The whole Tokyo event was an astonishing experience. The publisher’s office turned out to be a brand new looking building in the heart of Tokyo a stone’s throw away from the notorious Yasukuni shrine. While we were waiting for Neil we were treated to various Japanese foods and champagne. With the help of a disappeared champagne glass (it was plastic) I chatted up with some Americans and Canadians, which managed to ease the awkwardness of being there basically alone.
And then in came Neil, and he looked like he had been sleeping in the limousine on the way. Before signing our stuff he gave a little speech. For someone exceptional he really was very humble and nice and earnest and polite, and with uncanny ability he managed to turn an everyday thing like imploring us to see Stardust to a delightful and memorable experience.
After that we got our books signed. Neil told me he absolutely loved Hungary and that he’d like to go back again. I could only fervently agree. He also thanked me for the map post, which – later it became apparent – helped a lot of people find the venue. As a result my copy of Fragile Things now looks like this:
We were told that five interviews were canceled in order to make the event happen, and that the organisers really were concerned that no-one would turn up. Instead, about a hundred people came, roughly one third of whom were foreigners.
There was time left so for us relentlessly standing around Neil offered to read something, which turned out to be…
I do agree, the constant chimes and shutter sounds are pretty annoying. As I mentioned before, all Japanese mobile phones play a sound compulsorily when taking a picture. Apparently this wasn’t enough to stop many people from using them. However, some of the sounds came from normal cameras, which really puzzled me. Who’d want his or her camera to knell and jingle constantly. If I’d been reading something I’d have felt disturbed if not irritated…
Neil seemingly wasn’t, and he agreed to answer a few questions while signing a couple more books for various staff members of his publisher and the UIP people. He said he loved how everyone was so kind to him while staying in Japan, nevertheless the peak of his stay was meeting with Miyazaki Hayao. He emphasised how happy he was that the Japanese poster of Stardust had the ghosts and the jar of eyes in it. To his regret those were removed from the US poster, so that the allegedly disturbing images wouldn’t scare potential viewers away…
I asked what exactly he was doing with Mononoke-hime. He said he got a very rough translation, something that might pass for subtitles, and his job was to turn it into dialogue people wouldn’t be embarrassed saying and make sure all the cultural references were understood by the Western audience.
Looks like I’ll have to see Mononoke-hime after all.
P.S.: This is how it looks when someone like Neil links you: