ELECOM

SHIROW MASAMUNE

SHIROW MASAMUNE Development diary

SHIROW MASAMUNE

Brief personal history of Masamune Shirow

Masamune Shirow was born and lives in Kobe. He is best known for the comic books “Appleseed” (1984–) and “Ghost in the Shell” (1987–). Recently he has been drawing illustrations for novels, such as “Classical Fantasy Within” by Soji Shimada, “Bukyo Gakuen” by Fuki Sunaga, and “The Third” by Ryo Hoshino, as well as for games and magazines. There have also been comic books and movies made based on Shirow’s concepts, such as “Pandora in the Crimson Shell” by Koshi Rikudo.

Vol.1

One day in August, 2015
Mr. F of ELECOM contacted me via Seishinsha*1 with a request to design new headphones. ELECOM and I have worked on a PC mouse*2 before. I don’t know exactly since when, but the animation industry has been building close relationships with voice actors and the music industry. And that is influencing the ways headphones are designed. According to ELECOM, the idea of having someone in the cartoon or animation industry do the design came up in the course of planning a new project. I bet there are plenty of other younger candidates suitable for this project, but I decided to accept the offer and do my best without really knowing how far I could go.

After the first greeting and briefing meeting with ELECOM was over, I decided to visit electric appliance stores and headphone specialty stores. I see. There are several products with pop up signs saying something like, ‘Perfect for listening to animation songs’. I’ve collected headphone catalogues by almost all the manufacturers there are around and purchased all headphones that appeared to have been designed by or in collaboration with an animator or cartoonist, as well as six unique headphones that were rarely seen in the past, like sports types. I also took out as many pamphlets by overseas manufacturers as there are available. Then I began brainstorming some aspects that should be taken into consideration and some aspects that I need to be cautious about when designing headphones.

Not only do I need to avoid ideas similar to any existing models (unfortunately I cannot possibly check every model out there since I’m not an expert in this field), but also I have to pay attention to the existence of design rights which are often the strongest selling points for the manufacturers. After getting home, I went into my storage room to dig up the industrial design book and human anatomy atlas which I had put away in a box a long time ago thinking I would never use them again. I’m not totally new to the field since I studied general ergonomics, drawing and artistic anatomy at college. But I needed to refer to these books because I know life is not so easy that I can think my knowledge level is good enough for getting things done. Since I cannot get in to ‘the area that actually reproduces sound’ and ‘the area where the product actually touches the ear canal’, I’ve decided to use the dimensions commonly used among major ELECOM headphones. What I’m asked to do is to design the appearance of the part that does not directly touch the ear. I have to be careful so that the headphones do not have any dangerous protrusions. (These can cause personal injury or property damage, they can be caught when taking the headphones out of a bag, they also make the molding job harder and they can be easily damaged or even break off.) And I also need to fix the center of the mass so as to prevent the ear buds from easily falling off. Let me see. Is there anything else? Well, I’ll think about that later on.
Footnotes by ELECOM
*1 a publishing company in Osaka
*2 mouse designed by Shirow Masamune in 2002

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SHIROW MASAMUNE

Brief personal history of Masamune Shirow

Masamune Shirow was born and lives in Kobe. He is best known for the comic books “Appleseed” (1984–) and “Ghost in the Shell” (1987–). Recently he has been drawing illustrations for novels, such as “Classical Fantasy Within” by Soji Shimada, “Bukyo Gakuen” by Fuki Sunaga, and “The Third” by Ryo Hoshino, as well as for games and magazines. There have also been comic books and movies made based on Shirow’s concepts, such as “Pandora in the Crimson Shell” by Koshi Rikudo.

Note: The opinions and ideas in the development diary are Shirow’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ELECOM. It is a series of tweets by one cartoonist, and the correctness of information cannot possibly be guaranteed. This development diary was written for entertainment purposes.(Shirow)