PMX 2016 with director and producer Mamoru Yokota

At a live drawing session, director and producer Mamoru Yokota provided his take on the harsh realities of the anime industry. He previously worked on projects such as Air, Kanon, and his latest includes the Naruto Shippuden series. APA had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Yokota, but what made it even more interesting was that he answered all questions while working on a sketch requested by a fan. His ability to expertly draw a side sketch and color a side angle of Naruto during an interview demonstrates years of dedication to his craft.

Are there any particular brands of tools or markers that you like to use?

A lot of people ask about the brands of the items that I use but it could be something I bought five years ago, something that’s been sitting on my desk, or something that I randomly grabbed from home. I’m not too particular about tools.

Since you have such a diverse range of art styles, from shounen to moe to an American comic book style, which style do you like best?

I’ve been fond of the style in old American comics for a long time and that would be my favorite style. And of course, our generation loves Ghibli movies.

What is the most difficult part about drawing or designing a character?

Differentiating between each of the characters is the most difficult part. That’s easy to say, but the challenge is to draw the characters and then blank out the middle, turn them into silhouettes and see if you can tell them apart. It’s a success if you can do that. But there have been tens of thousands of characters that have been drawn, so there’s a chance that your character will look like someone else’s.

I’ve seen on your Twitter that you’re a fan of Wolverine. Are you excited for the new movie Logan?

Well, I do like Wolverine, but I’m actually a bigger fan of Omega Red. I was disappointed that he never showed up. Wolverine gets to be an old man and how’s that going to end? I wonder if it’ll end the way I imagine it will.

You talked about some colleagues who have left the industry and some who have been in the industry for a long time. What sort of qualities would you say a person must have to sustain a long career in the anime industry?

You have to be pretty insensitive to pain. There are plenty of colleagues who are overly sensitive or have family reasons as to why they couldn’t stay in the industry. Whatever it takes, your own sensitivity to your environment is definitely a quality.

Lately there’s been a lot more outsourcing to other countries such as to Vietnam or Korea. There also doesn’t seem to be a lot of new people who are joining the industry. Do you see this as a problem and do you have any ideas to remedy that situation?

Those people who aren’t interested in the industry probably wouldn’t apply to begin with. There are too many dreamers who try to come into the industry already and so they become disillusioned as a result of their own undoing; these are the people who aren’t suitable to stay in the industry to begin with. So the problem with talking while I draw is that I tend to talk about disillusioning things.

Translation by Takayuki Karahashi

Kalai Chik

Pop culture writer focusing on animation, music, and games. Los Angeles native, USC alumni, and contributor for Asia Pacific Arts since 2015. Follow me on Twitter, @kalai_chik.

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