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Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Interview

by Christopher Macdonald,

The following Interview was held with key staff and producers of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in August of 2002. Interviewed are Mitsuhisa Ishikawa(MI), president of Production I.G and Executive producer of Stand Alone Complex, Kenji Kamiyama (KS), the director, and Yoshiki Sakurai (YS), a scriptwriter on the project.

ANN: To start off, I'd like to ask Mr. Sakurai a bit about what you think is the most important aspect of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, in other words, from your point of view as a scriptwriter, what makes Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex special when compared to other Anime?

YS: I think that the visual is far outstanding compared to other Anime released in Japan. Also, Kamiyama-san was especially eager to spend lots of time on making a proper storyline, so I think the scripts are also well written. Usually in TV Anime, we only have 3 months from the time the project starts till it first shows up on TV. But in this case we took 5 months just for the synopsis, and started making animation and writing scripts after the synopsis was fixed. It's been more than a year since. Nearly 2 years of preparation period as in this series, is very, very exceptional.

ANN: It has been mentioned that Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex will be based on stories by original GITS creator, Masamune Shirow. How closely is Mr. Shirow working with Production I.G on this project?

YS: Yes, Shirow-san came up with plots for several episodes in the series that we used. He designed and named Tachikoma, which is the equivalent of Fuchikoma in the original Manga. Also, he gave us several sketches of characters and mechanical designs.

ANN: Mr. Kamiya, the GITS Manga, and the Movie directed by Mamoru Oshii are very different in mood. Which will Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex be closer to? Will it contain the same sense of humor as the Manga?

KS: I think it would be closer to Oshii's film, since I was taught by Oshii about film methods. But obviously, we do have humorous scenes, though characters don't suddenly deform as in the original Manga.

All images © Production I.G
used with permission
ANN: The Ghost in the Shell movie, directed by Mamoru Oshii, is considered by many to be a very "artistic" movie with important social commentary. What kind of production are you aiming to create?

KS: My aim is to target the masses. The complicated background stories and settings together with the seriousness of the storyline is as high quality as the film. But as this is a TV series, rather than making an artistic work, we had to consider the excitement within each episode and to be careful that stories will appear relatively easy to understand. But we do have social criticism in our work.

ANN: Mr. Ishikawa, what are your hopes for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex?

MI: The main creators for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex are quite young and all very challenging. We use digital techniques and 3D materials often, but these skills do not necessarily have direct relation with the skills in BLOOD. However all skills in this series are related somehow to the works we have created in the past.

ANN: GITS is being prepared for a simultaneous release in North America and will be shown on Television in the United States. When creating the episodes, were any special consideration given to the North American Audience, or were they created no differently than they would have been for a Japanese audience?

YS: I think that this series was created just like other animation targeting Japanese audience. I think interesting works have much in common throughout the world.

KS: I didn't particularly make the series targeted for the American audiences but we did keep in mind that they would be a large audience in the foreign countries.

ANN: This is your first Anime script, how does it feel to be a part of such a major undertaking your on only your first time?

YS: I feel very lucky to be involved in such a big project. I think that this work really has a strong Kamiyama-san taste and for my part, I tried my best to write the script that I was responsible for, as interesting and exciting as I could.

ANN: Did Mr. Masamune read and approve of each script before they went to production?

YS: Yes, of course. He has read and approved of all the scripts

ANN: How has working with such a renowned Anime director affected you as a director? Do you feel that his tutelage has made you a better director than you would have been otherwise?

KS: I think I have learned a lot of important things from Mamoru Oshii. The circumstance where I could make films with Mamoru Oshii gave me a big confidence and especially I have learned from him the technique to construct a proper story line. Whether I became a good director or not is not something I can talk about. I would like the audiences to see for themselves and decide.

ANN: Who is your favorite character?

KS: The main characters are Aramai, Kusanagi and Batou Togusa. I like all of them but especially Aramaki is a lot enthusiastic and active compared to Aramaki in the film and I'm fond of him.

ANN: Were there any particular difficulties in directing this Anime?

KS: There is already a feature film that is greatly appreciated throughout the world and there is also a wonderful original Manga. I think my series would be compared with those two. I cannot possibly do better than those two if I tried to copy them, so I took a different approach. I hope you will all like it. Please look forward to the broadcasting outside Japan.

Anime News Network would like to thank Production I.G for the opportunity to conduct this interview. In particular Mr. Ishikawa for the opportunity and Mr. Sakurai for fielding and translating all the questions.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex premiered on Japanese Television on October 1st, 2002. Production is by Production I.G and it is a Bandai Entertainment co-production.

Production I.G's website has a large section devoted to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It contains images, character profiles, interviews and more.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex © Shirow Masamune-Production I.G/Kodansha

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