Summer Wars director Mamoru Hosoda talks to Andrew Osmond about samurai, grannies and the internet.
In Summer Wars, the main character is a boy, the shy maths prodigy Kenji. Do you prefer telling a story through a male or a female character?
It depends on the story. But this time I might prefer the boy’s point of view because my last film (The Girl who Leapt through Time) was about a girl and its story was told through her eyes.
Love Machine, the artificial “villain” in the film, seems to have the personality of a violent school bully, who loves beating other people up.
I think he’s more like a little child than a violent bully. He might not have the intention of doing harm to other people or to the world. He was programmed to study and grow by himself. His curiosity and longing for knowledge brought the world into chaos.
You show the internet as a wonderful place where people can communicate and work together. Do you think that people have unfair prejudices against the internet?
Anything in this world has both good and bad aspects. But, do you think our world has become worse and more uncomfortable after the rise of the Internet? We cannot imagine how much more convenient and comfortable our lives have become in this IT era. I think considering the Internet as just a bad technology is nonsense today.
In Summer Wars, young and old people can all work together successfully. Are you optimistic that different generations of people can communicate?
I’m very optimistic about that. Following on from the previous question, the Internet itself has played a great role in cross-generation communication. Thanks to the Internet, I can have more opportunities to talk with lots of people who are younger and older than me than ever before.
Also, in Summer Wars, you seem to say that “old Japan” (the country’s samurai history) and “new Japan” (the virtual computer world) can exist together, and they can make each other stronger. This is different from other anime, in which Japan’s old traditions are being threatened by modern Japan.
Every director has his/her own way of seeing and describing a world. But more than anything, I always try to make a film which says our world is beautiful and worth living in. I think that’s the reason Summer Wars is a little bit different from other anime.
Do you feel that “old Japan” and “new Japan” can exist together?
Sakae, the great-grandmother, is an amazingly strong and vivid character in the film. Is she inspired by a real person?
Every character is inspired by people I know, I like and respect. Sakae is inspired by lots of people; maybe they include my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother.
What Sakae wants to say is: hold tight as a family; help each other; never leave any family member lonely and hungry. Isn’t this a kind of common sense all “mothers” have all over the world?
Finally, the computer avatars in the film are mostly cute and funny. If you had to choose an avatar, would you choose a cute one?