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February 4


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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:…

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.
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Honestly, while in some way, Miyazaki may have a point on the issue, the way he goes about it does not help matters. This is a pretty common thing I've heard a lot from both Japan and seen here in America. Many of these critical people who try to take a "moral high ground" by saying how much a certain group of people are ruining a whole industry, and yet they don't do anything to help resolve the issue. It comes more that they're being self-righteous, condemning people and then calling it a day. Miyazaki may be doing his own thing when it comes to animation, but he is contributing to the issue of otaku in Japan. Like you said, otaku is defined different there than it is here, and over there, there's so much contempt for them and yet so little, if not no help and understanding of them at all.

Instead of trying to reach out to these people, to show them compassion and understanding, and maybe helping them become more social, productive members of society, it becomes so easy to just label as the scum of the earth. This happens far too often in society, and the sad truth that many people refuse to see is that the more and more who judge and label people as something, the more they're actually become that thing; it's a self-fulfilling prophecy that's perpetuated by our hands.

Again, Miyazaki may have a point regarding the anime industry, but as far as I'm seeing the situation, he's another one of those people who claim to take the moral high ground, when they're actually contributing to a more complex problem rather than actually doing anything to actually look into the roots of it all and fix it.
I will offer a counter opinion from another anime creator 
Wow he's said everything I was trying to say, but smarter LOL.

Very good article. How exactly did I even get here though...
Sir-Herp Feb 11, 2014  Student General Artist
Nicely written article! Quite informative, and good flow of ideas and points.

I don't keep up with Miyazaki, but I'm not surprised that US viewers are erroneously taking offense. The real meaning of "otaku" should be encouraged to become more widely known. :/

I myself love manga and anime to fairly obsessive extents, but I wholeheartedly agree with you that the level of fanservice in too many series is... well, shameless and at times kind of revolting. Like, Yoko from Gurren Lagann? I didn't even watch that, yet I know she's a fourteen-year-old with her oversized boobs hanging out. It's embarrassing. And there's so many cheaply made shows with equally cheap and/or perverted humor... It's sad.

Pardon if that was a bit ranty. I didn't realize how tired I am of some of these things that we've practically come to expect in typical anime.
STUDIO GHIBLI<3 connecting to something deeper since 1985, and I just have to plug the works of the brilliant manga-genius (sometimes called "the father of manga") OSAMU TEZUKA, who Hayao Miyazaki credits as being one of his primary influences.

...back when Japanese animation wasn't garbage. I never want Studio Ghibli and the Miyazaki legacy to stop :)
And people on ANN's forums are taking it harshly.  I agree with Miyazaki and his opinion can also be applied to those overseas.  Look at the backlash SourceFed NERD's Animι Club has received (though I will agree that they should get their facts straight).  A better example, look at the hate DC's reboot has gotten (there are even websites dedicated to it).

Like you said, love what you like but the amount of hate that's prevalent on the web (for entertainment even) isn't going to change any time soon.  Great journal entry.
I don't need to read the whole article. I agree with Miyazaki.
Shojo-Skip Feb 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
The Japanese term "otaku" defines a geek for anime and/or manga.  I, for once, am an otaku; that is why I call myself Shojo-Skip - it's a parody of the manga company Shonen Jump.
Sir-Herp Feb 11, 2014  Student General Artist
I'll admit, your username made me crack a grin. xD

But yeah, Kantan got it right when saying "otaku" can be obsessed with anything. It's only in the US that it seems to be limited to anime and manga - because the people coming into contact with that word are only aware of it because of anime and manga, and don't typically have much knowledge of Japan's culture or language.
Kantan-KT Feb 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nope, that's the American term. An otaku is a person that's obsessed with something. It's doesn't have to be anime/manga. It can be porn, cars, animals, etc. 
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