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Kingdom Hearts III Ultimania Animation Directors interviews


Kingdom Hearts III Ultimania, the official companion book for Kingdom Hearts III, released in Japan on February 28, 2019. The 736 page long book mainly serves as a guidebook and a detailed data book for everything in Kingdom Hearts III, but also contains concept art, character renders, and special interviews with the people who worked on the game.

Here are some interviews from Animation Directors Koji Hamada, Koji Inoue, and Munenori Shinagawa.  DISCLAIMER: This is only a tentative translation. It is possible that there are mistakes. These interviews could have potential spoilers, please be advised. 

Thanks to @lunesacree for the translations.


*Interview: Koji Hamada (Animation Director)

Previously worked on: KH Re:CoM, KH BbS, KH BbS FM, KH3D, KH 1.5, KH 2.5, KH 2.8, All-Star Pro Wrestling I, II, III

Q: What kind of work were you responsible for?
A: I did general direction for the animation in the game. Mainly, for the enemies, the Disney characters in each world, townspeople, and so on.

Q: Was it difficult to get Rapunzel's long hair to move?
A: It was very difficult, and the physics configuration team had to do adjustments over and over. Dealing with things like the parts of her hair that dragged on the ground, or problems that arose from the hair that ran alongside her body interfering with her arms or skirt gave me a lot of trouble, but I think I was finally able to arrive at the answer.

Q: What did you struggle with when creating the movement of the characters?
A: For Woody and Buzz in Toy Box, since they don't really attack much in the original movie, I was really perplexed when it came to making attack motions for them. However, the staff from Pixar, who were doing the editing, gave me some impromptu advice, which really helped me out.

Q: Please tell us something you won't forget about the development process.
A: In order to create the movements for the dance in the Kingdom of Corona, some of the staff practiced dancing in the meeting room. All we had for reference were the movements in the original movie, and some dance videos that Disney showed us. There happened to be someone who coincidentally had learned how to dance, so that person and some of the staff practiced together while repeating the process of trial and error, so using the movements they learned as the base, the dance in the game was made with a refreshing kind of feeling.

Q: What parts of this production do you especially want us to see?
A: The townspeople. I didn't give them especially big movements, and they have a sort of contemplativeness to them, but they're the part I really enjoyed making.

BONUS! "A secret about the game only you know"


In the factory in Monstropolis, after Sulley and Mike have covered themselves with paint, you can see them and Boo playing around next to the elevator. Actually, even if Sora and friends dodge the lasers and continue on down the conveyor belt, Sulley and the others will play around with pictures on the freight containers, so please take a look.

Source: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqr1ku


*Interview: Koji Inoue (Animation Director)

Previously worked on: KH Re:CoM, KH BbS, KH BbS FM, KH3D, KH 0.2, Brave Fencer Musashi 2: Blade Master

Q: Please tell us if you used any references from past works in the series, or if there was anything you thought about changing.
A: At the beginning of development, I was too conscious of the movements of Sora being like KH2, so I was a little worried, but I consulted with Kando, the animation supervisor (Tatsuya Kando), who told me "it's okay to add in the full flavor of the Osaka team [who is in charge] to make him move", so I let myself go and made the movements as flashy as I wanted. Later, a lot of bugs were caused as a result of this, so I had a really hard time, but even that is a nice memory.

Q: Which point did you fuss over the most?
A: The motions of the Keyblade transformations, and being able to "Attack" or "Finish" with the transformed Keyblades were the centerpiece of battle of this game, so I really put forth a lot of effort. That being said, including things like the yo-yos, flag, and iceskates, there were a lot of really incredible variations, so at first I felt almost hopeless. When I saw the finishing move for Storm Flag, where the Kraken's tentacles appear, in the specification document, I complained like "what is this?! No way!"

Q: Which point was the biggest struggle?
A: All of the attacks and actions. Especially in the case of the motion transforming the Keyblades to each different weapon, deciding on what kind of movement to make was all left entirely up to me, so using all the tools at my disposal, I went at it.

Q: Please tell us something interesting that happened during the development process.
A: In this game, Sora can use lots of different kinds of weapons, so I brought toys of guns, shields, yo-yos and inline skates to my booth and set them up to use as [reference] materials. For the sliding motion of the Blizzard Blades, I slid around on inline skates around my booth to check how weight shifted while I was making it, so it probably feels realistic [laughs].

BONUS! "A secret about the game only you know"
Within the development team, the actions when you play as KH1-era Sora in the Station of Awakening at the beginning of the story, and the actions when you play as Riku in the Dark World were popular enough to make everyone feel like they wanted to play [with those actions] for longer.

Source: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqr1mk


*Interview: Munenori Shinagawa (Animation Director)

Previously worked on: KH2, KH Re:CoM, KH Days, KH coded, KH BbS, Kh Re:coded, KH3D, KH 1.5, KHX, KH 2.5, KH Unchained X, KH 2.8

Q: Please tell us what you paid attention to in order to recreate the backgrounds from the original movies.
A: We took special care not to take away from the feel of the original movies or nature of the characters during production. The team in charge of Toy Box put so much effort into their work that they had figures of the characters next to them so they could research their movements.

Q: What points did you take into consideration in order to make a seamless transition from the cutscenes to the battle scenes?
A: Matching up the poses of the characters exactly when it changed to the battle animation. In the final stages of production, there was a bug that messed up the placement and poses of the characters, so making adjustments was hard.

Q: What do you think are "KH-esque" movements?
A: Movements that make the characters' natures prominent, and mix a serious mood and a comical feeling to pull the people watching in. Even though movements from motion capture are real, and you can feel the presence of the [motion capture] actors, all of the movements in the KH series are treated with the utmost care, so there's a lot of charm piled in that can't be pulled off from the acting of people.

Q: Please tell us if you used any references from past works in the series, or if there was anything you thought about changing.
A: This game is the culmination of all of our work on the series, so we adopted the acting from some more impressive scenes from past works. There will probably be some scenes where you think "oh, I might have seen this kind of movement before".

Q: Please tell us something you won't forget about the development process.
A: I was glad to hear that Disney and Pixar, who were doing the editing for us, were delighted that the quality was the same as the movies.

BONUS! "A secret about the game only you know"
That habit Master Xehanort has of making a fist and then letting it go, you can see a little during the chess-like game the young Xehanort is playing, too. I tried making it a habit he's had since childhood.

Source: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqr1lb


Here are the other news stories that have previously come out of the Kingdom Hearts III Ultimania:

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