Interview With Telecom & Ghibli Animator Atsuko Tanaka

Writer Katy Castillo at YattaTachi has just posted an impressive interview with legendary animator Atsuko Tanaka. They discuss her experience working on various anime productions, including the recent blockbuster , the differences between Japan and America's animation (mostly lip-syncing), and her opinions on Hayao Miyazaki. It's a very fascinating read, and as always, I wish there were more.

Tanaka-san began her career at Shin-Ei Animation, later joining the Telecom studio, where she met up with Miyazaki, providing key animation on Lupin the 3rd: Series Two, The Castle of Cagliostro and Sherlock Hound. In 1984, she was part of the small team that created the 1984 Nemo pilot film, one of the all-time great anime masterpieces. At Studio Ghibli, she worked on My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, Pom Poko, Mimi wo Sumaseba, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Tales From Earthsea, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty and When Marnie Was There. Most recently, Tanaka joined the staff at Studio Ponoc for Mary and the Witch's Flower.

It's a great interview well worth reading. In these clips, Tanaka discusses what it's like to work with Miyazaki:

How would you compare working at Studio Ghibli to working at other studio environments? 
We’ve heard that working with Miyazaki can be a bit… stressful. I’ve been working alongside Miyazaki for a long, long time, even before Ghibli. And before that, I think he was much scarier to be around. After Ghibli, of course, he was very strict on the work we do. However, he wasn’t really doing anything with us, so that was good.
Was it easier because you understood his mannerisms and knew that his approach was a bit more upfront and direct? 
As long as he is not making movies, he is a very nice and gentle person. This is my personal opinion, but Miyazaki is very, very into his production, of course. He gets tough if somebody else is not thinking as deep as he is, but it is almost impossible because it’s his creation. That is kind of how it is. Especially with understanding the movie, he always wants more. Miyazaki has a lot of knowledge about different things. Let’s say there is a car in a scene: he knows everything about this car. About how to cook? He knows everything about how to cook. When I worked on the scene in Howl’s Moving Castle where they cook bacon and eggs, I didn’t know at the time that you make the egg using the bacon’s oil. I didn’t know that, but of course he did. He knows a lot about airplanes and other things. Although he says, “Oh, I don’t have much knowledge,” he does have a lot of knowledge, even about daily life and cooking, so it’s very hard to catch up to him.


iaa_i said...

I just wanted to tell you that I'm glad this blog is active again! Thank you for your efforts Daniel.

Ultra Plethora said...

Lovely and insightful little read.

I'm curious what your thoughts are on the Telecom animated 1987 Lupin III feature, The Plot of the Fuma Clan (also known as The Fuma Conspiracy), which she did key animation on. It also features the involvement of Yasuo Otsuka, who, I believe is credited as animation supervisor. I think it's a terrific film, representing Studio Telecom at peek performance, but I can't find any mention of it on your blog. Curious to hear what your opinions are.

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