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Q&A with Yoshitaka Amano - Page 2

Artist and Illustrator of Vampire Hunter D and Final Fantasy


Yoshitaka Amano and Hideyuki Kikuchi at 2008 New York Anime Festival

Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano

© Deb Aoki

Q: What are you currently working on?

Yoshitaka Amano: I'm working on a project with Dark Horse. I'm working on Shinjuku, an illustrated novel by author named Mink. So I've got an outline and should be sitting down in my hotel room sketching out some of the roughs for it, but haven't yet.

Shinjuku is about Los Angeles and Shinjuku (Tokyo) -- the deadline is in October, which is not good at all. (laughs) The book is due beginning of next year, and there are other secret projects in the works.

When i go back to Japan, there are some other gallery works that I have to finish -- big pieces like 2-3 meters big.

Q: As an artist through the course of your career, technology has changed a lot. How has this affected your style?

Yoshitaka Amano: As far as technology like CG (Computer Graphics) -- I usually stick with the tried and true medium -- pen, pencil and paper. If the technology gets to the point where it's as easy to draw with (a computer) as it is with a pencil and paper, maybe I'll do that.

Of course I want to do Hero-type project, but I also want to do large mural type projects. I still need to work on my technique to do something like that.

In Final Fantasy 11, it's an online game and it had a map. So instead of just a regular map that I thought would be boring, I wanted to get the world view, some of the mythology into that map.

So there have been similar drawings from the Feuding States / Sengoku period in Japan from the 1500's. In a game like Final Fantasy that utilizes the most recent technology, I thought it would be good to use (technology) to express this kind of thousands-year old artwork; thinking of this fantasy world as if it was a real world, I put these mythological characters around this world on the map.


Q: What's it like to work with Kikuchi-sensei?

Yoshitaka Amano: Actually in Japan, I rarely ever meet with Mr. Kikuchi. Even Mr. Kikuchi says that we're both homebodies. (laughs) So when we met here in New York City, it was the first time in a long time that we've been together anywhere in a long time.

But obviously, I always read the Vampire Hunter D books so I can do the artwork. I just want to make sure that Mr. Kikuchi isn't here (in this room) is he? (looks around, then laughs) Since he's not here, I can say this: He's usually running over on his deadlines. He usually writes a tenth of his story, then his publisher brings over a tenth at a time to me. When we get down the deadline, and Mr. Kikuchi has only done 100 pages, they send me the gist of the story so i can finish the illustrations.

So there was a time when I saw the book and found out that the scene I drew didn't make it into the book. I'm not sure how it works here, but in Japan, they ended up using (the illustration) anyway. (laughs)

So what happens here is when Kikuchi writes the books, he doesn't know how long it will be. Sometimes it is one, two or three volumes long. So sometimes, I'm doing an illustration for Volume 1 that shows things that only show up in Volume 2.

But that's what's awesome about his stories. He's got so much going on, it can't all fit in one book. But i really can't trust him. (smiles mischievously)

So actually Mr. Kikuchi's newest book came out (in Japan) a week ago. It's great! You should read it when you can.

Q: So you've collaborated with numerous talented authors. Are there any artists around the world that you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Yoshitaka Amano: Well, the people I've worked with so far have been so incredible, so I can't complain. I'm thoroughly satisfied. But if you know of any artists I should work with, please let me know. (smiles)


Q: Could you tell us a little bit about the movie Ten Nights of Dreams from the book by Natsume Sôseki?

Yoshitaka Amano: For those of you who might not know him, Natsume Soseki is a very famous writer in Japan. He's on Japanese 1,000 yen bills. I'd like to have a lot of 'em. (laughs) Anyway, what's great about this work is that Natsume Soseki took ten stories about dreams and worked them into one book.

For the film version (which was released in 2007) the 10 short stories were handled by different directors. e.g. the director of Ju-On (a.k.a. The Grudge), the director of Ultraman, etc. so each segment has a different feel.

For the 7th of the 10 nights, I worked w/ a 3D artist, Masaaki Kawahara, so it has a 3D animation look. The rest of the stories were done as traditional animation and live action films.

I didn't have much of a connection with this project, but this is the same company that did the animation for the Final Fantasy movie and my New York Salad project. By all means, see it if you can.

NOTE: Ten Nights of Dreams is scheduled to be released on DVD in the U.S. on October 14, 2008 by Cinema Epoch.


Q: Could you talk a bit about your brainstorming and sketching process?

Yoshitaka Amano: It varies from project to project. I look at what (the clients) want, and I do lots and lots of sketches. From my sketches, I pick what looks closest to what I think they want. So out of all the sketches, i may take only five or six and show them to the people I'm working with and get their reactions. And I'll do this again and again.

In the past, when I've worked on a certain book, I'd draw ten pictures, and get them all colored -- and then out of those, pick one and work on a finished drawing from that. But now I've gotten to the point where I don't do that many roughs any more, or sometimes the rough ends up being the finished project… but I don't necessary think that's a good thing. (laughs)

So as far as work and assignments like that go, it's good to have some easy ones. They can't all be hard, but when you have a hard one, it generates some ideas for other projects. So it's good to have a mix of hard and easy projects.

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