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King of the 'Castle'

© 2005 by Entertainment Weekly, Inc.
Posted without permission for personal entertainment purpose only.

By Steve Daly

His last movie, Spirited Away, became Japan's all-time box office champ and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. But at 64, writer-director Hayao Miyazaki remains a cult figure in America, cherished mainly by critics and anime buffs. That's okay with him, as we learned in a translator-assisted chat timed to coincide with Disney's release of his latest, the fanciful Howl's Moving Castle.

EW - Some of your more kid-friendly movies, like Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro, have been video hits here, but others - like Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind - are so adult and so steeped in Asian culture, they're puzzling to Americans.

MIYAZAKI - I can't believe companies distribute my movies in America. They're baffling in Japan! I'm well aware there are spots in Howl's Moving Castle where I'm going to lose some of the audience. Why do you land in a different place when you open the door? Well, it's magic. I don't provide unnecessary explanations. If you want that, you're not going to like my movie. That's just the way it is.

EW - You've said you don't like the prevalence of ''virtual experience'' in kids' lives.

MIYAZAKI - When I think about the way the computer has taken over and eliminated a certain experience of life, that makes me sad. When we were [animating Calcifer, a fire demon], some staff said they had never seen wood burning. I said, Go watch! It has disappeared from their daily lives. Japanese baths used to be made by burning firewood. Now you press a button. I don't think you can become an animator if you don't have any experience.

EW - 2-D animation seems to be dead in America, at least in features. What happened?

MIYAZAKI - We're hitting a similar wall in Japan. . .I think 2-D animation disappeared from Disney because they made so many uninteresting films. They became very conservative in the way they created them. It's too bad. I thought 2-D and 3-D could coexist happily.

EW - Is CGI going to destroy 2-D in the end?

MIYAZAKI - I'm actually not all that worried. I wouldn't give up on it completely. Once in a while there are strange, rich people who like to invest in odd things. You're going to have people in corners of garages [making cartoons] to please themselves. And I'm more interested in the people who hang out in corners of garages than I am in big business.

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