Review of “So, Where Do We Go From Here?” (2002)


Miyazaki Hayao (writer).

Read in 2021.

Read in Turning Point as “So, Where Do We Go From Here? An Interview with the Winner of the 2001 Kinema Junpō Best Ten, Reader’s Choice for Best Japanese Film Director”.

Partly an acceptance speech, and mostly a reflection on the state of the industry. Interviewer questions, if any, are omitted.

Miyazaki is concerned here with two topics: The need for a strong leader, and the lack of subjection in the emerging generation, that is everybody after Anno Hideaki. On both topics, Miyazaki is the stereotypical old authoritarian.

He asserts that “the voyage would be meaningless” if the crew—that is the staff of Studio Ghibli—engaged in debates and voted on what to do. Despite his own experience as a union leader, he asserts also that it is better for him to give direction (orders) while hiding his insecurity. How it’s better, he doesn’t say.

There is a leftist angle, but it’s the authoritarian left. Instead of bemoaning a lack of raw talent or personal discipline in the young, Miyazaki makes the claim that young artists are simply loathe to obey orders. He takes the example of the USSR, praising the Soviet animation of Stalin’s time and condemning the animation produced when Stalin was criticized and the USSR thawed. Perestroika and individualism, he believes, left some brilliant solo animators like Yuri Norstein, but made feature-length animation impossible. Even Anno is at “the stylistic equivalent of a dead-end street”.

It’s a ridiculous piece of writing. I am reminded of Azuma Hiroki, who thought anime ended in 1996. Compare “What the Scenario Means to Me” (1989); in the 1980s, Miyazaki was already undemocratic but the need he saw was for assertive colleagues, not drones. Compare also “Animation Directing Class” (1998); in the 1990s he was intent on weeding out tyrants.

References here: Turning Point: 1997–2008 (2008/2014).

text non-fiction Japanese production