[special memorial issue] THE FINALE OF NAUSICAA;
NAUSICAA of the Valley of Wind
I Understand NAUSICAA a Bit More than I Did a Little While Ago.Long Interview: Hayao MIYAZAKI
interviewer: Ryo SAITANI
-From the January 1995 issue of COMIC BOX
Making the "NAUSICAA" Movie was Sheer Agony
The View of Civilization that Penetrates to the Heart of NAUSICAA
In "Legend Of Kamui" Shirato Sanpei ran aground on His own Misapprehensions of the History of Japan's Caste System.
Manga has become the Basis of Japanese Culture
Who is the Enemy?
There would have been Problems if NAUSICAA had not been Drawn as a Beautiful Young Woman
The Deep Wounds that Kushana Bears
I Like Charuka's Unreasonable Shyness.
Selm and the Worm Handlers -the Existence Nobility.
The Waste of Plants, the Waste of Life
Birth Equals Suffering
# I would like you to discuss at length how the story and characters changed from the beginning to the end, and to compare the comic and animated versions. Also, it seems to me that Nausicaa was a very special character, so I would like you to discuss her independently of the other characters-to discuss the 'Nausicaa Theory' as it were.
MIYAZAKI 'Theory' is a strange word. I'm not sure I'd use it myself.
#I see. I'd like to ask a few questions about Nausicaa-in the context of the entire work, that is. I'd like to know how your views of the world and of civilization are reflected in Nausicaa.
MIYAZAKI That's not something I can talk about [laughs]. That should be discussed by somebody else.
#What are your recollections of the characters? And how did their roles change from the start? I hear that the characters often acted on their own-but was that really the case, or were you controlling their actions? Please talk about the characters.
MIYAZAKI If I'd written the whole story all at once, I'd still be excited about it, and would be able to talk about it. But it went on for a very long time, and by the time I finished it, it had become something of a grind-so I don't really want to talk about it.
When the series ended, I had absolutely no sense of fulfillment, no feeling of "It's over! I DID it!!". In 1993, I thought that I would finish the series in one year, but although I worked feverishly for two months, I still wasn't satisfied. But I knew that, physically, I was ready to end it. Mind you, there was no pressure from other people to end it there, it was just something I decided for myself. The editor told me that I could continue it for as long as I wanted.
Therefore, I decided on my own to end it. I did have doubts as to whether or not that was a good place to stop, and so I avoided looking over the whole story up to that point. I had received copies of all the chapters from Yoshi Kobayashi (the person in charge of Animage's editorial department), but I had no desire to look at them. I was scared. [laughs] Finally, in order to get the last book finished, I looked them over 2 days beforehand. With a great deal of trepidation. I was somewhat relieved. They were good-although it sounds strange to say that about one's own work.
It wasn't that I had forgotten most of what I had written, but rather, that I had TRIED to forget. It was scary. What had I written? [laughs] It was painful. Really! I still wondered if this was the right conclusion for Nausicaa, but I didn't know. Even now I'm not sure.
#I thought that it might have been better to end the story in one year. In the last seven days of the story, at the Shuwa cemetery, the tone of the story changed and it was pushed ahead all at once. From a dramatic standpoint, pushing ahead to the climax was exciting, but the story to that point had evoked an atmosphere of high civilization, and then it suddenly turned to spiritualism or mysticism.
MIYAZAKI Yes, indeed. That's because Nausicaa and Ohma were alone together.
#That was good, wasn't it? Although it felt like the story was uplifted all at once...
MIYAZAKI Continuing Nausicaa for that last year was really hard, although I don't know exactly why. I guess the problem was that I HAD TO WRITE WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW. Writing what you know is one thing-but I had to write about what I didn't know.
On the other had, my own views on nature-well, not even anything as distinct as a view-When I gave shape to my indistinct ideas, various weaknesses surfaced, and I had to deal with those.
In other words, while these indistinct thoughts about what kind of world Nausicaa's was were floating around in my head, they kept bumping into prior ideas, since I had been planning this world since 1980. And this gave rise to various problems. Some things just could not be. The world could not be so flimsy. I was forced to rethink the meaning of the Sea of Corruption, for example, or what exactly the Ohmu were.
But when I was writing, I didn't write from the standpoint that if 'this' were logical, then 'that' must be so. Instead I thought, if 'this' is what will happen, then 'that' is what will follow. For example, since I had already been thinking of Nausicaa as injured in some way, then I assumed that she would believe that her mother didn't love her. The readers would be able to sympathize with this, and that would automatically give them a handle on the character. To finish all this off, everything would have to be brought together, right? [laughs] That was really tiresome.
I had to go so far as to think about the very meaning of life. I didn't know, so it was very difficult.
Making the "NAUSICAA" Movie was Sheer Agony
#At the very start, were you thinking about ending it at the Shuwa cemetery?
MIYAZAKI No, I didn't think about it. To tell you the truth, I had no thoughts at all about the ending. There was only the the country of Torumekia, then the Valley of Wind and a small country in trouble. One young girl shouldered the burden of the fate of a whole tribe, and by so doing, she no longer had to go to war. It was a story about a world I didn't know, but I thought that many things would probably happen. And that's how it all began...really!! [laughs].
After I had started-and I know that this might sound strange-I was convinced that the story would never go for as long as it actually did. [laughs] I began it, even though I really felt that the story would be stopped halfway through-either because of my own circumstances, or because nobody would find it at all interesting. I then started working in the animation field, figuring all the time that the comic would eventually fold, or something. So I never gave any thought to it becoming a long series, or anything like that. It was difficult, and I didn't want to write the comic, because at work I was in the position of having to supervise everyone else's attitudes about the job. It's like having two jobs-your own and everyone else's. So it was impossible for me to do outside work as well, without running into serious obstacles. So, to make matters worse, there was my job.
Usually, a person like me, whose work requires 12 or 14 hours to do, cannot put in a full day at the office, and then go home and draw a comic book. All he can do is sleep. [To draw Nausicca] I had to reduce the amount of time I spent sleeping, right? But from the second story, it became something that I felt that I had to do, not something done at someone else's urging.
# "From the second story"?
MIYAZAKI Yes, from the second story. When the first series of stories ended, I discussed quitting with the chief editor at that time, Mr. Ogata. He said, "Don't quit." At that time, we also discussed, among other things, my drawing the comic book in pencil, but Mr. Ogata said, "Continue, even if you can do only two pages." Although he did add that it would be too bad if I were able to do only the two pages. Mr. Ogata's Don Quixote-like spirit was significant. This might sound preposterous, but I didn't really want to continue at that time. I did so only because Mr. Ogata pushed me to do it. As a result, it's a work to which I could not give my blessings. Neither was it work that I had long looked forward to. It was a heavy burden from the start. Even when it was made into a movie, it wasn't because I thought that I really wanted to make a movie of Nausicaa. It was because I had a chance to make a movie, and Nausicaa was the only thing I had that could be filmed.
At that time, I spent about half a year at home-I was unemployed. After I drew Nausicaa, I wrote The Journey of Shuna (Tokuma Books). But continuing that way would have been unbearable-I wanted to return to work. Just at that time, as chance would have it, Tokuma asked me to make the movie, Nausicaa. That was the only work I had, and so I decided that I had to do it. But I didn't think I could do it successfully, because I did not, from the beginning, even remotely think that the comic would ever become a movie. It was really difficult. Making it into a movie, I mean. [laughs] It was agony. The whole time, I thought I was on the brink of disaster. By the time the movie was finished, I was really crazy.
# Were you asked, from the beginning, to draw the comic with the intention of it becoming an animated work?
MIYAZAKI No. If I draw a comic, I draw something not meant to be animated. Otherwise, there would be no meaning-for me-in what I do. Nothing can be less interesting than a comic that has been drawn with the hidden intention of turning it into a movie. Although there are lots of comics like that, they are inferior products. A comic book is a comic book. It's different from a movie.
Right now, we [Ghibly Studio] are powerful enough to plan our own projects and call all the shots, so it's easy for us to forget that that is not often the case in most of the movie-making world.
Whether or not to animate a comic is a matter of common sense because the decision is normally based solely on how many copies of the comic are sold. But there are also people like Mr. Ogata, with his Don Quixote personality, who wanted to make a movie because he was tired of working on the magazine. Or people like Mr. Suzuki(the second chief editor and currently Ghibly producer) and Mr. Kameyama(the first editor and currently freelance writer), who wanted to try something different while continuing their editorial work at Animage.
The presence of Mr. Pack (Tsutomu Takahata) as producer was decidedly significant, as was the participation of Mr. Hara, a top craftsman. A variety of things came together, and the movie was made.
#First please discuss the differences between Nausicaa, the comic and Nausicaa, the movie. You've been working on the comic for 14 years?
MIYAZAKI It's been 13 years.
#You said that your work was not blessed.
MIYAZAKI It was a heavy burden.
#How do you feel about it now that it's over? You mentioned a little while ago that, after you had re-read what you had written, you liked what you had done.
MIYAZAKI Yes, that's why I ended it. I'd become an old man, you know. Really. I was relieved when it was over. After this, I'll probably do a lot of different things, but what I've just finished was something that could only be done once. I've given no thought to doing it again in the future.
Making a career from one work is pretty nice, don't you think? Or maybe not. It feels desolate, somehow. Saying that I feel like drawing another comic is one thing, but doing it is another thing entirely. There's the problem of eyesight, the problem of will power... There are all kinds of reasons why I don't want to do it. Or rather, it's not whether or not I WANT to do it, it's that I CAN'T do it. Because I know that I've already done it, the sense of missing something by overdoing is stronger than the sense of fulfillment.
#In 13 years, there must have been several turning points, or times when your thinking towards Nausicaa must have changed. I'd like you to discuss these in the sequence in which they occurred. For instance, I've heard that you felt regrets, for the first time, while writing the second story.
MIYAZAKI No, that's not something I do. If someone else wanted to studyNausicaa, as I have done for Chizu Takahashi's "From Kokuriko Hill", then I wouldn't mind. It's not that I changed Nausicaa purposely. I, myself, changed, so the story gradually changed. The story didn't change to fit alterations in the world-it seemed as if some parts had to change whether I wanted them to or not, and some parts changed on their own.
The treatment of the story gradually changed. I don't know if it expanded or contracted, just that it changed. I don't mean that the depiction of Nausicaa changed. Yes, that's it...There are people who take how they relate to the world and create their own model of it, then inlay that into an SF world and write a story, aren't there? If you do that, then you can't leave that world. If you create a world in a blind alley and develop a story in that world, you can't leave that framework. You're sealed in. There are a lot of works like that. "The People Left Behind", which was the original from which "Conan-Boy of the Future" was developed, is one of those works. The world is pictured in a certain way, and it's not really life-it's static. Since the story was created from your conceptions from the start, you can never rise above them. I don't think that writing a story based on a model is a good idea. No matter how much you think about it, you're limited by your own creativity and knowledge. You can only create a limited world where characters cannot live freely or grow and change. Really, that's why I came to dislike science fiction.
The world revolves endlessly, and eventually winds up where it started, but at the same time it is boundless. The people in it are constantly on the move. I don't think that one human can know everything about such a world, do you? With these thoughts in mind, I wrote Nausicaa. So, in the beginning, I created a world, and HERE was a country called Dorok, and THERE was another country, but rather unfortunately, I didn't draw a map of this world until well after I had started writing. [WAHAHA laughter]
I basically created the story off the top of my head, as things happened. That's the only way I can write. But since changes did occur in the way I think about things, and since it's probable that my initial ideas were somewhat insufficient, I think that it's safe to say that changes were made.
The View of Civilization that Penetrates to the Heart of NAUSICAA
#You said that Takahata's "Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko" epitomized "post-war democracy".
MIYAZAKI Yes, as well as hope and discouragement.
#Or the history of the Socialist Party.
MIYAZAKI I think it's more correct to say the history of "post-war democracy".
#We who read Nausicaa from beginning to end feel that your desire as an author was to try use the life of one human being born at the end of the 20th century to summarize the history of the human race from the industrial revolution on.
MIYAZAKI Not exactly-I expect that I didn't express my ideas clearly enough. I was trying to summarize the history of humans since the beginning of farming, in prehistoric times-since we first began to tamper with the world. Not just from the industrial revolution-although I can see where you might get that idea from the story. After all, the race of hunter-gatherers was different. The existence of humans became complicated with the start of farming. Not with the start of an industrial society. I think that the human race started when we started farming, and living on the verge of starvation, facing constant crises. Anyway, that's how I've come to think about it.
When you read below the surface of Nausicaa's world, you find "A History of the World of Nature" (Clyve Ponting: Asahi Book Collection) I think that, at the very least, the chapter on the Easter Islands should be read by everyone. You'll see that before anything like the industrial revolution or use of high technology-with the beginning of farming, with the gift of Prometheus' fire-these people took on responsibility. It's not just a simple problem of the industrial revolution.
#But the taboo against fire is separate from farming, isn't it?
MIYAZAKI Yes, it is.
#The race of hunters used fire, also.
MIYAZAKI Yes, they did. But it is said that about 4,000,000 people could live on the earth as hunters. That was the limit, I suppose. When we reached that number, we could no longer hunt, so we invented farming. The moment we invented farming, we started to plunder nature mercilessly. Both famine and abundance are contained in the cycles of nature, and that's the way people were, before they took a bite of the apple, so to speak. When you search for the reason why humans did such a foolish thing, you arrive at the start of farming. At that point, it's no longer a case of 'why would humans do such a stupid thing', but simply 'well, that's humanity for you'.
That's why Nausicaa's troubles ended up where they did. She reached the point where it was no longer enough to simply say that so-and-so was bad or that what so-and-so did was a mistake. That's why the problems in the world I created ended up where they did.
It would be a lie to say that peace would come if the emperor of Dorok were to die. Peace would not come. There are a lot of examples around, both from the past and now: the collapse of the Soviet Union, the hole in the ozone layer, the Gulf War, to name but a few. I think that the PKO problem in Japan now is an example, too. The same foolish things are constantly being repeated. When one tyrant is brought down, the next problem arises.
#Did things go wrong when the race of farmers encountered fire?
MIYAZAKI No, not the race of farmers. Humans. Using fire doesn't just mean that the environment will be used, but that the environment will be changed. We use fire to destroy things. But fire in and of itself is not such a problem. The problem is the relationship between people and fire.
#In that case, were the forest tribe (Selm's people), who abandoned fire and went into the forest, a countermeasure to this?
MIYAZAKI No, not a countermeasure. Forest people disappear into the forest, right? Of course. They throw away culture. They may maintain their own rituals, but their lifestyle is not connected to increasing population. Therefore, I don't see how such a people can have a future. I don't mean to say that it's all that important to have a future-I think we talk about the future too much. When I talk about the present, I'm accused of living just for the moment. But it has nothing to do with whether or not I have hopes for the the future. That's because the future is just that I will die. I mean my future as an old man. [laughs]
This may sound like a zen mondo [question-and-answer session], but when I hear talk of children's futures, I just get upset, because the future of a child is to become a boring adult. Children have only the moment. In that moment, an individual child is gradually passing through the stage of childhood, the world of childhood-passing through it from moment to moment. But there are children in existence all the time. That's the way it should be understood, in my opinion. This can't be said clearly with words.
#Nausicaa starts with the end of Western Civilization as we know it, but continues throughout the book to be influenced by Western values. Then somewhere around the seventh volume, Buddhist ideas seem to take over...
MIYAZAKI I don't really know. Because I'm not familiar with Buddhist thought [laughs], since I haven't studied it formally. I really don't know. Take reincarnation, for example. I can't simply believe in it. For example, in the Cambrian period, when there was an explosion of strange creatures, like the Anomaloches-how does that fit in with reincarnation? I can't understand it unless someone explains it to me.
#But Buddha himself denied the theory of reincarnation.
MIYAZAKI In a word, Buddha taught us that we must distance ourselves from such ways of thinking. It's an incredible doctrine.
#Indeed it is.
MIYAZAKI And that's the only thing I'm dimly aware of. In short, as soon as we adopt a common religion, we start worrying only about things like how to relieve our present suffering, or how to save our souls.
#What I found very interesting was the inspired contrast you set up between light and dark in the second half of the story. In Western-style methodology up to now, the story ends with the victory of the light. But Nausicaa says "No!" and denies the light. Is this a symbol of your strenuous resistance [to Western methodology]?
MIYAZAKI The view that light is better than darkness is one that can be related to thinking lightly of the future. No matter how wise or elaborate the plan, trying to apply it to an era in which you do not live is extremely arrogant. It will not yield satisfactory results. That's something I'm sure of. I didn't want to have Nausicaa just denounce the people who made the world what it was as foolish. The fact is that they were very intelligent people, and it's not so easy just to call them liars and fools. But no matter how pure and logical the plan was, no matter how right, 'dirt' was bound to stick to it in the actual implementation, which finally led to the establishment of religion, and the founding of the order of monks, and things started to go wrong. That's human nature. But even if that hadn't happened, I believe that something would have.
If there were no misunderstandings or illusions, then Buddha's teachings would disappear, right? That's why this thing we call 'culture' is so complicated. That's what Nausicaa said 'NO' to-said 'You're wrong!' to.
I think that Nausicaa probably thinks that she would like to live at the same happy level as insects and birds, but I'm not sure. [laughs] We are like midges, who can't survive if the water is either too clean or too dirty. We live between extremes.
That's what she was talking about. Humans cannot live totally pure lives. To shoulder the burden of work is to be human. I hate to put that into words-it makes me sound so pretentious. That's why I thought it was better to use a word like 'pollution' in the story. In short, the question of how anyone could possibly survive in the middle of the Sea of Corruption wearing such a simple mask was going around and around in my head. So I was sure that there had to be something more, and it came out in the form of Nausicaa's rejection. I hated those masks. I drew them, all along thinking that they were a lie. A mask that covers only this part...[covers the bottom half of his face with his hand and laughs]
In "Legend Of Kamui" Shirato Sanpei ran aground on His own Misapprehensions of the History of Japan's Caste System.
#It is often said that Shirato Sanpei's "Legend of Kamui", based on a sort of Marxist-materialistic view of history and written in the 60's and 70's, represented the state of that era. Nausicaa symbolizes the 80's and 90's, when not much happened.
MIYAZAKI I wasn't thinking in such broad strokes as that.
#Thinking along those lines would be very conformist...
MIYAZAKI Shirato Sanpei was a man who reached the wrong conclusions about the historical view of the class system. I think he ran right into those mistakes when writing 'Legend of Kamui'. There's no way anyone survived in his world, not if they all had to become such killers. If the world were truly filled with such hate and destruction, if that were how history was made, then everyone would surely have been dead by the Edo period. That's the point that would have been reached. I had been very mistrustful of him ever since I read his 'The Crossing', written before 'Kamui'. Why was there so much killing? I realized that he was writing about the special world of the ninja, but the organization would collapse before that level of killing was reached. Shirato Sanpei saw 'Legend of Kamui' through to the end, but I wonder if he didn't realize his mistake before he finished? He said that a historical view was not the same as reality. From that standpoint, I believe that Shirato Sanpei was an important man. He tried to write with a historical view of class and materialism, and if he did that while writing honestly, he couldn't topple the Edo period. After all, the result would be that he would never have existed. He wrote with realism, and so was aware of what couldn't be done. I think that he was a sincere writer. Then for a long time he wrote about fables, right? What it means to be human, and like that. I really understand. I understand, but it was boring. I think that he failed once, and continues to write as a failure. It's like he lost something important. I wonder what it could be? I don't know, but I feel that something is different.
There were many parallels between the historical period that Shirato was writing about, and the period of time in which he was writing(the end of the 50's and the early 60's). But in 'Ninja Bugeicho', when the war ended and Toyotomi Hideyoshi's troops laid waste to the land, turning it into a desert-that was a lie. If you try, it's not hard to understand the image that he was trying to project, but Japan is too green. Such things might happen in other countries, but they wouldn't happen in Japan. The place would be covered with weeds-it would become a real grasslands.
Last year, the bad crop year of 1993, I thought of this while strolling around the rice paddies near here-famine is a beautiful thing. If this were the Edo period, people in this area would be dying off one after another at about this time of year[October]. They wouldn't die of starvation in one year, though. They could dig up things in the mountains to eat. At the end of August, the rice paddies are so green. It is really beautiful. I think that Japan's famine is truly beautiful. Not a famine in which all the grasses and plants wither and die. The pine trees on that mountain wouldn't die no matter how long it didn't rain. So a famine in Japan would look nothing like the bleak desert filled with nothing but dust which was depicted in 'Ninja Bugeicho'. Shirato didn't take into account the effect of the climate. But that's normal. He omitted ecosystems-but if you don't think about those, you can't talk about the human race. But that was really widespread at the beginning of the 70's, I think.
#It seems that 'Ninja Bugeicho' and 'Legend of Kamui' were products of their eras, just as 'Nausicaa' is a product of its era.
MIYAZAKI Yes, that's true. It's true, I guess, but I wasn't really thinking along such exaggerated terms as whether or not Nausicaa could be compared to 'Kamui'. Just writing more would be enough. If I could write 24 pages a month and keep the story deep, it would be great. My production is low, which is a problem. But if writing more made my manga easier to read, I'd be angry. I decided that I don't want to write manga that can be read while eating soba [Japanese noodles]. I tried to put at least 11 scenes on each page. [laughs] When I re-read my own work, I found it very difficult. I like writing things that are difficult to read, but at the same time I hate them. It's very hard to make up my mind. For something easy to read, there's 'Ribbon' [monthly manga for young girls]. It's produced so that the cuts are easy to read. I'm always really impressed by that. [laughs] Really! I'm not just being cynical-I truly admire that. So I was definitely surprised that so many people stuck with Nausicaa to the end.
Manga has become the Basis of Japanese Culture
#This is changing the subject, but your animated works are very easy to watch and understand. Perhaps it's your mission as an entertainer to make them so...
MIYAZAKI I think that that's what makes a movie.
#I agree, but why aren't other movies-especially Japanese movies-just as interesting?
MIYAZAKI I think that too many movies are influenced by manga, especially dramatic manga.
#Do you mean just randomly deciding cuts?
MIYAZAKI No, you can't get off that easily. I suppose that manga are the root of the ideas. Manga techniques are at play in how the world is viewed or re-structured.
Recently, I was doing a movie called 'Futari' (directed by Nobuhiko Oobayashi), which featured Tomoko Nakajima and Hikari Ishida. I hated the movie once I'd seen it. I was very unhappy with it. I thought that there were too many long talking-heads shots. I thought it was a comic strip. The director made it as though time and space could be extended freely, as they can be in a manga. Therefore, there was absolutely no tension that would shorten the passing time.
When all is said and done, a movie is time. When you want to show a face for 2 seconds, and this look must only take up 18 frames, the tension of how to distill those 18 frames and express that feeling must be present, or else you are wasting your time. Everything is expression. It might seem like you're ordering someone to feel something, but that's no different than using a close-up of a face in the frame of a manga. This director also was not making a movie-he was making a manga. It's true, manga have become the basis of Japanese culture.
#I want to pursue why you were talking about 18 frames when you started this talk. Could you say something about that?
MIYAZAKI A movie is a struggle with time. In Japan, there are animated works like 'Kyojin no Hoshi' (Star of the Giants), which extend or warp time. This can be attributed to Japanese culture. It's Koudan. Or Roukyoku. [Traditional Japanese storytelling styles] If you ever listen to these, you'd understand-time is actually drawn out in short moments passing by, and various things are talked about-that's storytelling. In the Japanese cultural and spiritual climate there are things that change, exaggerate or warp time. These things did not disappear during the Koudan era(though they were at one time thought to have), but were reborn in manga. They were reborn, and even had an effect on television, I think. People making movies felt like they were fighting with these things, but the fighting stopped. They were swallowed whole by manga. Or rather, manga captivated the world of Koudan and Roukyoku.
#In one stage of comics for girls, those techniques were used, and these comics came into full bloom. The artists were Yumiko Oshima, Moto Hagio, and the rest of the so-called 'Group of 24-year-olds'. Later, they stopped functioning completely. Pandora's box had been opened, and then they slid along on the easy-installment plan, using technique only. Isn't that so? Now, in a different situation, everyone from television to movies is doing the same thing.
MIYAZAKI Yes, that's probably right. I think that the deterioration of movies can be attributed to that. I think that the directors who were raised on girls' comics are no good. I'm not saying that movies themselves are bad. It's just that in Japan, the total quantity of visual things being taken in is immense compared with other countries. But for Japanese movies alone, the audiences are reduced. TV dramas, manga, and illustrated novels draw great audiences. Movies alone don't do well commercially-the other visual products are doing fine.
There are also excellent documentaries and other such programs. Except for the NHK special, 'Life'. That was bad. The worst. Only the part about the era of the anomalochles was interesting-the rest was really bad. Intellectual adventures have all disappeared, haven't they? 'Journey Around the World' was much better. Effort was made to put revolutionary theories into concrete images, but there was a problem with that worthless space traveler appearing in the show.
Who is the Enemy?
#One million copies of Nausicaa were published, which was more than I expected, but it seems that many readers felt the same about it. Nausicaa says that there's no way to separate your enemies from your allies-that certainly seems to be true in today's world.
MIYAZAKI Yes, there's no solution. Even if you could determine who's right, the Serbs or the Muslims, nothing has been settled.
#Yes, we've finally reached the point where we understand that.
MIYAZAKI I think we've understood it for a very long time. The problems in Rwanda, between the Hutus and the Tutsis have been repeated over and over, and you can't just attribute it to effects of the French colonial rule. Sending Japanese troops to the PKO is an inconceivable mistake, as even now self-defense troops are dying. There are doubts even among members of the SDF. It's being done so that we may become a full member of the UN, but it would be better not to bother.
#Returning to action films-the pattern is always the same. An enemy appears and then there's a fight scene. In America, they still do it like this, don't they?
MIYAZAKI Recently I saw half of 'Black Rain' (directed by Ridly Scott) on TV. It was terrible. I was overwhelmed by the arrogance of Americans. Two things with different natures come together, and you insist that yours is the correct one. You learn nothing. The scenario right from the start lacks any intention to learn. If there is no relationship in which both you and the other person learns, it's no good. 'Year of the Dragon' (directed by Michael Cimino) was somewhat interesting, but I think that it was met with some serious doubts on the part of Chinese viewers. Hollywood movies have a universal language. As a visual language, they are uninfluenced by manga. Therefore, it is persuasive, and can become an international visual language. The Japanese visual language, and culture, are hard to understand. But I don't think that that's necessarily a bad thing.
#Let's talk about action film theory. If there's no enemy, there are no action scenes. Have you experienced any conflict with your sense of action?
MIYAZAKI Haven't we discussed this enough already? Stories in which the enemy is disposed of and everything is resolved are easy.
Regardless of the era or the structure, there are always lots of enemies around. Or I myself can be the bad guy. There's a work by Arthur Ransome, a pre-war English writer of children's books-the HMS Swallow and the HMS Amazon series(There are 12 volumes, but only one is in the World's Children's Book Collection). I read a bit of one when I was young-it was hard to read. I gave up reading it halfway through, but when I recently went back to read it, I found it interesting. It tried to give one a taste of summer unfolding. The second volume was about the following summer. [listeners laugh] I picked up the third volume-that, too, was about summer. There was only summer. I was deeply impressed. This was a story written by an old man who, in his youth, had sailed on ships and walked around his entire country. In England after the war, trends in children's literature were too concerned with the world of the rich, so this is a story of children who sailed on yachts around 1930. The story was set in a lakeside region, Windermere Lake, which was the home of Peter Rabbit and is the present-day head office of the National Trust.
In any event, these children, who owned their own boats, would camp out on small islands-their parents lived on the shore of the lake-and their talks during these one week to ten day stays would be filled with really trying to experience and enjoy life. This is an incredible philosophy, you know. It's a real action story, although it just slightly hints at action. In the second volume, a nagging great-aunt makes an appearance, and two sisters, who are both rivals and friends, are on the yacht and can't show themselves. The young boys who are the heroes spot them on the road. The old woman is sitting in a horse-drawn carriage under a parasol, with a stern look on her face. Across from her we see young girls wearing summer hats and frilled dresses, with hands neatly folded in their laps. The words accompanying this scene are interesting. They are: "What a frightful scene it was!" [laughs] That's neat, isn't it? If it were us, we'd think it was a cute scene, but to Arthur Ransome it was a "frightful" one-a diametrically opposite view. That's really neat. But I've strayed from the subject...
# In a story set almost entirely in a state of war, where all the other characters recognize each other as either friend or foe, Nausicaa is the only one who says "You must stop separating people into friends and enemies!"
MIYAZAKI I didn't intentionally create it that way. I just thought that Nausicaa was the kind of person who would act that way.
# It seems that, aside from Nausicaa, the other characters were ones that you have used before in previous works.
MIYAZAKI If that's how it seems, then that must be right. [laughs] But I didn't set out to create stereotypes.
#Nausicaa was the only new character.
MIYAZAKI Yupa didn't think of anyone as his enemy. The forest people definitely didn't consider anyone their enemy. There were others as well.
#There were others among the main characters?
MIYAZAKI I have no idea what I wrote about Chikuku. [audience laughs] Chikuku liked Nausicaa. That's all there was to him. Right?
#But I'd say that Nausicaa's enemies were his enemies. He did think of others as enemies.
MIYAZAKI That was because he was in a war.
There would have been Problems if NAUSICAA had not been Drawn as a Beautiful Young Woman
#Getting back to Nausicaa herself, of the characters in the various stories you've written so far, isn't she the closest thing to an ideal? Or would you say she's just a typical heroine? There might have been no other options due to the nature of the story, but I'd like to ask your thoughts on the matter. In concrete terms, she had the station of a princess and in appearance she was a beautiful young woman.
MIYAZAKI Well, if I hadn't drawn her as beautiful, there would have been some problems. I thought that I should settle down and draw her consistently, but every time I drew her, her face changed-even I was overpowered.
#She has vision and intellect far greater than other people, in addition to distinguished fighting skills. She also has leadership ability. We say that one carries the burden of one's own soul, but Nausicaa additionally carried the burden of many other souls as well. She was also forced to shoulder the role of legendary savior. But she didn't let all those burdens defeat her. At the end, she went to the battlefield. I describe her here as such a strong character, and I truly believe that she's the first of her kind in manga.
MIYAZAKI That, I don't know. I haven't read all the manga done in the past. But this is a period in which everyone wants to read about 'heroes' who are consummately normal people. If they're not, the readers don't believe in them. I don't like this. That's how things are these days, but frankly speaking, I dislike it. Making heroes who are just like you or everyone else around you. I wanted to create a character who was not like that.
I'm not saying that I completely ignore ordinary things. I had no problem making 'Kiki's Delivery Service', or the upcoming 'Mimi o Sumaseba'('If You Listen Hard'). I'm not totally against it-after all, everyone likes to think that they're the hero of their own story.
#In the 70's and 80's, there were no such strong heroes or heroines.
MIYAZAKI Ah-but what about Akira? Wasn't he strong?
#Yes, but he was a very strange young man.
MIYAZAKI And Nausicaa's a strange young girl. [laughs]
#Did your image of Nausicaa change significantly from 14 years ago, when you created her, until you finished the story?
MIYAZAKI No. Nausicaa was always Nausicaa. She changed, but she was always Nausicaa. It's more correct to say that I understand her better than I used to. The way I thought of her inside my head never changed.
# That's interesting. It's often said that characters act on their own. Did Nausicaa start to act of her own volition?
MIYAZAKI I created Nausicaa as a certain kind of girl, and I had her react to various situations as that kind of girl would, but she didn't act on her own.
There was one thing that did change, however. I had intended, at the start, to draw her as a more physical person. I thought I'd draw her forcefully, with large breasts. But then, if a nude scene came up, I wouldn't have been able to draw it without apologizing. That was the one thing I was sure of. Really. Not because I would be ashamed, or anything like that, but because I'd feel like drawing things that can't be published. [laughs] So I didn't want to draw her like that. That's the only thing that I can say, without a doubt, that I felt. So that was a change. Of course, if I'd started drawing her like that, I would have had no trouble with it-I don't think that I'm the kind of person who embarrasses easily at things like that. In any case, having now reached this point, I can see that there was no need to have drawn her that way. I think that the only thing that changed there at the end was my desire to depict a more spiritual story.
The Deep Wounds that Kushana Bears
# I'd like to hear your comments, as the author, regarding the characters. What do you think of them? Do they act on their own volition? Were you able to depict them as you wanted to? Kushana is the most popular character with both men and women.
MIYAZAKI Nausicaa and Kushana are very similar-they are two sides of the same coin. But Kushana, whose background I showed a little of, has some deep, physical wounds. I think that she had the capacity to become an extremely fair ruler. But I didn't know if a competent front line commander was capable of being a competent ruler, so I didn't make her one. I made her a surrogate ruler, someone who could take the place of the king. I thought that she could be limited to that role. But as I wrote about her, I kept feeling sorry for her. Her character wasn't being communicated through the writing. I was perplexed. I thought that I had to touch on her relationship with her mother and that I had to depict her more clearly, but I had only one page in which to do all that. In the end, though, I had no choice but to get to it.
# I hadn't thought about it that deeply. Mr. Anno(director of 'Fushigi no Umi no Nadia') previously sent a note saying that he would like to write a story with Kushana as the heroine. I feel that it would be a rather interesting story.
MIYAZAKI No, I don't think so. It would be boring. He just wants to play war games. I don't dislike playing war-I think that the battle scene I did in volume 3 was done perfectly. It was done well enough that I could say "See! Told you so!!"-but that's just overweening pride. When it comes to depicting war, I think that I can do it just as well as anyone else. But Nausicaa is not a manga about war.
#But [obstinately] what's wrong with having an hour and a half long fighting scene with Kushana as a peerless front line commander?
MIYAZAKI It's useless. Terrible. Well, that goes without saying, doesn't it? If that's the only plan that's been made then it would be much better to just give up the movie entirely. [laughs] Lots of movies about peerless front line commanders have already been done in America. 'Combat' for example.
MIYAZAKI If you're going to make a movie, you have to come up with your own ideas.
#Kurotowa is a unique character.
MIYAZAKI A similar character also appears in one of Shakespeare's plays. A person of strong vitality, who knows how to get on in the world, who has the ability to perceive reality and who knows the art of living-this kind of person will never lose his identity. Therefore, even though he may actually agree with Nausicaa in some ways, his own way would be best, and he would never surrender to her. So Kurotowa, having various feelings about Kushana as well, nevertheless decides that following her is the only road he can follow.
# In this story, Kurotowa is the most important of the supporting characters. Is his role to get the readers' sympathy?
MIYAZAKI Yes, I guess he had to play that role.
#Did you create the character with that in mind?
MIYAZAKI I didn't think about it in such minute detail. It just turned out that way. When building an army, if you depict one commanding officer, and then give the entire surrounding cast the same opinions, it wouldn't be interesting, would it? I thought that the more characters like Kurotowa there were, the greater the variety of things that could be known.
#The relationship between King Vu and the Fool was quite Shakespearean, wasn't it?
MIYAZAKI I wanted to expand the Fool's role a bit, but I ran out of time.
# The Fool was very interesting.
MIYAZAKI Yes, that kind of character usually is. Their role is to tell the truth, or to provide a tongue-in-cheek commentary.
#I don't think that you will write more about him, but could you explain what kind of role you tried to give him?
MIYAZAKI The question is: was he aware of how worthless the things he was doing were? King Vu is also a similar character, I believe. I don't like depicting characters unless they live with the belief that what they are doing isn't important, that they don't want to live forever, and that the world they live in is futile. On the other hand, King Vu is a person who successfully carried out a struggle for authority within the confines of the Palace-once he had started it, he saw it through. Dying, he said to Kushana, "Don't do it!". He was a fine person to be telling her not to kill anyone, but-that's wisdom. Even surrounded by useless people, he said, "Don't kill". Once you start killing, you have to keep on doing it. King Vu was an evil person. He didn't poison Kushara, or drive her mother insane with his own hands-rather he saw to it that these things were done by utilizing Court intrigues. That's how it was.
# I thought that it would have been nice if you could have delineated King Vu's personality a little more-maybe as seen from the Fool's viewpoint, for example. But I guess it wasn't possible.
MIYAZAKI I think that I wrote just enough about King Vu.
#Yupa was one of the people in the Valley of Wind.
MIYAZAKI According to the way I wrote it in the book, Yupa is not one of the Valley of Wind people.
#He's a really cool character. Isn't there anything else you'd like to say about him?
MIYAZAKI There's a lot that I haven't written. Things that I can't write.
#Could you give us more of a glimpse at this character?
MIYAZAKI Once separated from Nausicaa, this character never saw her again. Not once. He shouldered the part of the burden hat she couldn't, because she left everyone else behind her. He shouldered the burden for her.
#An action story could be made of Yupa alone. It could be a very interesting movie-kind of like 'Yojimbo' (directed by Kurosawa Akira).
MIYAZAKI No, that would be boring. He has no real stage presence. Kushana and Yupa exist only as foils for Nausicaa. If I made a movie with only Kushana, the story would be uninteresting. If I used only Yupa, it would be uninteresting. Their only job would be to go to as many towns as possible and punish their evil chief magistrates. [audience laughs] That's how it would be. Yupa is Yupa because the character of Nausicaa exists. All of Yupa's acquaintances met Nausicaa first. No one met Yupa first. This came about without anyone being aware of it.
That's why Yupa followed Nausicaa's footsteps. Although I think that even though he's not the special character that Nausicaa is, he'd have followed pretty much the same path. That's how it seems to me.
I Like Charuka's Unreasonable Shyness.
#Let's go to Dorok for a while.
MIYAZAKI I like Charuka. I like that kind of character. He is not liked by women at all. [laughs] He has a lot of empathy. Or rather, he is a stoic. He is unreasonably shy. For example, he can't touch a woman's breasts. I like that about him. He also gives the impression that he will stay this way for the rest of his life. [laughs] He has contradictory ideas-for example, he's a monk and thinks that he should be living in a remote monastery. Yet, he is a discerning and practical man.
#What about his role?
MIYAZAKI He's not just the head of an association of monks, he's no less than a front line commander. The association of monks is a simply gigantic organization, and he somehow becomes responsible for the military department.
He was a front line commander. Not a commander of the whole army, because that was basically a union of various principalities. But his was a strange religious federation in which monks played the part of the king. Those monks had an appearance of dire poverty. And the head of the sect wore rags. In a word, the person in charge thought that this was best. Various old teachings and Buddhist philosophies came out-though where they came from I have no idea. [laughs] I somehow thought that such things were necessary, and just wrote them-not intending to forge anything.
# In the latter half of the story, there was a good comic interaction between Chikuku and Charuka. They were a good combo. But what about Chikuku's character?
MIYAZAKI Chikuku was an incomplete character. Looking at him as a character, he possessed something of great danger. He gave no thought to the people around him. He liked Nausicaa, so he did what she wanted him to.
#Didn't you depict him purely as a child?
MIYAZAKI No, he's not a child. A child is an entirely different creature. I intended to depict him as a being with the potential for extreme danger.
#This question might make you feel sick, but was he like Akira?
MIYAZAKI There's no way I can answer that. Even though I created him myself,I was afraid of him when I drew him. I think that in strange situations he was a character who could display his incredibly destructive power.
#When did you first think of introducing such a character?
MIYAZAKI When I went to the ancient holy places in Dorok, he appeared suddenly.
#Can we think of him as a descendant of the Dorok kings? MIYAZAKI His full name was Rua Chikuku Kurubaruka, so he probably was. I thought of him as someone who could be anything.
#Let's discuss Namulis, the Holy Emperor, and Miralupa, his younger brother. They are very interesting, but did you leave anything out in your depiction of these two?
MIYAZAKI No. In my depiction of Miralupa, I considered Stalin, the Catholic Pope, and various others. A character like him, by nature, can't be redeemed. A character who always does just what he says he will and takes on extremely severe responsibilities is sort of unpleasant. Also he in no way tries to counteract the fear that the people have towards the association of monks, and the worry they have for the stability of the nation. If the nation is not kept in fear, then they will not be controllable-this, he thinks, is his noble cause. That's the forte of someone in power. If you look at the individual himself, you feel sorry for him. But when he takes action, the results are dangerous and vicious. But he probably tore things apart because he had no confidence in his looks. [laughs]
#What about Namulis?
MIYAZAKI I thought the greatest theme in this book was nihilism. But with nihilism, nothing is created. In the end, Namulis, too, could do nothing. Well, he did accomplish the big clean up of the association of monks. Turgenov was right when he said that nihilism can do nothing. It is not a philosophy of accomplishment. I think this applies to Namulis, too. He didn't really want Kushana. It seemed amusing to him, so he got engaged to her.
I wondered if he were thinking blood-thirsty thoughts, but he wasn't. He couldn't. He just took some pain-relief medicine. Nothing of this was explained in the story, but I just thought that he was someone who might become addicted to pain-killers. That kind of person likes the freedom of propriety, the freedom of revolt. [laughs] Even though he never actually gets involved with her, he thinks that Kushana would be a terrible wife. He likes that, too-because he's also that kind of person.
Selm and the Worm Handlers -the Existence Nobility.
# Selm of the Forest People was a noble character..
MIYAZAKI "Post-war democracy" tried to eliminate distinctions of caste, and equalize everyone , but it did have noble elements. That's what I think. [laughs] There are still distinctions between high and low. Not just whether you think of yourself as better than others or not. There's a strong longing for the way things used to be. I myself value such things.
#In Kanji Nakaue's work, there is a statement, "The only one who really understands the suffering of the lowest caste is the Emperor."
MIYAZAKI The lowest caste was the race of worm handlers, but the question is why were they directly connected to Nausicaa? It's because since ancient times, there has always been a profound connection between the Emperor and the lowest caste. I don't mean common people who work as farmers. I knew that I wanted to use the worm handlers right from the start of the story. I thought that I would try to show that something can be learned from even the meanest lifestyle. Although the scale of the story increased greatly, I just wasn't able to delve deeply into details regarding the worm handlers. The worm handlers were an unbelievably simple people. They were a simple people.
#If you think that, then I think that you must understand somewhat the world of outcasts and beggars in "Legend of Kamui".
MIYAZAKI I don't think that I'm qualified to comment of the caste system or its discrimination problems, nor do I want to.
But those kinds of people will always exist, I think. I don't mean that they are especially necessary, I just think that, regardless of the society, they will somehow exist. I used the worm handlers to bring this out. At first, Nausicaa couldn't bring herself to use the worms. She could not forgive such things as opening the graves of the dead. Such feelings are natural, of course. I don't think anyone could understand something like the worms right from the start. You agree, right?
I think that that's an integral part of being human. Looking at the worm handlers from a much broader perspective, based on the things she herself had had to do, Nausicaa was finally able to accept them. She didn't accept them after studying and thinking on the problem. Her experiences and enlarged viewpoint enabled her to do so.
In the same vein, Selm claimed that the blood of the worm handlers also flowed through his people's veins. This says that even the most despicable thing has an element of nobility. I can't say for sure, but somehow that's true. It's part of the spiritual make up.
"Krabat" (Preisler; Kaiseisha) is the same. Workers at water mills were considered sorcerers. People with special skills, like blacksmiths, were wealthy, even though they did not cultivate fields. People who used water mills or wind mills were the same, right? So they were thought to be sorcerers.
I think it was the same in Japan, as well. People who make steel, and others like them, are not found in the centers of villages. They are on the outskirts. Ethnologically speaking, these people exist apart from the villagers.
The worm handlers are like that. They and the wind readers were probably considered special races in their villages. Not everyone in the village could read the wind. So, people who could, although greatly valued, were considered to be different. They were treated carefully, but could not live together with the villagers. They had taken on different responsibilities. This is what happens when people band together.
# As for other non-human characters, there were the God Soldiers, the Heedra, the Ohmu, and the creatures who dwelt in the Sea of Corruption. Would it be safe to say they they were all artificially created beings? At first, we readers-along with Nausicaa-thought that the creatures who lived with the Ohmu in the Sea of Corruption were forces of nature born to purify a world devastated by the '7 Days of Fire'. Actually, they had all been artificially created, which we learn near the end of the story. It was an overwhelming shock, but it was also a very fresh approach. We find this out later, but can we think of the God Soldiers as having been created by genetic or nuclear technology?
MIYAZAKI No, the God Soldiers were God Soldiers. The Ohma were mass-produced God Soldiers and were different. Weren't they imperfectly made, and disposed of underground? We don't know for sure. No one can be entirely sure of the things of antiquity. But the Ohmu were too botched to use as weapons. They were plagued with problems.
#They were intelligent thanks to the imperfections in their production?
MIYAZAKI No. That wasn't intelligence. When human beings start to lose confidence in what they are doing, they long to make some kind of agent of righteousness. Humans have decided that 'intelligence' is something possessed only by humans, and they have projected their definition of the word on the world at large. But if you look at a paramecium in the context of its own world, and not the human world, then even it could be said to be intelligent. Don't you agree? The God Soldiers were created to be agents of justice-that's why their existence was so tragic.
#I liked the Heedra, the courtyard guards-but you depicted them in many forms, for example combat troops or farmers.
MIYAZAKI Well, that's what they were. If made into soldiers, they were soldiers. If made into farmers, they were farmers. They were very sad. The Heedra were the only group whose thoughts Nausicaa could not get into tune with-and she was capable of empathizing with slime. But she had no time-she was too busy fighting.
#Those Heedra courtyard guards will become a little lonelier in the future, I guess.
MIYAZAKI That's because those Heedra are slightly superior Heedra. [laughs] That's what they'll be. I don't know if they changed bodies during that 1000 year period, but if they did, I think they were left with only a deep and abiding sense of despair.
The Heedra in the garden were of high rank, but they worked in the garden as manual laborers. [laughs] They were a sad lot, and the fact that Nausicaa could not feel sympathy for them as living creatures was bitter.
I don't dislike the Heedra like the young one who lived with the goats. When it was all over he'd still be waiting for someone. People are necessary, you know. In order to maintain the software, people are needed. Skill and knowledge are a kind of software. It wouldn't be good if the only thing left were books. That's how I feel about it. If you think that having software in the machine is enough, you're wrong. There has to be someone there to listen to it or read it, over and over. That's why I embraced the contradiction of having the re-building plan for the world dependent on imperfect human beings. Pure knowledge and technology are day dreams-technology can turn to religion and knowledge to scripture.
#Is there anything you haven't written about Ohmu?
The Waste of Plants, the Waste of Life
MIYAZAKI The Ohmu are larvae. Even when they become adults, they remain larvae. They die as larvae. They are such strange organisms. They are in their pre-metamorphic state. Insects are like that, too, aren't they? 'Mothra' became a moth, right? I wanted to have the Ohmu turn into something like moths, but I didn't. I had the wild idea of having the Ohmu change into moths and fly away once their functions were finished. But then I thought that that was wrong, and that these organisms should always remain larvae. In the end, I thought that that's what the Ohmu were and I left them that way. The Ohmu were different, because they were created that way. They were a little sorrowful. They were different from other insects, even in the way they flew.
For example, a butterfly will fly 1500 kilometers across the sea, without knowing if there is anything on the other side. Balloonfish ride the tides and keep coming back to the coast of Japan. They then become adults, but don't reproduce at that point. They keep coming over and over again. They do it so that they can reproduce when the waters around Japan have warmed up due to continental shift.
And then there are the leafhoppers, which attach themselves to rice plants. The leafhoppers come from China. They don't reproduce in Japan. They keep coming back here over and over. Imanishi [a noted Japanese ecologist] refers to this as a 'waste of life'. Some plants want to bloom and reproduce, and float down a river looking for land. Instead they wind up in the ocean and die. This is done over and over again. The cycle repeats itself. But if conditions were ever to change, they might be successful.
Along the same lines, in the past few years here [Miyazaki's vacation villa in Nagano], the number of dogwood trees has increased remarkably. They grow between the larches and spread all over. In order to build this villa, a lot of trees had to be cut down. The space left after construction filled with dogwoods. They fill it up. It's incredible. I wonder where they came from. There's a mulberry field in front of the cabin. There are a lot of mulberry bushes there. There used to be a tall paulownia tree there too, but it was cut down when the road was constructed. I thought it sad, but since then, its offspring have popped up all over the place. Why didn't they appear until that time? Why did the small paulownia appear after the parent tree was cut down?
There's a chestnut tree over there, and every day it drops chestnuts. Yet every year, there's no sign of new seedlings. Once I was asked by a child, since there are so many spores, why they don't grow. It's because plants waste a lot-they disseminate seeds repeatedly and send out spores, but actually produce meager results. They wait for a chance. A mountain of acorns falls, but I wonder how many actually become seedlings.
#Just like Nausicaa, right? Of all the children born, there was only one like Nausicaa
MIYAZAKI I don't know if that's how one should think about it or not. I don't know what happened with Nausicaa's mother. I thought that maybe she had been forced to part from the man she loved, or she was forced marry the tribal chief. Something like that might have happened-and it might not have happened. I don't know.
She was kind, but she was wrapped in a cloak of despair-of course, such a person can also be kind. What kind of mother was she? I don't think that she was ever cruel to Nausicaa, or mistreated her. It was said that, deep down, she was a very gentle, kind person. The villagers were also kind to Nausicaa. But none of this was the same as love. In American culture, if there are any problems, it's always because 'you love me' or 'you don't love me', and that's all very nice and easy, but it's not that simple. It's different, right? I think so.
#I'd like to talk a bit about the Soldiers of the Gods and the Hydra. Can we think of these two things as the end product of nuclear and genetic technology?
MIYAZAKI It's not a question of 'thinking'-that's what they are. The people who created them would do such things to bring about the saving of the world. But people are capable of pulling through crises on their own. Look, if you come across an abandoned child, you can save him then, but it would be foolish to try to save him from all future crises. Life is cruel and despair is an essential element. If we tamper with it, trying to remove harmful elements, unforeseen problems may result. I saw 'Life from the Sea', which was a part of NHK's 'Life' series. They said that the more we learn about life, the less we know. In the Western world, this is where God comes in-after all, this must all have been created by His design. But the things we've come to understand and the things we think we've created have been part of the world from the start. Music, for example. I think that the universe is full of music, and we just pick it up.
MIYAZAKI Just as the swirling of Jupiter and the swirling inside a cup are the same, everything in the universe is the same, after a fashion. For the most part it's a zen mondo. In the same way, in making a movie, it might appear that you make the decisions-what you like, don't like, etcetera-that's because you think there's one optimal way to make the movie.
This may be my fancifulness, but more than you deciding to make a move, the movie decides that it wants to be made. The movie tries to become a movie. And there's an optimal way to do this. Or at least a preferable way. But how do you find it? If you do the best you can with the staff, budget and strength that you have at the time, and you choose the form that will best suit your subject, then you get the feeling that there is only one optimal method. But that's a somewhat Catholic concept.
#Catholic concept? Listening to you talk, I hear Buddhist concepts.
MIYAZAKI Well, I don't know. I don't know if it's a Catholic or Buddhist concept. Feeling that the answer is somewhere above you, like God, makes me think that it's more Catholic. Next month [from September of 1994], I have to start preparations for my new movie "Mononoke Hime" (The Demon Princess). This is not so much because I want to do it, but that the situation is such that I feel required to do it. The situation is stronger than I. I may do it grudgingly, but since there is really no choice, I will do it to the best of my ability. I'll do my best, but say that I have three directions I can take. Which do I choose? Whatever I do, I'll end up with a movie called 'The Demon Princess', but there are 3 possible versions. I think we make decisions like that at critical junctions. Once decided, you are committed to that track, and the best you can do is try to find the optimal method. It would be nice if we could find it easily, but it's not that simple.
Birth Equals Suffering
#I'd like to go back a bit. The human race-human beings-will probably continue to develop nuclear technology and biotechnology. Considering nuclear technology, having experienced Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl, resistance to nuclear technology is active. But I think that biotechnology will continue without much resistance. What about the second half of the 20th century?
MIYAZAKI Humans will be remade. We'll try to make humans who are not atopic, for example. Humans are not immune to the effects of the environment we've created. If we don't wonder about what we might have done wrong, or whether or not we could do things differently, then we have no choice but to accept things as they come. We really need to strike a balance at some midway point between extremes.
If everything is God's will, then it's wrong to cure sickness. That's why women who made herbal concoctions were called witches. They went against God's will. But humans can't just stand by and leave things as they are. Pain and suffering exist, and we do what we can to alleve them. The most fundamental aspect of 'post-war democracy' in Japan during the 50's, in my opinion, was the philosophy that the misery of the individual could be completely alleviated, as long as the government and nation made no mistakes. Completely alleviated. Because humans were not born to suffer. But what happens then is that being born becomes a torment. We lose sight of the truth of existence.
People who suffered illnesses from radiation poisoning, and people suffering from other cruel afflictions embraced their suffering and carried on with life. But those people wanted to believe that the things that happened to them were solely the result of things created wrongly by other humans-polluted food and environment, atomic bombs, etcetera. I think that problems of medical treatment and life stem from this.
But it's wrong. The prevalent idea throughout the world is that pain and human existence are irretrievably linked. After the war, Japan built an artificial and unnatural 'better' world, thinking that 'post-war democracy' could alleviate pain. We thought that we could clear up most problems by reaching a certain level of national wealth. So instead of guns, we built a high-growth economy. A lot of misery was eliminated by eradicating poverty. "Ku-pora no aru Machi" (A Town with a Cupola) could not be made in these times of plenty. But in Korea, China, Taiwan and other Asian countries, there are disparities aplenty, and dramatic, aggressive movies are being made all the time. It's only natural. But in Japan, where these contradictions no longer exist, we're only making movies about girls in love, strolling down the street. It's difficult to live in a society seething with contradictions, but it's also difficult to live in a society like that of current Japan. These problems have existed since the time of Buddha and before, but we didn't recognize them until very recently. Now we see them, but we still haven't faced them squarely, and we, and the government, continue in our mistaken belief that there must be a paradise somewhere quite near by. I don't think that it will be an easy time, when we finally do face up to these problems.