Hayao Miyazake Chat Transcript
Movie: Princess Mononoke


Master anime'-tor Hayao Miyazake wrote and directed Princesss Mononoke, currently in theaters. The film was re-written for an English-speaking audience by Neil Gaiman, but Miyazaki is the creator. Miyazaki has long been famed in Japan, but here in America, he became known for My Friend Totoro and now, Princess Mononoke.

The chat will be moderated by roughcut.com's David Poland.

Mr. Miyazaki is here...

garion_ceall asks: To what extent do you base your characters on yourself.
Hayao Miyazaki: That's a difficult question. It's certainly true that my taste is reflected in my film. For instance I'm not interested in portraying a truly evil, heartless character. That doesn't interest me. I'm not enough of an objective observer. I think that a certain level of objectivity is missing in me.

iskandartaib asks: Did Miyazaki-sensei fly "free flight" model airplanes when he was younger? I saw the very authentic model in "Totoro", and was very impressed. (I am a modeler).
Hayao Miyazaki: Certainly the type of rubber band propelled airplanes... I loved that. But I couldn't stand following the directions just the way it was. So I would have two propellers or four planes in tandem. So I couldn't get them to fly properly.

bshort0779 asks: Would you consider mononoke hime your greatest work, and if not, why not?
Hayao Miyazaki: No, actually I've never graded my own work that way because I do my absolute best every time I make a film. I give it everything I have

DVDAniMania asks: Does the large amount of foreign fans of your works astonish you? Do you make any changes when creating your films to attract a wider audience?
Hayao Miyazaki: Frankly, I have no idea how many foreign fans I have, so I can't be very surprised. I really also have learned not to have high expectations which can then be betrayed. I think the films I am working on now will be even more difficult for non-Japanese to understand.

Kitty_KatPaws asks: What inspired you to write Totoro?
Hayao Miyazaki: Because one day I awakened to the true deeper beauty of this terribly crowded country that I live in.

mark0909.geo asks: does disney have the rights to princess mononoke on DVD?
Hayao Miyazaki: No, they do not.

DAVID: Is that somehow an issue with the format?
Hayao Miyazaki: A different reason than the format. It's just not a part of the contract. But they do have the right of first refusal.

yousei_123 asks: Where did you get the inspiration for the cute 'Kodama'? From Genji Monogatari (they are mentioned in that text amoung others)
Hayao Miyazaki: In Japan we have lots of ghost and monsters. That shape is just extremely easy to draw.

knzarysk asks: Hello! I've enjoyed your many movies, from Castle Cagliostro to Mononoke Hime, as well as Future Boy Conan, and I love them all! I have two questions: 1.) What anime do _you_ consider to be good among modern titles (ie in the past 20 years), and 2.) What plans do you have for the future (of course, I hope you might do at least something as a new anime or manga... ^_^)
Hayao Miyazaki: Crack by Frederick Bach, a Canadian. And a Russian named Yuri Norstein. These people make wonderful films. And I am in pre-production for a feature length animated film to be released in 2001

David Poland: Any hints about what it is about?

Hayao Miyazaki: It's such an extremely unusual approach that my chief animator, Mr. Ando, and I are trembling in fear, but hope it might be wonderful.

artimolus asks: For Miyazaki-san: Why use an Alfa Romeo Guleitta Spider from the late 1950's in On Your Mark? Did you own one?
Hayao Miyazaki: I've never driven one, but it is certainly a gorgeous car. That's when cars were the most beautifully designedÉ during those years

TVs_Nick asks: Is there any possibility that American audiances will have the chance to see any of the shorts in production for the Ghibli Museum?
Hayao Miyazaki: Please come visit our museum. We welcome you

Esuna_ asks: Do you have any role models, or inspirational people as you grew up?
Hayao Miyazaki: I've never actually looked at other people that way

nerbrain asks: what do you think of the issue of pornographic manga, being available to teens?
Hayao Miyazaki: Certainly any country's culture has its own component of junk, but it does seem quite excessive.

Kitty_KatPaws asks: Do you have any advice for me? I am aspiring to be an animator or manga artist in Japan when I grow up.
Hayao Miyazaki: I think the best advice is instead of watching manga or animated films, go out in the world and fearlessly watch everything you can.

lyricaldanichan asks: Will Mr. Miyazaki be coming to any of the Anime Conventions like Anime Central or FanimeCon Next year?
Hayao Miyazaki: No... I don't actually plan to.

brandoon4u asks: Why did you decide "Kaze no Tani no Naushicaa" would not be translated into English?
Hayao Miyazaki: We made a foolish decsion early on, contracting all rights to an American distributor who chopped up the film into something we couldn't recognize. We spent years regaining the rights and we have now contracted with Disney who will release the film in its entirety. Probably what Disney will do is release an English and Japanese version in video of that film.

mark0909.geo asks: What are some of your favorite japanese films?
Hayao Miyazaki: Seventh Samurai by Kurasawa. I certainly have others that I like, but I tend to misremember names. I like Ozu's film. And Ocheda Tumu. Those three directors have certainly made films that I'm very fond of.

ichigo_usagi asks: I've heard that in Mononoke Hime you decided to leave behind some of you trademark motifs (i.e.- woman heroes and flight), I was wondering why you made that decision.
Hayao Miyazaki: There is a woman hero in Mononoke. She is the title character. And the lack of flight is the responsibility of people always telling me that I'm always flying. Actually, I wanted to have something fly, but it didn't work. In the next film, we'll have some flying.

Kitty_KatPaws asks: Is there an e-mail address or way we could reach you?
Hayao Miyazaki: There's a Studio Ghibli homepage (http://WWW.Nausicaa.net/~miyazaki/ghibli/ ) and you can send letters to the home page

halliday19 asks: Just out of curiosity, why'd you use the same robot from "Aloha Lupin" in "Laputa, Castle in the Sky?"
Hayao Miyazaki: That's because in the TV series I did develop these robots, but I couldn't use them in the series the way I wanted. So I gave them a second chance in Laputa

income_statement asks: With the deal with Disney, will you put in consideration the American audiences for your next movie?
Hayao Miyazaki: Many American film professionals insist that Americans cannot endure long movies and need a musical interlude every 3 minutes. This leaves me bewildered.

halliday19 asks: Just out of curiosity, do you remember drawing for a Japanese girl at the Toronto film festival? She can't be here right now, but she was very VERY proud to have met you.
Hayao Miyazaki: There were so many beautiful young ladies in Tornoto, I can't distinguish which one it might have been.

lumraptor asks: When I saw the end of Nausicaa and Mononoke Hime, I was reminded of the conflicts in Yugoslavia and the struggle of the Kurds, is this coincidence?
Hayao Miyazaki: It's certainly true that the real situation of the world affects our film.

dmorihara asks: I hear there's a plan for Giburi theme park.or museum... when will it open?
Hayao Miyazaki: The museum is open, but we are hoping for fall of 2001 for the theme parkÉ but it may be a little later

crayonbeam asks: What was it like working with American Neil Gaiman?
Hayao Miyazaki: Unfortunately I do not speak a word of English. I struggled for 9 years with English class And though it was nice to meet Neil and he seemed like a great person I could not understand a word he said on my own.

mikado_suzaku_kodomo_althian asks: Hello Mr. Miyazaki I was just wondering, how do you feel about other Japanese animation coming over to North America?
Hayao Miyazaki: I guess I don't think about it much one way or the other. The truth is, those other films don't interest me

thotHayao Miyazakies1 asks: Mr. Miyazaki: The report is that you retouched by hand over 80,000 cels of animation in Mononoke Hime. Is this true?
Hayao Miyazaki: I certainly never counted how many cells one by one. But I look at and sign off on every cell. It's not like every cell needs correcting or touching up. Many are perfect the way they are. That that makes me very gratified. My job is to maintain overall, in every cell, a standard that I have set for the film. So as long as each cell reaches that standard, the less work for me.

zyanya.geo asks: Hello. I'd like to ask Mr. Miyazaki if he is familiar with the works of the English writer Roald Dahl. I'm asking this because the dream sequence in Porco Rosso, where he sees all the spirits of the dead pilots ascending on their planes, is very similar to a short story by this author. Ever since I saw Porco Rosso I wondered if he had been influenced by this story, or if it was simply a coincidence. (There may be a legend among pilots or something that both Dahl and Miyazaki used as reference.)
Hayao Miyazaki: I love Roald Dahl's short story about the pilots. And I'm very impressed that you figured that out

jack_nasty_face asks: How much is anime dependant upon computer animation and does it in any way hider or perhaps enhance your artistic expression?
Hayao Miyazaki: We're continuing to experiment with how to coexist with this new creature called the computer. My approach is not to chase after the latest weaponry but to stick to our tried and true methods, like the dirty musket.

film_fanatic200 asks: you seem to have great range in what you do, would you consider doing anything in a futuristic setting. Such as Blade Runner?
Hayao Miyazaki: Science Fiction uses as its point of departure anxiety. And when you start with anxiety, you usually just back yourself into a corner. This does not jibe with our overall approach to making movies for children. And also, reality is always much more complex and stimulating than science fiction. If you came to Tokyo, I could show you places much more alarming than anything in Blade Runner. I don't plan on taking you there, but you could discover it on your own.

mixmastato asks: You must have pretty strong feelings about our environment, which you express in Totoro and Mononoke, how do you feel about the environment today?
Hayao Miyazaki: It's in an abysmal state.

brajlu asks: In the movie, why does Ashitaka use the evil power of the Tatari-gami curse during the fight scenes? This troubles me as I feel that good guys should not use evil weapons.
Hayao Miyazaki: It is impossible to find a human being who is composed entirely of good. Every human being struggles with the good and evil in him or her. I think it's impossible to expect even good people to consist entirely of goodness. In fact, they are good because they struggle with the evil inside them. Even with good people, there is the possibility that in an instant they will change direction. I think that you can find a similar situation in the NATO air strikes over Kosovo.

O_Totoro8 asks: How did you feel about Helen McCarthy's book and your growing recognition in the US?
Hayao Miyazaki: I don't know what Helen McCarthy has written about me. And my goal is to try to remain as oblivious as possible about what the critics and the pundits have to say about my work.

floppygoth asks: What are your criteria for voice actors when dubbing over films in English?
Hayao Miyazaki: I have left everything in the capable hands of the American staff with whom I had extensive discussions.

famdoc asks: We loved Princess Mononoke at the NY film festival. Congratulations on your success in the US. U have the most amazing art!!Will there be a sequel?
Hayao Miyazaki: No. I've had plenty of that movie!

DVDAniMania asks: Do you visualize all of the movie beforehand, or do you get an idea and build upon it as you go..
Hayao Miyazaki: The latter. I have an idea and then I develop it while I draw

David: And that's all we have time for. Thanks to Mr. Miyazaki for coming and chatting.

Hayao Miyazaki: Thank you.

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  4 November 1999