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An Interview with Mizuho Nishikubo director of Giovanni's Island

Date: 2015 January 10 18:06

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Recently, we got a chance to interview Mr. Mizuho Nishikubo, director of Giovanni's Island, and ask him about the film and some of his other works.

The film is going to be released on DVD and Blu-ray by Anime Limited.

You can enter our competition to win a copy of the film.

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Giovanni's Island
Giovanni's Island

Mr. Nishikubo, thank you for speaking with me today!

Thank you.

As I've only seen about two thirds of the film, I'll refrain from asking you questions about the characters because as I've haven't seen the ending, I don't want to ask you questions where you might reveal the ending to me!

[Laughs] OK!

The film is set in the aftermath of World War II. It's a period that doesn't get a lot of focus, even in live action settings. What drew you to this period of time?

It's a story that most people in Japan don't know really and I was really interested in this story that I was hearing for the first time about the Japanese children and the Russian children even though they were supposed to be enemies becoming friends and playing together.

OK. In animation, do you think it is easier to depict adult concepts like war, loss and destruction if seen through the eyes of a child? I'm thinking of Barefoot Gen and Grave of the Fireflies in this example.

I don't think it's a case of it being easier to tell it from a child's point of view. In this case, I didn't specifically want to tell a child's story but I heard this story from the person whose story it is and so that's the story I had to tell.

Giovanni's Island

Given Hayao Miyazaki's exposure in English speaking territories, how did you feel going into the project with children as your main characters? Given the rather unfair comparison people gave to Makoto Shinkai's Children Who Chase Lost Voices (including this reviewer) to Ghibli's output, did you feel apprehensive or annoyed when people would take one look and make a prognosis based on work they had already seen from Miyazaki?

I didn't have any concerns about that and I'm sure that Shinkai-san was the same. Miyazaki is a big name in Japan as well but we're not really compared to him and if people want to compare works overseas, I don't really mind as long as people come to watch the film.

Did the time period and setting of Giovanni's Island make it easier for you to relate given how it's relatively recent as opposed to other projects you've worked on such as Musashi or the Rose of Versaille?

Not really. For any project set that isn't set in the present day, you have to do research, you have to find material and usually even if you go to the places, they've changed and you find what you're looking for there so it's still a lot of work. But at the same time, there are always new discoveries to be had, so it's a lot of hard work but it's very interesting.

Giovanni's Island

The film itself seems to be animated in an almost watercolour and pencil manner. Was this a deliberate choice or did you experiment with different looks and techniques before you settled on the final look?

I think you're probably talking about the fantasy scenes, the scenes in their imaginations on the Galactic Railroad. It wasn't so much a case of experimenting with different styles but more of looking at different styles and choosing from amongst those what I thought would best suit these particular scenes. Then based on my ideas, talking to the staff and then they brought them to life.

OK, well I only have a couple of questions about other projects you worked on and then I have one final question about Giovanni's Island and then I will leave you to go. Is that OK?

Go for it anyway!

Giovanni's Island

With Ghost in the Shell in its third iteration with the release of ARISE, did you have any notion that it would still be going twenty years later and were you surprised by how influential its look in terms of its animation and style to people like the makers of The Matrix?

I'm surprised that it's still going, twenty years later! It's been very persistent and the fact that it's had such an influence not just on live action but on anime as well, I can't help but be confused about how many works it has influenced.

In Patlabor 2, a lot of the animation works on a still and calm level, hinting that something bigger is coming down the line and only at the end does the tension pay off. Given the easy going nature of the original TV series, was this intentional on yours and Oshii-san's (director Mamoru Oshii) part?

The story of the film is much more realistic than the TV series so when Oshii-san and I talked about it, we wanted to bring out that difference in the film. So that the still scenes really are still and the big scenes are big and explosive. We wanted there to be that clear difference between those different types of scenes.

Giovanni's Island

You're worked in a lot of genres like sports, historical dramas, science fiction. Do you have a favourite genre to work in within anime?

As long as I can depict people, I like any genre. Maybe my favourite is this kind of genre (Giovanni's Island) where you show people surviving during war or the aftermath of war but basically I like any genre as long as I can draw people.

Returning to Giovanni's Island, what was your hope for the film going into the project and was it the same when you had finished and it started to be shown worldwide?

I didn't have a particular message about war, for example, that I wanted to get across in the film, rather I just wanted to show children living through that experience and, through having a very detailed depiction of the time based on my research, to let the audience experience what they had gone through. Now that it's being screened in different countries, I am very interested to see how people will react to that.

Giovanni's Island

Mr Nishikubo-san, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today and I hope you have a pleasant stay over on this side of the world.

Thank you.


Otaku News would like to thank Elle from Fetch Publicity and Jeremy from Anime Limited for setting up the interview.

Giovanni's Island being released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 12 January 2015. Don't forget you can enter our competition to win a copy of the film.

Source: Otaku News
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