Interview with Akemi Takada

Interview with Akemi Takada

Veteran anime character designer makes an appearance at 2008's Anime Expo.

By APA Staff

Akemi Takada's return to Anime Expo brought back childhood memories of magical girls, beautiful aliens, love triangles, policemen, and of course, their crime-fighting robotic counterparts. You can easily pinpoint Takada's character-design work as one of the most recognizable styles of the 80s. Although her work has spanned from the 70s until now, it was during the 80s that fans truly became enamored with her work.

In the late 70s, Takada's career with Tatsunoko Pro began with character designs for the sci-fi action anime, Science Team Ninja Gatchaman. Mobile Police Patlabor was Takada's first published work, for which she collaborated with her five-member group Headgear, which also includes Japanese anime director/writer Mamoru Oshii, screenwriter Kazunori Ito, illustrator/director Yutaka Izubuchi, and manga artist Masami Yuki.

Her Studio Pierrot work was the beginning of Takada's designs involving female characters from the fantasy world. Her first original character designs were for the anime Magical Angel Creamy Mami, which was also Studio Pierrot's first magical girl anime. Fellow Guest of Honor Shoko Nakagawa cites Creamy Mami as the token inspiration behind the name of her beloved pet cat, Mamitsu. Takada also worked for the first time with beloved manga-ka Rumiko Takahashi on Urusei Yatsura -- as both a character designer and animation director on the anime series.

But Takada's experience with character designs goes beyond the action and fantasy genre. Kimagure Orange Road is the romantic-comedy fantasy anime featuring the famous love triangle between Kyosuke, the male protagonist with supernatural powers, Madoka, a sometimes-sweet, yet tough-talking delinquent, and Hikaru, Madoka's best friend. Takada's second collaboration with Takahashi included character designs for her well-known love-quadruple anime, Maison Ikkoku, featuring the relations between Yusuke Godai, a 19 year-old ronin, Kyoko Otonashi, a 21 year old woman who takes care of the boarding house that he lives in, and the tenants that live with them.

Today, her designs remain influential. In addition to her work as a character illustrator, Takada has also ventured into the jewelry business with her jewelry collections, Diakosmos and Angel Mythos. --Kanara Tyˆ

Q&A with Akemi Takada
Interviewed by William Hong
Translation by Aiko Iwamuro

APA: Can you compare working as a illustrator with working as a jewelry maker?

Akemi Takada: In my opinion, making something is to show my positive feelings towards [the] work. I usually share the same types of feelings whether I work as an illustrator or jewelry maker. 

APA: What genre of animation do you like?      

AT: I like fantasy because of a great depth of expression.

APA: Can you tell me the process of creating a character? What kind of things are you inspired by?

AT: When I design a character for an animation, I imagine the setting of the animation for the character. Then, I make an appropriate character based the setting. To me, to design a character is not just to create a soul but to form the caliber. 

APA: What is your favorite animation, including your own?

AT: If it's including mine, I like Creamy Mami. Creamy Mami is special to me because the animatated version is close to my original drawing. Since she was not based on any other source, I could draw her freely and I enjoyed it.

APA: What are you working on right now?

AT: I first started drawing in 2-D, but I recently started designing characters with 3D computer graphics this year, and I'm planning to work on future projects by using these techniques.  



For more APA coverage of 2008's Anime Expo:

Video: Otakus in Action
Anime and the North American Downfall
Panels and Games
Sword of the Stranger
David Hayter
Shoko Nakagawa
Top Ten Anime Music Videos