Watch Moebius and Miyazaki, Two of the Most Imaginative Artists, in Conversation (2004)

The worlds so thor­ough­ly imag­ined by the French com­ic artist Jean Giraud, bet­ter known as Moe­bius, and the Japan­ese ani­ma­tor Hayao Miyaza­ki, imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nized the world over by his fam­i­ly name alone, could have arisen from no oth­er artis­tic minds. It stands to rea­son not only that appre­ci­a­tors of one would appre­ci­ate the oth­er, but that the two men would hold each oth­er’s work in high regard. “Japan­ese ani­ma­tion is impres­sive,” Moe­bius once said to Miyaza­ki as the two expressed their mutu­al appre­ci­a­tion. “I real­ly think it is the best in the world, and Miyaza­k­i’s work is top in Japan.”

“Moe­bius first dis­cov­ered Miyaza­k­i’s work in 1986, when his son Julien (then a school­boy) showed him a pirate copy of a video con­tain­ing a title­less, author­less, and undubbed ani­mat­ed fea­ture,” writes Dani Cav­al­laro in The Ani­me Art of Hayao Miyaza­ki. “The French artist was instant­ly seduced by the film’s graph­ic vig­or and tech­ni­cal inven­tive­ness but took it to be the one-off accom­plish­ment of an unfamed ani­ma­tor. When he even­tu­al­ly dis­cov­ered that the film’s name was Nau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the Wind and that its cre­ator’s name was Hayao Miyaza­ki, Moe­bius endeav­ored to delve deep­er into the Japan­ese ani­ma­tor’s oeu­vre and to pub­licly voice his admi­ra­tion.”

And Miyaza­ki turns out to have drawn inspi­ra­tion from Moe­bius when he focused on ani­ma­tion. Miyaza­ki, who began as a com­ic artist him­self, remem­bers dis­cov­er­ing Moe­bius through Arzach, his series of word­less visu­al sto­ries of a hero who rides a ptero­dactyl through oth­er­word­ly and for­bid­ding­ly sub­lime land­scapes. “It was a big shock,” says Miyaza­ki. “Not only for me. All man­ga authors were shak­en by this work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly when I dis­cov­ered it, I already had a con­sol­i­dat­ed style. So I could­n’t use his influ­ence to enrich my draw­ing. Though, even today, I think he has an awe­some sense of space. I direct­ed Nau­si­caä under Moe­bius’ influ­ence.”

In 2004, the exhi­bi­tion Miyazaki/Moebius pre­sent­ed brought them togeth­er in Paris. Cav­al­laro describes it as “a panoram­ic sur­vey of the two artists’ careers through 300 works includ­ing water­col­ors sto­ry­boards, cels and con­cept designs, the­mat­i­cal­ly arranged, drawn from their per­son­al col­lec­tions,” includ­ing a draw­ing of Nau­si­caä by Moe­bius and one of Arzach by Miyaza­ki. They also sat down there for the con­ver­sa­tion record­ed in the video above. “The 21st cen­tu­ry is a tricky time,” says Miyaza­ki. “Our future isn’t clear. We need to re-exam­ine many things we’ve tak­en for grant­ed, whether it’s our com­mon sense or our way of think­ing.” The sheer imag­i­na­tive pow­er of artists like the both of them con­tin­ues to show us the way for­ward.

You can read tran­scripts of their record­ed con­ver­sa­tions here and here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In Search of Mœbius: A Doc­u­men­tary Intro­duc­tion to the Inscrutable Imag­i­na­tion of the Late Com­ic Artist Mœbius

French Stu­dent Sets Inter­net on Fire with Ani­ma­tion Inspired by Moe­bius, Syd Mead & Hayao Miyaza­ki

Moe­bius Gives 18 Wis­dom-Filled Tips to Aspir­ing Artists (1996)

Watch Hayao Miyaza­ki Ani­mate the Final Shot of His Final Fea­ture Film, The Wind Ris­es

Watch Ground­break­ing Com­ic Artist Mœbius Draw His Char­ac­ters in Real Time

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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