D-ken "Popularity of Japanese Anime in South East Asia affects Bike Design"
"The Unnecessary, if considered as Flexibility, becomes Indispensable Design"

Designers need to be fetish

Designers need to be fetish

What are your impressions on Honda Design?

What are your impressions on Honda Design?

Izubuchi:
When working on the series “Masked Rider THE FIRST[6]” as a refining designer, the Masked Rider’s “Cyclone” bike was a Honda (2004 model CBR1000RR). We hardly had to dress it up at all. I recall being pleasantly shocked, that bikes can be so futuristic and have so much character. I think that's an aspect of Honda, but Nishimoto-san, how did you convey Honda-ism to the local staff when you were in Thailand?
Nishimoto:
In South East Asia in recent years, if you leave everything up to the local staff, you don’t know what will happen. I spent much time discussing the importance of proportion, and balance. Some ideas were a bit outlandish, but we didn’t move ahead with proposals with narrow target customers.
Izubuchi:
Honda isn’t “in your face.” Honda’s designs leave room for customers to develop their own images. I think Honda-ism is about not over-decorating.
Nishimoto:
What is most important to you in design?
Izubuchi:
The silhouette. When I first debuted, most of my work involved designing enemy robots, who were destroyed by the heroes, in a matter of minutes. Each enemy robot had to have a unique silhouette, or the story would become confusing. So, I learned the importance of designing enemy robots that could be identified by their silhouette alone.
Nishimoto:
It’s the same with bikes. Bike design is not very flexible, as all you have is two tires with a rider on top. Still, you have to design something unique. I use animals as my design motif. Despite the narrow design restrictions bikes a vibrant, so I often use felines as a motif.
Izubuchi:
Not like a rhinoceros’ head dipping down?
Nishimoto:
Or like a squid or octopus.
Izubuchi:
Design motifs are everywhere. A pencil sharpener can look like a robot’s head. These discoveries accumulate. With the GROM, the way the body’s complex surfaces flow into the engine, is intriguing. Not that I’ll be turning it into a robot soon.
Nishimoto:
Some details you remember without even noticing them. Sometimes these details find their way into designs, without me even noticing them.
Izubuchi:
I think it’s important to be able to be excited about things that on first sight, seem insignificant. The only way to stay in our business is to be excited with all sorts of things. Designers need to be fetish, and I think fetishes are what designers are made of.

Animation is my blood and flesh

Animation is my blood and flesh

What are your goals

What are your goals

Izubuchi:
I’ve worked on Space Battleship Yamato[7], the Masked Rider, Gundam, Macross[8], and EVANGELION[9]. Now if I can be involved in Godzilla and Ultraman, my life is complete.
Nishimoto:
I haven’t really thought about my goals. But since I’m at Honda, I want to make a bike that I know is perfect.
Izubuchi:
Do you have any preferences on the type or size of the bike?
Nishimoto:
Not really, but I’d like it to be a commuter. Although bike design is constricted, 125cc and smaller bikes are becoming more and more global, and there is a certain amount of design flexibility. I know my experiences and knowhow in this area will come to life in my future designs.
Izubuchi:
What is happiness to a bike designer?
Nishimoto:
Numbers, is the most obvious answer. A huge number of bikes are sold, especially in Asia, so when you see around you many bikes you worked on, it brings a satisfaction of being of service to people. What is happiness to you?
Izubuchi:
I may be getting old, but I want to give everything that inspired me, to the next generation. If I can be the bridge to the next generation, I’ll be returning the favor to the artists who brought so much excitement into my life.
Nishimoto:
Anime, of course?
Izubuchi:
Yes. Anime had a huge impact on our generation, and Yamato, for example, targeted children, but never treated us like kids. There was a lot of information jammed into Anime that was over our heads, but that gave us the opportunity to be moved again as we grew up. Not everything has to be simplified to be understandable. If you cater, your work is consumed, not appreciated. Recently my life has become one of finding a different approach to handing the baton to the next generation.
Nishimoto:
In junior high-school, my favorite Izubuchi masterpiece was Patlabor[10], an I kept on drawing characters during class. I think maybe that’s why I became a designer, and Anime is now in my blood and flesh. I don’t think I’m alone, though. Our generation which grew up after the Super Car[11] and Motorbike booms[12], all experienced the same thing. Anime is often equated with “Otaku[13], but seriously, I think that’s wrong.
Izubuchi:
Yes, it seems Anime has spread its influence to bike design in Thailand. Your comments make me happy, but at the same time, make me realize how old I am getting.
Nishimoto:
No, no, it means Japanese culture is being globally accepted, so keep on going.

The next generation of designers inspired by Izubuchi work are working in various genre, so a collaboration between you would be fun.

The next generation of designers inspired by Izubuchi work are working in various genre, so a collaboration between you would be fun.

Izubuchi:
Like Honda making robots.
Nishimoto:
ASIMO.
Izubuchi:
Take me seriously. I want to design ASIMO. Nishimoto-san, would you like to join me in making robots?
Nishimoto:
It never crossed my mind, but it is a possibility.
Nishimoto:
Who do I have to talk to, to make this happen?

After the discussion Nishimoto, a fan of Izubuchi, asked for his signature. Izubuchi then drew a sketch of Patlabor, giving Nishimoto a gift he would treasure for the rest of his life.

After the discussion Nishimoto, a fan of Izubuchi, asked for his signature. Izubuchi then drew a sketch of Patlabor, giving Nishimoto a gift he would treasure for the rest of his life.

Notes:

[6] ^ Masked Rider THE FIRST

2005 Film exploring the roots of the original manga (comic) version of “Masked Rider” by Shotaro Ishinomori, aired as a TV series from 1971.

[7] ^ Space Battleship Yamato

The pinnacle of Japanese Sci-fi animation, first released as a TV animation series in 1974, and later becoming a sensation in the cinema. “Space Battleship Yamato 2199” remakes the original story, and is directed by Izubuchi.

[8] ^ Macross

“Super Dimension Fortress Macross” extended its fan base by adding Sci-fi, love comedy and idols into the real-robot animation mix, appearing in theaters and renamed TV series.

[9] ^ EVANGELION

“Neon Genesis EVANGELION” explores a complex and deep world, featuring gigantic humanoid weapons (Evangelion) piloted by 14 year old children. First release as a TV series in 1995, the franchise extends to theatre releases.

[10] ^ Patlabor

“Mobile Police Patlabor” is a near-future Sci-fi story of bipedal police robots. The 1989 TV animation series ran for one year.

[11] ^ Super Car Boom

A period of explosive popularity of super cars (or high-performance sport cars) fueled by comic magazines in 1974. An extraordinary number of European super cars were imported into Japan at this time.

[12] ^ Motor Bike Boom

In the early 1980’s sports bike performance rose due to easing of laws, such as front cowl deregulation. With the bubble economy of the late 1980’s motorcycle sales soared.

[13] ^ Otaku

Otaku often refers to someone who stays at home all the time and doesn't have a social or love life, passing time by watching anime, playing video games, or surfing the internet.

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