Isao Takahata Talks to Variety

In February of 2016, Variety sat down to speak with Isao Takahata to discuss his long, illustrious career, and his thoughts on animation. Naturally, this is the sort of discussion that could become enormously long and detailed, but the interview was kept fairly brief.

One interesting note that was news to me: the surviving staff members of Horus, Prince of the Sun met together for a celebration in 2015, marking the film's 38th anniversary. As everybody knows from watching the Blu-Ray (hint, hint), the movie had a very turbulent production that lasted nearly three years and was pulled from Japanese theaters after less than two weeks, yet in time grew in stature, and today is widely regarded as a groundbreaking classic. It was nice to have the old production team back together again. I wonder if there are any photos or videos from this event?

The interview discusses advances in computer technology and Paku-san's evolving visual style, which first emerged in Omohide Poro Poro and continued to My Neighbors the Yamada and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Your acclaimed film, “Omohide Poro Poro,” was released in Japan in 1991, but it’s only just now coming to English-speaking audiences in the U.S. as “Only Yesterday.” How do you think your style changed since the film first came out?

If I understand correctly what you mean by style, the pictorial style in my works has gone through many changes. I consider myself to have taken advantage of the fact that I cannot draw. For many years I have wanted to improve on the simplistic flat-plane image of cel animation. But I didn’t want to solve this by going into the 3D-CG method of three-dimensionality and substantiality. I wanted to solve this by a method of “reduction” of not drawing everything on the screen, in order to stimulate people’s imagination and raise the level of artistry. My assertion was that this method is what can and should be applied in Japan, following on our long painting tradition from the 12th century Scrolls of Frolicking Animals, ink paintings, and ukiyo-e woodblock prints all the way to manga. This was realized later in “My Neighbors the Yamadas” (1999) and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (2013), but actually, I had taken to putting this into practice somewhat by leaving areas of the frames blank in the recollection scenes in Only Yesterday.

Read the rest of the interview. Now if we could only find producers out there who are willing (and patient enough) to finance one more Takahata film. Any takers out there? Bueller?

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