Attack on Titan

INTERVIEW

Levi, the strongest soldier alive, from the TV anime ”Attack on Titan” is now turned into a figure with an original pose.Join our conversation with figure sculptor Ms. SATO, who endeavored to capture the “ideal Levi.”

PONY CANYON unveils a brand-new collectible figure.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the TV anime "Attack on Titan", we are offering a made-to-order 1/6 scale figure “Levi: the strongest soldier alive” (Orders accepted until 23:59 JST on February 5th, 2024).

The figure's announcement made waves on social media, drawing attention from fans worldwide.

Crafted by the sculptor Ms. SATO, this meticulously designed "ideal Levi" took over two years to perfect.

We had the chance to dive into the story behind its creation with her!


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The joy of turning her favorite character into a figure—what sparked the desire to become a sculptor?

——To start, could you tell us about your work history as a sculptor?

I began creating figures about 10 years ago, and it's been about 8 years since I've been doing it commercially. My interest in figures began when I fell in love with the anime "TIGER & BUNNY" (known as Taibani). From there, I learned about events like the "Wonder Festival" (known as WonFes), where unique garage kits are unveiled, and the fact that some are so exclusive you have to pre-order. My growing fascination with the world of figures led me to join a modeling workshop in Asakusa to improve my skills in figure creation.

——What sparked your interest in crafting figures?

I came across a photo on my social media feed one day, showcasing a bust image of "Taibani" made by a certain sculptor. It struck me: "Oh, I can create my favorite characters myself!" That was a turning point, and I dived right in. Instead of waiting for a commercial release, I thought, why not create them on my own? haha. From there, I began bringing my creations to “WonFes", which caught the attention of various manufacturers. That's how I began my career as a professional sculptor.

"The Coolest Ever”—a pressure-filled request!? Pursuing the Ideal: Driving into the Behind-the-scenes story of the creation of Levi


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——How did you feel when approached about this project?

I'm a huge fan of “Attack on Titan.” I've read it in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine and have collected the manga volumes. I’ve also watched the anime series. Furthermore, Levi is my absolute favorite character. So, when I was asked to create "the coolest Levi like never before", I felt an immense pressure. But at the same time, I was filled with joy and excitement.

——Speaking of Levi, what about him captivated you?

I was captivated by his solitary aura and his strength in silence. Every time I read manga, I was anxious wondering if it might be his last. When the offer came in, I happened to be thinking about crafting a garage kit of Levi, so I was truly overjoyed.

——The pose for this figure is original, right?

Together with the staff team, we pondered what the "ideal Levi" figure that everyone desires would be. Naturally, we settled on Levi powerfully soaring through the air in a battle scene. With that in mind, we delved deep, taking a significant amount of time to perfect details like the body's twist, the direction of the face, and the angle of the arms.

——Were the meetings challenging?

We used 3D software on a computer for this project, so communicating via email actually made things go more smoothly than I expected.

——After finalizing the pose, I heard you sculpted the muscles to match that movement?

Exactly. It's more effective to define the muscles at the base stage. This aids in visualizing how the clothing would naturally wrinkle or stretch over certain areas. For example, if a muscle bulges in a particular way, it dictates where the folds or creases will appear. Everything needs to be coherent. If the body's balance is off, clothes will just look uncomfortable on it.

——So, there was a particular intention behind it! Does that mean you've studied muscle movement in detail?

Absolutely. Besides referring to relevant books, I used to attend sculpture classes by Hiroshi Katagiri, a renowned sculptor active in Hollywood. In the classes, we would sculpt the poses taken by models using clay. By repeatedly sculpting different poses, I gained an understanding of the real structure of the body. This helped me objectively grasp not just the muscles, but also the movement of bones like the pelvis and ribs.

——So, it's because of that dedication and effort that the powerful pose of Levi was created.

Ultimately, I'm just passionate about making my favorite character come to life in the best way possible. During the supervision process, we get approval that the muscle placement matches Levi’s physique before moving on to dressing the figure.

——What were your particular focuses regarding the outfit?

Regarding the outfit, my main focus was on realistically reproducing the wrinkles in the clothing. Rather than simply researching online, I actually wore a jacket myself and checked how the wrinkles formed when I raised my arm and twisted my waist. For hard-to-see areas like the back, I asked family members to snap photos or even try the outfit on for me, haha.


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——That's why every detail is so precise! I was also struck by the incredible intricacy of the 3D maneuver gear when I saw the decoration master.

I couldn't help but stare at it closely. Pawretta Co., Ltd. designed the 3D maneuver gear. When incorporating their final design with our pose, it would alter the gear's balance on either side. Ensuring it remained true to the original while accounting for its physicality was no easy task.

——So, that dedication is what led to its outstanding quality.

We are planning to showcase the decoration master at the AmiAmi Akihabara Radio Kaikan Store from November 13th (Mon). I would love for everyone to come and take a closer look.

International acclaim! Realizing "the coolest Levi ever" through a collaborative effort of top experts across various fields.

——What's your primary focus when it comes to sculpting?

I always think about the story that precedes and follows the pose. For instance, with a sword slash pose, depending on whether it is countering a titan's move or initiating an attack, the balance will shift. This nuance influences things like the flow of its hair and the sway of its cape, which I prioritize. For this work, I envisioned a moment where Levi is striking at a titan. So, seeing it as if you're the titan will, I believe, truly enhance the experience.


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——As for the coloring, it's been handled by PINPOINT.,Inc.

Once it's at the decoration master phase, it's beyond my direct involvement, so I genuinely thought, "Wow, that's amazing!" The gradient and color separation were executed with such precision. What stood out to me especially was the face. The subtle shadows, the nuances in the eyebrow wrinkles, and the intricacies of the eyelids were all present. I truly believe that the paint job accentuated Levi’s cool expression even more.

——Close-up detailing on the expression and coloring truly brings out its appeal. After the product announcement, how were the reactions on social media?

I was really anxious about how people would react. I was particularly touched by the overwhelming response from international fans. They bombarded us with questions like, "When is the release date? What's its size? If you know, tell me!" It was exciting, but since a lot of the information hadn't been released yet, it was a tad frustrating not being able to give straight answers, haha.

——I can't wait to see how people react once they get it. To wrap things up, what do figurines really mean to you?

After spending my day creating figures professionally, I often wind down by crafting some just for myself. It's clear they're more than just work for me—they're a genuine passion. Even when I get feedback or requests for revisions at work, it doesn't bother me. I actually find that part enjoyable as well.

——What do you create in your personal time?

I create figures of manga and anime characters I'm passionate about. When I become fond of a character, I naturally want to craft a figurine of them. I often find myself thinking, "Alright, let's sculpt this!" and head straight to my computer, haha. After completing one, I love sharing it on social media and eagerly await the reactions from everyone.

——So, there are days when you're crafting almost all day long!

Absolutely. When I'm commissioned for a piece from a work I'm not familiar with, of course, I'll watch or read it. And if I come across a character I fall in love with, I just can't help but want to create it. Figures are indispensable in my daily life.