This mook (magazine-book) that pays tribute to director Morita Yoshimitsu (森田芳光) collects the illustration Katsuhiro Otomo did to promote Yoshimitsu's movie LIVE IN CHIGASAKI (ライブイン茅ヶ崎) released in May 2, 1978 in Japan.
Publisher: PIA (ぴあ )
Release date: 2012-XII-8
Number of pages:
Size: 28 x 20.6 x 1.8 cm
Retail price: ¥1,512
For over five decades and to this day, Katsuhiro Otomo has created a vast work in the fields of manga, animation, illustration and film. Otomo's world-renown came in the late 80's with the worldwide release of his manga AKIRA and the homonym animation film that he directed. Despite the international success of AKIRA, today few of Otomo's previous manga works and illustration books have been published outside Japan, remaining unknown for a big audience that we believe would probably love to know more about his artistic trajectory.
With this chronology we want to establish a timeline of Otomo's works as a manga artist, illustrator and director as well as highlight the release of the many books and diverse media related to his works and projects. The goal of this chronology is none other than providing a comprehensive timeline of the published works of Katsuhiro Otomo and present an extensive view of his creative work.
We have organized and classified every post in this chronology with the most relevant information available, presenting the illustration works and the many manga episodes cover art as they were published for the first time in the respective magazines, posters, book sleeves etc. This way, the images are shown in the context of the graphic design in which they were published originally while we reference them to the various books in which they are collected in their raw form.
The primary sources for this chronology have been the many books we own and the extensive deepness of the Internet, specially the following websites:
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At the Platform International Animation Festival in Los Angeles①, Anime News Network had the chance to sit down with legendary director and manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo and ask him a few questions over breakfast.
Q: I wanted to jump right in and ask about your new project that's going to be starting in Weekly Shonen Sunday②. What made you decide to do something for younger audiences?
A: Actually it's not decided yet if I'm going to go in Shonen Sunday or not. I've been targeting the younger generation since the beginning. Now it seems like as the project is getting more geared towards older audiences. So I'm still considering whether to go with Weekly Shonen Sunday or not.
Q: I see. Is there a rough plan/timeframe for when it will be launched?
A: Well, actually, it WAS planned to launch this autumn. (laughs) Please don't ask.
Q: There was one magazine that mentioned that you were actually doing everything yourself without assistance; is that true?
Q: That sounds really tough.
A: Yes, that's why it's taking some time. (laughs)
Q: Moving on to older projects: many of my favorite of your works, such as Roujin Z③ and The Order to Stop Construction④, are satire, a rarity in anime and manga. I was wondering if satire was something you find yourself gravitating towards.
A: That's totally depends on the basic idea, itself. Sometimes I get inspiration from the politics, but sometimes I get into more fantasy. Not everything in current events makes for a good story -- for example, we had a big earthquake two years ago in Japan. I was very shocked, but despite everything that happened, I'm not convinced anyone will be able to make a good work of fiction out of it. Some artists have already started drawing, but they've stuck mostly to accounts of what actually happened in Japan.
Q: Lots of veteran anime creators have talked a bit about the future of anime and manga in Japan and worried about the future. Is that something you think a lot about?
A: Yeah, I think it's getting harder and harder to become a director in Japan. Maybe some of the difficulties in the business sphere are coming from the earthquake, and everything else going on there. It's not easy to get sponsors from the corporate world for creating animation these days.
Q: Is there any hope, are you finding any bright spots in the industry?
A: Well, in spite of all the difficulties, the animators in Japan are all working hard and doing their best, so there's hope in that. Beyond that, I don't pay much attention to the trendy side of the business, so I'm really not the guy to ask.
Q: So, talking about your new work, Combustible⑤, its theme is clearly two young people who are trapped in their society, and their attempts to break free from that trap. What inspired that theme?
A: The basic theme of the storyline is fairly typical of old Japanese literature, called kabuki or joruri. For example, the story of Yaoya Oshichi⑥ is, more or less, the same basic story as Combustible. I wanted to take that old theme that we used to have in Japan 300 years ago, and describe with recent technologies, in anime form.
Q: Combustible uses a lot of modern animation techniques, but are their some methods you took from the old analog days of anime as well?
A: I like to work on both sides, with both hand-drawing and computer graphics. Back a couple years ago everyone was working only with computer graphics, using LCD tablets and the like, but now people are coming back to hand-drawing style. Some parts of the process use tablets, and coloring is still done digitally. But I'm trying to bring as much classic draftsmanship back to the craft as possible.
Q: How much of it is you, drawing directly?
A: Actually I don't do much painting. (laughs) Of course, I draw the layout and the storyboard.
Q: Since your work is so often cited by other creators, do you feel any added pressure when you release a new work?
A: No, no pressure. I really doubt people are following and referencing my work like that.
Q: Conversely, is there any creative work that has really inspired you in the last few years?
A: For another project, I had a chance to go to Las Vegas and attend the Cirque du Soleil show, Kà⑦. It made a huge impression on me, I was very impressed by it -- not just by the performances, but by the balance it struck between performance and artistry.
Q: You've had a bunch of smaller projects and a few really, really huge projects over the course of your career. Do you keep souvenirs from any of them?
A: I don't own any replicas or anything like that, if that's what you mean. But I had an art show in Japan a couple months ago in Japan that showcased Akira. The replica we made of Kaneda's motorcycle is owned by a collector in Japan, and so I borrowed it from him for a while, but I had to give it back.
Q: You just got a lifetime achievement award, but you're still pretty young, at least, by anime industry standards. Are you happy with your career up to this point? Do you feel like you still have a lot to prove? What goals do you still have?
A: I feels like I'm getting older, but I've still got a lot of things that I wants to create. But recently, I've been starting to feel the years. Except when I drink, then the energy comes out. (laughs)
Q: And I have to ask, because unfortunately we've lost a lot of great anime creators in the last few years: do you smoke?
A: Oh boy. Yeah, I started smoking again recently out of stress. I was going to use this trip as an excuse to quit, because you know, 'nobody smokes in Los Angeles,' but then I had these guys with me... (motioning to his interpreter and assistant), and they're always looking for a smoking buddy.
(to the translator and assistant) So it's YOUR fault.
(they all laugh)
Q: While you're in Los Angeles is there anything you're planning to see, or do you have just go back immediately and just go back to work?
A: Yeah, we're going straight back to Japan. We have work to do.
Q: Are there any works of yours that you feel American fans didn't get a good chance to see, that you would like them to check out?
A: Most of my manga and animation is already released in the United States, so maybe this upcoming series. Because I haven't directed many movies recently, Combustible is pretty much it, really. I've been spending most of my time on the art festival we had in Japan.
Q:Was that very successful?
A: Oh yes, very successful.
Q: I'm sure your American fans would love a chance to see some of that here.
A: That would be pretty tough with my current workload. I need more help. (laughs)
Q: Any parting words for your American fans?
A: I have a lot more things that I want to give to the US people, so please look forward to it.
④The Order to Stop Construction (Kōji Chūshi Meirei - 工事中止命令) is a 1987 animation short directed by Katsuhiro Otomo that formed part of the film Meikyū Monogatari (迷宮物語) available in Japan on DVD:http://amzn.to/YnjQXe. The film is known in the US as Neo Tokyo and is available on DVD:http://amzn.to/10URWPS
⑤Combustible, is an animation short film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo as part of the SHORT PEACE movie released on July 2013. www.shortpeace-movie.com
⑥Yaoya Oshichi (八百屋お七) literally "greengrocer Oshichi" was a daughter of the greengrocer Tarobei. She lived in the Hongō neighborhood of Edo at the beginning of the Edo period. She attempted to commit arson after falling in love with a boy. This story became the subject of joruri plays. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoya_Oshichi
Katsuhiro Otomo made his first public appearance in North America in 15 years at the California Institute of the Arts' downtown center for the contemporary arts, a section of the famous Walt Disney Concert Hall known as REDCAT. He was awarded with the first ever Platform Lifetime Achievement Award.
After the screening of Combustible, Otomo sat with the animation historian Jerry Beck along with an interpreter for an interview. Here a some fragments from the interview from the original article by Justin Sevakis.
●On where did it start for him, in terms of influences.
"I used to love manga as a kid, and wanted to become a manga artist, and when I was in high school I got into movies as well. But being a director was quite a lofty goal, so I decided to become a manga artist instead. The world of manga, as created by Osamu Tezuka ① in Japan, had its methods rooted in filmmaking, so the two weren't so different. He was able to move onto making films from that point, as well."
●On thematic pattern in his work, of tradition versus new technologies.
"I've tried to present both sides. I like new things -- movies, music, technology and such, but there's value in the past as well, so I try to be even-handed."
●On Combustible ②, is this the sort of image he had of old Japan.
"I really wanted to describe the Edo period in a movie for a long time, but it's not easy to bring the Edo period to a feature film. Hence, this short project."
●On what he said in an earlier conversation that it'd be easy for him to get funding for a new Sci-fi film, but that really isn't what he's interested in.
"Well, sure, but it's not like it'd be easy to get funding to make Sci-fi either. Recently it's become very difficult to make sci-fi films as well. The biggest challenge is that, 20 years ago, no sci-fi had people using cell phones, and now everyone has one. Something so basic to our everyday lives, and we got it wrong. Trying to imagine the future is really tough."
●On what were his influences in making The Order to Stop Construction③.
"It's a long story. It was from a novel originally. It was the first thing I directed, and the project also involved Rintaro ④ and Yoshiaki Kawajiri's ⑤ work as well. At the beginning we discussed picking up the stories from short novels, but the other two ended up changing their minds, so I was the only one left adapting fiction."
●On Akira, if it was an immediate demand to bring it to theaters, even before he were done with the manga.
"Yes, I was asked to make it, because at the time there was a huge animation production boom. During the manga writing of Akira ⑥, I was asked to make it."
●On if it was it given a bigger budget, or was it special in any other way as a production at the time.
"We had a huge budget. I don't remember how I got so much to work with. (laughs)".
●On of it was it a big hit in Japan as well.
"It wasn't a huge hit, really. That's my opinion, but I don't think it was such a huge hit."
●On what happened afterwards if he had lots of producers knocking on his door.
"I had quite a few offers, but I had my own list of things I wanted to do. I wanted to make a live action film, and someone asked me to direct one, so I did. And then someone asked me to make Akira 2, which I didn't want to do. And then Steamboy ⑦ came a long. And that took many years."
●On if he was familiar with the Hollywood remake of Akira that 's in produciton.
"Huh? Nope. I work on manga, and I work on animation. There's no need for me to be involved in that."
●On his opinion on Looper ⑧:
"I was really floored by it.
●On Freedom if the project was born out of any substantial interest in space exploration in Japan at the time.
"Actually, I wasn't the director of Freedom ⑨, that was Mr. Morita. So I have no idea."
●On if he would say that there's anything missing from animation today and what would he like to see more of.
"There's a lot to be desired in Japanese animation right now. We have a ton of animation, but it's not easy to come out with something original in that world."
●On the work of French comic artist Mœbius:
"Oh yes, I love Mœbius ⑩. There was a time when we discussed working together on something, but unfortunately, that opportunity disappeared."
●On what was it like to work on the script for the feature film version of Tezuka's Metropolis.
"When I worked on the scenario for Metropolis ⑪, I was very mindful that it was one of his very early works, so he always regarded the layout and the work in general as incomplete. So I wanted to fill in the cracks and bring it up to date."
●On the inspirations behind Akira in Gigantor ⑫.
"I read it a lot as a kid. But you really can't tell that from the resulting work, can you?"
●On why is it hard to tell historical stories.
"We've been watching a lot of period films since the early days of Japanese film and TV. So when I go to research the Edo period, most of the the material is from other directors. Avoiding all of that and coming up with new imagery is very hard."
●On if there is any fundamental question he tries to answer with his work.
"That I want to enjoy life. But I don't have that much time left for that."
●On his current manga project:
"I don't want to tell you about the story yet, but it takes place in the Meiji era."
●On his characters, which does he personally identify with the most.
"It's very hard to say, because they're all part of me."
●On any words of advice for any of the artists here.
"Please do your best, because being an animator is one of the best jobs in the world. When I was a kid, my father asked what the hell I was doing in animation, because it wasn't a great job. But it is a great job, so please do your best at it."
●On what makes Japanese-made anime so special.
"What I believe is that, Miyazaki ⑬ and Oshii ⑭ for example, both have created their own personal worlds within their animation. I guess you could say that I have too. I don't think we could get a job in the United States, because we don't listen to other people."
●On what kind of stories do you want to tell in animation and manga these days.
"I have lots of ideas and lots of projects that I want to work on, but we haven't decided which ones yet."
●On how much is he aware of how influential his work has been to American filmmakers and animators.
"I have no words to answer your questions. I watch a lot of American movies, and all of my films reference them, so it's all just one big conversation, I guess."
●On if there is anything that's difficult to translate from manga to anime.
"The basics are the same, but what's difficult bringing manga to anime is the time limitation. Cramming everything into 2 hours is the hardest part."
●On making an epic like Akira over many years, if does his intention with the work change over the time it's being made.
"It doesn't change much, because at the beginning I storyboard everything out in advance."
●On if he would ever want to make a Samurai movie set in the future.
(He doesn't answer this one, but rather joins the audience in giggling at the question)
●On the style of art in Combustible.
"we researched a lot about the history of Japanese art, namely the emakimono ⑮ tradition. How we pass the image in front of the screen is all coming from that research."
●On how long did it take to make Combustible and what was his favorite part.
"About one year. When you see the fire, in the eyes of Owaka, is my favorite part."
●On what is his favorite stage in making a film.
"Maybe the planning stage, before development."
●On the progression of computers in animation, and he availability of new techniques.
"Memories ⑯ was the first time computers were used in Japanese animation."
●On how many animators worked on Combustible.
"There were 5-7 key animators."
●A long question about aspects of humanity portrayed in his work got an amusing but non-sequitur response:
"Uh, no. I don't have a driver's license."
●On his work been about the destruction wrought by technology, if he is scared of technology in some way or a traumatic experience in his life, perhaps.
"You might think so from my stories, but no, I'm not scared of technology."
●On what living Japanese animators does he admire most.
"My favorites are all the old ones, from back in the 1950s."
① Osamu Tezuka(手塚 治虫, born 手塚 治) (Nov. 1928 – 9 February 1989) was a Japanese cartoonist, manga writer/artist, animator, producer, activist, and medical doctor, who never practiced medicine
②Combustible, is an animation short film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo as part of the SHORT PEACE movie released on July 2013. www.shortpeace-movie.com
③The Order to Stop Construction (Kōji Chūshi Meirei - 工事中止命令) is a 1987 animation short directed by Katsuhiro Otomo that formed part of the film Meikyū Monogatari (迷宮物語) available in Japan on DVD: http://amzn.to/YnjQXe. The film is known in the US as Neo Tokyo and is available on DVD: http://amzn.to/10URWPS
④Rintaro(りんたろう) Born January 22, 1941 in Tokyo, Japan is the pseudonym of Shigeyuki Hayashi(林 重行 )a well-known anime director.
⑤Yoshiaki Kawajiri(川尻 善昭) born November 18, 1950 is a critically acclaimed writer and director of Japaneseanimation. He is the creator of titles such as Wicked City, Ninja Scroll, and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.
⑥Akira. The seminal manga an Animation movie by Katsuhiro otomo
⑦Steamboy is a animation movie directed by katsuhiro Otomo reelased in 2004.
⑧Looper is a live action movie directed by Rian Jhonson released in 2012.
⑨Freedom is an Original Video animation in wich Otomo colaborated as Character and mechanical designer.
⑩Moebius. Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) was a French artist, cartoonist, and writer, who worked in the Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées tradition.
⑪Metropolis, Is a 2001 released animation movie directed by Rintaro, based on a manga by Osamu Tezuka an in which Otomo collaborated writing the screenplay.
⑫Gigantor. is the American name given to Tetsujin 28 (鉄人28号) by Mitsuteru Yokoyama (横山 光輝). A manga published in Kobunsha's Shōnen Magazine from July 1956 to May 1966 and was later adapted to various anime series in the 60’s, 80’s and the last one in 2004 as well a live action film in 2005. Diverse availability: http://amzn.to/YmHaVd
⑬Hayao Miyazaki(宮崎 駿) born on January 5, 1941, is a Japanese film director, animator, manga artist, illustrator, producer, and screenwriter.
⑭Mamoru Oshii (押井 守) born August 8, 1951 in Tokyo) is a Japanese filmmaker, television director, and writer.
⑮Emakimono(絵巻物) literally 'picture scroll' often simply called emaki(絵巻), is a horizontal, illustrated narrative form created during the 11th to 16th centuries in Japan. Emaki-mono combines both text and pictures, and is drawn, painted, or stamped on a handscroll. They depict battles, romance, religion, folk tales, and stories of the supernatural world.
⑯Memories. Is three part animation film released in 1995 featuring three stories by Katsuhiro Otomo. Directed by Koji Morimoto, Tensay Okamura and Otomo himself.
Hidekazu Ohara's (小原 秀一) STUDIO AROHA has posted a pilot film produced about five years ago of the film KEIKAKU (圭角) in which Katsuhiro Otomo is credited as supervisor. Hidekazu Ohara is the original creator and director. The film never came to realization.
Euromanga volume 7 pays tribute to Moebius (Jean Giraud), french comic artist that passed away on march 10, 2012. The book features an extensive interview with Otomo as well as the participation of manga and anime of artists such as Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎駿), Naoki Urasawa (浦沢直樹) , Hirohiko Araki (荒木飛呂彦), Rintaro (りんたろう) , Katsuya Terada (寺田克也) Fujiwara Kamui (藤原カムイ), Yasuhiro Naito (内藤泰弘) Keiichi Koike (小池桂一), Osamu Kobayashi (小林治) and Range Murata (村田蓮爾)
The book includes in its entiretty the comic 'LES YEUX DU CHAT' a story written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Moebius.
Publisher: Asukashinsha (飛鳥新社)
Release date: 2012-VII-23
Number of pages: 146
Size: 29.6 x 21 cm
Retail price: ¥1,890
Katsuhiro Otomo's Original Pictures Exhibition: GENGA-TEN covering almost all the illustrations done by Otomo in the last 40 years closes it's door today. Here a list of the artwork that where on display. The exhibition consisted on five rooms. The first one entering on the left had five walls and four pillars in the center with four walls each covered with original illustrations. The next three rooms contained every single page of AKIRA, Otomo's longest manga work with more than 2000 pages and in the final room there were a life size working replica of Kaneda's bike, a real size replica of the broken wall as featured in Dōmu and a huge message wall where Otomo drew the first picture and was progressively covered with the signatures and drawings by the attendants to the exhibition.
Note that the links that follow don't show the original artwork as presented in the exhibition but the final products such as books, posters, magazines etc for which they were originally conceived.