Mamoru Oshii (born 8 August, 1951) is a highly influential Japanese anime and live-action director.
Even though he is known today for his films with philosophical dialogue and labyrinthine plots, Oshii first rose to prominence at Studio Pierrot directing (and occasionally storyboarding and writing for) the zany anime comedy TV show Urusei Yatsura. He also got his start directing films with UY, 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 movie also reportedly upset 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 to this day. In addition to directing Innocence, the sequel to his biggest hit Ghost in the Shell, he directed the Polish Sci-Fi film Avalon and the Navel-Gazing Air Combat yarn The Sky Crawlers, among many, many others.
Really likes Basset Hounds.
- Urusei Yatsura: Only You (1983)
- Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
- Angel's Egg (1985)
- Patlabor: The Movie (1989)
- Maroko (1990)
- Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993)
- Ghost in the Shell (1995)
- Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
- Tachiguishi-Retsuden (The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters) (2006)
- The Sky Crawlers (2008)
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)
Live-Action Films :
- The Red Spectacles (1987)
- Stray Dog (1991)
- Talking Head (1992)
- Avalon (2001)
- Shin-Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden (2007)
- Assault Girls (2009)
- Garm Wars: The Last Druid (2014)
- The Next Generation -Patlabor- (2014)
- Patlabor (2015)
Writing or Other Involvement :
- Seraphim 266613336 Wings (1994-1995, incomplete) (with Satoshi Kon)
- Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999)
- Halo Legends (2009): Creative director for one segment ("The Duel")
- Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai (2009)
- Je T'Aime (2010)
- Sand Whale and Me: Toonami microseries produced by Production I.G for the block's 20th anniversary (2017)
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, as well as Garm Wars.
- 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 GitS: Innocence.
- Doing It for the Art: One of the most egregious examples ever. This tendency is allegedly what got him fired from Urusei Yatsura.
- Dull Surprise: A often criticism of some of his animated work suffering from a clear lack of emotion on all of the characters faces.
- Early Installment Weirdness: He got his start directing the first half of the Urusei Yatsura TV series and its first two movies. While UY has some elements that would come to define Oshii later on (like its bizarre dreamlike imagery), it's still at heart a zany comedy. Only Beautiful Dreamer comes close to "feeling" like an Oshii work.
- 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 series nor an adaptation from a manga or light novel since getting fired from Urusei Yatsura, save for Ghost in the Shell.
- Scenery Porn: Usually of Tokyo, which he is ambivalent about. See.
- Ghost in the Shell contains lovingly detailed scenes of what appears to be either Hong Kong or Yokohama's Chinatown.
- 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 vs. Snobs: Oshii never makes any effort to dress up for public appearances,
evenespecially when appearing with other members of the film crew who do not share his bohemian expression. See.◊
- Technician Vs Performer: On the technician side, as he gives visuals precedent over story.
- Technology Porn: Common in his later works.
- 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.
- He considers himself a friend of Hayao Miyazaki's, and there were efforts to get him to collaborate with Studio Ghibli back in the late-80's and early-90's. They were never able to find a project for him. Also, as mentioned above, his work style clashes badly with Ghibli's Disney-like obsession. Finally, Oshii's 1992 interview in which he lobbed minor insults at Ghibli ended any chance of working together.