I have always been incredibly grateful for my family, but my hero bar none is my mother. No matter what, she has always been super supportive of what I was doing and not only supported it, but also embraced it to get an idea what I was into and to have more family experiences. Growing up on shows like Dragon Ball, my mother would take time to watch and learn all about anime and the elements that went into them. Most people who aren’t into the anime scene have a hard time differentiating cartoons from anime, but as someone who is obsessed with studying film and other various arts, she always caught on pretty quickly to the landscape of anime.
An absolute saint to whoever she meets, I asked her to join me for a guest article and interview over whatever she wanted to talk about with anime. When I first started going on about her to our AniTAY community, a lot of writers thought (maybe some still think) I wasn’t serious about her interest and track record with anime. Back in February while she was visiting me for a weekend, we watched My Neighbor Totoro and by chance she wanted to join in our call we had going. Needless to say, she cemented her reputation as the woman who sounds just like Mayuri from Steins;Gate, right down to saying something dang near the effect of “tuturu” (I swear I never knew how to spell that little thing she would do until I saw the anime).
The following is a two part article composing of a fun interview I did to break the ice and an opinion article based off of her experience with My Neighbor Totoro. I called Friday evening and posed a bunch of questions, polishing some of her answers to help out. While I am the one editing the article itself, these are all of her thoughts and ideas that I helped her articulate into text format. It won’t be as wordy or flow quite the same as my usual stuff, but that’s because it isn’t mine after all. If you’ve ever read a book by a celebrity status person that would say “Written By: (Person) with (Writer name)“, the concept is no different. If you’re not into this sort of thing, don’t worry about it. We had a ton of fun making this, so that’s what really matters. Hope you’ll have fun reading it too!
Dil: Thanks for doing this.
Mom: Thanks for having me!
D: To follow the tradition that was passed down to me when I was first part of the community here, let me start by asking you what some of your favorite anime are.
M: In no particular order I would say Your Lie in April, Eureka Seven, Dragon Ball, Pokemon, and K-On! always stand out as the ones I enjoyed the most.
D: Pretty sure I’m to blame for leaving two of those (Eureka Seven, K-On!) laying around my room.
M: We watched the other three together, so I’m really fond of those for that reason.
D: So what has anime meant to you throughout these years? Quite literally, you have been watching as long as I have since we watched our first anime together.
M: If this website you write for is any indication of it, I’ve always been so impressed how much anime manages to stand out compared to a lot of the other creative works. Most people will take a look at one and think “Oh jeez, another cartoon.” but there are tons of things that make them stand out from what people just see as either a normal cartoon such as writing and moving art. Or, what is worse, people will look at anime as a whole and discredit it because of one bad experience.
D: This bit I love to discuss- you liken anime to film quite a bit, right?
M: Exactly. You’re going to have your really awful anime, just like there are awful films. Just because there is a horrible, horrible direct to video movie somewhere out there doesn’t mean you would label all of cinema as trash. The exact same should be applied to anime- I’ve seen plenty of shows with you that I really didn’t like, but that didn’t mean I outright should hate the whole thing.
D: Where do you think anime falls in as far as creative inspiration?
M: Anime has a really important role in expressing drama and artistic beauty that cannot typically get out there to everyone in any other way. There are stunning background aesthetics (I always love getting a good one via text from you), fascinating stories to be told and voice acting.
D: Eheheheh. So who is your favorite voice actor?
M: Erica Lindbeck. Her work in Your Lie in April was breathtaking. I want to hear her in Persona 5.
D: It is very different from her role as Kaori, but I look forward to seeing what you think. What genres do you like?
M: Mystery, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, and Suspense/Horror
D: Pretty sure we’ve found a good one for all of those except that last one. Would rather not show you the horror ones my friends have shown me. What would you say is the worst kind of show?
M: The ones that have boobs.
M: Is that too vague?
D: I think everyone gets what you meant. It is disappointing when shows just try cashing in on that stuff. Like you said earlier, it takes away from the good stuff. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we get into the article?
As someone who has never seen a Miyazaki film, I was quite excited to get the opportunity to watch my first one in My Neighbor Totoro with Dil when I came to visit a few months ago. I somewhat had an idea what I would be watching thanks to some of the art and importance of the film being shared ahead of time, which went a long ways in helping me appreciate the film. Perhaps the most surprising part right off the bat was hearing actual actors voicing the characters. From what I’m told, Disney re-dubbed the film after purchasing the rights to the film and had the Fanning sisters (the oldest, Dakota, is actually a week older than Dil!) and Tim Daly (from my favorite series on television Madam Secretary) headlining as the Kusakabe family. The sisters, Satsuki and Mei, go on plenty of adventures in a rural town with magical forest creatures known as Totoro while Tim Daly is off being a professor.
The film really didn’t show any age thanks to this rural setting (most of the vehicles were underdeveloped much like how things look even in modern farming areas) and I loved the various flowers that are illustrated in painstaking detail. We’re still a while away from gardening up here, so this is a fantastic holdover.
Ultimately, I want to say that the biggest message in the film in coping with familial issues with the imagination is a great way to relate to fans of all ages. Whether you’re a small child or a mother like myself, there are bits that ring true to any family dynamic scattered throughout this film. I apologize if this article is a lot shorter than you’re used to getting from Dil, but I was honored to be asked to write something. I always wanted to be part of my school’s writing team growing up, but no one asked to read my work. Teaching my sons about film and writing kind of was my way of encouraging them to take that jump I never could. Thanks for always reading his articles, and to the members of AniTAY, thanks for being great friends to Dil. Especially those folks he met in Atlanta and the one Kansas editor, I know he talks about you guys a lot. Hope to hear from you all sometime, I’d love to be back on to talk Your Lie in April in the future.