screenplayer of the TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone
realized by Andrea Iovinelli
(I'd like to thank for the collaboration Andrea Fiori and Davide Siccardi)
Mr. Sakurai, could you please present briefly to our readers? A short biography and filmography of your past works.
I was born in Tochigi, Japan on June 9th 1977 . When I was 9, I started living in the UK because of my father's job. I returned to Japan when I was 12 and graduated the state junior-high/high school in Tochigi. After that, I entered Tokyo University and majored in Economics. I also went to the master course of the same university and majored in Media Environment. I had an opportunity to participate in the TV series, "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" while I was a student and after my graduation, started my career in Production I.G. This is my first year in the studio.
I read on the I.G. forum that there are 5 different scriptwriters involved in GITS SAC. Could you tell us who are the other writers, and if there are any others that have taken part on the writing of the main plot of the series?
The writers involved were, Dai Satoh, Junichi Fujisaku, Shotaro Suga, and Nobutoshi Terado. We received several synopsis for the series from the original manga creator, Mr.Shirow Masamune. In the script meeting, we had the Director, Kenji Kamiyama and the Producer, Yuichiro Matsuka participating.
And then? How does a tv series born, where's used usually to start from?
We first create the "scripts" and "character/mechanical designs" are made. Then the "storyboards" are drawn, which are revised into "layouts". Key animation and inbetween animation are drawn according to "layouts". At the same time, we create 3D materials which are put together with the 2D drawings. We colour them digitally and put effects in, and film them digitally. And then this is edited and put in voices and sound effects.
Did you have any meeting with Masamune Shirow? Or have you got any pointers by him, on the general plot of the story, or on the kind of topic he shall like to see?
Yes, we had several meetings with Mr.Masamune Shirow. He provided us with the basic design of Tachikoma and few other mechanical materials and also several synopsis.
Did you try in some way to got inspiration by his manga? Did you look for a main theme, a common sense even where Shirow didn't want to trace it, or maybe did you just get affected, fascinated by his manga's suggestions?
We obviously received a lot of inspiration from his manga. We read them thouroughly. Even the ones that are not published. We were told the basic background of this fictional world with things he wanted and didn't want to use.
There were others important science-fiction source did you refer to? Was it more japanese or foreign SF?
It may seem strange, but none of us really liked SF although we all loved "Ghost in the Shell". We read more of journalistic critiques and sociological books.
You wrote (or you're going to write) the episodes 3rd, 8th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 17th, 24th, 25th. That's a really good number on the total of 26. Which is your favourite? In which of these, it's yours the original conception too? There are any episode in which your original concept then has been developed by someone else?
I think the Director happened to like what I wrote. The scripts are finished and all of them are my favourites, but among what I wrote, I like especially the 3rd and the 12th episode, probably because those are the ones I wrote first (12th was my first). For the 3rd and 8th episode, I had a synopsis from Mr. Masamune Shirow although I changed them quite a lot. I think it is more appropriate to say that all 7 people participating in the script meeting (The Director, the Producer and 5 writers) wrote 26 episodes. All of us are somehow related to all the episodes and ideas somehow.
The responsability of the screenplays is ti completely yours, and e.g. do you wrote the whole dialogs and scenes? Is there anyway in somehow the director's supervision?
Of course, we receive a lot of advise and supervision from the Director. In Japan, the Directors have the most control over the works and the projects are generally concidered as their "babies". So all the writers worked a great deal, but my thinking is that it is basically, the Direcot's piece of work.
Is there a character in GITS SAC that you like to move and to make play the most?
Yes, a good question. I think we all had that kind of character in our minds. Satoh-san used Togusa a lot with detective touch. Fjisaku-san was an action lover and used Kusanagi and Batou. I prefered writing about Tachikoma. Also, I liked writing side stories rather than the main theme of the show.
Could you present to our readers just a little part of your script, a scene or a dialogue, that you think it's the best thing you wrote in the whole series?
That, I'm afraid I cannot do. Once all the DVDs are out, I can do it. Sorry.
What are you working on, now?
For this series, I am writing the leaflet that comes with the Japanese DVDs, and also the Tachikoma comedies, the bonus tracks for the DVDs.
After you'll have accomplished this experience with GITS SAC, on what are you going to work at?
I have several projects in my mind that I want to do, but it might be a while before I can actually start working on them.
And your personal inspiration, where does it come from? Are you used to read both genre's narrative (SF, noir, horror, etc.) and scientific essays? What is the latest book you read? And which are your favourite artists?
I think I have read a lot of books in my youth. I used to read a lot of novels in young teens and a lot of critiques when I was an university student. I was taught by a Japanese sociologist, Masachi Osawa and a lot of my ideas are related to his theory somehow.
Talking about anime, which were your favourite when you were a child? Did anyone strongly formed your future somehow, maybe even guiding at your actual job? What's your top ten list anime ever?
Since I spent a while in the UK when I was young, and had not much pleasure in everyday life, a VHS tape of "Nausicaa" that my father bought was a treasure. I think I have seen it more than 100 times. (without any exaggeration.) Although I have some parts or scenes that I don't like or disagree with, this piece is definitely the origin of my Anime experience. I doubt that anyone in this industry can ignore Hayao Miyazaki. It is difficult to pick 10, but I like the early Miyazaki features such as "The Castle of Cagliostro", "Nausicaa", "Laputa", "Totoro", "Kiki's Delivery Service". I of course like "Ghost in the Shell" very much. And I liked TV series like "The Adventures of Tom Sayer" and "Gamba". I also liked early "Doraemon" movies.
How do you think at yourself, as an anime's author (and so only occasionally of SF) or as real SF's author?
Neither. I am just an ordinary writer who, by chance, is working on animation, and by chance, on SF.
© Shirow Masamune-Production I.G/Kodansha