Date: 2019 February 19 21:28
Posted by Joe
MCM Comic Con London and Anime Limited always team up to bring excellent guests to the twice yearly London geek event. The October 2018 event was no exception where they invited anime director Hibiki Yoshizaki to be the anime guest of honour. You may have seen his work at Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (aka Evangelion Q), where he directed the Sakura Nagashi music video (we've also interviewed Paul Cater it's composer). He's also responsible for the rather bouncy music video ME! ME! ME! with Teddyloid and DAOKO.
We were very eager to interview Mr Yoshizaki about his career and he did not disappoint. So read on to find out more.
How did you get into the animation industry?
It's going to be a long story, but I'll try and make it shorter. In 1995 Ken Ishii made a music video called Extra and I was really struck by the quality of it. It was directed by Koji Morimoto of Studo 4℃. I still am a big fan. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to do what he did.
I had huge respect for him, and I heard there's this Thai restaurant that Koji Morimoto often goes to. So I went to the restaurant, hoping I might be able to meet him there. I spoke to the manager of the restaurant. He said, "Morimoto is not here today, but the guy sitting in front of you on the same table, he's involved in the animation industry. So do you want to talk to him?" And that was Yamaga at Gainax.
We got to talk and I had my portfolio with me. I showed that to him and he "OK, this is interesting". We sort of got a along. We went on "a date", we went shopping afterwards. We got to talk and he said you're very interesting, do you want to look at my studio? Basically what he said was that he liked my drawings, do you want to come and work for us? But I actually had no idea who he was. So I said I'll think about it. Obviously I Googled it and said wow Gainax! I had a huge search for Gainax, Evanglion and The Wings of Honnêamise. I thought it was too good to be true. So I just said Yes! I went back to him and that's how I started my career. I asked him to take me on.
We imagine when you were a teenager you watched Evangelion when it first aired on TV. Did you ever imagine you would be working on Evangelion as an adult?
No, I never thought of it. I met Yamaga and 20 years later, now I'm working at Anno's company. So it's an odd twist of fate, but I never imagined it.
What do you think keeps bringing fans back to the series after nearly three decades?
I think there are various reasons. I think that the huge impact that the original story has. Anno's world is just amazing. He's got greatly talented people to work with him. They've been constantly producing amazing stories and innovative creations. They do things that only they can do. I think that's really the main thing.
Especially for a Japanese audience, once you've seen it, you'll never forget.
What's it like to design the user interface for Evangelion?
I was playing with motion graphics just for fun and I like military things, so it was a combination of both. When I was working on Macross Frontier I did the Graphic User Interface, the animation UI designs. The Khara design director and producer came to me asked if I wanted to participate in Evangelion production team (production of Evangelion).
How is creating anime music videos different from creating an anime series or movie?
As a music video, probably live action music videos and animation music videos don't really look that different from a production point of view. Anime music videos and anime movies can be very different in the production process in some way.
In making music videos, the synchronization of music and animation is very important. I often make changes in compositions and modify the images afterwards to make sure the video matches with the music. So the final version often looks very different from the original plan. Maybe this is the main different point from anime movies. The most important thing for music video is to enjoy the music and moving images, so it's difficult to plan everything ahead.
Can you tell us more about the Sakura Nagashi music video?
This song was the ending for Evangelion Q in 2012. It's always Hikaru Utada who does the song at the end of the film and she was on a break for a while then she came back and released this album with Sakura Nagashi on in 2016. So they asked us to do a video for the song to commemorate her return, and I was assigned to be a director because everyone knew I had experience in making music videos.
So obviously we could have gone for an easy option to use footage from the movie but I thought that's a bit boring, we need to do something special for this occasion. So I remade some of the scenes, so if you look carefully or if you're a fan you can actually notice the difference between the video and the movie. So I wanted to do something special for that song.
What sort of differences? Were they subtle? Or obvious?
They're subtle, you'll have to look carefully.
Were you given a strict brief or creative freedom for the video?
No limits, no restrictions, nothing.
So why did you decide to use that imagery for the video, you could have done literally anything?
We couldn't really have stepped up too far from Evangelion Q and I wanted to put as much as possible of these films aspects. You've also got to think about the money and the time.
Please can you tell us more about ME!ME!ME! How did you involved in the project?
You might have heard of Japan Anima(tor) Expo, it's actually run by Dwango and Khara (my company). Initially they planned to make about seven films. One of the slots were for a younger creator. So I was asked if I wanted to try. Then, the project began and lots of creators said they also wanted to participate, so eventually there were thirty six films for total in the expo.
How did you get the imagery for the AMV?
Hmmm, it's hard to explain because a lot of things were in my mind at the same time for the video, but I was always interested in combination of animation and techno music, like Morimoto's Extra. I like doing VJ as well, so initially I was thinking of using dance music to make a VJ-like, cool video. But I felt a bit boring about it, so I decided to add characters and story to the video. Well, because of the decision, it took a lot of time and money to make a six minute video.
I wanted the music to be very best for the project, so there were many many discussions with Teddyloid and DAOKO about the music production. I really appreciate that they understood what I wanted for the music and made lots of subtle but important changes in the nuance. Also, after I received their music, I adjusted images to match the music. So it was very interactive production process between music team and animation team. They're genuinely great artists and I feel so lucky that I got to work with them.
With the music video there's a certain jiggle factor. How was it decided how jigglely to make the pop idol? Was there much discussion around this? Much research? Is it a nod to the Gainax bounce?
I basically left it up to Iseki who is a character designer and key animation director. I also prepared some reference images and pointed which shots he should make jiggly. After a couple of days, Iseki came up to me said, "I am so tired of jiggling"!! (laughs)
According to Mr. Ryusuke Hikawa who's an animation scholar this jiggly bit started by Sadamoto at Gainax, so yeah probably there's some elements to that! But I'm not directly responsible I think it's all Sadamoto's fault. He started it all!
So continuing that tradition?!
We've noticed lots of references to Evangelion in the video. You've got the male protagonist clearly like Shinji lying down at the start. Plus Angel like face masks and Eva like body armour, along with Asuka and Rei making quick cameos. Are there any not so obvious references to Eva in the video?
There are actually loads! Say for example halfway through the film this girl the female character eats the organs of the main character that's from Evangelion the TV series and movie version. When the main character puts on the mecha-suit the name when he wears is it Noilegnave which is the reverse of Evangelion!
Is there anything in particular you'd like to work on in the future?
There's too many to mention! A story of a boy and a girl. I like science fiction and one of my inspirations is games, so I want to go in that direction, with something like ME!ME!ME! probably.
What kind of games? First person shooters?
Racing games! First person shooting mainly!
Otaku News would like to thank Hibiki Yoshizaki for being such an awesome guy to interview, Anime Limited for helping us arrange the interview and of course MCM Comic Con London for inviting Mr Yoshizaki to London and hosting him.