Way back when I busy was passing out on the set of Muppet movies, I was also scheduled to speak with Kenji Kamiyama, the director of new 2D-3D anime movie 009 Re: Cyborg and alum of the Ghost in the Shell series. Being far too ill for this, I had to deputise. I was very disappointed.
But our friend Ben Mortimer did a bang-up job for us. He spoke to Kamiyama about the film, its interesting look and its quite explosively dramatic themes.
Here’s some of what Kamiyama had to say.
When Ghost in the Shell was written the internet wasn’t as wide reaching as it is now when everybody is online. With those films we were exploring the idea of people being connected to technology, with a blend that seemed like a near-future possibility and that was fun to create. Now, though, with our 009 cyborgs, they’re actually quite old technology. At the time they were created [in 1964, for the original manga] they were cutting edge but now it’s a kind of retro future. When I first heard about the plan to make this movie I wasn’t that struck by the cyborgs themselves, but this time I’m more interested in the themes, the political themes presented in bringing this global team together, and the idea of “What is justice?”
The rules of capitalism are well matured now and there’s a clear division between the winners and the losers. In Japan, we can’t change that situation, there’s no revolution coming, but people aren’t satisfied. In this film we take it to the extreme and say “What if god said to destroy capitalism?” Maybe people watching the film will wonder if god actually is saying that to them. That isn’t my main theme, though, it’s a doorway into what I’m more interested in, which is asking “What is common justice? What do we need for everyone to live together in peace?” That’s the thing I really want to focus on. But maybe we do need to overthrow capitalism’s winners achieve that.
From the beginning, this film was planned as a 3D movie. Though it’s not impossible to do ha with hand drawn animation, and I’ve done a bit of that in the past, there are limits to what you can do with that technology. In this case, then, the character models were created using 3D CGI but people expect Japanese animation to have that hand drawn look. We don’t really do the kind of animation that Disney and Pixar are doing now, and we probably couldn’t do it as well as them so it’s probably better for us to play to out strengths. So with this film we combined CG technique and a hand drawn look and in future I think we’ll be able to work more on that combination and achieve more of a hybrid than has been possible here, to get more of the best of both styles.
Thanks again to that Mortimer chap and especially Kamiyama San and his translator.
009 Re: Cyborg is in UK cinemas today. It’s a one-of-a-kind and if you’re at all partial to a bit of animated sci-fi, we recommend you make the effort.