somehow it was going to be a real challenge. On top of that, at the very early stage we did not know whether this was going to be a TV program or an OVA, so we couldn't foresee how much detail we were going to put into it. Naturally, I had a feeling it would be the same as usual, so I thought that the animators were going to experience some hard time again.

What was the most difficult component to design for this series?
The care beds this time. I had to custom design them for each character. The square-shaped equipment at the bedside was the symbolic paraphernalia that served as an indirect metaphor for this series which dealt with elderly care. I was contemplating the design for this equipment in the beginning. Once that was decided, all I had to do was to check the balance of the whole, so the process picked up a little speed, sort of.

The beds were challenging, especially Karma's bed. He is a rich man, living in a gorgeous mansion. A highly sophisticated man who has good artistic sense too. But he is represented as an elderly man who needs care and is confined to a bed. I designed each bed by visualizing what sort of bed this particular person would sleep in. If this was a hospital bed, it would not be a custom-made bed and could do without accessories, but for Karma's bed, I really had to think about his personality to design it. That was a bit of a tricky part. To tell you the truth, I designed quite a few beds for 2nd Gig, so I've done relatively a large number of beds. Since this series is a police story, a lot of people get injured. There were quite a few scenes where people are lying on hospital beds, so I guess the amount of medical related designs for this series outnumber other projects I had designed.


Is there any particular design that you recall?
First, Karma's bed and then the powersuits. In Part D, where cyborgs... because they're not powersuits but rather cyborgs. It may sound funny, but there are cyborg suits. So they look like powered suits, but they’re actually cyborgs. That's how they are specifically conceived to be. They were drawn with notably bizarre lines and the legs resembled bird-legs for a change. The bird-legs bend in the opposite direction than human legs, so animators normally hate to do them. Their movements look shaky, and we intentionally exploited that peculiarity to some extent.

I received a lot of complicated design instructions. It wasn't that the designing was difficult, but I had a lot of uncertainties about how they would turn out if they were used in the animation, starting from the powered suits. And the deep-sea robot has six legs! The six-legged ones are really complicated, so we seldom, or I should say, we almost never do them. Well, I think Kamiyama-san was confident that after all those years, the 3D team was certainly able to manage that monster. Having said that, it is a bit of a challenge to draw anyway. I don't think we could do the same in other projects.


What are the specific parts that you, as a creator, hope the audience to see?
It would be fun to watch the deep-sea robot I just mentioned and also the complex movements of the 3D cyborgs. You'd be surprised to see unexpected components moving. You will probably not notice these movements the first time, because that's the way we made it, with lots of meticulous details and movements. There is so much going on in each scene, so I think it would be easier to follow if you watch it once then run through it two or three times again. As you can tell, this is an interesting piece, so I imagine you won't mind seeing it over and over again. I'm sure you'll like it!

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