Over the years, Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki has proven he’s not afraid to speak bluntly about topics others might shy away from, especially when it comes to discussing the anime industry and its fans.
So it’s understandable that reporters would be keen to get a soundbite from the legendary director, especially when a new animated movie threatens to steal a record previously set by a Ghibli feature film. That was the case when Makoto Shinkai’s "your name." threatened to topple Ghibli’s "Spirited Away" from its top position as highest-grossing film at the Japanese box office, and now there’s a new contender for the title: "Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train."
This animated movie, based on the hugely popular "Demon Slayer" manga series, has already broken box-office records in Japan since its release on Oct 16, racking up 10 billion yen in box-office sales and beating the previous record, set by "Spirited Away," which took 25 days to get to 10 billion yen at the box office.
After recording 20.4 billion yen in box office sales just 24 days after its release, "Demon Slayer" is now in a good position to nudge "Spirited Away," which achieved 30.8 billion yen in sales over the space of an entire year, from its spot as Japan’s highest-grossing film, a position it’s held for 19 years.
Against that backdrop, members of the media have been keen to know what Miyazaki thinks of the new film and its huge popularity, and for one reporter the desire to speak to the director was so great he decided to ambush Miyazaki with questions…while the director was picking up trash.
According to the reporter, part of Miyazaki’s daily routine involves picking up trash and keeping the street outside his house clean in the early morning hours. So the reporter took this opportunity to approach the 79-year-old director for an on-street interview, and this is how it panned out.
Q: Box-office sales for "Demon Slayer" are approaching that of "Spirited Away." What’s your view on that?
Miyazaki: “Well, I don’t think it has anything to do with me. It’s better if people don’t concern themselves with things like box-office records and concentrate on making their workplaces harmonious instead. It’s fine as long as you work hard on what you’re making.”
Q: Have you watched "Demon Slayer?"
Miyazaki: “No I haven’t. I rarely watch other things. I don’t watch TV, I don’t watch movies. I’m a retired old man picking up trash.”
Q: Some fans will be upset if "Spirited Away" doesn’t retain its historic number one spot.
Miyazaki: “That sort of thing isn’t worth worrying about. There’s always inflation in the world. Right now, I have to pick up trash…”
Q: So…you’re currently working on "How Do You Live?" (The production was announced in 2017). Is it all going well?
Miyazaki: “I’m doing it. I’m doing it while retired. You should direct any questions about that to Toho [Japanese film production and distribution company]. Because I don’t know everything about it. I have to go around and pick up trash, so…”
Given that he was approached on the street while going about one of his daily chores, Miyazaki was surprisingly civil to the reporter who ambushed him out of the blue. However, he did make it clear that his number one priority during the discussion was keeping the streets clean.
As always, it seems that the media is far more interested in box office sales and records than Miyazaki is or ever has been. And while pundits claim it’s not a fair fight between movies, given that there are more cinemas in Japan than there were back when "Spirited Away" was released, at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter if "Demon Slayer," or any other movie, exceeds Ghibli’s "Spirited Away" in box office sales.
It doesn’t make Miyazaki’s 2001 film any less of a masterpiece, especially when you consider it’s been made by a legendary director who’s still humble enough to care for his neighborhood by picking up trash on the streets. And when you add in the fact that he prefers to steer away from “coquettish” voice actors for his feisty female roles, it somehow makes us love him even more.
Sources: Shukan Flash via Yahoo! News via Hachima Kiko
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