Interview: Shinji Aramaki
Acclaimed director/designer Shinji Aramaki takes anime to an altogether new level with an all-CG episode featuring Master Chief entitled â€œThe Package,â€ one of the seven stories within the highly-anticipated Halo Legends.
Warner Home Video will distribute Halo Legends on February 16, 2010 as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Rayâ„¢, as well as single disc DVD, On Demand and Digital Download. The DVD anthology of episodic films based within the mythology of the popular game Halo is produced by 343 Industries, a unit within Microsoft Game Studios.
Aramakiâ€™s Halo Legends episode, â€œThe Package,â€ was produced at Casio Entertainment. The episode finds Master Chief and four specially-selected Spartans launched on a stealth cruiser and into the heart of a giant Covenant fleet in a bid to recover a valuable intelligence asset. While any Halo fan knows of the Spartansâ€™ unparalleled ground battle superiority, â€œThe Packageâ€ gives Aramaki the opportunity to exhibit the Spartansâ€™ impressive fighting abilities in zero-G and while piloting never-before-seen light attack vehicles (packed with a multitude of surprising weapons). Beyond the space battle, the episode also features plenty of hand-to-hand combat aboard a Covenant command vessel.
A pioneer in CG animation, Aramaki is renowned for his direction and mechanical design on powered exoskeletons and his mecha and CG design on several anime series. He has also designed several Microchange toys that became Transformers. Aramakiâ€™s most notable credits range from the visually stunning Appleseed and its sequel, Appleseeed Ex Machina to the innovative creative designs behind Robotech: Mospeada, Transformers (original designer of Soundwave, among others), Bubblegum Crisis, Full Metal Alchemist and Naruto.
As one of the group companies of the world-wide famous “Casio” brand of watch and digital camera, Casio Entertainment was founded in October 2004 for the purpose of planning and developing entertainment contents. The studioâ€™s resume includes VFX productions like Hitoshi Matsumotoâ€™s Dai Nipponjin (2007) and Symbol (2009), and CG work on the SquareEnix production Final Fantasy Advent Children and Final Fantasy Dissida.
Aramaki answered a few questions about the making of The Package. Without further ado â€¦
How does Halo lend itself to anime/animation?
Halo belongs to the battle-action genre as well as to Sci-Fi and most of its visual scenes look as exciting as the images from Sci-Fi illustration library. This makes the property suit to Anime/animation quite well. One more point why I think Halo suits Anime is that it is a story of a super hero named Master Chief in a vast background of Galaxy Wars which seems to be a grand epic.
What was the inspiration for your artistic vision in your episode of Halo legends?
Master Chief is a super hero who is invincible on the ground battle. My utmost motivation in creating my episode is to see Master Chief also invincible in the aerospace.
Were there any particular images within the Halo realm that helped shape or drive your creative vision?
The design of Master Chief itself inspires me the most.
Who were the other key individuals that brought this episode to life?
Mr. Dai Sato, the script writer of The Package, is a guy who has a vast knowledge about Sci-Fi and videogames and also has an edgy creativity. I have wanted to have an opportunity to work with him for a long time.
Mr. Atsushi Takeuchi, who has designed the ONI stealth ship, is the only mecha designer whom I can rely on to ask to design things which I cannot design. When I am in a trouble, he can always help me and the result is more than I expect.
What did you set out to accomplish in this episode, and why do you think you achieved or exceeded your goals?
I always wanted to make my own episode a non-stop action movie with a considerable density. For this purpose, Master Chief and his several colleagues are the most suitable heroes/heroin.
I owe the complete realization of my visions to the continuous efforts and the wonderful talent of the creative staff at Casio Entertainment, Inc. â€“ and especially to Mr.Teruaki Shiraishi, CG Director of the episode. He is quite an enthusiast of Halo games and contributed a lot in increasing the quality of the episode especially in recreating the scenes from the videogames.
How important was having Halo gaming experience to bringing the world to life in anime?
Since a long time before I became involved in this project, I have been a Halo player. After I got involved, I have played all versions many times for the purpose of knowing the details of which I was not sure, and I have noticed that there have been so many discoveries even in the replay.
Did you include any hidden images or behind-the-scenes â€œEaster eggsâ€ within your episode for the devout Halo fans?
The viewers will see other Spartans than Master Chief and a certain important character (youâ€™ll have to watch and see). The viewers will find out that a machine gun turret can come out from a very unexpected place. I hope that everyone will enjoy it.