ANIMATOR: A DETECTIVE STORY
CHARACTER DESIGN AND ANIMATION DIRECTOR: KID'S STORY
What are some
of the recent projects you've worked on?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: On THE ANIMATRIX
I worked with Watanabe-san on A DETECTIVE STORY and KID'S STORY. Before
that I was a key animator on the film Akira, many years ago. More recently
I worked on Spriggan, Perfect Blue and Spirited Away. Perfect Blue is
the film I was involved in the most; I did key animation for around 36
scenes. For example, there is a particular scene where
one of the characters is killed, and I did all of the key animation for
MATRIX: At Studio Ghibli?
Blue was done through Madhouse [Production and Design Studio for WORLD
RECORD and PROGRAM], not Studio Ghibli. I did work for Studio Ghibli,
though; I had a contract for
two productions. One was Spirited Away and the other was Houhokekyo
Tonari no Yamada-kun; it translates into English as, My Neighbors the
MATRIX: How many key animators are there on a typical project?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: For theatrical
features, there are around 50 key animators. I don’t remember
how many key animators there were on Akira, but on Spriggan there were
MATRIX: From a key animator’s point of view, how is the work divided?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: Everything is decided according to the personality and
originality of each key animator. A scene goes to a particular animator
because of the characteristics of their drawings.
MATRIX: When we were talking
to Watanabe-san about KID’S STORY, he
said it was you who came to him with the idea of using a scratchier style;
where did that come from?
I don’t like drawings that are drawn very
clear-cut. I prefer sketchier pictures that have more atmosphere to them.
I have used this sketchy-type technique on two other productions.
The first time was on the titles for a earlier project, and the first
time I used the sketchy style from beginning to end was on a film for
MATRIX: Is this style close
to the way you want to be animating; does your style change?
I did for KID’S STORY is the closest so
far to the effect I’m after. My style hasn’t changed much
from the way I’ve been
doing it for the past few years. This is the technique that I’ve
been developing for a while. It just comes naturally; I don’t
even think about it anymore.
MATRIX: This particular
style is more challenging for both you and the in-between artists; how
do you feel about this?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: I know it
is a burden for the key animators and in-betweeners — the key animators
in particular started to wonder how they were going
to illustrate the scenes with the sketchier drawings. It’s been
very hard for them. I help them out a lot, drawing the basic actions
the things they cannot do, and try to assist with their drawings.
MATRIX: How many key animators are there on KID’S STORY?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: Between ten
and fifteen. Key animators work with an animation supervisor who is in
charge of the drawings to check if they’re
MATRIX: With an extra level
of difficulty to the process, how are the key animators responding to
HASHIMOTO-SAN: In animation,
everything used to be drawn on cels, so it was easy to incorporate sketchy
drawings to add a touch of a different
style. But now that things have changed and everything is digital, the
process has changed and the responsibility has really shifted to the
animators to set up the look of the style. I haven’t had
a chance to meet with the computer colorists yet, so I don’t know
what they are thinking or what kind of response they’ll
MATRIX: How did you find
yourself working with Watanabe-san?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: Fifteen years
ago, when I first became an animator, I met Watanabe-san when he was
working at a company called Sunrise. The first time I worked with him
was 15 years ago at Sunrise, and I haven’t seen
him since... until this project. This is the first time we’ve worked
together with him as the director.
though I hadn’t met with Watanabe-san for 15 years, he had
been watching the work I’ve been doing. So when he became involved
in this production, he called (in the fall of 2000) and asked me
if I was interested. We met
and discussed it, and at the meeting he showed me a picture of Clayton
[Watson, plays the Kid in THE MATRIX RELOADED], and I really wanted
to draw him, so I decided to join the project.
MATRIX: Once you became
involved in the production, what were some of the things in the story
All I could focus on was the tight schedule, I didn’t have any
room to think about challenges, though I did enjoy the process of making
picture. I’ve just been focusing on finishing it on schedule.
MATRIX: Did you utilize
the footage of Clayton that Watanabe-san filmed in Australia?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: Yes, I referred
to that for almost everything. Every action he did on the tape, I
looked to put into my drawings.
MATRIX: What about when he jumps on the skateboard?
Ohira did that particular scene, not me. He is very good at skateboarding,
so it was very helpful of him to draw
that action scene of Clayton.
MATRIX: As a child, how
you begin drawing?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: I have an
older brother, who is also an animator,
so when I was in kindergarten I subconsciously tried to imitate everything
my brother did. Ever since, I’ve spent a lot of time drawing.
MATRIX: Is there any rivalry
between you and your brother?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: I used to
be competitive, but now I try not to be... now I try to avoid working
with him on projects whenever possible. But of course I find it helpful
that we both work in this field.
got into animation for two reasons: first, I like animation. Second,
since my brother became an
he told me a lot about working in
the field, so his input really motivated me to become an animator.
MATRIX: Do you view working on a short differently than working on a theatrical
HASHIMOTO-SAN: Everything is condensed when you’re working on a
short film, but the energy I pour into the production is the same as what
I do for a theatrical picture.
MATRIX: What has your experience
on this film been so far?
been difficult, but I really enjoy working with Watanabe-san and on this
project. I always have a mix of high spirits and high
tension. I’ve been working on this pretty much whenever I’m
MATRIX: As a fan of anime,
can you still watch your own work from a fan's point
I can, so I believe I’ll be very happy to see
the actual film after everything is done.
MATRIX: Can you cite
major influences on your work?
HASHIMOTO-SAN: When I
became an animator, I challenged myself by working in a lot of different
techniques. I tried to invent and push myself and
enjoyed it a lot, but I went into kind of a dead end. Now I’m
been going back to those first drawings I did before I became an animator,
try and find my way to something new and better, something original.
MATRIX: Thank you, Hashimoto-san.
Interview by REDPILL
Translated by Isako Shibata