Busan: Ryuichi Sakamoto on Tackling Animation for the First Time

'My Tyrano: Together, Forever' - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Busan International Film Festival

The Oscar-winning Japanese composer said he was immediately drawn to the fact that feature 'My Tyrano: Together, Forever' was "a meaningful co-production between South Korea, Japan and China."

The animated feature My Tyrano: Together, Forever late last week had its world premiere during the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), drawing much attention among local industry people.

After all, the ambitious South Korea-Japan-China co-production marks Oscar-winning Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s debut in the world of animation.

Sakamoto, who also traveled to Busan to receive the South Korean festival’s annual Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award, said he was immediately drawn to the project "because it was first and foremost a co-production by South Korea, Japan and China." "The fact that the three countries were collaborating together greatly appealed to me and I found it very meaningful," he told reporters during a press conference on Saturday.

South Korean producer Kang Sang-wook, who executive produced the film, said he had Sakamoto in mind from the very beginning. "Simply put, I wanted to create a fun animated film. But I wanted something that was not only fun but also sophisticated and high-quality."

Though not particularly a die-hard fan of animated features, Sakamoto said he was a big fan of movies in general and tends to watch "anything that is interesting, without discriminating whether it’s animated or live-action."

However, he did say he had avoided animated film projects for a long time because he was more used to composing for serious live-action dramas (his last film project was The Revenant, which earned him a Golden Globe and a Grammy nomination). He found it "challenging to create music that could be resonate with and be understood by a more diverse range of people." "But with My Tyrano, I finally faced the inevitable and took on the challenge of overcoming this hurdle."

Another difficult aspect of the project was that he had to compose with an incomplete film. "When I was making the music, the film featured only [black and white] animated silhouettes and there was no dialogue. I had to resort to my own imagination to compose."

He said he was finally able to watch the completed version of My Tyrano for the first time with the rest of the local audience on Friday. The screening took place at the outdoor theater of Busan Cinema Center, and it rained heavily as Typhoon Kong-Rey was passing through. "I couldn’t tell what was real or not. It was an intriguing experience," he said about the rainy scenes in the films, drawing laughter from reporters.

Directed by Kobun Shizuno, the Japanese helmer known for Detective Conan, My Tyrano is based on the 11th volume in the "Tyrannosaurus" children’s books series by acclaimed Japanese author and illustrator Tatsuya Miyanishi. The titular character Tyrano, a gentle yet lonely Tyrannosaurus rex that refuses to eat meat, befriends Punon, an orphaned baby pterodactyl that cannot fly, and the two embark on a journey in search of Paradise.

The 23rd Busan International Film Festival continues through Saturday.