Review of “Animation Directing Class, Higashi Koganei Sonjuku II School Opening: Urging at Least One Seedling to Sprout” (1998)


Miyazaki Hayao (interviewee).

Read in 2021.

Read in Turning Point as “Animation Directing Class, Higashi Koganei Sonjuku II School Opening: Urging at Least One Seedling to Sprout! ‘Theories on Directing’ for Aspiring Young Directors”. Any of the three or four titles embedded within that one would have been adequate.

Remarks on opening a one-day-a-week course for 10 students.

An interview for a special issue of Animage; an issue on both Miyazaki and Anno Hideaki. Anno is openly referenced, along with the other greats of this period in Japanese animation: Oshii Mamoru and Takahata Isao.

Here, Miyazaki begins by talking about the criteria, in the same manner as “On the Periphery of the Work” (1987). Aware that no formal criteria are effective, he develops the concept of “a healthy ambition”, attempting to separate obsessiveness and the desires for money and creative control, as desiderata, from the desire for power as such, which is not a desideratum. As usual when Miyazaki talks about social roles and informal interplay in the business, this part comes off sounding a little like the naïve activists in “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” (1972). I don’t know precisely what came of this specific effort to recruit a new colleague or replacement for himself, but the idea of hand-picking a social powerhouse to rival oneself seems flawed, in that Miyazaki is too status-conscious to want to dethrone himself—although he did once lend Anno a moped.

Miyazaki next discusses montage and montage theory. He rejects it, asserting that good films are instead made by having “three or four meanings” motivating a shot, not in editing. This is a fine description of his own deep yet deceptively light style! Oddly enough, he associates montage theory with gekiga: “The methodology of gekiga is similar to the most worthless type of montage”, where the sequence carries meaning but the individual scenes do not.

References here: “So, Where Do We Go From Here?” (2002), “On the Film Dark Blue World: A Dialogue with Producer Toshio Suzuki” (2002), Turning Point: 1997–2008 (2008/2014).

text non-fiction Japanese production