Interview #04Music, Eva, and Bicycles
20 Years of Graphic Designer Masashi Ichifuru

Graphic Designer Masashi Ichifuru

First Eva “Baptism” at the Last Moment

“The FLCL job was a lot of fun. I used only line drawings for the bindings, and used photo storyboards on the reverse side, so it was a little unorthodox. We used matte PP, not common in anime packaging of that time, and colored the plastic case in matte as well. It was quite an extravagant design for that product. I was a novice, but I was happy to just be able to do something out of the ordinary, ha.”

The FLCL anime itself was experimental, and somewhat removed from contemporary anime of the 2000s.

“With these circumstances in mind, the gears began to turn. But I didn’t have a stand-out job related to anime until the Rebuild of Evangelion movie. I received praise for my work on FLCL, and exactly from that time on, anime home media packaging began to become gradually more refined. But I didn’t get any calls. Once I thought maybe I had gone too far, and was a little anxious, haha. However, I continued to be involved with FLCL-related products several times, and I designed the official Furikurism book, the DVD box, and the cloth covering package.”

As the writer Ryusuke Hikari said in a previous interview: “The 1.0 pamphlet is a unique composition, focusing on staff interviews. Naturally, the design also does not to seem to follow an ordinary path.”

“Originally I was under pressure to produce work for the anime, and I couldn’t get the materials together. Mr. Hikari was one of the first members I met, and among other things I couldn’t really get a feel for the place. Eva originally had an impact on the design of Unit-01, and for the design if you had one picture that would become the Eva. I thought so in the beginning, and thought of an image of an art book with lots of blank space. Mr. Anno carefully revised my work, including the gradation on the color proofs. It mostly involved replacing and arranging scene photos, but we were on a tight schedule and I was surprised that he was correcting these things at that stage. And although it was difficult, it wasn’t painful. It wasn’t the kind of thing to cause a designer to become irrational.”

All of Anno’s revisions were relayed to the staff via Mr. Todoroki.  

“Those directions were extremely precise. Mr. Todoroki understood the finer nuances of Mr. Anno’s words and did a fine job relaying them to us in ways we could understand. Mr. Anno made lots of requests of us with not much time to spare, but it made sense. For example with advertising jobs, it was often the case that someone on the outside would say something and the situation would get worse, but it wasn’t like that with Eva. They would fix things with not much time left, or go back to the start, and be fastidious to the bitter end. This kind of stance occurs considerably in TGB as well, so we were naturally on the same wavelength.” 

The official FLCL book, Furikurism: Design Works of FLCL, which went on sale in 2001. The two artbooks, composed of original designs, staff interviews, illustrations for various media as well as photographs by Mika Ninagawa, featured an unorthodox binding that incorporated a vinyl cover. In 2010 it was rereleased with new features. 

A pamphlet for the Rebuild of Evangelion film series, designed by Masashi Ichifuru.His first Eva job was the 1.0 pamphlet. One is deeply moved by part of Unit-01 glittering in the darkness. This was the original idea he wished to achieve with this design. The illustrations were drawn specifically for this brochure by mechanical animation director Takeshi Honda.