"Oshii is probably the only director that loves dogs. He thinks he's a dog himself."
Highly influential Japanese anime and live-action director.
Even though he is known today for his films with philosophical dialogue and labyrinthine plots, Mamoru Oshii first rose to prominence at Studio Pierrot directing (and occasionally writing for) the zany anime comedy TV show Urusei Yatsura
. He also got his start directing films with Urusei Yatsura, directing the first movie, Only You
(which supposedly suffered from Executive Meddling
) in 1983.
‘83 was in fact a very busy year for Oshii. In addition to directing a television series and making his first motion picture he also co-wrote and directed Dallos
, the first ever OVA. The next year he completed Beautiful Dreamer
, the second Urusei Yatsura film. Considered to be the first film to contain Oshii's trademark direction techniques and stylings, this surreal comedy also reportedly upset UY creator Rumiko Takahashi
and led to Oshii leaving the franchise.
After a few years of making some highly experimental and artistic anime including Angel's Egg
, Oshii directed his first live-action film, The Red Spectacles
in 1987. This movie was the first in his dystopian “Kerberos Saga,” which also includes his 1991 live-action film Stray Dog as well as the anime film Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
, (Which he wrote but did not direct) and numerous manga and novels.
In 1988 Oshii returned to the mainstream when he joined anime super group “HEADGEAR” (which included colleagues from his Urusei Yatsura days) and produced the OVA Patlabor
. He also directed Patlabor: The Movie
, the Patlabor, well, movie
. This was followed up in 1993 with Patlabor 2
, a somber film that deals with terrorism, the nature of peace vs. war, the complacency of a nation's citizens, Japan's place in the modern world, and other fluffy topics
. During this time he also wrote some episodes for the Patlabor TV and second OVA series.
The biggest hit of Oshii’s career though came in 1995, with the release of his adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell
. This highly influential cyberpunk movie was technically groundbreaking, using a subtle blend of traditional cel art and computer graphics to great effect. Ghost In The Shell
, which was heavily influenced by Ridley Scott
’s Blade Runner
would go on in turn to inspire many films afterward, including The Matrix
. It was also one of a number of gateway anime that helped the medium gain popularity in the West.
Mamoru Oshii continues to write and direct both live-action and anime movies to this day. In addition to directing Innocence
, the sequel to his biggest hit Ghost in the Shell
, he has directed the recent Polish Sci-Fi film Avalon
and the Navel Gazing
/Air Combat yarn The Sky Crawlers
Really likes Basset Hounds.
Anime TV and OVA Series
- Urusei Yatsura (TV, 1981-1986): Directed roughly the first half of the show.
- Dallos (OVA, 1983): The very first OVA.
- Twilight Q (OVA, 1987): Directed the second of 2 episodes.
- Patlabor (OVA, 1988)
- Gosenzosama Banbanzai! (OVA, 1989)
- The Red Spectacles (1987)
- Stray Dog (1991)
- Talking Head (1992)
- Avalon (2001)
- Shin-Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden (2007)
- Assault Girls (2009)
Writing / Other Involvement
Tropes associated with Mamoru Oshii:
- Adrenaline Time: Used lovingly - or facetiously.
- As the Good Book Says: Biblical quotes abound in is work (usually at least somewhat plot-related). Notably the Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor movies.
- Author Appeal / Creator Thumbprint: Basset Hounds, Emotionless Girls, and German firearms.
- More than anything else, though, themes from Polish films, especially Andrzej Wajda's.
- Has gone on record saying he can't create anything without Kenji Kawai writing the musical score.
- Benevolent Boss: Is a laid-back boss and director, at least according to him. While this does provide for a more lax workplace (compared to the reportedly very strict Studio Ghibli) it can also result in some of his works being less-polished than some of his contemporaries. Case in point: have fun playing "Spot the Frame Jump" while watching the otherwise brilliantly animated Patlabor 2.
- Bittersweet Ending / Downer Ending: His protagonists seldom get anything resembling a happy ending.
- Deconstructor Fleet: The worst mistake you could make is assuming he's not mercilessly tearing into every conventional gunfight scene cliché in the book in both the Kerberos Saga and Git S: Innocence.
- Doing It for the Art: One of the most egregious examples ever.
- Dull Surprise: A often criticism of some of his animated work suffering from a clear lack of emotion on all of the characters faces.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: And there is also often a scene showing her as an Creepy Doll-looking Emotionless Girl contrasted against red color.
- Gun Porn
- Mind Screw: Commonplace, but The Red Spectacles and especially Talking Head are one step away from David Lynch-caliber weirdness.
- Prima Donna Director: Why he's never worked on a TV anime nor an adaptation from a manga or light novel save for Ghost in the Shell.
- Scenery Porn: Usually of Tokyo, which he is ambivalent about.
- Signature Style: Characters approaching their own reflections, especially with water. Long stretches of scenery, to help the soundtrack take center stage.
- Silence Is Golden: Until their token big monologue, his characters are extremely taciturn. If a response to a question should be obvious to the audience, the character won't bother to answer.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: Oshii never makes any effort to dress up for public appearances,
even especially when appearing with other members of the film crew who do not share his bohemian expression.◊
- Technology Porn
- Uncanny Valley: Invoked repeatedly in his films, to the point of becoming a major theme in Innocence.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Expect each of his films to demand multiple viewings for even basic comprehension.
- What Could Have Been: Oshii was working on a Lupin III project in the mid 1980s. All that survived was some cryptic concept art.