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Miyazaki: The Problem With The Anime Industry Is It's Full of Otaku
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Posted 1/30/14

Nobodyofimportance wrote:

Of the shows you've watched this year, tell me which protagonist's names you remember, and why, for curiosity's sake.

Of the ones I remember, they were either:

  1. Part of the show's title.
  2. Talked about often in this forum.
  3. Shouted a lot in the anime.
  4. Strange, short, and easy to remember.
  5. Known from a prior season.

I'm an oddball though, I rarely remember names and usually have to look them up.
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Posted 1/30/14

papagolfwhiskey wrote:


Exactly like that. his unfortunately choice of terminology doesn't change the probable reality. I've seen it too often in education. Peope got to high school and then university and the straight into teaching where they control their own little worlds, and where like post grads and professors MANY (not all of course) never leave the shelter of academia.

Their ability to meaningfully teach some folk is crippled by the fact that all they know is 'the book'

Likewise will a person who did nothing but sketch first his comic book heroes then his own comic book heroes and tell his own comic book stories to himself until he breaks into the western comic book industry have the same richness of story telling as someone who say... was a war vet in between creative endeavors? Possibly. But my money's on the person who's been places and seen things.

One of the best sci fi, 'war' authors I know has 'seen the elephant' and it shows in his writing. I don't think it's impossible to write good war novels if you're not a Vet. CJ Cherryh is considered a good writer of those type of tales and when she was of of enlistment age the military was still very much 'No GURLS ALLWD" . I still think David Drake could not have Written Hammer's Slammers without having ridden with the BlackHorse.



Don't simply label everything black and white not.

Everyone has a story. The Trekkie, the War vet, the Doctor, the drop out, the Otaku, and the cancer patient. Not everyone knows how to tell their story, but everyone has one.

I don't agree with the statement "Otaku's never look around them, and therefore can't write good characters/stories"

I will agree that bad content does exist. But people still read and watch these shows, some of them still have reasons to be watched.

Saying something so general as "Otaku don't see people around them" is a negative assumption on a stereotype. It's not something you should wave around as serious social commentary. This man makes movies for a living, he doesn't study people.

A man who spends his life studying and reading comic books, learning to draw them, and takes inspiration from the life story of a War veteran can make something amazing.

A man who went to war, got back form the war and learned to write, can also make something amazing.

You're not limited by what you havn't done, you're only enabled by what you have. That is the general message I want to get across here. You can't convince me, and you should never insist to anyone, a man who's lived a wilder and crazy life than someone else, instantly makes a better story. That is simply not true.
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Posted 1/31/14
I'd agree with the overall sentiment of the statements Miyazaki-san makes. Rabid super-fans catering to other super-fans is a bad trend.

Soon too many works lack depth and story and do not convey in a relatable manner the persons and their interactions within the story.

Catering to a niche market is fine, but compromising the depth and impact of the story and characters makes it so the endeavor is just a cash grab and becomes a commercial vehicle instead of being an artistic one that can be commercially successful.

Miyazaki-san, having been in the industry for a long period and having talent and artistic vision of a high level that stands up to critique is probably talking in "big-picture" ways. He knows how understanding aspects of personal interactions and how people act and react allows incite and a good basis.

It seems that to his eyes , many of the current works the industry is producing are lacking relatable aspects and aren't being done as "made by super fans" with sincerity and purpose that most artists he imagines would have for their works if they saw their audience as fully realized human beings.

It is like if the (the otaku creators in his context,) don't care enough about they audience to try and know them beyond focusing on their base emotions and weaknesses to manipulate and use for making easier profits, they by ignorance or incompetence . disregard the rest of humanity as being unworthy of their time and efforts.

He seems like he doesn't want to have the creators imagining their audience as only caring about some obsessive super-fan only relevant possibilities, but as complex real people and to do that , they themselves have to be better than some stereotypical "otaku" that he seems to think many of them lately tend to be.

It speaks to a cultural aspect in Japan were pursuing perfection with sincerity in you endeavors is admirable but being "otaku" about it is missing the point and is almost like a corruption. It's hard to look at and has been taken too far and skewed away from what being passionate and sincere about something you like means.

Having the current trends skew towards exploiting and encouraging "otaku" fans isn't the same as endearing people to your works and come from a seemingly negative motivation.

Personally I'd like the industry adapt more light novels than pure manga works into anime in the hope that the concepts and writing would come from people that care about the story more since I do thin a lot of the current works do just go with what sells. Anime cannot just be pop culture lacking in depth and quality but I hope some of the current trends are coming up because quality works takes time and the artists that care cannot pump out material at the same pace that junk emerges.

Miyazaki-san's works stand out because they are good art and can stand on their own but if the industry shifts towards more and more mediocre works were even the good stuff isn't special anymore but every making junk still gets paid, eventually we wont get stand out works.

I don't think we are at that point yet, they is a lot of good enjoyable anime out there and coming up too, but I see his point and I think it is good that he cares enough to make a point. I don't know if he use the proper wording to try and make that point, but trying to make the point counts and hopfully some people get that instead of trying to focus too much on him using "otaku" to point out a trend he sees as bad for the industry.

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Posted 1/31/14 , edited 1/31/14

Felstalker wrote:


I am obviously not a good writer I have failed to transmit my message. I don't disagree with anything you say. I'm surprised you got the opposite from own post. anyhow. all I was trying to say is that there may be some truth to his statements. you don't have to be a great person to make great art. and you don't have to have witnessed good stories yourself to be a good story teller. I agree with that. But I've also seen the limitations of people who live narrow and tightly focused lives. I have a friend approaching middle age who cannot have social conversation unless it's about video game content. Most of my family comes from Academia they all have stories of teachers and professors who are... helpless outside of their little worlds. These people do exist too and their limitations are real.

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Posted 1/31/14
This conversation is reminding me of how people thought Glen Cook was a Vietnam veteran after he wrote The Black Company. Which is just reiterating on the conversation, about how people don't have to experience things directly but being open and aware of just stuff happening around you can infuse your writing and bring it to life.

It also reminds me of how J.R.R. Tolkien fought in WWI, and how glad I am a stray bullet didn't empty his brainpan.
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Posted 1/31/14

papagolfwhiskey wrote:





People are limited in what they know and do. Some people are stubborn and barely think about things.

I'll remember one of my first College classes, I can't remember the subject....Sociology maybe? I failed it. Something about "Projects" and "Homework" whatever those things are. I don't do that stuff.

Anyhow. On the first day, the Teacher asked everyone a question....which now that i think about it, I don't remember. Fuck.
Ok, the point of the story was he asked us a question, and the majority of the students answered "I never thought about it before"

Those people, I don't generally like those people. When I talk to someone, I ask them questions. I don't shut the hell up about questions. I'll ask them over and over. But if it has to be from something specific...so what?

Are you sure it's not you as well? Your friend can only talk about Video games...how much do you talk about Video Games? Back before High School, all I could ever talk about was Video Games. Let me tell you, it was not fun. If people get into a conversation about Cars, I zone out. If they start talking about Football, I leave the room. This is what happens when someone talks about things I don't know or like. If they want to talk about Video games, anime, movies, computer-stuff. I'm there and willing to talk and talk and talk and talk. But if it's something I don't know about, why the hell would I even try to talk about it? Your friend who only talks about Video Games, how close to this friend are you? Do you talk to them day in and day out about Video Games? Is it the only thing that connects you to socially? How else would you become this persons friend, if not through a medium of mutual communication?

A Social Conversation is redundant. A conversation is social, it involves two people talking. If Otaku's only talk to Otaku's, that's still a conversation, and they're doing something with someone else.

I believe Miyazaki is commenting less on "Otaku's are unsocial" and more "I hate Otaku's, because I'm a feminist and all they produce is Moe garbage" which is something he has a well known dislike of.

As useless as someone is outside of their field of expertise, they are still useful. I don't have to know about Cars to have a meaningful conversation.

On a side note, I couldn't talk about Anime growing up. A lot of anime fan's in general tended to avoid/dislike me, which I've identified was some passive Racism. The only people I could talk to were people of color, and I'm talking a broad spectrum of color here. Black to Indian to Chinese to Mexican. Video Games have a much much larger fan base than Anime, and is socially acceptable enough to hold it's own in daily conversation. Even if it's can be perceived as limited.

What do you consider passes for "Social communication"? Does someone really have to know Video Games, Anime, Cars, Sports, Politics, and Movies to have a real discussion with you? The friends I play Video Games with, I only talk about Video Games with, as I know that's what we have in common. I don't bring up how awesome my MS-14S Gelgoog model is coming along.
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Posted 1/31/14 , edited 1/31/14
Personally, I enjoy the anime that comes out these days. When you sift through all the garbage over the last several years, you have some really fine anime that have come out. I think of anime like the 2011 version of Hunter X Hunter, Kyousogiga, The Monogatari Series, Katanagatari, Ano Hana, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Steins;Gate and more. No way those anime aren't top notch.

However, I do see his point. Hayao Miyazaki is a master at touching human emotion, creating characters you can relate to and stories you remember from your childhood and still appreciate as an adult. Most anime today, they don't do that. The human element is gone from a lot of characters and what's left in their place are archetypes. I consider the "Moe Blobs" or "Pervy Protagonists" that completely dominate today's anime. I mean, is there an anime that DOESN'T have a trip to the Onsen and Beach? Or where someone walks in on someone in the shower? It's more like anime creators today make situations and tropes for cookie-cutter anime characters to fall into and be defined by, rather than actually making defined and unique characters. A lot of anime protagonists these days are completely interchangeable, not to mention the supporting casts.

Going through all the anime, you see that characters aren't unique for the most part. Take any harem anime. And it's not really defined characters, they are defined by a primary trait that is exhibited through situations. "The Shy One", "The Tsundere", "The Nerd", "The Snobby One", "The Tomboy". And you can take any one of those characters and swap them with their counter part in any other harem anime and it wouldn't be any different.

This is a problem even in great animes, and as such, without a deeper human element, the industry does suffer as a whole. If that human element is lost due to Otaku-ism, I'm not sure. Because even Otaku interact with Otaku. But, there definitely is a serious problem with cookie-cutter anime and a lack of creating deeper characters that you can relate to, stories that touch you on a deeper level, and become legendary to even the most casual of anime fan.
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Posted 1/31/14
His blanket statement of saying the industry is made of otaku aside, he's absolutely right.

People who don't spend anytime watching and interacting with different kinds of people will NEVER be able to accurately write that on screen.

That's what I think of the article. Now on to some things I've seen in the discussion so far.



As far as otakus interacting with other otakus counting, that is total BS. Not because otakus aren't people, but if you only talk to people like yourself, you won't learn a darn thing about yourself or about others. There are billions of people on this planet and to limit your range of interaction to only one specific segment is to cut yourself off from the vast majority of humanity.


Felstalker wrote:
What about teen romance novels? High Fantasy novels? Are these dime-a-dozen books any worse because their are hundreds of them?

Look at movies! Big Budget blockbusters, animated Disney Princesses, our yearly Action/Comedy/Romance/Teen/Horror movies?

They aren't worse BECAUSE there are hundreds of them. But there are hundred of theme BECAUSE they are of inferior quality. Now, obviously, here and there you will find an excellent book in the rubbish, but those are rare. Publishers are going to keep pumping out the reasonably bad stuff on the same formula because they are looking for the "Next Big Thing." With anime, it's similar. Production companies/studios are looking for the "Next Big Thing." But they don't always know until they try it on the market, so we get a bunch of average titles with a really good one snuck in here or there. The problem then does go to the fanbase, which often supports the wrong stuff. And then we get more of the stuff we don't like.
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Posted 1/31/14
ok, im having a hard time putting my thoughts in to words, so hopfuly someone will read this and divine my intent and save me here it goes:

the problem with this statement, is that for the most part, anime is a multi-faceted industry which relies heavily on other media(manga, light novels etc) original anime is fairly rare and most of them are written by the same prolific people like gen urobuchi. anime is NOT the industry of content creation, it is a business of adaptation. which media is the most popular and will make the most amount of money if/when adapted? you cant view anime separately from other media.

so how exactly does anime suffer from this?? doesn't seem to fit very well. if anyone is a "fault" for anything, it would be the anime fans who buy there favorite anime, because that's who decides what gets made next. if mecha sell, we get mecha, if harem sells(which it does because "sex sells is a universal rule) we get boobs and pantsu. that's the way this industry works.

Personally, i think he is referring to the animation its self. not the anime in general. that would make a lot more sense. like his saying the animation it's self is suffering, not anime as a whole. which could be true. if animators don't know how people act, the character interaction will suffer. but id say anime in general benefits from being run by otakus. the more passionate one is about their work, the higher the quality of the product.
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Posted 1/31/14 , edited 1/31/14
I'm just going to start by reposting what I said on another forum, because it was immediately lost in a sea of flamewars:

Sturgeon's Law--that 90% of everything is crap--applies to anime as much as it does to anything else. It's difficult for people to understand that it simply isn't possible for a broad artistic medium to not be mostly garbage. But that's just the way it works--artists are humans, and none of them are capable of creating the greatest most original work of art every time they sit down to draw something. To get the good, you must accept there will be lots of bad along with it.

Miyazaki and his kin are able to achieve consistent quality by working with an old, reliable team to create visually similar anime with classic, tried-and-true themes. They also have the luxury of putting out only one thing every few years, and the attention and preconceived adoration of the mainstream market; so when they try something a bit daring, it's unlikely to fall flat and bankrupt them. I'm honestly not sure he's really in a position to criticize the rest of the anime industry. Moreso than any of us, but less than anyone who actually works in the segment of it he dislikes.

I don't really understand Miyazaki's popularity. I haven't gotten around to watching most of his movies, because the ones I've seen remind me of Pixar films: undeniably good movies, but so visually and thematically and narratively familiar that they don't feel meaningful. Other people must find them nostalgic and enjoy the familiarity, I guess. But the whole "personality" of those kinds of movies seems so ordinary to me. Which I think is an inevitable consequence of attempting to make one hit movie after another with the same crew in the same studio for largely the same audience. There's only so much variation to exploit there.

TV anime is a wholly different environment, one that's mostly full of kiddie shows, shonen battlefests, trading card promos, moe, and fanservice, because those things make money. The key word is "mostly," and the obvious counterpart to Sturgeon's Law is that 10% of everything is good. And 1% of everything is incredibly, impossibly good. You just have to look for it. Actually, you don't--fans and critics dig out the good content pretty reliably. Some of it manages to be better, more interesting and meaningful, even more "human" or "deep" or whatever cliche you prefer, than anything Team Miyazaki is capable of producing with their methods.

I guess that sounds hipstery, but really: they could not in a million years have produced anything like Madoka Magica or Steins;Gate or Kyousogiga or why am I even making this list, almost every high-quality anime series is completely outside the realm of Ghibli. And that's fine. Both sectors of the anime business produce different, good things. It's just that one of them is more unpredictable and produces a lot of commercial junk, so the other one, which lives on a completely different planet where people value consistency over originality and don't demand 50 new shows every few months, tends to point at Planet TV-Anime and act like it's the problem child that never does anything right. Kinda silly, I'd say.

Oh, right, the thing I forgot: The big misunderstanding people have about 90% of a medium sucking is that, oh no, won't the industry just start making 100% crap because that's more profitable?! Well, no. Two reasons: one, most artists don't want to spend their whole lives making cruddy anime to sell card games. Two, those rare 1% great shows are usually insanely profitable. Every company is hoping they'll stumble on the next big thing and get rich. They won't do that if they make nothing but boilerplate moe harems.
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Posted 1/31/14 , edited 1/31/14

grimbonez wrote:

Personally, i think he is referring to the animation its self. not the anime in general. that would make a lot more sense. like his saying the animation it's self is suffering, not anime as a whole. which could be true. if animators don't know how people act, the character interaction will suffer. but id say anime in general benefits from being run by otakus. the more passionate one is about their work, the higher the quality of the product.

This is an interesting take.

I remember watching Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit for the first time and being completely floored by really simple animation sequences, like someone running through shin-deep water, because it changed the character's stride.

Like, normally they'd just walk through water and there'd be a lot of splashing. But here you could actually see the water resisting and pulling the foot back beneath the surface, so the knee was overextended with each step. It was incredible.

Kind of a strange thing to get all excited over I guess, but it really showed animating prowess.
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Posted 1/31/14

iblessall wrote:

His blanket statement of saying the industry is made of otaku aside, he's absolutely right.

People who don't spend anytime watching and interacting with different kinds of people will NEVER be able to accurately write that on screen.

That's what I think of the article. Now on to some things I've seen in the discussion so far.


As far as otakus interacting with other otakus counting, that is total BS. Not because otakus aren't people, but if you only talk to people like yourself, you won't learn a darn thing about yourself or about others. There are billions of people on this planet and to limit your range of interaction to only one specific segment is to cut yourself off from the vast majority of humanity.



Even within a small group of people, opinions differ.

You and me, right here, differ in our assessment, despite our conversations taking place in a niche forum on a niche thread about the industry of a niche subject.

You don't simply "talk to people like yourself" you talk to people who share an interest.

Miyazaki's comment WAS the entire article, and... it was nothing special. It's just Miyazaki saying "Everything I see in Anime is boobs, ass, tits, and incest....and the people who make such anime are horrible people who don't interact with others"
Miyazaki is a famous Feminist and hater of anything new, remember?

Yes, their are people who sit alone and don't interact with anyone. All they do is consume media and sit at home. Their are people who only interact with specific people.

But those are not the people who write, draw, and publish things.

If you are going to write and publish something, their is a LOT of interaction involved. Unless you're making crude Fan fiction in the depths of the internet, you're going to show that story to someone. And if someone liked it, it's going to go a little farther. You don't just live your life without social interaction, it's not so simple.

Anime isn't a 1-person gig. Hundreds of people get together and spend months working on every little detail. Character designs, story, EVERYTHING.

The problem isn't "They don't know how people act" but "People don't give a fuck"

I"ll talk endless and endless shit about Generic-Brown Haired and Generic Blue-Haired protagonists. They're boring, everywhere, and lack personality. But... they're easy to make, and don't alienate the common viewer. Someone who jumps into anime the first time will think that Self-insert character is awesome, why wouldn't they? It's their first time seeing it, the character tends to take actions they want them to, and everything works out in the end. The casual viewer is perfectly fine with this.
We see the same thing in Video Games, Movies, Comic Books, and Novels!

Generic crap is first and foremost, generic. They have a style, they have a fan base, they simply produce more of it. While I want something more, this is because I've already seen the Generic. As much as I want to praise Buddy Complex for it's fantastic visuals and decent writing, all I see is Gundam. The mecha's look like repainted Gundams with fin's attatched, the Characters are just copies of the original Gundam characters, the plot is recycled right down to the very actions every single crew member takes. I see a character and shout "hey it's that guy!" not because I recognize a voice actor, but because I recognize the same character from the original work.
It's generic, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's something for more casual viewers.

Miyazaki is not a casual viewer. He's not seeing Anime as a medium of entertainment. Miyazaki is a film maker who believes Technology is the devil and Anime is an art. He's not wrong, but I would think twice before I believe anything a man who's failed to retire like three times tells me.
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Posted 1/31/14
People seem to be saying feminist like it's a bad thing.
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Posted 1/31/14 , edited 1/31/14

Felstalker wrote:

You don't simply "talk to people like yourself" you talk to people who share an interest.

But then you don't talk to people who don't share your interest, which is arguably why anime is such a niche market both inside and outside Japan that's aimed almost entirely at children. Just socializing, and having family and friends isn't enough, you have to be so curious about someone completely different than yourself to where you can wear their skin.

That's an exaggeration, but it's an exaggeration of a truth.

What we're talking about here is a confirmation bias, humans default to collecting information which complies with our previous beliefs. So the argument would be that the anime industry has isolated itself, and is reiterating on the same concepts over and over, becoming narrower in focus looking inward instead of expanding looking outward.

I'm not saying this is right or wrong, as I haven't got a single flipping clue. But it's an argument.

The role of publishers and fiscal expectations is also very real, and is similar to the issue with metrics in video game design. If someone's going to give you millions of dollars to make an anime, they want to be confident about making it back with interest, and the best way to do that is to target well-traveled territory that's explored and very not-risky.

I do think anime is really good about that, though. It's one of the most creativity-driven industries I can think of, where the people buying into it actually want to find weird, wacky new shit to watch. So there's a strange catch 22 where in order to be ordinary, you have to be different... arguably. Sturgeon's Law people, we're not aiming for 100% fantasticity.

So anime really is super creative, but in other ways horribly shackled. Getting away from generic, teen protagonists, for example. Character stereotypes. Genre stereotypes. The anime industry is really good at making variations on what it's already been making for years, but what it's already making is a tiny sliver of what it could be doing.

But they'll sell what sells, so what's next?

No matter what you're making, there's the human element. The type of thing you can respect even if you're watching a genre you hate. You could be watching the most generic, strung-together nonsense ever made, but if it has a life of its own it's good. I think that's what Miyazaki is after, that anime has iterated so much it's largely written out its own soul.

I'd kinda disagree with him on that, and kinda not. I'd disagree because I have, occasionally, been really compelled by anime. There's usually 1-2 shows a year that blow my socks off. But I'd agree with him in that 1-2 a year is a bit slim, when you could literally take anything, no matter how ridiculous, and breathe this kind of life into it.

So I think I might agree with... sorry, whoever it was before this, who said it's largely down to character stereotypes, and how you can swap characters between series without changing anything and the plot continues on regardless. That's a weakness to me, and I think it reflects a deep, systemic weakness in the human element of anime.

But I also might not. I dunno, I'm still mulling it over.

(Sorry, this is longer than I'd planned, and undecisive to boot; but I don't have an opinion yet.)


papagolfwhiskey wrote:

People seem to be saying feminist like it's a bad thing.

Depends what the person uses the label for, just like a religion.
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Posted 1/31/14

meowth900 wrote:

I think it's true somewhat. Anime now is becoming less of what it was when I was younger. It went from badass warriors to fifteen year old girls in miniskirts


so sad, so true.
This is part of the reason I don't go to the store and buy many dvds.
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