After breaking the Rift, Yuki gains superpowers: she can control ice and snow, turn invisible, fly, be intangible, and is a lot stronger and faster. As the Ghost Hunter, Yuki is a lot more cheerful, friendly, confident, and more willing to show her softer side. And she really gets a kick out of fighting monsters, ghosts, and mythological beasts. She just really loves her new job!
Of course, since she's mostly a pitiful human (though her enemies don't know that!), she's not very good at using her new powers...at least at first. More often than not, though, supernatural powers aren't enough, so she has to use her innately human wiles and resourcefulness to save the day. (Hilarity ensues, of course.) She goes from being a mild annoyance to being the thing the Boogeyman has nightmares about.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: Yuki Hisakawa
The eponymous hero of my original series, "Ghost Hunter Yuki." Yuki Hisakawa is by all appearances a normal school girl. Her parents are divorced, she now lives with her father Ken, whose new job landed him in the cheerful seaside town of Sunnyshore. She attends 7th grade.
She is aloof, serious, and a complete smart-aleck, however when she shows kindness it is always genuine, and when she smiles, she means it. Yuki has a very strong need to do good, possibly to compensate for her own troubles with her family and new living situation. By virtue of her pre-teen clumsiness, she breaks the artifact known as the rift, returning magic to the world and granting her superpowers.
Her design is inspired by Chihiro Ogino, the protagonist of Miyazaki's "Spirited Away," and Danny Fenton from Butch Hartman's "Danny Phantom."
Yuki Hisakawa Expression Sheet
The "strong and silent type," Yuki places emotions low on the needs hierarchy, so her expressions are relatively restrained--at least when she's a civilian. She is prone to typical pre-teen and adolescent bouts of sulking, sarcasm, sass, and plenty of eye-rolling. However, as we get to know her, we see more of her heroic traits, her sincere, compassionate personality, and her dry and impish sense of humor.
Yuki uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism to deal with her parents' divorce, her strained relationship with her depressed father, and the pressure of moving to a new town and new school. Underneath she's clever, fearless, and cares deeply for others, wanting only to do good, and, of course, make her family happy, even if her new dangerous career as a superhero can make this difficult.
I imagine her not just as a possible role model, but more as a character that, if she existed in real life, kids in audiences would want for a friend.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: Sniff the Dream-Eating Tapir
Early into the story, Yuki acquires a loyal animal companion--a baby tapir named Sniff. Like Yuki, he too has supernatural ancestry (the dream-eating Baku), and when the rift breaks, he gains new psychic powers and the ability to speak human language (albeit very awkwardly).
At first Yuki is not too thrilled to have Sniff as a sidekick, since she's not particularly fond of waking up every morning with a little pig-elephant sucking on her forehead with his nose, due to his newfound taste for dreams. However, Sniff's psychic powers, such as telepathy and telekinesis, can be helpful in battles, and the fact that he can talk is a plus. So Yuki can learn to tolerate the forehead-sucking in the future.
I designed Sniff to be cute, endearing and potentially marketable, without being too sticky-sweet, nauseatingly precious, or alternatively, obnoxious and purposeless. He has a mischievous, devious, and sassy side under that sweet elephant-nose exterior, and can be quite clever and knowledgeable of other monsters.
I kept his design simple, taking cues from works such as Pendleton Ward's "Adventure Time", and Tove Janson's series "The Moomins," to make him easy for viewers to remember and for artists to draw.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: Jax the Goblin
Specifically the Hopkinsville Goblin of American lore! Jax is fun-loving, cheerful, playful, a bit naughty, and genuinely innocent. He and his kind came to Earth and are just getting used to being on a new planet surrounded by beady-eyed, squishy-bodied humans. He becomes a member of the Ghost Hunter's team, acting as the muscle with his indestructible body and raw strength, and "little brother" figure Yuki never asked for, but loves anyway. He is the source of most of the comic relief thanks to his indestructibility and lack of social skills.
I based his design on the original depiction of the Hopkinsville Goblins of the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter. His body is metallic, grey, and tough like the real goblins were said to be (they were allegedly bulletproof), with bright glowing eyes. I channeled Tim Burton and Jhonen Vasquez while creating this design; I intentionally made Jax look both creepy and cute to sell his mischievous yet innocent and pure-hearted persona.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: Jax's Expressions
When designing Jax, I wanted to remain faithful to the original depiction of the Hopkinsville Goblins, but simplify it to be more appealing. For inspiration, I looked at various other aliens (the Hopkinsville goblins were rumored to have possibly been aliens), such as the classic grey men, Disney's Stitch, and the works of Jhonen Vasquez. In fact, I designed the Goblins to have some resemblance to the Irkens from Invader Zim.
I wanted to highlight Jax's carefree, fun-loving and wacky personality and elaborate body language. Because he's so simply designed, he's very easy to draw and fun to work with, especially when he falls in "love" with people and things.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: Ken Hisakawa (Dad)
Son of Gramps and father of Yuki, Ken is an overworked white-collar paper-pusher in his early forties. Compared to his tough and scrappy daughter, Ken is vulnerable and emotionally fragile. He has been wounded by his mother's sudden, inexplicable disappearance, and, more recently, his divorce. He is a sympathetic and nurturing character, but can be clinging, selfish, anxious and cynical. Although deeply loving and attentive to his daughter, Ken has his own demons to fight--quite literally.
Ken isn't thrilled that his daughter has decided to be a superhero, but since he's the go-to "Dude in Distress," constantly being harassed and preyed upon by monsters, he tries not to complain, as Yuki always rescues him. Although he can be melodramatic and often subjected to a lot of embarrassing physical comedy (much of which is self-inflicted), there are times when Ken's depression (and how it affects others) is treated seriously. Eventually he gains the self-confidence and development to support Yuki as the Ghost Hunter, and join her in her fight against evil, emerging as the compassionate heart of the team.
I designed Ken to be an important, dynamic and sympathetic character. I made him a figure older viewers, such as parents, can relate to. He adds a grounded element of maturity to an otherwise wacky series, and sometimes his own mundane adult struggles are made just as whimsical and wild as his daughter's middle-school woes.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: Ken's Expressions
Unlike most parents in fiction, Yuki's father Ken is neither dead, abusive, moronic, nor oblivious; instead he is a major, dynamic character, painfully aware of his daughter's dangerous double-life as a superhero, with his own major story arcs integral to the plot. He isn't fond of Yuki's new, very unsafe job as a superhero, partially because he doesn't think people are worth protecting, but mostly because he fears the worst happening to his child. Not to mention his unresolved issues with his missing mother, and his ex-wife. So, naturally, he's easily stressed.
Out of the five main characters, Ken is the most emotional and expressive, though he tries to hide it behind a facade of brittleness. He can go from quiet and brooding to blind panic and then to gentle, doting fatherliness within a short span. His neurotic tendencies can be played for comedy as well as tragedy.
I designed him with generic traits associated with cartoon fathers since the 1950s (dark hair, suit and tie, glasses, graying hair, etc.), as is done in both Western and Japanese animation. However, his generic-ness is a subversion, as he is a central character who arguably undergoes the most development. I also designed him to closely resemble his daughter (similar face shape, spiky hair, brows, etc) and look appropriately aged.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: Gramps (Yosho Hisakawa)
Yuki's paternal grandfather. Your typical grumpy old man, a curmudgeonly cheapskate who runs a corner grocery in Sunnyshore. His floundering son and pubescent granddaughter move in with him, much to his displeasure.
Gramps' bitterness can be traced back to the disappearance of his wife, from which he never fully recovered. Gramps has a colorful past as a construction worker, thirteen-time black belt karate champion, and a gig as a western-style wrestler. He's apparently sent nineteen men to the hospital (five of whom still can't eat solid food), and has retained much of his strength even into his 70s. He now aids his newly superpowered granddaughter in her role as Ghost Hunter, of which he more excited about than his son. Gramps is the master of brute force, acting mostly as the boisterous and no-holds-barred bare-knuckle brawler. His favorite things are cleanliness, money, and punching monsters in the face.
Of course, Gramps has more than a few secrets of his own, and may know more about the Rift and the supernatural than he lets on. In fact, when he volunteers to keep the pieces of the Rift that his granddaughter collects, we get a hint that he may have an ulterior motive of his own...
Ghost Hunter Yuki: The Fox
For every great hero, there is a greater villain.
The Fox fills the role as Yuki's arch-nemesis. Originally an ordinary fox, when the Rift broke, his dormant shapeshifting powers awakened, allowing him to assume a powerful semi-human form. As a servant and familiar of the Red Witch, his mission is to collect the pieces of the broken Rift before the Ghost Hunter can retrieve them.
I designed him to be rather cute and attractive, so when the audience realizes that he's evil, it jabs them. He is also designed to be Yuki's--and the Ghost Hunter's--opposite. The Fox has a cynical and underhanded, yet bubbly, charming and cocky persona, he comes across as charismatic especially when compared to our hero.
The Fox is a worthy adversary, as clever as our hero and more naturally talented. Using the power of illusion, he can appear in any form for a brief period of time, and he can freely adjust his voice to imitate anyone or anything. Like his animal namesake, he has night vision, greatly enhanced speed, strength, and agility that far overpowers our hero. However, his superpowered form takes a toll on his sanity, and as battles wear on and he loses his energy, he gradually becomes more unhinged and feral before reverting back to his powerless animal form.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: The Fox's Expressions
The Fox is designed to be Yuki's opposite: a moody, volatile, charming trickster. Because retaining superpowered semi-human form requires a lot of power for him, he gradually becomes more unhinged the longer he stays in this form. As such he has some pretty extreme mood swings and can get a little crazy. Here I want to show the range of his emotions to convey both his villainous charm and his mild insanity.
Ghost Hunter Yuki: The Red Witch
If you thought the Fox was bad news, meet his master, the Red Witch. The main antagonist of the series, the Red Witch is the Big Bad, the main villain, the great mastermind behind every bad event in the series. Dangerous as she is beautiful, the Red Witch is an empath with the ability to sense and manipulate the emotions of others. Legend has it that she was once a beloved European fairytale princess who could invoke feelings of peace, happiness, and love in others. However, the princess was kidnapped by a dragon and witnessed an act of true cruelty, which turned her against humanity, and corrupted her into a witch.
Now the Red Witch uses her powers to invoke fear, helplessness and hatred in others, turning loved ones against each other or turning them into monsters. Long ago, the Rift was used to seal her away. When the Rift broke, she was freed from her prison, and with the help of her animal familiar, the Fox, the Red Witch has taken command of all the mythical creatures and sends them to thwart the efforts of the Ghost Hunter.
The Red Witch - Expressions
I specifically designed the Red Witch to be incredibly beautiful, keeping with her backstory as a princess. I was mostly inspired by the design of Princess Aurora from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty." However in practice she's a lot more like Maleficent!
I wanted the Red Witch to be charismatic and entertaining as well as sinister. She can be both funny and scary, sometimes at the same time, in keeping with great cartoon villains such as Aku of "Samurai Jack," HIM from "The Powerpuff Girls," the Joker from "Batman: The Animated Series," and any of the classic Disney villains.
As an empath, the Witch is prone to some extreme mood swings. I wanted to encapsulate the multitude of her expressions, going from sweet and playful to sarcastic, condescending, disdainful, or blindingly angry. And, of course, her default haughty expression. She should have the mannerisms of a silent movie actress.
Sniff's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great etc. grandfather, the mysterious and elusive Baku. The Baku is an Asian creature made up of the parts left over from various animals, its closest descendants are the tapirs (such as Sniff).
The Baku is a creature that is both revered and feared. It is a symbol of good luck and is called upon to feed on the nightmares of children. After a kid has a particularly awful dream, they can summon the Baku to feed on it. But careful! If the Baku isn't satisfied after eating, is summoned for a petty reason, or senses ingratitude, it will feed upon the summoners hopes and dreams as well.
A small variety of the creatures Yuki faces as the Ghost Hunter. Some are evil, some are simply mischievous, some are only misunderstood, and some need major discipline.
Portrayed here are creatures from around the world: Trixie the Nix, a seductive, monstrous version of a mermaid that loves shopping, makeup, and terrorizing the innocent; a baby lion that has mutated into the part lion, part goat, part snake, firebreathing Chimera; Mushroom Head the green fairy, the ringleader of sprites who mess with humans and other mortal creatures for kicks; Willy the Will-o-Wisp, who occasionally acts as a guide to supernatural hangouts for our clueless hero; and Joxter, aka "Jox," the Yara-ma-yha-who, a vicious little red monster from Australia who happens to be Jax the goblin's cousin.
Among the many creatures who have returned to the land thanks to Yuki breaking the interdimensional rift. Fairies are tiny, dainty yet powerful creatures, one with nature. Be warned though--while we have grown up with tales of sweet, innocent fairies, according to traditional western and eastern folk tales, the "fair folk" don't always play fair. These fairies are amoral, carefree tricksters that see humans as playthings. One of the playthings ends up being Yuki's hapless father, and Gramps' beloved convenience store.
I designed them to be simple, charming, kitschy and cutesy, like the Sanrio brand toys. Only far more twisted. They all have ridiculously sappy names and act as a gang, with the green fairy "Mushroom Head" leads.
This...delightful fellow is the thorn in every Latin American livestock owner's side, the "chupacabra". He's nasty emaciated creature that terrorizes and drinks the blood of livestock, especially goats (his name literally translates as "goat-sucker" in Spanish). He's not necessarily malicious, he just does what comes naturally and eats when he's hungry, which is often.
He's mostly a nuisance in Yuki's neighborhood. The situation generally involves butchers, burger joints and hotdog stands. Naturally hilarity ensues. I designed him to be sort of comical, following the traditional description as a scrawny canine beast, as well as the more fantastical "alien" interpretations. I added sillier elements as well, throwing in traits from werewolves and, of course, Chihuahua dogs. I also threw in some elements from John Kricfalusi's Ren & Stimpy, for extra comical exaggeration.
Shen and Aren, the Dragons of the East and West
Sibling rivalry at its finest. Shen and Aren are dragons, with Shen being on the "good" side and Aren being a reoccurring antagonist.
Shen is your typical benevolent Eastern dragon, who controls the rain and weather, and is said to bring good fortune to anyone lucky enough to lay eyes on her. Aren is the stereotypical destructive Western dragon (the kind that hoards treasure, kidnaps princesses and is slain by knights), he breathes fire, and his presence brings drought. He is also 500 years younger than his sister.
Shen, the Dragon of the East
One of the recurring characters of Spirit Hunter Yuki, a powerful Chinese dragon. Typical of those of her kind, she is seen as benevolent, or at least benign, with the ability to control the weather and ocean at will. It is said that even seeing her will bring good luck.
Shen's relationships with humans is somewhat complicated. Although history depicts the Chinese dragon as a figure benevolent to humans, and Shen is no exception, she is somewhat aloof, haughty and proud. She sees humans as weak and co-dependent. For all her condescending tendencies, though, she's still willing and able to help our hero whenever she may need it.
Aren, the Dragon of the West
Aren is a Western (European) dragon and the younger brother of Shen. He acts as something of an antagonist. Unlike Shen, who is loved and revered, Aren is hated by humans in Europe. He can breathe fire and his presence is said to be an ill omen and can trigger harsh, barren droughts. That and his appetite for meat (livestock, mostly), tendency to hoard (he's compulsive and loves shiny things the same way birds do) gave him a less than favorable reputation among humans, giving them excuses to fight him, attempt to slay him, or curse him.
Aren's personality is dark, sinister, yet tragic. His bitterness and selfishness can definitely paint him the villain, however years of hatred from humans has started a vicious cycle that is hard for him to break. Most of his crueler actions are simply to spite his sister, of whom he is understandably jealous.
Dog Designs and Sketches
Here I practice drawing dogs, in a style reminiscent of Disney cartoons or the comics of Osamu Tezuka. These designs are my attempts to familarize myself with non-human subjects and practice animal anatomy. As you can see, they are of different, whimsical breeds and have some personality, a few based on dogs in my own neighborhood.
Polly-Gon the Octopus
The devious and playful protagonist of my first animation, "When Octopi Attack." She's a rare, genetically modified species capable of spending brief periods of time out of water. She loves tea, cookies, and making mischief.
A majestic and pretty species. Yes, I know narwhals already exist.