This year at SMASH!, Toshihiro Kawamoto took to the stage in a panel for his fans. Attendees will know Toshihiro best for his work on Cowboy Bebop, although, other fans will recognize Toshihiro's work from franchises such as: Gundam, Fullmetal Alchemist and Cowboy Bebop. He is also the co-founder of Studio Bones. At SMASH!, Kawamoto Toshihiro hosted a Q&A session on the Art Stage, as well as a small drawing session for fans to watch. The Q&A session was host to a plethora of questions and his answers were often insightful.
The questions ranged from his inspirations in animation and drawing, as well as things like his views on where the industry is headed. One question that really stuck out for us is the use of CGI in Anime. He went on to talk about how the staff over at the studio prefer to draw things, but due to budgetary limitations, sometimes they would have to use CGI to end up with a product that they're happy with. To quote Kawamoto:
...realistically we have a budget, and, compared to Hollywood, it's more economical to use CGI than it is to use hand drawn [techniques].
Another favourite question of ours is when he was asked about which Gundam was his favourite. It felt like the person asking the question was a bit vague in what he was asking, so we're not sure if he got the answer he was looking for. However, it is interesting to know that the original Gundam served as a big inspiration of his, and that he prefers the movie adaptations to the series. This is also our view on the subject.
The very first Gundam series had a designer that I really admired. And so the series I really liked were the first ones, but the movies were better.
Of course, there were more questions than those, such as questions on his work on Cowboy Bebop, and inspirations from some of the characters in the show. What was interesting was how one of the directors on Cowboy bebop requested that he research famous Hollywood actors for some visual inspiration for his work. You can actually see some of this in the characters themselves, even if it's not obvious at first. No examples given.
After the Q&A session, there was about 10minute left for a live sketching. This year, Kawamoto had opted to draw a picture of Spike Speagol from Cowboy Bebop. It turned out really, really well. I was surprised at how quickly he could draw such a detailed work.
Overall the panel was a lot of fun and we learned some great insights on the workings of the lead animator. He was a great inspiration to all of the artists present and was really fun to learn from.