Review of “Thoughts on Japanese Animation” (1988)


Miyazaki Hayao (writer).

Read in Starting Point.

In an era when, according to Miyazaki, Nintendo caused a decline in the popularity of animation following the medium’s boom in early 1980s Japan, he says he despises “the truncated word ‘anime’” and abhors the trend of “overexpressionism” (i.e. stylized, inanimate character design) commonly identified with Japanese animation.

What’s important here is not whether the film has some sort of permanent artistic value. The viewers—and I include myself here—usually only possess a limited ability to comprehend a film and tend to overlook many important clues in it. But they feel liberated from their daily frustrations and feelings of being overwhelmed, are able to shake off their sense of gloom, to discover a feeling of adoration, of honesty, and of something positive that they didn’t know they had in themselves, and then return refreshed to their daily realities and routines.

If he had not already done better himself, he would have sounded like a curmudgeon. Amusingly, he also pronounces The Lord of the Rings (1978) “doomed” by rotoscoping. Bitter, but incisive and to the point.

References here: Starting Point: 1979–1996 (1996/2009), Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (2020).

text non-fiction Japanese production