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Mamoru Oshii (押井守 Oshii Mamoru; born August 8, 1951 in Tokyomarker) is a Japanesemarker filmmaker and writer famous for his philosophy-oriented storytelling. Presently, Oshii lives in Atami, Shizuoka prefecturemarker, Japan with his dogs – a basset hound named Gabriel (ガブリエル) and a mutt named Daniel.

Oshii has stated his approach to directing is in direct contrast to what he perceives to be the Hollywood formula, i.e. he regards the visuals as the most important aspect, followed by the story and the characters come last. He also notes that his main motivaton in making films is to "create worlds different from our own."


Early Career (1977 - 1982)

As a student, Mamoru Oshii was fascinated by the film La Jetée by Chris Marker. He also repeatedly watched European cinema, such as films by Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Jean-Pierre Melville. These filmmakers, together with Jean-Luc Godard and Andrei Tarkovsky, would later serve as influences for Oshii's own cinematic career. In 2003, Mamoru Oshii published The Killers a manga adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's eponymous short story which was adapted for the screen by Tarkovsky as his first student short film in 1956.

In 1976, he graduated from Tokyo Gakugei University. The following year, he entered Tatsunoko Productions and worked on his first anime as a storyboard artist on Ippatsu Kanta-kun. During this period at Tatsunoko, Oshii worked on many anime as a storyboard artist, most of which were part of the Time Bokan television series. In 1980, he moved to Studio Pierrot under the supervision of his mentor, Hisayuki Toriumi.

Success with Urusei Yatsura (1981 - 1984)

Mamoru Oshii's work as director and storyboard artist of the animated Urusei Yatsura TV series brought him into the spotlight. Following its success, he directed two Urusei Yatsura films: Urusei Yatsura: Only You (1983) and Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (1984). While the first film, though an original story, continued much in the spirit of the series, Beautiful Dreamer (which was also written by Oshii with no consultation from Takahashi) was a significant departure and an early example of his now contemporary style.

Dallos, Angel's Egg & Anchor (1983 - 1985)

In the midst of his work with Studio Pierrot, Oshii took on independent work and directed the first OVA, Dallos, in 1983. In 1984, Oshii left Studio Pierrot. Moving to Studio Deen, he wrote and directed Angel's Egg (1985), a surreal film rich with Biblical symbolism, featuring the character designs of Yoshitaka Amano. The producer of the film, Toshio Suzuki, later founded the renowned Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Following the release of the film, Miyazaki and Takahata began collaborating with Mamoru Oshii on his next film, Anchor. The film was canceled early in the initial planning stages when the trio had artistic disagreements. Despite their differences, Toshio Suzuki and Studio Ghibli would later help Oshii with his production of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004). To this day, Oshii maintains skeptical, but respectful, views of each of Takahata and Miyazaki's films. Though he has been critical of Miyazaki's attitude towards his workers, he also claims that he would feel "feel strangely empty" and "it would be boring" if they both he and Takahata stopped making films.

Patlabor & Live-action (1987 - 1993)

In the late 1980s, Oshii was solicited by his friend Kazunori Itō to join Headgear as a director. The group was composed of Kazunori Itō (screenwriter), Masami Yuki (manga artist), Yutaka Izubuchi (mechanical designer), Akemi Takada (character designer) and Mamoru Oshii (director). Together they were responsible for the Patlabor TV series, OVA, and films. Released in the midst of Japan's economic crisis, the Patlabor series and films projected a dynamic near-future world in which grave social crisis and ecological challenges were overcome by technological ingenuity, and were a big success in the mecha genre.

Between production of the Patlabor movies/series, Oshii delved into live-action for the first time, releasing his first non-animated film, The Red Spectacles (1987). This led to another live-action work titled Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cops (1991); both films are part of Oshii's ongoing Kerberos saga. Following Stray Dog Oshii made yet another live-action film, Talking Head (1992), which is a surreal look at his view on film.

Recent Career (1995 - present)

In 1995, Mamoru Oshii released his landmark animated cyberpunk film, Ghost in the Shell, in Japan, the United States, and Europe. It hit the top of the US Billboard video charts in 1996, the first anime video ever to do so.

After a 5-year hiatus from directing to work on other projects, Oshii returned to live-action with the Japanese-Polishmarker feature Avalon (2001), which was selected for an out of competition screening at the Cannes Film Festival. His next animated feature film, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, was selected to compete at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for the coveted Palme d'Or prize, making it the first (and thus far, only) anime to be nominated. His most recent film, The Sky Crawlers (2008), competed for the Golden Lion in the Venice Film Festival and won the Future Film Festival Digital Award. Subsequent to The Sky Crawlers, Oshii wrote the screenplay to the Production I.G. film Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai, which he cited as being different from the approach he took in his previous films. In 2009, it was announced that he would serve as creative director for the Production I.G.-produced segment of the animated short film anthology Halo Legends.


Mamoru Oshii's films typically open with an action sequence. Thereafter, the film usually follows a much slower rhythm punctuated by several sequences of fast action. Reminiscent of Yasujiro Ozu's pillow shots, Oshii frequently inserts a montage sequence in each of his movies, typically two-minutes long, muted of dialogue and set against the backdrop of Kenji Kawai's music. Recurrent imagery include characters ascending from the depths of water, reflections/mirrors, fish, flocks of birds, and basset hounds similar to his own. The basset hound was seen most prominently in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and was a major plot point in his live-action film, Avalon. The Mauser C96 also appears periodically in his films.

Oshii is especially noted for how he significantly strays from the source material his films are based on, notably in his adaptations of Urusei Yatsura, Patlabor, and Ghost in the Shell. In their original manga versions, these three titles exhibited a mood that was more along the lines of frantic slapstick comedy (Urusei Yatsura) or convivial dramedy (Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell). Oshii, in adapting the works created a slower, more dark atmosphere especially noticeable in Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer and Patlabor 2: The Movie. For the Ghost in the Shell movie, Oshii elected to leave out the humor and character banter of Masamune Shirow's manga.

"Oshii's work... steers clear of such stereotypes in both image and sexual orientation," wrote Andrez Bergen in an article on Oshii that appeared in Japan's Daily Yomiuri newspaper in 2004. "His movies are dark, thought-provoking, minimalist diatribes with an underlying complexity; at the same time he pushes the perimeters of technology when it comes to the medium itself. Character design plays equitable importance."

Oshii also wrote and directed several animated movies and live-action films based on his personal world view, influenced by the AMPO student movements of the 1960s and 1970s in which he participated. The AMPO student movements were protests during 1960s Japan against the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. The first film to touch on this political background was the live-action film The Red Spectacles. This film, set in the same world as the Oshii-scripted film Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999), is about a former member of the special unit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force dealing with a fascist government.


Mamoru Oshii has worked extensively with Production I.G. Every animated film he has made since Patlabor: The Movie (1989) has been produced under the studio. He also worked closely with screenwriter Kazunori Itō; they made five films together, beginning with The Red Spectacles and ending with Avalon. His closest colleague, however, is music composer Kenji Kawai. Kawai has composed most of the music in Oshii's work, including ten of his feature films. According to Oshii, "Kenji Kawai's music is responsible for 50 percent of [his] films' successes" and he "can't do anything without [Kenji Kawai]."

Kerberos saga


The Kerberos saga is Mamoru Oshii's lifework, created in 1986. It spans all media and has lasted for more than 20 years since his January 1987 radio drama While Waiting For The Red Spectacles. In 1987, Oshii released The Red Spectacles, his first live-action feature and the first Kerberos saga film. The manga adaptation, Kerberos Panzer Cop, written by Mamoru Oshii and illustrated by Kamui Fujiwara, was serialized in 1988 until 1990.


Acts 1~4 of Kerberos Panzer Cop was compiled in 1990 as a single volume. In 1991, the live-action film adaptation of the tankōbon was released as StrayDog Kerberos Panzer Cops. In 1999, the Oshii-scripted Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, the anime feature film adaptation of the manga's first volume, was directed by Oshii's collaborator Hiroyuki Okiura, and was released in International Film Festivals starting in Francemarker.


In 2000, the second part of the manga (Acts 5~8) was serialized, then published and compiled as a second volume. After the manga's completion and publishing as volumes 1 and 2, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade was finally released in Japan during the same year. In 2003, Kerberos Panzer Cop's sequel, Kerberos Saga Rainy Dogs was serialized, then compiled as a single volume in 2005. In 2006 Kerberos Panzer Jäger was broadcasted in Japan as a 20-year celebration of the saga. The same year, Oshii revealed his plan to release an anime/3DCG adaptation film of the drama in 2009, the Kerberos Panzer Blitzkrieg project. In late 2006, Oshii launched a Kerberos saga crossover manga series titled Kerberos & Tachiguishi.

Other work

In addition to his directing work, Oshii is a prolific screenwriter and author of manga and novels. As well as writing the Kerberos series of manga, Oshii wrote the script for the manga Seraphim 266,613,336 Wings illustrated by Satoshi Kon. He also wrote the screenplay of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade and is credited as a co-planner for Blood: The Last Vampire (2000) and Blood+. In 2005 Oshii served as supervisor for the Mobile Police Patlabor Comes Back: MiniPato video game. In 2008, he again served as special consultant for the development of the video game The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces.

Awards and nominations

Animation Kobe:
  • 1996: Feature Film Award (Ghost in the Shell)
  • 2004: Feature Film Award (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence)

Cannes Film Festivalmarker
  • 2004: Nominated for Palme d'Or (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence)

London Sci-Fi Film Festival:
  • 2002: Best Feature Film (Avalon)

Mainichi Film Concours:
  • 1993: Best Animated Film (Patlabor 2: The Movie)
  • 2008: Best Animated Film (The Sky Crawlers)

Nihon SF Taisho Award:

Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival:
  • 2004: Orient Express Award (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence)

Venice Film Festival:
  • 2008: Nominated for Golden Lion (The Sky Crawlers)
  • 2008: Future Film Festival Digital Award (The Sky Crawlers)



  1. Mamoru Oshii commentary in U.S. Manga Corps DVD release of Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer


Further reading

External links

  • Mamoru Oshii Official Site
  • The Straydog Fansite

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