Yokou Satou talks with us about how anime gets made
Last season's Love of Kill introduced us to a world of suspenseful romance and romantic suspense. The story of assassins Chateau and Ryang-Ha was brought to life first as a Pixiv comic by manga artist Fe under the title I Wanted to Read a Manga About an Assassin Couple in Love so I Started Drawing One, before being picked up for serialization and then adapted into anime. We had the opportunity to talk with Yokou Satou, the character designer and chief animation director for the Love of Kill anime about the process of character design, the animation process in general, and what it was like to bring Fe's characters to life through animation.
Crunchyroll: Could you please introduce yourself and your work to our readers?
Yokou Satou: My name is Yokou Satou. I am a character designer and chief animation director. Because making animation is a collaborative effort, I produce the designs that serve as the blueprint for the project. The animation director is like a makeup artist, preparing the characters and making them more emotive.
What distinctive duties does a character designer have in anime?
Satou: A character designer designs the characters’ appearances and expressions for all of the animators to refer to.
What got you initially interested in working in the anime industry?
Satou: I was moved when I watched the end roll in an anime movie as a child.
Tell us about how you got into the industry and about your past work.
Satou: I found work at a small company after I graduated from professional school. I started as an animator and then did character design for ten shows, chief animation director for six. I was an animation director — for a number of episodes which I don’t remember, I’m sorry — and a key animator for several shows.
What different considerations does a character designer have to keep in mind as opposed to a general illustrator?
Satou: In general illustration, the goal is usually to make the character cute or awesome, but in animation, the characters can move in every which way, so the objective as a character designer is to make the characters easy to move and not prone to mistakes while making them look as good as possible. We keep things under control by design. By adjusting the number of lines to draw, we put together a character that can rotate 180 degrees.
How did you feel when you were asked to do character designs for Love of Kill? How did you feel when you read Fe-sensei’s manga?
Satou: I was ecstatic. I love this type of manga! The manga is still ongoing, so I wait eagerly for new chapters every month.
Do you find that your experience as an animator helps your work as a character designer?
Satou: I suspect that a character that wasn’t designed in the hands of an animator would be severely prone to mistakes in production.
Were there any challenges in turning Fe-sensei’s manga characters into anime characters? Did you ever consult with Fe-sensei for advice designing the characters?
Satou: One of my tasks is to cut down on lines that aren’t immediately obvious. Fe-sensei suggested a few lines to remove.
I’m thankful for the precise, thoughtful advice that she gave me several times. I even wondered if she might have had experience working in an anime studio!
How do you weigh giving each character their own personality versus creating cohesion throughout all the characters?
Satou: It’s a difficult skill, and, I think, one of the most enjoyable aspects of design.
Do you have a favorite character or one that you find easy to draw?
Satou: Jim’s easy to draw!
Do you have a comment for the overseas fans of Love of Kill?
Satou: Even though Love of Kill is suspense, it’s not one that will make you too tense. It’s a very good piece. Please do give it a watch!