Goro Miyazaki Discusses Ronia

Goro Miyazaki

Goro Miyazaki spoke to Japan's Asahi Shimbun today, discussing his career in landscape architecture, animated movies, and his complicated relationship with his famous father. He also discusses his latest project, the NHK anime series, Ronia, the Robber's Daughter.

Some excerpts from the full interview:

Q: You made your debut abruptly as an animated film director when you made Tales from Earthsea (2006). Don’t you think you were given that opportunity precisely because you are Hayao’s son?

A: I don’t know, really. As always, it was [Toshio] Suzuki, the producer, who came up with the proposal, but I have no idea if that was because I am Hayao Miyazaki’s son or was for other reasons.

My father was strongly opposed. He said, for one thing, “How hard do you think I worked as an underling before I was finally a director? It’s reckless for an amateur to be one.”

For another, he said, “If you direct a movie even once, you will be called a director for the rest of your life. Do you understand what that means?”

I replied, at that time, that I didn’t understand. Only later did I realize what that meant. My father was right.

Q: Ronia shows in careful detail how the protagonist girl interacts with her father. In Tales from Earthsea, a boy, who is the main character, stabs his father with a sword in an opening scene. But father-child relations seldom constitute a leitmotif in Hayao Miyazaki’s works. What do you think?

A: I read the original Ronia when I had just become a father myself, so how the robber father rejoiced when Ronia was born came very vividly to me. That is the source of my creative drive.

But apart from that, what you said probably has to do with the fact that I have to remain conscious of my own father, even now.

I used to believe that imagery was there as a means of expressing narratives. But the works of my father have made me realize strongly that imagery has a side that is not about narratives or about logic, and can exist on its own if only it comes with a certain sort of sensuous persuasiveness or an instantaneous pleasure.

I often ask myself what is the vehicle of expression for the sensuosity in my father’s works, and what he has that I don’t have. I also believe that there must be, on the contrary, something that I do have but he doesn’t. Well, life would be easy if I knew what that something was.

I could define it as a goal to create works that would parallel Miyazaki’s anime works from 30 years ago.

But Hayao Miyazaki is a genius who never stops updating himself. When I have climbed several steps, I find him going still further. I will probably never be able to overtake him, and I am telling myself these days that it’s just useless to try to overtake him.

Q: You have left Studio Ghibli to make Ronia, and in doing so, you are using computer graphics to create a likeness of the touch of hand-drawn anime. What do you have to say about that?

A: When Takahata and Miyazaki were creating TV anime series 40 years ago, the art was still evolving, and it involved a variety of trial and error. But the methodology of hand-drawn animated films has been established and is now fully mature.

If I were to create hand-drawn TV anime series now, I would only be following a path carved out by Hayao Miyazaki and others as a latecomer. Well, I wouldn’t like that.

Expression by computer graphics remains incomplete, so both the workers and myself believe that there still remains something that we could do.

It is generally believed that hand-drawn anime is superior to computer graphics when it comes to expressing emotions, but anime artists who use computer graphics maintain a sound ambition to believe that they could achieve something if they tried. They are, I believe, young of heart.

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