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Fate/Grand Order Babylonia Animation Staff Comment on Show's Highlights So Far

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Director Toshifumi Akai, character designer Tomoaki Takase, episode 3 director Isao Hayashi, key animator Yusuke Kawakami weigh in

Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia's director Toshifumi Akai, character designer and chief animation director Tomoaki Takase, episode 3 director Isao Hayashi, and key animator Yusuke Kawakami recently conducted an interview with Newtype regarding the state of the TV anime. Each staff member emphasized that many of the animators on the show are young and commented on various standout aspects of the anime.

Highlights from each of the interviews are below:

Yusuke Kawakami

Kawakami is credited for drawing Mash's action set piece in episode 0. He said that he initially declined the offer to draw that scene because he felt like it didn't play to his strengths as an animator. However, he was able to construct a rough of the scene using Blender, the 3D software, and drew the scene while staying true to the storyboards.

When watching the action scene, viewers should be able to see the personality of the heroic spirit within Mash, and that it's different from Mash's own personality. Fate/Grand Order players will know the identity of that heroic spirit, but even anime-only viewers may be able to tell that it's a man's spirit. Kawakami was conscious of this as he drew the scene.

Kawakami describes Babylonia as the kind of anime where an animator's skill really matters. A lot of the action takes place in desert, wasteland, and other open spaces during the daytime, so animators can't fudge the details. Because a lot of the animators are young, there's a sense that everyone's learning from each other. Since the show is so high-profile, everyone feels like they need to step up their game.

He reflected that among young animators about 1-2 years back, there was a trend in making action animation have a really fast tempo, like a music video. But nowadays, there's more focus on the characters, so you can get a sense of who they are through the action animation. There's also diversity in the approach; for example, some animators will use 3D animation like he did to visualize how the action takes place in a three-dimensional space before drawing it in 2D. He hopes that he can mature further as an animator, and that he'll get even better at expressing character nuances through his drawings.

Isao Hayashi

Hayashi drew the storyboards and directed episode 3. He was also specifically an action animation director on the episode. There are two previous anime which have defined Hayashi as an animator: Birdy the Mighty: Decode, which is regarded as a birthplace for digital 2D animation in Japanese anime, and The IDOLM@STER, where Hayashi was impressed by the feeling of teamwork. Other main staff members on Babylonia episode 3, such as the animation director and assistant animation director, also worked with Hayashi on The IDOLM@STER.

Episode 3 had a lot of young animators working on it in particular. For example, Naoki Miyajima animated the scene where Mash blocks Ishtar's initial beam attack, and Naoya Takahashi animated the scene where Gilgamesh crushes Ishtar's jewels. Hiroyuki Kobashi animated the scene where Mash spars with the soldiers.

Hayashi sees himself as a person who consolidates the work of young animators. He says that around 70-80% of them are digital animators (and therefore draw on tablets rather than paper). He wants to improve his communication skills so that he can absorb their skills.

Tomoaki Takase

Takase is one of the character designers and chief animation directors. He shared character designing duties with the game's lead character designer Takashi Takeuchi. First off, because the game has so many characters drawn by different artists with unique styles, Takeuchi redrew them all in his own style, which Takase used as a base for the anime character designs.

The character designs of Fate/Grand Order are so intricate that "it makes the animators cry." Although it was tempting to over-simplify them for ease of drawing, doing so would have diluted the appeal of the characters. So only minor simplifications were made, such as Da Vinci not wearing the adornments on her right arm because she's inside Chaldea throughout the whole series.

A character that Takase found interesting and challenging to draw was Enkidu, whose relative simplicity in design ironically made him difficult to draw. As the series goes on, the range of his expressions develops, and Takase found himself making the expressions Enkidu does in episode 5 as he was drawing them.

Babylonia has an incredible amount of action scenes, the most Takase has ever had to handle in a single anime. He feels that only young animators who understand the current trends in animation will be able to make animation on this scale that consistently feels fresh and exciting to watch, and sees them as an integral part of the show.

Toshifumi Akai

Akai is the series director. He says that the preparations for the anime were assembled from "an early stage" and remarks that there are hardly any two-cour anime that are as "blessed" as Babylonia is in regards to the schedule. Of course, when it comes to two-cour anime, the second cour is always an uphill battle for the animators, so there's plenty of fight still to go.

A lot of care was taken with the series composition to ensure that everything appealing about the original story is captured in the anime. Since it's two-cour, they could strike a balance between action, comedy, drama, and introspective moments.

Some characters to watch out for: Ritsuka, whom Akai tries to depict as a believable 16-17 year old boy. For example, in episode 1, he falls on top of Mash but doesn't blush because he's in a life-or-death situation, but he does blush when he sees her wearing a casual outfit in episode 3. For her part, Mash is still discovering her emotions, so there are times when she reacts purely on impulse.

Gilgamesh is also interesting because his Caster form is a first for the series, and thus he's appealing in a completely new way. Akai is also a fan of Ishtar because although her outfit is so skimpy, she's not eroticized, and she comes across as gorgeous and resplendent whenever she appears onscreen.

Besides drawings some things for the OP animation, Akai has sworn off doing key animation for this series and is entrusting the character design work to Tomoaki Takase. He's trying not to take on too much for himself so that he can look over the series as a whole. He hopes that the anime can live up to the vision that fans have of the game.

Source: Newtype January 2020 Issue

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