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Anime Central 2018: Mitsuo Iso Q&A

Mitsuo Iso is an animator, director, and screenwriter.  Iso has worked as a key animator for many iconic shows and movies including: Porco Rosso, Gundam 0080, FLCL, Neon Genesis Evangelion (co-writer of episode 13), The End of Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell and the animated segment of Kill Bill Vol. 1.


Q: Why did you retire so early?

A: So I have only retired from the animator part of my role, which I have done for approximately 30 years. So I don’t particularly feel like that’s too early. Nowadays I am seeing new blood come into the industry and they are very talented too. I figure I would let them handle the key animation.  Now I want to focus more on the director role. So that’s really the reason for the retirement.  However, in regards to the works I am going to be directing myself, I would like to be working on the art aspect as well.


Aside from Kill Bill, which you have directed the small animation scene, is there another director or a movie, that would like to animate a single fight for, that hasn’t been done yet?


A: If there is an offer of such, then I would certainly love to hear about it. But working under a director to fulfill the role of an animator is something that I basically desired to retire from. It’s quite a lot of work.


You once said that you wish more people would see the beauty of hand drawn digital and join you in making that kind of animation. What are your thoughts on the way the industry has utilized digital technology overall?


A: So I believe there are different methods that we can take. There isn’t really a concrete methodology that I think has been established. But when I comes down to using pen and paper, for example, it’s already been so established that it’s almost in a complete form that you can’t do too much drastic reforms or drastic methodology out of that particular medium. So right now with the emergence of digital hand drawn with the use of tablets. I feel that’s a bit of an up-and-coming methodology on the way.  I think that’s one challenge I’m takin upon in terms of “how can I establish a new breakthrough out of this method?”


In terms of 3D, I feel Disney/Pixar has made a breakthrough by going entirely full 3D. But right now, in Japan, with the hand drawn methodology, I am trying to investigate if there are any new ways that we can make a breakthrough with that method. So that’s something that I would like to continue exploring with some of the new blood that’s coming into the industry.  So I’m not trying to confine myself to just 2D or 3D,  but even if it’s a hybrid, seeing if there is any new ways of coming up with methodologies.

Q: How did you come up with the character on your shirt?


A: Whether if it’s an image or a story, all of a sudden I get that “aha” moment, that kind of comes down to me and then I just basically output that as they come along.  This happens to be one of those things that just kind of materialized in that form. 

Q: You’ve work on a number of anime with collaboration of Japanese and international staff. What do you think of these kinds of productions? And should the industry be looking to engage in them more often moving forward?

A: I personally think those are rare opportunities that I would like to continue pursuing. Especially if I’m able to maintain that Japanese style.  However, when it comes down to different talents coming together, there is definitely different opinions or different impressions of how this are views. So that may cause a bit of a wall or barrier if we may. But aside from that.  I personally would like welcome those opportunities as they come along.


Q: Is there a director or artist who has influenced you the most? And if so, what did you learn from that person? 

A: So I have been influenced by many people and it’s very hard to just name one single person, so to speak. Because I feel like I am getting fragments of influence from like various people and those are just coming together. Again, it’s hard to name particulars. But for example, if it’s as an animator, when it comes down it, the movements and such, the person I regard as my teacher, if I may, is an animator named Toshiyuki Inoue. He was actually a director for Denno Coil.

As far as the story-making aspect is concerned, again I get quite a lot of different influence from different people. I’m basically taking bits and pieces out of like many different people, in terms of influences. But, um…I guess in Japan… And this isn’t only in terms of my work for Denno Coil, but I do feel that if I were to name one person, that would be Shinichi Hoshi. I have been influences by him. So he was very famous for producing many very short stories and his positioning was that he was supposed to be a Sci-Fi novelist but then again what he was going behind the conflict of that Sci-Fi genre. Just going above and beyond that genre. So what he produced wasn’t necessarily confined to particular genres or particularly something that was very well received during that time. So in terms of that philosophy, it is someth8ing that I have very much been influenced by.

This may derail a little bit from that influence side of things, and this is going to sound a little ridiculous here. But when it comes down  to creating a story I have been influenced by or getting inspiration by little snippets of music or reminiscing about this particular back alley that I once passed through or this particular movement in an anime that I have been worked on. Getting influences or inspiration from that for story-making side of things. That is something that I have seen.

Q: What keeps you grounded in life? What are some of your favorite activities to do outside of directing and animation?

A: When I’m making an anime, it’s all anime. I have to focus on the anime aspect, otherwise I can’t really work. Let’s say I’m taking a walk or something, down the road, like ultimately it comes down to, like my mind ultimately back to notion of anime.

Posted 1 July, 2018 - 14:09 by SentaiSeiya