Archives for category: Interview

Here’s another interview that came with the x365 BD Box! This time, it’s a talk between important figures in the Hidamari anime’s production: Ryutaro Usukura, Yuma Takahashi, and Junichiro Tanaka.

Trial-and-error anime Hidamari Sketch

Let’s start off with introductions. What is your name and your involvement in Hidamari Sketch?

Tanaka: I’m TBS Producer Junichiro Tanaka. I’ve been involved in Hidamari’s production since the very beginning.

Yuma: That’s right, you chose the initial staff, didn’t you?

Tanaka: Yes. From choosing a studio, to director and scriptwriter… I conferred about different options, and was able to draw up a list.

Yuma: I’m Yuma Takahashi from Aniplex. I’ve been the publicity producer since the very first season. I make information booklets, plan events, and manage various other things related to advertising.

Usukura: I’m Usukura from Lantis. I’m in charge of all things music, like assisting our music producer Shigeru Saito. All of Hidamari’s music is so enjoyable. Overseeing the process has been a valuable experience for me.

Because you three have been so deeply involved in Hidamari’s production, would you mind reflecting on everything since the first broadcast and sharing any stories or memories from that time?

Yuma: I don’t often get the opportunity to talk about these things, so I’ll do my best to dust off my memories.

Yes, please go ahead!

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This is an interview included at the end of the Honeycomb Production Note. Director Akiyuki Shinbo, Character Designer Yoshiaki Ito, and Design Assistant Tatsuya Oishi talk about capturing each character’s personalities through their character designs and room layouts. Yoshiaki Ito also makes some brief comments concerning the more minor characters.

Ume Aoki: The renewed character designs for Honeycomb paid great attention to my own artwork and incorporated my character pointers. They were carefully considered so the oddities that often result from animating the manga’s drawings were eliminated. Now that the designs have been replicated so well, I feel that Hidamari has truly evolved from manga to anime throughout its four whole seasons.

Akiyuki Shinbo: The anime’s character designs are renewed every season to follow the evolution of Aoki’s artwork. I think the unique use of colors in Honeycomb is very close to matching that of Aoki’s artwork today.

We wanted to reproduce the 4koma manga atmosphere from the very beginning in regards to art. Our goal was to make it clear that you know it’s Hidamari when you see it on the screen, no matter what scene it is. We applied all our experience up to this point, so I think that made Honeycomb even more stable. Hidamari has the most designs out of all SHAFT’s series, doesn’t it? Honeycomb is the compilation of six years’ experience.

Yoshiaki Ito: In season 1 I did the character design and room layouts, and worked together with Tatsuya Oishi on the art designs. Oishi drew the roughs and I finished the final designs. The small details come from his good taste.

In the anime there are some incorrect aspects of each room’s layout. Everyone’s room is about 6 tatami mats (~9.2m2 or ~100 ft2) large, which isn’t really that spacious. The rooms were rearranged to let them fit neatly on-screen.

Tatsuya Oishi: It started with Director Shinbo’s orders. He wanted to show Hidamari Apartments from a small set of fixed camera angles, with only one angle for each girl’s room. The Hidamari Apartments themselves are also shown at only a select few angles.

At first I was wondering how I should make the concept art fit these orders. Then I finally grasped it the moment I turned the scenes colorful with no drab colors at all. I created a style that would show colors and lines neatly, show light objects with light lines, and be fit for inserting photographs. I tried to make scenes that would seamlessly with the lines in Ryubido’s backgrounds.

About each room, I aimed to give the girls stylish rooms like you’d see in classy select shops. They’re art students after all. Even things like the mailboxes employ modern art motifs too. No matter how they were done, I wanted to make things look sharp and stylish. As for the color schemes and such, I made color balance my first priority. I picked the color of each door starting from Yuno’s character color being pink.

It was fun seeing how each episode, Ryubido added buildings like TBS’s “Big Hat” broadcasting center to the frontal shot of the Hidamari Apartments.

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Many of you are probably familiar with the below video of Ume drawing, part of a series where Wacom lends Cintiqs to popular artists and records their drawing process.

There’s an accompanying interview. Let’s see what Ume has to say about digital art!

How did you get started as a manga artist?

In middle school I looked up to Ribon magazine (Shueisha). I’d draw manga in a notebook and show it to my friends. After that, I was drawn to size B6 comics like from Wings (Shinshokan). One time I saw something stacked in a bookstore display, and wondered what it was. It was Dragon Kishidan (Mineko Ohkami/Shinshokan). The first time I held such a large-size comic in my hands, the drawings felt a little different from shoujo manga and the fantasy genre felt vast. I couldn’t buy Wings every month, so I bought the quarterly magazine South. I would cut out and save any color pages by Yun Kouga.

At that time, I knew about doujinshi-related things through Comic Box Junior (Fusion Product) and read books sold by Animate. I went to an event in Harumi called Super Comics City in my first year of middle school. (laughs)

So you came into contact with doujin culture at a fairly young age, didn’t you?

It was a way to express myself. I was able to draw the pictures and make doujinshi all by myself. Around the time I was a third-year in middle school, I participated in a small event held on the second floor conference room of a training school. I made five copies of a Samurai Spirits Zankuro Musouken doujin, but sold only two to my friends. (laughs) There wasn’t really internet at the time, so I would get information from papers in manga specialty shops. Game centers also had them.

Later on I participated in a big event held in Ikebukuro. My first job  was from a friend who was starting out as a PC game dev. I was asked to illustrate the instruction manual, then I began working on 4koma for their website. An editor who saw my work in an Ohzora Publishing anthology book contacted me during my second year of college. And so, I ended up drawing Hidamari Sketch for Manga Time Kirara Carat beginning its April 2004 issue.

What was your debut in the magazine business like?

It was surprising, I thought I’d get cancelled after three chapters. (laughs) I didn’t get the feeling like, “I jumped that hurdle!” I never thought of becoming a 4koma manga artist, and it was my first time writing an original story, so I wondered if I could actually do it. At the time when there weren’t many moe 4koma manga, I browsed Kirara.

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This is the one and only interview from the S1 BD Box booklet. x365’s box came with the second interview of this type, “Playback Talk 2” with TBS producers.

There are a few page number references to elsewhere in the booklet. I’ve highlighted the quotes emphasized outside the main text in color.

Playback Talk 1

Round Table Discussion #1

These three will review “Hidamari Sketch” to the present!


Original Author – Ume Aoki

Director – Akiyuki Shinbo

Character Designer – Yoshiaki Ito

Until “Hidamari Sketch” Became an Anime

First question. What were your impressions when you first heard of “Hidamari Sketch” getting an anime?

Shinbo: I definitely wanted to make it because I was interested in working on something that was originally a 4koma. There was already a good balance between other works and scheduling issues, but I thought, “I really want to make it, whatever it takes!!”

Aoki: I felt that it was relatively early when I received the news. It was about the time volume 1 had just come out.

Ito: It had the leading PV screening at 2006’s Summer Comiket (C70), didn’t it? (See page 22) That was a problem when we didn’t have any extra time. (laugh)

Ume-sensei, what were your thoughts when you first saw that video?

Aoki: Uu, I don’t really remember… Summer Comiket, Anime Festa, Winter Comiket, I wonder which one was which…

Shinbo: Everything went by so fast, huh?

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Original text archived here.

This time “NO COMIC, NO LIFE”  interviews the author of “Hidamari Sketch”, Ume Aoki-sensei. The smash hit comic with a currently-airing anime, an anthology released last month, and then a visual fanbook and light novel coming in March. Also in the same month is the long-awaited DVD release and even an autograph session. The very busy Ume Aoki-sensei will tell us the hidden story behind Hidamari Sketch’s creation, her feelings about the anime, and the secret origin of her pen name. Read on!

First off, tell us how you started drawing Hidamari Sketch (“Hidamari” for short).

My editor saw my homepage and gave me a shout. They said, “You fit in well with the philosophy of Kirara, so please.” However, I thought they only knew about a 4koma I had drawn previously for a game developer. But then it seemed like they didn’t even see it, because at the first meeting, they didn’t mention that comic at all. That was strange. (laugh)

I thought, “They don’t know about it? Well, I wonder why they’re talking to me about 4koma?” (laugh) Both the 4koma and advertisements I drew for that game developer, for example, “Next time, a brand new production!” and so on, were some kind of parody of characters from the game. So at the time they asked, I didn’t really have anything original in mind or knew what would be good to draw. Up until then I was updating once a week, but now I had to put together and draw at least 10 strips. I was thinking about the different ways I could make a living.

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