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‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ director reveals iconic Japanese films that inspired his sequel

Puss in Boots
via Universal Pictures

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    Certain scenes from “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” took visual inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films and Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 animated classic “Akira.”

    In an interview with the New York Times, director Joel Crawford revealed that “Akira” was one of the first anime films he ever watched. Crawford, who previously worked as a story artist for hit DreamWorks films such as “Bee Movie, “Kung Fu Panda,” “Rise of the Guardians” and “Trolls,” pays homage to “Akira” at the start of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” with a unique fight scene.

    “When Puss is fighting a giant at the beginning, he looks like he’s been dropped into a fairy-tale painting, with the action animated in a style that leans toward anime,” Crawford shared.

    The director is also a fan of Kurosawa’s samurai films, particularly “Yojimbo” and “Seven Samurai.”

    He revealed the first confrontation between Puss and the Wolf takes lighting cues from the scene in “Yojimbo” in which the character Toshiro Mifune walks by himself through the dust. The samurai code of honor was also an undercurrent in the final showdown of Crawford’s latest movie.

    The Wolf is an antagonist to Puss in Boots, but he’s not the villain. In a way, Puss is his own villain, with his cavalier disregard for life. We ended up in this Kurosawa-esque samurai moment where it’s a staredown, and the Wolf essentially has this moral code where he can’t kill Puss in Boots now because Puss actually appreciates life and thereby respects death.

    “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” the sequel to 2011’s “Puss in Boots,” sees protagonist Puss (Antonio Banderas) down to his last life. With his friends Kitty (Salma Hayek) and Perrito (Harvey Guillén), he seeks out a magic star that can help him restore eight of the nine lives that he has lost.

    Filipino American Januel Mercado served as co-director. 

    The film, which hit cinemas on Dec. 21, 2022, is up for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. 


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