Katsuhiro Otomo Made it Clear that He was Surprised When “Akira” was accepted worldwide.




Q: Akira, one of your most famous works, is also well recognized abroad. What do you think is the reason behind its worldwide success?

A: I didn’t make it with a foreign audience in mind. To be honest, I haven’t made anything intentionally directed toward a foreign audience. But I was certainly surprised when I recently went to the Academy Awards and received a standing ovation.


Q: The Tokyo Olympics are set to be held in 2020. The fact that this corresponds with the plot of Akira has led some web users to believe that you predicted this would happen, or are some kind of prophet. What are your thoughts about this?


A: It’s merely a coincidence. I just imagined how many years it would be until another Tokyo Olympics, and went with that hunch. It was an acquaintance of mine who actually told me about it. They said, “Isn’t it amazing?” and I remember responding, “What are you talking about?” Until then I had no idea, so I was quite surprised.


Katsuhiro Otomo



Katsuhiro Otomo explained his short Animation “Combustible” (Hi no Youjin) on 2012.


Katsuhiro Otomo


“Combustible” (Hi no Youjin) is made by Katsuhiro Otomo in 2012.

It won the Grand Prize at the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival and the 67th Noburou Oofuji Award at the 2012 Mainichi Film Awards.

Winner of the Platinum Grand Prize during the 2014 Future Film Festival, held in Italy.


a shot of “Combustible” (Hi no Youjin).



Q: “Akira” was set in Neo-Tokyo, “Combustible” is set in Edo and you’ve created a number of other works that are also set in Japan. Is the Japanese setting a personal preference?

A: Not really. It’s just that I understand Japan, so it’s easier to create works in this setting. “Steamboy” is set in London but that was much harder.


Q: What aspects were you most particular about with this latest work?

A: I really struggled to try to make Edo look realistic in animation. I collected various materials and visited museums,

but the more I researched the more things just kept coming up.

It’s not up to historian standards, but by being too accurate with the portrayal it begins to look a little too strange and unfamiliar to regular people,

so rather than a realistic approach, I mainly focused on trying to achieve an aesthetic close to the style of Japanese picture scrolls.







The city of Edo, the 18th century.

Owaka, the daughter of a merchant family, and her childhood friend Matsukichi. The two were drawn to each other, but Matsukichi has been disowned by his family and is working for the city fire brigade. Meanwhile, negotiations begin for the arrangement of Owaka’s marriage.

Unable to let go of her thoughts of Matsukichi, her mad emotions make her bring about a massive inferno which razes Edo. By chance encounter, the two meet again amidst the fires.

It is an epic spectacle set against the stage of the massive metropolis of Edo.(more)