Creative interview with Japanese character avatar designer kameyama!
Artist name:Kameyama Twitter:@mukumi Career: 3D Character Designer
Currently creating virtual characters for VRChat in the name of "Mochiyama Goldfish（もち山金魚）". Representative works include Minahoshi Chan（みなほしちゃん）, Suzuhana Chan（すずはなちゃん）, Bear Rue Chan（こくまのルウちゃん）, Usagisaki Chan（ウサギ咲ちゃん）, etc.
This interview is a translation based on the original interview in 2021.
──First of all, what made you become a creator?
Initially I was interested in MMD (MikuMikuDance), and with that I started working on 3D modeling of characters. I really liked MMD as a expression form and wanted to try making my own characters in the virtual chat room (VRChat), so I started my 3D OC creation activities.
──Did you go to an art university before? Have you ever worked professionally in character design?
Actually, I didn't go to an art-related school. But I have worked as an illustrator and designer before, and I have gradually mastered graphics software and 3D modeling techniques during the work.
──Is there any special meaning to the name "Kameyama" (龟山)and the organization name you use, "Mochiyama Goldfish"（もち山金魚）?
My real name is "Kameyama"(亀山), there are so many strokes in this kanji that I often use its simplified "Kameyama (龟山)" to write my name quickly, so I've been using it ever since. However, it's a bit of a hassle when typing simplified version on the Internet, because hiragana character need to conversion (laughs).
As for "Mochiyama Goldfish" I thought names like ○○ Shop and △△ Grocery sounds cool, so I wanted to name my creative organization be like "Kameyama Goldfish Shop" , but then it would be mistaken for a goldfish store, so to avoid misunderstandings I changed it a little bit to what it looks now. Actually I do breeding goldfish, and I currently have koi (Japanese carp) at home (XD).
──We are concerned about you tweeted "Gardening, 3D and Life" so what kind of life you lead?
I feel a bit shy to mention my profile here ...... but I really love gardening and have tweeted a lot about it, although it's all about 3D model now. My ideal lifestyle would be to garden during the day and work in 3D at night, but the reality is that I'm sitting in front of the computer all day without realizing.
──What are your creation plans for the future?
I hope to keep creating avatar characters!
Dance videos make her very popular! Get to know the secret behind Minahoshi chan's birth!
── Can you tell us what Minahoshi chan is based on?
Before making Minahoshi chan, I created an avatar for VRChat called "Suzuhana chan" which is set as sister of Minahoshi chan. Suzuhana chan is a quiet girl with mature manner, while her younger sister Minahoshi chan is a lively and cute girl.
Characters archetypes come from bell flowers and daffodil, they both have one thing in common: poisonous white flowers.
──Please tell us about the specific characterization of Minahoshi chan!
Minahoshi chan is a little girl with a big backpack. She is hard-working, active, naive and a foodie. This character is based on a daffodil, and the name "Minahoshi" (みなほし) comes from the meaning of "Daffodils look like star-shaped flowers blooming in water". Her shirt and apron are fluffy, some of the radishes and daffodils are in her backpack(daffodils are not edible, but she completely unaware of it). I designed 12 different facial for Minahoshi chan, all facial reflect her lively and innocent image, especially the crying face looks a little bit pathetic.
As a virtual image Minahoshi chan’s height is set at 100 cm, but VRChat have premise that characters is whoever can use (become Minahoshi chan)" , so in fact she does not need detailed settings like height, weight, age,etc.
──Your characters have a very unique design, can you tell us about your creative ideas for character design?
Perhaps 3D avatars are rarely have exaggerated shape deformation and use thick lines to form the character design, right? I'm good at create a soft and fluffy character look when I draw illustrations, so I also want to express that style in 3D model.
──The facial expressions you create are very delicate, I feel that you put a lot of passion into them, would you like share us about your preferences for facial expressions?
I really enjoy making expressions! Although I had to narrow it down to 12 because of the VRChat setting, it was really hard to choose. First you needed to express the personality aspect of the character, also need to use some as communication, and the iconic expressions when taking pictures, all these aspects I have consciously adjusted in the design.
For example, Minahoshi chan has a representative expression of "eating", I designed the idea is use for food-related scene in VRChat, but it turned out to be used by players eat inedible things, or players use to "eat each other up" when they interaction. Although this is not the way I expected to play in making expressions,(but it's really cute), so I'm still surprised.
──You have a lot of plants elements in your work, is that because of your hobby?
Yes, much reason is my preference. I'm good at gardening, so I use it a lot without thinking about it. However, I also thought that it was not good to be bound certain element all the time, so I wanted to learn from other fields and apply them to my future works.
*Booth exhibited at vket5. It was actually a garden with only poisonous plants.
──Could you tell us what is your reason persevere to creating characters in "3D modeling" instead of "CG"?
Because it's actually quite interesting to "become yourself" in the virtual world with your own character. When I first used a self-made avatar, I felt that I had used up my lifetime share of selfies that day. It's also interesting to see homo culture like modifying character based on someone’s oc model, player buy avatars from me then modified it to fit their own personalities, preference , and their novelty ideas!
──There are already many MMD and dance videos using your avatars online, and becoming a hot topic. Did you envision this is a"exclusive spreading in the social world"at beginning?
Actually it was totally unexpected. During the character design because I like MMD, so I kept the specifications set allow players to make their own dance, but basically, such a large-scale dance party online is completely led by the players, I was surprised the high level movement and technical ability they showed. Currently, viewing the latest dance videos is my daily happiness.
──There are several projects for Minahoshi chan in the progress. If from your point of view, what kind of business project would you like to do in the future?
The projects we currently working on are already meets my expectations, and I'm excited for them every day! There has one thought, it’s not entirely merchandise-related: if Minahoshi chan could become a mascot in an oversized costume ......that must be great!
──Please tell us about your favorite manga, anime or game!
I like manga, especially funny works that show human concern through dialogue, such as『Strawberry Marshmallow』, 『Bonobono』 (Mikio Igarashi), 『Gyagu Manga Biyori』, 『BUSINESS FISH』, 『The Law of Uki』, and so on. Some of my recent favorites would the works of Abe Tomomi, Tajima Retto, and Hatopopoko’s work.
──Who are some illustrators or 3D creators that you use as references for your work? Who is your favorite creator?
I really like illustrator Yukiko Horiguchi and Miyuki Ohbayashi. If it's a 3D work, it would be Kanihira. I'm shocked that Kanihira can make such cute characters in 3D techniques!
──Thank you for to be interviewed, is there any words you like to say to your audience or Minahoshi chan’s fans?
Thank you for liking my work, and I'll keep creating leisurely, please stay tuned!
Now on sale at BOOTH! Avatars designed by Kameyama: Minahoshi chan, Suzuhana chan and the little bear Rue!