Graduating from Osaka College of Design, Nishii was an animator previously affiliated with Studio Cockpit before working freelance. She is noted to be an avid fan of the Saint Seiya series, and is in charge of character design for Netflix's Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac. Other series she's worked on as chief animation director include Fushigiboshi no Futago Hime, Penguindrum, Servant × Service and Haikara-san ga Tōru.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
- Character Design
- Chief Animation Director
- Animation Director:
- Animation Director Cooperation:
- Key Animation:
- 2nd Key Animation:
- Opening Animation - Animation Director:
- Opening Animation - Executive Animation Director:
- Ending Animation - Animation Director:
- Eyecatch Illustration:
- In-Between Animation:
- Promotional Artwork
During her free time, Terumi Nishii draws her doujinshi, Crown of Ouroboros, which she sells every year at the Comiket with her BBM/BKM circle. Terumi Nishii has also opened a Patreon account in case you want to support her.
Aware of the difficulties young animators are facing, she doesn’t hesitate to invest herself to help them: last March 25th, she had organized a meeting between animators to create connections, so that the newbies could meet their seniors and exchange contacts and advice.
Q: What kind of series did you like as a kid?
T: Saint Seiya! *laughs*
Q What? We’re already talking about Saint Seiya?
T: Yes, Shingo Araki is like a god *laughs*
I’m a big fan of Shun, I loved the way Ryô Horikawa played him. When I was a child, nobody believed me when I claimed he was also Vegeta’s voice, it really doesn’t sound like the same person.
Q: Ah yes, I understand why you were the animation director for the episode where Shun appears in Saint Seyia Omega.
T: Yes, I asked Yoshihiko Umakoshi, and he allowed me to be the animation director for this series. I only made corrections, but I like the Nebula Chain part a lot.
Q: You have worked on the third OVA of Saint Seiya Hades, I imagine it was like a dream come true to you. However, you’ve never taken part on an episode where Shingo Araki was animation director. Have you had the chance to profit from his experience?
T: Unfortunately, I’ve never had the chance to work under Shingo Araki. At the studio, everyone knew I was a big fan of Shun. Even if I was a beginner, I’ve been given the opportunity to draw him. It was the shot where he was running in the harbor, just before he put on his armor. I am really proud I did that, since in the artbook compiling the drawings of the series, Araki has kept my scene.
Q: What is you favorite Saint Seiya scene?
T: There are a lot of those… I would answer the second movie, Kamigami no atsuki tatakai (Heated Battle of the Gods), which had a lot of cult classic scenes like the one where Saori is hanging on the arch. There is also Ikki entering the scene… Seiya’s silence when he must save Saori, until the end… really, you can't do better with Shigeyasu Yamauchi at the director’s seat!
Q: Now, you’ve been chosen to be character designer for the 3DCG remake of Saint Seiya on Netflix, what you can say on the subject?
T: Actually, I cannot say much about the subject at the moment, or Tôei will scold me… It’s the first time Tôei will make a 3D series on TV, so it will be a new experience. However, I am happy to have been chosen, and I will do my best on it. I’d really like to talk about the way I approached the designs, but I don’t think I’m allowed to say anything for now…
Q: Since the official announcement of the remake, a lot of foreigners have begun to follow you on Twitter. Were you aware of the series’ popularity abroad?
T: More than abroad, I’ve heard that Saint Seiya was extremely popular in Europe, yes. In Italy, in France… I think it’s also very popular in Mexico? It’s interesting and flattering to be part of such a project, I’m under pressure. *laughs*
Q: Saint Seiya made in USA... I’m nervous that they’ll bowdlerize the plot, the franchise isn’t well known there.
T: It’ll be between the USA and Japan; over there, they’ll manage the scenario and production and here, we’ll manage the animation. I understand that those who’ve grown with the original series will be a little worried about how the Americans will adapt it.
Q: What was your experience before becoming animator?
T: Originally, I wanted to become a mangaka. During my high school period, I watched series like Evangelion or Utena. I found those series excellent and they made me want to learn more about the business. I already knew how a manga was made, but I didn’t know how an animator worked. So I followed a specialized course, then I went to Studio Cockpit where I really learned the tricks of the trade.
Q: To enter Studio Cockpit, it seems that you had to be be interviewed by Masaaki Iwane.
T: He’s an interesting fellow, there are a lot of stories about him. I knew who he was, I had already met him several times when he came to school as a speaker. The interview went well, there was no pressure.
Q: However, it was Yoshihiko Umakoshi who took charge of you.
T: No, my first tutor here was Hisashi Kagawa, the character designer for Fresh Precure. He was the one who took charge of me.
Q: However, we feel a lot of influence from Umakoshi in your style.
T: Certainly, because we both originally appreciated Araki’s style. However, even if we have a similar style, his influence is more personal as a man and as an animator. He taught me the way to see things, that we must always look further. In instance, to make a character laugh, the average animator will have two or three patterns, but he is able to draw ten variants. He also taught me how to handle the shot reverse shot technique as well as volume. His teaching have served me well.
Q: Is that why you frequently work with him on his projects?
T: I’ve begun to work with him on Jubei-chan, but then he asked me to work with him on Mushishi and Casshern Sin. I had the chance to be surrounded by talented animators during my entire career.
Q: However, you’re not working on Boku no Hero Academia.
T: I am a little at the moment, I’m finishing the Haikara-san ga Tōru movie which is scheduled for November.
Q: By the way, how did you become character designer for the Haikara-san movies?
T: The producers at Nippon Animation had contacted me because they had chosen me at the start of production. They asked me to draw some illustrations to see if my style would correspond to the series.
Q: For the designs of the outfits in Haikara-san, you weren’t alone, you’ve been helped on this.
T: NaSka had the same role as a costume designer for a play or a movie, she’s been urgently assigned to this key role.
Although the original work happens during the Taisho era, during the 20s, the publication has been made during the 70s and there was a mix between the trends of the two periods. I wasn’t comfortable with that and so by readjusting this aspect, we’ve reduced the anachronisms in the work.
Q: The first series where you were an animation director on a regular basis was Fushigiboshi no fugato hime, which wasn’t designed by Umakoshi.
T: I had been director several times on Doremi. It’s because of the job, animators rotate between several series. I’ve then worked with him on Mushishi.
Q: Among other disciples of Umakoshi, there is Marie Ino, with which you work a lot. How is working with her?
T: In fact, she is my kouhai, not his, so it’s an indirect influence *laughs*
In shorts, the lineage is Masami Suda, then Junichi Hayama, Yoshihiko Umakoshi, me and Mari Ino *laughs*
By the way, Hayama hasn’t finished his scene on Haikara-san, he won’t be here tomorrow at the Comiket. *laughs*
Ino is really talented and conscientious, so when I work with her, I trust her and give her leeway.
Q: You’ve also regularly done work for Studio Gainax at the beginning of the 2000s on series like Diebuster or Gurren-Lagann.
T: I am of the same class as Shouko Nakamura, who is at Production I.G and who’s participated on several anime produced by Gainax. It was her who called me to work with her on her projects.
Q: On Mawaru Penguindrum, Shouko Kanamura was in charge of a lot of things when she was only an animator. What was her exact role here? During a previous interview, Kunihiko Ikuhara has been vague on the subject.
T: There were a lot of problems during the production, we were short on staff and she had to accumulate several jobs. No doubt this is why Ikuhara didn’t want to talk about it. Normally, he’s a real chatterbox *laughs*
Q: What kind of director is Ikuhara?
T: He’s a director who’s more out of the studio than behind our backs to give directives, so we have a large margin of maneuver.
Q: What were the difficulties to rework the designs of the characters created by Lily Hoshino?
T: Her designs are difficult to animate. I have to take that into account to adapt them. I have to mind the hair, etc… Maybe I’ve found it difficult because it was my first work as character designer. If I had to rework these characters with my current experience, I may find it easier but at the time, I had it rough.
Q: I think Shingo Araki also had it rough at the time, for the hair in Saint Seiya. *laughs*
T: Since it’s in 3D, it won’t be my concern. *laughs*
Q: How did you come to work on the 4th part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Diamond is Unbreakable?
T: Every JoJo part has its own character-designer and thus its own style, the production team simply thought that my style would fit with this part. Personally, I wasn’t particularly a fan of the series, but like everyone else, I read it when I was in Middle School. What I really remember about the series were Part 3 and 4. My favorite part was 3, but I am happy to have participated in part 4, because Jotaro was there. After all, JoJo is Jotaro, isn’t it?
Q: Hirohiko Araki’s style from this period was still very rough, how did you work to smoothen it.
T: It is from Part 4 onward that Araki’s style has begun to evolve. I don't swing that way, but I had to make it so the art pleased the “Boy Love” (Yaoi) fans. However, I just drew with my regular style.
Q: JoJo is known for its poses. How do you work to create these still moments in animation without ruining the scene?
T: Since it was the third season, I think that those who already worked on it was accustomed to the universe of JoJo. These pose shots were well managed by those in charge of the storyboard. It is them who placed the poses at the right moment. When I was young, scenes where characters stayed still and took poses were common. With the coming of the "moe" type series, we don’t get as many examples of that now. I really like the end of episodes which froze on a "pencil sketch", it was beautiful.
Q: With your doujinshi, we can say that you’ve realized your childhood dream, to be a mangaka somewhat.
T: Well, it’s more peaceful than being an animator *laughs*
Q: Why is Yendaman in English?
T: The character reminds people of American comics, so I’ve been suggested to translate it. I don’t speak English, so I’ve asked something to translate it for me. Personally, I use an app to answer some of my fan’s messages? *laughs” However, I try to learn English when I have free time. On the social media, a friend is translating my messages in Spanish.
To commemorate the end of JoJo Part 5‘s anime, we’re looking back on the previous series and sharing a short but sweet interview with its character designer Terumi Nishii, where she went over her experience with the franchise as a fan and as a creator.
Credit to Kalai Chik for reaching out to Nishii and holding this exclusive interview.
Known for her work as the chief animation director and character designer on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Terumi Nishii is currently a freelance animator in the anime industry while also working on her independent original series, “Crown of Uroboros.” She has worked on many other notable shows before JoJo, particularly Mawaru Penguindrum and most recently Netflix’s Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac. She spoke about her introduction through the series, her views on the A.P.P.P. JoJo OVA series, and her experience as the character designer for Part 4.
Thank you for responding to my sudden request and taking the time to meet me.
Thank you for reaching out. It’s nice to meet you and speak to you.
As an introductory question, I have to ask: how did you come to learn of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure?
I read the manga back when it was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump.
Who was your favorite character in JoJo then?
That would have to be Yukako.
At this point there have been many anime interpretations of JoJo, so which one is your personal favorite?
I’d have to go with studio A.P.P.P.’s JoJo OVA series, particularly (Junichi) Hayama’s Dio segments. I saw it when I was young, probably in high school? I found it amazing and inspirational.
I see. What did you think of the A.P.P.P. production of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as a whole then?
Like I mentioned before, I was in high school and thought it was very cool. However, at the time I hadn’t thought of working in animation, so my opinion at the time was genuine admiration as a fan. I would borrow it multiple times from the video stores.
It’s interesting to see how the work of the people surrounding Mr. Hayama and his very own work evolved over time, which you see even throughout the OVA series.
Moving on from Nishii the JoJo fan to Nishii the JoJo character designer: how did you get involved with David Production?
I actually didn’t work there directly – I simply was a freelancer who received the request to handle the designs for Part 4. Truth to be told, there actually aren’t a lot of employees at David Production.
Among your many roles in the production of Part 4, you were in charge of the character art and oversaw the opening and ending sequences as the animation director. Do you have any lasting memories of your time as supervisor?
In terms of correcting the drawings, I focused my efforts on Part 4’s ending. When it comes to the openings, I collaborated with Shunichi Ishimoto, who more recently worked on the intros for Part 5 too. As their work was coming together and they’d almost finished, I was entrusted with wrapping it all up. Thankfully, I was surrounded by very talented people, which made the process much easier.
Part 4 is quite popular in America, in part because it looks very cheery – the catchy opening itself embodies that.
I’m surprised, but you’re right that the theme is very happy compared to the ones that preceded it. When I first heard the song, I thought, “Is this really JoJo?”
I imagined something a little more “hardboiled” so to speak, but the series direction favored something more poppy.
Let’s step back to the very start of your role in the production again. Hirohiko Araki’s designs are rich in detail, but they’re not necessarily optimized for animation. As the character designer, how did you overcome the challenges of adapting his work?
Luckily, there were lots of reference material for the characters in the first place. In terms of their movement, I used the figures based on the manga designs, which were also checked and approved by Mr. Araki. I would reference those figures as much as possible and consult other members on the team.
Considering Part 4 comes right after a very different series, and the designs change from season to season, what did you struggle with?
Up until that point, JoJo characters in both the anime and manga were very big and muscular. And then, bam!, suddenly they slim down in their body structure. With that in mind, I wanted to find a happy medium.
Of course, I didn’t want them to look too macho or too skinny. I went through a lot of designs even for when it came to their clothes. Koichi, in particular, went through several transformations.
I brought a couple of the original key animation sheets and other animation materials from A.P.P.P.’s JoJo OVA series. When looking at these and comparing it to the work that you’ve done for David Production’s version of Part 4, what’s the change that stands out to you the most?
At first glance, what stands out the most to me is simply that contrast you sense when you revisit a previous generation’s style and compare it to a more contemporary style of animation.
But more precisely, there are details like new anime series choosing to include the manga’s onomatopoeias, such as the menacing sound effects of “gogogogo,” whereas that was an element absent from the A.P.P.P. OVAs. And that’s all because people like Mr. Hayama, who worked on both incarnations of the OVAs, aimed to make them look more cinematic.
The OVA series did have a more somber tone to it, didn’t it?
In that same vein, the OVA had more restrictions to it – the biggest one being the runtime. This meant that major plot points from Part 3 had to be removed in order to fit everything in those episodes. Unfortunately, a lot of the gag scenes had to be cut short or removed completely.
Comparatively, the TV anime series had fewer restrictions and also allowed for more creative freedom. Not to say that elements like that weren’t taken out as well, but there was more leeway to fit more in.
Before we end, what would you like to tell JoJo fans? And thank you for your time, of course.
I encourage you all to come to Japan, and celebrate JoJo – not just limited to the otaku space, but the entirety of the property. I’m also looking forward to seeing everyone at Crunchyroll Expo later this year!
Promotional Artwork (原画)
Key Animation (原画)
- Terumi had read the series while in college, though she did not consider herself an avid fan. She remembers Stardust Crusaders and Diamond is Unbreakable the most, and considers the former to be her favorite. She was happy participating in Part 4 as it had Jotaro in it.