An interview with Psycho-Pass Director Naoyoshi Shiotani

The MCM London Comic Con is always great for anime guests! This time around at the October 2016 event on of the anime guests of honour was Naoyoshi Shiotani. Working for Production I.G, he’s directed a few titles including the hugely popular dystopian future anime Psycho-Pass. The good folks at Anime Limited arranged to the director over to the UK just in time to promote the UK home video release of the Psycho-Pass Movie.

Rather than sending our editor to interview him, we wanted to send in a Psycho-Pass super fan. So we sent in Nes who cosplayed as antagonist Makishima while interviewing Mr Shiotani. Not only did it make for an interesting interview, Nes managed to find some interesting insights into the series that many fans may have not been aware of!

How did you first get into the animation industry?

I loved drawing as a child and I loved manga, anime, films and it’s quite easy to get into animation in Japan. It’s hard once you get in! But I thought I’d give it a go. I was quite laid back about it.

I liked Ghibli Films, like Hayao Miyazaki’s Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service and I knew about I.G. through Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor so I thought I’d give it a go.

How does animating a 3D CGI feature like feature like Oblivion Island compare to a animated series like Psycho-Pass, which is mainly has a traditional 2D feel, with CGI enhancements?

In a way they’re not so different, but in another way they are different. It’s hard to explain, it’s a different mode of expression. So with 2D they’re drawings, so you have each drawing, each picture, but with 3D the character already exists. So with 2D they really are moving pictures and you’re trying to make them fun and cool and amazing, but with 3D you’re moving a character that already exists. It’s a different starting point, they’re both interesting and sometimes something will work in 2D, but not in 3D, and sometimes it’ll work in 3D, but not in 2D.

Plus with 2D the more you make the more it costs, because you have to pay per picture.

You’ve directed children’s movies, a more romantic story in the form of Tokyo Marble Chocolate, and the dystopian Psycho-Pass, is it drastically different working on all these different features?

They are very different. Tokyo Marble Chocolate was the first thing I directed, I was 28 I think and for good or bad at the time I was young and quite idealistic and I wanted to create a romantic happy love story. Then with Oblivion Island I sort of broadened my view to not just to a couple, but to a family and what happens in a family. Then moving onto the dystopia of Psycho-Pass I turned towards society and relations with other people. So my world view has gradually broadened.

I think if I tried to do a sort of crime story in my twenties I don’t know that I could have done it justice. I think I was probably too young and I’ve learnt a lot since then. Back then I don’t know if I could have created that world convincingly. I do try to take on work that suits my age and my stage of life. That’s not to say that I couldn’t do a love story now!

Were you surprised at the success of Psycho-Pass?

To be honest I was surprised. When we started making Psycho Pass , 4, 5, probably 6 years ago there wasn’t anything like that around in Japan at the time. There wasn’t anything dealing with social issues in this way, with the police society and that kind of thing. Where as when I was younger there had been. There’d been things like Ghost in the Shell, things that made you think. You couldn’t just sit there, sit back and watch them. They dealt with some complex issues and hard issues. There were some things in there that you could only do in anime. Although it did exist in live action as well, there were some action scenes you could only do in anime. At that point there wasn’t anything like that around. which is what made us want to do something like that again.

There was actually another Psycho-Pass before, or another Psycho-Pass planned before the one that actually got made and that got changed quite a bit. Not a complete 180, but it did get changed quite a bit to become the Psycho-Pass that actually happened. So this one is a Japanese society in a hundred years time, but at the planning stage it was a post disaster world in trying to rebuild the country various things happened and they had to overcome various things. But then the actual Great East Japan Earthquake happened as we were working on it and it seemed to real to do that. So it changed.

What were the main influences of Psycho-Pass?

For anime things like Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor that I mentioned earlier. Then live action I think you can probably tell from watching it, things like Blade Runner, Minority Report, Gattaca, Fifth Element, Seven, Brazil and the Millennium Trilogy – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

What was the most challenging aspect of the project?

With Psycho-Pass the biggest challenge is that there are a lot of inconsistencies. So it’s set in Tokyo and there’s a Sibyl System where the computer controls human society and there’s a system that prevents crime from happening. But because this is a police story we need crime! So the biggest problem is how to allow crimes to take place in this peaceful society? How to disrupt the order of this society? That was something that was very tricky and we spent a lot of time thinking about that and trying to find the loopholes.

It’s a setup where you can’t walk the streets if you’re thinking bad thoughts. So the challenge is how could someone hide their thoughts? How you could walk around and be a baddie, because you need a criminal for this story to work.

Which character do you find most relatable?

I do really like Makishima. This is a society where people leave the decisions to the computers. Even the small things like what am I going to eat today. It’s like a form of fortune telling, you leave it up to the computer, because they’ve started believing the computer knows the answer and will be able to decide better than themselves and the criminals are the people who have a problem with that, who question the system and who think that people should really think for themselves. Those people (as is normal in life) will succeed and fail and those are the people who carry out the crimes. So the criminals are more human in a way than even the police who are hunting them down. So I like Makishima and Kogami. The protagonists who aren’t normal people in this world, but I’ve kind of split up the humanity between different characters, so I like them all.

As the parents of all these characters, the person who’s created them, the one who I kind of maybe dote on the most is Ginoza, because he started out so bad and he’s gradually grown and got better. As a parent!

There seems to be an underlying theme that Kogami and Makishima are actually really similar and that it wouldn’t take much for Kogami to end up doing some of the things Makishima does – yet they’re also frequently played as opposites. For me this was a really interesting and effective juxtaposition – can you tell me more about your process behind this?

I think it’s not that unusual if you think about the Angel and the Devil in your own head even something as small as you see a pound coin on the floor, should you pick it up and hand it in? Or, it’s only a pound so should you keep it. Then later you remember and you think you should have handed it in. There’s good and bad in all of us. You’re not a different person because you make a different choice there’s just different possibilities, you could chose A, you could chose B and in this case they’re two people, they’re not the same person obviously but they have the same way of thinking. They’ve just made different choices, they represent two different possibilities. I wanted to show that contrast, which is why they’re white and black, which is why their names, Makishima is Shogo which means the time between midday and sunset, and Kogami is Shinya the time between midnight and sunrise. So they are opposites as well, even their names!

What genre would you like to work on next?

I’d like to do more stuff like Psycho-Pass, the science fiction, action, difficult topics, but at the same time, it’s a bit like Kogami and Makishima! I want to do something completely opposite, you know, no one dies, love stories, maybe something to do with sports. Just the complete opposite!

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Otaku News would like to thank Naoyoshi Shiotani for giving such awesome interview answers, Nes for going in cosplay and agreeing to interview Mr Shiotan, plus MCM London Comic Con for hosting the Psycho-Pass director and of course Anime Limited who arranged everything and Psycho-Pass The Movie on Blu-ray and DVD.

Your Name Breaks Box Office Records

The good folks from Anime Limited have just sent us details about their Your Name screening. The film has grossed £108,372 at the UK and Irish Box Offices across 104 screens. They tell us it breaks the record for a single day gross and is the widest ever screen release for an anime film.

During the campaign the film received positive praise from the mainstream press including Mark Keromode who gave it a great review on his film show and on his film column

If you’ve missed the movie you can find a screening of Your Name by going to YourNameTheMovie.co.uk, alternatively you can see if there will be another screening near you via the on-demand cinema platform Our Screen.

You can read our review of the movie and our interview with director Makoto Shinkai.

Press release as follows:

LONDON – 25th November 2016

ACCLAIMED ANIMATION YOUR NAME BREAKS BOX OFFICE RECORDS

IN SINGLE DAY EXPANSION

Critically acclaimed animation, Your Name’s single day cinema expansion on 25th November to 104 screens has grossed £108,372 at the UK and Irish Box Office. This result breaks the record for a single day gross and is the widest ever screen release for an anime film, overtaking the results of movies including ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘When Marnie Was There.’

Your Name is released by Anime Ltd and National Amusements and has played to sold out audiences in more than 26 locations with enthusiastic fans purchasing tickets up to 5 weeks in advance. The event style cinema expansion follows a key city release on 18 November and Your Name will continue to play in select cinemas in the coming weeks. To date, Your Name has grossed £138,048 in the UK and Ireland.

Fans can also secure their own screenings of the film in their local cinemas through on-demand cinema platform, Ourscreen http://po.st/YourNameOurScreen

Makoto Shinkai’s mesmerising and charming story of body swapping teens has been a stellar success in Japan, grossing over 19 Billion Yen (£139 million) and placed itself firmly in the running for upcoming Awards success.

Your Name (aka Kimi No Na Wa) generated significant mainstream buzz for an anime film and garnered 5 star reviews from UK critics including Empire, Total Film, The Observer and The Sunday Times.

Andrew Partridge of Anime Ltd commented “I am ecstatic and humbled by the support anime fans have shown for Your Name. Also I am thrilled that UK media who have from Radio 4’s Front Row right through to The Sun shown tremendous love for Makoto Shinkai’s masterpiece and helped in our ultimate aim to break anime out firmly into the mainstream psyche and box office where we think more work is to be done over the coming weeks.”

James Dobbin of National Amusements commented “We are thrilled with last night’s results particularly as the cinema distribution included a large number of multiplexes in key cities but also plenty of smaller towns across the UK and Ireland. We’re committed to bringing a regular strand of anime to the big screen and this success gives us a great platform to build on in 2017.”

★★★★★ Empire Magazine

★★★★★Total Film

★★★★★ The Daily Telegraph

★★★★★ Sunday Times Culture

★★★★★ The Observer

★★★★★ Metro

★★★★★ City AM

★★★★ The Times

★★★★ Daily Express

★★★★ Daily Star

★★★★ Time Out

★★★★ The Independent

★★★★ Time Out

★★★★BBC Radio 1

★★★★ Heat

★★★★ The Sun

Your Name is the story of a teenage boy and girl who have never met, but who start to magically swap minds and live each other’s lives. Mitsuha, a teenage girl student, lives in a small mountain town, but longs for the bright lights of Tokyo far away. Then she is astonished to wake one morning in the body of Taki, a teenage Tokyo schoolboy – who in turn wakes up in Mitsuha’s body!

Switching back and forth between two lives, locations and genders, Mitsuha and Taki must cope with their fantastic shared situation. At first they are outraged and mortified by what’s happening, but soon they start enjoying their double lives, though they never meet directly. Eventually, though, one of the youngsters will learn the devastating truth behind what’s happening…

Original Ghost in the Shell Manga Re-release Details

While everyone’s talking about the up coming live action Ghost in the Shell Movie starting Scarlett Johansson, lots of people will want to read Masamune Shirow’s original source material. The good folks at manga publisher Kodansha Comics have just announced the release dates for Deluxe editions of the original manga. These editions will be in In the original, right-to-left format with Japanese sound effects for the first time. They also include brand new bonus content.

This is all 3 volumes, The original Ghost In the Shell manga (labelled as The Ghost in the Shell 1 Deluxe Edition), The Ghost in the Shell 2, plus Ghost in the Shell 1.5 which fills the gaps between volume 1 and 2.
All three will be hard cover editions.

They’ll also be releasing a movie tie-in edition, the contents of which is a bit vague. Is it just the first volume with a different cover? Or extra content? We’re not sure yet.

All 4 volumes are due out on Tuesday 31st January 2017.

You can pre-order them now from Amazon.

The Ghost in the Shell 1 Deluxe Edition – Pre order from: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

The Ghost in the Shell 2 Deluxe Edition (Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface) – Pre order from: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

The Ghost in the Shell 1.5 Deluxe Edition (Human-Error Processor) – Pre order from: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Ghost in the Shell 1 Movie Tie-In Edition – Pre order from: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

They’re definitely worth getting if you haven’t already got any Ghost in the Shell manga, especially the first volume as this is one of the most influential manga titles ever written.

Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name Review

Date: 2016 November 17th Thursday [15:41] | Posted By: Joe

Makoto Shinkai’s latest movie Your Name is due for a UK wide cinema release on Thursday 24th November 2016. You can find a screening near you by visiting YouNameTheMovie.co.uk.

We saw the the movie before it started to climb at the Japanese box office and become one of the highest grossing movies of all time in Japan.

We also interviewed the director Makoto Shinkai asking him lots of interesting questions about the movie.

Now the question you’re asking, is the movie actually any good? Well wonder no more. We wrote this review before the hype picked up. So read on to get thoughts on the film!

Full Story

Your Name is the latest offering from renowned anime director Makoto Shinkai. Based on the book also written by Shinkai, the story follows Mitsuha, a teenage school girl living in rural Japan. She lives in a small town, with not much in the way of excitement. She lives with her grandmother and little sister, who together run the local shrine and perform traditional rituals. Her dad is running for office as the local mayor, so she constantly has to behave as the perfect daughter in the eyes of the locals. She longs for the bright lights and buzz of Tokyo.

Your Name


Meanwhile in Tokyo we have Taki, your regular Japanese school boy who is the same age as Mitsuha. Taki lives with his dad in a small apartment and does shifts as a waiter at an upmarket Italian restaurant to make ends meet.

Your Name


The two have never met, but somehow share a connection. Both dream of the other’s life and switch bodies as a result. It’s not clear to them how they triggered this body switching, but each wake up in the other’s body.

Your Name


Looking at the movie, even without being told, it’s obviously a Makoto Shinkai feature. It has all his trademark elements: the detailed lavish background scenery, the distinct colour palette with those bold sunsets that stand out. The use of mobile phones is also a classic Makoto Shinkai plot device, ever since his debut with Voices of Distant Star. The Tokyo scenery makes The Garden of Words look like a warm up for Your Name.

Your Name


Shinkai’s story telling has become more mature. The supporting cast is well thought out and you’ll enjoy them just as much as the leads. Some of the signature Shinkai melancholy has been replaced with humour. There’s lots of laughter to be had as Mitsuha and Taki have to adapt to each other’s gender and lives while switching back and forth.

Your Name


There’s a great flavour of Japanese culture in the movie, with the bleeding-edge modern Tokyo, offset by the traditional shrines and dense forests. Lookout for the symbolism with the red cord too, a nod to the red string of fate.

It’s as if Shinkai’s whole career has been a warm up for this feature. It has a big budget which translates to a level of polish beyond his previous works. It’s destined to become an anime classic. It did well in the Japanese box office, which isn’t surprising.

Your Name


Even if you’re not familiar with the directors previous works, you should seek this film out. It’s everything good anime should be.

Your Name


We enjoyed Your Name on the big screen and suggest you do too. Your Name makes a fantastic impact on the big cinema screen. It’ll be shown nationally around the UK on Thursday 24th November 2016.

If you want to find out more about Your Name then head over to our interview with the director Makoto Shinkai.

Otaku News

An Interview with Makoto Shinaki Director of Your Name

Date: 2016 November 15th Tuesday [15:52] | Posted By: Joe

Makoto Shinkai’s latest movie Your Name is about to hit the UK nationally on Thursday 24th November 2016. Last month we were lucky enough to catch up with Mr Shinkai to talk about Your Name while he was in London for the BFI London Film Festival.

You can catch the box office smash hit by going to YourNameTheMovie.co.uk to find a screening near you.

This isn’t Makoto Shinkai’s first time in London. We interviewed him in 2008 last time he was at the BFI promoting 5 Centimeters Per Second.

You can read our Your Name review too if you’re interested to know more about the film.

Full Story

This time around we had a press session on Friday 14th October 2016. We were joined by two other press people from anime circles, Andrew Osmond writing for Anime Limited and Sarah Hughes writing for Anime UK News.

Makoto Shinaki


Andrew: You were talking about the development of the story. It’s been reported that the producer of the film Mr Genki Kawamura had some influence on the story. I was wondering, what were the biggest changes that the story went through development?

We had script meetings for 6 months, a series of meetings with Genki Kawamura, the team in Toho. I did the script myself, every month, I’d meet up with them and then talk about it. So they’d say this is boring or that’s a bit too complicated, so I’d update everything and we’d meet up in 4 weeks time. We did this for about 6 months.

Genki Kawamura gave me really good suggestions and a fresh perspective about structure of the film. The film starts at Itomori where Mitsuha lives. Kawamura said, we’ve got to keep it to 15 minutes, any longer and it’ll be boring. So I said, right, that’s a good idea.

Also we’ve got several climaxes in the movie. Two main scenes are when Taki learns he has actually met Mitsuha 3 years previously and then they meet at the (doki) twilight time and Genki suggested that these two scenes have to be in the same frame. So they have to come one after the other. Where as on my original script these two scenes are separate. So they’re really good suggestions from him.

Your Name


Otaku News: We’ve seen and enjoyed your movies since you first started making your own anime pretty much by yourself. It seems like you’ve been working your way up to Your Name. When you first started making your own anime, did you expect to end up creating a movie as successful as Your Name?

I never expected this really, when I started out. It’s been 10/14 years since I started making animation films. What I’ve always had in my mind I wanted more people to see my movies. Every time, more people than the last one and also I wanted people to think that they had a really good time and they enjoyed the movie. In a way, Your Name is a dream come true for me, but the scale of it is so massive that I’m totally overwhelmed that I’m not really comfortable about it.

Sarah: Because of your massive success of the film, you’re probably going to get a lot of people especially in the west who are not traditional anime fans and they’re going to look at your film and to think what to look at next? What would you suggest they look at next from what you’ve made so far?

That’s a difficult question, I imagine people are familiar with Hayao Miyazaki’s works? Studio Ghibli, the general public you reckon? So shall I recommend something else? Not Miyazaki?

Sarah: One of your films?

Garden of Words probably. I don’t like to talk about my old movies, there are things I feel I could have done better. I just notice there are things I would do differently. I would be embarrassed about them. I know the fans the people who like my films would understand that I don’t want to say negative things about my works. So I think the Garden of Words is short, but easy to watch for non-anime viewers. I think there are some things people just like about it.

Your Name


Andrew: When I saw Your Name I thought it designed to appeal to a very wide audience, I just wondered does it means that it feels less personal to you than your previous films or it feels just as personal as the other films?

This is what I really, really wanted to make. I collaborated with various other talented people, Masayoshi Tanaka the character designer and Masashi Ando the animator who used to work at Ghibli. That was a really amazing combination, it just gave so much depth to my work and also the music by RADWIMPS. Radwimps gave us loads of colours to the film. It made it more catchy in a way.

Being able to work with various talents was just amazing. It’s my first time to do that scale of collaboration. I owe that to them. But having said that, this film is 100% mine and very personal.

Otaku News: Watching the movie it’s clear it’s a Makoto Shinkai feature, it’s got all your trade mark elements, but one thing seems to have changed, you’ve dialled down the melancholy that’s normally present in your movies. Why is this?

One important thing when I started making this film was I wanted the audience to leave the cinema with a smiling face. Also I wanted to put some comedy elements to my script, that’s again the first time that I did it.

I wanted to put every emotion, happiness, sadness, melancholy, everything. Two years ago when I started making this movie I was confident that I can actually do it. Probably I wouldn’t have before, but I knew that I could do different emotions with this one.

Your Name


Sarah: The whole body swapping theme is quite populate in the west, normally in comedy for TV and films. The whole take away in it is to walk in each other’s shoes to understand each other better. You’ve created a film that not only avoids some of the old tired jokes, but have created something that’s very fresh, very relatable and very authentic. So I wanted to know was this something you initially stride for or did it come naturally in the creative process?

I wanted to describe the exciting emotions you have as a teenager. But the body swap isn’t the main element of the film. They could have met though social network services, it didn’t have to be the body swap. The main theme here is these two people have met, they meet at the end. So body swap is like a prop if you like. It didn’t have to be that, about being about something else.

Andrew: In the film I loved the fantasy sequence that comes just after the boy drinks the saki in the cave, there’s a very elaborate animators fantasy sequence. Could you talk about how that was created?

That scene is directed by Yoshitoshi Shinomiya, who’s an artist, a classical Japanese painter. He’s got a different perspective of colours and I wanted that scene to be different from any other in the film. So I just left it all to him. I did the story boards, but the actual direction and the art direction was done by him.

The sequence is only 2 minutes. Originally I wanted to make it kind of live vague, fantastic because the film is kind of tense. I wanted to make the audience feel a bit relaxed, but Mr Shinomiya gave it more tension more powerful and made it tighter. So I didn’t expect that. I think the result was really good.

Otaku News: How do you balance what you want to achieve as a storyteller with the commercial pressures growing success brings with it?

I get asked that by various people, not just media, but by random people. I worked with Toho with a big budget, people were like was it difficult? Was your freedom restricted? Actually, no! They didn’t tell me what to do. That’s all. Sometimes I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to do this, or do that. “Which is better?” Then the Toho people would say, “I think this would work better”, so I think that’s pretty much all.

They never told me what to do, or change this, change that. So there was no compromise. I was able to do more by working with Toho than I did before. They gave me total freedom.

Genki Kawamura the producer said we have to leave the director free, he’s controlling the movie, not us! So he gave me advice, but never told me what to do.

Your Name


Sarah: You also wrote the novel based on the book, are there any parts of the book you were unable to carry over in the film but wish you could?

No. The answer is no, because what happened was I wrote the original script and while I was making the movie I got to write the book, so the book comes after the script. I finished the book, the book came out before the film. I rewrote the script by the first person perspective, so it gave me more depth about each character. So it really helped me with directing the voice actors because I knew more about the characters than when I wrote the actual script because I rewrote as I studied about the characters.

Andrew: Let’s talk about how you chose RADWIMPS to do the music and how you worked with them. For example did you already have an idea of where you wanted the main songs to support the story.

It was 18 months of collaboration, basically they had never done any film soundtracks. So we’ve got 4 vocal tracks and 22 music songs. So I gave them the first draught of my script and told them to write anything. So they came back with some songs and I played it and I changed my script accordingly here and there. Then I carried on writing my script and then just went back to them, I’ve got this scene, can you change that? So I did that for about 18 months. It was really hard.

It was a long process, but it was really worth it. When we started working, the band said to me, “Please don’t leave us! We won’t let you down, we want to carry on”. And I thought, yeah I want to work with them. And that was the 18 months.

Otaku News: Where any there any scenes in particular that you did differently in Your Name?

The comet scene, it’s a long sequence, about like a minute, the song is called Sparkle. The middle 8 is over like a minute, normally one cut for an animation is 4 to 6 seconds, but I’ve got about 3 cuts. I was quite worried about how people would think, but nobody comments on it. I think it worked OK.

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Otaku News would like to thank Makoto Shinkai for giving us such a great interview. The good folks at Anime Limited for helping us arrange the interview and also releasing Your Name in the UK.

As we’ve said before you can catch the box office smash hit by going to YourNameTheMovie.co.uk to find a screening near you.

Don’t forget to read our Your Name review too if you want to know even more about the film.

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