It’s hard to imagine legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki needing to be any more lauded than he already is. Over 95 percent of Japan’s population has watched one of his movies, people see uploading his films to the Internet as being the fast track to popularity, and he’s even got a celestial body named after him. Really, though, after seeing the quality of his work, it’s hard to argue with the respect he receives. The man is clearly a genius.
However, Miyazaki is also a 73-year-old man, and like many individuals who have reached such an age, occasionally can’t resist the stubborn urge to grumble about how the people who came up after him are screwing up his industry.
A series of screen captures from an interview given by Miyazaki was recently posted on Japanese website Golden Times. In the images, we see the director working on a drawing of a young girl, of course with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth (we’re beginning to suspect the smokes are some sort of growth that protrudes from Miyazaki’s mouth, given the rarity of seeing him without one).
As he sketches, Miyazaki expounds on why he’s able to do the things he does.
“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!”
On one hand, it seems a little obvious that Japan’s animation studios would largely be staffed by the people known as otaku, given that the term, in its most commonly used unqualified form, generally refers to people who really like anime.
▼ In other news, boxing is full of dudes who really like punching stuff.
At the same time, it’s hard to argue with Miyazaki’s criticism of otaku in relation to the more pejorative connotation the word holds, that of a person lacking in social breadth and well-rounded life experiences. Given the way in which his films’ characters have been striking chords with audiences for decades, the famed director’s derision of many other artists’ inability to properly project human elements in animation definitely has some credibility behind it.
So if your dream is to be the next big thing in the anime industry, it might be in your best interest to get out of the house a little more.
▼ Feel free to take your sketchbook with you.