Conversation between Otsuka Yasuo and Sadamoto Yoshiyuki

The Otsuka Yasuo
On Sale Now
Price: 9800Yen (plus tax)

Otsuka Yasuo's CD-ROM about jeeps, the Otsuka Yasuo MILITARY 4x4 GRAFFITI went on sale June 19 of this year. To all of you who've purchased it, our undying gratitude. And to commemorate this product release, we bring you the transcript of a conversation between Otsuka and our own Sadamoto Yoshiyuki, just prior to the wrap party for the CD-ROM. We hope you will enjoy this dialogue between Sadamoto and Otsuka, renowned not only as animator on such works as Lupin III and Mirai Shonen Conan, but also as one of the top Japanese authorities on military ground vehicles.

Recorded by Nakayama (CD-ROM Project Producer)

The conversation began June 19, the evening of the day the CD-ROM was released, with the participants each hoisting a beer. The just-completed CD-ROM lay before them.

"Collecting information on jeeps, and making them into a source of entertainment, is nothing if not the work of a hardcore fan." (Otsuka)

Sadamoto: How did this CD-ROM become a jeep collection? Was it hard to get stuff relating to your older anime works?

Otsuka: No, what happened was that Takeda said right from the start that "I want a CD-ROM about jeeps" (Note: " Takeda" refers to Takeda Yasuhiro, GAINAX General Manager and executive producer on this CD-ROM).

Sadamoto: Oh, so that's it. That was the plan all along, then?

Otsuka: Right. It was jeeps from the outset. It was Nakayama here who added the Lupin material, and selected the jeep illustrations. (Note: with these words, Nakayama, who is recording this session while drinking beer, becomes a scapegoat. Otsuka says that he "selected the illustrations, " but she actually digitized them for storage on the CD-ROM). Initially, someone named Takahashi was in charge of the project. After about a year, though, I brought illustrations, only to have nothing work out. And eventually he quit, I guess. (Note: Actually, the project was suspended because the producer, Takahashi, had to leave the company due to illness). So I figured there was no way this was going to work out. Collecting information on jeeps, and making them into a source of entertainment, is nothing if not the work of a hardcore fan.

Sadamoto: I wonder if anyone will think it a lasting work for posterity, though.

Otsuka: Good point. I'm amazed that Ms. Nakayama, here, pulled it off so well. I've never met anybody who could do something like this before. And by adding in Lupin and other stuff, she made it even more entertaining than I had imagined it would be. Now, I'm putting out my own dojinshi, right? (Note: this refers to "MVJ", the only publication in Japan dedicated to military ground transport) There's maybe 600 hardcore fans in the entire country reading it. And they're also telling me to put this all together on CD-ROM. The problem I had, though, was, if I did, how should I organize it?. I couldn't just do a jeep CD-ROM, after all. I've got manga, cover illustrations, all kinds of stuff. She took all of it, arranged it nicely into several chapters, added the restoration section, the U. S. Army training film, all of it.

Sadamoto: The way I heard it, this was going to be the ultimate jeep collection.

Otsuka: Well, that's great if you like jeeps, but there aren't that many such people out there, I imagine. I know the promotional people are doing all they can, though. These days, jeeps are in a very nice point in time. Yesterday, I got a call from "NAVI", asking me to write an article for them. Mitsubishi Jeep just shut down recently.

Sadamoto: It's government policy concerning diesels, right?

Otsuka: Yeah, that's right. Which is why the jeep itself has ceased to exist. Or rather, has passed on into history, considering that there are hardly any small ground vehicles as well-liked as the jeep.

Sadamoto: What happened with not passing that automobile inspection?

Otsuka: That's all done with, thanks to deregulation.

Sadamoto: Wouldn't you know, they'd regulate stuff that doesn't need it.

Otsuka: The brakes don't work so well on my Bantam. It's like a Kubert Wagon. So I have to leave plenty of room between me and the car ahead.

Sadamoto: Or else you can't stop (laughs).

Otsuka: Well, I stop all right, with a loud screeching of tires (laughs). The Mighty Mite's pretty good, though.

Sadamoto: Does that one have drum-type brakes?

Otsuka: Right, drum-type brakes. The Mighty Mite's a lively little machine, so I took the staff (those who filmed the movie included on the CD-ROM) for a ride, in a grassy grove. It was a really smooth ride. Speaking only in terms of four-wheel drive, jeeps still have what it takes.

Sadamoto: I would imagine so, given their light weight.

Otsuka: You got it. But they score badly in terms of ease of handling, all-weather operation, top speed, things like that. When I go offroad, there's no beating the solidity of its ride. Military models have it all over civilian ones.

Sadamoto: Oh, wait, the first time I got a lift in SUEZEN's (Note: SUEZEN was invited to the wrap party that took place after this interview. Apparently, he was already at GAINAX, in Sadamoto's room, while this interview was taking place.)custom J3, he tried to take a corner like a regular car, and it shook all over, everything bounced, and it was just terrifying. But he just said, "I've got to take those turns more slowly" (laughs).

Otsuka: You said it. Put it in four-wheel drive and it's even scarier. It just won't go...

Sadamoto: ...the way you expect (laughs). Is that what they call the Breaking Phenomenon? You know, where the four-wheel drive locks up?

Otsuka: Right. But even with problems of obsolescence such as that, there's still that form. That's what people love about it.

Sadamoto: I guess so.

¥Today's automobiles really perform well, but you just can't fall in love with them, you know? Though I admit there's something odd about driving something because you like it. (Otsuka)

Otsuka: So what about you? You still driving that Vanda (Note: The Fiat Vanda was the successor to the Fiat 500)?

Sadamoto: Nope, I've got a Citroen Exantia.

Otsuka: Wow!

Sadamoto: Yeah, I'm coming up in the world (laughs). I also bought an Elan.

Otsuka: Really. You ARE moving up (laughs).

Sadamoto: I got one of the originals, a Lotus Elan Sr. 1 (Series 1).

Otsuka: You drive it back home (in Aichi Prefecture)?

Sadamoto: Yeah, and I bring it to Tokyo. It's a hassle, though, with all the times it gets wrecked.

Otsuka: That's par for the course with British cars.

Sadamoto: Yeah. I drove the Exantia this month. It handles pretty well, which I guess is it what it was made for. I've got lots of friends in Tokyo. If we decide to drive out to Okutama late at night, it's no fun even in the Exantia. So now I'm thinking I'd like to have a Morris Mini or something like that.

Otsuka: A Mini wouldn't be bad, out that way.

Sadamoto: No, not once it's tuned up to 100 horsepower. Mountain passes in Japan sure are narrow. Big cars just can't cope. So things have been a lot more interesting now that I've got my Elan up here. But it can't cut it on the expressways. The wheelbase is hard too. It rides very hard, like it's got no suspension, which makes it noisy too. My ears ring from driving it.

Otsuka: Miyazaki (Hayao) gonna buy a new Jimny.

Sadamoto: Huh? What about that three-wheeler of his?

Otsuka: You can drive a three-wheeler, but it's hardly a serious vehicle (laughs), just something to drive once in a while. Miyazaki normally drives an Audi Quatro, and just drives the three-wheeler occasionally. His father's villa is in Shinshu, and he says he's going to enlarge it so he can have more people stay over, as well as keep the Jimny there and drive it on the back roads.

Sadamoto: And totally destroy the environment in the process (laughs).

Otsuka: Destroy the environment (laughs). I've driven my jeeps over back roads before, and sometimes I've hit rocks in the road that really shake me up. You really need a lot of equipment for that sort of driving.

Sadamoto: You've currently got two jeeps, the Mighty Mite and the first-generation Bantam, am I right?

Otsuka: Yes, that's all I've got.

Sadamoto: What do you normally use to get around?

Otsuka: To get around, I drive a Motora, in good weather. When the weather's bad, I drive a Ford Festiva.

Sadamoto: The Festiva's a pretty old car, isn't it.

Otsuka: No, no, I mean the current model. It's a sedan, with a distinctive rear end. It's all the rage lately, to have passenger cars designed like that.

Sadamoto: Mazda had a Festiva not too long ago, come to think of it... What did they call it...I think it was a Festiva.

Otsuka: Yep, it was a Festiva. Identical to the Ford one.

Sadamoto: Did it come out under the Festiva name? And what about the Ford model?

Otsuka: Yes, it did. And the current model is the better of the two. The Japanese auto industry can be proud.

Sadamoto: I've ridden in the Korean Festiva, and I'll tell you, the glass broke when I tried to open the window (laughs).

Otsuka: We could go on forever talking about Korean cars (laughs). It's no wonder their cars don't sell and their economy is in the tank.

Sadamoto: I can't believe that this is what they're exporting.

Otsuka: The quality is just too poor. The electrical systems are the problem. They get to be like a bundle of nerves, without real finesse on the part of the builder.

Sadamoto: You know the Citroen GS1220--you've ridden in one, I think. There's some guy who's got three of them, all wrecks. And he asked me if I would restore them.

Otsuka: Don't touch it. You're asking for trouble.

Sadamoto: No doubt about it.

Otsuka: Restoration is hard work.

Sadamoto: I told him I could do it for 2,000,000 (Yen) or so.

Otsuka: I dunno.

Sadamoto: He said the engines in all of them worked, at least somewhat.

Otsuka: Oh, is that so? Still, the hardest part of a restoration job is the bodywork.

Sadamoto: There was a little rust, so I told him the body restoration would run to about 1,000,000Yen.

Otsuka: When I was riding in a Citroen, it was a wreck. The brake pad warning lights would start flashing right away. And they never stopped, just kept on going (laughs). That one car had a lot of breakdowns.

Sadamoto: Did you ever ride in a 1220 Pallas?

Otsuka: I took a test drive in a Pallas.

Sadamoto: When I was in high school, an upperclassman of mine who was going to Tama Art College rode in one. And he drove from Tokyo to Tokuyama, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. I thought that was so cool.

Otsuka: Oh, that is cool. No doubt about it.

Sadamoto: I've still got that impression of it, and I'd like to ride in one someday. Right now, I've got three junkers (cars with no engines or seats, that are ready for the scrapyard) in the field.

Otsuka: Three junkers! Is that in Tokuyama?

Sadamoto: No, this is in Gifu. The dealer who sold me my Exantia, he's got 30 Citroens lined up in the field at his house in Seto. When I mentioned that I like GS's, he said, "I've got three, and if you restore them, you can have them. "

Otsuka: 30! Oh, man.

Sadamoto: He said, "Let's restore them!" I figure he just wants to look at them, though.

Otsuka: Hmm. You couldn't do it with sheet metal, not hardly. There aren't any sheet-metal works that good.

Sadamoto: I guess it'd be pretty tough, trying to use sheet metal. What to do, what to do. As far parts go, this guy's a dealer, so he says he could get parts from France.

Otsuka: A GS really hauls ass. The suspension would be all over the place.

Sadamoto: A while back, I took a ride in a BX, the new model in the GS line. This was after the Panda, which was already a wreck, so I didn't have much choice.

Otsuka: (laughs) It was wrecked, so you didn't have much choice, huh.

Sadamoto: Yeah, it was wrecked, and the wife was pregnant. And the thing bounced around something awful. So I was told I should buy the BX, because it had smoother handling. Then the BX busted a wheel, putting it out of commission (laughs). I said to myself, anything more on this car is throwing good money after bad. So I bought the Exantia.

Otsuka: Lately, I haven't seen any cars that I really though were all that interesting. Trucks are catching my interest instead.

Sadamoto: Trucks! Don't tell me you're (laughs) going back to where you started.

Otsuka: I'd prefer to think of it as striking out in a new direction.

Sadamoto: One of the new Unimogs, or something along similar lines, I suppose.

Otsuka: Four years ago, I imported to Unimogs. Bought them surplus from the New Zealand Army. I chose two good ones out of a lot of about a hundred. Gave them all to people in Kobe and Fukoka as is, for nothing.

Sadamoto: Do you use them for driving in town?

Otsuka: Uh-huh, I drive around town in them.

Sadamoto: Wow. Those things are wide, aren't they?.

Otsuka: They sure are, but there isn't a better "jeep" anywhere. Unbelievable.

Sadamoto: The Tokuyama Fire Department has one of the older models, the round type.

Otsuka: It'll climb ledges this high (indicating a height about level with his hip). Just goes right over.

Sadamoto: Wow, that's amazing.

Otsuka: And it doesn't rev its engine all that much in the process.

Sadamoto: My father-in-law has a Bamos Honda.

Otsuka: Oh, another good one. I like that combination of slightly military styling with utilitarianism.

Sadamoto: It'll carry a family of four.

Otsuka: Cars these days are definitely getting better, but you can't fall in love with them, you know what I'm saying? It's too bad. They're OK for getting from point A to point B, but you need something unusual if you're going to drive because you like to.

Sadamoto: (Understanding) Jeeps aren't bad. Would you drive long distances in it?

Otsuka: No, not at all. For long distances, I drive the Festiva. I'm getting old, after all. On Sunday I'm going to Kyoto, but even when I travel for work, I nearly always go by Shinkansen or airplane. Going by car is hard even just to Nagoya.

Sadamoto: I drive my Exantia to Tokyo every month. I just arrived today.

Otsuka: You're still young. It'll be too much trouble when you get into your fifties. You can read the paper and catch a nap on the train.

Sadamoto: I can't stand train stations. I hate the crowds. When I'm kept waiting at stations, I find myself thinking, what a waste of time.

Otsuka: You've got a point there. On the other hand, it's smooth sailing once you get past that.

Sadamoto: Is that so... I guess I'm just used to getting around in a car, listening to music, and before I know it, four hours have passed and I'm in Tokyo. Four hours isn't enough to tire me out. When I had the Panda, though, those same four hours seemed like eight(laughs).

Otsuka: Panda (laughs). Italians have power, when you come right down to it, to drive cars like that all day long.

Sadamoto: Thinking about it now, though, it wasn't all that bad, really. Those hammock seats and all. I'm even thinking I'd like to have it again. So I sold it off to an animator friend of mine. He'd driven a Panda before too, but crashed and wrecked it in about six months. Now he's got some big four-wheel drive machine, a Suzuki something-or-other.

Otsuka: Escudo.

Sadamoto: Right, and Escudo. He switched over to this Escudo, and about six months later, he's saying, "No way, this is just no good," and he up and trades it in on another Panda, a new model. Now he takes part in the Panda Cup races.

Sadamoto: Now I'm getting into motorscooters too. I've been dropping in a lot at this used scooter shop on Kanpachi (one of the main ring roads in Tokyo). The owner's always telling me what things are worth.

Otsuka: You still ride?

Sadamoto: Yes, on one of those Lambrettas.

Otsuka: Oh, a Lambretta.

Sadamoto: By Innocente.

Otsuka: Wow, that's an odd one.

Sadamoto: I've modified it to look a little bit modern, but people still come up to me and ask if it's a new model of scooter. To which I reply, "No, this is a scooter from 30 years ago."

Otsuka: Wow, a Lambretta. Even the name sounds nice.

Sadamoto: It's not bad, no. It's faster than new scooters today, not to mention cooler and more fun.

Otsuka: Bet it makes a lot of noise.

Sadamoto: It goes bang bang bang, for the most part. I've upgraded the engine to about 220cc.

Otsuka: Sounds like fun.

Sadamoto: Oh, it is. I tried a Vespa a while back. The thing was tiny. I'm saving up because I'd like a big Vespa. One more big Vespa would be nice.

Otsuka: Vespas are easy to buy these days, aren't they? Used to be pretty touch to come by.

Sadamoto: I've been looking around for parts to do a restoration job on this old Vespa GS which I want to use to get around on. When you buy an old machine and restore it to original condition, you just naturally want to ride it (laughs). I was told it's rusted, and I hate that. I guess you might say that getting a middling-old machine, from say, the '70's, for cheap and then working it over, adding things like modern disk brakes, so that you've got a reworked old-style motorcycle, makes people wonder if it's some new model when you go out riding it. Even among the customers of this shop, I'm about the only one who does things like this (laughs). The shop staff have lately been getting into scooter racing. At the tail end, that is (laughs).

Otsuka: You really do like it, don't you.

Anyway, I hate both Toyota and Nissan. (Otsuka)
That's strange. People who hate Toyota usually like Nissan, and vice versa. (Sadamoto)

Otsuka: What hobbies does Anno have?

Sadamoto: Hobbies? Well...collecting laserdiscs, I suppose. Clearly a grown-up's hobby.

Otsuka: No interest in cars?

Sadamoto: Not in the least. There's no one at GAINAX who likes cars anymore.

Nakayama: But there's people who drive Jaguars and such, aren't there?

Sadamoto: People who drive new Jaguars, Mercedes Benzes, or Porsches are more likely to be brand-conscious than they are to like cars.

Otsuka: Brand-conscious indeed. I agree that people who drive Benzes, BMWs, Jaguars, and (many years ago) Volkswagens are brand-conscious.

Sadamoto: Those who actually like cars are a little different. First of all, you can't drive a car with air conditioning built in (laughs). I admit that I do want to put an air conditioner in sometimes, though (laughs).

Otsuka: When you get to be my age, it really gets to be a strain.

Sadamoto: If you don't enjoy it personally.

Otsuka: If you don't enjoy it personally.

Sadamoto: You can't stay with it...that's the hard part.

Otsuka: And cars break down all the time.

Sadamoto: You're pretty famous for having owned a Fiat 500, But after that... Or was it before that (it's a well-known story that Otsuka drew Lupin III as driving a Fiat 500 just like the one he owns when he was animation director on the series, at the suggestion of Miyazaki Hayao, when the latter took over as director on the original TV series).

Otsuka: Well, I drove two Fiat 500's, and after that, a Fiat 850 Speziale.

Sadamoto: The one that looks kind of like a coupe.

Otsuka: Right. Just a bit like that one that Daihatsu came out with...what was it called?

Sadamoto: Oh, I know what you're talking about. Was it a Fiero?

Otsuka: Yeah, that's what it looks like, that 850 Speziale. Then after that came the Citroen GS.

Sadamoto: That's the one I said I wanted. Is yours the Club or the Pallas?

Otsuka: The Club. Later, I drove a Pallas for a little while. And after that, a Fiat 128.

Sadamoto: A 128? Oh, yeah.

Otsuka: The one that looks like a bento box. I drove one of those. And it gave me nothing but trouble. It was constantly breaking down.

Sadamoto: Could you even get parts back then if you had a breakdown? Nowadays, you can expect to wait a month or so, easily.

Otsuka: Back then, the wait was two or three months. And it was expensive too. I made a friend in Italy. You know "Quatro" Magazine, right? We met through its want-ads. I'd send him money, and he'd get the parts for me relatively cheaply. Then my interests changed, and I got a Gemini instead.

Sadamoto: So then, you didn't have anything in between? I thought the Gemini was a fairly recent model, but I guess I was wrong.

Otsuka: I drove the Gemini, but then I gave it up and went without for a while. I had only jeeps, and sold the other stuff. I used to have lots of stuff, Contessa 900's, 1300's. Anyway, I hate Toyota and Nissan.

Sadamoto: You hate Toyota and Nissan (laughs). That's strange. People who hate Toyota usually like Nissan, and vice versa.

Otsuka: Nope, I hate Toyota and Nissan. These days, I also hate Honda.

Sadamoto: You hate Honda too (laughs)?

Otsuka: Uh-huh. I hate cars in mass quantities. One time I was driving the Tomei Expressway (a highway between Tokyo and Nagoya), and a cop car came up from behind and called out, "You in the white car! Pull over!" So about ten cars do just that (laughs). I hate white cars because there are so many of them (laughs). The cop car could have just said, "You in the Citroen! Pull over!" I wish the cops who patrol the Tomei would at least know that much.

Sadamoto: You've also driven the Skyline, right?

Otsuka: Yeah, I've done that.

Sadamoto: And you didn't think it was all that hot?

Otsuka: No, I didn't. I liked its speed, and how it handled curves. It's got to be fast and powerful for me.

Sadamoto: So what do you think of Subaru or Isuzu? The Beretto, or something like that.

Otsuka: Oh yeah, I've driven the Beretto. It trashed someone else's car.

Sadamoto: Yeah, that's quite a story.(Note: it's a well-known story in the industry that, to cover the damages, Otsuka did the opening animation for "Wonder 3" as a side job). The Subaru 1000 was not really your average car. Definitely the sort of thing that you would like, I think.

Otsuka: The first Subaru 1000's were good cars. Made a hell of a noise, though.

Sadamoto: The suspension.

Otsuka: It was a weird noise that came out of the Subaru 1000. That's the kind of thing I like about Subaru. I guess you could say there are lots of design elements that I've come to like in their cars.

Sadamoto: I see what you mean. Subaru was originally an airplane manufacturer, so who knows what they might do.

Otsuka: Right. The only thing I dislike about Toyota, Nissan, and Honda is that they're everywhere. There's too many of them for me.

Sadamoto: Too many (laughs). I'm driving a car that stands out, but don't people say things to you when you drive distinctive cars? Things like, "Weren't you at thus-and-such?" You can't get away with anything (laughs).

Otsuka: It's because of that that I can't drive my jeeps anywhere, lately. Kids react more than anyone. If I just stop at a traffic signal, I hear, "Wow, that's cool!" Which is usually followed by, "What a weird old guy" (laughs). And my face is there for everyone to see, right? And everybody naturally looks at me. I imagine it must be what beautiful women feel when they walk down the street, this feeling of everyone looking at you. I sympathize (laughs). I hate having people stare at me.

Sadamoto: But doesn't it make beautiful women happy? It's like they're thinking, "Oh, it's me they're looking at."

Otsuka: It must get tiring, though, having to deal with that all the time.

Sadamoto: Having kids look at you is what gets tiring (laughs). I'd be thrilled if some cute girl was to look at me.

Otsuka: (laughs) Not me. No matter how beautiful she might be, I wouldn't like it if she looked constantly in my direction, every single day. I'd be like, "Quit staring at me!" (laughs). And she'd probably reply with something like, "In that case, quit driving such a weird car."

Nakayama: But I thought you said that "The Mighty Mite doesn't stand out." (laughs)

Sadamoto: I'd say it definitely stands out (laughs). You can see everything, after all.

Otsuka: People see the Mighty Mite and think " What's that?" When I go to the gas stations, I hear, "What is that?" (laughs). When I drove my Fiat 500 to the gas station, I'd meet people with no judgment at all. They'd think it was a Subaru. The toll-takers, they wouldn't even look at the license plate. They'd take one look at the car and say "Compact." Don't any of these people have any aesthetic sense at all? Kids have tremendous aesthetic sensibilities. They'll spot the difference between a Subaru and Fiat 500 right off the bat. And there are lots of grown men and women who couldn't do that.

Sadamoto: When I was living in Yamaguchi, there were practically no Porsches at all nearby. Then, when I went to school, someone said, "There's a Porsche parked. It's still there." And when I asked, "Where is it parked?" I was told, "Over on the next street." So, I had to go an entirely different direction to get home, but I went home, took my bicycle to go see, and it was actually a Volkswagen (laughs). I said, "That's no Porsche."

Otsuka: That's the boondocks for you. I made a circuit of Kyushu in my Fiat 500. I stopped at a restaurant in the country, and while I was eating, people came out to look at my car. Five or six people. Local car enthusiasts. When I was done, I came back outside, and I had a hard time getting in my car because of the people standing around it. So I finally stood outside and talked to them, and one of them, the leader I suppose, said, "This mini-coupe..." (laughs). He probably mistook the word "mini-coupe" altogether.

Sadamoto: Maybe he thought it was "cooper" (laughs).

Otsuka: That would've been better than what he actually did say next. He made the same mistake again: "Mini-coupes are terrific." So I explained things to them, and they said things like "Uh-huh" and "This is cool" and "It sure is small". I didn't have a chance to open the door and get in. So I went back into the restaurant and waited for them to get lost (laughs).

Sadamoto: Is that the version where you put on those footprints (Otsuka put footprint stickers all over his Fiat 500. This is what makes Sadamoto think it caught people's eyes)? You showed me pictures of Mt. Aso.

Nakayama: You drove around Kyushu in that?

Otsuka: I drove around Kyushu with the footprints on the body. When I say I made a circuit of Kyushu, I mean I did it in that car (the Fiat 500 with footprints on it).

Sadamoto: Now that's nice. You've made me kinda want a Fiat 500 myself.

Otsuka: I took out the passenger seat for that trip.

Sadamoto: It comes out easily enough, doesn't it. The Panda's the same in that regard.

Otsuka: I took out both the passenger seat and the rear seat. It was just right: me and my belongings. Then, around Oita, I ran across a hitchhiker. He was a big, solid-looking guy, a bodybuilder or something, I figured. He was moving around to get attention, and I asked, "How far are you going?" He said, " To Mt. Aso." Then I said, "Well, I'm going there too. I'll give you a lift." And when we got to Aso...

Sadamoto: You had no seats. Where did you put him? (laughs).

Otsuka: He sat right down in back (laughs). Then when we got to Aso, I thought he was going to get out. Only he didn't. So I said, "I'm going to Itsuki," and he said, "Me too" (laughs). When I said, "I'm going to Kagoshima," again he said, "Me too." And all along the way, I got him to arrange all the lodgings. I'd say, "Go ask how much that temple charges per night," and off he'd go (laughs).

Sadamoto: You haven't lost your touch when it comes to handling people, I see (laughs).

Otsuka: Now, all the time we were driving, I found out that he was a big Lupin fan. There was all kinds of talk about Lupin, how much he liked it, this and that. If I'd told him that I was animation director on Lupin, all hell would've broken loose (laugs). Fortunately, at the time I took this trip, there wasn't the kind of information available that there is nowadays, and he didn't know what I looked like. He asked me what I do for a living, and I replied, "Oh, I do some work related to civil engineering."

Sadamoto: Work related to civil engineering (laughs). (Aside: Otsuka once worked in the Yamaguchi Prefectural Office of Civil Engineering.)

Otsuka: He said, "Boy, I really do like anime," and I'm thinking, no way am I going to tell him who I am. I knew that if I did, there'd be no end to it. He'd start begging for autographs and who knows what else. Then he said, " Oh, by the way, when we get back to Tokyo, could you show me places where they sell cels, or something like that?" To which I replied, "No, I don't know about that kind of stuff." I didn't say a word about it the whole time, because I knew if I did, I'd have to take him around. Anyway, he stuck with me all the way, from Amagusa clear to Fukuoka. I got lots of use out of his muscular form, since he said he didn't have any money.

Sadamoto: That must have been nice. Used to be there were a lot of those hippie types out there, but you don't see them anymore. They've all trimmed down.

Otsuka: Yeah, nowadays people want speed. Big, stupid types like that have just about disappeared.

The reason young people these days don't want big cars is that they've had it imprinted on themselves since they were little kids. (Sadamoto)

Sadamoto: What's the difference between English cars and cars made in Latin countries? Germany and England both make cars for export, as well as other countries. Why didn't English cars catch on instead of cars from other countries?

Otsuka: I have no idea. The MG and other cars are often cited as examples of England being a slightly strange place. From a design standpoint, they're not much like the rest of Europe.

Sadamoto: I know what you mean--they've still got a taste for aristocracy.

Otsuka: German cars seem so solid, so proper. They just don't do anything for me at all. Italian cars, with their sort of run-down feel, their sort of slapdash feel, fit better with me somehow. Even now, I'm envious of England and the rest of Europe. England, France, Germany, Italy, all these countries are so close to one another, and yet, you can easily tell them apart, because each one proclaims its own identity. They go against the grain. They don't want to be like any of their neighbors. That's why you get really unusual automobiles in England. Lately, they've been using computers to do studies of airflow dynamics, which is making their cars start to look like everyone else's, but English-made military vehicles really used to look strange. American jeeps are interesting, but passenger vehicles in the 1950's were just too big, it was ridiculous. With this recent Neon, however, I feel like saying, "Come on, let's see a real American car for a change, you guys. Enough with the imitations" (laughs). I like '50's cars because there were so many strange models out there.

Sadamoto: The boss of a local dealership was driving...I think it was a Barracuda. I was a kid, so I could lie down across the seat. Even if stretched out my hand, it still wouldn't reach to the other side. I wanted one, because it seemed so big to me.

Otsuka: The Barracuda's an interesting car, it's true.

Sadamoto: I find myself wondering, what ever happened to that desire we had for big cars when I was a child (laughs)?

Otsuka: In the movie "Brid", there was a chase scene between a Dodge Charger and a Ford Mustang. I've driven a Charger before, and if you so much as tapped the accelerator lightly, the wheels would spin something fierce, and off you went. I thought that was terrific.

Sadamoto: The reason young people these days don't want big cars is that they've had it imprinted on themselves since they were little kids. Nowadays, the adult car enthusiasts were all kids during the time of the super car boom. But there aren't any American cars anyway.

Otsuka: Sure aren't. We've grown up in highly crowded environments, and we can't see vistas like those where there's nothing beyond the horizon anymore. Every country is like that now. America's becoming crowded too. Even places like, Phoenix, which is smack in the middle of the desert, has hellacious traffic jams these days. Facilities even to get to the store and back haven't been properly thought out. And now, with one, two, three gasoline shortages, we're all becoming totally stingy. I doubt there'll be automobiles anymore by the end of the 21st Century. It just won't hold up that long, not at the rate we're burning gasoline and polluting the Earth. Or if there are cars still around, they'll be electric ones. And after a century or so has passed, they'll look back at us and say, the 20th Century was the age when automobiles covered the planet. In this century, we can work even without offices, because we've all got computers. We can get together from time to time, when we want to.

Sadamoto: Conversely, only sports cars and other such cars for enthusiasts will be the only ones left.

Otsuka: Right, right. We'll only have cars for hobbyists. They'll be toys. It'll seem more and more empty. The thing that makes me feel the most empty is that cars all look alike now. American cars, French cars, BMWs, Toyotas, they all look the same, and it drives me nuts. I wish somebody would make something different, something weird (laughs).

Sadamoto: I hear Honda's developing a new model of their Bamos, but I doubt it'll be any good (laughs).

Otsuka: Honda did seem to give an air of being able to accomplish something, though.

Sadamoto: Lately, it seems as though everyone's imitating Toyota. They're all making minivans. Is it supposed to be a "family car"?

Otsuka: That's all it is. Why do they look so much alike, do you suppose?

Sadamoto: Companies that make Formula-1 race cars are probably thinking that they can't get by making only that type of car.

Otsuka: Daihatsu's recently made something unusual, right? Looks kind of like a ladybug.

Sadamoto: Daihatsu. Ah, that one that looks a little like the Bamos. The Midget, that car with the spare tire in the front.

Otsuka: Right. At first, it was a single-passenger machine, meant for use by parcel-delivery services, that sort of thing. The current version seats two. I wanted that thing something awful. I thought, I want it, it's so cool.

Sadamoto: (laughs) A one-seater might not be bad at that. How about a Messer, the one with one seat in front and one in back?

Otsuka: No, though Koizumi, who's coming to the wrap party for the CD-ROM, owns one. It was in just one Lupin episode. He said he liked the look of it, and went out and bought one.

Sadamoto: The Paikal episode, right ("The Man They Called a Sorceror", First Series, Episode 2)?

Otsuka: Right, the Paikal episode.

Sadamoto: Do you still go to the flea market? That American-style one?

Otsuka: I've gradually stopped going, actually.

Sadamoto: Can you still get new parts?

Otsuka: Yeah, they're out there. Half a century could pass, and new parts would still be available. The number of reproductions is increasing, but you can still get new parts.

Sadamoto: Really? That's wild. I just love Fiats and other cars made in Latin countries, but I figure there just aren't parts to be had. That's why I've switched to English cars. The English know how to take care of things.

Otsuka: Most Europeans are like that.

Sadamoto: The Lotus Elan was made 36 years ago, but there's a complete range of new parts available for it. I put mine together from all-new parts, including the frame and the chassis. Seems that in Italy, local factories have parts that were made decades ago. If it weren't for the language barrier, I could probably go there and arrange to import parts myself.

Otsuka: America is definitely best when it comes to parts. They'll have parts for fifty, sixty years, easily. Must be because they've got so many places to put them all.

Sadamoto: The boss of B.B.M., a place which handles Fiat 500's, said that he went to Southern Italy and found some Fiat 500's in good shape, but when he tried to pick them up, the Mafia soon got involved, and things got really hairy. When he went to Northern Italy, where law and order is in much better shape, there weren't any Fiat 500's in good shape to be hand. One would have to go to the poor parts of the South.

Otsuka: I wonder if they'd have them because they're poor.

Sadamoto: He said they likely didn't have much at all of that model in the North.

Otsuka: I really believe that the age of the automobile will come to an end pretty soon. China, with its 1.2 billion people, is entering the age of personal car ownership, i.e., one person, one car. The exhaust fumes from all of that will probably finish off the Earth.

Sadamoto: When I'm driving down the Tomei Expressway at night, I keep wondering if someone can't do something about all the black soot that the trucks put out.

Otsuka: Scary, isn't it, when a truck comes flying right up behind you.

Sadamoto: Even if I'm going along at 130kph or so, these big trucks come blowing past me. I start wondering if they can stop safely at those speeds. If only they wouldn't do dangerous things like come up on the right with no warning.

Otsuka: They really do kick up some kind of wind, and that's really scary. I can't drive my jeeps on the expressways as a result. They only get a top speed of 60 or 70kph, and at those speeds on a freeway, those trucks come flying up out of nowhere into your rear-view mirror. Frightening.

Nakayama: Wouldn't they be startled and move aside for you?

Otsuka: Nope. There really are people out there who just don't pay attention to their surroundings.

Sadamoto: When I went home to Yamaguchi in the Bamos, it only got about 65kph going uphill. And that's with the accelerator all the way down, only 65kph (laughs).

Otsuka: I amazed you made it back in that thing.

Sadamoto: It was scary, let me tell you. Along the way, it started to rain, in buckets. And then the windshield wipers quit (laughs), both in the open position. Turns out the spline had come undone. So I pulled into a gas station, tightened it as best I could, and managed somehow. While I'm driving down the road, I'm waving my hand like this (laughs) to make the wipers move, shaking all the while.

Otsuka: In my late twenties, I drove to Yamaguchi in a Contessa 900. I even did it once in a 1300.

Sadamoto: Every year, I drive to Tokuyama, in my Citroen. This year I did it in my Exantia too.

Otsuka: Is that so. That's really something. Whereabouts in Tokuyama does your family live? In the town proper?
(Sadamoto's description of his family's location deleted)

Otsuka: Oh, that area. That's where there's still some countryside, isn't it?.

Sadamoto: Not anymore. There's a lot of car dealerships in the area. When I was a kid, I'd walk the dog in the evenings and make the rounds of the dealerships, especially when new models came out.

Otsuka: Sanyodo is dull, because it's nothing but tunnels. I made the whole run over Sanyodo from Kobe once. It's nothing but mountains. The Shinkansen along that route is the same--nothing but tunnels.

Sadamoto: But with the Shinkansen, you keep going through tunnels, and when you come out, all of a sudden you're at the Tokuyama Factory Complex. I think that's kind of cool.

Otsuka: True. Though the area where Moori Motonari was born is right near those very tunnels now (laughs), in the upper reaches, that is. I got to hand it to you, though, for having enough youth and energy to keep going all the way back to Yamaguchi like that.

Sadamoto: If you're taking the whole family back on the Shinkansen to see the folks, you could get there at least a little cheaper in a car. And with a car, you've got a way to get around once you get where you're going, too. I've rented cars once I've gotten where I was going, but if you add up car rental fees and Shinkansen fares, I figure driving back in a car would be much cheaper.

Otsuka: It would be, wouldn't it. Nowadays, when I travel, I usually rent a car at my destination.

Sadamoto: You've really acclimated to your current residence in Saitama, haven't you.

Otsuka: Yeah, though it's pretty dull, having my family there. I really prefer the country.

Sadamoto: I saw this TV spot a while back, where the announcer said to this old lady, "Someone drives around here in a jeep...?" And she replied, "Oh, you mean Mr. Otsuka!" (laughs). And this was some old lady in a field somewhere. I remember thinking, you're really pretty famous, huh.

Otsuka: Me, famous? I'm just some crazy old guy, that's all.

(To be continued in a future installment.)