Notes from the coffee mill...
And here it is already into May! Where does the time fly? However, the wait since the last editorial has well and truly been worth it. Mr. Rama Dunayevich from Palm Pictures LLC has graciously offered us the opportunity to interview Rin Taro, the director of CLAMP's X The Movie. "X" is being released theatrically by Manga Entertainment, the international animation label within Palm Pictures, Chris Blackwell's audio/visual entertainment company. Manga will also release the film on DVD and home video (both subtitled and dubbed) later this year. To find out more about Manga Entertainment go to the website www.manga.com. Now, without any further ado, on to the interview!
Animé Café: How did you first become involved with the animation industry back in the 1950s?
Rin Taro: I started with Toei Dôga (Toei Animation), which was established in 1958. I started out as an animator with aspirations of becoming a director. I made a move to Mushi Pro established by Osamu Tezuka and made my directing debut with Astro Boy.
AC: During the 1970s, your work seems to have been primarily for the TV shows with Toei Animation, however in the 1980s and 1990s, you switched in focus primarily towards OAVs and movies. What prompted this move?
RT: I was satisfied with the directing work doing animation for television and at the time there weren’t many theatrical release productions of animation. That was when I was asked to direct Galaxy Express 999, which was my first theatrical release anime. After that, the anime boom hit and theatrical release anime started to continuously be made. Anime on video also started to be produced. That’s why I got increasing offers to do theatrical release and video release anime. If given the opportunity, and if it sounds like an interesting plan, I would like to do a TV anime.
AC: How did you initially become involved with CLAMP and the production of X?
RT: The members of CLAMP are anime fans and they saw my Harmagedon. That’s how they came to ask me to work on the project.
AC: Your direction of Leiji Matsumoto's GE999 series is arguably your most well-known work in the US at this point in time. How would you compare X and the GE999 series and your involvement in each?
RT: The two fictional worlds are completely different. I accepted the offers for each work because I was very interested in the respective worlds of both works. Galaxy Express 999 is a story of dreams and adventures set in space. I accepted the directing offer because I wanted to create a type of science fiction fantasy anime the likes of which had never been done before. While X is set in everyday life, I consider it a dream fantasy that depicts the fear and fascination with an unseen extraordinary world. I accepted the directing offer for X because I was very interested in this world. It is my way as a professional, to accept any offer that I am interested in and that has an interesting plan.
AC: Did you experience any difficulty in compressing the detailed back-story and charcter development of CLAMP's X manga into the 100 minute time-frame of a theatrical release?
Considering that the X manga was, and is, largely unfinished, to what extent were you involved in developing the screenplay for the movie?
RT: It was difficult. But difficulties are a part of any project... Because X is a long and unfinished series, the script was written in cooperation with members of CLAMP. It was very difficult because (we) had to come up with a conclusion using the same characters as the manga... We progressed with many meetings with the original creators of the manga. We discussed issues such as how the film would end and to what degree the characters would match the manga. It was very difficult but enjoyable work.
AC: Could you tell the audience a bit about your latest project Alexander?
RT: I am participating in it as a producer. We planned to do it similar to an American comic. Accordingly, my friend Peter Chung (L.A. resident) was asked to do the character designs and the animation staff was mainly people from South Korea. It was the first anime production of its kind. If you get a chance, please do watch it!
AC: Do you currently have any other projects in the works?
RT: Currently I am taking three years to work on Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga’s 50-year-old science-fiction manga, Metropolis. It was the prototype manga for Astro Boy which is representative of Osamu Tezuka’s earlier work. The script is by my friend Katsuhiro Otomo. It will be an unprecedented theatrical release anime that will use digital technology. It will be a novel anime the likes of which have never been seen in Japanese animation. It is scheduled for release in Spring of 2001.
AC: Lastly, is there any message you want to send to the English-speaking fans of your work?
RT: I am determined to continue making anime for the rest of my life. Yoroshiku!
Thank you for the interview.
The Animé Café wishes to express our sincerest gratitude to Palm Pictires LLC, Manga Entertainment Inc., and Rin Taro for this opportunity and for doing the translations for the interview. Special thanks also goes to Jonathan Harmon for his work on the interview.
Akio Nagatomi, 2000.05.06
NB - This interview was one of Akio's on-going projects prior to his accident.
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