Character Designer Kazuchika Kise Thinks It’s “Strange That All That Gets Made Is Isekai Stories”

© 士郎正宗・Production I.G/講談社・「攻殻機動隊 新劇場版」製作委員会

The Ghost in the Shell anime website recently published an interview with Kazuchika Kise, the chief director and character designer of Ghost in the Shell: Arise and Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie. One of the questions posed to Kise, an anime veteran who has character design credits on shows like Blue Seed, xxxHOLIC, Blood-C, Made in Abyss, and the Fate/Grand Order Camelot films, was if he had an eye on any current trends. This led to Kise wondering about the profusion of isekai anime.

“I think there are too many stories already asking, ‘Do we all really hate the modern world so much?’ I find it strange that all that gets made is isekai stories,” was Kise’s response. “There was even a series about being reborn as a vending machine recently. That one really stunned me. I feel like there are fewer grounded anime works than there used to be.”

Kise also had trouble buying into the RPG-like elements that are common in the modern isekai genre. “Recent anime works will show things like a level-up gauge that appears when characters tap the air, even though there’s no in-setting reason for them to have a personal interface like that. I may just be getting old, but it really makes me wonder: ‘What is going on here?’ It just doesn’t work for me.”

The isekai topic was just a small part of the lengthy interview. Most of it is, naturally, about the Ghost in the Shell series. Kise was an animation director, layout artist, and key animator on the classic Ghost in the Shell movie, and he joked about the difficulties of working with its character designer Hiroyuki Okiura due to the latter’s ability. “At the time, I had just finished production of Patlabor 2: The Movie and was looking for a next project, so I didn’t have a way to dodge it. It looked like I would have to animate alongside Hiroyuki Okiura if I joined up on [Mamoru] Oshii’s project, too, which I was sick of doing. *laughs* It’s hard to match his characters and key frames, which doesn’t leave room to enjoy the job. So unsurprisingly, I had my hands full trying to polish my art to Okiura’s level over the time we produced Ghost in the Shell.”

Okiura had other roles beyond character designer, and one of the scenes he partook in as key animator left a strong impression on Kise. Shortly before the part of the interview where he shared the above, Kise was asked about scenes that he was “particularly invested in.” He replied, “If I had to pick, it might be the opening of the film Ghost in the Shell. The one where we see a cyborg assembled in a lab, eventually taking on Motoko’s form. Our character designer, Hiroyuki Okiura, did most of that, and it still looks good and draws me in even now.”

As an animator, Kise “had more fun” drawing the guys of Section 9 than cyborg protagonist Motoko Kusanagi. “I started my career with an animation studio called Anime R, and our president was Moriyasu Taniguchi, a famed artist who specialized in middle-aged men. That naturally inspired me to want to draw old guys in a way that looked cool, too. That’s why I liked Togusa out of the cast of Ghost in the Shell, since he’s mostly human. His human emotions are easier to follow than Motoko’s, so I never get tired of drawing him. *laughs*”

Other Ghost in the Shell stories and tidbits include director Mamoru Oshii‘s fondness for low angles (“he often told us to lower the camera even more after layout checks”) and how the staff would play Virtua Fighter (“I also played against Oshii sometimes, but I could easily guard his attacks and throw him around since he always uses the same character and same special.”) Apparently, fighting games also had an influence on the film’s production. “He [Oshii] would also use fighting game commands on the Ghost in the Shell storyboards. Like, he’d say ‘a move like a PPPK’ to convey the action he wanted. And I’d reply, ‘That doesn’t clarify anything at all.’ *laughs*”

On more current topics, Kise said that he doesn’t “hate” CG anime, but it doesn’t suit his tastes either (“Personally, I like stop-motion videos using things like action figures.”) He also feels that the action in recent shows are “too fast” and difficult to follow. “Attacks lack weight. It doesn’t feel realistic. Since no one dies from being hit in the first place, it also doesn’t look painful. I feel like the intent behind the art is just more extravagant action than depicting a fight with opponents testing one another.”

Kise ended the interview by saying that he’d personally “like to see an entirely AI-made Ghost in the Shell someday, without human involvement” if Ghost in the Shell creator Shirow Masamune would allow it. “What would it end up as if you used AI for the script, the character designs, the editing, and everything else? I’d be very curious about that, and I feel like Ghost in the Shell is well suited to that kind of experiment as a series.”

You can read the full interview here.


Source: Ghost in the Shell website

Anime Trending News Writer who writes about all sorts of things, including upcoming anime series and movies, anime-related video games, animated music videos, manga and light novels, VTubers, and anime collaborations. Once in a while, he'll put out a review too. Every anime season, Melvyn looks forward to discovering new standout episodes and OP/ED animation sequences. Some of his free time is spent self-learning Japanese.
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