Home » Director Masaaki Yuasa talks about the new GKIDS collection Five Films and More

Director Masaaki Yuasa talks about the new GKIDS collection Five Films and More

by Stewart Cole

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with the visionary director Masaaki Yuasa for his historic career. The director talked about the reception of his films in the United States and his work on Ping Pong the Animation. His new film collection, Masaaki Yuasa: Five Films, is now available as a box set from GKIDS.

“Widely regarded as one of the most imaginative and influential directors working in animation today, Masaaki Yuasa has been compared to pioneers such as Tex Avery and Max Fleischer,” Yuasa’s description reads. in the new set. “He is one of the most prolific creators of modern anime and has brought his humor and dynamism to genres as diverse as psychedelic thrillers, transcendental rock operas and sweetly subversive teen romances.”

Tyler Treese: G-KIDS is putting out such a great set of five of your films. What’s really cool is that there are tons of great bonus features that really dive into your creative process. I love scene disasters. What does it mean to you to have such passionate fans who not only enjoy your art but also want to know the thought process of what goes into art?

Masaaki Yuasa: Thanks. Glad you like the bonus features. I’m really grateful for the passionate fans because I think the more the audience grows, it really fuels my passion to create more products so that the newly created audience [can] enjoy the content i create.

It’s been almost 20 years since your debut, Mind Game. How do you see its legacy and its enduring appeal because it’s still so beloved by fans?

I actually didn’t realize how many people liked Mind Game, you know? But when I came to the United States last year, and everyone I met kept bringing up Mind Game. They say: “I love Mind Game. I love Mind Game.” That’s when I finally understood. I didn’t know so many people liked Mind Game. That makes me really happy.

Your most recent movie, Inu-Oh, was so beautiful. I love that it’s a period piece, but the themes are just as prevalent today. Can you talk about showcasing the marginalized and celebrating the misunderstood?

With Inu-Oh, I really wanted to make sure that we kept the authenticity of what had happened in the past, but I really thought it was very important to connect it to the current times we live in. We still have marginalized people in the world. As a period piece, if you think about the positions of marginalized people versus people at the top, it was a huge difference in our time. So I really thought that was a great way to express that. But when you think of period pieces, they usually focus on stories about leading people, whether it was a soldier’s general, the princess, etc.

But I really thought it was important to portray the lives of ordinary people and how they lived and how they felt. Because in today’s time we are all pretty much the same and I wanted to give positivity. There is a way out of bad situations, even when we live in this age.

Lu Over the Wall [ENGLISH Official Trailer, GKIDS, Masaaki Yuasa]

In North America, Lu Over the Wall was not as well received as the other films included, which were widely celebrated. Why do you think this film has proven more divisive than the others?

Yeah, I don’t know why Yu Over the Wall wasn’t well received in the States. But if I wanted to point out a flaw in Lu Over the Wall, it was probably a bit hard to find. So hopefully I learned from this experience and could use this experience to create something better that would be well received

Based on that, this collection was a great way to review your career. How do you feel as a director that you’ve really evolved over time? Because we see 20 years of work in this amazing collection, Communication.

Yeah, I really think that when I directed Mind Game, even though it was accepted, I really felt that there were still challenges and obstacles that came up during the process or even in the release, and it really gave me the opportunity to learn how it might well better communicate with the public. I think over the last 10 years, working with my staff and trying to let them learn and grow has really been something I’ve focused on. So I think coming from “What can I individually learn from the Mind Game”, it really came down to “What can staff gain from our projects”. I really think this is the evolution I went through.

You have worked on Crayon Shin-chan throughout your career in many different roles and this series is still so popular even today. Would you be interested in directing a Shin-chan movie?

Yes. Working on Crayon Shin-chan was really fun. It was a project that gave me many opportunities to develop. So yeah, I think if there’s an offer I’d be interested. Even any of my past jobs that I’ve been involved with, I like to revisit them to see what I can incorporate from what I’ve learned over the past decades and see what I can do with it.

Ping Pong - Official Trailer

One of my favorite projects is Ping Pong the Animation, and that had such great visuals and also tells such an important story. For many people, it is their favorite anime. What’s your reaction when you hear from fans that it resonated so much with them and really affected them?

Yes, I really think that this feeling of fans resonating with the work… you really have to give credit to the original manga artist, Taiyō Matsumoto, because he just drew a high quality manga and his stories are so deep. I did my best to make it easier to understand his themes and what he wanted to convey in the animated version. “What does it mean to be a genius?” This is something I think about often, because I am also a creative person as a director. So yeah, it was really interesting to work on it.

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