Me: You’re famous among super robot fans for creating the Obari Sword Pose.
>I show him pic related on my phone
Obari: Oh really? This was named after me?
Me: Well, the fans call it that. But why did you create it, and how did you come up with it?
Obari: It’s actually a pose which originated from Sunrise’s Yuusha series. I think it was a scene where they were overpowered by almost twice the amount of people.
Obari: You have to think about this in a 16:9 frame format. The pose was made to intimidate so that it wouldn’t give the impression that they were outnumbered. Well in the end, I think the pose was just to make everything look cooler.
Me: So you made the sword pose… because it’s cool?
Obari: Because it’s cool.
Obari: Even in Fighbird (Taiyou no Yuusha Fighbird/The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird) and quite a number of other series, this pose made its debut. Up until this pose was created, we had a couple of ideas and hypotheses about it. The main point of the pose was to raise the weapon up high…
>he raises both arms in the air as though holding a sword
Obari: and bring it down with great force!
>he swings it down, almost hitting the table
Obari: …and with the right timing, it appeared VERY cool. Even when other series copy this pose, you can see that the main point is preserved. So I think the ideas that we get before deciding a pose is pretty important as well. Even now while we’re developing other series, we’re likely to continue implementing this pose and I hope the viewers would watch it in action.
Me: Your animation is always very dramatic, very low camera angles, face close-ups, and heavy use of sakuga. What do you think of using 3DCG in anime?
Obari: I see, 3D animation. There is a sense of depth and distance to it. When I was the director of Super Robot Taisen, we actually incorporated both 2D and 3D elements. We focused on the more dynamic elements like designs for 2D and for 3D, we definitely made the machines the main focus.
Obari: Among those designs, we keep the humanoid robots 2D, the more machine-element robots are 3D, that sort of hybrid combination. That’s what makes up Super Robot Taisen. As for our latest, Gundam Build Fighters, we divided the task for the opening because the designs are more suitable to different elements.
Obari: 3D has its pros and cons and we’d probably continue using it in the future, but we’d like to use it depending on its suitability to the project. Certain projects are better in 2D and certain projects makes use of 3D better. For now we’re observing the situation but well, we’re going to make it happen. 3D robots and all, we can probably make it by next year.
Me: (in English) have you seen Pacific Rim-
Obari: UWAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH PASHIFIKKU RIMMU GA MOU DAAAISUKI DA YOOOOOO
It was incredible to watch as Obari’s face lights up at the mere mention of Pacific Rim
Me: Okay, so what do you think of Pacific Rim?
Obari: I loved it! I watched it several times! I love Gypsy Danger! Gypsy Danger is different from other Jaegers, it’s got that feeling that makes it seem like it’s the only super robot.
Me: Yes, especially with techniques like Rocket Punch
Obari: The main character lost his brother Yancy right? So it’s like Gypsy Danger houses his brother’s soul. That’s why to me it seems to different compared to Crimson Typhoon or Cherno Alpha and that makes it look like Gypsy Danger has something special going for it.
Obari: It’s also got all sorts of poses, like the Elbow Rocket or that pose with the sword. It actually feels more like anime than special effects somehow. I love it so much, I want to join the design team if I could.
Me: I was hoping that Gypsy would do the Obari pose with the large ship
Obari: I know, right? Wouldn’t it be awesome if it did?
Unfortunately, his manager was bugging him to leave so this was my last question. Forgot to include this pic, he took out his sketchbook and drew out the layout explaining the Sword Pose.
Me: One last question before you go. What’s the most important thing that an animator or mecha designer should have?
Obari: I think input is pretty crucial. Having a lot of experience is important, you can’t just sit at your desk and draw all the time. You should go places and eat different foods and experience different things, enjoy all sorts of activities and put the inspiration you can get from your experience out on paper.
Obari: For people aiming for this job, myself included, we should go out and play, you know, absorb all sorts of knowledge. Also, for people who want to focus mecha design, you need a solid study of the human anatomy especially for humanoid robots. For example, bone joints and fingers, it’s said that you can’t draw a robot if you don’t study it properly. Even designers for Gundams do that, so I think the study of the human body is pretty important when you want to design robots.
Me: Thanks for your time, hope you enjoy your time here.
Obari: Thanks for asking all these fun questions!
Thanks again to Twitter user tenoq for the great interview!
Metal Skin Panic Madox-01 VHS and Beta ad in the 12/1987 issue of Newtype.
This OVA is the shit! It was AnimEigo’s first video release in the US. It also has a pretty nice line up of people who were involved in this OVA. production by AIC, Artmic and Pony Canyon. Directed by Shinji Aramaki, animation direction by Hiroaki Godah and key animation by Hideaki Anno, Hirotoshi Sano, Masami fuckin Obari and Koji Ito to name a few.
Fuck yeah Obari!
You know what’s cool about this Anime Headline article. We actually have some good pictures of Jushin “Thunder” Liger in his original mask. How cool is this?
Burning the LIGER!!
Jushin Liger Anime Headline article in the 7/1989 issue of Newtype illustrated by Masami Obari.
It’s done! My contribution for Janet and Arielle’s That’s So Sugoi zine!! The theme for their zine was to mash together American cartoons and Japanese anime—so I chose to mash up Slayers (NEXT, specifically) with Adventure Time!!
It was a lot of fun! Go check out Janet’s and Arielle’s tumblrs for other submissions!!