Emru Townsend: Personally, what do you find is the appeal behind Japanese animation? I mean, everyone has a different reason as to why they like it.
You mean me, personally? I think it's stylized, it definitely is unique in its stylization. Its storylines are definitely action-adventure, science fiction, and futuristic, that some no other animation... well, some animations only capture part of it, but not all of it. The attention to detail that the Japanese animators pay to shadows and motion and space is very unique. They're still doing a lot of cel, hand-drawn animation, and not relying a lot on computers, though computer-generated, digitally-generated animation is used more now in motion than it is in the drawing itself. It's still a lot of the basics of traditional cel animation. They're integrating a bit more computer effects into it.
I'm going to get back to that with
Ghost in the Shell, of course. So how do you meld that, your personal viewpoint of anime, with the company's direction? For instance, one of the great things about anime is that it has a lot of variety. Of course, you've got the action-adventure, science fiction, ninjas, and whatever else, but you've also got the more subtle films. The [Hayao] Miyazaki films, the [Isao] Takahata films, the slower-paced stuff. Manga, at this point, seems to largely concentrate on science fiction and fantasy. Which is not too surprising, since it's generally pretty good when aiming for demographics. But do you see yourself diversifying in other ways? You had one other release with The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb...
Right, yeah, that was stop-action animation that, um...
It's so completely different from the rest of the anime stuff in Manga's catalog.
We'll be doing another film with them as well. We're diversifying slowly into other forms of animation, and... yeah, we are going to produce another film with the Bolex Brothers, using the same types of techniques as The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb
But you also see yourself diversifying in terms of anime content as well?
You mean storylines?
Yes. Most definitely. We're in the process of setting up production on a series that is a completely Westernized story.
In that case, you're referring to something where Manga has a part in actually creating the storyline.
Correct. We're creating it and hiring a Japanese studio to produce it for us. And we're in the process of producing another series for another major company in Japan as well.
So the cross-pollination continues.
Which sort of brings me to
Ghost in the Shell... Was
Ghost in the Shell your first co-production, in terms of Manga supplying some of the funding for it?
It was actually the first film that had outside of Japanese co-funding. Because we were pioneers throughout Europe, and had shown tremendous potential--which is now coming to fruition in North America--for marketing Japanese animation and promoting its image, the Japanese allowed us to come in as partners on this particular film.
Ghost in the Shell a project already on the boards when you came along?
No. When I first came on, within about four months I was handed the script and asked what I thought of it, read it, and wrote a bunch of comments, and that was about the last of my involvement until I got the print in Japanese. That's kind of what happened.
We are working on several other feature films this way as well.
Again, with Japanese studios.