Mahiro Maeda’s Behind the Second Renaissance

BONUS DATA: The Second Renaissance, Part I and II, by Mahiro Maeda

(Transcribed by Tara Carreon)

PART I

The introduction symbolizes …
… a gate leading to visual archives.
When I designed this, and it reflects my tastes …
… I had a vision of Mandala in my mind.
Mandala is meant to be something that includes everything.
I thought that it fits to the idea of this place where the knowledge is stored.
I also created characters …
… based on traditional Japanese Buddhist pictures.
When we go through this three-dimensional Mandala grid …
… we enter the past when humans dominated the world.
That’s what I wanted to show in the introduction.
These characters representing the human beings of the past …
… give us the impression that they were flourishing …
… but at the same time they were decadent.
I had images of Babylon in the myth …
… or the Roman Empire in my mind …
… when I created this scene.
I’m not sure I conveyed my intention well in this scene.
I have to wait for our viewers’ judgment.
Here you see some maid robots and … They’re coming up.
And these right here, the construction robots …
… these are humanoid servants for humans …
… who are built to support the society’s infrastructure.
Independently-operating robots.
These characters are based on the original idea …
… created by a production designer of The Matrix.
It was a design made for the comic and I was asked to use that design.
And I mentioned Babylon before …
These machines …
… by taking over labor, manual labor, in place of humans …
… enables them to do much larger projects.
And to symbolize that, I created these ancient-looking, pyramid-like structures …
… to show that they are creating these types of mega-structures.
This is one of our little jokes.
The construction site laborer is taking a lunch break.
You can see that he has connectors attached to his chest.
He is charging, getting energy from his lunchbox, or battery box.
And he’s using a TV set that is attached to his battery box …
… to watch a televised court trial.
And in this trial …
… the first android to commit murder …
… is being tried.
And here the images taken by the security camera at the house, the murder scene …
… are being shown in fast-forward.
This sequence was also basically drawn to follow the comic.
It’s a little grotesque …
… but the theme of The Matrix …
… is a fictitious world, a collective human illusion.
So going into the images inside the brain …
… is a motif that is repeatedly expressed.
This is the Washington, D.C., of the future.
The area around the White House is preserved, like a historic park …
… and in contrast, it is surrounded by skyscrapers.
This is the battle between those who want to boycott the robots …
… and those who want to protect them.
And these images here …
… are actions that humans have taken in the past, like this.
I think all of you know what this represents.
Like a compilation, or a reproduction, or caricature …
… of the violent actions humans have taken in the past …
… to remind everyone again of these things.
We were somewhat hesitant about some of these scenes …
… but it was because these scenes were daring that we put them in.
This violence wasn’t meant to be enjoyed …
… but rather convey the hurtfulness of it.
This too. This is not the past, the present, nor the future …
… and there is no specific religious or geographical setting …
… but this shows that many people have done these things.
In Bosnia, in Rwanda, in Beijing …
… in South America, these tragedies have been repeated.
So we combined the robots with the history of The Matrix …
… and exhibited them. I don’t think this is necessarily enjoyable to watch …
… but I feel that the theme of this film is to clearly express these ideas.
Again, this too is grotesque …
… but it was our intention not to run away from these things.
This vision also repeatedly occurs …
… this Earth, or globe, or the image of the world …
That in itself …
… like the Matrix, a type of physiognomy …
I wanted to express the difference between the world that we perceive …
… and the world that actually exists through the artwork.
The robots’ country is called Zero-One.
A lot of thought was put into this vision.
What would a country where machines make machines be like?
Now that the machines …
… have been formally kicked out by the humans …
… they created their own country in a compromise …
… and became very successful.
And basically …
… there was a story setting that these machines run on solar energy …
… so the buildings and structures that they make …
… we decided that they would learn from nature.
Trees, coral reefs. We used those images in creating the structures.
These newsreels …
… kind of reflect the events of the present day.
Sort of an — Irony would be too strong a word.
I think it’s an eerie synchronization with the events happening in the world today.
Here comes a fly …
… to sit on the chamber wall of the United Nations.
Zero-One, being where it should be, is still crushed …
It is a bit greedy.
This is the United Nations Security Council Chamber.
We wanted the mural to be accurate, but there was a lack of resources …
… so we had to do a lot of searching.
And these are the robot ambassadors.
They imitated the look of a human male and female and wore clothes accordingly.
The robots did this to be friendly, out of respect for humans …
… but the humans find it indecent and appalling.
Again, this was drawn in a cynical way.
And the fruit of knowledge, the apple they held in their hand, rots …
… and becomes a human brain …
… and culture, as an extension of the body, fills the world …
… and humans cease all negotiations with the robots.
They closed themselves into their own world.
We tried to show that symbolically in the ending.

PART II

In the first half, humans treated robots like objects.
I guess that’s only to be expected, but that was the concept.
And in this later half, that is reversed …
… and the robots treat humans like objects.
A sort of anti-humanism is expressed here.
Those are the themes that we thought out.
The real revenge of the robots who have been taken advantage of starts.
It was the humans who attacked first …
… but the robots, whose home, Zero-One, was destroyed, are beginning their attacks.
This image was taken from a street corner in Eastern Europe …
… and it shows that the machines’ towns have advanced and grown this far.
Here, as it shows, there is a military operation called Dark Storm.
“Why did the world become what is called the Matrix?”
It’s because humans initiated a suicidal plan and destroyed the sky.
And this is the final battle.
This battle has a mythical element to me …
… as if the sun were setting on humankind …
… and this is mankind’s last battle.
Rather than just being a war film, it’s more like a battle of the gods.
Gods and Titans, God and Satan. Like those types of legends …
… there is an apocalyptic sense …
… and a sense of the Book of Revelations.
And people of all ethnicities and cultures come together …
… to offer their final prayers before heading off to battle.
And these planes flying here, if you look closely …
… they are the machines invented by the robots.
They fly using the hovercraft engines.
And the bombs being dropped …
… are not normal bombs …
… but house micromachines, or nanomachines …
… and they will destroy the sky and bring darkness upon the world.
And they will be distributed, on a large scale, all over the world …
… blocking the sun in order to shut off the robots’ power source.
And they plan to dismantle the robots while they are inoperative.
That was Operation Dark Storm.
Up to that point, the images are still realistic.
From here on, we’re in the dark due to Operation Dark Storm …
… and we created a mythical and hell-like landscape.
The enemies are machines …
… the advanced machine equipment the humans used …
… they become useless as well because they are all machines.
And humans begin to act recklessly, as if they were sent back to the primitive age.
Their only choice is to confront the robots with violence.
These cruel scenes continue for a while.
Depending on how you look at it, they are only destroying objects …
… so it might be hard to call it a violent scene.
This scene displays that sort of irony as well.
This here depicts …
… views from the periscopes on the tanks and powered suits.
And the powered suits use nuclear weapons and neutron bombs …
… and they plan to burn the enemy’s micro-chips to destroy them …
… but it doesn’t quite work.
Scenes like this too …
Basically, powered suits and the machines are drawn in 3-D CGI —
Oh, this is 2-D. This was drawn by hand.
But this is a combination.
Using them in combination was pretty difficult.
I just hope it worked well.
These scenes too.
In the script, we wrote this scene to be like peeling the shell off a lobster.
A powered suit being peeled off like the shell of a lobster.
That was one of the more difficult scenes.
Basically, all of these images here …
… are a collection of images gathered …
… by informational CCD cameras worn by the soldiers.
Oh, but these images … This is a pure image.
We tried inserting images here and there …
… in hopes to convey the sadness and devastation of the humans …
… who have been trampled on by the machines and their inhumannness.
Humans can also be considered machines.
The machines created a plague with an unknown virus …
… a virus designed to kill humans one by one.
And the machines who lost their power source because of Operation Dark Storm …
… begin to try and extract energy from the body of humans.
And they stop killing humans, but rather try to keep them alive, albeit in great pain.
And they extract the electric currents that flow within the nervous system …
… and use humans as an element of power generation.
And a very disturbing vision unfolds.
And later on, there is the place where Neo awakes in The Matrix.
He’s connected to a huge human generator, so we designed this accordingly.
We tried to convey the mass deaths that occurred in the 20th century …
… and it is our hope that you will be disgusted by it.
And here, the machine ambassadors reappear …
… but they have already quit imitating humans.
In Part A, they were imitating human appearances out of respect for humans …
… but they no longer recognize the worthiness of humans.
They stopped being human-like.
Rather, they take on an appearance unique to machines.
They changed into an insect-like, grotesque appearance.
It can be said that they evolved.
With the self-destruction of the machine, the UN building and Manhattan are blown away.
This was also …
… a very hard scene to watch.
The storyboard for this scene was completed last year before September 11th.
And with that event, I thought that we wouldn’t be able to create this scene.
Well, but …
There was no order to cut the scene …
… so we went ahead and created it and put it in.
I was still worried that it might get a bad review from viewers …
… but it was a scene I didn’t want to cut …
… because of its importance to the film’s message and story.
And so humans, like this …
… by closing their hearts …
… with civilization retreating back into its shell …
… everything becomes extinct. Extinct might not be the right word …
… but all mankind becomes connected and wired to this matrix …
… and they live within a collective dream.
This kind of demonic world is waiting.
But we don’t really know if that world is truly scary.
Is it scarier to see the reality of Earth utterly destroyed …
… or is it just better to continue living in a peaceful dream?
It wasn’t the goal of this project to try and answer that question …
… but it would be great if this question is brought to mind by watching this.