More and more foreigners have been making their way into the Japanese animation industry recently, and foreigners have made especially great strides in 2018. Earlier this year, French animator Thibault Tresca got attention for his live action appearance in Pop Team Epic, and now we have a Canadian animator in Japan to spotlight: Colin Sanders, who animated the bears in Golden Kamuy.
Anime Maru: Colin, thank you for joining us. Can you start out by telling us a bit about your history in animation?
Colin: Sure. I guess it all started when I took an animation course at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in 2007. At the end of the class I turned in a short animated film about a bear. I sort of made it as a joke, but it got posted to the Internet and got really popular.
Anime Maru: How did you get into the anime industry?
Colin: I actually hadn’t done any animation in years, but out of the blue I got a call from Hitoshi Nanba, the director of Golden Kamuy. As it turns out, no one on his animation staff knew how to animate a bear, so they started looking online for bear animations and found my viral video. Hitoshi said it was the most realistic bear animation he’d ever seen and that he needed to have me on staff.
Anime Maru: He really said that?
Colin: Yeah, I didn’t find out until I got there, but apparently no one in Japan has ever seen a bear before. They don’t even have any in zoos, so all they have are historical records of them. Some of the animators even thought that bears were just a fictional thing Kunihiko Ikuhara invented.
Anime Maru: So what was your process like animating Golden Kamuy‘s bears?
Colin: Well, I hadn’t used any animation software since 2007, so it was difficult. I told the staff I didn’t feel qualified for the job, but they wouldn’t hear it, so I did my best to learn modern CG animation software from the ground up within a few weeks.
Anime Maru: I must say, under those and only those circumstances I think you did pretty well.
Colin: It’s less impressive than it sounds. Truthfully for some of the shots I just found photos of bears online and slightly edited them to make them look more animated. I hope it wasn’t too noticeable.
Anime Maru: Don’t worry. At the very least, I’d say your work is comparable to the majority of 3D animation in Japan. Honestly it’s pretty close to the quality of the rest of Golden Kamuy‘s animation as well.
Colin: Aw, you’re flattering me.
Anime Maru: I’m really not. So, what are your future plans?
Colin: I’ve already got another animation job actually, for the next season of a Japanese children’s show. I’m looking forward to the change of pace. I was really stressed out on Golden Kamuy because it’s based on an acclaimed manga, so I didn’t want to screw up, but I doubt anyone cares too much about Kemono Friends.