On the Saturday of MCM London Comic Con Anime Superhero had the chance to pose some questions to the Anime Guest of Honour for the event, Hibiki Yoshizaki. His work includes Evangelion 3.0 with his colleagues at Studio Khara in addition to his original short ME!ME!ME! (pronounced ‘may-may-may’) for Japan Animator Expo.
ANIME SUPERHERO: The narrative seen in ME!ME!ME! suggests a young man who has rejected or lost a girlfriend and fallen into a rut of fixating on fictional ones. Was there an intentional personal commentary you were attempting to offer on ‘otaku’ culture with the video?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: I’d rather not explain. If that’s what you think then- yes, that’s correct [laughs]. But I just want to leave everything up to the audience.
ANIME SUPERHERO: The video GIRL references back to the characters of ME!ME!ME!. In your mind is there a long term narrative between the two or was this simply just a fun cameo?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: It’s just a cameo. Though actually their worlds kind of cross.
ANIME SUPERHERO: You went back to ME!ME!ME! to create the video for the CHRONIC remix with the visuals this time round arguably more led by the song. What are the challenges for creating an animated short that has to keep time with a song and is this a challenge you enjoy?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: It was actually quite fun. Usually with animation you can’t really go back and redo things. But with the CHRONIC remix it was like I was getting to rebuild ME!ME!ME!. I was working with a different team as well, which was a fun challenge. I feel it broadened the horizons of animation.
ANIME SUPERHERO: In the past I’ve had the privilege of interviewing your peers Shigeto Koyama and Takeshi Honda who have also contributed shorts for the Japan Animator Expo. Obviously it’s a project drawing from several creators. Did you work closely to generate ideas or were the productions for each short largely separate from each other?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: We communicate and talk a lot though tend to work independently on our own projects. In terms of seeking advice there is actually a lot of Koyama’s input in ME!ME!ME!. He said “You can have fun! You can be a little bit naughty!”. So that was very helpful.
ANIME SUPERHERO: It’s very interesting to me because, speaking as a design graduate myself, it’s interesting to know about the creative process, how you bounce ideas off each other, etc.
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: I think it’s good to take on various types of jobs. I’ve done graphic design so I don’t simply limit myself to animation. When you’re creating a piece of entertainment you choose the best method to tell that story. It could be animation, it could be something else. But it’s nice to talk about what you want to do with different people to get different ideas and feedback. I think that’s the most fun part of the creative process.
It’s also nice to talk with people from different industries regarding technological aspects. You can learn of new methods you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.
ANIME SUPERHERO: When I interviewed Mr Honda he commented that having worked on the original Evangelion television series he found it too serious for his liking despite the popularity it’s enjoyed. As someone who didn’t work on the TV series and instead came on board with the recent films, what response do you have to Eva personally?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: To me, Evangelion is the world inside of Anno’s head. It’s our job to extract and deliver that story to the audience. That’s my role. I have no personal likes or dislikes about it [laughs].
It doesn’t matter to me if that story is serious. For me, I want to bring that emotion and imagery from Anno and deliver it to audiences as best I can. That’s what matters to me.
ANIME SUPERHERO: On a similar note you worked on Gundam Evolve 13, a vignette focusing on one of the Marasai pilots from the Jaburo drop originally seen in Zeta Gundam. What was it like to work on a project directly tying into one of the foundation Gundam series?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: God, you studied so well. I’m impressed! [laughs]
It was a real honour. Gundam was something I’ve watched and has inspired me. This was a spin off but still it was exciting to get the job.
I actually learned a lot because this was right after Macross Zero, when I was still an effects artist newbie. My role was composition. Lots of explosions and smoke. It was great learning process, I learned lots from working on Gundam.
ANIME SUPERHERO: Some of your work has been with CG elements, a side of animation the Japanese industry has put increased focus on since the dawn of the 21st century. What do you feel the added benefits are for using CG elements in animation and at the same time do you feel it has any negatives?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: There are always pros and cons. The benefit of CG is if you’re using the same prop or locale it’s easy to reproduce, Anything where you need quantity on screen, CG is the best way to do it. On the other hand, it costs a lot. But I don’t really see the negative aspect. I see it as another option for creativity and it’s down to us to choose the best tool for whatever it is we’re making.
I like CG. When Studio 4C started out on projection mapping I was just so impressed. I think CG offers a really stunning effect to the audience.
ANIME SUPERHERO: To conclude, do you have any upcoming projects you are currently working on?
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: The latest Evangelion film.
ANIME SUPERHERO: The one everyone’s been waiting for!
HIBIKI YOSHIZAKI: [Laughs] Exactly. Please look forward to it. I know I am.
Anime Superhero would like to thank Hibiki Yoshizaki for answering our questions and Andy Hanley and Jeremy Graves of Anime Limited for helping to arrange this interview.