Kishida Mel Interview

An interview with the sentimental artist

22 August, 2011 by

One of the representatives this side of the globe for this years Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention was Japanese illustrator Kishida Mel. The artist is known for his soft pastel color drawings and is best known for his work on the Atelier series of video games by Gust. We had the chance last weekend to sit down with this talented artist at STGCC 2011.

Apart from illustrating for game and comics, Kishida has also more recently broken into the world of animation. His latest contributions are creating the characters of Hanasaku Iroha and Kamisama no Memocho that later of which is apparently airing in Singapore right now.

Despite his career picking off, Mr Kishida displayed his humble personality when we participated in a group interview together with someone from a Singapore anime fan forum and the local licensee for Hanasaku Iroha. Here’s the slice of the session, plucked out from our recording.

Answering questions posed.

Question (Forum): How did you start drawing and what inspires (you)?

Kishida: I got a lot of influence from CLAMP’s Kobayashi Tomomi.

Question (Forum): Because I understand (you) draw a lot of characters from different games. Is there any difference between how (you) draw characters for games and for anime.

Kishida: Drawing for a game and drawing for an anime aren’t different in the sense that their expressions are different. But when drawing for an anime I am able to have full reign over the character, like how it moves and any changes tend to be aesthetic and minimal.

When it comes to drawing for games, I have to keep in mind a lot more technicalities such as the polygon count. Another example, is if the character’s hair is very long it can be difficult to animate. Because of things like that, drawing for games is a lot more work as there are a lot of other things to factor in.

Artwork from the Artelier series.

Question (Forum): Are you able to share what you are currently working on?

Kishida: I’m not working on any games right now because I’m busy with the anime, Hanasaku Iroha but I may have some plans next year.

Question (Licensee): Are you happy with Hanasaku Iroha’s performance in Japan right now?

Kishida: I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out. I’m happy that people are enjoying it and that it’s staying faithful to the concept.

Question (Supermerlion): The colors that you use greatly resemble those of classical mediums. Did you start straight off with digital or did you have classical training before moving on to digital.

Kishida: I’m all digital now. Until about two years ago I did start off with pen and paper but I would still scan it in for things like retouching and coloring.

Mr Kishida Mel (Meru).

Question (Licensee): What were your challenges in drawing for Hanasaku Iroha?

Kishida: One big challenge comes from the level of detail. For an animation there are many more things to factor in like the movement of the characters.

Question (Supermerlion): I noticed that you have a very distinct style to your drawings. Are there any particular feelings that you wish to portray in your work?

Kishida: I like to portray feelings of gentleness, sentimentalism and nostalgia, which is why I use a lot of soft colors and fine lines for warmth.

Question (Forum): Between Meruru, Totori and Rorona from the Atelier series which is your favorite character?

Kishida: Even though I initially liked Rorona, I fell out with the way she was portrayed in the middle of the game. So in the end it has to be Totori.

Signing his STGCC poster for one of the other interviewers.

Question (Licensee): What are the reasons for the different kinds of hairstyles for the characters in Hanasaku Iroha?

Kishida: For the main character Ohana, I decided to give her a more wavy hairstyle because it’s a hairstyle we don’t see often in animation. Because she’s the main character, I decided to give her a lighter shade (of color) than the rest.

As for Minko, the reason why I gave her long black hair was for realism as it’s a common Japanese style. For Nako, when she goes to work her hair is tied up as that’s a hairstyle (I) like quite a bit.

Question (Supermerlion): What are you working hours like as an artist?

Kishida: (As I’ve been busy lately) I don’t have any set hours. I’m always working as long as I have ideas coming in.

The characters of Hanasaku Inoha.

Question (Licensee): Do you have any advise for aspiring anime and manga artists?

Kishida: Aside from good skills which are a given it is important for people who want to break into the industry that they are willing to share (their work) with everybody, be willing to listen and make use of any constructive criticism. That’s always the most important thing for any artist.

Question (Forum): Is there any character from western culture that you like?

Kishida: I think western characters are really cool and grew up liking Superman and Batman. But the thing I’m most attached to is Transformers because it existed as a toy line called Diaclone many years ago by Takara Toys but is now Takara Tomy.

Hasbro brought Diaclone back over to America and used it as a basis for the Transformers and when the Transformers cartoon came out it further increased my liking for them. Now with the movie all the feelings of nostalgia have resurfaced.

(To answer the question, Kishida stated that he definitely like Optimus Prime)


Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.