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[Lasseter mainpage] Lasseter-San, Arigato
(Thank You, Mr. Lasseter)

Synopsis - Page 6

10. September 14: Wine Country

At their meeting place, Lasseter arrives in a black vintage open-top Jaguar, which Miyazaki test-drives - after almost backing over Suzuki. Footage is shown of Lasseter driving the Jaguar with Miyazaki sitting beside him. Suzuki explains that despite his natural talkativeness, Miyazaki's lack of English causes him to retreat into quiet frustration in such situations, without an interpreter. The group arrives at an airfield, where a great surprise is in store - a joyride in a scarlet biplane! As Lasseter notes, "Just like Porco Rosso".

[Miyazaki and Suzuki go Flying] As they leave the airfield, it is Suzuki's turn in the Jaguar, as they head towards the Benziger winery, owned by an old friend of the Lasseters'. Suzuki notes that Miyazaki's previous impression of wineries was negative; that they exhausted the land with overuse of water, fertiliser and pesticides. However, his opinion was changed by the sustainable agriculture techniques exhibited at Benziger. The team passes through the cellar doors, and to a long banquet table set out within the tunnel. Some wine-tasting is performed ("kampai!") before lunch.

The next stop is the Lasseter family property, where Lasseter's parents are introduced. Lasseter describes Miyazaki as one of his greatest influences, to which his father replies, "I'm glad *somebody* was an influence!"

Miyazaki drives a tractor out onto the property, where Lasseter shows off a large tree that he tells Miyazaki reminds him of the trees in Tonari no Totoro. He even suggests hanging a shimenawa (sacred rope) around it, but Miyazaki says it should be left as it is, for the children to climb. As Miyazaki adds two feathers to his cap (literally!), Lasseter's father shows Miyazaki around the oak grove, among whose branches grow wild grapes. "Good enough to eat", says Miyazaki, sampling a bunch while admiring their natural beauty. A sturdily-constructed treehouse allows them to ascend to the treetop, among the birds.

The final entertainment for the day was held at the local raceway, where the crew spies some dragsters and vintage cars. The community races their own vehicles on the dragstrip, and Suzuki says that the true importance of neighbourliness was felt. After viewing such spectacles as an oil tanker racing a pickup truck, the main attraction featured Lasseter speeding down a drag strip in pursuit of a mobile home (towing another car!) driven by his wife. The scoring system causes much confusion that is only clarified at Pixar the next morning.

11. September 15: Charity Benefit for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

John Ratzenberger (the voice of the bathhouse manager in Spirited Away) is introduced to Suzuki and Miyazaki. Ratzenberger re-enacts the little dance that is performed by his character in the film to entreat favours from Kaonashi. Lasseter tells them that Ratzenberger has voiced a part in every Pixar film.

After a screening of Spirited Away, Miyazaki addresses the audience and praises Lasseter's effort in organising the charity day, and thanks them all for attending. Suzuki then asks the audience to spread the word if they enjoyed the film; "he's the producer, can you tell?", Lasseter adds. Miyazaki then introduces a surprise guest - the man on whom Chihiro's father was modelled. To much laughter, he expresses thanks that his daughter was able to restore him to being human from being a pig. Miyazaki fields some questions from the kids in the audience, explaining that Haku has fewer legs than the old river spirit because his river is smaller. As they leave the stage, Miyazaki reveals to Lasseter that he himself was the one who originally retrieved the girl's shoe from a river, and this was the inspiration for the connection between Haku and Chihiro in the movie.

[Charity Day Autographs] As the silent charity auction is conducted at long tables in the Pixar atrium (the price for a handpainted cel of Mei sitting on Totoro's belly reaching 3000 US dollars), Miyazaki is reunited with Brad Bird, whose work he calls "adventurous".

Miyazaki is shown autographing all manner of paraphernalia for fans, while Suzuki narrates the trepidation with which Miyazaki approached the event. In Japan, such events are not the domain of a director; but Miyazaki not only felt good about the charitable cause, but also enjoyed the event itself and even suggested holding a similar event back in Japan.

After what must have been another showing of Mei to Konekobasu, Lasseter reveals to his kids that the voice of the huge old granny cat-liner was performed by Miyazaki himself. Miyazaki whips up a quick sketch of the kittenbus for Lasseter's youngest son, while he in return receives an oil painting of a Chevy pickup truck, and the first-release bottles of Lasseter hand-labelled wine are presented to the whole crew. One of Lasseter's sons presents Miyazaki with a drawing of Kaonashi done on the back of a "Sen" t-shirt.

Finally, all the farewells are made, as Lasseter assures Suzuki that the upcoming premiere will be a hit. The group spontaneously turns and shouts their goodbyes as they head down the path.

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