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Moriarty's Rumblings From The Lab #14Interview with Miyazaki

Sometimes here at AICN stories, scoops and interviews go to one person, when I would have given anything to have another do the same task. Here I have Moriarty... and he had the amazing good fortune to interview and speak and be in the presence of filmmaking GOD, Hayao Miyazaki. But many many miles away in Austin lay... sick to his stomach... Robogeek. Our resident Anime lover. More than that though there are only two people that Robogeek bows down and worships and credits for changing his filmgoing life. Miyazaki was one, Krzysztof Kieslowski was the other... whom Robogeek did get the chance to behold in his short time on this planet. But... as is often the case in this world, fate took a different path. And placed our resident Evil Genius across the table from this True Genius. Robogeek has been working non-stop setting this interview up, as well as arranging PRINCESS MONONOKE to be screened during the upcoming AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL. One last thing before you move along. This week's RUMBLINGS is longer than usual and has been split up due to the limitations of this site's pre-programmed limits. At the bottom of the page you will see a link to the second part of the Rumblings containing many other fantastic bits from... Moriarty....

Hey, Head Geek...

"Moriarty" here.

The day started on a normal enough note. I rose early, made my way to the kitchen where several henchmen were preparing breakfast, found the eggs were slightly too salty for my taste, killed said henchmen, called in several replacement henchmen, killed them on general principle, then finally calmed down a bit. I'm not, generally speaking, a morning person. When one of the frightened mutants brought me my Palm Pilot so I could review my schedule, I was startled to realize that today was the day... a very special day... a day when I was set to meet a real-live, no-joke, if-you-don't-know-it-yet-you-should genius, Hayao Miyazaki.

I'd like to thank AICN's resident anime god Robogeek for helping me prepare for this interview and for making the whole thing happen in the first place. I can't even pretend to be an expert on the subject, which makes it convenient that we've got one we can reach by hotline.

I called up FreeRide, one of AICN's new spies, and asked him to bring over a copy of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO for us to watch. When he finally showed up five hours later, dazed, breathless, and bloody, he tried to give me some line about how hard it was to locate the laserdisc copy of the Fox Video release of the 1995 American Troma dubbed version. He tried to explain how many stores he had to visit, how he actually had to knife-fight a clerk at Dave's Video (since I don't rent... I own), and then avoid capture by the authorities. All I cared about was the fact that I was going to be able to see the film before meeting the maker.

That makes three Miyazaki films I've seen now, and my respect for the man as an artist grows by leaps and bounds with each exposure to what he does. It was KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE first (dubbed, and I loved it, thanks), then a screening of the glorious new MONONOKE release, and now this dubbed version of TOTORO. I think the most remarkable thing about his work is the strong individual voice of each film. There's no mistaking who is responsible for these films. I know that KIKI is based on a book, but that doesn't matter. It's the gentle, spiritual tone of the storytelling, the perfect renditions of details both mundane and fantastic, the humanity of the characters.

Miramax has worked hard to introduce the phrase "Miyazaki is Japan's Walt Disney" into the popular consciousness over the last couple of years. You'll find it in every single press release they send out about him, and I think that's a perfectly fair comparison. Both of them are singular stylists, men who viewed animation as art. Both of them have created characters that have become iconic, cultural figures that overshadow individual films. I think there's little doubt, though, that Miyazaki is the greater artist of the two. His work is personal, profound, and there's such a centered philisophical center to the films I've seen that I find it hard to believe that even a frame of it passed through the hands of anyone but Miyazaki. It's the closest thing I've ever seen to pure imagination onscreen, the raw download of a director's dreams.

I remember my first viewing of KIKI. I had heard of the film and the filmmaker, but didn't really know what to expect when I found the recent Disney release for rental. I took it home, played it, and then played it again. And later that night, I played it again. It was the flying scenes that hooked me, but each viewing brought new moments into focus for me. Each viewing made me appreciate some new bit of character business or some stunning visual grace note. And on each viewing, those flying scenes held up, hypnotizing me. I'd never seen anything like it. When we fly in our dreams, unfettered of any machinery or gear or gravity, that feeling is the feeling that Miyazaki somehow captures. It's the ideal, as perfect as Sam Lowry's slow lazy tumbles through the cotton candy clouds of BRAZIL.

In TOTORO, there are all sorts of images that I will have to see again to fully appreciate. I can't wait to get another look at the CatBus, a startling creature that owes at least a slight visual nod to Lewis Carroll and Tenniel's classic rendition of the Chesire Cat. I am fascinated by the dustbunnies and the Totoros. And once again, I was touched by these characters. Mei, in particular, struck me as one of the more realistic child characters I've seen in a film. The simple, aching story of two sisters who escape their fear for a sick mother with the help of a set of spirits that only they can see is a perfect example of how Miyazaki somehow constructs strong dramatic pieces that avoid the simple black-and-white "good guys" and "bad guys" of most films.

I had such a good time watching the film that I was almost late leaving the Labs. FreeRide offered to drive, and he's got a spiffy new hovercraft I have been dying to ride in, so we headed out, managing to make it from my place to the Four Seasons Hotel in less than eight minutes. Several laws and windows may have been broken en route, but so be it. As it was, the interview before mine was running a bit late, so I had a chance to speak with the lovely people from Miramax who made this possible. I have this to say to anyone who's worried that Miramax "doesn't get it," or that they might not support the film enough; they get it. They sounded just like me, still new to Miyazaki's work, enchanted by it, still caught up in the rush of having found it. They spoke about how he once bought a WWII airplane that he flew across the desert just to get a feel for it. They spoke in depth about their reactions to key scenes from MONONOKE. And unlike most publicist speak, this was real. They think he's just as much of a rock star as I do. There's a feeling, like you've just figured out a secret, when you get turned on to his films, and I'm hoping that the major push MONONOKE is about to get will spur more Americans to get in on that secret. I know TIME magazine is planning a major piece on the film and Miyazaki's past work, and Roger Ebert is definitely a convert. He sat down with the director yesterday, and I can't wait to read about their chat.

When I entered the room where we'd be speaking, I was introduced to Linda, Miyazaki's translator. As I got settled in and went over my questions, I noticed there was a camera crew setting up. Since I'm wanted in 47 countries, I'm not wild about being videotaped, so I asked what was going on. The crew turned out to be shooting a documentary on Miyazaki. I wasn't planning to be on camera, and I would have worn my good glass eye if I had known. Still, all concerns about my appearance vanished when Miyazaki came into the room. A man of medium build, he has a riveting gaze and an easy smile, both of which he fixed on me as we were introduced. We shook hands, took our seats, and dove right in.

MORIARTY: Let's start today by talking about flying. One of my personal pet peeves in live action films is flying sequences. They can't help it... they always look fake. In your films, though, there's a poetry to flight. There's the midnight flight in TOTORO that feels like a warm-up to KIKI. Is flight a long-time passion of yours, and where does your sense of it come from?

MIYAZAKI: Ever since I was a boy, I have always liked airplanes. I've always been interested in flying. This is one of the questions I am often asked, and I can't really explain why this is. For better or for worse, there's no flight in MONONOKE, so no one can say that all my characters have to fly.

MORIARTY: Another hallmark of your work is the way you treat your children characters. In American films, both live-action and animated, children are portrayed as small adults, wise beyond their years. You write children as they really are. You capture each specific age. How do you approach the writing of your young characters?

MIYAZAKI: I've found that it's often true that when you start making a film, you call on your memories from that age. Your hopes from that age, your desires from that age, they're all resurrected. If you're writing about someone who's 10, you have to remember what that was like. As you work on the film, though, I find that imagination takes over.

MORIARTY: I was hoping you could talk a little bit about one of the key collaborations of your career, your work with composer Jo Hisaishi. In particular, I was wondering how you felt when Hisaishi recently rescored your 1986 film LAPUTA: CASTLE IN THE SKY. Are you happy with the new work?

This is when Miyazaki let loose with the first instance of what I will call his "thinking noise." It's a long, slow exhale, not quite a groan but almost. I thought at first I had asked something wrong, and I wondered how far the door was if I had to bolt from embarrassment. Miyazaki took a long moment, though, to really think about the question before answering, his smile back and playing on his face as he spoke.

MIYAZAKI: Jo Hisaishi and I have had a long term collaboration, and whenever I start work on a new film, I always go out and gather CDs in an effort to find someone better to write music for me. In the end, I always have to crawl back to him when I realize there is no one better.

I am not really an advocate of using wall- to-wall music in a film. I like silence. I can understand the anxiety for the studio, though, and it was important to them to add more music. None of it matched, though, so [Hisaishi] ended up recomposing and rerecording the whole film. I've heard it, and it seems quite lovely. I decided to allow it, but only if Jo was going to allow it. When we work on a film, we have meetings where we will discuss it back and forth and decide where the score goes. We will watch the film and say, "Put some music here and here and here," and when I am making my final edit, I always want to pull some of it out. "Cut it here and here and here." We have had our share of fights. I decided to let [Hisaishi] do whatever he chose with this as a gift.

MORIARTY: I've read that you did an astonishing amount of the work on MONONOKE yourself. Of the film's 144,000 cels, you were said to have pencilled 80,000 personally. Many of KIKI's flying sequences were handdrawn by you. As animators around the world rush to embrace new digital tools, what would you say to them about the place of the artist in the process?

When the translator read Miyazaki the question, he laughed, then shook his head.

MIYAZAKI: First, let me correct a misconception. I did not draw 80,000 cels. I frequently would correct or refine drawings to bring them up to a certain standard of excellence, but I didn't work on that many from scratch. When you are making a film like MONONOKE HIME, you create a standard that all the artists must use. If you have to, you redraw things to bring them to that standard. I am fortunate enough to work with many artists whose work is already well beyond that standard, and I do not have to do a thing to their work.

I would say that no matter what advances are made in animation, the animator just becomes more and more valuable. It's imagination, and not technology, that is most important.

MORIARTY: That would lead me to my next question. With MONONOKE, you finally embraced the use of certain CG elements in your picture. Can you describe your experience with these new tools?

MIYAZAKI: Originally, we decided to create a team that would render the boar god from the beginning of the film using CG. We wanted that for the spirit snakes coming out of him. We tried and we tried to do it that way, but in the end we had to go back to handdrawn for that scene. By that point, we were already farther along in developing some of the scenes, so we went ahead and used the computer there. I wish in some ways we had just done the whole thing by hand.

The only reason we even put the boar scene into the script was because we thought we were going to be able to render it with the computer. If I'd known how hard that was going to be, I never would have said yes to it. I suppose I have to say "thank you" to the computer.

He couldn't contain his amusement at this concept, and he worked to stop laughing as I asked my next question.

MORIARTY: Lady Eboshi is hardly what I would call a conventional villain in MONONOKE. In fact, all your films seem to studiously avoid black-and-white stereotypes about good guys and bad guys. Is it important to you to avoid villifying characters?

Once again, the thinking noise prefaced a long silence. Miyazaki thought about it, then chose his words very carefully, looking directly at me and speaking with real conviction.

MIYAZAKI: A true villain -- someone who manages to live with a hole where their heart should be -- doesn't interest me in the least. If they don't interest me, they aren't going to show up in one of my films.

I went to ask another question, but Miyazaki wasn't finished. I could see he was still thinking about it, and I waited until he spoke again.

MIYAZAKI: I haven't seen SILENCE OF THE LAMBS -- not all of it, anyway -- but I've read it, and that villain that's attractive. I find that very interesting.

MORIARTY: In discussing MONONOKE with people, I've heard some concern that the film might be too spiritual, too historically distant, too culturally removed for the average American viewer to enjoy. What, if anything, would you say to someone to prepare them for the film?

MIYAZAKI: I guess they'll just have to see it. If they don't like it or they don't understand it, my words here aren't going to help. I don't think I need to prepare people, though. We as human beings have more in common than we don't. We are, at heart, the same. This film, it comes from the same spirit as TOTORO. These films come from the same place in me, and I think they will speak to that same place in other people as well.

MORIARTY: You spent well over a decade preparing to make MONONOKE. You did pencil sketches of San as early as 1980. Now that the film is rolling out to audiences around the world and you've had some time to live with the film, are you satisfied? Is it what you had hoped it would be?

Once again, the thinking sound. Miyazaki sized me up as he considered the question. When he spoke, it was so soft that I had to lean in to hear him.

MIYAZAKI: I can't answer that yet. I think we'll have to wait at least 10 years before I can know. We need to wait until all those children who are just 10 now who are seeing the film grow up, until they're 20 years old. We'll have to wait to see what impact it has on them, on their relationship with the world. To me, you can't measure the success of a picture on how many tickets it sells. You can only measure it in how many hearts it changes.

As I made my notes, Miyazaki watched me, smiling.

MIYAZAKI: For someone who is on the Internet, you write by hand quite fast. You write a lot. It's like being a traditional animator. You've got your computer, you can do it that way, but still...

MORIARTY: I prefer this way, actually.

He just smiled, nodded, his eyes dancing. I got the sign from the publicists that we had five minutes left, so I flipped through the stack of questions I brought. Many of you were kind enough to send me suggestions, and I'm sorry if I didn't get to yours. I appreciate the effort, and I'm just sad that the time raced by as quickly as it did.

MORIARTY: The films of yours I've seen so far -- KIKI, TOTORO, and MONONOKE -- all take place in real historical periods, or at least identifiable ones. You've said that KIKI takes place in a Europe where WWII never happened. TOTORO is obviously set in the early '50s. Even MONONOKE, which feels like total fantasy, is set during the Muromachi period of Japanese history. Into these very real settings, you then interject the magical, the fantastic. How do you define these worlds for yourself, and why the juxtoposition?

MIYAZAKI: Because otherwise it would be boring.


I always struggle about what age to set a film in. For TOTORO, it was very particular, very precise. I knew it had to be set in 1953, when there was no TV to intrude on the lives of children. It's that last moment, when imagination is still important, before 1955, when TV arrived. For MONONOKE, I had to set it then. The Kamakura period, the time right before the Muromachi period, would have been incomprehensible to modern viewers. As far as KIKI is concerned...

(laughs again)

KIKI was the result of a bet I made to someone. I bet that I could create a world with both modern elements and things from the past, and children would never question it. Sadly, I won.

MORIARTY: And finally, sir, I would be remiss if I didn't ask what we can expect in the 21st Century from Hayao Miyazaki.

MIYAZAKI: All I know is that my next film will be set in Japan, in a version of Japan where fantasy and the modern world are combined. Even here, even while I visit with you, even while I travel, I lie awake at night, moaning, worried about what shape this film will take.

His translator added a sincere,

"He's not kidding,"

and that was that. I started to pack up, and the translator noticed that I was carrying with me a copy of the superb new Hyperion book PRINCESS MONONOKE: THE ART AND MAKING OF JAPAN'S MOST POPULAR FILM OF ALL TIME. It's a gorgeous hardback coffee table book, loaded with exquisite art, filled with poetry that Miyazaki wrote for his screenwriting collaborators as well as Hisaishi, to guide him when scoring. I'm not going to pretend I went in there without ulterior motives, but I didn't want to ruin the mood by forcing the book on him. Linda spared me the trouble, though.

"Is that for an autograph?"

"I'd be honored," I said.

"I think he had a good time. I think it's okay."

She took the book from me and offered it to Miyazaki. I passed over a Sharpie, and watched, eyes agog, as he drew me a quick sketch of Totoro and a dustbunny, then signed his name and dated it.

He said something as she passed the book back over to me, and she translated it.

"He says Totoro hasn't gotten enough sleep. He looks wild."

I was so amazed by the drawing that I barely remember the rest of the process. I know we got up, said our good-byes, walked out, somehow made our way to the car. I also know that today was one of those rare, special moments where you bask in the best of being a film geek. All this useless clutter I've accumulated upstairs all these years, these facts and box-office figures and filmographies and credits and dialogue snippets, all pay off on a day when I am invited to sit down with someone like Miyazaki. Here's the Totoro drawing, something special for you to share.

Hopefully that just whets your appetite for more of the man's work. If so, find the MONONOKE book. It's not just beautiful, it's also an exhaustive look at the process of bringing this film to the screen, and it's a real testament to that exhaustive detail work that makes Studio Ghibli's films so unique. I know that the book and today's interview and my morning show of TOTORO have all made me rabid for September 30 to arrive. That's the day UCLA is kicking off their special presentation, STUDIO GHIBLI: THE MAGIC OF MIYAZAKI, TAKAHATA and KONDO. It runs through October 10, and promises a comprehensive look at the output of Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Yoshifumi Kondo, with screenings that include a sneak preview screening of MONONOKE, Takahata's GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, and Kondo's debut picture WHISPER OF THE HEART. As with all UCLA Film and Television Archive programs, you can call 310.206.FILM to get detailed information. You should try and join me at the films mentioned above, or NAUSICAÄ, ONLY YESTERDAY, CASTLE IN THE SKY, and PORCO ROSSO. I plan to savor each and every moment.


Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 21, 1999, 5:32 a.m. CST

    Great Interview

    by Walter Burns

    Well done. Am really looking forwards to this one as have seen most of Miyazaki's stuff and really liked it (even if, in Porco Rosso's case it's a video French dub - and I don't speak French, or in Kiki's case, its a video Cantonese dub and I dont....). Suprised that there is no flying in this one though - this sounds like a first. :) Now please, put me out of my mysery - does anyone but anyone know if this is going to be released in the UK, or am I going to have to wait until I can get another foreign language PAL viedeotape...

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 6:01 a.m. CST

    Superb Interview

    by Kinetic

    Wow! You're a lucky guy Moriarty! Thanks for sharing the drawing and autograph. Great interview. Miyazaki came across just as I imagined (and hoped)he might: a strong and wise individual, humble, and kind of cool. His answer about his portrayal of children is dead on and American filmmakers should take note. Kids aren't mini-adults or mini-morons, they have a energy to life that is exclusive among them. Miyazaki perfectly captures that in Kiki and Totoro. Can't wait for Monoke! The Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Mass. is having an advanced screening. Whoo-hoo!

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 6:01 a.m. CST

    You Lucky, Lucky Bastard

    by Joe Buck

    Great job, Moriarty, Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli produce by far the world's best animation. Kiki and Totoro are masterpieces of art and humanity. I can't wait to see Mononoke and more of his work. I wish I could get to LA for the festival. Disney is supposed to release Laputa next year, and hopefully Porco Rosso too. Anyone who thinks that Japanese Anime is all big-eyed girls, chicks in leather, and giant robots should watch Kiki, Totoro, and especially Grave of the Fireflies for the heights that animation can reach. I finally saw Grave over the weekend and was left speechless and in tears. I've never seen the hurt, pain, and injustice the world can inflict, portrayed in such a manner before. One thing I had wished you'd asked Mr. Miyazaki was about DVD. The last I heard Miyazaki still had little interest in DVD, I think Grave of the Fireflies is the only Ghibli movie on DVD. I would like to know if there agreement with Disney includes DVD (which is generally a seperate rights issue from video). Even though Disney/BV is the worst studio out there DVD-wise, I would buy any Miyazaki they put out regardless of the bare bones treatment. Thanks again Moriarty

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 6:41 a.m. CST

    Thank you, Miyazaki

    by Uncle Cracky

    Reading this interview was definitely a humbling experience. It is always interesting to hear the actual words of an artist after one has become familiar with his/her work. But it is fascinating when you can hear his/her voice within the art itself. Nothing Miyazaki said surprised me. All the answers are in his films. This is the first time in my life that I have longed for the end of October for any other reason besides Halloween!

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 6:49 a.m. CST

    Coolest Autograph Ever!

    by mrbeaks

    It's a dreary Tuesday morning here in NYC. I'm looking forward, none too enthusiastically, to yet another long day of thankless work, and here I see this wonderful little drawing that leaves me with a big, childlike smile. Thanks, man..... I needed that. Great interview, BTW!

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 7:13 a.m. CST

    Castle in the Sky release

    by Vinnieb

    Has anyone heard a date for Disney's release of Castle in the Sky? On the Kiki tape they say it's "1999" but no more. Any news?

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 9:31 a.m. CST

    How about a trade?

    by narf

    Hey Moriarty, I MUST have the Totoro-sketch autograph NOW. I will trade you an autographed copy of Donny Osmond's "Alone Together" on vinyl AND an autographed poster of Lisa Loeb for it. How about that, AND I'll be your best friend and call you dude?

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 11:48 a.m. CST

    genius.. tho not as evil as moriarty.

    by Devils Halo

    It's been a long time since I've seen Nausicaa and Laputa.. one of those lucky times in my life where it paid off to be in college for special campus screenings at CSU-LongBeach. Miyazaki gave me a new and different appreciation for anime. His softer feel, exquisite camera movements, not as harsh as Akira or as comical as Lupin and certainly not Urotsukidoji, but free flowing beauty that glides across the screen. I look forward to seeing Mononoke, the trailers look fantastic. Hopefully, I'll have money left to grab the second Intron Depot from Masamune Shirow.

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 3:46 p.m. CST

    Thesis: Moriarty. . .supreme dick-head.

    by koonchu

    Of all the industry forcefed, market, techno-babble that usually spouts from Moriarty's mouth--why, oh, WHY did it have to gush forward during a MIYAZAKI interview!?!?! WHy didn't you mention the many similarities between Nausicaa and Mononoke? What about his obvious lean towards the environment? WHat does he hope to attain from continuously making films seemingly in defense of nature? What pushes him to be so in favor of it? In my opinion, I think an Animerica interview with Miyazaki did the man more justice. JEE-ZIS! On a site that SEEMINGLY (notice how I capitalize "seemingly" kids) pushes for creative excellence, the creative process, etc, etc, -- Moriarty fudge-packed on asking some SERIOUSLY helpful questions to the many artists who visit this site. Personally, I think the regret will eventually descend on Moriarty; he'll one day realize the MAJESTY of content that Miyazaki has contributed and inspired within the animation community. . .and he will KICK himself. I hope this film fails. If Moriarty represents the average American viewer, then we just don't deserve stuff like this. -K

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 3:51 p.m. CST

    Miramax doesn't "get it"

    by joekun

    If Miramax "got it" they would have taken the time to correctly pronounce the title in the trailer. As it stands now, those of us who actually know how to pronounce "Mononoke" must suffer eternally to that annoying pronunciation "Mana-no-Key" forced on us by Miramax. Is Mononoke difficult to pronounce? Perhaps the "ke" sound is a little difficult, but "Mono-no-kay" would have been a perfectly good and acceptable English equivalent. When people hear the pronunciation on the trailer that will become the "correct" pronunciation for the title by default, why not make it the correct one?

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 4 p.m. CST

    DwD: The Miyazaki Obsession

    by DwDunphy

    For those who get to see "Princess Mononoke", be prepared. I recently viewed fansubbed tapes of both "Nausicaa" and "Mononoke Hime" and can say, without doubt, that not only is Miyazaki's work expansive, imaginative and leagues beyond the standard of both American and Japanese animation but it is highly addictive. Trust me, the stuff spoils you.

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Not done bitching. Mother voice played by Anderson!?!?!?!

    by koonchu

    Is it me or has no one even mentioned that the Mother Wolf voice was originally portrayed in a male-like monotone voice--much like all the other animal-gods. This totally stressed that there really is no gender in Miyazaki's view of nature--it compliments the sexual tension between the human world of Ashitaka and San, of course. And who's doing the voice of Mother Wolf??? Gillian Anderson??!?!?! Thank you Hollywood. You bastard. -K

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 4:10 p.m. CST

    miyazaki goodness

    by gaveltogavel

    Thank you for the great Miyazaki interview, Moriarty. It gave me a needed glimpse into the mind of one of my favorite artists. And that Totoro drawing!!!! I shudder with envy. Man, that Miyazaki's work with line is breathtaking even in a simple autograph sketch. I poured over his line breaks and scratches for a good 15 minutes on that little drawing. AMAZING!!! You know, seeing it made me want to see Totoro again, which, is a difficult thing to say. I've only seen the dubbed version and it was almost unwatchable for me. The story was beautiful. The animation was fantastic. BUT, man, those voice actors were laaaaaaame. Those first 15-20 minutes of Totoro where the girls are running through their new house giggling? damn, I thought I felt blood dripping from my ears. Those giggles haunt me in my sleep. I really need to see the subbed version. Anyhow, I too am sitting on the edge of my seat for the American release of Castle In the Sky, as the preview at the beginning of Kiki did mention it would be released in 1999. My guess is that they're (Disney) is holding it back until they see how Mononoke does. It'd be great if Mononoke kicked ass and Disney gave Castle a theatrical release instead of shoving it out on video. Finally, if any of yall want to check out a really good, quiet, nicely-told NON-Miyazaki story(anime, film, whatever), go pick up a copy of Night of the Galactic Railroad. It's another truly excellent piece of story-telling from the land of the rising sun.

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 6:29 p.m. CST


    by tgdbar

    Thank you for a wonderful interview with one of the true greats of animation. The Totoro sketch is spectacular, thank you for sharing it with us. I treasure the 2 foot long plush catbus I got at a convention years ago. I have people threaten me over it all the time. I envy you the thrill of seeing the other titles for the first time. I have known and loved them for years. To the naysayer who was griping about why didn't Moriarty ask about the similiarities between Nausicaa and Monoke. It is awkward to ask those kinds of questions, when you have not seen Nausicaa. Thank you once again for a wonderful article.

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Moriarty I am confused

    by Efihp

    You wrote, "When he spoke, it was so soft that I had to lean in to hear him'. Why would you need to lean over to hear him, as he spoke through a translator?

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 11:22 p.m. CST

    Miyazaki's "thinking sound" and Moro's voice

    by Izmunuti

    To Moriarty: Don't be alarmed at Miyazaki's "thinking sound"; it's very common among Japanese speakers, especially men. Re the voice of Moro (Mononokehime's wolf mother): Moro's voice was done by Akihiro Miwa, a famous Japanese transvestite actor/singer/entertainer. Because his voice is instantly recognizable to most Japanese viewers, it adds an element of gender ambiguity to Moro.

  • Sept. 21, 1999, 11:38 p.m. CST

    ['Ere I get flamed . . .] The above refers to Moro's voice in th

    by Izmunuti

  • Sept. 22, 1999, 12:25 a.m. CST


    by munster

    I ENVY YOU!!!!!!!!

  • Sept. 22, 1999, 1:03 a.m. CST


    by JetAlone

    What the fuck is up with you, Sarin Rufus??? You sound like a foulmouthed little punk who didn't get enough love at home. You no doubt ARE a foulmouthed little punk with issues of unfocused rage towards authority in general. Tell it to your therapist and spare the rest of us your impotent little rants.

  • Sept. 22, 1999, 2:52 a.m. CST

    nice interview

    by zathras2

    Thanks for the interview, and esp. for making Miyazaki's signature available for all of us! I'll print it out and put it on my wall. And there's no reason to tease moriarty -- most american otaku are like that when they just get started. Now we must send him a copy of the Nausicaa LD and the book (Perfect Collection Box Set). No, Miramax does not quite "get it", but I suppose that is to be excuseable also. Yes, the Japanese long trailers were better. My idea for a better trailer: No voices, no dialogue, no narration, just some music and some of the best animated parts; then END with the title (on black). And show the Japanese characters in the title also. That should get people's interest. Also, are they going to release the subtitled version theatrically or not? I mean its not like the sub won't make money, esp. among the art crowd that Miramax caters to. Given the choice I'll take the sub.

  • Sept. 22, 1999, 4:54 p.m. CST

    Shoe Shine Boys

    by Boddhisattva

    WHAT A MOVIE! Why isn't HOLLYWOOD making stuff like this?! I saw it at the Santa Monica Film Festival last week, and I tripped out. Not only is it hysterically funny, and entertaining as hell, it carries a massive message. And that's important. And that's where Hollywood is missing the train over and over again. So why isn't Shoe Shine Boys in the theatres yet? I WANT MORE!!! Thanks SOOOOO much for news on this hidden treasure. --Joseph

  • Sept. 23, 1999, 12:04 a.m. CST

    Whispers of the heart

    by fuzzyhobbit

    Although I love Ghibli's films--including Last Unicorn, Mononoke, and Grave of the Fireflies; my favorite is Whispers of the Heart. Everyone should see this, especially creative people who are aspiring in art, music, or writing. It is amazing. I hope against hope that it is released here. Everyone, run and see it(along with Unicorn, and Grave) before Mononoke. Ghibli are geniuses. Kevin H. Ohannessian

  • Sept. 23, 1999, 10:10 p.m. CST

    Unicorn, whisper

    by zathras2

    Are you sure Last Unicorn was a Ghibli film? I thought it was just an american production with the animation contracted out to a Japanese studio (not Ghibli if I remember). If anyone has a copy of it they can answer this. I thought Unicorn wasn't that great, actually, although it does give one a 'funny feeling' by the end... I saw Whisper but it wasn't fansubbed so I didn't quite 'get it' (my japanese isn't very good)... I'll have to find a fansub I guess(when is Disney releasing it?!). I'll reserve judgement until then. Fireflies was my favorite, although it wasn't a Miyazaki film, as I remember. And don't forget Nausicaa as a Miyazaki film, even though it wasn't a Ghibli film (though the book is 10x better, imho).

  • Sept. 24, 1999, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Last Unicorn and Studio Ghibli

    by Pazu

    Fuzzyhobbit got it part right. A lot of the same people worked on Last Unicorn and on Ghibli films, but LU *isn't* a Ghibli film. LU was a US production by Rankin-Bass and they hired the Japanese studio "Topcraft" to do the animation work. ("Topcraft" also did the animation for R-B's "The Hobbit" and "Return of the King ".) When Tokuma hired Miyazaki to do Nausicaa there was no Studio Ghibli, so they also hired "Topcraft" to do the animation under Miyazaki's direction. After the success of Nausicaa, Miyazaki and Tokuma created a new company called Studio Ghibli for all their future films, and a group of animators from "Topcraft" came over to work for Miyazaki at the new studio. See for more information.