Toshiharu Murata

by Bamboo Dong,
Toshiharu Murata would rather be riding motorcycles than drawing cartoons, but luckily for us, the latter pays better and isn't quite as dangerous. The visionary behind Hellsing and Blue Sub 6's stark character designs, Murata has stared down the challenge of blending flat characters with 3-D computer graphics. With his tough-guy, pool-playing image, you might be surprised that he got involved with a panty party like Mouse. But hey, what's life without a few curveballs?

What do you think is the hardest aspect of being a character designer?

It depends on the series but it's kind of hard to analyze the whole thing. Sometimes when I create the characters, it will go very smoothly and be accepted by everybody, but sometimes it depends on the director. When I'm working on an original story from someone, I have to be faithful to the original designs, so that's what I'm always careful about.

Do you prefer doing character designs for something that's already out, like a manga? Or would you rather do something that's original?

I have no preference. Either way, I can work. I've never really been able to make original characters for any stories. It's always kind of adapted to what was already there as an existing character. Those aren't really my type or style of drawing though. Really, if it's an original story already out there that I have to work on, then it's not usually my preferred type of character or designs, but anyway, whatever it is, I can work. It doesn't mean that I can't do either with equal ease. I mean, I have a personal art preference, to be sure, but it doesn't normally agree with the original story.

What kind of preference do you have?

Like Hellsing, I think. Things like Burn-Up and Mouse... those aren't in agreement with my preferred character. About Mouse, I was offered the job by Studio DEEN and when I said, “Okay, I'll take it” they were kind of surprised. They said, “Are you sure? You're going to take it?” They weren't expecting it, probably. [laughs] Studio DEEN was kind of expecting me to say “no,” I think.

Did you have an interesting time drawing all the large breasts and the fetish outfits?

Not really [laughs]. I don't really care about big breasts in real life, so it really didn't matter to me. In Japan, there are a lot of men who care about big boobs, but not me. I don't really care. My art preference is more like Peanuts. That kind of stuff is what I like doing.

Have you ever wanted to make something that had your own characters? To have something created that had characters that you designed just for the purpose of being your characters?

<laughs> Not really. I've never really been interested in seeing any of my characters in an original story or anything.

You did the mechanical layout for Gad Guard and Getbackers. What do you think were the challenges of doing the mechanical layout for something, rather than doing characters?

Basically, compared to character designs, the mechanical layout lets me follow more closely what the actual design is based on, and whatever has existed already, like a bike or a car. Like in You're Under Arrest. Characters are more distinctive, and sometimes the audience is expecting certain things. Like, this character has to be more cute, or has to have big boobs, or be more beautiful. So, it's more difficult and so I have to be really careful when I design all the characters rather than just mechanical stuff. It's really easier than making characters.

What do you like better? Doing mechanical designs or characters?

Really, what I love the most is being able to write the original story, so I can design everything originally from my head. But in terms in designing, it's easier to do mechanical layouts than desgining and creating characters.

What would be your ideal project to work on?

First, big budget. I want a big enough budget to do whatever it is I want to do. That, and working with a good and very talented director. And a good work environment. And a big hit. After all, that would be the ideal project I'd like to work on.

With Gad Guard, the mechanical designs are completely different from the ones you've done before. They have a different feeling. What did you think about it?

I basically worked on the original character of the robot, which was made by Yoshitsune Izuna, so I just fine-tuned the original characters. There wasn't much to work on.

Have you ever wanted to design your own robots? Big powerful fighting robots and stuff?

I'm more interested in doing the direction for a whole story, a whole project from scratch, not only the particular characters. Myself, I'm more of a creator and artist that designs characters based on the order of whoever originally made the story. That's really what I try to do, and also what I've been doing. So, I've never really been interested in making just one specific character, but doing a whole story would be awesome.

Alright, thank you very much. I enjoyed talking to you!

Thank you!

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