‘Ghost in the Shell’ and ‘Made in Abyss’ Character Designer Kazuchika Kise Doesn’t Understand the Isekai Craze

'Ghost in the Shell' Character Designer Kazuchika Kise Doesn't Understand the Isekai Craze

Kazuchika Kise is one of the best-known and acclaimed anime character designers in history. Best known for his work on the Ghost in the Shell series, he has also worked on the xxxHolic and Blood series, and is currently the principal character designer for the popular fantasy series Made in Abyss.

Recently, the acclaimed designer gave an interview for the official Ghost in the Shell website, in which he talked about his projects, about the struggles of character designers in the modern anime market, as well as his opinions on the current state of the anime market. We are bringing you the best pieces of the interview here on Anime Horizon. You can check out the full three-part interview here.

The first part of the interview discussed Ghost in the Shell and Kise’s own preferences. Here, he revealed that drawing Ghost in the Shell was quite challenging and that he actually prefers other characters to Motoko, the series’ protagonist. Here is what he said:

―Could you tell us of any scenes that you were particularly invested in, out of the titles you’ve worked on?

Kise: Ghost in the Shell is always very hard work, with a lot of labor involved. Honestly, it’s hard to talk about any favorite scene… If I had to pick, it might be the opening of the film Ghost in the Shell. The one where we see a cyborg assembled in a lab, eventually taking on Motoko’s form. Our character designer, Hiroyuki Okiura, did most of that, and it still looks good and draws me in even now.

―That opening really contains the concentrated essence of Ghost in the Shell, with Motoko turning off the optical camouflage and jumping off a building. Were there any characters you enjoyed depicting while you worked as an animator?

Kise: Probably not Motoko. I had more fun drawing the old guys in Section 9. I started my career with an animation studio called Anime R, and our president was Moriyasu Taniguchi, a famed artist who specialized in middle-aged men. That naturally inspired me to want to draw old guys in a way that looked cool, too. That’s why I liked Togusa out of the cast of Ghost in the Shell, since he’s mostly human. His human emotions are easier to follow than Motoko’s, so I never get tired of drawing him. *laughs*


In the second part of the interview, he discussed working on Ghost in the Shell in more detail, as well as his relationship with Mamoru Oshii, but he also revealed some interesting details about his private life:

-Could you tell us about some artists that have influenced you?

Kise: Well, I have a lot of influences, really. My art is drawn from a lot of talented people’s work. Things I drew from Kazuo Komatsubara and from Nobuteru Yuki, as well as what I stole from Okiura. *laughs* There’s no single element that I think of as originally mine. I used to get full of myself when people would praise my art as a kid or a student, but since getting into the industry, I’ve learned there’s always someone better.

-For the record, Wikipedia has a story of you running off to a game arcade when you got worn down while working on the Ghost in the Shell film. You should edit it if that’s not true.

Kise: No, that’s the truth. The game Virtua Fighter was popular among the team at that point, so I went to the arcade a lot during small gaps in work. I also played against Oshii sometimes, but I could easily guard his attacks and throw him around since he always uses the same character and same special. He would also use fighting game commands on the Ghost in the Shell storyboards. Like, he’d say “a move like a PPPK” to convey the action he wanted. And I’d reply, “That doesn’t clarify anything at all.” *laughs*


Finally, Kise also discussed some of the modern trends in the anime market in the third part, revealing his dissatisfaction with so much isekai anime being on the market, implying that drawing them is not as challenging. Here is what he said:

-You’ve made several hits since the first episode of Ghost in the Shell: Arise premiered in theaters. Are there any current trends you have an eye on?

Kise: I think there are too many stories already asking, “Do we all really hate the modern world so much?” I find it strange that all that gets made is isekai stories. There was even a series about being reborn as a vending machine recently. That one really stunned me. I feel like there are fewer grounded anime works than there used to be.


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