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Masami Suda - Shaping a culture through anime

Published:Sunday | September 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Suda sensei shows of a sample of his work in anime.
Suda sensei's work.
The grandmaster at work.
Suda sensei sketches Jibanyan, the ghost of a cat from 'Yo-Kai Watch'.
The grandmaster at work.
The beginnings of Suda sensei's sketch of Jibanyan, the ghost of a cat from 'Yo-Kai Watch'.
The grandmaster at work ... Suda sensei sketches Jibanyan, the ghost of a cat from 'Yo-Kai Watch'.
Finally Jibanyan manifests at the skilful hands of Suda.
Masami Suda - the sensei (master) of anime.
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Amitabh Sharma, Contributor

If Zen was to be epitomised, Masami Suda would come across as one of its manifestations, as one of the founding fathers of anime in Japan, his work has transcended age, time zones, and languages.

"I wanted to be a musician and was studying music, but one day when I visited an anime studio, everything changed," recalled Suda,

Suda, who has been sketching and creating anime since he was in high school, has journeyed across the globe, via his characters. "It's been such a long time, I don't even remember when I started to sketch," he said, his speech trailing into a flashback.

Maha Gogo - the car racer, Suda recalls, was one of the first characters he drew. Over the years, he has created ripped muscled, macho heroes to the cute, chubby Yo-Kai characters.

"I thoroughly enjoy this transition," the
anime sensei said. "It (anime) is about bringing out the internal
feelings and emotions and showing them on the facial
expressions."

Like the meditative, serene and divine
Zen, Suda believes that every creation is the transition of energy
fields, which reflects in his work. "I believe that there is inspiration
to be drawn from everywhere and something to be learnt from
everything," he said.

It takes intense energy to
conceptualise, create and give life to characters: "My head becomes hot,
and hair stands on its ends," Suda said, pointing to his gelled, spiked
hair, adding, in the same breath, with a smile across his face, "But
this is style."

"I imagine the characters," he says.
"I write them on paper and then sketch them."

Style
apart, Suda and his peers have influenced and shaped a culture, which is
as essential as the brew and aroma of that cup of coffee in the
morning.

Born in 1943, Suda sensei has, since the
1960s, brought anime characters to life. These continue to be a source
of entertainment and inspiration across generations in Japan. "I have
grandparents, their children and grandchildren come to me telling me
about how much they enjoy watching my anime," he said. That, according
to him, is the best compliment, heart-warming gratitude, and inspiration
for creation.

It was in the '80s when the electronic
media was booming in the land of the rising sun, that the people saw
anime streaming into their homes. The still characters in the anime
books transcended to the 'one-eyed wonder' - the television and the
video-game station.

His creation, Yo-Kai
Watch
, a mysterious and uncanny fantasy revolving around
Yo-kai (spirits only visible to the main character by the use of a
special watch device), which coexist with humans and affect their
day-to-day lives, is currently on air in Japan.

The
theme score Geragerapo no Uta (The Haha
Song
), is an anthem in the country, coupled with the 'to the
world' signature pose of Usain Bolt.

"Japanese girls
are particularly into it," said Mieko Araki, cultural officer at the
Embassy of Japan in Jamaica.

Suda, who been an
animator since diode tubes were the marvel of media technology, sees the
evolution to LED, flat-screens and tablets as a natural
progression.

"The original drawings," he said, "are
still drawn on paper." As he seamlessly and meticulously sketched
Jibanyan, the friendly ghost of a cat, a central character in
Yo-Kai Watch.

Suda, like the
Japanese society, strongly believes in the manifestation of clearly
defined energy fields influencing the wider society. "I feel that anime
and manga are a way to instill positive energies," he
said.

The power and influence of animes, beyond their
charm and wow factors, according to the Sensei, embed good values and
help the soul becoming spiritually stronger; resonating the teaching of
Gautam Buddha: "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give
your whole heart and soul to
it."

amitabh.sharma@hotmail.com

Photos
by Amitabh Sharma