Sonoda Kenichi (Character Designer)

After working as a manga artist, Mr. Kenichi moved to Tokyo from Osaka to work as the character designer for Gall Force. He joined Artmic in ‘85 and was active as a character designer and a manga artist. After this series he created the original story and storyboards for Riding Bean. He left Artmic in ‘90 to become a freelancer.

I think I drilled myself with respect to mechanical design, as I put special effort into the hardsuit design of BGC.

When I was with Artmic, Mr. Suzuki (Artmic's President) came up with the idea for a SF-genre film based on Shigoto-nin (“Fixers”, a samurai TV series), saying that ladies will be wearing armor that shows their bodylines. The first thing he showed me was a promo video for a band called ASIA, and it had images in it of a lady moving around wearing meoha-esque gear. I thought it would have been better and more futuristic if she had been wearing a full-body armor.

The armor images helped me to create the character images who would wear them. I guess the hardsuit designs contributed to the work more than the characters themselves. The designs were based upon drawings that were a parody of some anime characters I drew a long time ago which I made more robot-like.

As for the characters, I thought them out separately with respect to their hairstyles, clothing, shapes of the eyes, and so on. Sylia went through 2 or 3 versions, but the other three weren’t much different from their original rough drafts. The images of Linna and Nene in particular were just as they were orginally drawn; I think they were just right as they were.

I do not have a favorite character, however, Priss is the most memorable since I drew her more than the others. Priss’s husky voice was unusual as a character voice at that time. It took me a while to get used to it. It helped me to build the character: However, as we moved on to eps 2, 3, I gradually grew accustomed to it, and thus, perhaps, the character became very unique.

Indeed, Bubble was a work in which I put more effort into the hardsuits than the character designs; I think that it was a work in which I drilled myself quite a bit with respect to mechanical designs. Anyway, I wanted to perfect them in such a way that they were completely covered with armor; if the mouth was exposed then the armor would have no meaning, so I hid their faces entirely. Thus, in order to depict feminine imagery with that, I would have to give considerable emphasis to the bodylines.

So I did a lot of things, such as emphasizing the breasts, emphasizing the hips with protrusions of separate parts, inserting a horizontal sash an the upper thigh area in trying to create an image of thigh high’s… Well, I thought up a lot of things.