TakaraTomy Staff Interview - Animated

Discussion in 'Transformers News and Rumors' started by SydneyY, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Posts:
    11,516
    News Credits:
    74
    Trophy Points:
    276
    Likes:
    +74
    Credits to toy-world.com.hk for providing the scans that made this translation possible. And as always huge thanks to Sol Fury for going through yet another painful revision. Can't thank him enough for the time he spends to help others :) 

    Hope you'll enjoy!


    [​IMG]
    Who is he? - Mr. Shogo Hasui, whose previous interviews are found here and here.

    We wanted Transformers with strong individuality - Shogo Hasui

    "Creating Distinctive Characters"

    - Firstly, please tell us the development process of "Animated" project.

    Hasui: The project itself launched long time ago, earlier than the Hollywood movie. It was 2005, and the series was meant to be a successor of "Galaxy Force (Cybertron)" cartoon series. At that time there was already a talk of a live action movie, but we did not know when it would actually go on production. Though soon after it was decided that the movie was to be released in 2007 and we suspended "Animated" project and concentrated on the development of the movie products.
    We went back to "Animated" project in October 2006 and that was when we actually started working on the products.

    - How did you decide on the American comic styled design, which is very different from the movie?

    Hasui: The concept sketch we received from Hasbro showed Transformers that were not quite like the ones we were accustomed to up until "Galaxy Force". They looked more like suited-up American heroes than robots comprised of straight lines. I soon realized that the focus was on their characters as American action figures, not as transforming robot toys. When my superior asked me if I could pull it off, I answered, "I doubt if I could, I can't really find any vehicle parts that could turn into the robot body." But at the same time I felt enthusiastic about the challenge of creating a new design concept and transformation that would be different from "Galaxy Force".
    Eventually I reached a conclusion that we needed to create robots whose proportions would imply what type of characters they were. What I did differently from "Galaxy Force" was to change the distribution of vehicle parts (in robot mode); I attempted to treat those parts as if they were muscles. For example, I designed a powerful looking character to have many of those parts on his arms to convey the impression of big muscular arms. I received applause like never before when I went with this idea and presented test models to Hasbro. It gave me confidence to continue on.

    - What is the main focus of this series?

    Hasui: As was evident in Hasbro's initial concept sketch, our aim in this series was to create Transformers with lots of unique individuality.
    To achieve it, we put emphasis on the "silhouette"; the character's personality was to be clear just by a glance at their outline. For example, Ironhide (Bulkhead)'s massive arms indicate that he is powerful, while his round shouldered and chubby shape tells you he also has a gentle soul. We tried to show something about the characters with their body proportions.
    At an early stage of development, Ratchet had a flatter stomach, until I noticed he was bigger in the concept sketch. I thought that might be his middle-aged bulge and added more bulk there. (*laugh) It also helped making his outline more distinctive.
    There was also "stance", the way the character would stand. Optimus was designed with a certain "stance" in mind; he stands tall as if he is saying, "I am the leader!", which is typical of American heroes. Also, please take a look at their backs. All figures have very "expressive" backs. It is a common method when designing transforming robots to place excess parts on their backs, but we avoided it with this series. On the contrary, you can actually get an impression that they have backbones. The "stance" I have just talked about needs to emphasize a backbone, and a good balance can be achieved when the backbone looks slightly arched when viewed from the side, and with that they look great from any angle.
    Also, we eliminated excessive details and used the surface of the vehicle mode parts to express the bulk of the robot. It made each character easily recognizable. Until "Animated", we always tried to have some standards for the vehicle and robot size, but this time we allowed more variety according to their characters. It was also the first time we attempted to add the characters' background to the toys, such as Ratchet's broken crest or joint to attach Lockdown's weapon. With this series the storyline was recongized at the development stage.

    "Characteristic Transformation"

    - What was the reason for the G1 homages?

    Hasui: That was the cartoon company's choice. We normally prefer to create new characters with new styles. When I first heard their requests, I was impressed how much they loved (G1). Actually, Hot Rod was to be the main character initially. Bumblebee having speed as his attribute is a remainder of him.

    [​IMG]
    The very first prototypes; "Hot Rod" and "Rhinox"

    - What was the process of designing characters?

    Hasui: Mr. Eric Siebenaler, a designer from Hasbro, and I worked together; I made some suggestions, and he always replied with encouragement and his own ideas. Hasbro and we had not communicated like this during a development of Transformers before. It was more of a one-way correspondence from each end to pick better ideas. But with "Animated", Hasbro and we exchanged our ideas, and I believe our discussion resulted in higher-quality products.
    The character designs in Season 1 were decided after numerous changes during the discussions among the 3 companies (cartoon company, Hasbro and TakaraTomy). Actually, the first concept model was Hot Rod, and there were many alterations until he eventually became Bumblebee.
    As for the Season 2 characters, because of the Movie product development preceding the cartoon, we received the designs which cartoon company and Hasbro decided on. Though I hear Eric-san negotiated the design adjustment with the cartoon company when the designs were impossible to contrive transformation.

    - Are there any common gimmicks like the Movie lines' "Auto-Morph" or "Mech-Alive"?

    Hasui: At a glance, they all seem to have different kind of gimmicks, but the common theme is to emphasize each character's personality.
    For the early line-up, we introduced "Signature Transform". For example, Optimus' upper body rotates during transformation and Ratchet is posed as if he is ready to begin a repair operation when he is transformed. Also, the first figure I took on, Cybertron Mode Optimus, completes his transformation with a swing of the axe from the back. The concept was to give them personalized transformation which was not a mere "process" but a "play".
    For later line-ups, we introduced "Signature Weapon" concept, such as Grimlock's flame sword and Soundwave's guitar. We actively proposed our ideas to be added to the character set up sent from Hasbro. Soundwave didn't have a weapon at first, but I felt he needed a musical themed weapon to make himself more appealing. I suggested a familiar spirit that transforms into a guitar for him, and the suggestion was accepted!

    - There must have been a time you that you were working on "Classics", "Animated" and "The Movie" in parallel?

    Hasui: "Revenge (of The Fallen)" certainly overlapped (with "Animated") and I was drawing Sideswipe and Samurai Prowl at the same time. It was very hard to change the way of thinking to alternate between the two as there was a big difference in the numbers of the lines required for each designs. Though the basic order was "Animated" - "The Movie" and it helped me work with some consistency. I would have been more confused if the order was other way round. There was also technical synergy effect between the two series. We wouldn't have been able to create characters with such unique appearance for "Revenge" if not for the know-how we gained from "Animated". It has of course been reflected on the improvement of the products as merchandise.
    By the way, I used to use a ruler when drawing straight lines up until "Galaxy Force", but now I draw without one. I add slight curves to straight lines and try to avoid using parallel lines in order to create the impression of musculature.

    "Transformers as a Family Entertainment"

    - Tell us about your first impression of "Animated" visuals.

    Hasui: The first image I saw was a line drawing of Optimus transforming. His movement was like a tornado and I adopted it to his transformation gimmick. The animation was very expressive and even though I didn't fully understand the language it was still very enjoyable. The show is definitely a pure entertainment that can be enjoyed by everyone. We had been hoping for a while to make Transformers series more family oriented, and "Animated" is certainly heading that way. Also, you don't see the characters holding firearms in the cartoon, it is because the show is intended for the whole family. The decision has been reflected on the toys as well, and even when the character is armed, the weapon is designed not to be realistic or he does not hold it like a gun.

    - Tell us about the latest tendency on the development side?

    Hasui: When I joined the company (in 1999), we might use the traditional Transformers names, but the characteristics for them were not the same. But recently I have noticed the design and personality are more set according to the character such as Optimus or Bumblebee.
    Back in the days of "Micron Legend (Armada)", it was merely my personal preference to give Starscream a "traditional Starscream" appearance, but the whole franchise tends to pay homage to the old characters lately. I am happy with it.
    This new trend is very evident in "Animated" and "The Movie", Optimus is definitely the one who takes the lead while Bumblebee seems innocent and somewhat childlike.

    - Lastly, please send your message to the fans.

    Hasui: Transformers have always been adopting something new, and "Animated" has become a series with a new perspective like we have never had before thanks to its theme, "making individuality stand out". Everything about "Robot", "Vehicle" and "Transformation" is fresh and unique. While retaining the respect for the series up to now, we also added the new perspective and fun to the toys. This is evident once you actually handle them. Please try them, you will see how "Transformers" toy series are carrying on as they expand.

    extra trivia; Although Mr.Hasui is known as "Mr.Starscream", he is not credited for Animated Starscream toy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
    • News Credit News Credit x 1
  2. RHansen

    RHansen Sir. Ranbotnic Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Posts:
    3,335
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    211
    Likes:
    +1
    Prototypes always look so much cooler than the released versions.
     
  3. Bumblethumper

    Bumblethumper old misery guts

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    Posts:
    8,807
    News Credits:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    192
    Likes:
    +20
    Wow, this guy is terrific. He really 'gets' it.

    Everything I like about the toys seems to have been intentional and deliberate. The characteristic proportions and silhouettes, the unique transformations, the background touches incorporated into the toys.

    When I saw the first cartoon images of Animated, I thought they didn't stand a chance of matching that in the toys. I really feel they set a new standard with what they achieved.
     
  4. ninety

    ninety NERDS!!

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Posts:
    3,182
    News Credits:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    151
    Likes:
    +2
    Huge thanks to Syd and Sol for this :thumbs2: 

    Very interesting read, the more I read about this guy, the more I like him.

    Going to have to take a fresh look at Animated, especially the 'backbones'.
     
  5. Nerroth

    Nerroth Alea iacta est.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Posts:
    1,665
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    177
    Likes:
    +3
    Makes you wonder what kind of design processes are going on with the figure series they didn't ask about - such as the War for Cybertron characters and whatever will end up in TF: Prime...
     
  6. G1Wheeljack

    G1Wheeljack Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Posts:
    9,820
    News Credits:
    29
    Trophy Points:
    196
    Likes:
    +29
    Very interesting interview, I never noticed those "signature transformations" before.
     
  7. Pravus Prime

    Pravus Prime Sorcerer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2002
    Posts:
    14,119
    News Credits:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    277
    Likes:
    +71
    Yeah, I had a similar thought.

    The signature weapon and transformation was interesting read, I never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense. The silloutte telling you about the character was pretty obvious though.

    Thanks for the interview Y.
     
  8. Vince

    Vince Decepticon

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Posts:
    630
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    101
    Likes:
    +1
    Awesome read, thanks man!
     
  9. shroobmaster

    shroobmaster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Posts:
    13,629
    News Credits:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    201
    Likes:
    +30
    This interviews do make you wonder how much Hasbro designers actualy do.

    Sounds like they basically just send to Takara something like "hey dude, this is toy we want you to make, heres pic of robot and vehicle, size-class probably gonna be voyager... bye until prototype release!" instead of actualy working with 'em.
     
  10. Railguard

    Railguard Battalion Commander

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Posts:
    3,828
    Trophy Points:
    151
    Likes:
    +0
    Ebay:
    Interesting but also a little concerning.
     
  11. ActionMasterZod

    ActionMasterZod LarzArz on twitter, man.

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Posts:
    2,762
    News Credits:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    171
    Likes:
    +10
    Ebay:
    ....I can't be the only one that thinks that guy looks like Vangelus, can I?
     
  12. prime13

    prime13 UCHUU KITAAAA

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Posts:
    4,237
    News Credits:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    151
    Likes:
    +2
    Looks like "Rhinox" eventually became "Sentinel".
     
  13. microclone

    microclone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Posts:
    3,263
    News Credits:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    172
    Likes:
    +6
    i was always surprised at the animosity initially thrown at animated, aside from some QC issues i still feel they are most refreshing thing to have happened to TF since beast wars. Its easy to forget the designers behind the toys, we also seem to assume 'hasbro' or 'takara'.
     
  14. Smeg

    Smeg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Posts:
    201
    Trophy Points:
    91
    Likes:
    +0
    Great interview, thanks for the translation! Here's hoping there's room for new surprises in the Japanese version of the best Transformer line ever.
     
  15. T16skyhopp

    T16skyhopp Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2007
    Posts:
    5,049
    News Credits:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    191
    Likes:
    +4
    Ebay:
    I fucking love this guy. Every time we get an interview with him its so damn awesome. I want to learn Japanese and go hang out with him for a weekend. Thanks for the translation!
     
  16. Golden Age

    Golden Age BATTLE BEAST

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2005
    Posts:
    2,778
    Trophy Points:
    186
    Likes:
    +0
    another interesting creator interview. Thanks!
     
  17. Waverider

    Waverider Supreme Dude TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2009
    Posts:
    8,058
    News Credits:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    227
    Location:
    GTMO
    Likes:
    +27
    Ebay:
    Thanks SydnyY for another great interview translation.
     
  18. darksage78

    darksage78 Maximal

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2003
    Posts:
    2,001
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Likes:
    +0
    Awesome interview, love these things! Gives so much more insight into the process of things. I wonder what other protos they had from the Heroes setup before it switched into Animated.
     
  19. Bgrngod

    Bgrngod Autocon

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Posts:
    6,108
    News Credits:
    35
    Trophy Points:
    176
    Likes:
    +35
    Awesome stuff.

    The idea that people can sit around all day and design toys is mind-blowingly awesome to me. What an awesome gig.
     
  20. U.Magnus80

    U.Magnus80 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Posts:
    1,042
    Trophy Points:
    126
    Likes:
    +0
    Many thanks to Sol Fury. This was great to read!
     

Share This Page