Manga/Anime Memorandum

random thoughts on manga and anime

MAMORU OSHII book review [nonfiction] Part 42, THE ANALYSIS OF GHOST IN THE SHELL


There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanation 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 grammmatical errors or some misinformation.



title: THE ANALYSIS OF 攻殻機動隊


release: 11/22/1995

publisher: Kodansha


[table of contents]


summary of the film

comment about guns by Mamoru Oshii

design sheets of guns and layouts of gun fight scenes

comment by Kikuo Notomi

design sheets and layouts of Section 9's lab

comment by Takashi Watabe

comment about environments by Mamoru Oshii

comment by Atsuhi Takeuchi

design sheets and layouts of cities and market

design of machines

comment by Yasuhiro Ogura

digital effects (Seiichi Tanaka, Kaoru Matsumoto, Kenji Nagao)

color design (Kumiko Yusa)

photography (Hisao Shirai)

design sheets and layouts of museum

design sheets and layouts of tank

comment by Hiroyuki Okiura

editor's afterword

staff & cast list



This is a database of Ghost in the Shell.

It is probably only one book that covers layouts of the film. Unlike Methods series, it doesn't include Oshii's comment on each layout. Instead, the main writer called Toru Nozaki gives comments. They're pretty helpful to analyze the film's visuals. The design sheets are printed in large sizes. If you want to check the weapon designs, you should read this book.

The gun fights of GitS was supervised by a very famous effect designer called Kikuo Notomi. (He has joined Oshii's films from the time of The Red Spectacles. Some people might remember him for Takeshi Kitano's films.) This book shows how Notomi influenced the gun fights of GitS.

Plus, it includes detailed explanations about the digital effects. People say that GitS staff utilized some digital tools, but the details and the process are mentioned only in this book, as far as I know. For example, Motoko's camouflage was made by digital compositing, but the terrorist's camouflage was made by super impose effect. That difference implies the technological gap between Motoko and the terrorist. I've never seen that kind of explanation in other books.


There are many books about INNOCENCE thanks to Studio Ghibli's (or Toshio Suzuki's) advertisement. However, there're not many books about GitS. In that sense, it is one of must-buy books for Oshii fans.





I think that the lyrics of this iconic anime song tend to be misunderstood. Here's my thoughts on the lyrics. I apologize in advance for grammatical errors.


The original lyrics

麗し女 酔ひにけり

照る月 響むなり

結婚に 神天降りて
夜は明け 鵺鳥鳴く


aga maeba

kuwashime yoinikeri

aga maeba

teru tsuki toyomunari

yobaini kami amakudarite

yowa ake nuetori naku


*Toh-kami-emi-tame in Utai III is a very iconic part, but I skip it in this article. First, it is very different from other parts. Plus, it's a bit difficult to analyze that part. I'd like to analyze it in another post.


Background of the soundtracks

*from the liner notes of the soundtrack CD

  • When they started recording the soundtracks, Kawai had no good ideas. They had only decided to use the traditional drum beat. Kawai just kept beating drums in the first day, and he thought "Is this really okay?"
  • Oshii got a confidence when he first heard the vocal.
  • Kawai wrote the lyrics. Oshii was impressed that Kawai summarized the story of the film really well in the lyrics.
  • Kawai thought that modern Japanese language doesn't fit the song, so he looked up ancient words in a library. "Manyoshu" is one of the books he read at that time.
  • The idea of "toh-kami-emi-tame" was brought up by Kazunori Ito.
  • Kawai says "I re-interpreted Bulgarian Polyphony's harmony and voices in Japanese way."
  • Oshii says that the bell sound gave him an inspiration. GitS is based on the Bible, but the bell sound strengthened shinto vibes. Oshii didn't intend this at first, but the bell sound added yaoyorozu gods' ubiquity into the film.



  • Kawai wrote the lyrics, even though he was inspired by some ancient texts.
  • Kawai picked some words from Manyoshu. He also used some words from other ancient texts.
  • The song is a summary of GitS' story.


Preparatory research

I researched distincive words on Makoto Yoshimura's Manyoshu database

The keywords are

まへば, くはしめ, ゑひにけり, てるつき, とよむなり, よばひ, あまくだり, よはあけ, ぬえどり

Some words are conjugated, so I researched variations as well.


あが まへば/ since I dance

Surprisingly enough, "dance" doesn't appear in Manyoshu as far as I researched. As will be described later, the "dance" phrase seemingly comes from Nihon-Shoki. 


くはしめ/ beautiful lady

くはし/ beautiful often appears in Manyoshu, but "くはしめ"/beautiful lady appears only once. It's a long poem.

The corresponding part is

...くはし妹に 鮎を惜しみ...

...since I didn't give the sweetfish to my lovely wife...

It is a fisherman's poem of mourning over his wife's death. "妹"(me) means woman in general, so it doesn't necessarily mean wife in other cases.

The poem itself is not related to GitS's theme.


ゑひにけり/ (the beautiful lady) was enchanted

酔/drunk appears in Manyoshu, but 酔ひにけり/ "was drunk" appears only once:

焼太刀の かど打ち放ち 大夫の 寿く豊御酒に 我れ酔ひにけり

When we drew a sword in the ritual party, I found myself drunk by good sake.

In this poem, 酔ふ simply means to get drunk. Kawai interpreted it as "enchanted by the dance". I think that's Kawai's original metaphor.

The auxiliary "に" (a conjugated form of ぬ) means perfect tense or "ended up". The auxiliary verb "けり" means hearsay past and discovery/admiration. And thus, 酔いにけり means "I found myself drunk".

In the lyrics of Utai, it means exclamatory expression on the past where the narrator danced in front of the beautiful lady.


てる つき/ shining moon

This phrase appears so often because the moon is a very common material in traditional poem. Manyoshu contains more than 100 poems about the moon. There're more than 20 poems even for "てるつき"/ shining moon.

It can symbolize various things, like a bow, party night, eternity, ephemerality, guidance, etc. However, it symbolizes lovers in many poems. In the ancient era, men used to visit their girlfriends'/ wives' houses at night. (It is called 妻問婚 or 通い婚.) And thus, the moon symbolized their romantic time. On the other hand, cloud and morning sunshine meant temporary separation and sorrow.

Plus, it is sometimes compared with mirrors.

朝日影 にほへる山に 照る月の 飽かざる君を 山越しに置きて

Like the remaining moon behind the morning moutain, I have to leave you behind.


まそ鏡 照るべき月を 白栲の 雲か隠せる 天つ霧かも

The moon should shine like a mirror, but it is now hidden by a cloud or a fog.


とよむ/ echo

It often appears because it is related to birds. Birds' chirp or mountain echoes are used in many poems. As far as I researched, it is not related to the moon in Manyoshu. I suppose "the shining moon echoed" is Kawai's original metaphor. "響むなり" appears only once:

巨椋の 入江響むなり 射目人の 伏見が田居に 雁渡るらし

A sound echoes over Lake Ogura. Geese fly to Fushimi rice field, where hunters lie down on.


よばひ/ marriage, sex, calling

It often appears in Manyoshu.

As I already explained, ancient Japanese people used to visit their girlfriends' houses at night. That is a common process of marriage, so the linguistic distinction between marriage and sex is vague. The same word also means to call someone. I found 8 poems in Manyoshu, and 4 of them means just to call someone.

In GitS's context, it means marriage and spiritual fusion (sex).

他国に よばひに行きて 大刀が緒も いまだ解かねば さ夜ぞ明けにける

I visited a lover in foreign country, but the dawn broke even before I wore off the sword cord.


あまくだり/ (the god shall) descend

It can be read as both "あまくだり" and "あもり". It should be read as "あもり"(amori) in Manyoshu, but both of them mean the same thing.

I found five poems. In most of the cases, it means Tenson Korin, the descent of Ninigi-no-Mikoto from Takamagahara. It is a myth of the emperor/ tenno's lineage. It is also an origin story of the three secret treasures.

Ninigi is a grandson of Amaterasu, and thus the emperors are hei descendants. Ninigi came from Takamagahara/ heaven and ruled the land of Japan. Amaterasu gave him the three treasures at that time.

The three treasures include Yata-no-Kagami, the mirror that reflected Amaterasu's face in Amano-Iwato.

天降りつく 天の香具山 霞立つ...

When the spring comes and Ame-no-Kaguyama, the mountain of the god's descent, is veiled in mist...


よは あけ/ the night clears away

Manyoshu includes so many poems about night. I found dawn (night clears away) in 10 poems, and 7 of them are poems about sorrows of separation. As I explained in the shining moon part, dawn used to symbolize separation from lovers.

暁と 鶏は鳴くなり よしゑやし ひとり寝る夜は 明けば明けぬとも

The first cock crow says it's morning, but I don't care. It was a lonely night, anyway.


ぬえとり/ night birds or scaly thrush

It is read as ぬえどり(nuedori) in Manyoshu.

Some websites translate it as "chimera bird", but that is very misleading.

ぬえ (nue) originally meant birds that sing sorrowfully at night. Ancient people regarded the song as bad omen. It is assumed that nue is scaly thrush today, but people in the ancient era obviously didn't know that. People just thought that some birds were singing in an ominous, sad voice. That is what people called "nue".

Nue came to mean a chimera-like monster in the 14th to 15th century. In The Tale of Heike, a chimeric monster was slayed by a famous samurai. That monster had a nue-like voice, but it didn't have a name. That's why it came to be called nue later.

In the context of Utai's lyrics, it obviously means night birds.

Manyoshu covers six poems about nue. In most of those poems, nue/ night birds/ scaly thrush symbolize sorrows of separation, or unrequited love. Since their sorrowful songs were heard at night, people connected them with sorrowful separation.

I think it is related to another source material. I'll describe it later.

久方の 天の川原に ぬえ鳥の うら歎げましつ すべなきまでに

Zhinü cries like a scaly thrush beside the milky way, since she can't do anything other than that after the annual rendezvous.



Oshii said that the lyrics of Utai are a summary of GitS's story. We need to consider that aspect.

Oshii has not talked about the song so often. Since the original story was written by Masamune Shirow, Oshii sometimes emphasizes that GitS is not his own idea.


For example, Oshii says this in "This Is My Answer: 1995-2004". (The original interview is from WIRED Japan magazine 1997 October issue.)

The theme of Ghost in the Shell the movie is not cyberpunk. It is a more classic story.

By adding futuristic things into the real scenery, I built some sort of expected world.

That explanation is so vague that it doesn't help us.


In "Mechaphilia", Oshii explains the design of TO8A2. In this essay, he finally explains the mythical aspects of GitS the movie.

Spiders are divine entities even in foreign myths. In Nihon Shoki, Sotoori-no-Iratsuhime composes a poem:

"My lover must come to see me tonight. The spider at the foot of bamboo tells that to me."

Motoko is Ame-no-Uzume, a shaman who dances on the tank (the tub) in order to bring back Puppet Master (Amaterasu). She can't open the hatch (Amano-Iwato), but Batou (Ame-no-Tajikarao) comes there. It is actually a very Japanese story. However, the background environment is the Christian church-like museum. Even the angel appears, and the sound of the AP bullets (the metaphorical sound of church bell) comes into the fusion (marriage) moment. Since the story is set in the chaotic world with little nationality, the mythical background is chaotic as well.


In this text, Oshii brought up two inspiration sources. The first one is Nihon Shoki, and the second one is Amano-Iwato myth. Amano-Iwato myth is included in both Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. I suppose Oshii referenced Kojiki. Ame-no-Uzume takes off her clothes in Kojiki, but that part is deleted in Nihon Shoki. Motoko takes off her clothes in the introduction and the climax, so I suppose it is based on Kojiki version.

Plus, I suppose "I dance" and "the night clears away" parts are based on Amano-Iwato. That's probably what Oshii means by "summary of the film".


*btw, I said I'd skip toh-kami-emi-tame in this article, but I should touch upon it in this part. Before Ame-no-Uzume's dance, Ame-no-Koyane chants "布刀詔戸言"(futonoritogoto, great chant). I suppose, toh-kami-emi-tame stems from that part.



Kojiki analysis

In this chapter, I use Aozora Bunko's data annotated by Yukichi Takeda. 


1. Amano-Iwato, Ame-no-Uzume, and dance

Ame-no-Uzume's dance part in Kojiki is written as follows:

天の宇受賣の命 天の香山の天の日影を手次に繋けて 天の眞拆を鬘として 天の香山の小竹葉を手草に結ひて 天の石屋戸に覆槽伏せて 蹈みとどろこし 神懸りして 乳を掛き出で 裳の緒を陰に押し垂りき

Ame-no-uzume began a thunderous dance on an overturned tub, and divinely possessed, she exposed her breasts and lowered her skirt string to her genitals.

(Ama no Iwato (Cave of Heaven) - Japanese Wiki Corpus)

Ame-no-Uzume dances like the lyrics, but "儛ふ" or "儛ひ" is not used in the sentence.  It is used in other parts of Kojiki, but "儛へば" doesn't appear. Then, where did Kawai find the phrase "あが まへば"/ since I dance?


That question leads us to another source material: Nihon Shoki. In Nihon Shoki volume 16, 弘計/Okenosumera reveals his noble lineage and becomes Emperor Kenzo. In a party, he dances and sings his identity. That poem includes this sentence:

...あしひきの 此の傍山に 牡鹿の 角挙げて 吾が儛すれば 旨酒 餌香の市に直以て買はぬ...

...At the foot of this mountain, I dance with the deer horns on. These good sake and delicious food can't be bought even in the famous market...

(跡見群芳譜(文藝譜 「日本書紀」顕宗天皇の名告))

Deer horns can be seen in Manyoshu too. It symbolizes ephemerality of nature.

I suppose the poem itself is not so relevant in this case. Some people might notice that the verb is a bit different (儛へば and 儛すれば). Nihon Shoki and other ancient texts are written in classical Chinese text form, so you can rewrite them down into Japanese in various ways. I suppose Kawai read one of those variations. What really matters here is that there is, at least, one source material of "since I dance" phrase.


2. Okuninushi, Nunakawahime, and night birds

In Kamitsumaki (first volume) of Kojiki, the stories of Okuninushi are told. A goddess called Nunakawahime appears in one of those chapters. That part is important to understand the lyrics of Utai.

After getting married with Suseribime and Yakamihime, Okuninushi hears that a very beautiful lady called Nunakawahime lives in Koshi. He visits her house and composes a poem in front of the house:

八千矛の 神の命は 八島国 妻娶きかねて 遠々し 高志の国に 賢し女を 有りと聞かして 麗し女を 有りと聞こして さ呼ばひに 有り立たし 呼ばひに 有り通はせ 大刀が緒も 未だ解かずて襲衣をも 未だ解かねば 嬢子の 寝すや板戸を 押そぶらひ 我が立たせれば 青山に 鵺は鳴きぬ さ野つ鳥 雉は響む 庭つ鳥 鶏は鳴く 心痛くも 鳴くなる鳥か 此の鳥も 打ち止めこせね いしたふや 天馳使 事の 語り事も 此をば

I, the god of military arts, can hardly sleep with my wife these days. Then, I heard that a wise, beautiful woman lives in the far land of Koshi. I hereby came to marry you. I don't wear off the sword cord and clothes yet. I'm still trying to break the door open. Night birds chirp in a green mountain. Voice of pheasants echoes in the yard. Even cocks crow. Oh, annoying birds. Stop chirping and crowing. Tell that to them, the gods' messangers in the sky.


Many familiar words appear in this poem, like よばひ/ marriage, 鵺/ night birds, and 響む/ echo. Kawai didn't say anything about it, but I suppose it inspired Kawai to some extent.

As I already explained, night birds and dawn symbolize sorrowful separation from lovers. Okuninushi suffers from the same symbols. Now, we can see why Kawai put night birds into the lyrics about dawn and marriage.

However, it also gives another question to us.




 (Ballpoint Pen Kojiki by Fumiyo Kono)


 Why did Kawai choose night birds?

When we look at the lyrics of Utai again, we realize that most of them can be interpreted only by comparing it with Amano-Iwato.

aga maeba: Ame-no-Uzume's (Motoko's) dance

kuwashime yoinikeri: Amaterasu (Puppet Master) is enchanted by Ame-no-Uzume's (Motoko's) dance.

teru tsuki toyomunari: Amaterasu sees herself (Motoko) in Yata-no-Kagami mirror.

yobaini kami amakudarite: The marriage (fusion) of Motoko and Puppet Master. That part is a bit different from Amano-Iwato story, but we can easily interpret it in the psycho-analysis frameworks. It is a conceptualization of mirror image.

yowa ake: The dawn symbolizes the second coming of Amaterasu (Puppet Master) in Amano-Iwato story.


However, night birds don't fit this story-flow. Birds appear in Amano-Iwato story, but they are 常世長鳴鳥/ cocks. Putting the rhythm of the words aside, why did Kawai use night birds, not cocks? Why did he use the symbolic bird of separation?

I suppose, that part represents Batou's feelings at the end of the film. When Motoko got married/ merged with Puppet Master and transcended this world, Batou was separated from her. We can compare the sorrowful night birds symbol with that feelings.

There is one side evidence for that theory. In the explanation about Batou's scene from "methods: from LAYOUTS of INNOCENCE", Oshii says this:







 I believe, there is a composition of farewell, or a composition of premonitory farewell.  When I was young, I learned that from my master (Hisayuki Toriumi).

"Oshii-kun. What do you think is the composition of farewell?"

"Well, plane composition?"

"No, it is composition of depth. Two characters turn their back on each other in different layers. That's the composition of farewell."

I was too young and immature. He told me that.

I trained myself and developed my own answer. That's the last scene of GitS: While Batou looks downward in the inner plane, Motoko shows resolute expression to the foreground...




Oshii says the same thing even in the audio commentary of INNOCENCE. The "farewell composition" is apparently a very important theme to Oshii.

I suppose, Oshii might have asked Kawai to add some "expectation of farewell" nuance to the lyrics. That might be the reason why Kawai added night birds.

Even if that didn't happen, we can still interpret the text itself in that way.

GitS is a story of marriage/ spiritual fusion/ transcendence, but it looks like Batou's tragic story of separation to us. Kawai successfully, or unintentionally, put the two different story layers into the lyrics.



Utai is a song of encounter and separation, which is based on Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, and Manyoshu. As Oshii says in the liner notes, those materials perfectly fit the flow of the film's story. They also emphasize shinto and ancient Japanese love story aspects.

In conclusion, I'd like to quote Oshii's words from the novelized version of Patlabor 2 the Movie:


Some separate to meet another person, but others need an encounter, even only to separate.




filmography and career

My Dear, Hayao Miyazaki 1984

Roman Album PERSONA 1996

Complete Works of Mamoru Oshii 1996

My Dear, Mamoru Oshii 1998

INNOCENCE Material Book 2004

Rely on Others 2008

1968: The Roots 2016




Methods from Patlabor 2 1994

Methods from INNOCENCE 2005



Lupin III

Lupin The Third Files 1996



Angel's Egg

storyboard 1985

THE ART OF Angel's Egg 1986



Patlabor series

Shonen Sunday Graphic Special: Patlabor 1989

THIS IS ANIMATION: Patlabor 2 The Movie 1993

THIS IS ANIMATION: Patlabor The Movie 1994

Patlabor 30th Anniversary Booklet 2018

Storyboard of Patlabor 2004

Patlabor Movie Archives 2004

Word Map: War 1989



Ghost in the Shell series

Storyboard of Ghost in the Shell 1995

Storyboard of INNOCENCE 2004


INNOCENCE Interview Collection 2004

Roman Album INNOCENCE 2004



Kerberos Saga and Tachiguishi

Thus Spoke Tachiguishi 2006

JIN-ROH: Behind the Screen 2000


Mamoru Oshii's Field Notes 2003

Panzer Cops TOKYO WAR 2009

The Red Spectacles Soundtracks Liner Notes 2010




Nausicaa Guidebook 1984

Ein Brief von den Hunden 2003

All Films Will Become Anime 2004

This is My Answer 2004

Words of Mamoru Oshii 2016

Reality of Bodies 2017

Let's Talk about Ghibli 2017



essays and others

Shonen Sunday Graphic: Urusei Yatsura 2 Beautiful Dreamer 1984

The Mercenaries with Many Orders 1995

Dogs' Hearts Are Mysterious 2000

Memento Mori 2004

Mechaphilia 2004

Making of The Sky Crawlers 2008





Kerberos Saga, Tachiguishi, and others

Panzer Cop 1990

Panzer Cop Part 2 2000

Rainy Dogs 2005

The Girl of Harahara Tokei 2007

Panzer Jäger 2010

Tachiguishi Retsuden 2004

PAX JAPONICA: rolling thunder 2006



manga and illustrated books

Urusei Yatsura: The Fathers 1982

In the End... 1985

Angel's Egg: Girl Season 1985

Dragon Retriever 1994

Seraphim 2010

Bow-wow Meiji Restoration 2012




Patlabor: Tokyo War 1994

Blood the Last Vampire: Night of the Beasts 2000

Avalon: Grey Lady 2000

Giant Killing 2011

Zombie Diary 2012

Zombie Diary 2: Dance Macabre 2015

GARM WARS: The Interrogation Ship of Silvery White 2015



unreviewed book list

MAMORU OSHII book review [nonfiction] Part 41, Ein Brief von den Hunden


There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanation 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 grammmatical errors or some misinformation.



title: 犬からの手紙 総集編 第一紀

(Ein Brief von den Hunden: Das Erste Zeitalter)

release: 08/17/2003 (digital release: 12/30/2004)

publisher: Norainu no Negura (Straydog's Roost)



Weekly JIN-ROH: Pirated Version by Tetsuya Nishio

(As He Said,) That Dog's Heart Is Mysterious by Tetsuya Nishio

biography of Mamoru Oshii

interview with Hiroyuki Okiura

interview with Tetsuya Nishio

interview with Mamoru Oshii

interview with Kazunori Ito

interview with Kenji Kawai

interview with Shigeru Chiba

interview with Kamui Fujiwara

JIN-ROH premiere release log

Tokyo Internationa Film Festival symposium log

fan art

analysis of JIN-ROH

Can Germany Really Occupy Japan?

analysis of Matter of Britain for Avalon

review on Urusei Yatsura TV series

Biblical terminology in Oshii's films

my dream Oshii films

Does an Old Oshii Nerd Dream of Kerberos Incident?

analysis of the last scene of JIN-ROH

Why is Mach-ken called so?

Walking for DOG

analysis of Oshii fans

survey about JIN-ROH

survey about Avalon

Urusei Yatsura 2 Beautiful Dreamer: DVD premiere theatrical release log

Mamoru Oshii's Night Talk Show log

Kenji Kawai's Night Talk Show log



Ein Brief von den Hunden (A Letter from a Dog) is a dojin series made by Straydog's Roost. Straydog's Roost is the biggest Mamoru Oshii fan-site run by Satoshi Dodome. 

Many Oshii enthusiasts gather information there. They're releasing Oshii-related news even today.

So far, they've released 7 volumes of the series. I only owns a digital omnibus version of vol.1 to vol.3. The original paper books were released in 2000, so they mainly deal with JIN-ROH and Avalon.

The most impressive part is the interviews. Fanzines interviewing with creators are not so uncommon, but I've never seen such a deep and interesting interview book made by amateur fans. It even includes Tetsuya Nishio's manga.


As for the details of the contens, please check it out by yourself

The digital issue of the omnibus is still available on the Internet

MAMORU OSHII book review [nonfiction] Part 40, 1968


There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanation 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 grammmatical errors or some misinformation.



title: 創造元年 1968

(1968: The Roots)

release: 10/02/2016

publisher: Sakuhinsha



Let's Talk about 1968 Now: We Could Have Been Executed

Parents: The Opposition Against the Old Generation and the Inherited Memory

chronological table of "1968"


The Impulse: our desperate motivation for expression

The Physicality: We Shouldn't Forget the Sense of Danger

The God, Angels, and Vampires: Meaning of Images to "Unindependent and Untranscendent People"

Auteur and Text: Apocalypse and Summary of '00s texts


National Identity of Japan: Post-War Democracy, Systems, and the Narrative

Marginal Life: What It Means to Be Creators in This Country

der Einzelne and Undtagelsen


afterword by Mamoru Oshii




This is an interview book with Mamoru Oshii and Kiyoshi Kasai.

Both of them experienced new-left movement in the late 60s to early 70s. Oshii joined the protests as a non-sect radical activist. Kasai was in one of sect groups called Communist Workers Party. They both quit in the early 70s and started to work in the field of fiction. Oshii became an anime creator, and Kasai became a mystery/sci-fi writer and critic.

In 1984, Kasai wrote a book about the 70s left activists' internal violence. It was titled as "Phenomenology of Terror". Oshii was heavily inspired by that book.

Oshii and Kasai first met in an interview book called Thus Spoke Tachiguishi. They were not given enought time at that time, so they talked much deeper theme in this book.

They share the same kind of mindsets. The topics are too broad to summarize here, so I randomly picked interesting parts down below.


*Oshii always portrays protagonists as police officers or some sort of authority people. However Oshii himself is very anti-authoritarian and leftist. As for that inconsistency, Oshii explains like this:

"If I tried to portray my resentment like a non-fiction story, I would look like a nostalgist. It's like the old guys who brag about their fights against the riot police. That imagination is so unpleasant to me. Still, I wanted to express the 'sublimity' of my real experience."

"I have always portrayed police officers. Terrorists are usually villains. People say it's contradicting, but anime protagonists should be soldiers or police officers. Like Godard said, detectives are very convenient for film creators. Since they can visit any kind of places, it's very easy to write their stories. Making a story of a terrorist is so difficult compared to detectives."

"To me, terrorists are some sort of absolute entities. That's why Tsuge or Hoba from Patlabor series cannot appear as normal anime characters. They die, or don't appear until the end. I believe it's impossible to portray them as human beings. That's why I can't write a story of the terrorists' side."


Oshii connects that terrorist theme with angels.

"I often used angel symbols from the time of Angel's Egg. To me, angels have been a terrifying entities. In a sense, angels are terrorists. Motoko was originally fighting against terrorists, but she became a 'terrorist' after diving into the network world. Batou called her a guardian angel in INNOCENCE. To me, that concept doesn't contradict with terrorist."

"Angels are monsters. Japanese people imagine cupid images, but they're very inhuman in the Old Testament. They're very terrifying. They bring misfortune to people by orders of the God. That's why they're terrorists. They're more devilish than devils themselves."

"Angels are similar to birds, so birds are terrifying to me. Look at the claws. They're not cute at all. They look furry, but they're closer to reptiles. I don't get why people don't get afraid of birds while they're afraid of snakes. They look beautiful, but they're terrifying at the same time. Four-legged animals are very familiar. Even if they're tigers or lions, I can understand them including their violence. No matter how dangerous they are, they live in the same environment with us. However, I can't understand reptiles. That's why they're terrifying. Bird images are not metaphors of angels. Angel images are related to our view on birds. It is similar to fish. They live in a totally different environment. We don't understand what they're thinking of."

MAMORU OSHII book review [fiction] Part 20, GARM WARS


There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanation 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 grammmatical errors or some misinformation.



title: ガルム・ウォーズ 白銀の審問艦

(GARM WARS: The Interrogation Ship of Silvery White)

release: 04/16/2015

publisher: Enterbrain





Inquisiton: Khara

Inquisition: Skellig

Inquisiton: Scathach

Inquisition: Wydo

Malak's Nest




This is a novelized version of Garm Wars. The plot is basically the same as the film, but some details are different. Oshii made several versions of the plot in G.R.M. project due to the budget problem. This novel is based on one of those variations, apparently.

In the film, Khara, Wydo, Skelling, Nascien, and a Gula traveled by tank. In the novel, they travel by an "interrogation ship" called Immrama. A captain of that ship is called Schathach. She plays an important role in the novel, so that's pretty different from the film version.

The conclusion of the story is the same as the film, but the novel shows many deleted scenes. Those scenes are related to sci-fi gudgets and machines, so Oshii apparently had to delete it for the budget.

Plus, the novel shows that it originally had a satisfying revelation scene. After the battle against aliens called "Malak", Khara and Skellig brought back a brain of a certain commander, but their memory was formatted after that. Wydo tries to find out what they found in the battle. That mystery leads them to the truth of demiurge, like the film did in the climax.


This novel is so important. Actually, it is difficult to appreciate the film version without the novel and the pilot film of G.R.M. I don't get why they didn't translate it at the time of the global premiere.

MAMORU OSHII book review [fiction] Part 19, ZOMBIE DIARY 2


There're some Mamoru Oshii book lists on the Internet, but they don't have detailed explanation 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 grammmatical errors or some misinformation.



title: ゾンビ日記2 死の舞踏(ダンス・マカブル)

(ZOMBIE DIARY 2: Dance Macabre)

release: 08/28/2015

publisher: Kadokawa Haruki Corporation




Zombie Diary 2



This is a sequel to Zombie Diary. The protagonist is changed to a woman. The MC of the first volume had a sniper rifle, but this female protagonist uses a hand-gun. She tells that the previous MC taught shooting skills to her, but he's not with her anymore for some reason.

The basic structure is the same as the first volume. The protagonist shoots dead people as funeral rites and thinks about various topics. It is Oshii's sociological/ philosophical essay again.

However, the female protagonist's theme is different from the first protagonist's theme.

The first topic is excrement. As some Oshii fans already know, Oshii has indirectly shown excrement in his films. Excrement is linked to food, which is another important theme of Oshii's works. It is also very important for the "death" theme. Human beings' negative feelings toward them is very similar to corpses' case. It culturally differentiates human beings from animals. Toilet is probably the most basic element of human culture. Some people might find psychoanalytic theme in them.


After touching upon excrement, corpse, and food, the protagonist talks abou clothing and makeup. It is a very fresh theme to Oshii fans. Since the protagonist is a woman, Oshii put a different process in the funeral rite. She chooses clothes and cosmetics everytime before the rites. 

That theme is linked to the traditional theme like dance and religion, but it also shows Oshii's change in his late phase. Oshii himself often says that he got interested in women recently. (Before that, women were ununderstandable entities. We should remember that Oshii often says he can't understand Lum at all.)


The most important part of this novel is the ending. The protagonist actually owns one dog, and that dog brings an unexpected conclusion to the story. It also indirectly explains the reason why Oshii needed to put a dog into Seraphim and Garm Wars. Now, we should remember that this series thematizes zombie/death. Then, we can easily guess what kind of theme he tried to convey by the combination of a woman and a dog. It also explains why Oshii emphasized that "child zombie" doesn't exist in this world.