Kazuhiro Soeta has been active in the anime industry, with a large portfolio spanning titles such as Cowboy Bebop OP (key animator), Record of Lodoss War (original character designer) and he has also worked on his very own manga, Vampire Akiba!!
What is it like to visit the Bay Area and does it match up to your expectations from any Western movies you’ve seen?
I didn’t really have an image to begin with. When I first landed and looked out the window, I thought “wow, it looks like I’m in the Ibaraki prefecture.” I landed and saw mountains in the distance and vast open space.
How about the weather? Is it kind of like you’re in Japan?
The first thing I thought was that the sky is very vast and blue. So actually I came to Fanime just last night and thought “so I’m finally in America”. First thing I heard after landing was sirens, just like what I saw in the movies!
What was it like to work on something as famous as the Cowboy Bebop opening?
I desperately wanted to work on the show itself. It was pretty awesome doing the opening at least. So when originally I signed up for this, it was supposed to be just me doing it. Deadlines started to creep up and editing had to come into play halfway through. So the work ended up being split 50/50 where I only did half of the opening. I feel I could have done it better all by myself. That’s my only regret.
As a character designer, how difficult is it to adapt the original material and make it suitable for animating?
The thought is to keep the original feeling of the manga; to do the best to make the anime a moving representation of the manga. This is the biggest challenge.
Are there any major differences in tools and techniques of the 90s compared to modern-day anime, and how do they influence your work?
I actually think 90% of animation is still hand drawn, so for me personally I don’t really use any computer or assisted tools for my animations. Changes haven’t really affected me. For the industry in general, a lot of things are made way more convenient. It’s just much easier to do things by hand though.
Do you have a specific example on this?
Again I literally don’t use any computer tools. An example from experience I know of is a scene where there is an array of street lights. It is way easier to use computers for splicing this. For a cut of a fist coming towards a face, if you do it in CG you actually have to augment the model to make the fist larger. It is much easier to just draw it approaching closer.
Out of all the various roles, which has been the most interesting in terms of challenges and growth?
Every single role I have done was what was interesting at the time, whether it was key animating or storyboarding. All of these are accounted in a different direction, each fulfilling a different artistic need of mine. Each case had its own accomplishments and difficulties to tackle.
Since you’ve done a large range of roles in your career, which other roles in anime production would you like to try if given the chance?
Definitely would like to do more scenario writing. But I’ve pretty much done everything I set out to do.
Does working as a key animator in OVAs give you more freedom than when you work for a series?
Not really. Simply the director gives out instructions like cutting down frames, etc. Maybe in OVAs back in the day you could put in a lot more extra detail per frame and not get yelled at by the director for taking too much time. Today, there is little difference in the art quality between TV and OVA. Animators have gotten to the point they could put in the schedule on time.
Any future works for people to look forward to?
I handled the storyboarding for the Aquarion Logos TV series.
We recall you dabbled in manga before. Any interest in delving into it again?
When it comes into undertaking manga, I would have to drop everything else. I don’t think I can do that anymore. I currently am partnered with an artist and I am writing a scenario for something which is still in the early phases of development.
If the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you eat?
It would have to be home-made curry or ramen.
We thanked Kazuhiro Soeta for coming to Fanime. We have enjoyed his series for a long time and look forward to future releases.