Interviews: Masanori Shino
by Erwin Limawan
Shino: Hello everyone, I am Masanori Shino, the animation director and character designer at Madhouse studios for Gungrave.
Q: How did you start in the industry, and how did you become a character designer?
Shino: I saw a picture drawn by someone famous in the industry a long time ago, and when I saw it, I knew I wanted to enter the industry. When a project comes up, the team decides whose style would fit the project the best, and in the case of Gungrave, it was decided that my style was the best for the project.
Q: Was it hard to transfer Gungrave’s design from game to Anime, given the complexity of the original game designs?
Shino: As you said, the designs were very complex. At first, we tried to simplify the designs, but then we realized that it made us lose the perspective of the world of Gungrave, so we decided to keep the complexity of the designs, even though it was very difficult.
Q: Considering the broad influence of Anime, have you decided to change the designs to appeal to a wider audience or just the Japanese market?
Shino: I always get asked this question, but I think if you think of too many things when designing a character, you end up thinking more about what could be. I think that if you don’t try to make a character into too many things at once, it will end up being more acceptable to the worldwide audience.
Q: How did you make the story work from game to Anime?
Shino: The story adaptation is the work of the directors and the storytellers, and not mine. But the director enjoys a more realistic story, so he tried to adapt the game story to feel more realistic.
Q: Did you play the game?
Shino: I don’t play games very much, but it was a game that was easy even to someone like me. According to Mr. Nightow (manga artist for Trigun and the original character designer for the Gungrave game and Anime), he wanted to make a game that even a salaryman coming home drunk can play.
Q: With Gungrave, when you designed the character, how does it feel compared to the characters you’ve designed before, how does it differ also to other characters in Japanese animation?
Shino: Although I had done designs for TV openings and such, Gungrave was the first TV series that I had done the main character designs for. My previous work was a lot different compared the work I did for Gungrave. As to how it compares to other animation, Gungrave had pretty realistic designs, so I imagine that the designs would be rather plain compared to most other Anime.s
Q: I know you’ve done other series like Banner of the Stars that was more of a sci-fi space opera. Do you think you were chosen because of this previous experience?
Shino: The work I did on Banner of the Stars was mechanical design, completely different from this, so I don’t think I was chosen because of that.
Q: You’ve also worked on games like King of Fighters and Fatal Fury. Did you add more characters or did you work on other areas of the game?
Shino: The work that I did for those games was designing and redrawing the characters for the opening movie for the Playstation version. They also wanted to introduce several new characters, so they gave me some guidelines and I created a few characters based on those guidelines.
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