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Interview with Chihiro Ito (2)

Chihiro Ito
Born in 1982, Ito started working in movie production in 2000, as staff in the art department. A pivotal event in her career was when she met film director Isao Yukisada. He suggested to her that she write a screenplay for Seventh Anniversary (2003) which became Ito's professional screenplay debut. The following year, she wrote the screenplay for Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World (2004) with Yukisada and Yuji Sakamoto. The movie was a phenomenal success which brought her under the spotlight. Since then she writes for movies constantly such as, Spring Snow (2005, adapted from the novel by Yukio Mishima), The World According to Chocolat (2006), Into the Faraway Sky (2007), and Closed Diary (2007), all directed by Yukisada. While her screenwriting career has taken off, she still works in the art department. The Sky Crawlers is her first challenge in an animated feature.

part 2

What did you think of the original novel?
I loved the writing style, it reminded me of translated foreign novels rather than conventional Japanese literature. It really inspired my imagination. It's very poetic and it has strong messages. It's about characters who don't become adults. They live in their own world away from the grownups and they fight a war without any heroism or bravado. It reflects the way young people today think about what it means to live, in a world that to them looks vague and hazy. It also resonated with how I view life. I can identify with the characters so easily. Their loneliness, the fate they struggle with but are at the same time resigned to. One of the messages of the novel is that your perspective determines everything. And this is the idea that was incorporated in the movie too, using exactly the same words as in the novel. Oshii thought that those lines expressed the central idea of the story.

How did the meetings with Mamoru Oshii go? Any memorable episodes?
We discussed the theme of the movie over many meetings. We spent a lot of time talking about what is love, what is romance? I could sense that the director was interested in making a movie about love. On one occasion he said to me, "True love is destructive. When you're in love, you have to possess the one you love even if it could destroy him."

What were the points of emphasis for you in writing the screenplay?
Rather than focusing on the children who never grow up, I decided that the most central point was the emotional shift caused by the almost obsessive tenacity of the main character, Suito Kusanagi, love being one of her greatest conflicting emotions. In my screenplay, the children who don't become adults are a reflection of Kusanagi's emotional state.

Is there anything in the screenplay that you really embraced and cherished?
I chose to emphasize the way in which characters behave. I don't want to reveal too much of the story but each character has certain very distinctive habits which I elaborated and used as subtle hints. The whole story unfolds as a sequence of riddles.

Which characters were easy to write? And which ones were difficult?
Suito Kusanagi was the easiest for me because I could easily identify with her. It was easy to write about her passion and her persistence. The most difficult was Mitsuya. She has a unique sense of justice which she doesn't hesitate to act on and she's inclined to get hysterical. Her behavior and her way of thinking are quite difficult for me to understand. It's like her heart has a broken switch and she overreacts when anything touches it.

(2 - to be continued)