Jonathan Clements talks to director Satoshi Nishimura
Satoshi Nishimura has little round spectacles.
“Just like Vash the Stampede, people say. I get that all the time. They think I am doing permanent cosplay. But these are just my regular glasses.”
He wants me to take his photograph outside the Glasgow Film Theatre, where his Trigun: Badlands Rumble had having its UK premier. If he were a live-action director, he’d order a boom and a dolly and knock through a couple of walls to get the shot. But because he works in anime, he is strangely conscientious about not upsetting the world around him.
I try to get him to stand in the middle of the road, so I can frame the logo behind him; it’s the only way anyone who sees the photo will actually know he’s in Glasgow.
“But, the cars!” he hisses.
I look theatrically around me, at the depopulated side street. It’s a Saturday, and there are no cars around.
He steps gingerly into the street and looks down at the white line in the middle of the road. And then he turns to the camera and gives me a big thumbs-up.
Nishimura is taken by the simple things in life. The festival organisers at Scotland Loves Anime offered to take him to Loch Ness, Stirling, Kintyre, anywhere. But both he and his fellow visitor, Trigun’s producer Shigeru Kitayama, have eschewed all tourist experiences in favour of glimpsing “real life”. On his day off in Glasgow, Nishimura wanders the streets incognito, stocking up with joke-flavoured Halloween sweets to torment his minions back home, and soaking up the inscrutable occidental ambience.
“They have an alien drink in all the shops,” he says, “It is orange, bright orange. And they say it is made in Scotland, from girders!”
Just as elements of everyday life in mundane anime seem so far removed from our own experience, Nishimura draws unexpected connections when far from home.
“An ambulance went past me on the main street,” he adds. “The sirens here are totally different. It went nee-naw, nee-naw! It was just like the sound they make in Thunderbirds!”
Inside the darkened cinema, he waits anxiously during the movie’s opening scene.
Someone titters at the onscreen action, and Nishimura permits himself a smile. Other audience members begin to laugh and enjoy themselves, and Nishimura visibly relaxes.
“It’s not supposed to win any awards,” he notes. “It’s supposed to be consumed with beer and laughter.” And now he’s happy, too.
It takes almost an hour to shift the crowd outside. Nishimura and Kitayama willingly sign autographs, not so much for the adulation as for the chance to quiz the audience on their thoughts. The Trigun TV series ended 12 years ago, but anime can have a strange half-life in other countries, and still has an audience abroad.
A man reverently proffers a battered DVD box set, and tells Nishimura that he has saved it so that he can watch it again when his son is a little older.
“Please,” says Nishimura, visibly touched, “watch it as father and son.”
He hands back the box, and his eyes sparkle.
A man standing next to me sighs in annoyance.
“I should have thought of that,” he mutters. “I downloaded it. Now I’ve got nothing for him to sign.”
Trigun: Badlands Rumble is out on UK DVD and Blu-ray.