Message from Mamoru Oshii

Mamoru Oshii
Born in Tokyo on August 8, 1951, Mamoru Oshii is one of the most remarkable personalities in modern Japanese filmmaking. He introduced introspective philosophical speculation into the world of animation, influencing at the same time movie creators all around the globe with his visionary style. Oshii joined the animation industry in 1977. His main works are Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984) the epoch-making Ghost in the Shell (1995), Innocence (2004, nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes) and Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters (selected for the 63rd Venice Film Festival). Oshii has also directed a number of live-action features, including Avalon (2001). His new animated film, The Sky Crawlers will be screening in competition for the 65th Venice Film Festival.

I turned 57 this year.

I am at an age where I am neither too young nor too old to direct a film. Although I still have lots of what I want to experience and accomplish, in societal terms, I could be described as in my "prime years." I sometimes feel aware of my age especially when I'm surrounded by staff that is much younger than me, or when I'm face to face with my daughter, who is no longer a child.

Consequently I've thought about these issues in my role as a filmmaker. I felt urged to give a message to the younger generation.

In our peaceful country, there is no more starvation, revolution, or war. We have a society where we can live out our allotted spans of lives without ever having to feel deprived of food, clothing, or shelter. Ironically, I am unsure as to whether this is a good thing. Once I read the story of a man who climbed the skies and reached Heaven, but got bored after a few days. We are animals, whose true natures come out the moment we possess what we desire.

Isn't this comfortable life that we have achieved, a monotonous purgatory that doesn't end until we die? Perhaps the current society is the essential reason to all the painful crimes happening among the young adults today. Parents killing their own children. Children killing their own parents. Children killing themselves. And all for incomprehensible reasons.

The young people who choose not to work after leaving school and don't pursue employment. Others who make a bare existence as "temporary employees." The girls who hang out on shopping malls and the boy who killed his parent...
Adults give bad names to these kids as if they were some kind of plague.
In these times, we should be listening to them. So I think about what kind of message would penetrate their shriveled heart.

The protagonists of The Sky Crawlers are children destined to live forever. They are known as Kildren. Their life spans continue indefinitely in a state of eternal adolescence. It is not because they can't become adults. It's because they do not.

The story is set on another possible, alternative 'now.' Here, Kildren fight in a "war as a show" organized and operated by adults, a situation that can be considered a mirror image of our modern society. Today's children may not know what to do with their futures, which seems indefinite and everlasting to them. Perhaps the offspring of modern consumerism, they are aware that there's no need to become adults. Couldn't we say that they are destined to live their entire life as children?

At the climax of the movie, we hear a monologue by the main character, Yuichi.

But today is different from yesterday
And tomorrow is different from today
You can change the side of the road that you walk down every day.
Even if the road is the same, you can still see new things.

This is the theme of the movie and my message to the youngsters. Even if you had eternal life, your yesterday would be different from your today. Rustling of the trees, smell of the wind, warmth of a person next to you - all of which may be subtle, but these are the proofs that you're alive. If you look at our world this way, the place we are living in is not so bad at all. Your life may just be a repeat of everyday, yet everyday you will see something different. We should treasure each moment of it and make the best out of your given fate.

I don't want to give young people a hollow sense of justice or a clichéd pep talk.
As a filmmaker, I'd like to show them a small and quiet but truthful hope with this movie.

Mamoru Oshii
August 2008