Mushishi Live-Action Movie Interview
On January 23rd, Director Katsuhiro Otomo and actor Joe Odagiri attended a public meeting during the preview event of the live-action movie Mushishi. Mushishi is based on a popular manga title by Yuki Urushibara (the pen name of Yuki Yoshiyama) that is currently serialized in Afternoon. The manga has sold over 2.9 million copies, and was nominated for the Kodansha Manga Award in 2006.
Director Katsuhiro Otomo (known for anime films such as Akira) adapted Mushishi into a live-action movie after his 16-year break. The movie was screened twice during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah under the title Bugmaster (23-24th January), and all tickets were sold out. Offers for the rights to distribute the film overseas are rushing in from the U.S, Australia, Korea, and various other countries (10 total). A number of press came to the preview event, some audience even stood to watch because they couldn't buy reserved seats. Mushishi will appear on the screens in Japan on 24th of March.
Actor Joe Odagiri
Q: How do you feel about Mushishi attracting international attention?
Joe Odagiri: I don't have much to say. (laugh). I think Mushishi contains many cultural references about Japan. The film is filled with elements of the old Japan. I want to know how the foreign audiences feel about this movie, and I'm interested in the attention Mushishi is getting in other countries. I hope someone from another country will tell me his impression of the movie.
Q: I heard you agreed immediately when you were offered the cast of Ginko, why?
Joe Odagiri: Well, of course, it's my honor to join Mr. Otomo's new live-action movie as an actor.
Q: What is your impression of Mr. Otomo?
Joe Odagiri: He is a shy person. He has a childlike way of thinking, such as attending foreign film festivals in shorts. I can talk with him frankly without feeling the difference in age and experience between us. I think he is an adult with a child's heart.
Q: How did you handle your role, in which you have to deal with a particular creature called "Mushi"?
Joe Odagiri: I just acted as Ginko according to Mr. Otomo's script. Fans already have their own image of the story through the manga. The publicity staff had some difficulty trying to explain the concept of "Mushi." "Mushi" means "insects" in Japanese, but in this movie, "Mushi" means something that is hard to explain.
Dealing with "Mushi" is very hard. When I read the manga, I felt that Mushi is a tool for expressing various things, like time, nature, life and death -- everything human meets in this world. Mushishi (Bugmaster) didn't feel like the name of an occupation.
Q: What impressed you the most when filming Mushishi?
Joe Odagiri: I was worried about certain thing....for example, I had to wear winter costumes for the film during a hot summer's day, and I can't sweat, it was terrible. I found myself in such situations a lot.
Director Katsuhiro Otomo
Q: What points did you consider when you made this manga-based movie?
Katsuhiro Otomo: How should I face today's advanced computer graphics and Japanese images from a hundred years ago. To enjoy working with the new actors.
Q: It was interesting that you used real images as opposed to CG.
Katsuhiro Otomo: I used CG too. However, many views of the old Japan can be found in modern day Japan, I just searched and used them.
Q: What is your impression of Joe Odagiri?
Katsuhiro Otomo: This movie is based on a manga, so the audiences all have their own images of Ginko. I think Ginko is the most difficult character to act for an actor. Our staff can help him, but the actor has to do his job by himself.
Q: How is Ginko in the finished movie?
Katsuhiro Otomo: Amazing. Ginko has a unique personality. Poor acting would make Ginko a manga character, not a real human. Joe's Ginko followed my image; he was able to express the complex personality of Ginko.
Q: You have created other anime movies in the past, how do you feel about creating a live-action movie?
Katsuhiro Otomo: It was difficult, but there is not a movie that should be taken easily. Live-action movies have a kind difficulty that's different from anime movies. In a live-action movie, the actors/actresses can create their own amazing worlds. When I work with actors and actresses, I think to myself "how should I create this image." It's very difficult, but also very interesting. I hope I can receive another opportunity to make another movie.