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“It gobbles children for breakfast”: Hayao Miyazaki Hates What Anime Has Done to Kids Around the World That’s Almost Hard to Believe

In the moonlit magnificence of anime, animation, and filmmaking, Hayao Miyazaki stands apart as the director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli. At his most critical, Miyazaki has been open about his disdain for the popular anime medium. While the “Anime was a mistake” meme, that fans like to reference, closely mirrors his actual words, there’s a lot more context and history behind his criticism.

Miyazaki’s films essentially highlight how magical worlds unfold before young protagonists, while their parents, preoccupied with adult concerns, remain oblivious to the wonders blooming around them. Even though the magic in his movies is almost tangible for children, Miyazaki believes too much anime could ‘gobble’ children up, stealing their time and freedom unduly.

Hayao Miyazaki Criticized Anime’s Choke-Hold on Children

Princess Mononoke | Studio Ghibli

In September 23, 1999, Hayao Miyazaki visited New York for the premiere of his latest film, Princess Mononoke, at the New York Film Festival, coinciding with a Studio Ghibli retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.

Brian Camp, one of the attending journalists, focused on how Mononoke would be marketed in the U.S. and the challenges of making it accessible to children aged nine and up, as it was the first mass-released animated feature to take its young audience seriously. Camp later retold the story of meeting Miyazaki through a written documentary.

With the ever-spreading popularity of Pokemon and other Japanese animated TV series in America, the timing seemed perfect for a serious Japanese animated film like Mononoke to reach a broad audience.

Miyazaki had expressed his desire for children to watch his films. However, he stated he had no role in its marketing or any business decisions related to the 1996 purchase of Studio Ghibli films for global distribution by Disney, when asked the question.

My head’s a mess. In a perfect world I would be back in Japan working on it. I have to be with my animators. I have to be working with them.

He considers himself merely an animator who ideally would be in Japan working on his next project.

The Issue With the Mass Production of Anime

Ash and Pikachu in Pokemon | Studio OLM

Today, anime is notorious for its constant stream of new series and ‘no-room-for-breathing’ schedule—basically, there’s never a break. This debate over regular series production has been ongoing since the 1960s. In a 1988 excerpt, Miyazaki shared his views on the evolving practices in the anime industry.

Mass production has changed the situation.

To meet the growing demand for anime, 30 TV series were produced weekly in the ’80s. He explains that significant changes in animation were necessary to accommodate this demand, which frustrates him about modern anime.

During the same interview with Brian Camp, when asked about Pokemon and other Japanese animation, Miyazaki admitted he knows little about other works. He knew almost nothing about other animation that was coming out of Japan because it didn’t interest him.

It’s true that a good friend of mine designed Pokemon and I know many of the people who worked on it but I’ve certainly never seen it.

Hayao Miyazaki | Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology- Japan, Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons

He went on to criticize anime’s impact on children.

Speaking strictly within Japan and not specifically at all about Pokemon, I think in general what animation does is, speaking from a market, it gobbles children for breakfast and robs them of their time and their freedom far too much. I realize that I belong to part of that contradiction but I think that one great animated film per year is perfectly plenty for a child.

There’s very little to debate with Miyazaki’s take, but as long as the industry keeps delivering good anime, people will keep watching, no matter what.

This post belongs to FandomWire and first appeared on FandomWire

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