Koji Morimoto worked on the film "Akira" directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, a music promotion video for Ken Ishi and a piece for "Animatrix". He is an animation director who is attracting a great deal of attention internationally with his unique style. In July, he will hold a commemorative exhibition for the release of his book, a collection of his first works, at a new shop called "Shop 33 Kichijoji" which is a satellite of the mixed media shop "Shop 33".
We caught up with the funky animation director for an interview, even though he is busy in the midst of working on his next film.
Could you introduce yourself?
Koji Morimoto. Aerial stroller. 44 years old. A painter.
You are one of the starting members of "Studio 4C" which produces unique animation works including the recent film "Animatrix" (an anthology film of "Matrix"). Can you tell me the story behind how you started it?
I wanted to have a harem (laugh). I was going to be the head so that I can control everything but the reality is... I am controlled instead.
What's your main activity?
Whatever I can enjoy. Basically, I'm playing with painting. I'm also doing an event called "Sound Kickers" secretly (!). I'm now planning the next project with Shop 33.
When did you decide to be an animator? Is there anything that opened your way?
I was impressed by a scene of "Space Battleship Yamato" in which the main battery comes out from the ground. It reminded me of a male thing. (laugh) Also a scene from "Nausica of the Valley of Wind" when that Giant Guardian belched fire under a command by Tolumekian imperial princess Kushana. I'm sure it's a man's ejaculation, the second shot becomes weaker..(laugh). I'm always attracted by such scenes. I don't know if the director actually intends to but I'm confident that such male physiological things are hidden behind those scenes. I guess a man can understand what I mean. The reason why I became an animator is that I like thinking about "how will this strange character speak?" or "what will they say?". Animating the character, they will have a life. I like it very much. In other words, an animator can also be "a god on paper".
You will open an exhibition at a new shop of "Shop 33" on the same day of the shop opening on the 15th of July. Could you give me a brief of the exhibition?
I'm playing with the motif "Good luck/Bad luck (Daikichi/Daikyo)" with "Shop 33" and also making a CD with DJ Q'HEY. I visualize a familier word for Japanese "Daikichi/Daikyo" with completely different interpretations. The release of my first art book "0 Range" is also on the same day so I'm going to have a book signing for people who attend the opening.
"0 Range" contains more than 500 pieces which you have drawn so far. Why did you think to make this book now?
It's a kind of "break" to say good by to a 44-year-old. Also, I often look back at my sketch book to find out what I was thinking at that time. Sometimes new idea comes out from it. Those sketches were spread around and I thought that it would be easier to look at if it became a book. For that reason, this book is for myself (laugh). However, in my future works, a lot of characters in the book might be animated so I guess people can enjoy my works more, having a "common idea notebook". Nameless characters in the book will have a wondeful name if they appear in a film. I hope everyone enjoys it.
What's the concept of the cover design for this month?
Love. After making love.
You have worked on a number of great works including "Akira". What's the vision for the future? Is there anything you want to challenge from now on?
I want to make a "five dimentional work". I mean it's the "wrong" dimention. (In Japanese, "five" and "wrong" have the same sound) I'm thinking to start drawing Manga with a title of "Wrong Dimention".
This year in Japan, many animation films by renowned directors called great masters of Japanese animation will be released. Japanese animation attracts the world's attention with its unique style and also its comics, TV programme and films are thought of highly. What's your opinion about Japanese animation and how do you think it's going to change in the future?
Japanese animation is now widely known throughout the world, and a lot of people from other countries are involved in the Japanese animation scene. I think it's an interesting change.
I hope the animation industry is kept under control. Animation is basically a media where people can do what they like freely. If some big power like a country or big capital starts controlling it, it will quickly become a dull field. If its morals or ethics start being discussed, a creator can't play with it freely. Animation is basically for children so I don't want to bring adult's ideas into it too much. I want to keep the animation a lawless field for good. In the lawless field, both bad and good works can exist but the point is that lots of works can appear and exist. Interesting and innovative things will come out from such a source.
Personally saying, I think it's not exciting that Disney, for example, stopped doing cell animation and shifted to computerize the process. Whatever, everyone changes their creative process. I am wedded to the hand drawing and animating two dimentional things.
Finally, please pass a message to Shift readers.
Have good sex (laugh). If you can make people feel good and the world can change. Also, please buy "0 Range". Let's hold an interesting world commonly!
Koji Morimoto "0 Range" Release Commemorative Exhibition
"Daikichi high! Daikyo desu!"
Date: July 16th (Fri) - August 31st (Tue), 2004
Place: Shop 33 Kichijoji
Address: 2-22-5, Honcho Kichijoji, Musashino, Tokyo
Open: 12:00 - 21:00
Text and Translation: Naoko Fukushi