“Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter” centers on the relationship between a father and his child, and his desire to keep her away from his successful, albeit illegal, business. The film’s director, Goro Miyazaki, knows a bit about having a father who is successful and choosing to follow in his line of work.
Son of legendary animation director and producer Hayao Miyazaki, Goro is extending the anime practice of mining Scandinavian kids’ books to use as TV programs and movies. “Ronja” was written by “Pippi Longstocking” writer Astrid Lindgren, and Miyazaki has put his twist on the tale for the new series, which premiered Jan. 27 on Amazon Prime.
We caught up with Miyazaki to ask him about his Studio Ghibli-produced “Ronja,” about bringing it to the States and, of course, about following in his father’s footsteps.
How did you come across the Astrid Lindgren story/book “Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter”?
When I was looking for a book suitable for a new film project, I read many books for children. I came across the book “Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter.” Many Scandinavian books have been made into animated productions in Japan. For example, “Vicke the Viking,” “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils” and “Moomin.” Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki even once tried to create a film of Astrid Lindgren’s “Pippi Longstocking.” Japanese viewers and creators, including me, are quite familiar with books for kids from overseas.
The story of Ronja and Birk is very much like that of Romeo and Juliet, though they have much more of a brother-sister relationship than a romance. What was your inspiration when directing the series?
More than romance, I first attached great importance to the relationship between a child and her father. I thought that the book emphasizes the relationship between Ronja and Mattis more than that of Ronja and Birk. Also, I was careful when depicting the difference between the affection of children for their parents and the affection of parents for their children.
When directing the series, I referred to the cultures of medieval Europe, including central and Eastern Europe, and Russia, and I studied Scandinavian Vikings. Also, I was inspired by my journey to Romania, and my experience in forests when climbing mountains.
What does Gillian Anderson bring to the series as a voice actor?
Her gorgeous voice has brought a sense of stability and luxury to the series.
The show has been very popular overseas. What do you hope the reaction will be in the U.S.?
I hope that many people have a chance to watch it. Never have we needed mutual understanding more than in the antagonistic age we are experiencing now.
What kind of influence has your father had on the show? And what kind of influence has he had on your professional path?
He has influenced all of my productions, the backbone and spirit of which come from his works. In this regard, he has influenced the show in every way.
As far as my professional path, unlike Ronja, I’ve felt remorse for choosing to follow in my father’s footsteps. (laughs).
Seems like with the kids growing up together and the Robber clans being mixed up, it could make for more seasons. Is that the plan?
I don’t have any plan to make more seasons. How Ronja and her clan develop and grow, and what kind of lives they lead, will be found in the hearts and imaginations of readers and viewers.
Follow me on Twitter: @Storiz