Discover the Spanish animator of ‘Star Wars: Visions’: Abel Góngora has been in Japan for eight years working with his idol

The young man from Barcelona is in charge of directing the sixth episode of the galactic universe anime series, entitled ‘T0-B1’. All its chapters are available exclusively on Disney +.

Star Wars is one of the most successful sagas of all time. His films and series have impressed thousands of viewers around the world. Now the galactic universe is reinterpreted in nine shorts created by seven anime studios on Star Wars: Visions, now available on Disney +. In this combination of Star Wars with the tradition of Japanese anime, a Spanish has crept in: Abel Gongora.

The young man from Barcelona studied Fine Arts in Valencia, but has developed professionally abroad. Góngora has worked for the Irish company Cartoon Saloon and the French company Ankara before arriving Science Saru, the anime master’s studio Masaki Yuasa. So it is not surprising that Disney will commission two of the episodes of Star Wars: Visions.

Góngora is in charge of directing the sixth episode, titled T0-B1. The Gongora chapter tells the story of a young android who dreams of one day becoming a Jedi. In turn, he discovers a dangerous truth about his creator. On SensaCine we had the opportunity to speak with him Spanish entertainer for this project.

More information on Disney +

How did a young man from Barcelona get to one of the most important studios in Japan?

By chance of life. I was working in France and my studio opened a branch in Japan more than ten years ago, so they brought me in for a small project and I stayed for three months. When I came back, I kept in touch with the people we had met and it turned out that Masaki Yuasa, who was one of my idols and had met him, was going to open a studio with Eunyoung Choi, director of the other short from our studio ‘Akakiri’. When they opened they asked me and another Spanish entertainer, Juan Manuel Laguna, if we wanted to come to Tokyo to be part of the animation team. It was a dream for us to work with Masaki Yuasa, so we said yes at once and we came. Here I am eight years later.

You say that Masaka Yuasa was one of your idols. How has it been working with him?

I have learned a lot from Masaki Yuasa because working in Japan is very hard, but I have learned more than I ever imagined. Every time I have doubts about how to direct something or how to draw something, I think as he would. By working with him from day to day, going out and having dinner with him, he also becomes another co-worker with hard times. Then he stops being an idol to be a co-worker that I respect more because he has a higher rank, since he was the one who formed the company and he is the film director but in some situations he becomes a friend as well.

Are you a fan of the galactic universe of Star Wars?

Yes, I was quite a fan although more of the old films of the original trilogy. The second trilogy caught me getting older and it didn’t interest me that much anymore. Now, since we started this project, I was interested again and I saw everything again. I studied the universe very well not to screw up and I have become a super fan again.

What has this project meant for you?

It was incredible news even before I knew that I would be a director, just participating in this project was a dream. It is also a great responsibility because you know that millions of people will see your work image by image, they will investigate everything and it is quite stressful. You cannot leave big failures although in the end there are always things that you let happen, but it was still very exciting.

What was the hardest thing to direct in the episode?

It is the first time that I have directed such an important project. Before I had done much smaller things like video clips or openings, but I had never really directed a story with a beginning and an end. I have been an animation director because we are a very small studio and it happened at a time that we were very busy with many projects. It has been very hard, but when I see it it is also very rewarding.

And technically? What has been the hardest thing to recreate?

Perhaps the moment of action is quite difficult because the characters move a lot and you have to draw image by image. As I was saying before, we are a very small studio and in the end you have to take a lot of time and try to do the best you can.

Star Wars: Visions is a reinterpretation of the saga. What were you inspired by to do the chapter?

Part of the concept for the episode was to pay homage to Toei’s classic 1960s anime and manga from that time. The references are a mix between that vintage anime and the classic Star Wars from the first movies.

Animation in Spain is having more and more presence. Do you think there is a future?

I don’t really know what the market is like there, but I have friends working. I think there is a small market and above all there is a lot of talent. If there are people who put effort into carrying out the projects, I think there may be very good things. It is true that there is a very difficult situation, so I do not know very well what will happen but hopefully it will get better.

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Finally, if you had to make an anime of one of the films in the Star Wars saga, what would it be?

Surely Return of the Jedi because it has very cute things like Ewoks. It has very dramatic moments with the final fight, but it also has the planet where the Ewoks live that is very beautiful to recreate. Yes, I think it would definitely be from that movie.