Over the course of AnimeJapan 2017, Honey's Anime got the chance to attend a special talk by Director Kobun Shizuno discussing his job as anime director. You will certainly know Shizuno's most famous works including the Detective Conan movie (Case Closed) series and a soon to be aired Godzilla animation. In his interview he explains how he got started in the anime industry and what the everyday work of an anime director looks like.
We were surprised to hear that Shizuno was more of a problematic child than a young genius. Like many of us, he spent his time daydreaming, making up action-filled stories and imagining himself as the hero. His teachers described him as a quiet child that spent more time inside his own world than interacting with his peers. It would take him a couple more years to open up to the outside world and when he finally did, film became his big passion. He was amazed
by the movies he saw in cinemas and soon decided that he wanted to become a director. Not an anime director, mind you, but a Hollywood director. Well, that career path didn't quite work out for him and after a few more twists and turns he realized the potential of anime. In a world that was not controlled by the limitations of real life, he was able to let his creativity run free.
At this point you might believe that an anime director has exclusive powers and that every show is a product of his decisions alone. This couldn't be further from the truth. While people like Shizuno contribute a lot of ideas, he collaborates closely with the producers of a show, authors and script writers etc. Together they make sure that the story makes sense, is entertaining to watch, and - in the case of a long-running show like Detective Conan - is interesting enough to withstand the test of time. On top of planning and overseeing the production of a show, he also has to be creative enough to draw, write and invent himself.
So how can we define the job of an anime director? According to Shizuno, the term requires flexibility. The duties of a director can change depending on the specific genre and style of each show. Even your location influences your work. A director overseas might work differently than a director working in Japan, and these differences change over time. So to sum it up, the work of an anime director is a multifaceted one. He does not only oversee the general production of a show, incorporates his own ideas, contributes drawings and unique points of view, but also collaborates with producers, authors and script writers. Together they ensure that any project can succeed today as well as many years into the future.
As a last message to the audience, Shizuno stresses the point that despite the many challenges and obstacles of his profession, he loves what he does. For him, the line between fun and work disappears and that might be the reason why his career is so succesful. So no matter what you do in life, make sure you do it with passion and determination!