Interview
Michael Arias
© Taiyo Matsumoto / Shogakukan, Aniplex, Asmik Ace Entertainment, Beyond C., Dentsu, Tokyo MX
Tamu Townsend: Was Anthony Weintraub's script written in English or Japanese? There's some stuff in there that's almost word for word from some parts of the English adaptation of the comic. How faithful were you trying to keep to the original?

Michael Arias: Anthony wrote his script in English; he doesn't speak Japanese. And though he departed significantly from the text of the original—I should say Viz's English translation of the original—he also used certain sections. But the English subtitles are a bit of a mishmash in the end—a mixture of Anthony's script, the English edition, and some work that another translator did for our first set of subtitles. Really not the best way to appreciate the movie in the end.

We have an English dubbed version now and that's really the way I'd like native English speakers to see it. Purists who say that it should be seen with subtitles can go to hell as far as I'm concerned. It makes no sense with a film like this to have to read and watch at the same time. Perhaps if it was a period piece with more overt Japanese cultural references, yes. And with a live-action film where there is native language dialogue recorded by the actors whose faces are on screen, sure. But this is animation. Subtitles demand too much of a viewer of a film as visually dense and up-tempo as Tekkon. It's hard for me to evaluate since I'll always listen to the Japanese, but I feel very strongly that the subs really ruin any chance to appreciate the movie as an immersive experience.

So, as far as dialogue goes, we knew there would be some compromises involved. But for the screenplay itself, we did what we thought would work best for Tekkon, the movie. Adapting a work like this to the feature film format is not a straight one-to-one equation. Some things work better in manga form than others. And there are so many things possible in cinema—use of colour, sound, music, movement, for example—that aren't accessible to manga artists. Time constraints and budgetary limitations are also an unavoidable reality of filmmaking. In the end you have to make the best you can with the tools available. And often the best you can do with regards to the original is to keep true to its spirit.

The movie has to stand on its own legs and one always hopes that people won't be making the comparison with the original but will instead let themselves be caught up in the movie's story.
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