Talk About RahXephon: In Search of Fantasy and Details

Oshii criticizes RahXephon and compares it to Neon Genesis Evangelion
anime, NGE, interview, SF
by: Mamoru Oshii, Yutaka Izubuchi 2012-02-282012-03-25 finished certainty: log importance: 0

Tran­script pre­pared from pages 44–51 of RahX­ephon: The Mo­tion Pic­ture book­let, 2004 ADV re­lease.

Advice from Director Oshii when starting the TV series?

—In this con­ver­sa­tion, we would like to fo­cus on Mr. Os­hi­i’s im­pres­sions of the the­atri­cal RahX­ephon: Plu­ral­i­tas Con­cen­tio, which he watched for this con­ver­sa­tion. Orig­i­nal­ly, when the TV se­ries first start­ed, Mr. Os­hi­i’s words of en­cour­age1 to Di­rec­tor Izubuchi were very mem­o­rable, so let’s start from there.

Os­hii: Man, that’s ex­actly right. It’s turned into some­thing ter­ri­ble, just like I said, has­n’t it? (laughs)

Izubuchi: What are you call­ing ter­ri­ble? (laughs)

O: When I re­turned to the stu­dio scene two years ago, I was sur­prised that it’d be­come pretty rough. So, I thought that mak­ing a [TV] se­ries would be tough in such times, and I made that com­ment out of a sense of grand­moth­erly so­lic­i­tude. It would be ab­solutely im­pos­si­ble to make some­thing of the qual­ity But-chan [nick­name for Di­rec­tor Izubuchi] would want, so I fig­ured he would prob­a­bly ag­o­nize over the dis­par­ity be­tween his ideals and what would ac­tu­ally get made.

I: That’s true, but I kind of thought that it would be “sub­tract” even be­fore I start­ed.

O: I guess maybe it’s a mat­ter of whether you can bear that or not.

I: It was more bear­able than I’d thought.

O: Ua­haha (laughs)

I: Was that fun­ny? (laughs) I knew the gen­eral sit­u­a­tion any­way. I fig­ured it might fun­da­men­tally be­come a los­ing bat­tle, but even be­fore I be­gan work­ing, I’d ac­cepted within my­self that this would be about how to make it seem like you were win­ning.

Re­cent­ly, you often see this pat­tern, where they make a re­ally elab­o­rate first episode be­cause that’s the only episode they get time to work on, set­ting a high bar for them­selves and ru­in­ing the over­all bal­ance. And I knew I wanted to avoid falling into that trap. I’d de­cided up to a cer­tain point that I would cal­cu­late the num­ber of cels and num­ber of calo­ries and plan out the to­tal dis­tance we’d have to run, and then just leave it up as much as pos­si­ble to the ex­cel­lent staff and take a hand­s-off ap­proach. But of course, the fact that BONES’ staff is ex­cel­lent played a large part in al­low­ing me to do that.

O: In the end, there just aren’t any de­sign­ers. Right now, in ani­me, there’s a real short­age of de­sign­ers who do artis­tic de­signs, which are ab­solutely nec­es­sary to work in the de­tails. When a room like this is shown, it’s re­ally just a box and there’s noth­ing to it. You don’t feel any­thing from the room, and it’s just a back­drop. The story part and the world part are com­pletely sep­a­rate.

When you do that, the sen­ti­ments just run idle, and the story that you’re sup­posed to be telling loses its edge and be­comes emp­ty. With both movies and an­i­mated works, there’s a lot in them that you have to re­in­force with vi­su­als, which is even truer for sci-fi, where you need vast amounts of de­tails and sit­u­a­tions. It’s a lot of work even un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, but now, there aren’t enough peo­ple. With Eva [Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion], it was like all the peo­ple in­volved were de­sign­ers, from the di­rec­tor to the an­i­ma­tors, so they man­aged to hang in there un­til the end, but aside from unique stu­dios like that, if you look at how well to­day’s stu­dios can cope with the amount of de­tails that a story re­quires, it’s hope­less.

I: In terms of de­sign, I’m a de­signer my­self and I can draw de­signs, but I de­cided it would be bad for me to do it. About the only per­son who can do it prop­erly is Mr. [Hayao] Miyazaki any­way, so I aimed to take the tack of as­sign­ing the right peo­ple to the right jobs. The ab­solute num­ber of de­sign­ers is small, but that does­n’t mean the so­lu­tion is to gather as many of them to­gether as you can. Cre­ators, my­self in­clud­ed, are fun­da­men­tally selfish crea­tures, so if every­one started do­ing what­ever they pleased, the de­signs that em­body the show and the world fall apart. So, rather than draw­ing it your­self, you have to adroitly con­trol the process from above. And for the sake of keep­ing the se­ries rolling, I took the method­ol­ogy of us­ing artis­tic de­sign for a lim­ited num­ber of lo­ca­tions and re­strict­ing ma­te­r­ial re­sources. All so I could re­duce the load on back­grounds and de­signs. But in ex­change, I made sure to do a solid job on de­sign-re­lated mat­ters by work­ing with the peo­ple I could trust out of the few there.

A show that substantiates a young boy’s wish

Os­hii: The story is set in Tokyo, but be­cause it’s where the char­ac­ters are, the town it­self has to be a char­ac­ter, or rather, it needs to come to the fore­ground as uni­fied pre­sen­ta­tion.

For the longest time, back­grounds in an­i­ma­tion were noth­ing more than some­thing to fill the space be­hind the char­ac­ters. In­side the house, there are walls and tatami mats on the floor, and if you go out­side, if there are drain­pipes, it would be an open lot. That was all there was to it. But in my pro­jects, that’s not how it works. The back­ground and the char­ac­ters have to be even. You have to take it as far as mak­ing the char­ac­ter a part of the back­ground, or you’re not re­ally de­pict­ing a world. But-chan’s worked with me, so he un­der­stands that, and I think he also knows how much work that is.

Izubuchi: Yes, I do know.

O: And yet, just a while ago, you went and made some­thing like Thir­teen [WXIII Mo­bile Po­lice Pat­la­bor] (laugh­s).

I: Well, I did that one know­ing­ly. I don’t want to hear that from you, Mr. Os­hii (laugh­s). If you’re keep­ing a TV se­ries rolling and you be­gin re­quir­ing a level of work that’s diffi­cult to pull off un­less you’re work­ing on a movie, it would all col­lapse.

O: The strat­egy for work­ing on a TV se­ries is to limit your lo­ca­tions, build solid de­signs for the lo­ca­tions you’ll be us­ing re­peat­ed­ly, and then to pick a point to splurge in each episode. For ex­am­ple, in Pat­la­bor, we fun­da­men­tally did the whole thing on a re­claimed area, and it worked be­cause the story was ba­si­cally about daily life.

But this is the main­stay of sci-fi, not to men­tion a bat­tle­field. It’s how you fill that in. If you have an ar­mored car, where is the street cor­ner that the ar­mored car is lo­cated at? Is it Tsuku­da­jima or Se­ta­gaya? If you don’t take a look at that, it just be­comes a con­cep­tual bat­tle­field.

To­day’s stu­dios don’t have the abil­ity to fill in those ar­eas. I think the ‘in­tent’ is prob­a­bly differ­ent. So, the mo­ment I saw 5–6 min­utes of the TV se­ries, I thought, ‘This is in bad shape’ (laugh­s). After that, I did­n’t watch it at all, so it’s like I watched it for the first time with the the­atri­cal ver­sion. When the se­ries was run­ning, quite a few of the an­i­ma­tors around me in the stu­dio were watch­ing it, so I would ask, ‘How is it?’ since I was still some­what cu­ri­ous. And I got the re­ply, ‘I can’t un­der­stand it at all.’ And I thought, it fig­ures.

Now, it’s ex­tremely diffi­cult to prop­erly show the stage and de­pict things through the main char­ac­ter, so to a cer­tain ex­tent, it be­comes about how you show things through mo­saics. The is­sue is what gets de­picted in the end, and I fig­ured I could find that out by watch­ing the the­atri­cal ver­sion. So, to state my con­clu­sion…

I: Here it comes, here it comes (laugh­s). I bet­ter brace my­self, just in case.

O: I thought, ‘I haven’t seen this in a long time.’ I felt like I re­mem­bered see­ing movies like this two or three times in the past.

One was Eva, of course. Go­ing even fur­ther than that, it would be an­other 17–18 years ago. Shou Kawamor­i’s [Sho­ji] the­atri­cal ver­sion of Macross [Su­per Di­men­sional Fortress Macross: Do You Re­mem­ber Love?] What they have in com­mon, ba­si­cal­ly, is ‘fan­tasy’.

Movies have a drama sep­a­rate from the sto­ry. The drama is ‘how a cer­tain per­son changes’. The story is ‘there’s a vil­lain, and there are those wo op­pose him, and how that de­vel­ops’.

When you look at that drama part, all three of them have some­thing in com­mon. In other words, it’s ‘the story of a vivid de­sire’ of a young boy. Ul­ti­mate­ly, in a word…

I: That’s what you say, but you’ve never summed it up in a word (laugh­s).

O: In other words, it’s the de­sire to see a girl­friend the same age as him ac­cept every­thing, or that he wants to be re­united with her when he’s be­come an ‘older woman’, who will pro­tect him.

I: I don’t ac­tu­ally have any real de­sires like that, but if that’s how you feel, I get the feel­ing you de­sire a bit of some­thing along those lines (laugh­s).

O: No, no. The rea­son why is be­cause mod­ern young boys find girls their own age hard to deal with. They can’t keep up with the girls’ needs, and they can’t hold up. So, the de­sire on the part of the boy is ‘to be re­united with his girl­friend when she’s grown older than him’. I think it can be summed up that way.

By in­tro­duc­ing a sci-fi Urashima effect, you try to cre­ate a chrono­log­i­cal gap; you warp the world for that de­sire. In or­der to re­al­ize the fan­ta­sy, you cre­ate this grand sto­ry. I think that’s what they have in com­mon.

I: Well… that’s true enough. I’m aware of that.

O: If you sum up Eva, it’s ‘the aim­less wan­der­ing of the soul of an in­tro­verted boy’. Macross is a movie that can be summed up as ‘want­ing to date an older girl on Earth after a nu­clear war’. And for that, they have a war in space and a nu­clear at­tack on Earth. It’s about how force­fully you warp the world to re­al­ize one am­bi­tion. I think this is the most cor­rect form of what sci-fi pri­mar­ily should be.

The is­sue is how bril­liant the method is that is used for warp­ing the world. In the case of Macross, they brought out gi­ant car­ri­ers and ro­bots. Eva was a lit­tle more evolved and cre­ated or­ga­ni­za­tions and cities, try­ing to build a sense of the world.

At any rate, those meth­ods are the meat of the movie and the back­bone or the nerves is turned to­wards the am­bi­tion. A fan­tasy holds mean­ing only when it pos­sesses the de­tails to con­vince peo­ple of it. With­out that, it just be­comes gib­ber­ish. If you can flesh out the fan­ta­sy, warp the world and force it to come to­gether into one movie, it has a ten­dency to turn into some­thing great, and it can’t help but be­come some­thing great be­cause the source ma­te­r­ial is so sim­ple.

Con­sid­er­ing the prob­lem of this ‘method’ and on whether it’s in­ept or skilled, or whether it was able to mo­bi­lize those ma­te­ri­als… RahX­ephon is clearly lack­ing. It’s ab­solutely short on de­tails. I won’t be con­vinced by some­thing like this. Those de­tails come be­fore such things as artis­tic de­sign and mecha de­signs. It’s about cre­at­ing depth in the world by look­ing at how wars are fought, the ne­ces­sity of armies, and what kind of char­ac­ters ap­pear and how all of those sup­ple­ment one an­other to make such a world pos­si­ble. Peo­ple are de­tails too, in that you have to as­sign them skill­ful­ly.

In the case of RahX­ephon, there’s this mys­te­ri­ous or­ga­ni­za­tion that even em­ploys car­ri­ers, but you don’t have a clue as to what kind of or­ga­ni­za­tion it is or where it’s get­ting its mon­ey. I just can’t help but look at those things. There are sev­eral re­quire­ments for jus­ti­fy­ing the ex­is­tence of a mil­i­tary. But you don’t see that at all. The de­tails are shown, but they don’t func­tion, so you see pieces, but to the very end, you never saw the com­plete pic­ture that those pieces formed.

I: We called it a the­atri­cal ver­sion, but it’s fun­da­men­tally a com­pi­la­tion, so please give me a lit­tle slack here. It’s like we tried to make the Macross “Do You Re­mem­ber Love” through a com­pi­la­tion (laugh). The work we did was to take the pieces of the TV se­ries and use them like pieces of a puz­zle to re­build it within the length lim­i­ta­tions of a the­atri­cal film. Be­sides, Mr. Os­hii, you haven’t watched the TV se­ries (laugh­s).

The Love and Hate Hidden in Director Oshii’s “Essay on Yutaka Izubuchi”

Os­hii: I’ve writ­ten lots about But-chan as a per­son in columns and es­says, and every­one around thinks I’m bad­mouthing him (laugh­s). But that’s not it, I wrote those things be­cause I’ve as­sessed his mer­its.

In short, my ‘Es­say on Yu­taka Izubuchi’ is ‘But-chan is the man who turned mecha into char­ac­ters’. Or rather, all mecha and ro­bots in an­i­ma­tion were al­ways char­ac­ters. He’s the man who un­con­sciously pur­sued that to the ex­tremes, so I haven to as­sess him as much as pos­si­ble.

Izubuchi: Was it un­con­scious­ly? (laughs) Well, it is ba­si­cally as you say.

O: In that sense, he’s a man who rep­re­sents Japan’s an­i­ma­tion. Though, he’s also the man who ag­i­tated Japan’s an­i­ma­tion. That’s why he’s still work­ing. He’s a man who can be eter­nally on the side of the fans. And it’s the fans who de­manded that. To them, ro­bots were char­ac­ters. he’s one of the few, or rather, pretty much the one and only man who’s given form to that sort of thing.

With mecha, pri­mar­ily speak­ing, it be­comes a com­pletely differ­ent world the mo­ment they be­come in­de­pen­dent. Labors are a tran­si­tional ex­is­tence, and they were both char­ac­ters and a sort of gim­mick at the same time. I was think­ing of mak­ing them clear-cut gim­micks. But I ended up be­ing ham­pered by But-chan’s de­sign (laugh­s), and it did­n’t work out that way.

I: But if we’d turned them into the gim­micks that you were think­ing of, Pat­la­bor would­n’t be what it is to­day. And you would­n’t be what you are to­day, ei­ther (laugh­s).

O: Nope, it would­n’t. I do truly think that, if that 98 model had­n’t been a char­ac­ter that fans fa­vored, this [?] would have been over with the first 6 vol­umes. There would­n’t have been any movies, no TV se­ries, and of course, Pat­la­bor 2 would­n’t have ex­isted ei­ther. Though, it’s some­thing that I feel am­biva­lent about.

I: Those things are al­ways re­lat­ed.

O: I, my­self, keep want­ing to get past that and yet, I con­tinue to work, shoul­der­ing that sort of thing. With But-chan, per­son­al­ly, we got into a huge fight dur­ing Pat­la­bor 2, say­ing, ‘I don’t want to work with some­one like you, I don’t even want to have to see your face!’

I: That’s the one we had over the phone, right? You were mad that the de­signs weren’t get­ting done and said, ‘In other words, you and Masami Yuuki want to do some­thing where Labors fight it out in space, don’t you‽’ And I ended up los­ing it over that. That fight (laugh­s).

O: Quite a few months and years have passed since then, and my anger has calmed. And by writ­ing about But-chan, I’ve gained quite a bit of un­der­stand­ing about what kind of pres­ence he has, and I’ve been able to get it straight­ened out in my head. He’s clearly pointed in a di­rec­tion differ­ent from what I’ve struck out to do, but there’s no doubt that he’s a part of the work that I’ve done. So, even in this movie, I can see that he’s done a great job of cre­at­ing a gi­gan­tic char­ac­ter in­stead of a ro­bot.

I: But the gen­eral pub­lic often groups you and me to­gether in the mil­i­tary genre. I like mil­i­tary things, too, but it’s a lit­tle differ­ent from the things Mr. Os­hii thinks of. For ex­am­ple, the Hell­diver [an air­borne ro­bot that ap­pears in Pat­la­bor] is very pop­u­lar among mil­i­tary fans, but Mr. Os­hii thinks, ‘That’s not right’, right? After all, log­i­cally speak­ing, a ve­hi­cle that tall walk­ing around is, in and of it­self, al­ready wrong as a weapon (laugh­s). I do un­der­stand Mr. Os­hi­i’s log­ic. But with Pat­la­bor, I acted as the op­pos­ing in­flu­ence and did it that way in part to bal­ance things out, be­cause I felt the show would work bet­ter if it had a lit­tle man­ga-like fla­vor to it. Be­cause at that point in time, it would­n’t sell un­less you took it in that di­rec­tion. You know that, Mr. Os­hii…

O: I also know that was why I had to fight such an op­pos­ing in­flu­ence, and that show came into ex­is­tence as a re­sult of it, so my feel­ings of love and hate are just that much deeper (laugh­s). I keep plan­ning to sever my ties with that ex­tremely mys­te­ri­ous and unique do­main that Japan­ese an­i­ma­tion holds, but I never man­age to ex­tri­cate my­self, and my mind al­ways ends up charg­ing in that di­rec­tion. It’s like the Japan­ese ‘fam­ily’. You can run away from home, but ul­ti­mate­ly, that does­n’t re­solve any of the fam­ily prob­lems.

That’s ex­actly why I’m prob­a­bly in the po­si­tion to speak most ac­cu­rately about the world of such pat­terns, the world of an­i­ma­tion, the world of de­sign, the kinds of things that the man, Yu­taka Izubuchi, rep­re­sents.

I: That may ac­tu­ally be true.

O: …And with that in­ten­tion in mind, I’ve bad­mouthed But-chan in my writ­ings all over the place these past cou­ple years (laugh­s).

I: I—I feel like that might be an un­wel­come fa­vor… (laughs wry­ly).

The Quad Cannon of Stressing the Visual

Os­hii: Even now, I be­lieve that whether it’s with mecha or mil­i­tary things, you should try to have a sin­gle uni­fy­ing logic be­hind them. With­out that, me­chan­i­cal de­sign can never con­tribute to the sense of the world. You can’t con­struct the world as a back­ground after all. It will al­ways in­evitably ap­pear as a char­ac­ter. And in this movie, there are car­ri­ers and fight­ers and an­ti-air tank-like things… There are all sorts of prob­lems with that an­ti-air tank too…

Izubuchi: In the be­gin­ning, it had two main can­nons. But I made a re­quest to Michi­aki [Sato] say­ing, ‘I’m sor­ry, I want you to give it four main can­nons…’ I said, ‘Well, I want to do the Wirbel­wind [Nazi Ger­many Panzer IV an­ti-air tank], so please do it with a “soul­ful quad can­non”.’ And Michi­aki un­der­stood and said, ‘All right!’ (laugh­s).

O: So, it’s back to that quad can­non thing.

I: But you don’t hate it, right?

O: I don’t hate it. But you know, when you ac­tu­ally think about the prob­lem, a quad can­non is mean­ing­less. It’s much more mean­ing­ful to in­crease the cal­iber. But in the end, that’s But-chan for you, turn­ing it into a quad can­non at the last minute in spite of that (laugh­s).

I: I do un­der­stand the log­i­cal side of it too. But dur­ing Avalon, if there was a Silka side-by-side with a Wirbel­wind, I think I would have used the lat­ter with­out hes­i­ta­tion (laugh­s). Well, I’m aware of the prob­lems the same as Mr. Os­hii. It’s prob­a­bly just that I don’t hes­i­tate to choose the vi­sual over it. But even though you say that, you said ‘Use horse­back rid­ing trousers for this and the ex­act same hel­met as the Ger­man mil­i­tary. I want to make it look like the Nazi SS’, when you were re­quest­ing the de­sign for the Ker­beros de­fen­sive wear. I kind of ques­tioned that (laugh­s). So, I think that it’s likely that there’s an am­biva­lent part in­side you that wa­vers be­tween logic and fetish.

O: There is. There is, defi­nite­ly. There’s no way you can build it solely on log­ic, so in the end, it al­ways comes down to my own fetish­es.

But for a show like this, I thought the gad­gets were un­ex­pect­edly weak. It’s a ten­dency I’ve seen in re­cent mecha. It looks se­ri­ous, but it’s ac­tu­ally not. The more de­tails are drawn, the more it be­comes clear that there’s no logic run­ning through it, and in fact, things have re­gressed. Be­cause in the old days, if it had wings, it was de­ter­mined that it would fly, but now, for all the in­crease in de­tails, I think some of the things would be im­pos­si­ble to fly. It means they aren’t cre­ated out of ne­ces­si­ty.

I: I think you’re prob­a­bly re­fer­ring to the fighter called the Shin­sei equipped with the T.D.D. That was done on pur­pose, or rather, it was nec­es­sary to get past the Ab­solute Bar­ri­er, and I ac­tu­ally did­n’t want the sil­hou­ette to look like a man-made mecha. It was be­cause I wanted the au­di­ence, for story pur­pos­es, to be un­der the il­lu­sion that it be­longed to the In­vaders.

The Main House Made a Main-House-Like Movie

Os­hii: At the very be­gin­ning, it starts out in the class­room, and an­other girl comes in, then qua­vers and runs away, and that goes on and on, right? I was think­ing, ‘When’s the war go­ing to start?’ (laugh­s). Be­cause I had it in my head that it was a war sto­ry. When the fight­ing fi­nally be­gan, an an­ti-air tank shows up and gets blown to pieces, and that’s it. I thought, ‘Oh, maybe this is a differ­ent kind of movie’, and I re­set­tled my­self in at that point.

But see, when the older lady shows up after the kid has run into the sub­way sta­tion, I knew right away. ‘Oh, that’s that girl from the class­room.’ Lat­er, when I asked an an­i­ma­tor who’d watched the se­ries, he said, ‘No, I did­n’t see that at all. But in the movie, it’s im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous.’

If you get back to a nor­mal every­day sense of things, if it’s a girl you re­al­ly, re­al­ly, re­al­ly, re­ally loved, you’d nor­mally re­al­ize who she is, even if she’s changed some. If you don’t re­al­ize it, then it just goes to show how unim­por­tant it re­ally was, right?

Izubuchi: Well, so, in the TV ver­sion, there’s a real rea­son or ex­pla­na­tion for why he does­n’t re­al­ize. The movie is struc­tured to make it easy to get into by de­con­struct­ing their re­la­tion­ship from the start. But in ac­tu­al­i­ty, anime has a ten­dency to pass things off as be­ing nor­mal, when it would seem weird if you only thought about it a lit­tle, does­n’t it?

O: We ad­vance the story by mak­ing it a rule that some­thing is in­com­pre­hen­si­ble, even though it would be com­pre­hen­si­ble with a lit­tle ra­tio­nal thought. That’s the kind of drama we de­pict. Over half of it is a world built on words. In other words, it’s a ‘fan­tasy story’, and there’s ab­solutely no need to bran­dish the word ‘re­al­ism’ in sit­u­a­tions like that… And be­ing mind­ful of that, I re­set­tled my­self again. Think­ing, ‘That’s prob­a­bly the di­rec­tion it’s go­ing to go in.’

But then, it did­n’t go any­where from there (laugh­s).

By any­where, I mean that when the girl says ‘I’m so-and-so’, and her iden­tity be­comes known, and when the main char­ac­ter con­firms it, say­ing ‘You’re so-and-so, aren’t you?’ is when the story is sup­posed to end. A drama that can ex­ist with­out that is ac­tu­ally no drama at all. Con­flicts that de­velop due to the main char­ac­ter be­ing im­ma­ture can’t be called dra­ma. The ma­jor­ity of the drama in Japan­ese an­i­ma­tion is that sort of ‘un­nec­es­sary drama’. Drama that ma­te­ri­al­izes be­cause just one thing re­mains un­said. Or dra­mas that ma­te­ri­al­izes be­cause the main char­ac­ter is im­ma­ture.

Like Eva is a drama that would end the in­stant he [Sh­in­ji] says ‘I’m go­ing to take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty!’ Every­thing con­verges on that point. And how long you can stretch that out for de­ter­mines how many episodes the se­ries will last.

I: Oh, I think we might have dragged it out in the se­ries.

O: I dis­like that sort of thing. I dis­like it.

Why I dis­like sto­ries based on trauma is be­cause the drama ends when the main char­ac­ter is told the true na­ture of the trauma and he un­der­stands it. Be­cause the drama is planned from the be­gin­ning to con­verge on that point, it’s not like any of the peo­ple have changed or any­thing. In other words, it’s not di­alec­tic.

As a movie, this does­n’t work at all. It’s an enor­mously easy way out that works only in Japan­ese an­i­ma­tion, which pro­vides de­tails to feed the au­di­ence’s ap­petite.

I think sub­stan­ti­at­ing fan­tasy is prob­a­bly our fun­da­men­tal job for those of us work­ing in an­i­ma­tion or sci-fi or spe­cial effects movies. That’s why it’s un­doubt­edly the easy way. End­less­ly, we start from that point and re­turn to that point. This film is a prod­uct of that great trend and un­mis­tak­ably takes that easy path.

But with me, my theme is on how you can es­cape from that easy path. That’s why I can’t help but be con­scious of it. And as for why it par­tic­u­larly caught my at­ten­tion with RahX­ephon, side from the fact that I per­son­ally know But-chan, is that it had­n’t been done re­cent­ly.

After Eva end­ed, there were a moun­tain of shows sim­i­lar to it, but all they did was trace the de­tails. But none of them iden­ti­fied the true na­ture of it and tried to make a grand world out of the in­cred­i­bly sim­ple mo­tive of ‘want­ing to sub­stan­ti­ate de­sire as a fan­tasy’. That was done here for the first time in a while, so I got to see some­thing nos­tal­gic some­how (laugh­s). And it even has a punch line at the end.

I: The punch line, or rather, the epi­logue, is differ­ent than in the TV se­ries, though.

O: So, my im­pres­sion is that ‘For the first time in a while, the main house has made a main-house­-like film’. Even though it’s a lit­tle warped (laugh­s). Even though I feel it’s a lit­tle lack­ing in den­sity and the col­ors are a lit­tle fad­ed. It’s a lit­tle crooked and the short­cut work is con­spic­u­ous in var­i­ous places, but you did a rea­son­able job of it.

I: Is that praise? (laughs)

The Act of Providing Details for the Fantasy

Os­hii: In my po­si­tion, I want things like that to ex­ist. I’d be in trou­ble oth­er­wise. Be­cause I’m merely a sub­sidiary, or a branch of the main house. With­out the main house, the branch can’t ex­ist. Mr. Miya [Di­rec­tor Hayao Miyaza­ki] is es­sen­tially like that too, but those kinds of things… can’t be al­lowed to be­come main­stream. Be­cause that would be un­for­tu­nate for the both of us.

Be­cause this kind of thing is most defi­nitely in de­mand in the world. In every era, young kids com­ing up on pu­berty are at the mercy of their own de­sires and live their days solely on the im­pulse of want­ing to flesh out their de­sires with de­tails, even with­out re­ally un­der­stand it them­selves. That’s why they seek out sto­ries from the out­side from things like games and anime and comics. Fun­da­men­tally speak­ing, our most hon­est work is to pro­vide that. I don’t think it’s a bad job, be­cause there are defi­nitely some kids out there who can’t sur­vive with­out.

But it’s an in­cred­i­bly tough job. Be­cause you have to do it prop­er­ly. Be­cause you have to main­tain for a year some­thing that those boys can be thrilled and ex­cited about. That’s why every­one throws mys­ter­ies in there in an at­tempt to drag it out. They can’t main­tain it with de­tails, so they pur­pose­fully build it like a mo­saic to make it harder to un­der­stand.

Izubuchi: The cor­rect way is to main­tain it through de­tails, but with a TV se­ries, it was some­thing I had no choice but to give up on within my­self. So, I get the de­tails down where I need to, but if you try to show every­thing prop­er­ly, the harder you try the larger the chance that it will end up some­thing laugh­able.

O: Right, Right. There are a lot of them if you turn on the TV late at night (laugh­s).

I: Do you think that’s go­ing well?

O: Nope, not at all.

I: That’s why my an­swer to Mr. Os­hi­i’s ini­tial warn­ing was to re­sign my­self to know­ing that if I don’t get enough fire­power and the only thing I could pro­duce were to be un­re­li­able vi­su­als, it would turn into a game of sub­trac­tion. For­tu­nate­ly, we weren’t so short on fire­power that Mr. Os­hii was dis­ap­pointed by it. So, if even one mis­sile fired could be gin to show the re­la­tion­ships in this world, then put it in. But fir­ing them like crazy would just be a waste, and I must not let the show fall apart be­cause of some­thing done just for my self­-sat­is­fac­tion. That was my stance on it.

O: But there’s al­ways some cru­cial point. When I was work­ing on a se­ries, there were times when do­ing some­thing like that re­sulted in dam­age, where 5–6 episodes could­n’t be re­cov­ered, but the at­ti­tude was let’s use 8,000 even 10,000 cels for that one episode and that we had no choice but to give it our all for that one episode.

I: But there are a lot of shows these days that throw in lots of fire­power at the be­gin­ning and the rest of them end up be­ing weak. So, I tried to in­clude a story once every five episodes or so that would be mem­o­rable, even with­out a lot of an­i­ma­tion cels. That is to say, in­clude things with a mys­te­ri­ous at­mos­phere, or some­thing that seems just slightly off kil­ter, or also some­what bit­ter sto­ries that seem against the rules. Things like that which are highly mem­o­rable. That’s how I fig­ured on main­tain­ing and bal­anc­ing the ten­sion for the view­ers for the en­tire 26 episodes.

O: But you know, you need a cathar­sis some­where. I fig­ured that this ro­bot was prob­a­bly it. So, at the end, I thought, ‘Hey, it’s fi­nally in mo­tion’. But it does­n’t re­ally make sense (laugh­s).

What I found most in­com­pre­hen­si­ble was the phrase ‘tun­ing the world’. I had high ex­pec­ta­tions, think­ing, ‘I see, that’s a nice phrase. I won­der how it’s go­ing to be vi­su­al­ized? Will there be a cat­a­clysm? Will all the hu­mans’ mem­o­ries jump?’ But you just have ro­bots grap­pling with each other and cry­ing out. I don’t think that can re­ally be called a cathar­sis.

I: That’s where we tried to de­pict sex with gi­ant ro­bots.

O: There’s that scene where they’re hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion in a fam­ily restau­ran­t-style place. You have the cam­era cut­ting back and forth. I thought the ‘tun­ing of the world’ was go­ing to hap­pen there. What you would need there is well-con­structed di­a­logue and an ap­pro­pri­ate lay­out that would es­pe­cially evoke thoughts of pre­mo­ni­tion. But that’s not how it is. The lay­out is too weak.

With the di­a­logue, the nu­ance of the axis of time and mem­o­ries change sub­tly. Every time the cam­era cuts back, the lay­out al­ters sub­tly. The tun­ing of the world is the im­age of the world be­ing re­newed and re­paired, right?

I just hap­pen to be a di­rec­tor, so I can un­der­stand, be­cause I’m al­ways look­ing out for what the di­rec­tor is aim­ing to do. But the au­di­ence… would­n’t see that (laugh­s).

And why a still Shaku­jii Park [s­tone god well park]? I used to live near Shaku­jii Park for the longest time, so I’m think­ing aren’t there a lot more lo­ca­tions that are bet­ter than that?

I: That’s also a part that’s been re­cy­cled from the TV se­ries—but I picked that place partly be­cause of its name when we were mak­ing the se­ries, be­cause RahX­ephon is a stone god. The sub­way sta­tion was also planned to be Man­seibashi [ten thou­sand world bridge] for the mean­ing that now ‘you can choose from ten thou­sand worlds’.

O: That kind of in­tent just does­n’t come alive in the lay­out. The first show to skill­fully use the im­pact and power of words and vi­su­al­ized it was Eva. That was a method­ol­ogy for mov­ing the drama along.

In that sense, this is defi­nitely a differ­ent era from that of Yam­ato and Gun­dam. All sorts of film-like cul­ture is be­ing mo­bi­lized and be­ing at­tempt­ed. But things aren’t be­ing sub­stan­ti­ated in the stu­dio so that But-chan’s in­tent comes across ac­cu­rate­ly.

When I make a film, I don’t look at the key an­i­ma­tion or the an­i­ma­tion, but I al­ways look at the lay­out. I con­vey my in­tent to the stu­dio through the lay­out. At the min­i­mum, 70% of my in­tent will make it ac­cu­rately to the screen that way. It’s fine for the other 30% to be done by the stu­dio, in­cor­po­rat­ing the stu­dio’s sen­si­bil­i­ties. Speak­ing in terms of a di­rec­tor, I think it could have worked out a lit­tle bet­ter if you’d done it that way.

That’s one way of set­ting up strat­e­gy. Every­one has a ten­dency of mak­ing things diffi­cult by work­ing on de­pict­ing the drama prop­er­ly. You can skip over stuff more. You can rely on the power of an­i­ma­tion and in­stead of all the di­a­logue, you can also use the power of words. I think com­bin­ing those things and mak­ing things eas­ier could have at­tained a more pre­cise ex­pres­sion.

That’s why it’s a waste, or rather, clum­sy. Ba­si­cal­ly, get bet­ter at it.

The Charm of the Format Called a Reedited Movie

Os­hii: I felt the style of reed­it­ing a TV se­ries into a movie had­n’t been done in a while, and I thought it was nos­tal­gic. I also once made a reed­ited movie ver­sion of Gosen­zosama Ban-ban­zai, but I like that kind of work where you chop apart a se­ries and paste it back to­gether with a bit of new ma­te­r­ial into a differ­ent work.

Izubuchi: I can un­der­stand that. In this film, the at­mos­phere in it is pretty fun­da­men­tally differ­ent from the TV ver­sion be­cause we changed all the di­a­logue and stuff. Al­so, since we still had data from the TV se­ries left over, we changed the char­ac­ters around in the lay­out and things to turn them into some­thing differ­ent.

O: I see, you did some com­pli­cated work. Now, there’s data left over, so you can just re­place the lay­ers. Oh, I’d like to do work like that (ev­ery­one bursts out laugh­ing). For ex­am­ple, if I were to be asked to re­con­struct and edit RahX­ephon

I: Well, that’s over al­ready (laugh­s). But any­way, it was that kind of re­con­struc­tion work, so we also took apart the se­quence of things and re­struc­tured it. There’s some psy­cho­log­i­cal at­tacks go­ing on in the Eleventh Move­ment, but this episode is very in­de­pen­dent in na­ture, and I thought maybe that story could­n’t be used, but when we changed the per­spec­tive, it ac­tu­ally came in handy to con­nect some other pieces.

O: My men­tor, Mr. Tori [Di­rec­tor Hisayuki To­ri­u­mi] was once asked to make a reed­ited movie for Ashi Pro’s Space War­rior Bal­dios. I was a lit­tle mys­ti­fied as to why Mr. Tori would take such a job. But Mr. Tori said, ‘I wanted to work on a the­atri­cal project since it’d been a while. I feel a real zest in the work as a di­rec­tor in cut­ting and past­ing to­gether a sin­gle movie out of a se­ries that some­one else made.’

And the very first thing you have to do is set the bar on qual­i­ty. You have to se­lect the im­ages you can use and cut and toss aside the parts you can’t use. No mat­ter how im­por­tant the scene is, you throw it all away if the art is weak. In­stead, you in­sert nar­ra­tion to change the com­po­si­tion or change per­spec­tives. There are var­i­ous method­olo­gies, like bring­ing a differ­ent char­ac­ter to the fore­ground. If you don’t think about what’s pos­si­ble at that point, it’ll never be­come a movie. It’s some­thing you can do be­cause it’s some­one else’s work… I re­mem­ber dis­cussing some­thing like that at work.

I thought that made sense. Be­cause with se­ries that you’ve worked on your­self, you tend to be rather sen­ti­men­tal about the se­lect­ing and dis­card­ing process.

I: Well, I agree. That’s why for this pro­ject, I left it up to some­one else to a cer­tain ex­tent.

O: I haven’t seen the se­ries at all, but even I got the im­pres­sion that the movie was made in a pretty straight­for­ward man­ner. I was able to un­der­stand it pretty well, even jump­ing into it then. Or rather, it was al­most too easy to un­der­stand.

I: That’s some­thing we aimed to do. Our ap­proach to the TV se­ries and the film were com­pletely differ­ent. With the TV se­ries, we in­ter­spersed var­i­ous icons to drag it out and main­tain in­ter­est to a cer­tain ex­tent. With the movie. since it is over once you get in the the­ater and the 2 hours are up, we did­n’t need that sort of thing.

My as­sis­tant di­rec­tor on the TV se­ries, [Tomoki] Ky­o­da, acted as di­rec­tor for the the­atri­cal film. We wanted it to leave a differ­ent im­pres­sion than the TV se­ries had. If we changed the main char­ac­ter and changed the point of view, we thought that might be pos­si­ble. And we de­cided not to think too much about the se­quen­tial or­der of things when work­ing on this. We dis­cussed those kinds of things at the very be­gin­ning.

Ky­oda came to like the show while work­ing on it, so I think he had some pent up stuff about var­i­ous things he wanted to do, which I’d told him not to do be­cause that was­n’t how it was sup­posed to be. That kind of per­son should have the best idea of what he wants to do, so he was prob­a­bly per­fect for the job.

If I had to do it, I prob­a­bly would’ve got­ten stuck just at the se­lect­ing and dis­card­ing process, but I thought it might be winnable if he did it. I left the work en­tirely in his hands, and I think that worked out well.

I thought it would be good if the raw art ma­te­r­ial from the TV se­ries could be used in a differ­ent way to make a differ­ent im­pres­sion. After all, that’s what raw ma­te­r­ial is for. The au­di­ence who watched the TV se­ries might feel a bit of in­con­gru­ence be­cause of the com­pletely differ­ent di­a­logue, but I thought that was okay.

O: I can re­ally un­der­stand that. So, the se­ries was ba­si­cally a piece of the mo­saic per episode, right?

I: Yes, be­cause we con­structed it so that the effort of putting it all to­gether was left up to the au­di­ence.

O: I think that’s defi­nitely how it’s go­ing to be from now on. If the au­di­ence is find­ing it hard to wait even with one episode per week, then what should you do? You have no choice but to say, ‘This is a piece. At the end, it will come to­gether in a gi­ant pic­ture’. But the au­di­ence won’t nec­es­sar­ily think that and stay with you for half a year or a year.

And the in­stant no bril­liant pic­ture ma­te­ri­al­izes, the au­di­ence will be mad. The stu­dio has to steadily keep mak­ing the show, pre­pared for that. Pre­pared for the fact that in ‘one, two, and three, there!’ when the last cel is done, the stu­dio group will have dis­banded and fled (laugh­s).

In that sense, there’s al­ready a strain on telling this kind of story in a se­ries. In the old days, you could have a bad ro­bot show up every episode and say, okay, that’s it for this week. And in a year or two, the char­ac­ters would have changed grad­u­al­ly. Mak­ing sto­ries like that is im­pos­si­ble now. Some shows even end in not even 26 episodes, but 13 episodes. In that case, if you don’t think strate­gi­cally about how you’re go­ing to con­struct the world and the sto­ry, it’s im­pos­si­ble.

I think it’s un­likely that I’ll ever do an­other se­ries. I, of course, don’t have the en­ergy for it, nor do I have the con­fi­dence. And I feel strongly about not want­ing to see im­ages that can’t be laid out. Come on, I’ve been do­ing this for 25 years, give me a break al­ready (laugh­s). In other words, I’m think­ing, let me pick some­thing that would work out as a piece and make that.

You don’t get to work hard at choos­ing and pol­ish­ing a piece, ham­mer­ing it into shape and cre­at­ing it by fit­ting it in some­how and work­ing through all the diffi­cul­ties (laugh­s).

I: (laughs) You’ve spent 25 years at it and you say this, but this was my first time (laugh­s). You tell me that’s how it is from the start, but I could­n’t hope for it even if I wanted to.

O: Your ca­reer in the in­dus­try is­n’t all that differ­ent (laugh­s). You’ve been do­ing it since you were in high school. But it’s true that every­body sud­denly be­comes an am­a­teur their first time.

I: If I’d done it that way from the start, I think I prob­a­bly would have been in the sit­u­a­tion of ‘Don’t say I did­n’t tell you so.’

O: Right. It prob­a­bly would have col­lapsed with­out ever com­plet­ing the fi­nal grand pic­ture, and that’s ex­actly what I meant when I said that. But in this case, you were given an op­por­tu­nity to show a piece in the the­aters, and you were able to bring it to a con­clu­sion, so it’s a for­tu­nate piece of work.

I: Though, I never re­ally had any in­ten­tion of turn­ing it into a movie.

O: Well, every­one at the stu­dio was falling over back­wards when they heard that ‘RahX­ephon is ap­par­ently be­ing made into a movie’ (laugh­s).

Whether One is Aware of Being a Copy or Not

Os­hii: The other thing I thought of was about copy­ing. Quite apt­ly, Anno de­clared him­self a copy, say­ing, ‘I’m a copy of a copy’. But this is a ‘copy of a copy of a copy’. In the fu­ture, there will un­doubt­edly be ‘a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy’, and un­doubt­ed­ly, this chain of copies will con­tin­ue. An­i­ma­tion has also al­ready en­tered this world, and there no longer as such things as orig­i­nals.

Izubuchi: But the easy path that you men­tioned ear­lier is a part of a world that has ex­isted since a long time ago.

O: That’s true, but in the case of An­no, he was aware of be­ing ‘a copy of a copy’. In other words, that’s An­no’s stance. The very ex­is­tence of self­-con­scious­ness, you could say it’s the po­si­tion you’re stand­ing in when cre­at­ing some­thing. Other di­rec­tors aren’t even con­scious that what they’re mak­ing are copies.

Of course, I don’t mind at all if they are copies. We’ve been mak­ing movies for over 100 years, so new sto­ries, new sit­u­a­tions, and new scene al­lo­ca­tions don’t ex­ist. Every­thing ref­er­ences other things, and I’m fully aware of that. The is­sue is if you’re do­ing it in­ten­tion­ally and how con­scious you are that what you’re mak­ing is a copy.

These days, he fact that there is no con­tro­versy con­cern­ing copy­ing in an­i­ma­tion and that there’s no aware­ness of it is a big prob­lem. In my mind, the great­est achieve­ment of Eva is that it was self­-aware of be­ing a copy. That was a huge change, and it was a big turn­ing point. That’s why I pay at­ten­tion to An­no. Not about what he’s go­ing to make next but as a sit­u­a­tion.

And that’s where RahX­ephon popped up. From my per­spec­tive, I thought, ‘Oh, this is defi­nitely But-chan. He sure is work­ing as naively as ever.’ (laughs) I keep say­ing this, but I’m not say­ing that in a neg­a­tive way. Of course, speak­ing from my po­si­tion, it’s un­doubt­edly an all out de­nial, but in terms of hu­man na­ture, that was truly But-chan. And he’s the ‘king of naivety’, as it were (laugh­s).

In that sense, I went home feel­ing warm some­how (laugh­s). I need But-chan to keep walk­ing down that path from now on as well. You mas­ter that ‘king of naivety’ to the very end.

I: You’re telling me to con­sciously mas­ter that? (laughs) But for this job, I don’t re­ally know if it’s a copy or not, but I did feel like I wanted to try and see if that route could­n’t be fol­lowed once more. I sup­pose that might mean that it’s a copy of the route that’s per­pet­u­ated to this day.

O: No mat­ter what rea­sons you line up now, ul­ti­mate­ly, you’re a man who yields to his fetish­es. There’s a part of me that’s like that, too, which is why I’ve been able to keep up with you, and I re­ally un­der­stand that well. Why you just have to see that quad can­non (laugh­s).

An Existence That Possesses the Full Weight of Fantasy

Os­hii: But it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to end with But-chan. There’s no doubt that after this, copies that aren’t aware of be­ing copies are go­ing to be­come preva­lent. In the end, there is­n’t much in ex­is­tence that pos­sesses the full weight of fan­ta­sy.

Izubuchi: I do defi­nitely feel that. But with every­thing be­com­ing avail­able as in­for­ma­tion and so much con­tent, it might be ex­tremely diffi­cult for such an ex­is­tence to emerge.

O: No, I think it’s the op­po­site. The to­tal amount of in­for­ma­tion may have in­creased, but the ac­tual amount of in­for­ma­tion has de­creased, as in, it’s all the same.

I: Ba­si­cal­ly, it’s too easy to ob­tain. In the old days, when you’d have to make an effort to see some­thing to get some­thing, what you won for your­self would feed on it­self, and you’d feel ‘this is what I’m about after all’.

O: That’s true, in the old days, we made the max­i­mum effort in or­der to see Ul­tra Q just one more time, right? Now, you can get it eas­ily at a rental store. That’s why, con­verse­ly, no one tries to come in on the side of clas­sics. Every­one chases after the movie of that era, like The Ma­trix, and like a gust of wind, it’ll be over.

That’s why no one be­comes cul­tured in the way of films, noth­ing new gets added, and the to­tal amount of fan­tasy never in­creas­es. Even with an­i­ma­tion, there are more of them, but the va­ri­ety out there is defi­nitely de­creas­ing. The breadth of ex­pres­sion it­self is di­min­ish­ing. So, the arrange­ment of in­for­ma­tion has in­creased, but the in­for­ma­tion it­self has­n’t in­creased at all. In fact, it’s de­creas­ing.

I: That’s re­ally not some­thing that’s lim­ited to an­i­ma­tion.

When I was work­ing with you, I felt that I un­der­stood you, so I was partly con­sciously try­ing to be on the op­pos­ing ax­is. Mr. Shiba’s wise say­ing was, ‘Mr. Os­hii pro­duces a bet­ter work when he’s pres­sured from those around him.’ That was back be­fore work­ing on the first La­bor, though.

O: There defi­nitely was a time when our fetishes about tanks and fight­ers sym­pa­thized with one an­oth­er. But in ac­tu­al­i­ty, it was in­evitable that things would change. For ex­am­ple, you prob­a­bly still like the Messer­schmitt, but I’ve long since grown sick of it. There are things like that.

I: I’m ac­tu­ally more of a Fock­e-Wulf per­son my­self (laugh­s).

The Path That Director Oshii and Director Izubuchi Follow?

—I ac­tu­ally wanted to ask this at the be­gin­ning, but do you two not get along?

Izubuchi: What’s that sup­posed to mean? (laughs) Maybe I’m naive, but I try not to be con­scious of that sort of thing, and I don’t feel any­thing of that sort. When I heard about the ‘fight over the phone’ story just now con­cern­ing Pat­la­bor 2, I thought, ‘Oh, I see, he’s been hold­ing that against me un­til just re­cently’, and that was about it.

Os­hii: I’ve de­cided that I’ll never work with him again, and that has­n’t changed even now. It would go against my prin­ci­ples and be­sides, it’d be point­less. But that’s not to say I dis­like Yu­taka Izubuchi as a per­son. If any­thing, I feel love and hate for him as a per­son who’s been naively do­ing the things that I’ve been hung up about. Be­cause while on one hand, I’m both­ered by it, think­ing, ‘What’s with this guy?’ I also know the good side of it. The kind of sen­ti­ment where you go ‘Thanks! Fight­ers! They’re so cool!’ is sim­ple stuff that sticks with you un­til the end. Even at the stage where log­i­cally speak­ing, it be­comes clear that ‘the Spit­fire was a third-rate plane’, you still say, ‘but this wing shape is so cool, you know?’ I think it’s like that, and it re­mains with you to the end. I’m aware of him be­ing that kind of thing.

I’m also self­-con­fi­dent that I’m un­mis­tak­ably the per­son who is in the best po­si­tion to speak about the work that the per­son called Yu­taka Izubuchi has turned out. But you know, I don’t have any de­sire to go karaoke with him and sing anime songs or any­thing (laugh­s).

I: (laughs) You’ve never even done that sort of thing.

O: I’m sure there’s a lot where we’ll meet and talk about var­i­ous things. In the past, there were a lot of things con­cern­ing Pat­la­bor, but that’s started to fall off re­cent­ly. Un­til fairly re­cent­ly, there was a lot I was pri­vately ashamed of. Be­cause I’m un­doubt­edly the per­son who reaped the great­est ben­e­fit from Pat­la­bor, re­gard­less of the fact that it had turned out to be some­thing differ­ent from what I had in­tend­ed. Thanks to it, I was able to make two movies to my lik­ing after that, and I’ve been able to do what I want.

I: I can tell if I look at Mini-Pat­la­bor (laugh­s). To­day’s con­ver­sa­tions have been all about am­biva­lence, which is rather rare for you.

O: It hap­pens. So, every time I look at But-chan, those kinds of things come rush­ing back to me. Like when we just met ear­lier for the first time in a long while, you were naively wav­ing your hand, but I thought, ‘Man, he has­n’t changed at all’, re­ally (laugh­s). So, please stay naive to the very end.

I: I think that’s prob­a­bly how it’ll be. Be­cause I’ll prob­a­bly break down if I start think­ing… I may not work on any­thing with you ever again, but if, for ex­am­ple, you ask, ‘I want to do this sort of thing, but do you know any­one good?’ I’ll in­tro­duce peo­ple to you. Even when I was mak­ing RahX­ephon, one rea­son I did it was be­cause there was no one who would make the sort of thing I wanted to watch, so I fig­ured I had no choice but to make it my­self. But in truth, I’m the kind of per­son who goes, ‘Some­one, make some­thing I want to watch!’

I’m per­son­ally a fan of Mr. Os­hii, and I love Os­hii works. If you were to ask me what I liked, I’m the kind of guy who’d say An­gels’ Egg, after all (laugh­s). Every­one com­pares Ghost in the Shell to Pat­la­bor, but I say, no, that’s wrong, it’s An­gel’s Egg with com­bat, right?

O: Oh, so that’s it…

I: You prob­a­bly don’t know this, but… Well, I’d been hid­ing it be­cause I fig­ured you would­n’t have liked it if you found out that I’d been tak­ing ac­tion back then, but I’ve been sup­port­ing Pat­la­bor re­lated stuff from be­hind the scenes. When Kadokawa Shoten put out the lay­out col­lec­tion [Method], I knew you would­n’t like it if the cover only had In­gram 3, so I asked for a fish to be swim­ming in a cer­tain spot. I drew the rough sketch and ad­vised the ed­i­tor that if you have Ka­toki do the rough on this and hand it to him, it’ll prob­a­bly pass. With the Pat­la­bor 2 nov­el, I said to bring up Ka­mui Fu­ji­wara’s or Jun Suemi’s name for the vi­su­als. Be­cause Mr. Os­hii will say okay to that. I set things up like that, while also pay­ing heed to your pref­er­ences. It’s stuff like that, right?

O: (laughs wry­ly) Yeah, that’s right, yeah, that’s right. You have that kind of as­pi­ra­tions to be a pro­duc­er. But you’re a man who never takes re­spon­si­bil­ity in the end.

I: It’s not that I don’t, but that I can’t. Be­cause when money gets in the mix, I’m com­pletely no good at it. That’s why I could never be a pro­ducer in the real sense. But I do act like one some­times, and per­son­ally speak­ing, if it’ll make your films bet­ter, I’ll in­tro­duce peo­ple to you, so please don’t hes­i­tate to make use of that.

O: I’m start­ing to get tired of an­i­ma­tion, you know?

I: What are you talk­ing about? (laughs)

—There is no end to this con­ver­sa­tion, but let’s wrap it up here. Thank you very much.

(May 23, 2003 at Rop­pongi Hills. In­ter­view Struc­ture: Ryusuke Hikawa In Co­op­er­a­tion With: Monthly New­type Ed­i­to­r­ial Di­vi­sion, Rop­pongi Hills, To­mo­hiro Mat­sunomo­to)



    Mamoru Os­hi­i—born 1951. Movie di­rec­tor. Joined Tat­sunoko Pro­duc­tion in 1977 and be­came an an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor. Trans­ferred to Stu­dio Pier­rot and gained at­ten­tion through the TV an­i­ma­tion Uru­sei Yat­sura (1981) and its the­atri­cal film Uru­sei Yat­sura 2 Beau­ti­ful Dreamer, which he worked on as chief di­rec­tor. After that, he went free­lance and di­rected the video anime An­gel’s Egg (1985), and then, to­gether with Yu­taka Izubuchi, Masami Yuuki, and Kazunori Ito, as a mem­ber of the orig­i­nal cre­ators’ group Head Gear, he di­rected the video anime Mo­bile Suit Pat­la­bor (1988). This be­came a huge hit and two movies were pro­duced, di­rected by him. His movie Ghost in the Shell (1996) even in­flu­enced The Ma­trix and is now known the world over. His lat­est work is a movie called Avalon (2001) that was shot live on lo­ca­tion in Poland and then dig­i­tally treated to turn it into a vir­tual world. Cur­rent­ly, he is in the mid­dle of work­ing on In­no­cence (Ghost in the Shell se­quel_), due out in 20??.

    His ac­quain­tance­ship with Yu­taka Izubuchi is from the live ac­tion film The Red Spec­ta­cles (1987). Izubuchi worked on the de­sign of the ar­mored de­fen­sive wear ‘pro­tect gear’ in both that and its se­quel, Stray Dog: Ker­beros Panzer Corps.

    In the model mag­a­zine Model Graph­ics, Di­rec­tor Os­hii has a se­ries of ar­ti­cles called “Stray Gad­get File” on mecha de­sign. There, he wrote a harsh cri­tique on Yu­taka Izubuchi and sur­prised every­one in­volved.

  1. “You should­n’t both­er. Don’t say I did­n’t tell you so.” Printed in the March 2002 is­sue of Kadokawa Shoten’s New­type.↩︎