Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame. Yoshiyuki Tomino from Gundam Fame. The two are two of Japan’s most famous anime creators. And psychiatrist Tamaki Saito gives his professional opinion on what makes the two men tick.
Saito is also the author of Beautiful fighting girl and helped popularize the idea of hikikomori, a sharp type of social withdrawal. In the past, when Japanese media distorted otaku (geek) culture, Saito would appear on TV or in print media, explaining that of course anime fans and gamers don’t confuse fantasy with reality. Over the years, he has understood Japanese geek culture very well and has covered it with sensitivity and insight. It is also quite provocative and interesting.
In the recently published Moe manifesto, author and scholar Patrick W. Galbraith interviewed Saito about moe, Japanese geek culture, and even otaku sexuality. The book contains interviews with many creators and experts, touching on a variety of otaku-related topics. [Full disclosure: Galbraith’s book was published by Tuttle, which also publishes my books.]
According to Saito, when mainstream anime was produced in the 1970s, adult viewers were less aware. “When people say that Hayao Miyazaki, Japan’s most famous animated filmmaker, or Yoshiyuki Tomino, who created the Gundam universe, are otaku, I think they’re a little offbeat, “Saito said.” These men never really understood what their work meant to the fans. “
The example given by Saito is how, he says, according to Eiji Otsuka, Tomino was trying to hint at the Palestinian issue with the 1979 original Gundam series. “Anime fans didn’t take these larger political issues into account and instead liked the characters,” Tomino said. For him, politics was important, but also reality. So it made sense for the characters to be involved in regular activities, like taking a shower, which would make them more human.
The character of the series, however, was Sayla from Mobile Suit Gundam, and she was extremely popular among the fans. According to Saito, “Tomino didn’t realize the impact it would have to show this character naked on screen.” There were even stories of fans taking photos of the scene on their TV screens as the anime inadvertently created desire for the character. Saito says, “Tomino doesn’t like otaku and criticism, which is an example of an anime director struggling with the legacy of his work.”
Sounds tough being Tomino, right? May be. Maybe not. But in Saito’s personal opinion, Miyazaki is even more tormented. “In my opinion, one of the central issues in Miyazaki’s works is sexuality,” he said. “It’s blasphemy against such a beloved family entertainment maker, I know that, but let me explain.”
According to Saito, when Miyazaki was in high school, he saw Japan’s first full-color animated feature film, Panda and the magic snake. “Miyazaki writes that he fell in love with the young heroine, a girl named Bai-Niang, and that’s what inspired him to choose a career in animation over manga,” Saito said. “I’ll be blunt: Miyazaki’s love for this fictional character is reflected in her repeated use of a young heroine in all of her works.”
As reported by the website Faltering myth, Miyazaki reportedly said, “I still remember the pangs of emotion I felt at seeing the incredibly beautiful young female character, Bai-Niang, and how I went to see the movie over and over again. C It was like being in love, and Bai-Niang became a surrogate girlfriend to me at a time when I didn’t have one. “
Miyazaki’s characters therefore played a key role in increasing the number of bishojo (beautiful girl) fans in the anime. “But Miyazaki doesn’t like otaku who love his characters or write fanzines about them even though he himself fell in love with Bai-Niang and made the young protagonist a central feature of his work.”
Earlier this year, Miyazaki was cited like saying the problem with the anime industry was that it was “filled with otaku”.
Perhaps this is what makes Tomino and Miyazaki’s work so brilliant: there is conflict, attraction and repulsion. Whatever it is, it works, with both creators producing a lifetime of groundbreaking anime as a legacy.
The Moe Manifesto [Tuttle]
Ken Ishii | Getty Images / Gundam Wiki
To contact the author of this article, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.
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