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The Making of XX: Interview with Junichi Fujisaku (3)

Junichi Fujisaku, the acclaimed director of the TV series Blood+, talks about his new project, the mobile phone comic XX. This is the third part of our long interview with him.

"The mobile phone can be seen as a survival tool. It pushes the story forward. Sometimes it's a useful tool, but at other times, it puts you into trouble. I keep in mind the potential of mobile phones as I create the story." (Junichi Fujisaku)

Junichi Fujisaku - Born on August 6, 1967. Director, scriptwriter, game designer and novelist. He joined Production I.G as Game Production Department Chief Director, but soon became one of Team Oshii's core members. With Kenji Kamiyama, he participated to the creation of the theatrical feature Blood: The Last Vampire (2000). The girl in sailor suit fighting monsters with a Japanese sword was in fact Fujisaku's idea. For the Blood franchise he also directed the game version and wrote the novelization. While being the mastermind behind the hit game series YaruDora (1998), Fujisaku also gave his valuable contribution to the expansion of the Ghost in the Shell world, writing the scripts for many episodes of the Stand Alone Complex series, producing and directing the game version for PS2, and writing three related novels. Recent credits include the scripts for Otogi Zoshi and the xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa Chronicle theatrical features. In 2005 he debuted as TV series director with Blood+.

Mobile phone technology is advancing ever more quickly. How do you use mobile phones yourself?
With my mobile, I take photos and send text messages, and make phone calls. That's it. But from now on, I think there is a potential for the new generations to use mobile phones as an entertainment tool. You know, people spending more time with mobile phones than with TV.

Mobile novels are also quietly spreading across Japan. Do you ever read them?
Yes, I do on trains. It's very easy to get your novel distributed that way, so there are quite a few young novelists out there. It is quite a stunning phenomenon for me. I feel this could be something the younger generations, including teenagers, are actually after. It has become a culture we can't just ignore. Maybe for young people mobile novels are an extension of text messaging.

Text messaging is a daily thing now.
Sometimes I can't decipher young people's text messages. There is a new language within their community. People my age can't keep up with them anymore.

In the original novel, That Mobile is XX, mobile phones were used as a tool to perk up the story, but in the mobile comic, XX, the functions of mobile phones are exploited even further. The vibration function is used to complement some scenes and, in the story, Shiyori Mizuno and Aiko Hiuke use mobile phones to escape from danger. Readers should not miss how mobile phones are used both as a means to render the story and as a key element of the storyline itself.

That sort of mobile phone culture is another keyword for XX.
I think so. The mobile phone can be seen as a survival tool. It pushes the story forward. Sometimes it's a useful tool, but at other times, it puts you into trouble. I keep in mind the potential of mobile phones as I create the story.

The mobile manfga version has a different approach from both the original novel and the film. Do you know anything about the film version?
Sure. I visited the film set when they were filming a couple of times and even talked with Director Kenta Fukasaku. They have young staff as we do here at I.G. But the film director has much more power to stir up the filming staff. Anime production is more or less peaceful.

The mobile manga XX elaborately recounts the conventions and indigenous customs in a closed space - Ashikari village - that were revealed in the original novel. Director Junichi Fujisaku, who has shown strength in his surrealistic romance works, has succeeded in creating an entertaining horror piece with a touch of mystery.

Do you ever discuss the difference between two versions?
Yes, we've exchanged our scripts in progress. We benefit from each other by copying and using the studio setup or story setting that you like from your counterpart. We do a lot of these. You know, this is a project to present an exciting story in variety of forms, so we readily adapt whatever seems beneficial.

By the way, how is Director Fukasaku's XX turning out?
He bluntly said, "I am an all-action guy." Really, it's turning out to be quite an action-oriented film. So I am venturing to omit action. And bravely try my luck with interesting plots.

(3 - to be continued)

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