Oshii Discusses The Sky Crawlers at Press Conference
posted on by Evan Miller
Famed anime and live-action director Mamoru Oshii, who recently announced that he will be directing a full-length anime film based on the Hiroshi Mori novel series The Sky Crawlers, discussed the film at length at a press conference on Wednesday. The film will be Oshii's first fully animated feature in four years.
"There are battleships and planes in the story, so I'm sure some will say, 'Oh, it's another war film,'" said Oshii. "Actually, war serves only as the background of the story. The story focuses on a 16- or 17-year-old boy and girl in a fictional country who are aboard a battleship and fighting in a war. It's a story of love, life, and death." Oshii then joked that "no one believes me when I say that it's a romantic film."
Oshii discussed the development of the film at length. "When I was wondering what I should do after Innocence, it was proposed that I make an anime based on Hiroshi Mori's books. Despite this being the genre of anime, the main characters of most of my works have been older characters that are about 30 or 40 years old. So at first, I refused. I did have an interest in the military equipment, but I wasn't confident in my ability to portray younger characters. Yet, I had a change of heart, and I decided to take [the project] on. For me, I think a "change of heart" is a good thing. (laugh) However, I felt that if I wrote the script, the film would become like Innocence, so I thought about giving the project up. It was then that [writer-director Isao] Yukisada introduced me to a scriptwriter named Chihiro Itō. I was worried, since I've had difficulty working with female authors and script writers in the past, but I felt that if I stuck with my usual techniques, I couldn't write a story about young people."
Oshii stressed that that he has something to "say to younger people" with this film. "Until now, I've been so focused on my own things and didn't have anything to say to a younger audience. However, I had a shift in my thinking. This gets into my personal affairs a bit, but I [recently] met with my daughter again for the first time in 20 years. Thanks to that experience, I began to feel closer to younger people. The experience helped me realize that after 55 years of life, I'm living in a place where I can live life my way. I want to convey that feeling—to speak honestly about it. I don't want to preach to young people or talk about my hopes. All I want to say is that simply living life has worth to it. In reality, I think we get few choices as to how we live our lives. Life is tough, but if we prepare for the unhappy moments, that preparation becomes our reason for living. I think experiencing hardships is one of the points of life and living."
One big factor that affects the release of The Sky Crawlers is the release of Hayao Miyazaki's new film, which is scheduled to arrive in theaters around the same time. "I'm batting with the Master of Mitaka* quite a lot, aren't I? It isn't as if we are competing," Oshii said with a laugh. "Mr. Miyazaki's next film is definitely going to mark a turning point for him, but I wouldn't think of his film as competition, so I think we'll be fine. In a sense, the two works look similar. Much like Innocence resembled Howl's Moving Castle, I think these two works will look similar as well. We're on the same wavelength. (Laughs.)"
Returning to his description of Sky Crawlers, Oshii said that the film will become "...a compelling drama. The biggest reason for this project is that I felt that a real sense of drama could be weaved into this film. I looked into adding love scenes and sex scenes. I want to portray characters that have a real sense of life. In the end, I think this work will be a real test of my skills."
Source: Cinema Cafe
*"Master of Mitaka" refers to Miyazaki. Mitaka is the city where his studio's Ghibli Museum is located.
Image © Hiroshi Mori/The Sky Crawlers Project