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Halo Legends Interview: Hiroshi Yamazaki

Above is a screen shot showing Yamazaki’s “paint” filter and below is a brief interview with him.

Anime director Hiroshi Yamazaki provides fans with a distinctly different artistic vision of the Halo universe with his painterly approach to animation in “The Duel,” one of the seven stories within Halo Legends.

Yamazaki’s Halo Legends episode, “The Duel,” goes back to ancient times, at the dawn of the Covenant. A shamed Elite defies his role as an “Arbiter” – an honored but suicidal role that would regain him a shred of honor—to take a path of revenge against those that stole the only thing that matters to such an amazing warrior: His true love. This ancient Arbiter must fight his way through ever-growing groups of his former allies (grunts, elites, hunters, etc.) until he finally stands face-to-face with the elite who betrayed his trust.

A rising star in the anime community, Yamazaki has developed a loyal following for his numerous acclaimed feature films, television series and video games, including the cyberpunk classic Ghost in the Shell, Jin-Roh, The Wolf Brigade and parts of Batman Gotham Knight.

Yamazaki answered a few questions in regard to his participation in bringing Halo Legends to animated life. Here’s that Q&A …

Q: What made you think Halo would lend itself to anime/animation?

HIROSHI YAMAZAKI: I believe that the suitability (of a property for animation) depends upon each story. This story definitely worked well in animation, and in this style.

Q: What was the inspiration for your artistic vision in your episode of Halo Legends?

HIROSHI YAMAZAKI: I have been a lover of viewing the Halo art /illustration collection books and such for some time and the entire collection of Halo properties inspired me.

Q: Were there any particular images within the Halo realm that helped shape or drive your creative vision?

HIROSHI YAMAZAKI: When I was contacted by I.G about the project, I imagined that the project would be very Sci-Fi in taste. However, when I met Mr. Frank O’Connor (of 343 Indutries, Microsoft Games Studios) for the first time, his requirement was to create a Samurai episode featuring an Arbiter, and I was considerably and happily surprised.

Q: What did you set out to accomplish in this episode, and why do you think you achieved or exceeded your goals?

HIROSHI YAMAZAKI: What I was aiming for in this project was to make audiences understand there should be other styles of animation beyond the existing two primary kinds of animation presented – precisely cel-drawing 2D style and CG 3D style. I wanted to show that creators are not limited, that they have many options for different (animation) styles to create stories.

Q: Did you feel you had the proper Halo experience to to bring the world to life in anime?

HIROSHI YAMAZAKI: I have played Halo 1 and 2 all the way through to the end. As I was so busy in this project, I could not play Halo 3 but instead I watched the gaming movie many times from the beginning to end.

Q: Did you include any “Easter eggs” for the devout Halo fans in your episode?

HIROSHI YAMAZAKI: I employed the phrase “Akuma-da!” (“He is a devil” in English) as part of the dialogue of a grunt soldier for fun for game lovers. I’m not certain whether everyone will get to enjoy that treat, though, as I understand the English version and Japanese version differ considerably and I am not sure how this dialogue by the grunt is treated in the English version.

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