Even if the suggestion was coming from one of the greatest Japanese filmmakers of all time, the Studio Ghibli anime director thought it was rude.

There’s no one currently working as a filmmaker in Japan who’s more respected than Hayao Miyazaki. The founder of legendary anime production house Studio Ghibli has earned a level of acclaim, both domestic and international, that no creator since the late Akira Kurosawa, director of Seven Samurai and Rashomon, has.

While the two titans of Japanese cinemas never collaborated on a project, they did meet each other. In April of 1993, Miyazaki traveled to Kurosawa’s vacation home in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture, not far from Mt. Fuji. The visit took place right about the time Madadayo, Kurosawa’s final film, and the two sat down to talk about the art of movie-making.

Miazaki is now nearly as well-known for his opinionated nature as his anime films, but during their talk, which was transcribed in a book titled What are Movies? Regarding Seven Samurai and Madadayo, Miyazaki was reverently differential.

▼ A copy of the book, which we found at a used book store

In a follow-up interview a few days after their meeting, which also appears in the book, Miyazaki says:

“Kurosawa is a director with an era unto himself, and I had to show him the proper respect. Because of that, I expected to feel nervous while talking to him, and during our conversation I was every bit as nervous as I’d imagined.

Really, it felt like it does when I’m talking to my-father-in-law. My hair has already turned white, and in my workplace I’m an old geezer, but in front of Kurosawa, it was like I was a little kid, and what can a kid do? (laughs) So in the end, I listened…I think he could tell I was nervous, and he was kind enough to try to help me relax.”

At the time, Kurosawa was 83, 31 years older than the then-52 Miyazaki. However, the elder filmmaker was well acquainted with the anime director’s work, and even something of a Catbus fan, as an excerpt from their conversation shows:

Kurosawa: “I’ve seen all of your films. Well, except for Porco Rosso [at the time Miyazaki’s newest anime].”

Miyazaki: “Please, don’t watch it. It would be embarrassing for me…(laughs).”

Kurosawa: “I especially liked that bus in My Neighbor Totoro. It was interesting.”

Miyazaki: “Ah, thank you…”

▼ Though really, aren’t we all Catbus fans?

However, Miyazaki wasn’t permanently starstruck by Kurosawa. In the same interview in which Miyazaki recounts being nervous while talking to him, the interviewer shares a hope Kurosawa had for the Ghibli founder.

Interviewer: “This is something I heard from Kurosawa on a separate occasion, but he said ‘I want Miyazaki to make a live-action film.’

Miyazaki: “I don’t know if he’s serious or just being diplomatic, but if he actually said that, I think it’s rude of him. That’s as unconnected to reality as if I were to say ‘I want Kurosawa to direct animation.’ They’re different genres. And if he’s saying that because he thinks that live-action is comparatively a higher artform than animation, I’d like to formally state that I object.”

With Kurosawa having passed away in 1998, there’s unfortunately no way to ask him what his exact sentiments were in wishing for a live-action Miyazaki film. On the other hand, with Miyazaki currently directing his twelfth anime movie, his feelings on the validity of animation as a storytelling medium are pretty clear.

Related: What are Movies? Regarding Seven Samurai and Madadayo on Amazon
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s also convinced that animation is as valid as live-action.

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