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Masakazu Kubo Interview

Masakazu Kubo Interview

Written by Ross Locksley on 26 Apr 2024

We were delighted to be offered the opportunity to speak with Pokemon and Inazuma Eleven Executive Producer Masakazu Kubo following his oversight of his latest project, "Tonbo!" which we highlighted earlier this month. One of the most prolific talents in the industry, we quizzed him on his experience of bringing Tonbo! from page to screen.

How much input did Ken Kawasaki or illustrator YĆ« Furusawa have during the project? Were they hands on, or happy to hand off to your experienced hands and wait for the results?

All scenarios are checked. As for the animation, I feel that we have a good relationship as we exchange many opinions while working on it.

Have they seen the anime and provided any feedback?

They told us, "My longtime dream has come true."

You have one of the most impressive bodies of work in animation, do you still feel any pressure when producing a new work?

I don't feel any pressure. I consider it completely different from other works because the main character is a girl.

What makes Tonbo! Stand out from work you’ve done to date?

A girl who lives on an island breaks the rules of golf and spreads her wings to the world. I feel that the pursuit of a free style of play is what makes her unique.

Are you a keen golfer yourself or is there another activity you prefer?

I love to play golf. Other than that, I enjoy watching car races.

I note from the press information that the anime contains 3D rendering of golf shots that could be achievable in real life, did this added element produce any additional challenges when planning the show?

3D is used for the course background (scenery), the startup of shots flying, and motion capture for swinging. 3D is used to pursue realism.

The production and intensity of the work is balanced with the use of drawing.

How does Tonbo! differ from your other popular sporting anime like Inazuma Eleven?

It differs from other works in its pursuit of reality. The actual manufacturer of the golf gear is used. The shape of the clubs is modeled. The fact that there are no fictitious objects in the work makes it different from other works.

Early Tonbo! promotion shot


The idea of Tonbo meeting new people and growing her skills and experience (while acquiring new tools and techniques) seems quite the parallel with Pokemon – do you also see this show sharing themes with Pokemon or does it perhaps have different lessons?

It does not share the same theme. We think it is how we perceive it since the work depicts the growth of a young girl.

What is your hope for the show going forward?

That the golf population in Japan will increase. That the number of children who aspire to become professionals will increase.

What would you like to see the audience take away from the show in terms of lessons and inspiration?

The main character "Tonbo" is the kind of girl who sincerely admires and cheers on her rivals even when they are playing.

I want the audience to see how broad-minded and beautiful she is.

Lastly, how do you feel about your work being shown around the world? Do you have any messages for the audience about to experience Tonbo’s adventures for the first time?

It is very exciting to see my work being distributed without being out of sync with the Japanese broadcast. I hope you will look forward to the reactions of people around the world, which will help me in creating my next work.

Our thanks to Masakazu Kubo for his time.

Ross Locksley
About Ross Locksley

Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time. You can read his more personal articles on UKA's sister site, The Anime Independent.

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