Japan anime is very synonimous with Hayao Miyazaki of Ghibli, even to those unfamiliar with anime. Well it is no wonder because Miyazaki is a genius and even John Lasseter of Pixar take a great deal of respect to him. Miyazaki also the first person in anime to be awarded Academy Award.
Whenever someone said anime, it must be Miyazaki and Ghibli. His legacy is very hard to be replaced. A lot of younger generation of director such Hideaki Anno, Makoto Shinkai, or Mamoru Hosoda are predicted to be the next Miyazaki. However, Mamoru Hosoda is making his own path in the anime world.
In his two decade career, he has faced a few setbacks, including his well-publicized mid-production departure of Ghibli’s “Howl Moving Castle.” After years of struggling, Hosoda finally moved to the forefront among Japanese animators. I have a chance to meet and interview during my stint in Tokyo International Film Festival 2016. I sat down with Hosoda to talk more on his inspiration and work.
You’ve been compared to Hayao Miyazaki for a long time, but now with the success of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, the spotlight has shifted to him. Is that kind of a relief?
I’ve been asked about it in nearly every interview for about 10 years. Miyazaki-san was a kind of hero to me while I was growing up, but as a director your mission should be to make better films than him, so in that sense he has to be a kind of rival. But the success of Shinkai’s film is good for anime as it has expanded the market; it’s overtaken Avatar now.
How do you feel about being labelled as the new Miyazaki?
I think the reason why is because I started as the director of the “Howls Moving Castle,” didn’t work out well because there are people around me that place expectation on me is to create a film that Hayao Miyazaki would perhaps create while I had my own thought about creating film and I wanted to make my own film. And the philosophy of me and the people around me started to part, and eventually it becomes a challenge for us to work together as a team. And we decided to part and go our own ways, however, that didn’t create any bad blood between me and Studio Ghibly. Even now, the relationship continues and I still have good relationship with them.
When you quit Howls Moving Castle, Miyazaki sent you a letter told you to find your own path. Does that make you stronger?
Miyazaki has been a great hero since I was a kid, I was also a great fan of his films and him as creator. But now we are director in the same industry, It is no longer possible for me to be in this world continuing to say that he is my big hero and working as director at the same time. Because in a way, as long as we are in the same world of animation, there is some aspect that we should engage in rivalry. There is no sense in becoming a director if I aspire to create the same kind of film as Miyazaki would create. In a letter I received from Miyazaki, he said I should find and look to create my own film. I think, since then, I have been faithfully working to achieve that.
You release every new film every three year. Can we expect something new in the near future?
Im hoping I can showcase something in 2018 and i would like to keep the promise
In Japan, there are so many live-action director but not many for animation director. In your own words, is it difficult to become animation director and what is the process?
Yes I think indeed to your question. I think there are fewer animation director compare to live action. But if we think about it, there is Shunji Iwaii, who is originally live action director but he has experiencing in directing animation as well. There is also the opposite, originally animation director that engage in directing live action, Hideaki Anno, one of his iconic work is Shin-Godzilla, but if u think about it, there are not many. I think it goes down to the fact that live action film is in nature very different compare to animation. The process of production is very different, the way the director perceived film is different. They also have they own unique specialties. I think there is a divide in the population of director who specialize in animation and live action.
On second question on how to become an animation director, if I look back on my experience and when we engage in producing animation film. It is a large team of 300 people at least who work in different section. In a posiiton of director, the director needs to know every litlle detail of the process happen on the field and he needs to know what person is in charge of what. So it is not possible for someone to become a director only without knowing what process goes on in the production.
In the beginning of your career, what makes you choose to become animator because live action is kinda esy money? If you wish to have live action?
I was very troubled whether to choose live action or animation but then I like drawing, I like illustration, so if I have to compare photography vs drawing. I might choose for drawing. And my background, I studied in art college so to have choosen between animation and live action was really natural course for me. If I were want to create live action film, I don’t think it would be for the sake of wanting to make more money, it would be for the sake of wanting to create. In fact in Japan, nowadays, animation would make more money compare to live action, but that’s not why I am here but because I like it.
How about the possibility to make live action film, one day in the future?
I would say no to that because there is so much should be done right now
I notice in your work, you usually put a clash between the old vs new world.
For every piece of work I create, I try to pick up a theme that is conflicting against one another. In Summer Wars, the conflict is between the real world, reality and the world of computer. And in Wolf Children, the urban area vs the world, human vs nature, and when it comes to the Boy and The Beast, it is human vs the beast.
Is there any issue that attract you personally?
The event that occur in the world certainly influence me and my thoughts toward film. Because, in creating film, in some aspect, we have to depict the environment that we are place in, the time that we are living in. In creating a film, I think its quite difficult to separate the world
Is there any specific event?
Yes, among directors, we talk a lot about the changing of the world more often than we talk about the film. One of the topic that we talk a lot is about the changing in the family and how it has evolved through time. We talk about the concept of family, the perception of family. Another thing is about nuclear power plant. This is an issue that I put a lot of concern since I was a student, I expressed that concern in Summer Wars. And another topic is about human rights, and that is depicted in the Boy and The Beast. If I start talking about topic or event that I concern about, it would be an endless list.
Is there any animator outside of Japan that you look up to?
There is Pixar and there is Disney. I am a great fan of Beauty and The Beast. I also like the creation of Aardman Animation. My children is a great fan of Shaun the Sheep. If I have to name the animator who is in the same generation as me, it would be Brad Bird, Sylvain Chomet. These are the animator, at my own discretion, I consider as my rival.