The Kyoto International Manga Museum celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday November 13 with a very interesting talk event: ‘Takeshi Yoro and Hayao Miyazaki Talk About Hobbies’. On the stage were animation director Hayao Miyazaki and the museum director, Takeshi Yoro. The talk was coordinated by local announcer Ms Shiomi.
Takeshi Yoro is a well-known anatomist as well as the author of many books including Baka no Kabe. Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most famous directors in the Japanese animation world, known for such movies as Spirited Away and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Of the 1900 or so people who applied, just 180 fans were lucky enough to be given a spot to come to this talk show.
Since the talk focused on their hobbies, the two talked about such things as litter-picking, fantasy, bugs, planes, and even AI. The topics just came one after another, and MANGA.TOKYO wants to let you know on the things that left the biggest impression on us. Please enjoy it as though you were there!
One of Miyazaki’s hobbies is actually litter-picking! Every day, he goes around his neighbourhood and picks up the litter he finds.
Let’s take a look at what they were talking about.
― Why did you decide to take up litter-picking?
Miyazaki: That’s because there is litter on the floor.
― Litter-picking. That’s quite an admirable thing to do.
Miyazaki: Not at all. I could just hire somebody to do it. Then I would be creating extra jobs.
But it’s left to the residents to do, so I have to get it done. It started with some trash that was on a corner, and I didn’t like it. Then, that trash was picked up by a car and came flying towards me. I started to pick some up and then before I knew it the area I was cleaning grew and grew, that’s all. So, because people say to me ‘oh, that sounds tough’, I just tell them it’s a hobby because I can’t be bothered to explain.
― Is it a walking course, then?
Miyazaki: The route I walk is always the same. I always end up picking up the same empty beer can in the same place. However, one day that beer can wasn’t there. I thought ‘Hm? Is the guy who throws this can away sick?’. Even though I’ve never even met him or her. Then I saw that the can had just been thrown in a different place and I was relieved.
Yoro: How strange
― It’s amazing that can be called a hobby
Miyazaki: Even if you want to call it a hobby, it’s just a fixed schedule, that’s about it. Actually, I have a sick friend who sits in the same seat on the same train every time. He always gives me a wave to cheer me on with my litter-picking. So, I have to be at the right point before the train comes. I’ve been doing that this whole time.
—The litter bug on the other hand probably has no idea that you’re thinking about his health, right?
Miyazaki: That’s how it goes, with people. At first I didn’t know any of the faces I was seeing, but after a while we’d meet eye-to-eye and before you know it we’re acquaintances. I walk the same road every day, so I have a lot of acquaintances like that. So, if I don’t come down the road as usual, they worry about me.
What am I doing, I didn’t think I would be talking about this, Please forget everything I just talked about [laughs]
But, I managed to build this kind of relationship with my neighborhood. Since starting the litter picking, I have been able to see how the neighborhood is put together and how my neighbours live.
It was surprising to hear that Miyazaki’s hobby was litter-picking. But not only does he pick up litter, but he cares a lot about the bonds he builds with the people he encounters everyday.
Drawing what they found interesting as a child
On the same day of the event, there was an exhibition called ‘Yoro Takeshi and Miyazaki Hayao Duo Exhibition’. There were many references to Miyazaki’s manga, and they talked about where Miyazaki’s ideas come from.
So let’s take a look at what they talked about!
― The next theme is ‘Fantasy’
Miyazaki: Fantasy in your head doesn’t surpass ‘fiction’.
― If we say words like ‘fantasy’ or ‘imagination’, we start to think of something quite astounding. what do you think?
Miyazaki: Fantasy is to fabricate. Once you find something interesting, you start to remember that scenery as something totally different to the reality.
There was a movie I watched as a kid, and I thought that a particular shot was really great. However, there was no way that it was made in one shot. I just remember the parts that I found interesting, and that is all that’s left in my head. That’s the manifestation of fabrication, right?
To make it a little easier to understand: one day I was walking with my wife and we came across some scenery that was quite nice, so when I got home I tried to draw it. If I had gone there on a different day, the painting would have been completely different. Of course, I thought it was interesting, but I also thought that there were some boring bits too. I would automatically miss out the less interesting bits from the painting. So, I returned home and drew it again. Then, I thought I’d already got it. The third time I went, the picture ended up being totally different. [laugh]
― I took a look at the manga you drew, and the planes and tanks are drawn with so much detail. Rather than just being ‘precise’, did you draw it just the way you wanted to?
Miyazaki: Yes. Well, even if you take a photograph of something, it won’t actually be 100% precise. A photograph is based on how far you are from the object, so the picture will be different depending on where you take it from. It’s nothing special. All in all, I draw because I want to and that’s why I make it interesting.
Yoro: Do you like planes, Miyazaki?
Miyazaki: I like planes that seem like they have only just got to the point that they are able to fly
I think planes that have just enough speed to flap up in the air are pretty. If there is air up there you know. ‘It’s finally got itself up in the air’, that kind of thing. Animation is my job, but drawing manga is a pastime. Therefore, I’m free to draw anything. Actually doing the research for the manga is too much of a pain. I ended up drawing what I thought was interesting as a kid, that’s all. So I think it’s best to draw with no intention to use it as material.
― So that’s why you draw interesting, made-up planes?
Miyazaki: That’s what I thought was interesting when I was a kid. The streamlined design was thought to be splendid way before I was born, but in the 20s ~ 30s, the designers stopped the streamlined designs in order to pursue their ideal shapes. I thought that era was more interesting. Now, it’s not so interesting. I’m not bothered with jet engines and the like.
Our era of animation has ended
In this talk, they talked about the move from film to digital when it comes to movies. Studio Ghibli had previously decided that they were to only stick to film. However, since the artists who worked on the previous movies have slowly disappeared, they have had no choice but to make the move to digital.
So, let’s have a look at what they talked about after that.
― There is a lack of people to take over the craft and that ahs become a common problem
Miyazaki: That’s right. There was something surprising that happened to me when I was drawing manga recently.
About 40 years ago, I asked a senior animator what paper he used. He said that I should use BB Kent paper. It’s an expensive paper from the UK. You can use an eraser on it over and over and a hard pen and it will still be fine thanks to the high quality. However, pen ink now smudges on BB Kent Paper. It glided so smoothly on the paper, but now it smudges. I thought it meant the paper I had gotten was fake, but when I asked the shop staff, he said that the BB Kent paper had actually changed. The materials of the paper itself had been changed.
I looked for a different brand that I could use instead, but there were only expensive, really thick papers. It seemed there were no papers that would let me draw with a hard pen without it smudging. It was then that I started to feel that my time was over. The materials really had changed.
In our era of cell animation, we used to paint on the back of thin, translucent sheets, but now I think those who went about to change cell animation are held in admiration. It’s quite scary for me, it’s almost non-human, I think.
And like that, we suddenly lost our foundation.
Also, I always use a wooden pencil. I believe that Japanese pencils are the best in the world. Like Mitsubishi and Tonbow. Those kinds of pencils are sold only in Japan. They don’t have them in China, which is why Chinese animators use mechanical pencils. Chinese animation is making the move from hand-drawn to CG, though.
And like this, the materials have changed.
The era that we came to trust in has come to an end. It’s finished. My friend and guide Yasuo Otsuka told me ‘The era of animation is over’. So, it’s been about 50 years since the start of the era of Japanese animation, so I hear that Japanese arts and genres tend to end after 50 years. When I talked about this with Yoro, he said, ‘Make it past 60 years’. It’s already been 60 years now [laughs]
Also, ‘material’ is closely related to ‘expression’. It’s pretty interesting, right? Material are ageing the same all around the world. Paper ages. I think it’s no wonder that we are making the move to digital.
Miyazaki said that, ‘Our era is over’. Actually, there is a little something to add to this story.
During the evening of the very same day as this talk, a Hayao Miyazaki documentary aired on TV. The documentary begins its story a year after Miyazaki announced his retirement from animated movies in 2013. He has been living a quiet life out of the spotlight, but in the documentary you can see him making a full-CG animated movie called Kemushi no Boro. Miyazaki, who now has the nickname ‘Retired Old Man’, returned to his passion with the help of new creators and new techniques and is once again making progress. Why has Miyazaki, a 75 year-old animator that doesn’t seem to stop creating, started creating a full-CG animation?
According to the interview with the documentary director, the change began with his litter-picking:
‘The Miyazaki of before had absolutely no interest in picking up litter. However, by sticking at it he was able to learn what it means to be the ‘Litter-picking comrade’ and would spend every weekend cleaning the river banks. While cleaning the river banks, he was able to see kingfishers flying about. Even without travelling too far, he realised that he could see wonderful things just within a radius of 30 meters. Similarly, the short film Kemushi no Boro is about a Caterpillar named Boro who is so tiny that people don’t even see him living in the grass. This story takes place in a wonderful world that humans usually don’t even think of.’
(Excerpt from this article (Japanese only): http://www6.nhk.or.jp/nhkpr/post/original.html?i=08006&f=prtw)
Miyazaki also talk about the passing of many of his friends. By losing his friends, he has become more conscious of his own inevitable death. That’s why he found a calling through litter-picking and was able to find something to drive him to really live:
Rather than die whilst doing nothing, it would be better to die right in the middle of doing work
The event ended with a great announcement. He said that he wants to work on a new feature-length animation. This legendary man, who has changed the world of Japanese animation, is still at the top of his game. Can any of us really catch up to him? It’s frustrating, yet joyful at the same time.
P.S. To Director Miyazaki
If you are having problems getting the funds for a feature-length movie, how about using crowdfunding?
People all over the world would be more than happy to open up their wallets for you. We’re looking forward to your new work!
The ‘Yoro Takeshi and Miyazaki Hayao Duo Exhibition’ was held until November 27
Yoro Takeshi’s hobby room: his weevil collection (around 10 boxes) and messages from his fellow members.
Miyazaki Hayao’s hobby room: selected reproductions of original works from Miyazaki Hayao no Zasso note (Dainipponkaiga) which was published more than 20 years ago and The Haunted Tower (Boku no Yureito) which was specially made for an exhibition at Ghibli museum in Mitaka, Tokyo last year.
[From the Kyoto Internation Manga Museum Official Site]
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