– by Joseph Jammer Medina

If you’re an anime fan, there’s a chance you’re at least passingly familiar with the work of Mamoru Hosoda. Be it his more mainstream films, like Summer Wars, or his more indie-like work like Wolf Children and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, he’s become one of the more prominent Japanese animation directors to hit it big internationally.

Though his name really came into prominence with his original work, he got his start in being just another cog in the machine. Then, in the early-2000s, he worked on a couple shorts that were later mashed together (along with another short from a different director) into the American release of Digimon: The Movie. Then, later on, he worked on the sixth One Piece film, One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island. Obviously, both were a part of big franchises, and when asked by friend of LRM and Rick and Morty director Bryan Newton about his work on those films, here’s what he had to say.

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“When working on Digimon and other franchise movies, they really taught me how to make movies, especially within certain set of rules, there’s certain restrictions that Ihave to follow or I have to also make sure that it has mass appeal, so Ilearned a lot from them. I know there are some directors who start with creating their own work and then just stay there but I’m really glad that I went this route where I got to learn the stuff that I learned from the franchise movies and I think that really lead me into making my own work. Even though I would work on franchise movies, there’s always going to be certain characteristics of a director that would come out within the restrictions that they have, but people who watch among the audience, you know whether it be the audience or a fan or the same people in the industry, et cetera, they catch it and see it and they’re like, “Oh, this guy has a certain something that maybe he should start making his own film.” And then that really is what happened to me, whereas I worked on Digimon and then a producer saw it and then offered me to work on an original. Yeah, so I think it’s really interesting.”

But given how much success Hosoda has had with his own original work, it doesn’t seem likely he’d ever return to big franchises, right? Not so fast:

“I think as an experience it was huge learning from these franchise movies and I think right now, even if I had the opportunity to work on a franchise movie I would take it because I’m not really attached to making original movies. I don’t think that just because it’s original that it’s good, there’s movies that can be good with original source material or not, so it doesn’t really matter whether there’s a source material or whether it’s an original, I just want to make a good movie.”

Gotta respect a renowned director’s ability to put his ego aside and see the potential in even the broad and mainstream properties out there. Personally, as a One Piece fan, I’d be interested to see him return to that world in some capacity and create something that incorporates the gargantuan world we’ve come to love.

But what do you think? Is there any other big franchise you’d love to see Hosoda tackle? Let us know your thoughts down below!

Also, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our full interview with Hosoda next week!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.