Manga/Anime Memorandum

random thoughts on manga and anime

LYRICS ANALYSIS OF KUGUTSUUTA

 

Kugutsuuta, the theme song for Ghost in the Shell 2 Innocence, is not talked about as often as Utai is.
Yet, its lyrics are vague and worth analyzing. Let’s check the background of the lyrics.

 

The original lyrics

1st song
Flowers Grieve and Fall

一日一夜に月は照らずとも

悲傷しみ鵺鳥 鳴く

吾がかへり見すれど

花は散りぬべし

慰むる心は

消ぬるがごとく

新世に 神集ひて

世は明け

鵺鳥 鳴く

咲く花は

神に祈ひ祷む

生ける世に

我が身悲しも

夢は消ぬ

怨恨みて散る

 

Even though the moon does not shine through day and night

night birds sing in grief

Even if I look back

flowers will fall away

It is as if all solace

had vanished

As gods gather in the new era

day breaks

and the night birds sing

Blossoms

pray to gods

in this mortal world

lamenting over themselves

Dreams shall vanish

They fall away in grief

 

3rd song

The Ghost Awaits in the World Beyond

陽炎は黄泉に待たむと

陽炎は黄泉に待たむと

咲く花は

神に祈ひ祷む

生ける世に

我が身悲しも

夢は消ぬ

怨恨みて散る

百夜の悲しき常闇に

卵の来生を統神に祈む

 

Mirage shall wait in the underworld

Mirage shall wait in the underworld

The blossoms

pray to gods

in this mortal world

lamenting over themselves

Dreams shall vanish

They fall away in grief

in the everlasting darkness of grief

praying to gods for the reincarnation in the egg

 

 

Background

As I explained in the analysis of Utai lyrics, Kenji Kawai researched ancient text and wrote the lyrics in GitS. He made the lyrics of Kugutsuuta in the same way. Mamoru Oshii entrusted it to Kawai.

In this article, I’d like to check the meanings of the phrases from the same ancient text, especially from Manyoshu, again.

 

 

Preparatory research

一日一夜に/ day and night

The “day and night” phrase appears in some poems from Manyoshu:

…うつせみの 人なる我れや 何すとか 一日一夜も離り居て 嘆き恋ふらむ...

…in this earthly life, I don’t know why but I cannot help grieving to be away from her even for a day and night…

 

…遠くあれば 一日一夜も思はずて あるらむものと 思ほしめすな...

…even though we are distant from each other now, please do not believe that I would spend a day and night without thinking of you…

Both are poems about the sadness of being away from a lover or a wife.
“Day and night” emphasizes that they can’t stand being away from lovers even for a short time.

 

月は照らずとも/ even though the moon does not shine

This phrase appears in Manyoshu:

我が背子と ふたりし居らば 山高み 里には月は 照らずともよし

As long as I spend time with my man, I don’t mind if the high mountain hides the moon from this village

It’s a poem about friendship. The two guys were going to spend time watching the moon at night, but the mountain hid it. The important thing was to be with each other, not the moon.

The poem’s context doesn’t look so important in this case. I suppose it is a reference to Utai. The moon also symbolizes lovers in other poems, so it means that the sadness of separation doesn’t last so long. It also leads to the next phrase.

 

悲傷しみ鵺鳥 鳴く/ night birds sing in grief

There are several poems about sadness and night birds, but only once do those two phrases appear in the same poem:

…あやに悲しみ ぬえ鳥の 片恋づま...

…the princess yearns for his late wife so much like a night bird…

Again, the night bird symbolizes separation from lovers. As I mentioned in the analysis of Utai, it looks like Batou’s feelings are the basis of the lyrics’ theme.

 

吾がかへり見すれど/ even if I look back

“Look back” often appears in Manyoshu:

…露霜の 置きてし来れば この道の 八十隈ごとに 万たび かへり見すれど...

…I left my wife like frost or dew. I looked back at every corner, but…

 

…延ふ蔦の 別れし来れば 肝向ふ 心を痛み 思ひつつ かへり見すれど...

…I left my wife like crawling ivy. In this pain, I looked back, but…

 

…敷栲の 妹が手本を 露霜の 置きてし来れば この道の 八十隈ごとに 万たび かへり見すれど...

…I left my wife in bed like frost or dew. I looked back thousands of times at every corner, but…

Those are the same author’s poems about a separation from his wife and child.
In the lyrics, “look back” symbolizes one’s yearning for someone or something.

 

花は散りぬべし/ flowers will fall away

That phrase appears in one poem from Manyoshu:

妹が見し 楝の花は 散りぬべし 我が泣く涙 いまだ干なくに

The chinaberry flowers my late wife saw will fall away even before my tears dry up

It’s a poem about mourning for the poet’s wife’s death. The flowers symbolize that time flies quickly leaving the poet’s sadness behind. It’s a symbol of ephemerality.

 

慰むる心は/ solace
“Solace” often appears in Manyoshu:

慰むる 心はなしに 雲隠り 鳴き行く鳥の 音のみし泣かゆ

Nothing solaces me. I just cry like a bird in the cloud

 

…橋だにも 渡してあらば その上ゆも い行き渡らし 携はり うながけり居て 思ほしき 言も語らひ 慰むる 心はあらむを...

…if there was a bridge over the river, they could cross it, hug, hold hands, and talk with each other, which would solace them, but…

Needless to say, it’s related to various sadness like death or separation.

 


消ぬるがごとく/ it is as if … had vanished

That phrase appears in two poems from Manyoshu:

…うつせみの 借れる身なれば 露霜の 消ぬるがごとく...

…her transient body has vanished like dew or frost…

 

…置く露の 消ぬるがごとく…

(my mother’s life is,) as if mist vanishes,…

Again, it means the ephemerality of life.

 

新世に/ in the new era

It appears in three poems from Manyoshu:

…我が黒髪の ま白髪に なりなむ極み 新世に ともにあらむと 玉の緒の 絶えじい妹と 結びてし ことは果たさず...

…we promised to live together even in the new era when our black hair turns totally white, but that promise was not fulfilled…

 

…頼めりし 奈良の都を 新世の ことにしあれば 大君の 引きのまにまに 春花の うつろひ変り...

…we had relied on Nara city, but as the emperor moved to another capital in the new era, Nara changed like spring flowers…

 

… 図負へる くすしき亀も 新代と …

…even a turtle with a good omen appears in the new era…

In two of those poems, “new era” means the new capital cities. The interesting thing is that the new era is compared to a late wife in the first poem. I’m not sure if Kawai was inspired by that poem or not, but it is certain that death and the new era make a good contrast. That’s related to the reincarnation theme from the third song.

 

神集ひて/  gods gather

It appears in one poem from Manyoshu:

…八百万 千万神の 神集ひ 集ひいまして 神分り 分りし時に 天照らす 日女の命 天をば 知らしめすと...

…when gods gathered and had discussions, Amaterasu started to rule heaven, and…

In this context, the Yaoyorozu gods’ gathering means the determination of territories. In other words, they make the rules of the new era. In the context of the lyrics, it can mean that our old rules and customs vanish, and new ones appear.

 


世は明け 鵺鳥 鳴く/ day breaks and the night birds sing

I already explained that sentence in the analysis of Utai. The daybreak symbolizes the sun god’s revival from the Ama-no-Iwato myth, but the night birds symbolize a sad separation from a lover. And I wrote that maybe the sad separation part reflects Batou’s feelings for Motoko. That analysis is in line with the preparatory research above. (Or maybe the preparatory research was affected by my own analysis.) 

 

咲く花は/ blossoms

Blossoms often appear in Manyoshu:

咲く花は 過ぐる時あれど 我が恋ふる 心のうちは やむ時もなし

Blossoms may fall after full bloom, but my love won’t stop

 

咲く花は 移ろふ時あり あしひきの 山菅の根し 長くはありけり

Blooms may be ephemeral, but the lilyturf roots last long

As I explained in the “flowers will fall down” part, blossoms/ flowers symbolize ephemerality. In the context of the lyrics, it probably means the mortal entities abandoned by the new era.

 

祈ひ祷む/ pray to gods

Such phrases appear in several poems from Manyoshu, but the exact phrase is used only once:

布施置きて 我れは祈ひ祷む あざむかず 直に率行きて 天道知らしめ

I make an offering and pray to the gods. Please lead him directly to heaven, without deception

There are many reasons for praying to gods, but it is a prayer for the repose of the dead in this case. (The repose of the poet’s child.) When compared to the other parts of the lyrics, it looks like mortal entities’ prayer for reincarnation.

 


生ける世に/ in this mortal world

It appears in two poems from Manyoshu:

生ける世に 我はいまだ見ず 言絶えて かくおもしろく 縫へる袋は

In this world, I have never seen such fancy clothes

 

生ける世に 恋といふものを 相見ねば 恋のうちにも 我れぞ苦しき

Since I have never encountered romance in this world, my current romance feels like the most painful one

The mortal world and the gods’ world make a contrast in the lyrics.

 


我が身悲しも/ lamenting over themselves

Both 我が身/ “myself” and 悲しも/ “though I feel sad” appear in Manyoshu, but I didn’t find the exact phrase. It is just my guess, but maybe that phrase was inspired by this poem from Kokin Wakashu:

葦辺より 雲ゐをさして 行く雁の いやとほさかる わか身かなしも

Like looking at a goose flying from reeds into the sky, I feel sad for myself

The emotion of the poem fits Batou’s sentiment and the whole theme of Kugutsuuta.

 


夢は消ぬ/ dreams shall vanish

There are several poems about dreams or vanishment in Manyoshu, but I didn’t find the exact phrase. This is a bit different from the lyrics’ phrase, but I suppose it might be the inspiration source:

残りたる 雪に交れる 梅の花 早くな散りそ 雪は消ぬとも

The plum blossoms in the remaining snow, please do not fall away even if the snow will vanish

Mortal entities are phrased as flowers in the lyrics, so it is an understandable choice.

 


怨恨みて散る/ they fall away in grief

I have already checked “fall away” in earlier phrases, so I skip that part.
怨恨み is variously translated. Official CD liner notes say grief, but some other translations say anger or fury. Plus, it has a nuance of “obsession.”
Manyoshu includes several poems about urami, but the exact phrase can’t be seen.
I suppose Kawai was inspired by Kokin Wakashu in this case:

逢ふ事の なきさにしよる 浪なれは 怨みてのみそ 立帰りける

Like waves crashing on a shore, I just come and leave in grief, without meeting anyone

 

怨みても なきてもいはむ 方そなき かかみに見ゆる 影ならすして

Even though I resent and cry, I have nobody to say it to, other than the man in the mirror

 

秋風の 吹きうらかへす くすのはの うらみても猶 うらめしきかな

As the autumn wind flips kudzu leaves, I feel more and more regretful about you

I suppose the nuance of “obsession” is more emphasized in this context. Resentment or regret is a negative expression of obsession or attachment. It is also related to a Buddhistic theme.

 

陽炎は/ mirage

I need to give some explanations for this phrase. 陽炎/ kagiroi (kagerou) usually means heat haze, but considering the context of the lyrics, we can assume that Kawai also meant “mirage.” The official soundtrack CD liner notes say “ghost.” That is an understandable liberal translation. In this analysis, I check the context of “heat haze” from Manyoshu:

今さらに 雪降らめやも かぎろひの 燃ゆる春へと なりにしものを

Will it snow this late, in spring, the season of haze?

Mirage/ kagiroi has a much deeper context, but I’d like to explain it later.

 


黄泉に待たむと/ shall wait in the other world

黄泉 can be directly translated as the underworld. It feels like Kawai intended a more vague thing in the lyrics, so I wrote “the other world” in this article. The official CD liner notes say “the world beyond.”
That phrase appears only once in Manyoshu, in a very iconic poem:

…ししくしろ 黄泉に待たむと 隠り沼の 下延へ置きて うち嘆き 妹が去ぬれば...

…she said, “I’ll wait for my partner in the underworld,” and passed away, hiding her feelings deep in her heart…

It is a poem about a legend called Unai Otome. Two guys competed over a cute girl called Unai Otome, but she felt sad about it and killed herself. Since one of those guys killed himself for marrying her in the other world, the other guy killed himself too.
Considering the context of the lyrics and the story of Innocence, we can easily understand why Kawai chose it.

 

百夜の/ everlasting

The direct translation is “one hundred nights”. It appears in some poems from Manyoshu:

…天地の 神言寄せて 敷栲の 衣手交へて 己妻と 頼める今夜 秋の夜の 百夜の長さ ありこせぬかも

…with the help of heavenly and earthly gods, as I sleep with her this autumn night, hoping that she will be my wife, I wish it would last for one hundred nights

 

今夜の 早く明けなば すべをなみ 秋の百夜を 願ひつるかも

I can’t stand it if this night clears away too soon. I wish it would last for one hundred nights

We notice that it has positive meanings in any poem. I’m not sure, but I guess that the negative use of the one hundred nights is Kawai’s original idea.

 


悲しき/ in grief

Grief or sadness often appears in Manyoshu:

…思へども 悲しきものは 世間にぞある 世間にぞある

…the sad thing is nothing but this whole world

 

海原に 霞たなびき 鶴が音の 悲しき宵は 国辺し思ほゆ

At nights when the sea is hazy and cranes sing in sad voices, it reminds me of my homeland

 

常闇に/ darkness

The direct translation is “eternal darkness.” It appears in two poems from Manyoshu:

…渡会の 斎きの宮ゆ 神風に い吹き惑はし 天雲を 日の目も見せず 常闇に 覆ひ賜ひて...

…the emperor confused the enemy with the shrine’s divine wind and blinded them in eternal darkness with the divine cloud…

 

逢はむ日を その日と知らず 常闇に いづれの日まで 我れ恋ひ居らむ

I don’t know when I will see you again. I wonder how long I need to yearn for you in the eternal darkness

It is an impactful word, but it doesn’t have a specific context in Manyoshu.
I suppose Kawai chose the word so that it fits the lyrics about the “underground” part.

 

卵の/ in the egg

The official CD liner notes say “in the shell,” but the direct translation is “egg.” We need to consider the context of the egg first. It appears only in one poem from Manyoshu:

鴬の 卵の中に 霍公鳥 独り生れて 己が父に 似ては鳴かず 己が母に 似ては鳴かず...

A lesser cuckoo was born in a bush warbler’s egg. Its voice is not similar to its father’s or its mother’s…

It’s a poem about the lesser cuckoo’s brood parasite. It is phrased as “born in a bush warbler’s egg.” We can see why Kawai chose that word and why it can be translated as “shell”. In other words, the egg metaphorically shows that our earthly bodies are ephemeral.

 

来生を/ reincarnation

The direct translation is “afterlife.” It appears in two poems from Manyoshu:

この世にし 楽しくあらば 来む世には 虫に鳥にも 我れはなりなむ

As long as I live happily in this world, I don’t mind if I would become a bug or a bird in the afterlife

 

この世には 人言繁し 来む世にも 逢はむ我が背子 今ならずとも

This world is full of rumors. My sweetheart, I hope we will meet in the afterlife even if we can’t now

We already saw how some phrases from the lyrics can be linked to the reincarnation theme.

 

統神に祈む/ praying to gods

We already checked “praying” in the earlier phrase, so I’d like to consider the “gods” in this part.

Kawai used a different word for “gods” in an earlier phrase.
This “sumekami” means the emperors’ ancestral gods or gods worshipped in the imperial court’s official rituals.

The word appears in some poems from Manyoshu:

吾が大君 ものな思ほし 皇神の 継ぎて賜へる 我なけなくに

Please do not worry, your majesty. The ancestral god sent not only you but also me to this land

 

…そらみつ 大和の国は 皇神の 厳しき国 言霊の 幸はふ国と 語り継ぎ 言ひ継がひけり...

…they say Yamato is a land of the ancestral god’s dignity, the land full of emperors’ word spirits…

It’s difficult to imagine that Kawai gave a message about the Japanese imperial lineage, so I suppose he chose the word just to emphasize divinity and to control the syllable. Since Utai thematized Amaterasu from Ama-no-Iwato myth, we can assume that this sumekami means Amaterasu.

 

Overall tone

We immediately notice that the lyrics include more sad emotions than Utai did. Utai’s lyrics are basically a story of Ama-no-Iwato. And thus, Utai sounds like a song about “revival.” Like Amatarasu saw her own image in the mirror, reappeared from the cave, and brought light to the world again, the lyrics of Utai told how the sun breaks. On the other hand, the lyrics of Kugutsuuta focus more on separation, decline, death, grief, etc. We can easily understand that Kugutsuuta is a sort of answer to Utai, and the two songs make a good contrast. We need to analyze that aspect.

 

The continuity

The lyrics begin with the moon and night birds. They are obviously references to Utai. Since the song begins with familiar phrases, the audience notices that it is an answer to the previous song. The third sentence, “As gods gather in the new era,” is important. A similar phrase from Utai told about a god’s descent and made a tone like the divine emperor’s kingdom has begun. On the other hand, Utai tells an event of gods in heaven. We human beings don’t directly experience it. It sets a tone like the new era will begin in a totally new, different world, leaving us behind. If Utai’s lyrics were about a movement from up to down, Kugutsuuta did it conversely. The gods are rhetorically leaving from the earth to heaven. That contrast is in line with the difference between Ghost in the Shell and Innocence. Puppet Master brought light to this world in GitS, but the light leaves for another layer of the world in Innocence.

 

The theme of “obsession”

The later half of the lyrics tell the grief and obsessions of “flowers.” They are oriented to gods and heaven, but the higher entities abandon them in the earthly world. They grieve, envy, and get obsessed. They feel sad for themselves. We can compare such sentiment with various materials from the film. Maybe that’s Hadaly’s emotion. Or maybe that’s Batou’s feeling. It depends on which side you empathize with. Or maybe they mean the same thing. When we see dolls and feel their’ grief or anger, that’s our own sentiment projected onto the dolls. The film gives the impression like the director believes in the dolls’ agency, but we also notice that dolls are mirrors that reflect human beings. We feel sad since the world and higher entities leave us behind. Dolls show such a pitiful mirror image of ourselves.

 

The theme of “reincarnation”

At the end of the lyrics, it tells the flowers’ prayer for reincarnation into different shells/ eggs. The first phrase from the lyrics is important for analyzing that part:
Mirage shall wait in the other world”

I intentionally skipped it in the preparatory research because I believe it’s a key element of the lyrics. In my opinion, this poem from Manyoshu is an important inspiration source for that phrase:

東の 野にかぎろひの 立つ見えて かへり見すれば 月かたぶきぬ

When I see the morning light in the east, I look back and see the moon declining

I explained that “kagiroi” means heat haze, but it means morning light in this poem. The poem looks mundane at first, but its context is pretty deep. The author of the poem is a famous poet/ bureaucrat called Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. Kakinomoto arguably served Prince Kusakabe and made poems about the prince. However, Kusakabe died before becoming the emperor. Manyoshu includes many poems about Kusakabe’s death. The poem from the “gods gather” part is one of them.

A while after Kusakabe’s death, Kusakabe’s young son/ the next prince called Prince Karu went on hunting with Kakinomoto. Kakinomoto made the poem at that time.
Now we can clearly see the meanings of “morning light” and “declining moon.” It’s a poem about blessing the young prince Karu and mourning over the late prince Kusakabe at the same time.

The morning light symbolizes the arrival of new life/ hope after despair/ death. Let’s put that context into the lyrics and check them again:

Morning light shall wait in the underworld

Morning light shall wait in the underworld

The blossoms pray to gods in this mortal world, lamenting over themselves

Dreams shall vanish

They fall away in grief, in the everlasting darkness of grief, praying to gods for reincarnation in the egg

I suppose the meanings of the lyrics are much clearer now. “Morning light” and “the underworld” make a paradoxical pair, but they also symbolize the cycle of reincarnation, like the sun always shines after moon nights. Flowers and the sun/ gods just make a dichotomy in “Flowers Grieve and Fall”, but they make an everlasting cycle of reincarnation in “The Ghost Awaits in the World Beyond”. By closing the reincarnation circle, it feels like even Utai was a preparation for that conclusion.

 

In Utai, the daybreak/ morning light symbolized Amaterasu’s rebirth from the Ama-no-Iwato myth. The moon symbolized Yata-no-Kagami, the mirror that reflected Amaterasu’s face in the Ama-no-Iwato myth. Two important symbols from the same myth make a different context in Kugutsuuta. It feels like the dolls’ sad prayer to the sun god was accepted in the third song, The Ghost Awaits in the World Beyond.

 

Conclusion

In Utai, the key elements of the lyrics were Ama-no-Iwato and Okuninushi’s poem from Kojiki.

In Kugutsuuta, the key element is Kakinomoto no Hitomaro’s poem from Manyoshu.
Both of them are related to the sadness of being away from someone.

Kenji Kawai reconstructed and recontextualized the dichotomy of rebirth/ hope and separation/ sadness. He connected those two things together and made them into the cycle of reincarnation. He prepared the sad atmosphere in the first song and revealed the reincarnation structure in the climax/ the third song. It is an amazing lyric-writing skill.

MAMORU OSHII book review [nonfiction] Part 48, Storyboard of Talking Head

-----

There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanations about the contents. My Mamoru Oshii book collection is far from complete, but I'd like to write some short summaries for each of those books.

I apologize in advance for grammatical errors and misinformation.

-----

 

title: トーキングヘッド 絵コンテ集

(Talking Head: Storyboard)

release: 10/1/1992

publisher: Bandai

[contents]

storyboard

About Talking Head, Mamoru Oshii

Talking Head is an Unprecedented and Exciting FIlm, essay by Shinsuke Nakajima

staff list

[review]

This is a storyboard for Talking Head.

It was sold at theatres when the film was released.

 

The storyboard itself is not so different from Oshii's storyboards for other anime films. However, some say that's an important part of the book: Later, Oshii came to say that all films became like anime. It looks like this '90s storyboard retrospectively shows the origin of his idea.

 

He had wrote storyboards for other live-action films as well, but full live-action storyboard books are rare. (There's no full storyboard book for The Red Spectacles.) Plus, other storyboard writers undertakes some action parts in later projects. This book for Talking Head is, for now, only full live-action storyboard written solely by Oshii.

 

It's a very satisfying book for Oshii fans like me, but it doesn't tell any hidden information or metaphors. It includes some omitted shots as well, but they don't change the film so much. The afterwords by Oshii and Nakajima just retell the basic concept of the film.

 

If you want to learn storyboarding/ directing techniques, it's an interesting material for you.

MAMORU OSHII book review [extra] A FLEDGING PRODUCER'S DIARY

-----

There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanations about the contents. My Mamoru Oshii book collection is far from complete, but I'd like to write some short summaries for each of those books.

I apologize in advance for grammatical errors and misinformation.

-----

 

title: 僕のプロデューサーかけだし日誌

(A Fledging Producer's Diary)

release: 12/25/1987

publisher: Triangle

f:id:ht1990:20111219160337j:plain

[contents]

"Dear Fans", introduction

Pre-Urusei Yatsura Days

Before I became a producer

Stories Behind the TV Series Project

Contract Problems

The Begenning of the TV Series

Staffing

Originality of the Manga Author and the Anime Creators

Necessity of a Studio

Fun and Pain of the Films

Urusei Yatsura 1: Only You

Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer

Urusei Yatsura 3: Remember My Love

Urusei Yatsura 4: Lum The Forever

Introduction to Urusei Yatsura 5, Kanketsu-hen

Urusei Yatsura 5: Boy Meets Girl

The Main Studio Is Magic Bus

What Is Producers' Job?

My Producer Diary

Interview: Rumiko Takahashi & Shigekazu Ochiai

Urusei Yatsura TV series: Episode List with the Main Staff List and TV-Ratings List

Afterword

f:id:ht1990:20210424181932j:plain

[review]

This is an essay written by Shigekazu Ochiai.
Shigekazu Ochiai was a producer of Kitty Film. He is the main person who launched the Urusei Yatsura anime project. Before the release of UY Movie 5: Kanketsu-hen, he released the book to explain his situation to the fans. The fans were a bit TOO enthusiastic in those days, so he needed to calm them down.

The book starts with Ochiai's early career. He used to work in a newspaper company, but he quit and entered a university’s film department. After graduating from the university, he entered Saito Production as a scriptwriter. He became a friend of Kazuo Koike there, and they launched a small gekiga studio. They had some issues afterward, so Ochiai quit the studio. After that, he entered Tatsunoko Production. However, he couldn’t feed his family with Tatsunoko’s salary. He quit Tatsunoko and entered Kitty Film.
Ochiai knew Rumiko Takahashi from her early days because he was a supervisor of Kazuo Koike’s Gekiga Sonjuku school. From 1977, Kazuo Koike ran a gekiga creator school. That's Gekiga Sonjuku. Rumiko Takahashi was an excellent student there. So, Ochiai knew that Takahashi would be a star creator soon. That's why he launched an anime project of Urusei Yatsura in Kitty Film.
However, the Fuji TV network’s reaction was so weak at first. Ochiai explains that manga comic was not established as a culture yet in those days. Plus, Urusei Yatsura was not so popular at first. A chief editor of Shonen Sunday asked other anime studios to adapt the series earlier, but those studios just declined.

Coincidentally, Fuji TV was planning a drastic change in programming in those days. They wanted something new to put into the prime time slot. Ochiai also says that the popurality of the original manga rised during the business discussions. That helped the anime project a lot. (Still, he had to start the anime production without a formal approval by Fuji TV.)

 

Ochiai chose Studio Pierrot as the main studio because he thought The Wonderful Adventures of Nils was a good anime. In the Tatsunoko Production era, he was already acquainted with Pierrot’s president called Yuji Nunokawa. He says that most of the UY’s early main staff were his acquaintances. The only exception was the chief director, Mamoru Oshii. Nunokawa explained to him, “It is a challenging choice, but Oshii is a very useful person. I recommend him on my responsibility.”


Not only Oshii, but the anime’s staff got into a severe conflict with Ochiai. The staff used to say to him, “I can’t accept your correction because it’s not the director’s order.” Oshii said to him, “I can’t accept your correction because it’s the staff’s decision.” As a result, he couldn’t control the series at first. The worst thing is that they got so many complaints from fans and the TV network.
Ochiai and the head members discussed and decided two things:
First, they stopped the “two chapters in one episode” style. Ochiai chose that style because he thought it would be the best considering the source material’s pacing. But he realized that the anime staff had no free space to fill in. As a result, the staff deleted necessary scenes from the manga. They solved that problem by making whole 20 minutes episodes.
Second, they drastically changed the main staff. Yu Yamamoto used to be a head-writer, but Ochiai himself became a head writer. He was too busy to fully join the production, so Kazunori Ito acted for him. Masaki Tsuji joined the writers, and the background artist was changed to Torao Arai.

They also discussed the removal of Mamoru Oshii, but Yuji Nunokawa strongly opposed it. Ochiai admits that the team would have collapsed if they fired Oshii.
After the drastic changes, Ochiai came to receive positive reactions. He still didn’t like Oshii & Ito’s dark storytelling, though.

 

Ochiai says that the idea of the feature film was brought up by Kazuki Tanaka. Tanaka is a chief editor who first featured Takahashi in Shonen Sunday.
Ochiai chose Tomoko Konparu as a main-writer, but It took a long time for her to finish the script. The worse thing is that the storyboard artist took even more time. In the end, that storyboard artist was not useful, so Mamoru Oshii was brought to the film. Oshii and Konparu got into a conflict. In the climax of Only You, it is revealed that Elle froze many handsome guys and kept them in storage. That is Oshii’s idea. Konparu and Ochiai didn’t like it, but Ochiai thought as a producer that he should accept various ideas to make the film into reality.
Ochiai skipped or just didn’t know this, but Oshii was depressed by the result. It was not a “film” he imagined. He thought it was just a long version of the TV series. After that, Oshii was convinced that directors must stick to their visions no matter what. However, Ochiai, Takahashi, and the fans of UY were so happy. Ochiai was unsatisfied with the TV series, so he was glad to see fans’ positive reactions in the theaters.

 

The real problem was the Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer. The idea of the second film was brought up by Toho.
Rumiko Takahashi wrote a plot at first, but she couldn’t finish it. She was too busy to correct it, so Takeshi Shudo joined as a main-writer. However, Mamoru Oshii didn’t like Shudo’s script. (The story behind Shudo’s UY2 is interesting, but Ochiai didn’t mention it in this book.) Then, Oshii recommended Kazunori Ito to Ochiai. Ito wrote a script based on episode 78, “Pitiful! Mother of Love and Banishment!?”. Ochiai declined it for the obvious reason. When they ran out of time, Oshii said to Ochiai, “I have an idea”. Ochiai thought Oshii’s new plot was pretty good. Takahashi was not satisfied with the plot, but he convinced her. (He skipped or didn’t know this, but it was Oshii’s conspiracy. Oshii intentionally prepared the “make this, or cancel the project” situation to make his vision into reality. Oshii himself says so in some books.)
The real problem was the storyboard. When Ochiai checked the first third of the storyboard, he realized that it was totally different from the plot. He still ordered some correction, but he couldn’t do anything with the limited schedule. He says, “I wanted to quit and run away with the finished storyboard.” After the preview, he thought, “I admit that Oshii is an extremely talented director, but how dare he make a UY film like this?”
After the preview, Rumiko Takahashi said, “The manga is manga, the film is film. The film has its own merits. It is based on my manga, but the film staff must make it into a film. That’s my thoughts on the film.”

 

After finishing Beautiful Dreamer, Oshii quit, saying, “I burnt out.” Ochiai got angry and thought, “What are you, Ashita no Joe?”
BD’s box office was so bad, but the home video sold well. That “unpopular in theaters, but popular in the home video” aspect can be commonly seen in Oshii’s anime. Even BD is pretty popular compared to Oshii’s other anime. (GitS sold so poorly in theaters.)
Ochiai thinks that BD was a really bad choice for Urusei Yatsura as a franchise. The other creators like Kazuo Yamazaki were influenced by BD, and UY went to the “niche” side of anime. Ochiai thinks that UY should be more mainstream, so he doesn’t like the tone set by Oshii.

 

After that, Ochiai talks about other films and Movie 5. I skip that part because this review is a part of the “Mamoru Oshii book list”. Plus, the most interesting part is from the launch of the TV series to BD.
What interested me is the story behind the “They Were Eleven” film project. “They Were Eleven” is Moto Hagio’s famous manga series in 1975. When Kitty Film decided to adapt it into a feature film, Hagio requested that Mamoru Oshii direct the film. She watched Beautiful Dreamer and liked it. She was interested in how Oshii would handle her manga in the film form. Oshii was making Angel’s Egg at that time, so They Were Eleven was directed by Satoshi Dezaki. Ochiai didn’t mention this, but Moto Hagio became a big fan of Angel’s Egg.

 

The interview with Rumiko Takahashi might be important to her fans, but, to be honest, it is not so interesting to me. If you’re interested in interviews with her, I recommend other books.

 

To conclude, this is a must-buy book even to Oshii fans. It explains many aspects Oshii doesn’t mention in other books. The unfortunate thing is that it is out-of-print after the first print. I hope someone will reprint and translate it.

MAMORU OSHII book review [fiction] Part 22, ANGEL'S EGG (ANIMAGE BUNKO)

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There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanations about the contents. My Mamoru Oshii book collection is far from complete, but I'd like to write some short summaries for each of those books.

I apologize in advance for grammatical errors and misinformation.

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title: 天使のたまご

(Angel's Egg)

release: 11/30/1985

publisher: Tokuma Shoten

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[contents]

Angel's Egg

afterword by Mamoru Oshii

afterword by Yoshitaka Amano

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[review]

This is an illustrated novel version of Angel's Egg. It was released under Animage Bunko brand slightly ealier than the anime.

The story and the basic visuals are almost the same as the anime. It doesn't have deeper explanations about the story. The text part just tells what's happening in the illustrations or just quotes Bible. It was seemingly released as an advertising item of the anime. If you're not interested in Yoshitaka Amano's illustration, you don't need to get it. Some of the illustrations are included in The Art of Angel's Egg.

 

There are two different explanations about this book.

In the afterword of this book, Yoshitaka Amano says that it consists of layouts for the anime. So, this book is just a collection of the preproduction materials. 

In Amano's biography book called Beyond The Fantasy, however, Amano says that he and Oshii made the bunko version first. According to the book, they needed to make some kind of source material to convince the sponsors. That story contradicts the bunko's afterword and The Art of Angel's Egg.

In Animec Mar. 1986 issue, Oshii says that he requested character design boards for the proposal document from Amano.

In the end, only the interview from "Beyond The Fantasy" doesn't make sense. For now, I can't tell whether the bunko version was made before the anime or not.

MAMORU OSHII book review [fiction] Part 21, YUBAE SAKUSEN

-----

There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanations about the contents. My Mamoru Oshii book collection is far from complete, but I'd like to write some short summaries for each of those books.

I apologize in advance for grammatical errors and misinformation.

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title: 夕ばえ作戦

(Operation Twilight)

release: 09/01/2009 - 02/01/2011

publisher: Tokuma Shoten

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[contents]

vol.1

chapter 1 - 5

explanation about the source material

afterword by Mamoru Oshii

afterword by Tsutomu Ono

vol.2

chapter 6 - 10

vol.3

chapter 11 - 15

vol.4

chapter 16 - 21

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[review]

Yubae Sakusen is a manga written by Mamoru Oshii and drawn by Tsutomu Ono. It's based on a '60s sci-fi juvenile written by Ryu Mitsuse.

I already explained in another review that Oshii has been a big fan of Ryu Mitsuse. According to the afterword of this manga, Oshii was an enthusiastic reader of S-F Magazine from junior high school days. When he was in high school, he read Mitsue's "Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights" and got shocked by it. One day, he visited Mitsuse's house. After several visits, Mitsuse told him that he should quit the left protest and face his real-life problems. He got pissed off and stopped visiting Mitsuse's house. About 17 years later, Oshii made Angel's Egg. Mitsuse came to a talk session about the anime, so Oshii finally reconciled with Mitsuse.

After all, Mitsuse's works have a big impact on Oshii.

 

Yubae Sakusen is a time travel story for junior high school kids. The protagonist is a junior high school boy called Shigeru. One day, Shigeru finds a weird machine in an antique store. When he accidentally starts the machine, he leaps to Edo era, where Iga ninja clan is fighting against evil Fuma ninja clan. The protagonist joins the battle with modern technology and scientific knowledge.

 

Since it was written as a juvenile, the plot sounds a bit absurd. The novel explains that normal ninja's physical ability is lower than modern teenagers because Edo people's nutrition condition was so bad. It is a very simple juvenile. (Considering the release date, I should say it was an epoch-making story. The explanation part of vol.1 emphasizes the novel's importance as a starting point of the jidaigeki/ sci-fi mixture.)

Why did Oshii adapt it into modern manga? Oshii says in the afterword that a heroine called Yoko was so impressive. Yoko is a younger sister of the enemy’s boss. She fights against the protagonist at first. Since the protagonist takes her to the modern era, she gradually becomes his friend. She tries to stop the battle at the end.

According to the afterword, Yoko defined Oshii's "bishoujo"/ pretty girl image. He even says that Yoko is an archetype of his heroines. So, she became the core of the manga adaptation. I think Oshii’s plan worked perfectly. I really like Yoko in this manga. This level of straight heroine is rare in Oshii’s stories.

Oshii changed many plot ideas, character relationships, and even the conclusion of the story. Yet, as Oshii said in the afterword, it somehow feels like a very authentic adaptation. It directly conveys the emotions of the story and the characters.

 

It's a shame that this manga is not well-known even to Japanese Oshii fans. I can't find many copies on online markets. This is not a popular opinion, but I think it is one of the best things Oshii has ever made. I hope more people will read it.

MAMORU OSHII book review [nonfiction] Part 47, ANGEL'S EGG GUIDEBOOK

-----

There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanations about the contents. My Mamoru Oshii book collection is far from complete, but I'd like to write some short summaries for each of those books.

I apologize in advance for grammatical errors and misinformation.

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title: 天使のたまご GUIDE BOOK

(Angel's Egg Guidebook)

release: 12/10/1985

publisher: Tokuma Shoten

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[contents]

summary and screen captures

key animation by Yasuhiro Nakura

interview with Mamoru Oshii

interview with Shichiro Kobayashi

interview with Yoshitaka Amano

interview with Yasuhiro Nakura

interview with Jinpachi Nezu, Mako Hyodo, and Shigeharu Shiba

illustration by Kitaro Kosaka, Toshio Kawaguchi, Masaaki Endo, Toyoaki Emura, and Nobuharu Otsuka

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[review]

This is an extra item of Animage Dec. 1985 issue. Animage used to release this small anime-film guide book series.

 

Most pages are filled with screen captures, story summary, and Bible quotes, but it also includes some interesting interviews.

In Oshii's part, he says that only the fossil of an angel was brought from Lupin III. The girl in Angel's Egg is similar to the girl from Lupin III project, but they have totally different backgrounds, he says. The girl in Lupin III is a daughter of a mysterious architect. Lupin finds out that her true identity is an angel. Oshii also says that she plays a Beatrice-type role. On the other hand, the girl in Angel's Egg is an ordinary girl.

At the end of the film, it is revealed that the egg is empty. Oshii says, it means that the girl believed in a nonexistent thing. In other words, the egg symbolizes hope or dream. As long as she believes in it, she can't face the reality. He also says that the story structure is based on Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. The boy's cross-shape canon symbolizes burden of the reality.

Oshii says, "The Bible says Noah's dove came back, but I suppose it didn't come back in reality. It died or flew away. The boy can only see feathers without the dove. I hope that scene will evoke some emotion in the audience." He also says that the girl's ending shows salvation.

 

As for the reason why Oshii featured Christianity, he says, "Anyone has their own background. To me, it was Christianity. That's all. I have some weird faith and images of the apocalypse." He did it in the abstract fantasy form just because Yoshitaka Amano's character design doesn't fit Japanese environments.

 

Oshii says that Angel's Egg is a futuristic/ post-Noah story, so maybe the girl is a descendant of Noah. But he also says that maybe the whole world is the girl's dream.

 

Most importantly, he says, "The destruction of the egg and the transformation of the girl's ego will change the shape of the world. I suppose only that part can convey a religious message." In other words, he says that religious symbols are actually not so religious. Angel's Egg is a story of self-transformation, and it is a religious story only in that sense.

 

 

Other interview pages tell nothing special. The illustration part includes some Ghibli animators.

MAMORU OSHII book review [nonfiction] Part 46, STRANGE TALES, TACHIGUISHI RETSUDEN

-----

There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanations about the contents. My Mamoru Oshii book collection is far from complete, but I'd like to write some short summaries for each of those books.

I apologize in advance for grammatical errors and misinformation.

-----

 

title: 異聞・立喰師列伝

(Strange Tales: Tachiguishi Retsuden)

release: 09/22/2006

publisher: Kinema Junposha

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[contents]

biography of Mamoru Oshii

interview: Oshii talks about Tachiguishi Retsuden

genealogy of Tachiguishi

early proposal document

background of the original novel

interview with Mitsuhisa Ishikawa

long interview with Mamoru Oshii

analysis of Tachiguishi Retsuden

advertising materials

A Film Like A "Stray Dog": analysis by Ryota Fujitsu

credit

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[review]

This is a booklet of Tachiguishi Retsuden DVD Box Collectors' Set. The DVD includes an extra disc, which covers a making video and an interview.

 

The most interesting part is the early proposal document. Oshii developed the idea of Tachiguishi from the 80s, so he tried to adapt it into an episode of the Twilight Q series. The title is "The Last Tachigui Hero". The story is set in a post-apocalypse world. A few wanderers find a soba joint in the wasteland and fight with each other. The last soba joint in the world is destroyed in the end. Later, the plot was adapted into an episode of Shin Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden. The proposal document also includes Oshii's storyboard.

 

In the long interview part, Oshii himself explains the concept of the film.

For example, grifters in the film have ideological backgrounds. Oshii says that he needed those ideologies because grifters can't get any motivation other than that. Fast food grifting is not a profitable job. Oshii had to make up their motivations. That's why he started the film from the explanation about post-war history.

That starting point led him to portray the 60s and 70s new-left movement. The first three grifters show three different generations/ phases of the leftists. 

Oshii also says that the curry part is a parody/ caricature of the Asian culture movement in the 70s. After the failure of the new-left movement, people tried to find new things in Asian countries. The most typical example is Shinya Fujiwara's photo tour in India. Oshii had been heavily inspired by Shinya Fujiawara's books, especially by Tokyo Drift, but he decided to cut ties with Fujiwara in Tachiguishi Retsuden. After the bubble economy burst, Fujiwara's antithesis became ineffective. Oshii said good-bye to the hippie-like Asian movement.

After all, Tachiguishi Retsuden was Oshii's summary of Japanese post-war history and a good-bye to Tokyo. Tokyo can't be a core theme anymore.

 

The analysis part covers parody illustrations drawn by Tetsuya Nishio, so Nisho fans should get the booklet.

 

This DVD Box set also includes a full storyboard of the film. It doesn't have Oshii's commentary, but it shows some deleted scenes and lines.