Hello again interwebbers! It is once again time to anime article. My latest contribution to the world of Asian culture fandom is about a recent interview with Studio Ghibli's own Hayao Miyazaki. I am sure everyone reading this article has already read that one, and surely have his or her own opinions about it by now. I am simply going to share mine. It should be clear that this article is not intentionally hurtful. These people put a great deal of effort into their work, and this is simply an opinion of things from an avid fan that receives everything from the North American side.
Now, here are the actual comments (via rocketnews24.com) that Miyazaki made during the interview with Japanese website Golden Times. They are as follows:
"You see, whether you can draw like this or not, being able to think up this kind of design, it depends on whether or not you can say to yourself, 'Oh, yeah, girls like this exist in real life.'" "If you don't spend time watching real people, you can't do this, because you've never seen it." "Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves." "Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know." "It's produced by humans who can't stand looking at other humans." "And that's why the industry is full of otaku!"
These words would normally bring down the wrath of the animation gods. However, when they are coming from one of the greatest animated feature directors of all time, they tend to hold a bit more weight. Interpreting that he is speaking of the generation to follow him and the current groups of animators emerging in the industry, with all due respect, his point seems to be accurate. There are other reasons that bring about thoughts similar to these, and not just the reasons mentioned in his interview. It should be evident that this article is beyond the words of Mr. Miyazaki, although it branches from a similar discrepancy.
Barring a few titles from recent memory, not many shows seem NOT to disappoint over the past few years. In what feels like an era of capitalistic continuous series' and shows/series' loaded with superfluous fan service in order to exploit certain demographics, it is almost impossible to argue Mr. Miyazaki's point.
It is understandable that the animation industry is a business like any other. It is there to make money. Nevertheless, what happened to the mastered form of realistic artwork and unparalleled storytelling? Where are the "Akira's" and 'Ninja Scroll's" or "Cowboy Bebop's" and "Trigun's?" I merely use these as examples of modern classics (apart from Ghibli's works). As mentioned previously, there are still plenty of quality productions rolling out, but it seems for the most part that the mysticism and awe of old, while certainly not disappearing, have dwindled.
The problem seems to be with stories being formulaic and predictable. Sure, the plot devices and characters/settings may be fresh, but the story structures themselves seem to be getting repetitive. Honestly though, how many times can someone defeat the strongest enemy in existence, enjoy a few moments of peace, and then learn that there is someone stronger therefore demanding they once again grow stronger?
Again, an apology if this is offensive to anyone. The intention is in no way to pass unfair judgment on such an amazing form of expression and entertainment. This is merely the ramblings of a random person that would love to see this particular industry challenge itself for the sake of its previous fame for envelope-pushing artwork and storytelling. Not just for the Japanese fans, though, but also for the fans who appreciate their work all over the world.