Assault Girls Director Mamoru Oshii Interviewed
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
The Japan Times news website posted an interview with director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, The Sky Crawlers, Patlabor) on Friday regarding his new live-action film Assault Girls, which premiered in Japan on Saturday, December 19. This film is Oshii's first live-action feature film since 2001's Avalon.
The science-fiction story is set on a post-apocalyptic desert battlefield where giant monsters named "Suna Kujira" (literally, sand whales) roam. Three beautiful female hunters — all of whom wield assault rifles and other powerful weapons — engage in battle with the monsters, including the biggest of them all, the Madara Suna Kujira (spotted sand whale). Meisa Kuroki (Vexille - 2077 Isolation of Japan, Crows Zero), Rinko Kikuchi (The Sky Crawlers, Babel), and Hinako Saeki (Shin-Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden, Rasen) play the three hunters Gray, Lucifer, and Colonel.
In the interview, Oshii said he did not have a master plan for the movie, and added that the process of assembling the different parts together was more accumulative. "While I'm making one film, I'm thinking about how to make another, even while on the set," Oshii said. "I remember [those ideas] and when I get the next chance [to make a film], I use them, with the same characters and the same world."
Oshii said he made the film to create a fantasy film of the type that is rarely made in Japan. "This sort of fantasy world is often found in Japanese games and anime, but that's about it," he said. He explains that this is why his film may have a more widespread appeal: the film has a unique setting and most of the dialogue is in English.
Oshii also commented that he makes films with modest budgets (the budget for Assault Girls was 100 million yen or about US$1.1 million), because "a director's job is to spend other people's money to make a film. But that's not something I'm really suited for. I want to do everything the way I like, so I have no choice but to work with fairly low budgets."
He also said he prefers to make movies quickly, because while working on one film, he gets ideas for many other films.
Oshii also confirmed that he plans to make another animated movie starting next spring. He also commented on the difference between making a live-action film and making an anime. "Animation is an accumulative process, taking one step at a time, like laying bricks," Oshii said. "You decide on a plan, lay the foundation, then take out your blueprint, look at it and start building. But with a live-action film, you don't know what you really have until you make it. I find that interesting. It's not that one is better than the other. For me it's better to do both."
Oshii had previously written and directed a live-action "Assault Girl: Kentucky no Hinako" short with Saeki for his Shin-Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden (The Women of Fast Food) film anthology. He then directed the live-action "Assault Girl 2" short with Kikuchi for another film anthology, Kiru ~ KILL. At The Sky Crawlers' DVD/Blu-ray Disc release event in March, Oshii said that he has plans for two live-action feature films starting this year, as well as one anime film in the 2011 timeframe. In October, Oshii said that he received an inquiry regarding a Hollywood remake of Assault Girls before the film was even finished.
Image © Yoshiaki Miura and courtesy of The Japan Times