When the Prophets of Anime Attempted to Predict the Future for 1986

Newtype looks for a brighter future after a disappointing 1985

 Newtype magazine, which is part of the bedrock of promotion anime, thought 1985 was a flat year for animation. The industry was grappling with how to compete on the global playing field, lack of talented artists, lack of opportunities for young artists, fans looking for more classic Gundam and lolicon, to name a few concerns that might sounds familiar. 


Going into 1986, which happened to be the year when Studio Ghibli released their first movie, Newtype asked 21 of the top names in anime what they were working on, what they were looking forward to, what they would like to see and where they they thought the industry was going.


Most follow chronicler of all things vintage anime Oldtype Newtype has presented a translation of the thoughts of the 21 Prophets of Anime. 

To further place the time historically, Mamoru Oshii kicked off OVAs with December 1983's Dallos. That tend branched into hentai with withh 1984's Lolita Anime.





HAYAO MIYAZAKI (writer and director of “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”)

What are the animated works that the young ones, the ten year olds to fifteen year olds want to watch? Doors will surely open if you keep them in mind.


It’s unthinkable that new hope can come out of TV when one episode from a TV series needs 3500 cells to be drawn. On the other hand, in movie theaters as well, there are no films that will mobilize moviegoers other than anime fans. I think that filmmakers have forgotten the basics of selling movies.  Collaboration films intended for overseas markets are all the rage,  and even though I want the fans who are in Japan to see these films, they can’t and all I’m left with is frustration.  Only deterioration can come out of this situation.  Actually, there isn’t even one anime today that is aimed at older kids in elementary school to kids in middle-school - the very kids who should be watching anime.  (The anime available now) is aimed at younger kids at elementary school and then jumps straight into anime for college kid anime maniacs. It’s a tough time for fifteen year olds who are put aside by society.  Twelve year olds to fifteen year olds are the kids who need the most comfort and yet the situation now is that they get their comfort from handheld video games.  Those who produce animation are losing sight of their targeted audience.  The remaining anime fans are making anime that they want to watch, and this is a symptom (of the present situation) that is beyond redemption. This is why video animation is still backward in terms of its production, and only its format is new. 


If one has an earnest approach, children will definitely react.  This is a real example - in a run-down middle school, in his morning greeting, a new principal said, “I don’t determine a person’s value by his or her grades or appearance”.  Miraculously, all misbehavior was gone from that day’s afternoon onwards.  What children want has always had just one theme - an adventure that saves the mind and heart.


(Caption for illustration at the top of the page)

The hero “Pazu” and heroine “Sheeta” from “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”.  Mr. Miyazaki comments that “For a young lad, living at all times in itself is an adventure.  The reason why Japanese adventure novels are boring is that the hero (in these novels) makes a living out of going on an adventure.”



MAMORU OSHII (scriptwriter and director of “Angel’s Egg”)

This is a warning!! Please reduce the number of collaboration animes before Japanese animation is annihilated.


If I’m going to be severe about it, I’d say that I want all collaboration animes gone.


Those who work in big studios and places with systems in place may not feel a sense of crisis yet.  But in the case of freelance animators like us who work together and put together a workplace and disperse once our anime is done, a part of our actual work is outsourced.   Recently however, the small video studios and finishing studios that we outsource to are loaded with collaboration work.  Japanese animes can’t compete with collaboration animes in terms of profit so when that happens, we just have to rely on the goodwill of the studio bosses, or make them feel the same way we do with regards to the contents of our work, or by chance see an opening and aim for that, or appease them or plead with them.  We can’t work in just that kind of a situation.  That’s why it’s almost impossible to make highly compact and solid animes in Japan now.  Even without going that far, it’s almost impossible to make even decent animes in the country today.  In fact, anime TV series are almost all in shambles, and I can’t even be optimistic about the video quality of the anime we have now.  In this kind of situation, I can’t help but seriously think if next year, our ideas can be made into anime. 


(Caption for illustration at the left side of the page)

A girl from Mamoru Oshii’s original video anime “Angel’s Egg” (drawn by Seikou Nakura).  Mr. Oshii revealed that he is having a hard time because there aren’t enough animators to make even just one anime video.



MASAMI YUUKI (manga artist)

As a rule, the three things I’d like to see are: “something that isn’t originally from manga”; “robot animation that isn’t dark”; and “in one year, a collaborative anime by Osamu Dezaki and Akio Sugino for release in Japan”.  I can watch TV anime while casually lying around but I’d like anime that I wouldn’t be able to take my eyes off of the screen, something that is both easy to watch and amusing.  And as written in other magazines before, I’d like to see Mr. Hayao Miyazaki’s version of “Atragon”! (Translator’s note: “Undersea Warship” in Japan)



RYOKO YAMAGISHI (manga artist)

If there were an anime like Disney’s “Fantasia”, I’d watch it!


See more from Gisaburo Sugii, Isao Takahata, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, and Yuuki Kudou here.




It’s important to have interesting anime that will be universally accepted!


I haven’t really watched TV anime these past two years.  Once you get rid of a habit, it’s not good.  Once you distance yourself from anime, you won’t even be able tell which anime is good and which is bad.  It’s scary to think that I’ve been watching anime by force of habit.


I also haven’t watched that many video animes to be fussy about it but I feel that video animes have become closer in form to manga.   I can’t say though that it’s already at the serialized manga level, but it’s just a matter of time.  But if you’re going to make video anime and you don’t make it differently from TV anime, it will be a waste.  Probably change the design a bit…just like what Mr. Oshii is doing.  Once your attempts go beyond the realm of attempting things and once you’ve achieved something basic, I think we’d probably be able to see the direction of video anime for the first time.  If I were to create video anime, I’d like to make a short sixty minute one, something that is highly concentrated and can’t be fully “digested” in a TV anime format.  Sixty minutes is too short for a movie and too long for TV, and I think it is a length that is untapped and put aside. 


Compared to video, TV’s strong point is that you can make serialized anime on TV.  Nicely put, TV is a medium wherein if you don’t have “ordinariness” (badly put, “mass appeal”) you won’t succeed so in this sense TV is a more demanding form of media than video.  I also don’t like the trend wherein anime that don’t appeal to the masses are turned into video anime.  I think that video anime should also have universal appeal.


For 1986, if there are proposals that come my way, I’ll do them.  I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do.



There must be anime that only young animators can do!


I think that mass media has a very strong influence on children.  I want people to be more conscious of that.  I feel that anime that is being made today just to make money is overly increasing - animators don’t question things, or assert themselves.  An extreme example is the Lolita complex boom of late.  If a person is being shown something like (a Lolita anime) from way back (from childhood), that person’s imagination takes precedence instead of the ability to adapt to another human being, and stress builds up as a result.  I think we should oppose this current reality, and as for myself, I plan to try different things.  I wonder what I’d be able to do before I turn thirty-five, and I also think that you can learn from failure




The computer is absolutely infiltrating the anime world.


It’s possible to think that in the future, the possibilities of computer graphics will first be used in the industrial fields.   For example, the depth maps of the Japan Coast Guard just have numbers on them now but if you input these numbers into a computer, you’ll be able to see valleys (under the sea) that continue for miles as video images.  And if this (technology) presses forward, for example, there is an (American) masterpiece special effects movie called “Fantastic Voyage” wherein they (physically) made the sets and then shot the film but in the future, you can make the movie set by inputting data in a computer. 


Speaking of another side (of this technology), take the example of video images shown on large screens that have been demonstrated at an expo.  Just like what was shown in the expo, video images and 3D images shown on dome-like screens can only be made using a computer. 


In this way, the spotlight is now aimed at anime as a means to (showcase technology).  Animation’s possibilities will also become limitless as it will need to respond to the diversification of people’s demands.


(Caption for illustration on the right side of the page)

This is Cindy, a young girl from a biker gang in the anime “Megazone 23 Part 2”.  Mr. Yasuomi Umetsu’s character design is original, as personified in this drawing.  This anime has a different kind of appeal compared to Part 1. 



I’d like to make a video anime that will be a preview of a movie theater anime


With regards to “Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight”, I didn’t make excuses and I haven’t commented on it but there are clear reasons why that movie ended in failure.  That anime was originally a one-hour program, twelve episode TV anime - in other words, it was an anime made to be aired for twelve hours.  I think there was a big mistake in the producers’ thinking that they could digest this into a two and a half hour movie. 


I used to say that after 1955, there wouldn’t be a hit anime made for movie theaters.   The same thing is about to happen in the video anime world.  If the overproduction of low-quality anime continues, there will definitely be a backlash.  It seems that the most basic idea during planning anime has been forgotten.  And this basic idea is this: things expressed through anime must rouse people’s imaginations. 


We’re planning on releasing an anime for movie theaters on July 9, 1986 based on “Desler”*.  But before that we’re planning on selling a promotion video about the movie in April.  In making this video, budgetary issues, which have always been a concern in video animes, have been set aside so I’m planning on making it in the same high-quality as the movie.  I’m also thinking of releasing a trailer of the movie at the same time.


*Translator’s note: Desler is a character in the anime “Space Battleship Yamato”.


(Box at the lower left side of the page)

If there were animes like this I’d watch them! 



SHOJOTAI (a singer/actress trio)

Reiko: Among animated characters, I like Peter Rabbit.  I’d like Peter to guide me into a dreamy nature scene. 

Miho: I really like Phillips. I’d like to plunge into a world adventure with a kitty cat.

Tomo: More than anything, I like Snoopy.  I’d watch any number of animes with Snoopy in it.  I’d like to watch happy animes.


Read more from Keisuke Fujikawa, Tomoko Konparu and  Fujihiko Hosono here

KENJI YOKOYAMA (Toei Animation Co.)

The new hit TV show Gegege no Kitaro from the fall of 1985 which received top ratings reflects modern times.


This is what I’ve been thinking with the third conversion of Gegege no Kitaro into animation.  One is the change in children’s thinking with regards to ghosts/monsters.  Of course “Ghostbusters” and “E.T.” have influenced this change, and now kids consider ghosts almost as pets.  So in this way I think that if you match the present mood and go in the direction of lighter anime, you’ll be able to create different things from before.  Children’s lives are too managed now, so they’d want an outlet to vent too. And in a society that has too many things and where, if you have the money, you can buy anything, things like the Toyoda Company fraud scandal and shady investment journals can also be construed as monstrosities. This anime has this overall theme: In the ideal world of Kitaro, monsters, people, animals, grass and trees should all co-exist so I thought I’d have various new approaches within the anime.


As a new endeavor, our company is going into video anime.  It’s called “Amon Saga” and we’re not just going to sell it in video format, (I’m also hoping) we can show it in any movie theater even for just one week otherwise it’ll just be too sad.   Especially with regards to original works with names that aren’t well known, I think it’s dangerous to rely on just one production studio. After “Konpora Kid” ends, beginning February, we’re planning on animating “Kinka”, a serialized manga in the weekly magazine Shonen Jump.


(Caption for illustration on the left side of the page)

A figure from the very popular “Kitaro”.  They can’t keep up with the demand for a ghost eraser that they’ve produced and now it is a hit product.  It’s also been decided that there will be new movie releases for this anime in the New Year and in the spring.

EIJI YAMAURA (Nihon Sunrise Co.)

Find common ground with your viewers and defeat this lethargic mood!


Sunrise has now expanded into six studios and at any given point in time, we plan to work simultaneously on two to three anime TV series, video anime, anime for movie theaters and collaboration anime.  Overall, anime today is manga magazine-driven, so our question is how far can we go in staying on an original anime track. Robot animes have vastly decreased in number, so conversely, I think this is a chance for us to come out with epoch-making anime.  I’d like to make anime that will allow us to seriously converse with our child viewers.




Making anime that will be understood by the whole world!  The robot anime boom is shifting from transformation-type robots to robots that merge into one.


Speaking of Japanese products in the international market today, mechanical products come to mind.  This is also true in the animation world since Japanese robot animes are extremely in vogue.  Especially in the American market, they already have transformation-type robot animes, so animes that have robots that merge into one are new to them.  We’ve already exported “Beast King GoLion”, following that, (we’re going to export) “Dancouga Super Beast Machine God”. 


We at Artmic plan to make animation that can be exported to foreign markets and we also are also keeping in mind to configure these anime with universal values.  The video anime “Gall Force” is the first step in that direction.



YUKI SAITO (actress and singer)

I was in a manga research group when I was in high school so all I watched were anime from Sunrise.  I like “Gundam” and “Ideon”.  If there were anime in that vein, I think I’d be obsessed again.


Read more from Nobuo Inada Junzou Nakakima, Hiromichi Mogaki, Hiroshi Kato, Masayasu Sagisu, Toshihiro Nagao, Yuuji Nunokawa,  Akio Yoshida, and Miki Tori here.

Before sure to check out Oldtype Newtype for more.

Scott Green is editor and reporter for anime and manga at geek entertainment site Ain't It Cool News. Follow him on Twitter at @aicnanime.


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