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Go Nagai : Mecha's Master

Fantasy.fr interviewed the father of Goldorak, Devilman and Cute Honey during a stay in Paris for the Japan Expo. We’d like to thank the festival and D/VISUAL INCORPORATED, for arranging the interview.

Par Emmanuel Beiramar
10 octobre 2008 | Mis à jour 10 octobre 2008

Would you mind introducing yourself and describing your career?


I have just celebrated my 40th anniversary as a professional comic writer, and in these 40 years I have written and drawn so many works that it’s quite difficult for me to select or mention only some among them all; in Europe, my robot characters, like “Mazinger Z” and “Goldorak” [“UFO Robot Grendizer” in Japan], are pretty popular through their animated versions; probably many readers also know such series as “Devilman” and “Cherry Miel” [“Cutie Honey” in Japan].



You could be dubbed the pioneer of the “mecha” style. How did you manage that?

Several manga writers of the generation before mine, such as master Osamu Tezuka, have created robot stories well before I started my career. For instance, I’m thinking about “Astroboy” [“Tetsuwan Atom” in Japan]. However, while reading those stories, I always wondered about finding a way to make the readers identify themselves with those robot characters.I think I have achieved this result with “Mazinger Z”, where a man actually gets inside the robot and pilots it.
 

What do you think of the more recent “mecha” styled mangas (Evangellion or Gundam, for instance) ?

I think that all of them are very talented creators. Basically, they simply took the concept I have created years before of a man piloting a giant robot from the inside; however, they have been able to bring new ideas to that concept and to develop it with some fresh intuitions. This resulted in some very entertaining anime works.


Where do your ideas come from?

The inspiration for my works comes from images that all of a sudden appear inside my head. It’s some kind of “instant illumination”, so I cannot really say how much of that stems from my personal experience or from something I have read or seen in the past and has remained in my unconscious mind. For instance, in the case of Mazinger Z, the image of this robot appeared all at once right in front of my eyes, and that real moment Mazinger was born!
 


What do you think of the three “Cutie Honey” OVA ?

(The question is about the three OVAs series “Re: Cutie Honey” produced by Gainax and directed by Mr Hideaki Anno; the translator actually asked about the live action editions, and in particular the series “Cutie Honey The Live” which has been released this year, so Mr. Nagai’s answer relates to the live action versions).
“Cutie Honey” is a character I created first as a manga and later transposed to animation, but since the very beginning I always wanted to do a live-action version of it. So, I was really happy when I had a chance to see a live version of this character. In particular, I am very satisfied with “Cutie Honey - The Live”, because I think the main star [Miss Mikie Hara] fits extremely well into the role of Cutie Honey, so I really enjoyed it.


Acknowledging your career as a whole, would you name your favorite work, your magnum opus?

I think we should make a distinction between manga and anime. As a manga, I guess “Devilman” is the one I have more affection for. Physically and psychologically, it was really hard to draw, so I have a lot of memories about it. As for animation, I would mention “Mazinger Z” because it was the first robot series [in the world]; and also “Goldorak”, because it was a more refined and elaborated sequel of “Mazinger”. So, I guess these two are my favorite ones.
 

Let’s stick to “Goldorak” and “Devilman”. Did you plan to send a message, or were you in a pure art mood?


Both “Devilman” and “Goldorak” share the same basic theme, but with very different approaches. In the case of “Devilman”, you have a very straight and brutal representation of humans fighting one each other, until their bestiality brings the entire human race to annihilation.
In the case of “Goldorak”, some Earthlings just found themselves involved in a space war between Duke Fleed and Vega: so, it is not the story of a conflict between human beings, but the epic saga of a few brave boys and girls who sustain Duke Fleed in his war against an extraterrestrial invader.
So, while “Devilman” is a very dark and oppressive story, “Goldorak” succeeds in being a very entertaining show.
 


You seem to share many humanistic views with M. Tezuka’s work.

When I was a kid I read a lot of manga by master Tezuka. He is an artist who wrote about war and the possibility of the Earth being annihilated by the stupidity of the human race, in dozens of his works. I do believe this theme, underlying many of his manga, did have a strong influence on my storytelling.


Fantastic and science-fiction take up a major place in your work. Could you mention authors or stories whom you draw your inspiration from, or made you feel like launching yourself in that line of work.

I love a lot the novels of Sakyo Komatsu and the comics of Osamu Tezuka; as for movies... there are hundred of them I love, many from the 60s but also recent ones. Just to mention a few foreign Sci-Fi writers, I love England’s John Wyndham; Alfred Elton van Vogt, a Canadian novelist of Dutch descents; Sir Arthur Charles Clarke; Robert A. Heinlein and a many others.

 

Lire l'interview de M. Go Nagai en français.
 

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