Hard-Boiled Means Drinking, Smoking, and Revolvers
──So what, specifically, is it that you like about Juzo?
In terms of his visual impact, I'd say that his face is a revolver. I've never seen a protagonist like that, and it's an idea I'd never come up with. I always get really worried about how people are going to react to something I make when they pick it up. (laughs) So I'm really amazed by his willingness to take a risk like that. The concept of the Extended, the guys with mechanical bodies, may seem new, but it's actually just another version of cyborgs. One recent movie that's done the same thing is "Alita: Battle Angel". But what makes it really cool is that he chose to make Juzo's face an old, obsolete revolver instead of the latest high-tech gun.
──You're right. NO GUNS LIFE is a sci-fi work, but there's a certain old-fashioned-ness about it.
He's using the sci-fi setting as a background to tell a hard-boiled story. If you go too hard on the sci-fi elements, you tend to end up with something where everybody flies up into the sky, there's a big fight scene, like, "Clang! Clang! Kaboom!", and then it's over. (laughs) And that's not hard-boiled. So it's not really the sci-fi setting, it's like I said earlier, where he's deliberately bringing back these older ideas, that really resonates with me. In my mind, "hard-boiled" means drinking, smoking, and revolvers.
──You think those are necessary elements for a hard-boiled story.
Yup. Juzo's got a rule against drinking, though. But he does have an office, which really fits. Now all he needs is a car and it would be perfect... But still, it really follows the conventions of the genre. The fact that he sometimes starts his monologues with "My name is Juzo Inui" is something that's also a throwback to the hard-boiled genre.
──Lots of hard-boiled stories start with "My name is so-and-so." (laughs)
But I will say I'm a little worried about whether the anime is going to have all these elements that we just talked about. They may only work in the manga... But it's MADHOUSE, right? They're a studio that I like, and I'm expecting them to make sure it's all there.
Expression Via "Not Moving"
──What kind of animation do you like?
The stuff I saw when I was a kid. Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express, Tiger Mask, The Legend of Kamui, works like that. I also liked the works that Osamu Dezaki made.
──Dezaki-san was one of the founders of MADHOUSE, too.
Correct. All of the anime I just listed are kind of movie-like, aren't they? They're from a generation of creators that dreamed of making movies. I'm the same. I wanted to make movies but instead I'm making games. When somebody who grew up on games makes a game, or somebody who wanted to make manga makes a manga, they can only make something ordinary. Osamu Tezuka, for example, put the camera techniques he learned from movies into his manga.
──So even if you want to be a professional in a certain field, you need to be well-versed in things from outside that field.
That's right. This is a little off-topic, but lately there are a lot of people who grew up playing games who are now making movies or manga. There's a lot of people like that especially in Hollywood. They say to me, "I got into this world after playing the Metal Gear series. I don't know how to make games so I'm making movies." (laughs)
──So now things are the opposite of the way they used to be. It feels like NO GUNS LIFE was actually influenced by your work as well.
I think the same thing. It's got all of my stuff in it, including the dialogue. I'm especially curious about the character named Lefty. (An Extended in the manga who's body is only a left hand.)
──He reminds me a little of the Metal Gear Mk-II (Note; A remote mobile terminal that appears in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots), yeah. (laughs) You just said that you liked MADHOUSE. What works of theirs have you seen?
The stuff Yoshiaki Kawajiri worked on is the first thing that comes to mind. I bought the Wicked City Blu-ray box that came with the storyboards. I showed it to my staff, and I've also introduced it to people from outside Japan as "This Is where they got the idea for Agent Smith from The Matrix!" There's a type of hard-boiled story that you can't get with books or movies, only anime. That's the stuff I like. And he's the kind of person who can do that.
──Tell me more about what you mean by hard-boiled anime.
What's important is the layout and the establishing shots. That's how you build the world and set the tone. People often think that anime with a lot of fast and fluid motion is amazing, but what's best for a title like NO GUNS LIFE is to have not much movement at all. You don't need to use CG to spin the camera around or pull it back hard. The characters are kind of mechanical, so I understand the desire to treat them as 3D objects that move around a lot, but I think that won't work. You need a lot of shots of things like Juzo smoking, or flashing neon lights and flying butterflies. You need a lot of slow movement to set the tone. And then, when it's time to move, things move fast. You can save a lot of effort that way, which is good for a TV series.
──Yeah, it may be the kind of anime where that would look good.