Sakura-Con 2014: Range Murata Q & A Panel

Last Exile character designer Range Murata held a Q & A panel on the Friday of Sakura-Con 2014. What follows are the responses to the questions asked at the panel.

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The Robot series of artbooks is at volume 11 in Japan, and the series is now over.

Figures of his characters, a new one will be out from Alter in July/August.

Blue Submarine No. 6 is a finished product, but he has a new project coming out next spring.

His signature look "future retro" look is inspired by old industrial things, especially old American industrial things (e.g.30's-40's) which should be evident in Last Exile. He's been buying old typewriters and taking them apart. Added that he loved the Seattle Monorail.

An artist that inspired his work is Atsushi Kamijou.

As a character designer for an animer series, he gets to design the characters himself but gets preliminary input from the director.

As stated previously he has a new project coming out, he's actually working on two anime series and both will be out next year.

Works mosly with digital modeling and credits improvements in digital animation such a Gravity, Pacific Rim, and the new Space Battleship Yamato live action movie.

His favorite project was Last Exile, as he was basically allowed to create the entire world fror the Last Exile project. He based the giant airships off of zepplins and blimps, and added that he could talk forever about zepplins. His favorite character in Last Exile is Lavie. He expressed a bit of disappointment in the split between the two seasons of Last Exile which he characterized as unfortunate as the director wanted a "brighter look" for the 2nd season (Fam-The Silver Wing). He did say the 2nd season was still fun though, and he put lots of work into the army uniforms.

When asked about the limitations of paper and CG, Murata explained that he used to use markers on paper, but was limited with what he could use in terms of colors. With CG he could use an infinite number of colors and can play around with the colors, but when the colors come out on a model or figure the color often comes out differently. Added that in season 2 of Last Exile that the militia designs didn't fulfill his expectations as there was a lot of detail that couldn't be recreated in animation, and added that during production he can sometimes put a lot of detail into a character that ends up dying.

Another difference in Last Exile season two was the look of the Glacies, it was a departure in style for him, he added that he based the country off of Soviet Russian military bases and found the Rockets "cute". There were 4 countries he was responsable for so he needed to make the look for each country different.

When asked about becoming a character designer he said that he simply enjoyed drawing and got a job offer for his work and went from there.

His favorite anime is Gainax's Wings of Honneamise, and he stated that it still looked great now.

His favorite scene to draw in Last Exile was the scene where Lucciola dies.

He'd like to collaborate with fellow Sakura-Con guest Hiroshi Nagahama

Murata was asked about creating an ecosystem on land similar to one he made in water for Blue Submarine No 6. where animals and humans co-existed. He said that he had no plans for it but added that it would be really cool.

When asked about working with Gonzo he was greatful that the producers liked him a lot and that he got to do and try lots of new things at Gonzo, but was blunt about the studio's future by saying he thinks they're going out of business soon. He added that he's working at different studios now.

Murata has a future collaboration with Yoshitoshi ABe, and added that they had a book collaboration together before working on Blue Subamarine No. 6. They've been friends for a while and Murata asked ABe about Sakura-Con before coming over.

Murata was then asked about the anime series that ABe was working on called "Despera", Murata had asked ABe about it earlier and said that the old staff from Serial Experiments Lain was getting back together for the new series but it was delayed indefinitly due to the director getting sick. (Director Ryutaro Nakamura died due to Pancreatic Cancer in July 2013.)

ABe himself recently had a baby and is now focused on raising his child.

Murata was asked about an movie that had a similar style to his, the sci-fi comic inspired Iron Sky. He said that he had seen the movie and that it was cool, and that he liked the female character with the eye patch.

When asked about input from directors and producers about his work in an anime series, he said that it really depends on the series, but that he mostly gets to do what he wants, at Gonzo he got a desk to work at and while he wasn't an animator it did help that he could get instant feedback from the director.

Lastly, he still works with his dojin circle and puts out art books at every comiket.