During the spring season 2019 a name has quickly climbed the ranks of the most popular Japanese animators outside the sakugafan circles: Kenichiro Aoki.
His fame is certainly not simply the result of having participated in a very popular manga adaptation: thanks to the solidity of his volumes, his meticulous linework and above all his indescribable stamina he managed to create, together with a very small handful of colleagues, a nice number of really compelling fights for a series that has suffered various production problems from the beginning.
It is not the first time that his commitment has developed over a large number of episodes, as demonstrated by his animation supervision and key animation works for J.C. Staff TV series like Lostorage conflated WIXOSS and Sword Oratoria, but with One Punch Man he really exceeded all expectations.
Despite his dense work schedule, we were able to have a brief chat with him.
What inspired you career choice of becoming an animator?
I always liked to draw, so I thought to make a job out of it.
What was your first anime job? At which animation company?
If I recall it correctly, the first animation job I done were inbetween frames for Hentai ouji to warawanai neko and To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S.
Which artists have influenced you?
The illustrator Range Murata and the manga artist Masashi Kishimoto, the author of “Naruto”. Also many animators influenced me (smiles): as reference for One Punch Man I watched a whole lot of Sakuga MAD of the first season.
As a fan of the original comic, how did you felt when you found out that you would be one of the animators of the second series of One Punch Man? You were nervous or thrilled?
I was very nervous but the tension stopped when I started working.
You have collected quite a bunch of new fans from overseas. How do you feel about them?
I am super happy thinking they really appreciated the animation I personally drew! It’s really a blessing for me.
Did you choose yourself the action scenes you animated? Do you have a precise goal when you are drawing them?
In One Punch Man I was assigned the role of main action animator, so I got for myself most of the essential fights. When I start drawing an action scene, I have always a clear mental image of its structure.
Have you ever tried to animate digitally?
I haven’t ever tried to animate digitally, really.
Who is your favorite One-Pun Man character? And who are your favorite characters to draw?
Sneck, I would say. When it comes to drawing them, I really love drawing brawny figures like Tank Top Master And Garo. But I also like drawing old gentlemen like Bang.
Have you other favorite Manga beside One Punch Man?
I’m really into Paru Itagaki’s “BEASTARS” right now.
We noticed that you are also a big video game fan (laugh), what is your favorite title?
My favorite video game is Dark Souls (grin). I find its world-building and lore really breathtaking.
Thank you for answering us. Do you have a specific job you want to do in the future? Are you interested in directing, storyboards, or character design?
Of course, I’m interested in all of them! I want to take new challenges in order to make better and better animation.
You can follow Kenichiro Aoki on Twitter!