Filmmaker and Musician Yamaguchi Takashi × Milli — Natural Life with a Cat

May 10, 2013 / Interviews

Photo:Shin Suzuki Edit&Text:Madoka Hattori Translation: Seth High

Yamaguchi Takashi is active as a filmaker and member of the band "d.v.d.". He also lives with a 10 year-old bent-tailed female cat named 'Millimeter'. As you can see in the following photographs, Milli is able to skillfully find herself a spot to relax on top of the desktop computer. Without going to great pain to please her, Yamaguchi-san enjoys living with Milli and always tries to find little ways to make her life more comfortable. We asked him about what he gains from the company of a cat.

A natural turn of events brings about life with a cat

- How did you come to meet Millimeter?

"Milli-chan was originally taken in by my friend. Because they already had a sick cat, I ended up taking Milli. Our initial plans were for me to give Milli back after their other cat became healthy. However, I just became too attached to Milli after living alongside her for several months. Because I had previous experience living with a cat while growing up, I decided that it would be no problem for me to keep her. It wasn't so much that I really wanted a cat. It was more like my life with a cat felt so natural."

- What kind of character does she have?

"When Milli began living with me, I shared a house with three other people. Therefore, she is very used to the presence of humans. However, Milli does become timid when confronted with other cats. She makes a big fuss when I babysit my friends' cat for a few days. Once, I took in another cat that was bigger than Milli-chan. They did not get along at all. Of course, now that she has turned ten years old, she is much calmer. However, back then she would run around and destroy screen doors. When I go on tour, I sometimes have to ask my friend to look after her for up to a month. While I'm gone, she starts to feel very lonely. There is a small stuffed animal that she puts in her mouth when she is lonely. It's just this little pig. Usually, she pays it no attention. However, as she gets more and more lonely, she gradually moves the pig closer to the entrance of her little house. While Milli's doing this, there's also a special way that she cries out."

-Does Milli have any special preferences regarding food or litter boxes?

"For her meals, I give Milli dried food of no specific brand. As for her litter box, I use a 'Nyan Tomo Seiketsu Toilet'. For the actual litter, I finally settled on the hinoki cypress grains by Hitachi Chemical after trying out a lot of different types. Because she seems to hate touching the sand, Milli stands on the edge of the litter box and does a kind of 'air sand scratching'. This is probably because she likes to be tidy. I got the wood-framed scratching board through Amazon."

A computer-loving cat

- Milli continues to just sit up there on top of your computer's display monitor...

"Generally, she stays on top of the monitor or in-between the keyboard and the monitor. She sometimes steps on the keyboard while I'm working on something. Until it finally broke last year, I had been using a CRT monitor. When I finally bought this new monitor, I initially felt sorry for Milli because I thought it would be too narrow for her to climb up on top of. However, she figured out a way to get up there earlier this year (laughs). I set the two monitors at different heights to give them more stability when Milli-chan climbs up on top of them. This makes it a bit hard for me to use them when I go back and forth between the two screens... but oh well."

- Your obedience to Milli's requests makes it appear as if you are wrapped around her finger (laughs). How would you describe the relationship between Milli and you?

"I enjoy thinking about how to make things more comfortable for Milli-chan. When I walk my parents' dog, I always let the leash sag down... I guess I'm always doing what I can to create a free environment for animals. In that sense, I guess I like observing how they do things. During winter, I let her sleep in my futon and use my arm as pillow. I really don't like it because it makes my arm fall asleep, but I put up with it anyway (laughs). It's not so much that I'm keeping her... It's more like I have the honor of hosting her at my home."

- Do you behave the same way towards people?

"Oh, I don't know about that (laughs). I guess I wouldn't go so far for people because they are able to do more things for themselves. I have no idea what they think about me... Maybe the way I treat people is the complete opposite of how I treat cats. You know, it's possible to tell a person's character from their behavior towards cats. Dog lovers come in close in an aggressive manner. Milli will sense this instantly and run away. I guess you can say that cats also watch people."

A natural relationship between cats and people

- Your work covers diverse fields, including filmmaking and your musical activities as a member of "d.v.d.". However, I get the impression that it's difficult to pinpoint what your main job is.

"When I was first looking for employment, I teetered between filmmaking and interactive media. I ended up getting a job at a game company. Though I could have done it forever, I eventually got tired of creating computer graphics, which was the basis of my position. Then I just started combining what I want to do and what I like. Before I even knew it, this is where it took me. I can say that I'm consciously trying to achieve things that few people have ever done. I think I should also state that I'm not a good team player. I want to do things in a very self-sufficient way."

- Preferring an environment in which you are comfortable instead of being a member of team... it kind of sounds like you have a bit of a cat-like personality. Have you ever created something that was inspired by cats?

"I produced a video ( ) for the current 'SUNDAY Cat’s ISSUE', which is being held at SUNDAY ISSUE. When I was still working for the game company, I also produced a using a bear character. However, I never have used a cat. I sense that if I were to attempt creating a cat character, I would become too picky about the particulars and never end up finishing it."

- So you are hesitant to use cats as a motif?

"For my own projects, I just never get the idea of using cats. At the planning stage, it's just not something that comes up. Probably because I have Milli-chan, I'm totally content regarding cats. I guess I have no urge to outwardly express my love for cats."

- As a final question, what do you gain from living with a cat?

"I get a sense of security. I know that whenever I get lonely, Milli-chan will always be there for me. Because I basically work from home, the only conversations I have are with Milli (laughs). At first, I didn't really have a desire to live with a cat. However, ours naturally turned into a mutually dependent relationship. Co-existing with a cat never feels inconvenient. She is just a natural part of my life."

  • name: Millimeter
  • age: 10 years old
  • sex: female
  • lind: mixed
  • Yamaguchi, Takashi
    Filmmaker and musician. Yamaguchi specializes in programming-related filmmaking, media art, music videos and live video productions. His work has received critical acclaim both domestically and internationally. He has won prizes at SIGGRAPH, Ars Electronica and other events. In 2006, he began an experimental trio called "d.v.d.", which consists of twin drummers and an interactive video. Yamaguchi has also actively collaborated with other artists. These include projects such as the new "Yakushimaru Etsuko and d.v.d." unit and "DEDE MOUSE +Takashi Yamaguchi".