Part one of the interview Hiroko and I conducted with director Shinji Aramaki is now available in its entirety here on the Otaku USA magazine website. As a prelude to discussing his film work in part two, here we focus largely on Aramaki's influences and early years as a toy designer for Takara and Artmic.
The late, lamented Artmic is legendary in anime circles, yet remains all but unknown outside of die-hard fans. But if you spent your Saturday mornings glued to the TV in the Eighties, chances are they had more of an impact on your life than you realize. In addition to creating Japanese hits like "Mospeda" and "Bubblegum Crisis," they freelanced their skills to American TV production companies, designing characters, vehicles, and backgrounds for fare including M.A.S.K., the Captain Power game videotapes, DinoSaucers, Pole Position, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Starcom, and The Real Ghostbusters. Now that we live in an era when nearly everyone has some familiarity with anime design motifs, the origins are obvious, but it flew under the radar of most Americans at the time. It's yet another example of the subtle and surprising degree of influence Japanese anime has had on people across the world. And man, if those theme songs don't make you want to bust out your "parachute pants," nothing will.
Part two focuses on Appleseed Ex Machina. Look for it in issue #4 of Otaku USA Magazine, due out in December!