[EVA] _Protoculture Addicts_ 43: "Anime Expo '96: Anecdotes from Mr. Mamoru Oshii"

Gwern Branwen gwern0 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 25 09:26:40 EDT 2010

Not hugely relevant but interesting (like the Escaflowne article).
I've been growing convinced over the years that Oshii is all flash and
no substance - since _Jin-roh_, his movies seem to be growing ever
glossier and allusive and superficially meaningful, but are roads that
lead nowhere; reading interviews like this don't help my disaffection.


"Anime Expo '96: Anecdotes from Mr. Mamoru Oshii"

Since you might already have read the interview with Mr. Oshii in PA
#37 (pg. 38), made with the help of Manga Entertainment, I will try to
write something different. I was very fortunate and honored to be able
to sit next to Mr. Oshii at Anime Expo '96. What a treat! My first
impression is that Oshii-san *loves* talking and he just can't stop!
This time, I asked him questions a little more personal, to know him
better, and I thought he wanted to talk about subjects different than

Oshii-san is a *big* dog lover, who is crazy about basset hound dogs.
They are short-haired dogs of a breed originating in France, having a
very long body, short and crooked forelegs, and long, drooping ears. A
dog like that appears a couple of time in GHOST IN THE SHELL. He
showed up every day at Anime Expo '96 wearing a Basset hound T-shirt,
and he tells me, "I'm keeping a dog named Gabriel, which is a name of
an angel who came to Virgin Marry to announced the forthcoming birth
of Christ. No, personally, I am *not* a Christian, but since my high
school days I've been reading The Bible very often to learn about
human behaviors. I think that it is offering the prototype human
stories. When we, creators, try to write stories, we need the
inspiration. I also like the English Philologist John Tolkien and read
his novels of fantasy. I love birds too, and when I was in high
school, I made a short movie on birds. Most of my anime movies have
scenes of birds. In ANGEL'S EGG, for example, I just wanted to make an
anime of an angel, flying from the ground to the sky like a bird in
the morning to look for light. I use lots of scenes from the Bible.
But it's not religious. I take the Bible as a very nice piece of
literature, and it gives me many good inspirations, stimulating my
faculty of thought."

I asked Oshii-san, "Who is your favorite movie director and what's
your favorite movies?" and his answer was very long! Surprisingly, a
French movie director's name, Luc Besson, came out. "I like Luc Besson
very much and I think he has a very good sense of movie directing. I
especially love his works such as LE DERNIER COMBAT (The Last Battle).
I hope he'll keep shooting something very different... I hate seeing
something like NIKITA or LEON! What a waste... He has so much talent.
LEON disappointed me very much, but it's Besson, so I'll keep watching
his works. I also like Danish films... I watched two nice pieces
actually, titled KINGDOM and ELEMENT OF CRIME."

Oshii-san also says, "I'm fan of X-FILES. Due to my busy schedules,
unfortunately, I haven't watched the whole shows, but maybe, I think,
I've watched about half of this TV shows episodes. I think that human
reality is very ugly and I dislike looking at reality. I can't trust
reality because it is so ugly to me. So, my whole concept of movie
making is to be away from this ugly reality... as far as possible! How
can I make a different world in my films? I'm aging and getting
older... and I feel that I'm getting more and more impatient and I get
angry easily when I look at the ugly reality. I direct anime feature
movies because I don't have enough budget. But if I had plenty of
money, I'd rather make serious movies, and create different world, to
enjoy visions. Of course, there are two kinds of feature films. One is
to enjoy visions. The other is to enjoy human drama. Personally, human
drama doesn't interest me very much because I don't believe in
humanity. Human stupidity will eventually destroy Earth. Is humanity
ever coherent? I don't think so. My work are often *not* explainable,
due to my thoughts. To tell you the truth, when I made those URUSEI
YATSURA series and feature movies, my thoughts and conceptions toward
the world really bothered Ms. Rumiko Takahashi, and we had a big
disagreement and quarreled. I wanted to make URUSEI YATSURA *serious*.
She didn't."

I asked him about Dr. Tezuka and his works. I wasn't surprised to know
that Oshii-san dislikes Dr. Tezuka's works, due to his thought,
because I felt that Oshii-san wants to be in the position of
"anti-establishment". He used a German word, anti-these, to explain
his position of movie making and his existence. "I know that everyone
will give me a sound thrashing if I ever say bad things about Dr.
Tezuka's works, but his works don't interest me." I felt that
Oshii-san wants to create his own world which is far from reality and
is like a dream, and he's having an antipathy to this works which have
to deal with reality, and human feelings. But he really *loves* dogs,
as if he could take about them forever! He says, "If I had all the
money in the world to make a movie, of course I'd make a movie about
basset hound! I personally don't have much feelings toward the future
of human beings. Perhaps, we'll destroy ourselves gradually. But, I
hope dogs will outlive all of us."

I hope that you readers won't get depressed after reading Oshii-san's
words. I felt that he wants to be in agony, in order to create his
art, through movies, and unhappiness is the motivation to create his
art as a director, because he says that making GHOST IN THE SHELL was
so painful and hellish, and it may not be possible for him to come up
with a better work than that. I also thought that if Arthur
Shopenhauer was sitting next to him, they'd get along great. One thing
is certain... creating art is no party and no fun. It is a lot of
work. And we all need to learn the right attitude to appreciate it.


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