Takafumi Hori is a veteran of Anime animation. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t seen his work as he has worked on Anime such as Naruto Shippuuden, Redline, Samurai Champloo, Metropolis, Summer Wars, Gungrave, Patlabor III and dozens more. As the first animator in the Creative Spotlight I wanted to capture someone who could share the world of animator on a grand scale with the audience. If you are a fan of anime today, you probably have this man to thank for it. Read below for the full interview…
Where did your interest in animation begin, and why did you choose Anime?
Takafumi: When I was a college student, I watched “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. It was a trigger for me. Particularly, I was impressed with You Yoshinari’s works. It was really amazing, and it was my attraction to animation. These attractive traits are different from CG animation.
For those who aren’t familiar, what are the difference in roles between a Key Animator, and an In-Between Animator.
Takafumi: For example, you draw someone getting up from a chair; a key animators will draw that person sitting in that chair, and transfer the weight to the legs, and standing position. Then, key animators direct what picture of what timing.
In-Between animators cleanup pictures that have been drewn by key animators, and draw between key animators while following their instructions. So In-between animators are really important, because there pictures will appear eventually.
You’ve worked on some of the biggest Anime in history ranging from Ninja Scroll, to Naruto Shippuuden, to Samurai Champloo. Do you ever feel pressure or become critical of your animation knowing such a large audience will view it?
Takafumi: I’d say first of all, I was involved Ninja Scroll the TV series, but I wasn’t involved with Ninja Scroll the movie. Well, of course, I feel pressure always. But I think thats necessary to do a good job, as I need enjoyment to draw. The animator’s feelings get in the way of the films sometimes, so there is only one way we can turn in our best work, which is to enjoy it than feel the pressure afterwards.
You’ve worked with Madhouse Studios on a variety of projects from Summer Wars, to Redline. How is it working with such a cutting edge studio?
Takafumi: Let me see, in my opinion, it’s very important for me and my colleagues to work together than be in studio. This is because almost all of Japanese animators are self employed. They, including myself, move from studio to studio. Of course, famous studios attract nice animators, and Mad House is not an exception.
Were there other Anime titles throughout your career that you wish you could have worked on but didn’t have a chance too?
Takafumi: If I don’t have a chance to work on something, that’s just the way it goes. Even if it’s not interesting work, there is only one way for me, and that is to do my best at that time.
The production values of a movie are a lot higher then a TV Episode. Can you go into detail on how your work differs when animating a higher production like Naruto the movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow versus the Shippuuden series?
Takafumi: I don’t distinguish the quality of film, TV or movies. And I think that every animator wants to do their absolute best work on every project. But the movie’s director demands animators to produce a higher quality drawings that we’ve not experienced, so as a result, there are some difference of quality.
Out of every project you have worked on, what was your most memorable one? Do you have any favorites?
If we can take some of your early work such as Millennium Actress or Patlabor, and compare it to your later films such as Redline, what are some of the key improvements animation has progressed on over the years?
Takafumi: There is no end to the drawing and animating, I thought. The new animation’s technique was born, but they are imitating, and will be refined. Iteration the sophisticated technique will continue permanently.
What’s it like working with so many different styles? Inazuma Eleven has a lighter tone and look to it than, again, Ninja Scroll, which is darker, more serious tone to it. What’s it like shifting from style to style?
Takafumi: It’s really fun to experience difference styles, don’t you think? It’s similar to being an actor playing different roles. Sometimes animators can become the bad guy, or a robot, missiles or natural phenomena, or things never seen by anyone. In brief, it’s like this. The most important thing is “enjoy drawing”. In order to do so, animators must also fall to the dark side and draw with joy.
Lastly, any advice for anyone looking to get into the animation field?
Takafumi: A Japanese animator’s job is so hard, and you’re always poor, and unpopular among the women due to poverty or making moe animations [laughs jokingly]. It’s similar to smoking, because I’m doing it, but can not recommend to others. If you still want this job in Japan, first, you must learn the Japanese language, and then, draw a lot of sketches wherever possible. Practice makes perfect, in every scene. If you do this job America, please tell me how, because someday, I want to working overseas as an animator.