[Honey’s Anime Interview] Character and Visual Designer Ilya Kuvshinov for Birthday Wonderland (The Wonderland)

TheWonderland-Image-4-Birthday-Wonderland-capture [Honey’s Anime Interview] Character and Visual Designer Ilya Kuvshinov for Birthday Wonderland (The Wonderland)

Hello and welcome to Honey’s Anime! Today, we’ll be presenting you with a wonderful interview we had with the upcoming illustrator, Ilya Kuvshinov. Mr. Kuvshinov is from Russia and now resides in Japan. He first became interested in anime after coming across Ghost in the Shell when he was 6 six years old. Throughout his life, he became more interested and went to school for illustration and animation as well as architecture. Mr. Kuvshinov started uploading many drawings and concepts to his Instagram account where we can see the many styles he has, which brings us to his new big project, The Wonderland.

The Wonderland originally released in Japan last year in April 2019 and had a wonderful reception from fans. Now, it is planned for a theatrical release this January 31, 2020, which overseas fans are extremely excited to check it out! First, we had WEATHERING WITH YOU, now we have The Wonderland! If you would like to know more about Ilya Kuvshinov and the wonderful mastery he’s created with The Wonderland, then make sure to keep on reading as we’re sure you’ll enjoy this interview segment.

Ilya Kuvshinov

Interview with Character and Visual Designer Ilya Kuvshinov

TheWonderland-Image-4-Birthday-Wonderland-capture [Honey’s Anime Interview] Character and Visual Designer Ilya Kuvshinov for Birthday Wonderland (The Wonderland)

Honey-chan: What was it like adapting the 1981 children’s novel A Strange Journey from the Basement for a more modern era? Did you feel compelled to stay close to the original or do it completely different?

Ilya Kuvshinov: It was really nice to work on this and present it to modern-day fans. I know about the book and didn’t really know what to expect exactly. It was changed a lot. There were many new locations. Akane and Chii are the same characters but there were new characters added into the film’s story as well.

Honey-chan: What sort of processes did you have to take in order to produce the art for the film? Did any issues arise while crafting this amazing anime film or did the process go surprisingly smooth?

Ilya Kuvshinov: One of my duties was to draw rough drafts for the locations and characters. For CG, many concepts were drawn from multiple angles. The armored mouse tank has a lot of CG. The hardest part was the armored mouse tank. I didn’t know how they were operated, nor the movement. I needed to learn how the levers and motion of how the tank worked. I needed to learn the mechanics behind that and the locations for the film. It took more time to learn. This included the animals in the film as well since many were similar to real life. The buildings too.

It’s like going to another country and studying the area to find out everything which is what I did.

Honey-chan: In regards to location and the settings for The Wonderland, were there real locations used as inspiration for the film? One location looks very similar to an area I used to live in Setagaya called Futakutamagawa (Nikotama) at the beginning of the film. It is a train station/city area in Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan.

Ilya Kuvshinov: Yes. It is actually based on real locations and that area you mentioned, Futakutamagawa, was part of it. Everything is real at the beginning of the film before they go into The Wonderland except for Chii’s shop and Akane’s house, they were not there but the location was real. It is where we scouted the area for photos.

Honey-chan: Who was your favorite character to create and why? Also, what was your favorite location in the film to design?

Ilya Kuvshinov: Yes, my favorite part is Hippocrates’room with all the bookshelves, the spiral stairs, and the wood finish with gold trim and everything. It is a perfect place for me to live. There are a lot of items like his costume and books and then you have the second floor. The construction of the ceiling.
And as for characters, Doropo the character was great to draw. He was my favorite as I liked his design and it was fun.

Honey-chan: What was it like to work with Keiichi Hara-san in regard to art direction and visualization?

Ilya Kuvshinov: It was so much fun. There was a specific way Hara-san wanted it to look and he had envisioned everything it from the beginning and it was enjoyable to work with him. Hara-san was showing me photos of locations to work with. He is not only the Director, but he was also involved in many other things as well.
So he was very much involved and making sure it matched his vision.

Honey-chan: Did any other anime films/series help inspire you while making The Wonderland?

Ilya Kuvshinov: Yes. A really old Russian animation movie called Snow Queen. That helped with the inspiration. I was really impressed with this movie. This was an old Russian location inspiration I took.

Honey-chan: Was it hard making this film in comparison to any works you did previously?

Ilya Kuvshinov: This is my biggest project I’ve worked on ever so there were some challenges. But I am proud of this film. I can really say that I gave it all my best and I learned a lot.

Honey-chan: Do you think movies like this allow new generations to enjoy classics more and then eventually either read/watch the original works to see how the past did it?

Ilya Kuvshinov: Yes, for sure. It may be hard to find but I would hope that it would be something for fans to enjoy if they want to see this. For example, the Witcher series would be the same. People watch it and they may want to find the books or the game to know more so I feel this would be the same.

Honey-chan: Was it predetermined for The Wonderland to reach Western audiences initially or was that a later thought?

Ilya Kuvshinov: The production committee had decided from the beginning that it would be really popular overseas. I was actually surprised that its popularity would reach overseas and am very excited about it.

Honey-chan: Are there any new projects you are working on that you can share with your fans so they can expect it in the future?

Ilya Kuvshinov: Right now I have 5 projects with one I can talk about and it is Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045.

Honey-chan: Is there any special message you would like to tell fans?

Ilya Kuvshinov: All the streaming services are cool. You can watch anything you want, anywhere, on your mobile phone, but the movie was created intentionally to be shown on the big screen in cinemas. So I hope everyone will check out The Wonderland when it releases in theaters at the end of January. The movie is well-done and immersive that you can feel yourself in it. If you can watch this in theaters, your experience would be greater!

I hope you enjoy it!

Final Thoughts

TheWonderland-Image-4-Birthday-Wonderland-capture [Honey’s Anime Interview] Character and Visual Designer Ilya Kuvshinov for Birthday Wonderland (The Wonderland)

There you have it, folks! In addition to this interview, Ilya Kuvshinov has also worked on the Ghost in the Shell: SAC_20145 anime movie scheduled to release sometime in 2020, so make sure to keep an eye out for that. Since that is 1 of 5 projects he is working on and now knowing how great The Wonderland is first hand, they must be good. Ilya Kuvshinov’s artwork is wonderful and unique. It reminds me of Makoto Shinkai’s artwork in both still imagery and animation formats, being very smooth, vivid, and fluid when it comes to really catching the life-like feel and emotions of the characters and wildlife as well.

The Wonderland, again, will release in theaters January 31, 2020, in select locations, and hopefully, later on, it will release on DVD/Blu-ray shortly after! The Wonderland is from Signal.MD and distributed by Eleven Arts. We thank you all for being here and hope you had a great time? If you have any comments regarding the contents of this article, please don’t hesitate as I’ll happily answer them!

Jya ne!

TheWonderland-Image-4-Birthday-Wonderland-capture [Honey’s Anime Interview] Character and Visual Designer Ilya Kuvshinov for Birthday Wonderland (The Wonderland)

Editor in Chief

Author: Alfonso "Fonzy" Ortiz

I'm a Geek, Nerd, Writer, and lover of all video games, anime, science, technology and the internet. I previously worked for STFUandPlay.com, a contributing writer as the Japanese Corespondent at TheKoalition.com and founded a website called Transcend-Gaming.com! I currently live in Japan as Editor in Chief of Honey's Anime and its very talented writers! I'm down for anything! What do you want to do?

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