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Interview with Kenji Kamiyama (2)

Kenji Kamiyama
Born in Saitama Prefecture on March 20, 1966. A rare example of a background artist shifting to directorial roles, Kamiyama became a protégé of Mamoru Oshii, working as animation director in Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999) and contributing the script for Blood: The Last Vampire (2000). International attention arrived with the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002, Excellence Prize, Japan Media Arts Festival 2002) and its second season, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig (2004), followed by the feature-length Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (Jury Prize, 21st Digital Content Grand Prix). In 2007, after almost 6 years spent in the world of Ghost in the Shell, Kamiyama directed the high-fantasy TV series Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Jury Recommended Work, 11th Japan Media Arts Festival) followed in 2009 by Eden of the East (2009, Best TV Animation, 14th Animation Kobe), Kamiyama's highly anticipated original TV series, dealing with NEETs and other underlying issues in Japan's youth society. In 2011, he supervised the 3D conversion of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society, that was greeted with the International 3D Award at the 1st International 3D Awards 2011.

Re:Cyborg, 27 Years Later - PART 2

Was the script difficult to develop?
Yes and no. I knew exactly where I wanted to land the story upon and what I wanted to convey. However, I wasn't really sure about which way I should take to get there. More than once I had this feeling of traveling through a foreign land. The character development for the "new" Joe proved to be especially challenging.

Talking about Joe (009), in the early poster artwork he is depicted wearing the high school uniform, which never happened in the original comic. This looked very new and unexpected to the fans.
In the original comic he is publicly known as a car racer named Hurricane Joe. But cyborgs do not age, and he could not possibly remain exposed to the media in his never changing 18-year-old appearance. So we developed this idea of Joe living his life as an eternal high school student, a situation that is causing great psychological distress to his mind, but that he is unable to get away from. Any reference to the situation of the young generations in this country is, of course, intended.

Joe and Jet seem to be central to the story.
When you work with this kind of material, you easily fall into the common place of creating a guest character or a villain that becomes the centre the whole drama revolves upon. I wanted to avoid that, especially because this is the first animation adaptation of Cyborg 009 in more than a decade, so I rather concentrated on building the story around the nine cyborgs and how they interact with each other and cope in a more realistic world setting. As Jet is from the United States, he is in the position to have a wider vision of what it is happening in the world. The falling out he had with Joe was easy to imagine as the two are the most exuberant personalities in the bunch, and perhaps the two most powerful cyborgs, too.
I also tried to restore a more active role for Françoise (003) and her much debated affection for Joe. In the comic book, especially in the shorter chapters, Joe was always having a romantic involvement with the female guest character, but as I said, focusing on guest characters was not what I wanted to do. Françoise has been watching over Joe for 27 years, but she has developed a way to cope with this situation and express her feelings in her own way.
In general, however, I was careful to have each cyborg give their contribution to the story, although I had only 100-some minutes and there were nine of them.

(2 - to be continued)

© 2012 009 RE:CYBORG Production Committee