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Interview with Kenji Kamiyama (3)

Kenji Kamiyama
Born in Saitama Prefecture on March 20, 1966. A rare example of a background artist shifting to directorial roles, Kamiyama became a protégé of Mamoru Oshii, working as animation director in Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999) and contributing the script for Blood: The Last Vampire (2000). International attention arrived with the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002, Excellence Prize, Japan Media Arts Festival 2002) and its second season, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig (2004), followed by the feature-length Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (Jury Prize, 21st Digital Content Grand Prix). In 2007, after almost 6 years spent in the world of Ghost in the Shell, Kamiyama directed the high-fantasy TV series Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Jury Recommended Work, 11th Japan Media Arts Festival) followed in 2009 by Eden of the East (2009, Best TV Animation, 14th Animation Kobe), Kamiyama's highly anticipated original TV series, dealing with NEETs and other underlying issues in Japan's youth society. In 2011, he supervised the 3D conversion of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society, that was greeted with the International 3D Award at the 1st International 3D Awards 2011.

Re:Cyborg, 27 Years Later - PART 3

How much were you familiar with the original comic?
Cyborg 009 was that kind of comic book you could always find at the doctor's waiting room. It was that popular. However, I think my generation was more familiar with the TV anime adaptation made in 1979. When I got involved in the project, I obviously read it through from beginning to end.

Did you have any favourite cyborg at the time?
Perhaps Albert (004), the German guy. I guess it was because he looked more "cyborg" than any other in the team.

The design of the nine cyborgs has been drastically... updated.
I decided to rely on Gato Aso for the character designs, as I had the honour to work with him at the time of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, where he did an excellent job. This choice came from the idea of abandoning the cartoony style of the original comic and pursue a more realistic and cinematic approach to it. We spent time in finding the right balance without disappointing the fans. But a Mohican hairstyle could not possibly fit with a Native American bearing the name of Geronimo.

And Jet's nose is gone, too.
Can you believe it's the first thing the fans here commented? But it could not exist in the world of 009 Re:Cyborg. I asked Aso-san to design a handsome American guy, as I was aware the original Jet was very popular among the female audience. We did keep the aerodynamic feel to it in his hairstyle, though.

Other major changes?
GB was a kind of funny character in the comic and in the previous anime adaptations. Aso-san's design made him a handsome young man, but he changed again with the 3D modeling, where he became this rather cool mature man. We also arranged Ivan's front hair, which constantly covered his eyes in Ishinomori's design, as we wanted to see his facial expression. Chang Changku is possibly the closest to the original design. When the early modeling came up, somebody said it strangely looked like Oshii-san, but I swear it was not intended. Joe was a quick one, too. We just arranged his hairstyle so it could work in 3D. For Françoise, her iconic item, or the hair band she's always wearing, did not match very well with the adult image we were looking for, but eventually we kept it.

(3 - to be continued)

© 2012 009 RE:CYBORG Production Committee