In case you haven’t heard this, renowned Japanese animation icon Hayao Miyazaki was quoted as saying that the reason the anime industry is suffering is because it’s overrun with “otaku.”
You can read the full article here: www.animenewsnetwork.com/inter…
Naturally, such a high profile artist such as Miyazaki coming down hard on Otaku has offended a lot of people and a bit of backlash has sprung up because of it. I’d like to try and reassure some of you that it’s not as bad as it might sound, and here’s why (please keep in mind this is from an American perspective).
“Otaku” in Japan is (or was) an offensive word, usually embodying the worse traits of obsessive basement dwelling collection completing socially inept geeks. It gained widespread negative connotations after the 1989 “Otaku Murders” carried out by Tsutomu Miyazaki (which are too graphic for this journal entry). Over time the term has sort of been reclaimed by the general public and is less offensive now than it was then, with some people openly admitting they’re an Otaku.
The point I am trying to make is that the word Otaku in Japan is VASTLY different from how it’s been appropriated for American fans, who casually and haphazardly toss the phrase around as a term of endearment or even to positively identify yourself as a fan of anything. So when Miyazaki comes down hard on Otaku, he is not referring to the American variation, so... calm down y’all.
Secondly, Miyazaki was also referring to how people don’t act like real people in a lot of Anime and that the Anime Industry like to cater to the otaku’s interests. IE: Fan Service. It seems pretty clear that he’s annoyed at how incredibly shameless and pandering a lot of Anime can be to their “fans.” So much so that it’s almost unbelievable to us (Americans) that there are a lot of Japanese people who do not enjoy seeing sexually charged panty shots on prepubescent little girls.
Miyazaki is rare in the Anime Industry in that he observes how people interact with each other. He doesn’t rely on stock stereotypes and out-dated sitcom like situations to tell his stories. And this love of observing and dislike of pandering is likely why he doesn’t consider himself to actually BE part of the Anime Industry in Japan. Miyazaki has frequently self identified as existing and making movies outside the Industry.
In my opinion, I kinda have to agree with Miyazaki. It seems like the Anime Industry is broken in the same way as the American Video Games Industry is (ignoring all new and emerging demographics in favor of pandering to one angry core group who will give them money no matter what). After running the Anime Club at my college for 3 years, I began to notice trends in a lot of anime. It got so bad that after a while it became evident that a lot of anime just recycle the same jokes, characters, settings, styles, etc quite a bit. And this was only from a casual glance into Anime from a highly edited American perspective, what must it be like living in Japan with that sort of thing saturating EVERYTHING? Fan service isn’t inherently bad, but it is easily abused. And from the looks of things, the Anime Industry has abused it to the point that they don’t know how to survive without it.
And that’s what Miyazaki’s angry at. Miyazaki is a man who respects the art of animation, and it’s probably pretty demoralizing for him to see the industry in his country not trying harder to make the same quality products that he does.
So don’t get mad at Miyazaki for singling out “Otaku” and saying they’re awful. He’s not referring to you.Again, please keep in mind that this is coming from an American perspective on a Japanese problem. I am not, nor should I be, considered in any way a credible source of information. I am giving opinion on an article, nothing more. I am not trying to in any way say that I know 100% what is going on in Japan, and I am freely willing to admit that I might be wrong in a lot of my “facts” here. So please take it all with a grain of salt.