The Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs held a symposium during the 13th Movie Week about the latest trends of Japanese movies. The symposium took place at Kaguraza Tokyo and the theme was ‘Anime and Movies.’
Many Japanese anime movie producers and directors took part in a discussion titled The Frontier of Anime Movie: Do you believe in movies?
Shinichirou Inoue moderated a panel joined by three acclaimed anime directors:
- Sunao Katabuchi who directed Princess Arete (2001), Mai Mai Miracle (2009), and In this Corner of the World (November, 2016).
- Kenji Kamiyama who directed the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002-2004), the Eden of the East series (2009-2010), Cyborg 009 Call Of Justice (2016), and Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari (March, 2017).
- Hiroyuki Seshita who directed cel shaded 3DCG anime Ajin (2016), the TV anime Knights of Sidonia (2014-2015), and BLAME! (in process).
They talked and shared their opinion about the future of Japanese movies.
First, Inoue asked the three about their most memorable movie experience.
Katabuchi said that his grandfather was running a movie theater, and he has watched a lot of movies since he was a child. He remembers watching Wanpaku Oji no Orochi Taiji (1963) when he was two years old. The climax was especially memorable: the images were drawn by Sadao Tsukioka and Yasuo Otsuka. Katabuchi met both men when he started working his way into the industry: he learned from Sadao Tsukioka at college, and at some point Yasuo Otsuka was his boss.
Kamiyama said that he watched Star Wars and Mobile Suit Gundam when he was in junior high school. He hoped that one day he would be able to create anime like Star Wars, and that’s why he entered the anime industry.
Seshita said that Star Wars and the movies directed by Steven Spielberg were very popular when he was an elementary school student. Seshita used to live near Ikebukuro, so he often went to Bungeiza, which made him want to enter the film industry.
At the third part of the symposium, they played the trailers of their coming movies. The directors commented on them.
In In this Corner of the World, Katabuchi focused on the daily activities and the everyday existence of the characters. Therefore, he avoided using anime-style signs, and drew the old sceneries of Japan in detail, referring to resources. Inoue mentioned the time period of the work, and Director Katabuchi said that ‘wars and air raids feel like they were a reality of a distant past, but I’d like you to know that they happened in the same world where you are living in now.’
Inoue said that director Kamiyama has created many hardcore sci-fi movies and often talks about social issues, but his new movie, Hirune Hime, is a fantasy that has a high school girl as the protagonist. Kamiyama said that his mindset of making anime movies has changed after the 3.11 Tohoku earthquake and the tsunami in 2011. He has been making a lot of movies in which people and the world they live in are saved from danger. However, after the disasters of 3.11 he felt useless. Meanwhile, a producer of Nippon TV suggested that he makes a movie which his daughter would like. Then he decided to make Nemuri Hime. ‘For the first time I created a movie because of my personal reasons. I weaved my messages in it, so I would like a lot of people to watch it,’ Kamiyama commented. He also directed CYBORG 009 CALL OF JUSTICE, the latest installment of the Cyborg 009 franchise. He thought that the concept of 009 RE:CYBORG, the last series, should not be used in the new series, but he wanted to keep some of it. Therefore, he used the old series as background, and set 009 to face new battles.
Director Seshita has a unique career compared to the other two: Seshita took part in computer graphics and he creates VFX for movies, TV commercials, and video games. Inoue asked him about cel shaded 3DCG, which is a contemporary trend of Japanese anime’s 3DCG. Seshita has been respecting and admiring Japanese anime and he wanted to try out something new in the industry. That’s why he created Knights of Sidonia with cel shading. He is using what he learned in his newest work, Blame! Seshita said he wanted to make many different styles into anime: Japanese manga, American graphic novels, and French bande dessinée. For example, he is trying to use a unique style of scratches and dust on the surface, which Katsuhiro Ohtomo and Mobius use, in Ajin and Blame! Seshita thinks using different techniques as creatively as possible is the key to using computer graphics. He started using motion capture in Ajin, which allowed the anime to be more realistic.
The last part had the guests engaged in conversation. Even though their styles are different, they all expressed their wish to make anime more realistic and able to accurately depict daily life. Kamiyama said that, especially in Hirune Hime, it was very difficult to draw those characters in a realistic manner when you have no experience on these types of characters.
The symposium ended with a comment from Inoue: ‘Anime movies and live action movies such as Your Name and Shin Godzilla were big hits in Japan in 2016. Hayao Miyazaki stopped making movies, but new talented directors are trying to walk on same road, so that people will continue to love anime in the future.”