Animerica, Miyazaki, and Crimson Pig
(Click on each photo for full-size)
Now here is an excellent find. Animerica Magazine's July 1993 interview with Hayao Miyazaki, where they discuss his then-newest movie, Porco Rosso (notice they use the English translation, "Crimson Pig"). It's a superb read and a great bit of history to boot. At this time, the name Miyazaki was unknown beyond the walls of the anime community, which was considerably smaller than it is today. The word "anime" had yet to reach the public consciousness in the US; the slightly rediculous word, "Japanimation" was still being used, and the only major crossover hit was, of course, Akira.
It is insightful, I think, to observe that Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli wouldn't become better known in the States for another decade. The Tokuma-Disney deal was still several years away, and Steve Jobs' small animation studio, known for cranking out clever, experimental computer-rendered cartoons, was in the process of creating its first full-length feature. The Simpson's was still a new and novel idea, Animaniacs was the second coming of the Marx Brothers...heck, Saint Cobain was still alive.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific, Studio Ghibli was hitting its stride. Porco Rosso would be the studio's third hit movie in a row, after 1989's Kiki's Delivery Service and 1991's Omohide Poro Poro. Miyazaki and Takahata were now producing Japan's biggest box-office hits, but it would still be four years before the collosal blockbuster success of Mononoke Hime in 1997, ushering in Ghibli's era of global dominance.
In other words, 1993 was about a million years ago. It's in that context that we read Miyazaki's insights about his career, and his latest film about a cynical, middle-aged fighter pilot who also happens to be a pig. How much of a thrill was this magazine to American anime fans at the time? I could imagine the kids huddling around their copies, guarding it with their lives. They would obsess over every detail, pore over every photograph, marvel at scenes from Porco Rosso, all the while realizing that this movie, too, was a million years away.
It's so easy to take today's internet for granted. We have an almost instant global access, thanks to Google and YouTube, Blogger and message boards, DVDs, Blu-Rays, and fansubs. If you want it, you'll have it, usually in the time it takes to cook that latest frozen pizza.
1993 doesn't seem that far to me, since those were my coming-of-age years. But technology has transformed the world since then, to the point where those days almost feel primitive. Could you live without the internet, or tiny cell phones? Would you really be satisfied with your Sega Genesis or 8-bit Nintendo?
On the other hand, the music was a hell of a lot better back then, Seattle rock was the center of the universe, Kurt Cobain was still alive, and MTV played something we called "music videos." Strange days, indeed.
Anyway, here's Animerica's July 1993 interview with Miyazaki. Throw "In Utero" into the tape deck and enjoy.