Hayao Miyazaki: Anime Suffers Because the Industry is Full of "Otaku"

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Hayao Miyazaki: Anime Suffers Because the Industry is Full of "Otaku"

Lauded animated film director Hayao Miyazaki says anime suffers when the people making it can't stand observing real people.

Hayao Miyazaki spoke out against the anime industry in a recent television interview. He recently retired, making The Wind Rises his final film, with many of his previous works such as Spirited Away becoming popular even outside of Japan. According to Miyazaki the quality of anime is suffering because industry staff is made up of "otaku," or people who obsessively love anime.

The term "otaku" has a rather negative connotation in Japan and is used more to classify fans who obsess over something (this need not be anime). Miyazaki's specific concerns are over the lack of attention paid to people in real life. He said people in the industry "don't spend time watching real people" and can be characterized as "humans who can't stand looking at other humans." He then called the industry "full of otaku."

Miyazaki approaches animation by observing others. In the interview, as Miyazaki sketches, he explains he's able to create art because he spends time watching others. "Whether you can draw like this or not, being able to think up this kind of design, depends on whether or not you can say to yourself, 'Oh, yeah, girls like this exist in real life.'"

With plenty of anime portraying characters without development or capability of change and agency, Miyazaki has a point. In order to create compelling stories and characters, a person needs to both have well-rounded experiences and meet different people.

Source: Rocket News 24 via Anime News Network

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I just read God saying: "Religion suffers because it's full of zealots."

Oh, my.

I agree with the man. I keep looking back at older anime series and realize that details such as how characters move or interact with each other has become more and more unnatural. There's also a lack of "weight" to movement in a lot of anime as well. Story is sort of in it's own world, though.

He makes a good point. If you don't know how people in real life work, how are you going to make the people in your creation believable and relatable?

On another note, I think I remember hearing that Miyazaki has a son who's going to follow in his footsteps. Is this true?

While I do dislike his terminology, the fact remains that we do have so much anime where the characters don't feel like people. So many shows involve reactions and settings that seem completely unrealistic (harem is one of the worst). I guess I understand why he uses Otaku since they are the ones more closely associated with anime but Hikkikomori would be a better word. Hopefully, anime will be able to have these believable characters without sacrificing the fun. Kill la Kill wouldn't be fun if they were more realistic but I do admit that some of the reactions and behaviors are a bit unhuman.

Ultimately, it comes down to Sturgeon's law: 90% of everything is crap and in this case, that 90% has anime with horrible character development and no agency

*sighs* I honestly need to see the man's stuff some day...

Regardless, kind of agreed here. But the context given for those quotes makes me believe he wants good characters in everything. Last time I checked, that doesn't happen in a lot of stuff nowadays.

But I don't have much contact with people nowadays. Can't judge on 'realism' in anime characters if I can't even do so in real life. Even if it did quite a lot better.

I now realize I painted quite the grim picture of myself.

scorptatious:
He makes a good point. If you don't know how people in real life work, how are you going to make the people in your creation believable and relatable?

On another note, I think I remember hearing that Miyazaki has a son who's going to follow in his footsteps. Is this true?

It's true, and he has made one movie that wasn't well received. Check out Tales from Earthsea.

Huuuu, no. No offense to Miyazaki -love his movies- but I expected something more intelligent to come out of his mouth.

The Anime industry is suffering because it's becoming hollywood, as in, there's no will to invest or risk anymore. Producers want to invest in what's sure to bring back money, and that sadly means the same old formula almost all the time, with the same kind of characters and protagonists and humour, with fanservice taking over things like plot, character design and even animation, sometimes.

When was the last time we had a series planned to last over 13 or 25/26 episodes in the last few years, even when it comes to manga adaptations, which causes constrictions and cutting of the original source material which most of the times ruins the source material? (with due exceptions. The Jojo Anime did real well in condensing the manga's sometimes really dragged out chapters, and I can't wait for Stardust Crusaders).

The Otakus are not on the inside, the Otakus are on the outside. On the inside there are people who want easy money.

scorptatious:
He makes a good point. If you don't know how people in real life work, how are you going to make the people in your creation believable and relatable?

On another note, I think I remember hearing that Miyazaki has a son who's going to follow in his footsteps. Is this true?

It is true to an extent. His name is Goro Miyazaki he has already produced 2 films, Tales of Earthsea and From Puppy Hill. The former is not nearly as good as Hayaos own productions and people railed on it hard, but it's still worth a watch. The latter was much better received, though I haven't watched it personally.

He aspires to be a director like Hayao, but he just hasn't got his dads knack for it. But he is young (relatively) and has time to develop his trade. I've heard rumors that he doesn't have a great relationship with his dad, but this isn't uncommon in japanese culture, especially when your dad is running a notably successful empire/

I think I like this guy. One of the reasons I really can't stand anime is that it always feels like it's derived from other anime, and once you get into a cycle of turning to your own industry for the majority of your inspiration, reference, and where you pull your ideas and creativity from, it becomes very stale and predictable. It's why I also can't stand styles like steampunk and even traditional high fantasy to a point.

The same problem exists in video games as well, where you have artists pulling from comics, anime and other games instead of looking outside of the "nerd kingdom" to history, culture and art history. I hear about people not getting jobs because they're not as "passionate of gamers" as the team wants them to be, but they might bring something new and valuable with their experience that may be slightly nontraditional.

In my opinion, the solution is to welcome people who might come from different backgrounds, and the more variety you have in the people making the game, anime, or whatever, that cycle will eventually break and more people will become interested in pursuing these kinds of careers.

You have no idea how glad I am to hear this coming from what could be considered an industry leader or idol.

If you asked me if I knew anything about an anime made after 1998, I wouldn't be able to give you a straight answer, if any at all, and if I asked you to say what you liked about an anime, chances are you'd be dedicating a good portion of the time talking about how cute you thought one of the individuals opposite of your gender was. The Japanese shows of today have become so increasingly samey, appealing towards the lonely or sexually miscontent.. it used to be an art show of the wondrous and a look into the East's culture and its difference from the West, now its become a virtual strip-club with a questionable age demographic.

I like quite a bit of anime, but it's hard to disagree with what he's saying. There are so many strange and unnecessary elements, such as the prevalence of downright creepy fan-service, which you find in anime all over the place. It's hardly a surprise that many people are turned off by stuff like this.

And if a large portion of female characters can be classified as either "moe" or "tsundere" that's a definite sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

It feels like it's just fans creating anime for the fans, so themselves, and therefore there are no longer many creative impulses to try something new and everything just turns samey.

Yes and no.

Anime "suffers" because it is a product long before it is art. So those making anime have to make sure what they are making is going to be profitable, and its been proven that really all media, but Anime in particular suffers because it is abusively repetitive as a whole entity and it is so because thats what people buy. That represents more than just the Otaku.

I cant help but mentally likening it to saying "Reality TV suffers because of Duck Dynasty" being stated by Simon Cowell. Trying to craft a master work of art in a medium designed to pander to the least inclined to appreciate the art is going to be problematic at best.

Meinos Kaen:
Huuuu, no. No offense to Miyazaki -love his movies- but I expected something more intelligent to come out of his mouth.

The Anime industry is suffering because it's becoming hollywood, as in, there's no will to invest or risk anymore. Producers want to invest in what's sure to bring back money, and that sadly means the same old formula almost all the time, with the same kind of characters and protagonists and humour, with fanservice taking over things like plot, character design and even animation, sometimes.

When was the last time we had a series planned to last over 13 or 25/26 episodes in the last few years, even when it comes to manga adaptations, which causes constrictions and cutting of the original source material which most of the times ruins the source material? (with due exceptions. The Jojo Anime did real well in condensing the manga's sometimes really dragged out chapters, and I can't wait for Stardust Crusaders).

The Otakus are not on the inside, the Otakus are on the outside. On the inside there are people who want easy money.

I don't know, he does have a point. Japan is having huge problems because young people are turning asexual and generally losing interest in other people. If that's true, then it makes sense that it could also have a negative effect on the anime business. The thing is, they are probably trying to appeal to these people, leaving less room for the good stuff.

I think hikikomori would have been a better word than otaku. Hikikomori are the people who don't socialize or interact with other human beings. Otaku are just obsessed in the context he's using, and that doesn't exactly exclude social interactions, but hikikomori does.

MrBaskerville:

Meinos Kaen:
Huuuu, no. No offense to Miyazaki -love his movies- but I expected something more intelligent to come out of his mouth.

The Anime industry is suffering because it's becoming hollywood, as in, there's no will to invest or risk anymore. Producers want to invest in what's sure to bring back money, and that sadly means the same old formula almost all the time, with the same kind of characters and protagonists and humour, with fanservice taking over things like plot, character design and even animation, sometimes.

When was the last time we had a series planned to last over 13 or 25/26 episodes in the last few years, even when it comes to manga adaptations, which causes constrictions and cutting of the original source material which most of the times ruins the source material? (with due exceptions. The Jojo Anime did real well in condensing the manga's sometimes really dragged out chapters, and I can't wait for Stardust Crusaders).

The Otakus are not on the inside, the Otakus are on the outside. On the inside there are people who want easy money.

I don't know, he does have a point. Japan is having huge problems because young people are turning asexual and generally losing interest in other people. If that's true, then it makes sense that it could also have a negative effect on the anime business. The thing is, they are probably trying to appeal to these people, leaving less room for the good stuff.

Oh, that Japanese are about to go extinct because of their culture, focus on work and social lives is true, but blaming that all on Anime is really blind. Anime and Manga are a refuge, the root of the problem is in japanese culture in general. Removing that refuge will do nothing but harm. If Japan wants to help itself, it needs to change how their citizens live and get brought up, starting from their scholastic system.

As for Anime producers, they're businessmen. Of course they want to appeal to the people, that's the whole point of the entertainment business. Then, there are those who manage to both appeal to people and even make something good with their resources, but that's a minority, sadly.

It seems a bit hypocritical for someone who neglected his children while making movies to be complaining that the industry has too many people who don't pay attention to people.

But yeah, it could be a problem that creators are out of touch... but Otaku by the typical American definition would probably be good, someone who's passionate about what they enjoy and transfer that into what they make.

One reason I like the Street Fighter II Animated Movie so much is the fights feel "real". They're visceral, quick, and weighty, with even a "special move" used on rare occasion and integrated as part of their repertoire rather than a Dragonball Z style final move (that they should've used from the beginning). It was choreographed by an actual martial artist... and almost every other "fight" I've seen in an anime feels weightless and puny, even the CG stuff like in Advent Children. Overly choreographed, flashy, but silly and puny.

Observing real people, how they talk, how the move, can do wonders for any animated industry, from anime to western shows to video games to movies.

Izanagi009:
I guess I understand why he uses Otaku since they are the ones more closely associated with anime but Hikkikomori would be a better word.

Hikkikomori doesn't work has he is speaking of the people working in the industry, kind of hard of been classified has having withdrawn from society, if you go to work outside your home.

iniudan:

Izanagi009:
I guess I understand why he uses Otaku since they are the ones more closely associated with anime but Hikkikomori would be a better word.

Hikkikomori doesn't work has he is speaking of the people working in the industry, kind of hard of been classified has having withdrawn from society if you go to work.

fair enough, that is true, i guess i was thinking about the Hikkikomori's tendency to shut the world out. Regardless, the industry does need to get some perspective on the real world and actually learn how not to make pandering messes

Meinos Kaen:
Huuuu, no. No offense to Miyazaki -love his movies- but I expected something more intelligent to come out of his mouth.

The Anime industry is suffering because it's becoming hollywood, as in, there's no will to invest or risk anymore. Producers want to invest in what's sure to bring back money, and that sadly means the same old formula almost all the time, with the same kind of characters and protagonists and humour, with fanservice taking over things like plot, character design and even animation, sometimes.

When was the last time we had a series planned to last over 13 or 25/26 episodes in the last few years, even when it comes to manga adaptations, which causes constrictions and cutting of the original source material which most of the times ruins the source material? (with due exceptions. The Jojo Anime did real well in condensing the manga's sometimes really dragged out chapters, and I can't wait for Stardust Crusaders).

The Otakus are not on the inside, the Otakus are on the outside. On the inside there are people who want easy money.

Well put, my friend. While I partly agree with Miyazaki that anime, along with other forms of entertainment, suffers from a lack of quality but its not the fans that are to blame. It's the people inside the system pandering to the audience who lack the testicular fortitude to take a risk on something new. Makes me long for a New Hollywood type of revolution to take hold.

I'd say anime suffers because it endlessly panders to "otaku".

Very, very, very few anime are allowed to simply tell a story anymore. It's all about merchandize, with characters designed in a way so that people will wanna buy figurines.

He is right that anime has become completely stuck within its own tropes and clichés. Both visually and thematically. It's like creators in the industry don't want or are not allowed to reflect on what's going on in their own society. This is why the death of Satoshi Kon was such a loss; He was one of the very few that thought outside the box, I'd say even more so than Miyazaki.

For fuck's sake Katsuhiro Otomo and Koji Morimoto, where the hell are you guys?!

And here I thought I had maxed out on the respect I could give to Mr. Miyazaki. Good show, old chap.

My god it's good to hear someone within the anime industry mirror my thoughts on...well...
the anime industry. It was once a media form rife with originality, creativity, heart, character, and imagination. Now, these things are a rarity.

Chemical Alia:
I think I like this guy. One of the reasons I really can't stand anime is that it always feels like it's derived from other anime, and once you get into a cycle of turning to your own industry for the majority of your inspiration, reference, and where you pull your ideas and creativity from, it becomes very stale and predictable. It's why I also can't stand styles like steampunk and even traditional high fantasy to a point.

The same problem exists in video games as well, where you have artists pulling from comics, anime and other games instead of looking outside of the "nerd kingdom" to history, culture and art history. I hear about people not getting jobs because they're not as "passionate of gamers" as the team wants them to be, but they might bring something new and valuable with their experience that may be slightly nontraditional.

In my opinion, the solution is to welcome people who might come from different backgrounds, and the more variety you have in the people making the game, anime, or whatever, that cycle will eventually break and more people will become interested in pursuing these kinds of careers.

QFT. Consider the gifs above directed to you as well.

"Variety is the spice of life" has never been a more apropos saying. Unless we were talking about cooking...

Wise words from a wise man. Even though the "look" of anime has always sort of turned me off, I've always been impressed that animation could be such a productive industry over there and churn out so much variety in the kinds of stories they tell. Meanwhile, except for Panty and Stocking (because, for some reason, Gainax has been moving in the exact opposite direction from the rest of the industry, getting more and more insane and out-there with every new thing they make), I can't think of anything that's come out of anime in the last five years....... period. There just hasn't been anything interesting enough to get people's attention.

Trishbot:
One reason I like the Street Fighter II Animated Movie so much is the fights feel "real". They're visceral, quick, and weighty, with even a "special move" used on rare occasion and integrated as part of their repertoire rather than a Dragonball Z style final move (that they should've used from the beginning). It was choreographed by an actual martial artist... and almost every other "fight" I've seen in an anime feels weightless and puny, even the CG stuff like in Advent Children. Overly choreographed, flashy, but silly and puny.

Ah, Street Fighter 2... When anime characters still had bulk.

One might say a bit too much bulk, but still...

From what I've read about the workload of manga-artists, and probably anime-artists as well, they are so overworked they probably have no time to go outside and meet people.

I haven't been following new anime for years, but probably the anime that's popular in the west isn't fully representative of all anime.

Casual Shinji:

Trishbot:
One reason I like the Street Fighter II Animated Movie so much is the fights feel "real". They're visceral, quick, and weighty, with even a "special move" used on rare occasion and integrated as part of their repertoire rather than a Dragonball Z style final move (that they should've used from the beginning). It was choreographed by an actual martial artist... and almost every other "fight" I've seen in an anime feels weightless and puny, even the CG stuff like in Advent Children. Overly choreographed, flashy, but silly and puny.

Ah, Street Fighter 2... When anime characters still had bulk.

One might say a bit too much bulk, but still...

Yeah, that's THE FIRST of the tropes that need to go. Can I please have a main character that doesn't look like someone may put him in a dress at any moment, and that would look good in it?!

When is the last time Japan had a good male role model? Say what you want about action heroes, but you never fear someone will put them in a dress.

Chemical Alia:
One of the reasons I really can't stand anime is that it always feels like it's derived from other anime, and once you get into a cycle of turning to your own industry for the majority of your inspiration, reference, and where you pull your ideas and creativity from, it becomes very stale and predictable.

The same problem exists in video games as well, where you have artists pulling from comics, anime and other games instead of looking outside of the "nerd kingdom" to history, culture and art history.

I wouldn't even say this about Games anymore though. Most of the AAA games or recent titles stories and narratives seem to ignore the games altogether and focus on Tolkien, Superhero comics or films. Rather than learning from other games about how gameplay should be the centre of how the narritive is conveyed, most designers are convinced game's stories can only improve by becoming films or books.

Hence my hatred of the term "cinematic", it's one thing to make a game like Hotline Miami where the overall style and aesthetic draws from other media (Drive in this example), it's another when people make a Fantasy RPG and start copy pasting from Lord Of The Rings instead of creating an interesting concept (I'm looking at you Gaider).

Miyazaki is the man and I agree with him completely. There are a few animes a year that kind of break the mold and deliver believable characters, but they are few and far between. I always figured it was because they were pandering to their audience, but I suppose the fact that otakus run rampant both in and outside the industry explains a lot.

Well, he's certainly not wrong, the industry is in shambles and is more or less artistically bankrupt, and has been for almost a decade now. The vast majority of shows that come out are basically tropes, archetypes and misogyny wrapped around stupid gimmicks and unoriginal ideas.

If there was ever an industry in dire need of fresh blood...

I agree completely. That is why you get constantly rehashed character, constantly rehashed themes, and constantly rehashed series. People who love something so much they only want to recreate it is the end to actual art. I love comics... but could only think of compelling story ideas after I stopped reading them. I also greatly increased my artistic skill after stepping away.

Steve the Pocket:
Wise words from a wise man. Even though the "look" of anime has always sort of turned me off, I've always been impressed that animation could be such a productive industry over there and churn out so much variety in the kinds of stories they tell. Meanwhile, except for Panty and Stocking (because, for some reason, Gainax has been moving in the exact opposite direction from the rest of the industry, getting more and more insane and out-there with every new thing they make), I can't think of anything that's come out of anime in the last five years....... period. There just hasn't been anything interesting enough to get people's attention.

Gainax and Trigger have my exact attention because they're insane, them being like that feels fresh and different from most anime out there that tend to fall between slice of life,slice of life romantic,slice of life comedy focus,romance,comedy,pure pandering (yeah I know Panty+Stocking had some of that and KLK).

I can agree sorta with what Miyazaki is saying but at the same time I feel as if the industry has been stale for years to begin with, these days I hardly watch much if any anime besides KLK and Space Dandy because one is insane and new with ideas and the other harps back to two older animes like Cowboy bebop and Outlaw Star.

It would be nice though if many studios just dropped the sole pandering and merch making ideas and instead opted for something more out of the box that's new rather than what's in the box and what's hollywood.

I also went crazy for anime like Paranoia Agent, perfect blue and Blue Submarine 6.

Lieju:
Yeah, that's THE FIRST of the tropes that need to go. Can I please have a main character that doesn't look like someone may put him in a dress at any moment, and that would look good in it?!

When is the last time Japan had a good male role model? Say what you want about action heroes, but you never fear someone will put them in a dress.

Just because a male character looks feminine doesn't mean they wouldn't be a good male role model. But the design of the sensitive young boy is one that's disgustingly overused.

One of the reasons I liked School Rumble was that the main hero was a big guy with sunglasses and a goatee. Now this was only because the creator of the manga inserted himself into the story, the rest of which was rather cliché ridden, but at least it didn't adhere to that particular one.

It'd be nice to see more characters like Jubei from Ninja Scroll; Not overly massive, not terribly boyish, just a regular sized male.

Miyazaki's work clearly benefits from his examinations. It's one of the things that makes his work so wonderful, his characters so alive.

That said, I find it more than slightly amusing that the guardian angel of modern anime just basically stated, "Fucking fanboys..."

Casual Shinji:
I'd say anime suffers because it endlessly panders to "otaku".

Very, very, very few anime are allowed to simply tell a story anymore. It's all about merchandize, with characters designed in a way so that people will wanna buy figurines.

He is right that anime has become completely stuck within its own tropes and clichés. Both visually and thematically. It's like creators in the industry don't want or are not allowed to reflect on what's going on in their own society. This is why the death of Satoshi Kon was such a loss; He was one of the very few that thought outside the box, I'd say even more so than Miyazaki.

For fuck's sake Katsuhiro Otomo and Koji Morimoto, where the hell are you guys?!

Yeah this stuff is certainly what turned me off the genre, though I never thought of it from the perspective Miyazaki put it's not just pandering to your audience but t rather the 'otakus' are on the inside as well.

People say it's just a good business decision, but I wonder. In video game turns it would be kind of like Nintendo turning in on itself and only making Mario & Zelda games catering exclusively to the 10 million people who want just that. Consider this, what was the most popular new anime series last year? That would probably be Attack on Titan. How much fanservice or otaku pandering did it have? ZERO. Not that it was without any anime tropes, but essentially the animated medium gives you unlimited potential for creating all sorts of original stories in interesting settings, and surprise surprise an anime that drops the over indulgent fan service bullshit and does just that becomes globally popular.

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