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Now, after Nausicaa has finished
(Yom special story)

Yom, Issue June 1994

Translated from Japanese to English by Ryoko Toyama
Edited by Marc Hairston, Tyler King, and Brian Stacy

© 1994 by Iwanami Shoten
Translated without permission for personal entertainment purpose only. This is not, by any means, an accurate word for word translation, and the translator is solely responsible for any mistranslation or misunderstanding due to it.


Key to the dialog
Y: Yom
M: Hayao Miyazaki

This interview consists of one long interview and several short ones, called "spots."

"The story won't end" --Hayao Miyazaki



The work I wasn't sure I could finish

Y: Nausicaa has ended after 13 years.

M: There are 59 episodes, so if we simply sum up, it has been 5 years. But with time after and before that (the time for preparation?), actually, I probably spent about half of these 12-13 years on Nausicaa.
    To tell you the truth, this was the work I kept wondering if I could finish since the time I started. I could say that I was able to write without thinking ahead because I decided that I could stop anytime. I was working like "it turned out this way," not "I want things to go this way."

Y: Is that so? Since it's a story world with such a big plot, which can be called an epic drama, we thought you had a detailed story plan from the beginning to the end, and you've been writing it up patiently, taking your time.

M: No, no, I don't have such a planning capability. I wrote something because I was facing a deadline, and I realized the meaning of it much later. I had such experiences many times.

Y: The movie was released in 1984, after three years you started the manga, and this year, ten years later, it has concluded. During this time there have been many words, including some criticism, about it.

M: There seem to be people who read the manga with the impression they got from the movie. They accepted Nausicaa as a warrior for environmentalism, and they never went beyond that preconceived notion. It could be said that the manga failed to have such a power (to change these people's preconceptions).

Y: The story itself is very different between the manga and the movie. Also, in the manga, we can see a more complicated side of Nausicaa's personality.

M: Of course, it is. If the manga and the movie were the same, it makes no sense that I continued to write the manga. I wasn't sure if or how I could start writing it again, but there were some parts in the movie which I wasn't completely satisfied with, so I forced myself to continue. To tell the truth, it was like, I'd run away from the desk when I had to stop writing to make the next movie.
    That's not a thing I can proudly say. Even after I finished the next movie, and had had some time off, it was hard for me to return to Nausicaa. In the end, I stoped writing it four times.

Y: The movie became the flag bearer for the ecology movement, which was just beginning to boom in the 1980s...

M: I myself wasn't thinking about it at all, but I think it happened to be there. It was what we had been thinking about for much longer, and it started with such things as the book of Nakao Sasuke-san.
    I mean, I didn't start Nausicaa to write a story about the ecology for the sake of environmental protection. At first, I intended to write a story which took place in a desert, but it wasn't interesting when I put it into drawings, so I changed it to the forest. Then, it became that kind of story.
    In that sense too, I didn't have any big plot. The writing process was such that "it looks that way, so let's go that way." I faced a writer's block, so I wanted to have something huge, so, the sleeping God Warrior... This one too, I just wrote it into the story saying such thing as "what's gonna happen? I'm in trouble." I continued working, telling myself such lies as "it'll work out eventually. The magazine will go out of business before that..." -laughs-

Y: What did you try to write when you were thinking about a desert?

M: I really don't remember. I know I must have been thinking many things... The only thing I remember is that I was so irritated. It's the fact that I was disgusted with the way the society works or such things.

Y: Was it around 1981-82?

M: It was right before or after 1980. (I was disgusted with) not only environmental problems, but also where humans were going. Mostly, the way Japan was. And I was most disgusted with the way I was at that time.

Y: So during the height of the bubble economy you were...

M: I was so embarrassed. I was so angry. Am I calmed down now? I think the target for my frustration has moved somewhere...


When I finished the movie, I was cornered

Y: So, if you didn't have a plot to the end at the beginning, wasn't it hard when it was decided to make the movie Nausicaa?

M: I was really in trouble. If it had been another person's story, I could've attacked it, but it had just come out from inside of me, so I couldn't objectify it. Even if they weren't written in the manga, behind each panel, I have my own delusions, thoughts, and feelings. Using the same motives as in the manga, yet, rearranging them, changing their meanings, I had to put them inside such a boundary so I could conclude the story.
    A movie has to both open the story up and close it. Some may say "no, opening up is enough," but I'm a person who makes entertainment movies, so I think about the boundary I can close the story in.
    I can't do more than that with the movie. The important thing is that Nausicaa made the Copernican turn when she found the meaning, the role, and the system of the sea of corruption. I had decided that that was how far the movie would go, but I had so many things I couldn't put inside that boundary, and I couldn't sort them out.
    It was of course impossible since I decided to write what I couldn't do in movies into the manga to begin with.

Y: So, that's why Nausicaa the manga and the movie were totally different works. That's because there is a way of opening and closing the story in a movie.

M: Even if I had to make the movie Nausicaa now, after I finished the manga, I would make the same movie. I don't think that'll change.

Y: Didn't how you ended the movie influence the manga after that?

M: As I said before, the movie had concluded, and I wasn't writing the manga to replicate it. I didn't think about what I did in the movie at all. Anyway, I forgot what I did. -laughs-
    But when I was making the movie Nausicaa, I was insisting that I was making Nausicaa with "wishes," not "this is the way reality is." But, when I finished the movie, I found myself deeply immersed in the religious domain that I didn't want to get into very much. I thought "this wasn't good," and I was really driven into a tight corner.
    So, after the movie, I told myself that I would approach the problem more seriously to continue the manga, but once I started, there were so many things I couldn't understand. From the beginning to the end, I ended up writing with a whole lot of things I couldn't understand.

Y: It was longer after you finished the movie.

M: Yes. So, there might have been readers coming and going, and I wrote it in the magazine thinking that they might not understand what's going on (because they joined in the middle of the story). However, I ended up thinking too much about things I can't understand at all.

Y: You mean?

M: If we take the (existence of) god as a premise, we can explain the world by that. But I can't do that. And yet, I stepped into the area I didn't want to get into, such as humans and life.
    I can manage to understand the world as conflicts and contradictions among humans, but I find myself not being satisfied with that level (of explanation).
    Then I have nothing I can say with confidence.
    My head gets dizzy by just thinking what would you do if you are called "mama" by a God Warrior with such a destructive power. So, Nausicaa's perplexity is just my own perplexity.

Y: Near the end of the manga, the God Warrior had a role totally different from that in the movie...

M: You can find a meeting with a giant one who gives you a power in many popular cultures. Such as the elephant herd in Tarzan, or Tetsujin 28go (Giganto). The reason why they appear so many times in different shapes can be explained as our wish to return to a huge existence or our impulse for growing up, or something like that. Usually in the popular culture, it's made ambiguous by just saying that a huge power is OK if it's good.
    Actually, most of the power has been made by technologies. I think a technology itself is neutral and innocent. It's same with automobiles. They are loyal and truly devoted to drivers.
    We feel safe thinking machines have no heart, but actually, men give machines hearts. A loyal heart, innocent devotion, and self sacrifice are the machines' essence. It's like a dog obeying the orders of a master no matter how evil the master is. I think the thought that humans give hearts to machines is the base of Asimov's "Three Rules of Robotics." The God Warrior in Nausicaa is not that original an idea. The design, too, you can find its root in many preexisting designs. But, the moment I gave a tangible shape to "innocence," it became something I can't control. I think I gave it a shape because I have a strong yearning for innocent ones...

Y: The story changed after the God Warrior became cognizant.

M: When I'm writing this kind of story, I have no choice but to think that even just a thought occurred to me or some meaningless pieces do have meanings to me. Even though the structure of the work would collapse, I shouldn't forget those pieces. No, I can't explain it well.
    I think there may have been people who could explain it with deeper, sharper, more proper words long before I started thinking. I painfully realized I don't have such a capability.

Y: Is that what you mean by a religious domain?

M: Many things in a human's mind which are said to be meaningful, you might call them attributes such as various thoughts or beliefs, I think they might actually exist in nature...
    We get confused because we get various worldly desires. But I'm afraid that I feel if we want to go beyond such desires and go somewhere pure, we might reach somewhere such as an ordinary stone or water drops. But in the moment we put these kinds of thoughts into words, everything becomes a disreputable religion. I can not possibly write (these kinds of thoughts), I haven't reached such a stage or anything. After all, I started caring more for the God Warrior than for humans.

Y: Or, we start caring more for Ohmu (than for humans). When we are reading Nausicaa, many such things happen...


I lost words[1]

M: Falling into such a situation, for me, things haven't been sorted out. While I sometimes think it's like Dr. Strangelove, I don't even know if it's really strange.
    Things which we think are characteristics of humans, such as feelings, even they might be shared with the simplest virus in this world. Maybe it's just those things we share (with other life forms) are only evoked inside humans. It'll be impossible (to think this kind of stuff), unless I study (shugyo) with a better brain. I think I shouldn't put them into words until then.
    I was falling into that kind of situation. Even though I thought that it's dangerous, I couldn't help but go that way because I had already written the God Warrior (into the story) ten years ago. I can't say "I wrote it, but I forgot about it." -laughs-
    So, I was just following behind the story, rather than creating it.

Y: The story moved itself...

M: Rather than moving, it was just there. And it wouldn't move in the direction I wanted. And yet, I had to force the story to move in the direction I wanted even though I myself thought it was fairly false. But I don't like doing this. In the end, could Nausicaa, the girl who had to carry such burdens on her shoulders go back to the ordinary life? Could such a person continue to live without going mad? The only thing I know is that even though she won't be able to go back, she will continue to be there, and she (or we? he didn't specify the subject) will continue to witness it.

Y: There was a sort of solution in the movie, but in the manga, from the beginning Nausicaa asked many questions. And without solving them, it ended with more and more questions asked.

M: Yes. I couldn't help but to ask the question of what a life is, the question I knew from the beginning I couldn't answer.
    My dog is sixteen years old, and he can die any day. He can hardly see. He can smell only a little, only one of his ears works a bit. But, he is still alive.
    When I see his face, he doesn't look that happy, but when I try to take him out for a walk, he looks a little bit happy. I wonder what a life is. It's strange since I've lost both of my parents, yet I think about this when I see my dog, but for example, I think he is no longer the dog he was. Ripples spread through water surface, and as they spread, they gradually diminish. They are the same ripples, but they are not the same strong ripples right after they were born-- maybe I can understand that way.
    There are many things said such as a life form is a carrier of selfish genes, but after all, we can't understand with (such explanations). Maybe from old times, great people thought about these kinds of things. I mean, I'm just beginning to understand that they seemed to have felt something even before such things as studies were established.

Y: You learn that there are many things you can't understand...

M: Yes. I understand that I can't just simply and superficially explain the relationship between nature and humans, or the nature inside a human. However, to live is the way to keep this "superficial balance," so I can say we'd better do such and such to keep a balance.
    But if I go deeper than that, I face such chaotic questions as in which I have to face the darkness of the universe. And it seems that the key to these kinds of questions is held in the thoughts of the people of the past who hid themselves in mountains, rather than in our own heads.
    These days, I get startled when I hear religious words which I had ignored before. I feel "oh, this has also been talked about." Behind simple words, for example, in an elementary textbook for Buddhism, there are great experiences or many such things. I can feel that, but that's just about it. I can't understand them completely on my own. I'm just at a loss.
    The moment I copy the words, they start changing. But unlike such people as Shinran who wrote them down without fearing (the change of meaning through the transition from thoughts to words), I can't do this.[2] I decided not to make Nausicaa say these things since it's inevitable that they would sound untrue. I thought I understood things more clearly, but as I wrote Nausicaa, it actually became more difficult for me to sort things out. I mean, it was like I lost words.
    It was just like Nausicaa herself was out of words, and I thought I didn't want to express it with words. The moment I put "I think this is this" into words, it becomes a different thing.

Y: Shortly after Nausicaa decided "I'll keep lying," the story ends...

M: It suits more to my heroine, it just became that way. I have no choice but to think that it is her love toward the lives around her.
    Anyway, "we are right, and we beat the enemy and the peace will come" is a lie. At least, I can definitely say that's a lie. There are good and bad things. You can do good things. But, a person who does good things is not necessarily a good person. It just means he/she "did good things." In the next moment, he/she can do bad things. That is a human. Unless we think that way, we misjudge everything, including political decisions, and oneself.


The collapse of the Soviet Union was easier than that of Doruk

Y: During the time you were writing Nausicaa, many incidents occurred inside and outside Japan. Was there something you were influenced by?

M: The most shocking thing was the civil war in Yugoslavia.

Y: You mean?

M: I thought they wouldn't do it again. I thought they were tired of doing such things since they had done such horrible things before, but they weren't. I leaned that humans never get enough. It taught me how I was naive.

Y: And unlike the Gulf War, it was an old type war.

M: In a sense, the Gulf War is easy to understand. The Iraqi government is very similar to the Japanese government during the war (World War II). They just send soldiers to some island or desert, and tell them "you are on your own," without sending any water or food. It was painful to see such a military since it was like looking at the Japanese military. But it's different in Yugoslavia.
    I think it was started by a few gangs. But we couldn't stop it. It's just like when Nazism was growing in Germany, many people who were there said they were just a bunch of gangs, but they grew into an unstoppable power.
    For example, when we watch news such as CNN, it seems that the Serbs are overwhelmingly evil. But if you get to the bottom of it, it's somewhat different. There is definitely a conflict between Western Europe and the Greek Orthodoxy within Christianity. So, no wonder Serbs doubt NATO. They would rather have the Russians.
    Then, are Serbs right? No. Both are really stupid, and both commit many unspeakable acts. Even if there is such a thing as justice, once a war has started, any war will become corrupt. That's a war.

Y: Nausicaa also said "there is no justice."

M: I read various things since I like (reading about) war. So, people ask me such questions as "do you like war?" I answer them "do you think AIDS researchers love AIDS?" But I was forced to realize that my understanding of history was really naive.

Y: How about the collapse of the Soviet Union?

M: It happened just when I was writing the collapse of a country called Doruk in Nausicaa. Writing it, I myself was wondering if it could be possible for such an empire as Doruk to collapse so easily, so I was really surprised since the Soviet Union collapsed much easier.
    A country collapses and, at the same time, people can go on living their daily lives. Such a thing can really happen. I had been wondering for a long time about what had happened, what had become of those people who were living when the Western Roman Empire fell, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, I sort of got the answer for that.

Y: I'll say, that's a good correlation...

M: So, there were many things I should have written about the collapse of the Doruk Empire. But, on the other hand, I'm embarrassed to say that there was a limit to my productivity, sixteen pages per month, so there were many things I couldn't write. Why did the country fall, or to begin with, what is a country? What kind of system did they have, why did the system stop working... I knew I had to write these things, but while I was making the excuse that I didn't have the time for that, the empire fell on its own in the manga, and in the real world, the Soviet Union, too...


Nausicaa has changed my way of thinking

M: During the time I was trying to conclude Nausicaa, I did what some might think is a turnabout. I totally forsook Marxism. I had no choice but to forsake it. I decided that it is wrong, that historical materialism is also wrong, and that I shouldn't see things with it. And this is a bit hard. Even now, I sometimes think that things would be easier if I had not changed.
    It's not that I changed dramatically, or changed by fighting (myself) relentlessly while I was writing, but various questions inside me became overwhelming.
    I think that this clear change in my way of thinking came from my writing Nausicaa, rather than the change of my position in this society.
    For example, at first, I even hesitated in making Nausicaa a daughter of the Chieftain Ghil - in short, a princess. I thought some might say such things as Nausicaa is in a sort of elite class, so I thought of ways (to justify my choice). But these things became meaningless to me. It doesn't matter where she was born. I don't want to have a discussion about such things anymore. No matter which class one is born into, a stupid person is a stupid person, and a nice one is a nice one. It's not that one is right or wrong, it's just whether he/she is a nice guy, whether I want to become a friend with him/her. There are just such (a distinction of) people in this world. I stopped seeing things by class. It's a lie that one is right just because he/she is a laborer. The general public do many stupid things. I can't trust polls. With these kinds of things, I'm just going back to basics. This is not something eye-opening, it's been said many times. If I think about going back there again, I feel really dark, but I think I have to accept that. I think I have to see things on my own.
    When I first saw the film of Mao Tse-tung receiving cheers from the big crowd in Tiananmen Square, I think it was the end of the 1950s, I felt his face was really inauspicious and ill favored. But since I was told that he had a big warm personality or such things, I thought maybe he happened to be ill and wasn't photogenic on that day, -laughs- I really thought so. But thinking back, I should've trusted my first feeling.
    I did such things many times. I always tried to overpower my feelings with my ideals. I stopped doing so. I also look at the contemporary politicians just with my impressions.

Y: With your intuition...

M: The feeling that this is a nice person, rather than an intuition. Even if he/she doesn't have a political capability, this is a nice person. We can't expect big things from them anyway, so the nicest one is better. I'm at the stage of seeing things tentatively with that level (of thinking). In short, I went back to being stupid.

Y: Isn't it like climbing spiral stairs rather than going back?

M: I feel I might be just going round and round... For example, there is a National Trust Movement called "Totoro's Forest Movement," and they use the characters from the movie we made to promote the movement.[3] But I'm cooperating not because they are right. It's because those who are in the movement are such nice people. They are so down to earth.
    They are people who have loved the Sayama Hills long before they started the movement.[4] They walked around to see plants and birds when they had free time, and kept thinking how they could do something about the place. Because they are such people, we are happy to let them use our characters. If someone like a fascist of ecology is in charge, I'd pull out.
    Like that, these days, I associate with people not because they are right or wrong, but because they are nice. So, my world is getting smaller and smaller. -laughs-


"Solving" the environmental problem by cleaning up the river in the neighborhood

Y: How about the Japan you said you were disgusted with at before you started Nausicaa?

M: Well, I passed the stage of feeling that "it serves them right" after the bubble burst, and I'm feeling refreshed now.[5] The problems haven't been solved at all, but this breaks down the wall, and things outside are coming in.[6]
    The rice shortage was nothing.[7] It's not like people were starving. I was rather amazed by the economic power, though.

Y: You mean, if we want to, we can buy (from outside).

M: If this had happened in 1940s, it would have been a huge problem, but now we get by with just some complaints such as "Thai rice don't taste as good."[8] I thought this was an amazing power (i.e., the economic power of Japan). At the same time, I also thought it's hard for a country without an economic power to survive...
    I'm tired of discussing the Japanese agriculture. If I may say so though I might get misunderstood.
    I happened to meet a farmer who said he would keep producing organic rice without pesticide, so I decided to buy rice from him, even if the price went up in a bad crop year. With it, the agricultural problem at my home were solved. -laughs-
    Of course, it wouldn't be any solution, but I don't like such sensational expressions as "Japanese agriculture has lost" as much as I don't like "Japanese movies are dead," though I can understand the anger.[9]
    I feel somehow, that's not it. It's not something you lose or win so easily. I only get irritated when I hear the agricultural cooperation being this or that while we are discussing the agricultural problems. I just want to solve it at a personal level. It's not something I can proud of. But, even so... It's different if someone is starving to death, though.
    These days, I can only think that way. Environmental problems, too. Since the people in the community are cleaning up the river in my neighborhood, I join them when I have the time. I think that's just fine. But this won't solve any problems either. It just means we are picking up discarded plastic bags or something, you know.
    In short, there are so many things we can't do anything about if we think about generalities. Things won't go well because there is a huge gap between the generalities and the particulars. But, a human can often be satisfied with the particulars. That's what I like best these days.
    If we see generalities from the top of a mountain or from a plane, we feel it's hopeless, but if we go down, there is a nice road running about fifty meters, we feel this is a nice road, and if the weather is fine and shining, we feel we can go on. I wonder why we feel so differently depending on our viewpoints. I think that doing such things suit me better than talking about big things on a stage at a symposium or a lecture. But I will drive a car and cause pollution. If everyone has to stop, I'll stop, but even so, I'll continue to drive to the last. Raise the gas price to ¥300 per liter. -laughs- Gee, I'm shooting my mouth off as I please, aren't I?

Y: If so, there won't be so many cars.

M: I get so angry when I hear someone say "if we lower the gas price, it'll stimulate the Japanese economy." Only those who are willing to pay the price should drive. Everyone driving a car isn't a progress or an equality among humans, or anything. Now, we have the problem of popularization of everything. Since I myself belong to the general public, even though I see a picture of the Zeppelin and want to ride an airship, if I had been there in that era, I would've belonged to those who could not ride one. Even so, I don't think we'd better make an era where everyone can ride an airship.
    I'm thinking about putting soil and grass on the roof of this building (Studio Ghibli) this year. This won't solve any problem either, but it's better to act than just being angry. I heard that the heating and cooling costs would also change by doing so. Many people would say it won't be a big solution, and it isn't, but I think if I can do it, I want to do it.
    There is a photographer who is working for a project to invite children who got radiation in Chernobyl to Japan and give them treatments. After staying in Japan for a month, they become much healthier since they are getting better nutrition, too. For example, a child who had stopped growing started growing again.
    But he knows that the child will go back to the previous state once he returns home a month later. And he is agonized by the thought that even though he brings ten kids or so to Japan, it'll be of no use for the rest of the several ten thousands kids. I think that's just fine-- though if I say so, I'd be misunderstood-- I think that's what humans can do.
    "Is it meaningless if the child die?" No, it isn't. Maybe, what those children felt at that time is everything. But, the moment I put these kind of things into words, it will be grossly misunderstood somewhere. It's difficult. If we try to judge by results, many things become difficult. If I say "this moment is important," someone might take it as that we just have to care only about this moment. It's difficult. It's really difficult to put into words.

Y: It's easy to pick on words. Whatever you say, you can get picked on.

M: There are many things I can't put into words. I say "we just have to clean the river," because so many people put the "eco mark" on me, so I just...[10]

Y: You say these things intentionally to create a controversy.

M: Yes. In truth, I don't want to say anything. I'd better act and not say a word. It's better if I think that I do this because it's a communal effort.


Leaving what I don't understand as it is

Y: After you had made the movie Nausicaa, and while you kept writing Nausicaa, you made animes such as Laputa, Totoro, Kiki, and Porco Rosso. These are different types of anime from Nausicaa.

M: I think I was able to make them because I was writing Nausicaa. I had Nausicaa as the heaviest one. It's painful to go back to the world of Nausicaa, and I don't want to go back. Even though I'm writing it in this world, writing such a thing makes it difficult for me to return to society.

Y: You keep removing yourself?

M: Yes. But, if I'm in the middle of a movie production, it's a big fuss. I get my attention pulled by every trivial daily detail. "Why is he goofing off?" or "he'd better get a wife," -laughs- or that kind of stuff. It's really worldly. And we make a fuss about if people come to see it or not.
    After finishing a movie, being stupefied, I take a off, and then, Nausicaa is waiting. I hate this. I wander around it half a year or so, and then I start writing since I have no choice. But, as I said before, to tell the truth, I made movies partly because I wanted to escape from Nausicaa. I didn't intend to do the light stuff because I was doing the heavy stuff here, but if I hadn't been writing Nausicaa, I think I would have struggled trying to put a bit heavier stuff into the movies. That's what I think now, looking back. I didn't think that way then, and I made them because I thought that kind of movie was good.
    It wasn't like I planned to write Nausicaa, so I don't think I will ever do anything like it again.

Y: What are your perspectives after you concluded Nausicaa?

M: Concluding Nausicaa doesn't mean that the events have ended or concluded. Things will keep on going endlessly, but we came to the point of "from here, you know (what will happen)." I mean, we came to the same starting point as that of our modern day world which is difficult to understand. From this point, countless stupid things will happen, and there will be efforts to cope with them, too. And they will repeat them over and over again. I tried to conclude at the point we could see that.
    I realized this while I was writing, but the role of Nausicaa is not one of actually being a leader, or of leading people. Like a representative, she keeps looking at things, the role is as a sort of medium.
    And the structure (of the story) was such that the people who trusted Nausicaa kept moving things. So, it's not a plot in terms of how stories are usually structured. I was troubled about this, too.
    So, it concluded for now, but I have many things I have to sort out such as these by the time the last volume will be published. But I decided to end it for now, leaving things I couldn't understand as they are.
    Otherwise, I can't finish the work I started in my early 40s and I can't grow old. Actually, the moment I finished writing, I started feeling that I became a really old man (jijii).
    But, nothing has ended. So, I don't feel relieved at all. I wish I could say I left my burden. I thought things would become easier for me, but they didn't. I thought it would be easier since I didn't have to write it anymore, but, it just meant the second most painful work was promoted to the most painful one. -laughs-

Y: Anyway, at least we can see there are still many issues.

M: Yes. And Nausicaa knows this best.



Spot 1
Porco Rosso and the civil war in Yugoslavia


Y: After Nausicaa, did you make animes according to your interests at that point in time? The things you wanted to do, or things you wanted to see...

M: I think I chose each of them because I thought it was interesting then. Even when I was obliged to work on a project, I tried to steer it to the direction I wanted to go. If I really don't want do it, I won't do it. But for Porco Rosso, I did things against my intention.

Y: What do you mean?

M: I intended to do totally different things in more lighthearted way, but I couldn't help but showing my true feelings (honne). Nothing has been sorted out. I was supposed to make it as a commercial film maker with a true confidence, but I lost control of myself. I'm embarrassed.

Y: What kind of honne?

M: If you couldn't feel it from the film, that'll be better. I shouldn't have made the story take place in the Adriatic Sea in the first place. Many people think it took place in Italy, but Porco lives on the Croatian shoreline. Then it became the warfield by the civil war. I was just going to make a story you can just grin at (ufufu), but it became more complicated. Then, I had to read the modern history of Yugoslavia, but there isn't a consistent history book, and it was very difficult to make sense out of it. Gosh, I was careless. I always try to make a film uncomplicated, but somehow, it gets complicated. It was the same thing with Laputa. I thought I could make it more uncomplicated, but it's inevitable that my own various thoughts creep in, and make things complicated. When I finish making up the story, somehow, I find I made the story complicated.
    Certainly, I made Porco as I wanted. I couldn't do it in any other way. But I also feel kind of humiliated for changing the plan in the middle, not making it as planned from the start. You know, I was going to make a forty-five minutes movie, and it became more than twice as long. -laughs-



Spot 2
Anime is for children


M: Because I made Porco, I felt like I can't retire until I somehow make one proper film. I thought I had to produce a work which is truly for children.

Y: When you started Laputa, you said anime has to be for children.

M: Maybe it's related to what's going on in the society, but more and more people now don't consider children as their purpose for making films. Many of our staff members have become over thirty without being married or being parents. When we were at that age, we already had a few children, and our motivation was such that we wanted to tell them "dad made this."
    I still think anime has to be made for children. But, our situation changes, and I myself change. While saying "we should make it for children," I find myself making a film which is not for children.
    When I reached the conclusion that "I make what I myself think is interesting now," it became something that is no longer for children.
    I wish movies for adults were doing better. I wish such things as ticket sales or movie awards would go on without involving anime.[11] It would be better if anime lives in a corner of the movie world, and people say "oh, there is also anime."
If so, I don't have to do interviews or lectures. -laughs- If so, directors and animators, all can work pure and poor, remaining anonymous, just because we want to do the job we can satisfy ourselves. It used to center around what we made, and we could work only by our internal values such as what we learned in this work, if we made progress, or if we could foster people (other animators).
    I experienced that era. Seeing from that experience, I feel although anime is in the limelight, or because of it, things are more difficult now.
    I'm planning an anime for preschoolers now, but it's been very difficult.

Y: Is it for theater release?

M: Either theater or video release. No television. Unless we make it an "event" people have to pay money for, they wouldn't really watch it.



Spot 3
Laputa and healthy passion


Y: After Nausicaa, you made Laputa.

M: Things will be easier if a film like Laputa does well.

Y: The numbers weren't good?

M: To tell you the truth, it was about a [three???] quarter of Nausicaa. All the people who liked Laputa said they liked serious ones better.
    But if people come to see a film like Laputa, we can think of various ways of making a movie. It's true. Such an adventure movie needs a healthy energy to make.
    I think I myself can't do it anymore, so I want young people to do it, but there isn't an atmosphere for that. They rather like details of daily life.
    I want an energetic talent who wants to make adventure stories to join our staff. I think that is what Ghibli lacks most.



Spot 4
About Isao Takahata-san, about Ponpoko


Y: Nausicaa and Laputa were produced under the producer Isao Takahata and the director Hayao Miyazaki, but in 1986, Takahata-san directed Grave of the Fireflies, and you directed Totoro. They were completely separate productions...

M: Our thoughts about movie making are completely different. If we discuss a production plan, we definitely won't reach an agreement.
    Same with this Ponpoko.[12] All I said was "let's go ahead with tanuki." Although it's credited as "Producer: Hayao Miyazaki," the rest of it was Producer Suzuki talking with Takahata-san. He spent half a year and made Takahata-san feel "OK, I'll do it."
    Once we went into the actual production, I was the "urge force." I don't touch the actual production of the film, I just push the staff to work. I'm like a drum beater on a galley. Dooon, Dooon, "Draw!" -laughs-

Y: But it's amazing that just the one word determines everything, focuses energies, and makes a movie. When you were making Nausicaa or Laputa, were your roles divided clearly?

M: Usually, a producer chooses a director and gives him a project, but it was reversed in Nausicaa.
I mean, first, the Animage editors of Tokuma Shoten and others came to me proposing to make a movie of Nausicaa. So, "OK, let's do it."
    Then, if this was a usual case, someone from Tokuma Shoten would become a producer, but they didn't even have an animation studio. And I definitely couldn't do everything. So, I asked them "please ask Takahata-san to be a producer" I heard that Takahata-san said yes after he used up an entire notebook to sort his thoughts out, but I know he didn't want to do it. -laughs-
    In truth, a director can't produce other people's film. You can't possibly run out of bad words if you start criticizing other people's films. If two directors have a one on one argument, there will be bloodshed. -laughs-

Y: So, Takahata-san and you have been building a firm relationship in which you can delegate to each other.

M: Delegating or not, I just take it as "you gave me this project, so that means I can do it as I want." If one meddles into the other's work, we can never reach an agreement, we definitely have such a relationship.
    So, I didn't say a word even when we were making Yanakawa Horiwari Monogatari. But when he said the film was going to be four hours long, I said "chotto kanbenshite (sorry, I can't allow it)."

Y: It was 2 hours and 45 minutes after all. But I didn't feel it was so long.

M: I think two hours would have been better if we wanted more people to see it, but we can't do anything about it (shouganai). From the moment we chose Isao Takahata as the director, it was destined to end up like that. Movies are such things. We can't do it with a movie for general public, but we can do it with that kind of film. With that, we let go of our frustrations we'd been accumulating. Feels wonderful to say "it doesn't matter if tickets sell or not." Actually, we are patiently recovering the investment a bit by bit.



Spot 5
Kiki's Delivery Service


M: Originally, I was not supposed to do Kiki. What I did was just set up the project. When this project was proposed to us, I said "this is a good project for the young staff members," and lined up the young staff members and started the project. However, I didn't like the presented screenplay. So, I said if no one would write, I would write, and I wrote one. Then, the young director got intimidated and didn't want to direct. After all, I got myself into directing it. I got trapped by myself.



Spot 6
Things I can't do even if I want to do


Y: You were the producer of Omohide Poro Poro, but the film was definitely Takahata-san's world.

M: I regard myself as a person of tsuuzoku (popular) movies and I think I'll continue to make tsuuzoku movies.[13] But on the other hand, somewhere inside of me, I have started feeling that I don't want to make a tsuuzoku movie.
    And, Takahata-san is more so. If we let him, he'll make an animation which won't earn a cent. -laughs- Such as Ainu's Yukara.[14] He's been saying he wants to do it, but that's absolutely impossible here. -laughs- I insist that it'll be like digging a grave hole for the studio and you can't do such a thing... I myself have such a side, but I try to control it as much as possible. That's the way it is (shikatanai). It's better if we go six feet under with a few projects we wanted, but we couldn't.
    I think it's impossible to do everything you want. You have to make such a movie in a different place from a movie which one or two million people pay to see and get satisfied. When I watch a movie such as Talkovsky's [sp?] Stalker, I feel "this SOB is doing as he pleases!" I think he is such a talented guy. The thing I'm most impressed about Gaudi is that he was very successful in getting sponsors, his political power rather than his works. How many people got deceived by his talent-- I think such an aspect is also a part of a talent.
    I think animation is something a bit more tsuuzoku and we have to know our boundaries-- what we can do.


Notes from the translator
1. So did I. It's really difficult to translate these "philosophical" conversations ^^;; If you can't understand this interview, it's half my fault, half Miyazaki-san's fault --Ryo
2. Shinran is the famous monk who started a Buddhist cult in Japan
3. They use Totoros as the symbol characters
4. Sayama Hills is where Totoro was supposed to take place
5. "The bubble burst" means the collapse of the stock and the land markets in the late 80s
6. In his other interview, he talked about a story of a noble's house surrounded by a wall to protect it from all the poverty and the misery outside
7. There was a huge rice shortage in Japan in 1993
8. Not to offend someone from Thailand, the problem was that Japanese weren't used to the long grain rice, and didn't know how to cook them ^^;;
9. Since the government decided to import rice, which had been "sacred" and well protected, there were many heated debates about the future of the Japanese farmers who are so dependent on rice
10. "Eco mark" is sort of like the "recyclable" mark in the United States. It's to tell "environmentally correct" products in Japan
11. This is a difficult sentence to translate. What he is saying is, since Japanese live action films have not been good both quality wise and business wise, anime got too much attention. Movie companies expect anime (especially Ghibli) to make a lot of money, critics praise anime and give anime movie awards. He thinks this is too much attention for anime.
12. The interview was done just before Ponpoko was released
13. This "popular" is that of "popular culture"
14. The folk tales and myths of Japan's northern aboriginal people, Ainu.

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