Interview with the scenario writer of Ghost in the Shell movie, Tou Ubukata, in commemoration for the release of full compilation BD-BOX “Ghost in the Shell ARISE”

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Source: Gigazine.net

All movies of the manga ‘Ghost in the Shell’ from 1995’s ‘GHOST IN THE SHELL’ to ‘GHOST IN THE SHELL: THE NEW MOVIE’ released in 2015, ‘Ghost in the Shell ARISE’ is a compilation of all of them and went on sale on December 22nd, 2017.

 

In commemoration of the BluRay compilation release of this memorable work, we talked with the scenario writer of the series, Tou Ubukata about Ghost in the Shell and himself as a creator.

 

GIGAZINE (G, in short):

We had a talk before the release of the movie with you and director Kazuya Nomura, so this time I would like to discuss such that the topics do not overlap. Thank you very much for your time.

 

As you have written in your boUbukata, ‘Ubukata’s detainment in Shibuya police station’, you have experienced getting arrested, released and avoiding prosecution.

This was before ARISE and the new movie was released but it truly was an experience which screamed ‘this is governmental authority’, wasn’t it?

 

Tou Ubukata:

You’re gonna bring that up here? (laughs)

 

G:

It’s just that I want to ask–if, that was before ARISE/new movie was released, did you experience something which would have been reflected in the movie?

 

Ubukata:

Well, in the first place, one would kinda feel some sort of distrust to the police from Section 9’s origin in Ghost in The Shell, right? Speaking from that… I thought that ‘wow, I wrote a pretty truthful thing then’.

 

G:

(laughs)

 

Ubukata:

In fact, I didn’t think it would be truthful to that extent. Like, I wrote it as a fiction, right? (lol). When the governmental authority does not work for the public and works to sustain itself, they start to not do the things they must do. Instead, the section 9 breaks through the political situation and does what it needs to do. I thought ‘because people like these exist that stories can hold true’ and was pretty encouraged. That ‘that outloUbukata on the world was not wrong, Shirou-sensei’. (lol).

Having said that, saying that authority itself is a bad thing would not turn out good so I tried properly thinking that out in the movie. That section 9 is really skilled in that. I am glad I was able to write ARISE to show the kinda immature side of section 9–punching people who don’t necessarily need to be punched.

 

G:

I see. The scenario you wrote wasn’t that different from the reality.

 

Ubukata:

Yes. The Japanese have a tendency to believe everything the media says. They think it to be wonderful when they see the police cooperating in dramas and the like, but in reality there is no one like that. But when the police get a report, they actually get quite happy depending on the thing.

 

G:

They get excited, don’t they? (laughs)

 

Ubukata:

Every year, they rate cases with points and for example when there’s a case of bank transfer scam, they are like ‘this is!!’ but with low point cases they are not like that. However, when people running away from home get involved in cases over and over, the public opinion is something like ‘running away from home is dangerous’ and then those cases’ points are raised.

 

G:

They are quite influenced by society, aren’t they?

 

Ubukata:

Yes, I am actually happy to have written about characters like that and plan on writing more. I think it’s not mistaken.

 

G:

When did you come upon the original work which gave life to these characters, Ghost in The Shell?

 

Ubukata:

Around when I was 16 years old. I think I bought it at a second hand boUbukatastore. I had also read his other works such as Appleseed, Dominion and ORION.

 

G:

You’ve read pretty much all of them (laughs)

 

Ubukata:

It was just that Shirou-sensei’s boUbukatas were too expensive and I had to buy it second hand. After the movie was released on 1995, it was treated as a textbook boUbukata example like ‘so this manga gave birth to this movie, eh?’. I wondered what the people who read the manga after watching the movie so I studied a lot.

 

G:

You mentioned studied, what exactly did you do?

 

Ubukata:

 

For example, picking out dialogues and scattering them, rearranging the whole composition and thinking ‘wow, it could also be like this’, joining this idea and that idea…. I did a lot of things. Also, the character numbers too. I probably studied Ghost in The Shell so much that my writing was also becoming like that (laughs). I definitely got influenced a lot by it and when I wrote the novel, I was even told ‘your novel seems to similar to the original, go change it’ (laughs).

 

G:

 

I see. And so it is packed with action, just like the manga. I am convinced.

 

Ubukata:

 

Well, I myself actually think, ‘is that really the case?’, though (laughs). When it gets imprinted into you when you are a teenager, there’s the fear of it becoming your ‘common’, after all.

 

G:

 

You had said in the interview of ‘WebDUbukatau’ that you were in the VR association group and the art club when in your high school. Why these 2 clubs?

 

Ubukata:

 

When I was about 16-17 years old, I had decided I wanted to live in the entertainment world. And so in the summer vacations, I went around to anime studios and publishers interviewing them and asking, ‘how can I make a living off of this?’.

 

G:

 

What kind of answers did you get?

 

Ubukata:

 

For example, from the director of ‘Ocean Waves’, Tomomi Mochizuki, I was told that ‘the anime magazines are hiring so you could try there’. From publishers, I was told to try for the newcomer awards. And when I wrote to Isao Takahato, asking how the anime industry will turn out and how it works, he replied with ‘this is that, that is this’, explaining everything and finished the letter with ‘good luck!’.

 

G:

 

Wow!

 

Ubukata:

 

He didn’t say he would hire me for Ghibli, though (laughs). Ah, and I also received a long letter from the voice actor Shigeru Chiba. That ‘Anime is like this, voice actors are like that, everyone is working hard and it somehow works out’. The issue for the VR association was ‘how can we make a living with it’ (laughs).

 

G:

 

It was a pretty intense association, wasn’t it?

 

Ubukata:

 

We would think ‘how good do we need to be to receive an award in the newcomer competition?’ and review each other’s works like ‘I don’t think this part is good’ and stuff. When that is between youngsters, it would always lead to a personal attack and things would get awkward (laughs).

 

G:

 

But still they kept at it, didn’t they?

 

Ubukata:

 

After every failure, we would become frustrated and used that frustration as our force and thought ‘we will write an even better story next time!’. And that’s how we spend 3 years always training (laughs). When I was graduating high school, I tried once again hoping to get an award and I did. That was how I made my debut as a novelist.

 

G:

 

You had quite the interesting high school life.

 

Ubukata:

 

As training, we would copy a lot. I had copied various dialogues from novels and mangas but among all that, I felt Ghost in The Shell to be unique. It had cyberpunk, cyborg action, detectives and also dystopia… it really had the most superb balance.

 

G:

 

I see.

 

Ubukata:

 

And that is how I made ARISE with things deeply ingrained in me.

 

G:

 

You said you had copied from a lot of different works a while before. It seems like doing this would help you to take it in inside you but what was the start of it?

 

Ubukata:

 

I wonder…. When I was a child, because of my father’s job circumstances, we had to live in the southeast Asia for a while. I couldn’t find anything entertaining there so I always went to this kid who had comics and videos to borrow. And then I would copy everything I had borrowed and that is probably how it started (laughs).

On the other hand, the comics and videos this friend of mine got from Japan were in Japanese so he didn’t understand those. So he would ask me to translate them for him and I used to translate all of them to English and give it to him. I think that’s how it became habit.

 

G:

 

(laughs) Do you still copy the stuff you like now?

 

Ubukata:

 

I don’t normally get the time so only occasionally. For example, I always liked Kazuo Ishiguro’s work, and recently a sentence of “The Buried Giant” was very nicely translated, so I copied a bit from the beginning. I had liked the work from before, so every chance I get I call out to various people saying “let’s animate it”. I think if me make an anime of “Never Let Me Go”, it will be amazing. If we had done that, it would surely get the 2017 Nobel Prize for literature and I would say ‘I knew it all along’. (laughs)

 

G:

 

(laughs)

 

Ubukata:

And also Stephen King’s “Mr. Mercedes “. The scene at the beginning was too awful. A viewpoint is of a man who lined up early in the morning in front of the employment security office and in front of the man’s eyes, there is a woman holding a baby and coughing while standing. They were lending each other blankets and so on, saying “Let’s live somehow” and then a Mercedes comes and runs over them.

 

G:

 

That is quite messed up.

 

Ubukata:

 

Translations by AsianHobbyist Website

It showed the woman and also the baby dying which made me think “This is impossible for me.” I felt that I had to learn how to properly depict darkness like this as well.

 

G:

I think that you are always conscious of your deadlines but do you have any secret technique to do work so that you make it in time?

 

Ubukata:

I have the habit of working with the deadline in mind. Beside that, if I don’t have any deadlines, I would just keep writing and writing forever.

 

G:

Wow, that is amazing.

 

Ubukata:

Rather, I send it earlier than the deadline but get scolded at because the work is 3 times the prescribed amount (laughs)

 

*Ubukata’s ‘written too much and got yelled at’ is also there in the afterword of Chaos Legion.

 

G:

The side having receive the 3 times work would also be surprised. Three times the prescribed number! (laughs) To be yelled at for writing too much.

 

Ubukata

In case of “Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer”, it was serialized in the “rough novel era”, but at the time of the first chapter, it already had 250 sheets of manuscript paper and they just told me “We can’t post this much”.

 

(laughs)

 

G:

I saw a discussion that the screenplay of “ARISE” was also quite a lot ….

 

Ubukata:

I do not do it with all the mediums, though (laughs). In the case of animation, there is a conversion of “number of sheets of paper”, roughly one page corresponds to about one minute, but in the case of “Ghost in The Shell”, there is a lot of information and a lot of dialogue, so the script which would fit in a minute end up not being able to fit. There are cases where the screenplay does not fit. In addition to that, there are times when I have to write a screenplay one after another but it all works out Production IG’s collection of documents is really quick. On the second draft, they accepted it saying ‘you wrote this much so it’s Ubukataay’.

 

G:

 

So this means that rather than being chased by the deadline–for you, it’s ‘stopping there because there is a deadline’, right?

 

Ubukata:

 

I need to put down my pen when the deadline comes after all.  I try to wrap it up by then.

 

G:

 

What kind of materials did you read through for ‘ARISE’?

 

Ubukata:

 

The world in ‘Ghost in The Shell’ and the real world is a little close to one another so to know how technology would go on developing in the future, I read through various science magazines. And I picked out a lot of content from it, but half of it was put in the shelves as they could not be used.

 

G:

 

That feels like a waste.

 

Ubukata:

 

There were no ‘images’ to support it. For example, a complete automatic driving car– there would be nothing inside it so it wouldn’t be interesting. The road would also just be street lights. The more I studied the digital techniques, the more I thought ‘there is nothing to write about–what do I do?’ and fell into hole.

And so, I had no choice but to make the VR world interesting like that. Like remodelling a cyborg’s body by the cyborg’s will even though there is no need for that. If you were to think of it realistically, it would be much easier if all the cyborg’s loUbukataed the same to be exchanged as standardized goods.

 

G:

 

That is very blunt, isn’t it? (laughs)

 

G:

As one of the reasons you worked at a game company, you answered at an interview that you wanted to experience the company and society, and to learn about computers. Are you still interested in IT news?

 

Ubukata:

Recently I’ve been pretty lazy so I am just listening to the stories from people who are doing that kind of thing. The state-of-the-art things are getting increasingly complicated and there is that thing about “the more latest the machine is the easier it gets brUbukataen”, so I asked the person who used and brUbukatae a lot of those– “How was it?” For the PC system, it is like going into the slipstream behind the beginning two or three steps behind. Like “It changes that much when you get Windows 10? I can’t keep up!!” (laughs)

 

G:

You are using a PC for manuscript writing, aren’t you?

 

Ubukata:

That’s right. These days I use an application called GoodNotes 4 developed by an American editor on the iPad. If you use GoodNotes 4, you can handwrite on the iPad, so you do not need copy sheets anymore! (Lol)

 

G:

Were you using copy paper until then?

 

Ubukata:

Printing over and over and checking the galley… you don’t know how many times my bag was brUbukataen by the weight of the paper bundle….

 

G:

With the weight of the paper bundle…

 

Ubukata:

When you use it for about half a year, the joint in the grip break apart. Because paper is heavy and sharp, the corner of the bag gradually breaks as well. And so for manuscript management I just put in the PDF in file management software of iPad. It is super easy.

 

G:

The style has also evolved quite a lot, hasn’t it?

 

Ubukata:

I use the editors for programming. It’s super convenient to make a plot.

 

G:

For programming?

 

Ubukata:

Since the editor for programming is able to divide the upper structure and the lower structure, it is very convenient to edit “main theme”, “characters”, “depiction”, and the “detailed content”. I asked a person knowledgeable in this field to tell me if a good editing software is released.

 

G:

With that momentum, won’t you become one of those people who are always ahead?

 

Ubukata:

No, no, the ones at the front develops the editing software by themselves and start doing things like “this would be better for incorporating in Windows 10”. I do not want to go there (laughs)

 

 

G:

This would change the topic to technology but, do you think if Photoshop was widely used like now when you were young, would you quit writing and start going that way? If you were a teenager in this modern Japan, how do you think you would have changed?

 

Ubukata:

I wonder… In the first place, I did not actually plan on writing novels but before I realized, I was writing novels. It was like my mind decided it by itself. Despite being the president of the art club, I was writing sentences like “what will be the meaning of the picture I will draw from now on?”

 

(laughs)

 

Ubukata:

The adviser just said “Just draw already” (laughs)

 

G:

He would say that, wouldn’t he?(laughs)

 

Ubukata:

So I was told “you are probably more fit for writing” and I was like “What?!”. So, if I had gotten Photoshop or a tablet when I was a junior high / high school student, eh… even though I didn’t even but correction fluid because it was too expensive. In the past, I had piled thin straw paper and turned and chased the line, but now I can rework as much as needed, copy and tracing is also easy now… I might have given up faster than now (laughs). It was when I made my debut when I thought that “The way of painting is not for me”. When Yoshitaka Amano drew a front cover, I thought “I can not win against this, I gotta give up on this road” and dealt the final blow.

(laughs)

 

 

G:

Interesting. You have experienced works of various genres such as novels, animation, games, and manga–after experiencing each of them, did you feel any kind of difference in writing?

 

Ubukata:

Now the technique of “reproducing what you did on one medium in another medium” has improved a lot.

 

G:

Translations by AsianHobbyist Website

What is it like?

 

Ubukata:

For example, there are scenes where many armies are attacking in the ‘Lord of The Ring’, but I think that in the past you could not have expressed it that much. However, now, thanks to the development of technology, it has become possible to express even an army of about 100,000 men. In the old days, when making a movie from a novel, I think that there was such a kind of thing to cut out a place which was hard to visualize, or to shave it at the time of writing the novel so that it is easy to visualize (laughs). But now, in the world where ‘ you need to keep doing things your rival can’t’, not limited to movies, but between media you need to do before you get done. I think that each other is a competitor in a good sense.

 

 

G:

Even in ‘ARISE / New Theater Version’, was there a part like ‘do it before it gets done’?

 

Ubukata:

In “ARISE / new movie version”, when my opinion does not pass at the meeting, it’s like -’I see, well, then let’s do it as a novel.”

(laughs)

 

Ubukata:

“Because it is hard for animation” “Because of the length, it can’t be inserted in the movie”, problems like these will appear so I would just write it myself. However, at the time of “ARISE”, I was already thinking that “I have to work hard so that this work will be completed as soon as possible” (laughs). It was even difficult to get started…

 

G:

At which point did you face difficulty?

 

Ubukata:

First of all, we need to put together everyone’s opinion. Everyone has different experiences of success so they say different things.

I think it is hard to breakthrough that. After all, I am one of those people who put in pretty much all the dialogue of the original work thinking ‘this part affected the story as well’ (laughs). When I think like that, I am impressed we were able to make “ARISE / New Theater Version” that well. The next baton was also prepared, so the rest was just like… “the guy who picks this up next is in trouble”.

 

(lol)

 

 

G:

Thank you very much for giving us your time today.

 

 

 

Source:Gigazine.net