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On the 12th and 13th of May, 2018, the Grand Ballroom Pullman Central Park in Jakarta hosted many cosplayers and creators from Indonesia and overseas for the event Creators Super Fest 2018. Coming as a guest for this event was Japanese artist Mel Kishida, the illustrator of games such as the Atelier series and Blue Reflection, and original character designer for anime series such as Hanasaku Iroha and Sound of the Sky. Aside from his illustration works, he is also famous for his unique and silly cosplays, usually posted on his Twitter account.

Our team at KAORI Nusantara managed to catch an interview with Mel Kishida, where he spoke on various topics from illustration industry in Japan to his cosplay hobby. Read our interview below:

What’s your first impression of Indonesia after coming here for the first time?
As someone who loves traveling, I immediately wanted to try the food that this country has, and I have to say I’m pretty satisfied with it. Although compared to other Southeast Asia countries, the nightlife here isn’t as festive as the others.

How long have you been in the illustration industry?
I’ve been in this industry for 13 years.

Is there any kind of field that is currently sought after by illustrators today?
Mobile games are currently very sought after by many illustrators in Japan at the moment. Usually, illustrators in this field often get many job offers before they try their hands on other fields.

How do you usually design characters in a project?
In designing characters, there are other important aspects aside from the character itself. For example, the overall theme and storyline also affect the design for the said character. Sometimes I’ve had to rework my design from scratch to make it fit with the concept I’ve had in mind.

How do you develop your cute and bishoujo art style?
First of all, you need to know what kind of stuff you like. I might sound a bit perverted here, but by being honest with your fetishes; for example, feet fetish, you’ll soon see the appeal in the character you’re working on.

What’s the reason behind your bishoujo art style?
At first, I experimented with various art styles, and apparently, I got a lot of offers for this particular bishoujo art style. That pretty much explains why I draw in this style.

Have you ever tried drawing using a different style, such as shounen-styled characters? What kind of challenges do you encounter in doing so?
I’ve tried drawing using an entirely different style. If I have to guess, I think the main problem in drawing with a different style is finding the right inspirations, considering I’ve drawn so many characters in bishoujo style.

There are fanart enthusiasts who complain about same-face syndrome. What’s your opinion on it?
Fans of my works are actually okay with how I draw faces. Personally, I’ve always wanted to draw faces in a different style from the usual, but I’m worried that people won’t really like it because they’ve already gotten used to my usual style.

Do you have any memorable video game titles?
Every video game has its own memorable moments, but for me, Blue Reflection is very memorable because I’m involved in a lot of things in this game, not only limited to designing the characters.

If you got the chance to work on a project with a third party, who would you like it to be?
I want to collaborate with companies who produce cute characters, such as Sanrio or Disney.

Do you look up to someone in the illustration world?
I don’t really look up to someone, but let’s just say I’m inspired with how my favorite illustrators work. Whenever I admire an illustrator, I tend to try to implement his/her art style into mine.

Other than your illustrations, people also know you from your weird and funny cosplays. What drives you to do that?
Oh, I did them purely for fun only. Nothing serious.

What’s your favorite cosplay?
Shimakaze from Kantai Collection holds a special place in my heart. There’s this event where the voice actress from the anime was supposed to cosplay as her, but since she’s unable to attend at that moment, the producer asked me to replace her. After I wore the costume, the photo was soon edited with Photoshop. Originally, that photo was supposed to be used in a cosplay magazine article about photo editing but turns out it went viral in social media. I still remember vividly people were fooled by it.

There’s a lot of illustrators in Japan who prefer to stay anonymous for their privacy’s sake. Why do you decide to show yourself in public?
I was a member of a theater club back in high school. I also applied to a talent agency after graduating and got a minor role in a TV series. Both of them made me get used to being recorded on camera, although that doesn’t mean I’m okay being on air all the time. Since people seem to enjoy it, I decided to appear in public more often.

You’ve handled character designs for numerous projects. Do you have a particular project that is memorable to yourself?
Hanasaku Iroha. During the project, I even had to go to the actual place in Kanazawa, Ishikawa to do research. Because of this particular anime project, Ishikawa prefecture gained a lot of popularity. The staff then initiated a certain matsuri festival which only appears in the anime to gain even more attraction. The festival’s success leaves a wonderful impression on me.

Do you have any message to every young illustrator out there?
There’s no limit on what you can do in this line of work. You just have to give it your best.

Any tips for young Indonesian illustrators?
I can feel that a lot of artists here in Indonesia have a huge passion in this field of work. I hope that they can keep that passion alive.

The Indonesian Anime Times | Text by Tanto Dhaneswara | Photos by Dean Astarada | Translation by Videtra Reynaldi

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