Q: What were your first impressions upon hearing the plans for KLK?S: When I first heard about them, nothing was decided yet. So I indulged myself in thinking that I could make it into one of those "kid-friendly anime" that I like.
Q: So the plans initially allowed a lot of freedom. So what did you have in mind before the personalities for Ryuuko and Satsuki were determined?
S: At first, I wanted to make a "kid-friendly anime", so the first drafts had pretty "deformed" designs. The current line came after I read Nakajima's finished script: I redesigned them according to the image I got from the text.
Q: They say that Imaishi productions place a lot of significance on designs. I hear TTGL and P&S had very long discussions regarding character design, but how did it go this time?
S: Actually, this was my first time engaging in real design discussion. Before KLK, I always watched the proceedings on the sidelines and thought, "If you're only going to screw around with the same illustrations, just go with it already!" But when I actually participated, I understood the importance of details. KLK's design meetings happened every week, from 5pm late afternoon to 1am in the morning, just drawing and drawing, and people offer opinions, and I draw some more, over and over again. And sooner or later, in the middle of drawing, I got this "OHHH, I'VE GOT IT (KITANA!!!)" moment. Then the character just works. It's honestly like the Kyupi~n in Newtype.
Q: So you keep drawing until that moment comes. How did you go about designing Ryuuko and Satsuki?
S: Whenever Ryuuko's form got generally developed, I'd work on Satsuki. When I start to "see" Satsuki, then I go back to Ryuuko … like that. Sometimes when I had some doubts or uncertainties, it'd be pointed out during discussion. Then I'd set to work with the intention of clearing that doubt, and keep redrawing according to opinions, and I'd break through with another great character.
Q: One of the most impressionable designs is that strip of red hair.
S: The red strip is one of the few remaining parts from my original designs.
Q: How about Satsuki?
S: Satsuki came more naturally. I initially heard some actress was her model, hence the thick eyebrows. Combining those parts and drawing, while testing different colors and adjusting the size of said parts, was my process of balancing perspective/proportions.
Q: As the setting is an Academy this time, I believe you'd drawn a lot of characters. Have any of them particularly made an impression on you?
S: They've only just started moving, so I don't have impressions yet per se - but I've drawn a lot of handsome guys (studs).
Q: Handsome guys!?
S: I was told drawing a lot of handsome men would be hot, so I'm doing my best to draw them (lel).
Q: Now, we hear KLK has already entered production. What kind of action can we expect?
S: At the moment, I really want the animation to make people laugh, so I hope it'll be that kind of work. For example, I really like the ryokan car chase scene in "Lupin the Third: Fuuma Clan's Conspiracy", directed by Tanaka - and I want to make our characters more appealing through that kind of action.
Q: Are there any staff members involved in production that you're following at the moment?
S: I'm following everybody that's involved! Also, I'm really looking forward to what magic the young staff from LWA will cast.
Q: Tell us your personal thoughts on this work as a full-force Trigger production.
S: I hope the anime will mix in the "cute, manga-like" elements well. Personally, I hope they draw characters with a wide range of expressions too. When it comes to girls, I like it when they scrunch up their face while laughing, so I hope this work will make Ryuuko and everybody move appealingly while not being hindered by the "conventional bishojo" limitations.