Friday, April 14, 2006

Tori Miki Visits Cornell (Out of the Archives 5)

Tori Miki is an award-winning manga artist and writer. In the anime community, he is known for having penned the screenplay of Patlabor WXIII, the third Patlabor movie. Many years before that movie was finally released, Tori Miki visited with a group of CJAS members, and we spent an afternoon hanging out with him. The following article and interview (from 1996) used to be featured on the CJAS website, but it's not there anymore (probably because it's so old). I didn't want it to vanish forever, so I contacted Jerry (the original author) who gave me permission to republish it here.

Tori Miki Visits Cornell

by Jerry Hsu

TORI Miki visited Cornell University right before the start of the Fall '96 semester. While at Cornell, he spoke with a small group of CJAS members. He discussed his work on a new Patlabor movie, his thoughts on anime, and some of his manga works for which he had recently won two major awards in Japan.

CJAS members with Tori Miki

Front row, from the left: Kisu Sung, Jin, John Garza, Tori Miki (centre), Cedric Banker, Jerry Hsu, Lawrence Eng.
Back row, from the left: Kevin Sung, Charles Chen, Sen-Fai Lee, Michael Yang, Lilian Olsen

(Click on picture for 469KB version.)

Patlabor 3

Of course, one of the first topics discussed was the third movie of the Mobile Police Patlabor series. This movie will be set in Tokyo between the times of P1 and P2.

The first revelation was that director OSHII Mamoru and screenplay writer ITOH Kazunori are not working on this film. For them, P2 was their grand finale. Thusly, the door was opened for TAKAYAMA Fumihiko and Mr. TORI to step in as director and writer, respectively. Remaining from Team Headgear are IZUBUCHI Yutaka and YUUKI Masami as producers. TORI Miki's involvement came through his friendship with YUUKI and IZUBUCHI. (The character and mechanical designers, as well as the soundtrack composer have not yet been chosen.) With the new production staff came the desire to try something different with the Patlabor universe. The second revelation was that while Ingrams will be present, the SV2 will not be the main characters. Instead, the main character will be a detective (not Matsui). SHAFT and the Griffon will not be involved. The story is based on a manga story involving a man-made monster created by biotechnology, called Waste #13. The mood will be along the same darker, less comical mood of P1 and P2. The story is set in Tokyo between P1 and P2. Some of the new mecha designs will be underwater labors. Further Patlabor movies could still involve the SV2 in pre-P2 time.

P3 Quick Facts

Title: Waste #13
Budget: Unreleased
Unofficial Producer: IZUBUCHI Yutaka
Director: TAKAYAMA Fumihiko (Directed some original Macross TV eps and Gundam 0083 eps.)
Screenplay: TORI Miki
Mecha designers: Undecided
Character designer: Undecided
Soundtrack Composer: Undecided
Tentative release date: Winter 98/99

Question and Answer with TORI Miki

On Anime

Q: Who do you like more? Miyazaki or Oshii?
A: He liked Miyazaki more when he first started, but not as much now. People are stating to grow more distant from Miyazaki's anime. Current anime is starting to oppose Miyazaki's style.

Q: Who would you like to work with on an anime?
A: He doesn't know yet because this is his first anime job.

Q: Do you think that Takahata and Miyazaki are pompous for setting up an animation school? (question posed by Cedric)
A: They have the experience to do it.

On Manga

Q: How did you start in the manga business?
A: He submitted work to a contest (judged by Tezuka) and was accepted.

Q: How many volumes of manga have you completed?
A: 50 short series/stories.

Q: What is your work schedule like?
A: He pretends to work but just sends email five days a week. He actually does work 2 days before his weekly deadline.

Q: Are there any American cartoons that you like?
A: Tex Avery cartoons (Droopy Dog). He doesn't think any of the more recent American animation is interesting. (except Simpsons!)

Q: Do you watch Sailor Moon?
A: He watches it because his daughter watches it.

Q: What anime do you like?
A: He likes Patlabor 2. Evangelion is not his taste, but he is deeply interested in that TV series.

Q: What do you like about Evangelion?
A: He has interest in serious human interaction. It takes a lot of ideas from classic anime (like Gundam), 60s' Japanese SF TV series (like Ultraman) and other many movies.

Q: What new anime are you looking forward to?
A: P3 of course and the Evangelion movie.

Q: Do you think there's a reflection of society in manga? i.e., manga becoming really violent.
A: He believes it's actually not as bad as it was before. Japanese society is going against extreme violence and so more recent manga is less violent in general than older manga.

Q: What trends do you see in anime and manga?
A: There's a trend to having not just one main character, but a group of main characters (re: Gundam Wing).

Q: Do you feel that Japanese society limits your creativity?
A: Writers want to write but editors won't let them.

On Otakus

Q: What do you think about people that meet to watch anime?
A: He knew that there were fans in the US, but was surprised at how in depth it (the interest and knowledge) was.

Q: How do you think otakus in Japan differ from American ones? Do they make things like music videos or parodies?
A: He thinks there are the same otakus in both Japan and US. There are lots of people that can talk amongst themselves about anime, but not with others. Being an otaku is useful for making music videos and things like that.

Q: What is your opinion on the illegal nature of fansubs?
A: He thinks it is okay to watch but not charge money. It is better for a fan to make a sub than a person who doesn't care about anime.

Q: What do you think about foreign companies producing anime like Ghost in the Shell?
A: Ghost in the Shell was made to be released internationally so he doesn't care. He personally noticed an overemphasis of Oriental culture.

Q: How do you feel about dubs for foreign release?
A: He realizes that fans like subs more than dubs. However, he thinks there are cases when dubs are better than subs. In Japan, films are usually subbed, TV is usually dubbed. There is actually such a thing as a dub otaku. He thinks that Serena matches Usagi.

More on Patlabor

Q: What is your favorite Patlabor episode, character, and mecha?
A: The first OAV series, Goto, and Griffon (Bad guy mecha are much cooler). Izubuchi was always drawing weird stuff like that since school.

Q: What did it take to prepare to write the script?
A: He's watched the previous anime and read the previous manga to maintain continuity. But he doesn't want to be too tied down because the movie is intended to be a little different from the current story.

Q: What will the mood be like?
A: It will probably be darker because the original manga episode is not a cheerful story. The SV2 lightens the mood but they won't be present in P3. He doesn't want to make it too dark, but the director (TAKAYAMA) is probably darker than he is.

Q: What is going to be the message in P3?
A: People interaction is going to be the focus. No central message.

Q: What is your dream project if P3 is successful?
A: He'd like to work on an anime based on his own manga or an original story written by himself. He'd direct himself. Patlabor is an established series so it was easier to get started and get funding. A new anime with no known name recognition is harder to get funded.

Questions in Reverse from TORI to CJAS

Q: Do we want to make anime?
A: You bet we would but we lack the skill.

Q: What do you see as the difference between anime and American animation?
A: People die in anime.
A: The scope of anime is huge compared to American animation which really is just for kids.
A: It seems that for American animation, marketing (toys) is more important than the story or the animation itself.

Sketch of CJAS Members

It's here! The long awaited sketch of the Twelve Headed Ingram Known as CJAS, by Tori Miki!


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