Evangelion Creator Hideaki Anno Foresees End of Anime

ConanThe3rd

Railgun
In his shoes, I would not have created Rebuild. I would have walked away and probably started something else. You are the man that made Evangelion. You love Ultraman. You could probably walk into Tsuburaya Productions HQ and be given cart blanché on Ultraman tomorrow.

Instead you walk into a dying Ghibli and just become a crotchty old man with Miyazki (Whom I also take a very dim view of regardless of his tallents.).

Hell, if he was just stright up done he could just tap out gracefully.

But, Instead of Growing Up, he decided to Grow Old.

And damn him for it.
 

Lutga

Mad Scientist
Evangelion's power cannot be underestimated. The original show worked precisely because for many people - for the first time - they were sat down watching something where the f**cked up personalities actually resonated with their own lives. Each character represented a facet, and each was completely open for association with and interpretation of to almost limitless levels. You could spend your whole life unpacking the meaning and themes in that show and still have more to do with it.

Personally, I'm a big fan of the Rebuild movies - both as visual spectacle - but also simply as a mean to introduce the show to new fans in an age where Eva (the original series) has sadly been out of print for way too long.

In a way, what I love about Eva is that if you strip it down, it is essentially the show that helped kickstarted so many of the tropes we see in anime today. The triangle of Shinji, Asuka and Rei has been transposed so many times, but never bettered - it is in many ways the apotheosis of otaku-dom.
 

qaiz

Pokémon Master
I don't think people are really understanding what Anno is saying. A simple case of reading the title and not the article itself perhaps, because to be fair Anno's involvement with Eva has no bearing on what's being discussed. Anno's disdain for the Otaku culture is no secret, however I don't see this being in any way shape or form related to this at all.

What I see being discussed here is all to do with the industry itself and how its not sustainable in its current format. And you know what? He's right. There's an old quote from Anno in regards to his work on Eva which he ponders the exact same ideas, the notion that sometimes a reset button is need to be pressed, like flushing a toilet, we need to get rid of that old ****, things need to start afresh, with new ideas to rekindle the imagination of people.

Anno: However, if I was to speak just of anime as an artform, I believe it is rapidly declining. I find the anime of twenty or thirty years ago to be overwhelmingly better [than today’s]. […] Of course, even now, although we have skillful people, I feel we have a ways to go before we match the movement of the older anime.

Interviewer: What is the cause of that?

Anno: It's a problem of the quality of the Japanese people themselves. To express it in the style of Shiba Ryotaro, the voltage of Japan is decreasing. It's not just anime; novels, films, manga, no matter the kind of culture, they are all surely declining, I believe. It's not simply a matter of the old times being good. We[, my generation,] and those after are already a "copy culture," so there's nothing else we can do. As copy piles upon copy, they quickly become distorted and diluted. [...] In this situation, things can hardly be improved. It's difficult, I think. From here, Japan will probably rapidly reach an impasse. Perhaps years from now, or perhaps longer, someone will figure out something, and perhaps things will just keep declining. In Japan as a country, culture has already become "blocked." Korea, China, and South Asia have been able to produce exemplary works, and the day may arrive when they do away with Japanese things. I believe the intention to break down this "blockage" is essential.
–August 2001 issue of Eureka, on Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

In terms of the current structure for the anime industry, I have no doubt in my mind that Evangelion was the start of the fall. Eva was a colossal success sales wise when it came out and blinded a lot of studios. It pretty much killed the (to be fair already declining) OVA format and set a precedence for more adult orientated anime on TV, and lead to the birth and rise of late night anime. A lot of it however has to do with the bubble economy in Japan during the 1986 and 1991 period. After the crash, which is known as the ‘lost decade’, Japan was hurt a lot from a creative point of view. When you look at the bubble economy, you see so many cult series and films that were released during that era, which had a lot to do with how more people had disposable income to spend on tapes and how this stopped once people become more conscious of their spending and funding.

Maybe the regard in which people hold Anno has dwindled over the years, but I think he knows a thing or two about the industry. He's always been negative for sure, but why wouldn't he be? The industry has been in a need of a shake up for a long ass time, and it has less to do with the quality of shows and "anime was batter in the past" and more to do with the other factors that aren't sustainable or attracting new talent. It's been the case for a while. Nobody, not even Anno insinuated that anime would disappear entirely, but that the rest of the world are catching up, and like in the technology segment, Japan are and have fallen behind.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
It is interesting what he has to say about originality. I recall Oshii saying something similar, but that he thinks it's now impossible to be truly original given media saturation and the fact there are only a certain number of stories to tell. Personally I'm more inclined to agree with Oshii's assessment than Anno's. People weren't creating original things before, they just thought they were, unaware that what they were doing had been done before. Now thanks to availability of information, they are aware.

I think the real problem with the sustainability of the industry, the economic factors and wages etc. is not a creative but a political one. Japan, much like modern Britain and a lot of the developed world, doesn't actually value the people producing anything any more.
 

HdE

Comic Book Guy
ayase said:
I think the real problem with the sustainability of the industry, the economic factors and wages etc. is not a creative but a political one. Japan, much like modern Britain and a lot of the developed world, doesn't actually value the people producing anything any more.

It's a slightly broader problem than that, I think. I mean, anime is not the only creative industry on the world scene that is experiencing the kind of difficulties Anno comments on. And it does seem that people generally devalue entertainment products and the skills required to make them.

We're living in a bizarre era where entertainment is viewed by a lot of people almost as if it's their basic entitlement. People very often have no qualms about obtaining it by means that don't benefit the creators or the industries themselves (in other word: piracy) and those industries have often been too lax about tackling those problems. In the meantime, pressure has been constantly applied to make product at lower cost, or with less manpower. And the market has dictated to the kind of product being produced.

So, yeah, it's VERY easy to look at the state of creative industries worldwide and feel dispondent about them. I think Anno's just giving voice to concerns which are very real to insiders.
 

ConanThe3rd

Railgun
As I see it you have two options; winge like an Old Man at the comet that's gonna smash the earth or build a rocket and do something about it.

In this example, Anno is the old man and Trigger are the rocket men.

Also that article was written in 2001 and his answer was to make a remake of the one successful thing he made so *Pffft* to him.
 

Y-San

Shinki
ConanThe3rd said:
As I see it you have two options; winge like an Old Man at the comet that's gonna smash the earth or build a rocket and do something about it.

In this example, Anno is the old man and Trigger are the rocket men.

Also that article was written in 2001 and his answer was to make a remake of the one successful thing he made so *Pffft* to him.
If you consider a chartered flight into the sun, salvation then yes, Trigger are definitely moving in a bold direction.
 

qaiz

Pokémon Master
ConanThe3rd said:
As I see it you have two options; winge like an Old Man at the comet that's gonna smash the earth or build a rocket and do something about it.

In this example, Anno is the old man and Trigger are the rocket men.

Also that article was written in 2001 and his answer was to make a remake of the one successful thing he made so *Pffft* to him.

Lol what on Gods earth have Trigger got to do with this? They've done nothing but garbage, and even if they hadn't and were the saviors of anime..I still don't get where they fall into this discussion and the same goes for the fact that Anno is working on Rebuild. Irrelevant, all of it. Anime as it stands works in an echo chamber, selling to the same people, being made by the same people, regurgitating the same old ideas over and over. Creativity is hardly rewarded, apart from with bad sales. Wages are increasingly getting smaller and smaller. It's like ignoring and laughing at a person talking about fossil fuels and how they're going to inevitably run out just because he drives a car. Anno never insinuated that he's exempt from that, in fact I'm sure he's aware that he is a part of that package and contributes to that problem. That doesn't disqualify him from making a statement on how he sees things. The fact is, Japan are falling behind, and the rest of the world are blowing them away. In any case, you want to talk about Anno, how about his AnimatorExpo initiative? This is why I fear getting old, but God help me, I'm going to yell at every damn cloud when I'm old.
 

IncendiaryLemon

Captain Karen
qaiz said:
ConanThe3rd said:
As I see it you have two options; winge like an Old Man at the comet that's gonna smash the earth or build a rocket and do something about it.

In this example, Anno is the old man and Trigger are the rocket men.

Also that article was written in 2001 and his answer was to make a remake of the one successful thing he made so *Pffft* to him.

Lol what on Gods earth have Trigger got to do with this? They've done nothing but garbage,

You'll find that the majority will probably contest that. Ninja Slayer not withstanding.
 

qaiz

Pokémon Master
IncendiaryLemon said:
You'll find that the majority will probably contest that. Ninja Slayer not withstanding.
Maybe people have liked what they've done, that's fine. But singling them out as the pinnacle in a thread about how anime needs to change and adapt to survive doesn't really make any sense, much less comparing the works of an entire Studio to a single man who gave them a stage to speak on in the first place at Gainax. To be honest, in the end I think that this discussion may have been derailed, because you know...trigger, the bastions for quality anime.
 

Smeelia

Thousand Master
Not sure if I'm helping to derail the thread here but I'll continue anyway...

I'm always a bit cautious about the idea that "creativity is dead". I think people often feel that there's not enough creativity when it's really just a tendency for there to be a lack of shows that appeal to their tastes at that time. Ideally there'd be shows for everyone but just because people aren't making the things you'd like doesn't mean that there's nothing creative or that all of the shows today are rubbish.

I'm a big fan of "cute girls doing cute things" shows and it's easy for people who don't like them to say "they're all the same" but I see differences between them and value in having a wide selection of them to watch. It's possible that I'm just stupid and wrong but I think it can be difficult to fully appreciate the depths of something if you're just not interested. Even if it is something you're interested in, not everyone will notice or even care about differences (subtle or otherwise) as long as they're entertained.

That being said, I do find the idea that there may be "no new stories" is an interesting one. It does feel that the same sort of stories have a tendency to show up time and again. Even so, I can't help feeling that there's value in telling the same story again in a new way. Each time a story is told it might reach a new audience or give a slightly different perspective. It might even be something as simple as using slightly different words or framing so that the message can be conveyed to different groups of people.

Anyway, I'm not sure that creativity is dead and if it is then it's probably overrated. Also, I may be rambling again.

I suppose the main point might have been that creativity isn't dead but it's inadequately supported. I might find that a little easier to agree with.

HdE said:
We're living in a bizarre era where entertainment is viewed by a lot of people almost as if it's their basic entitlement. People very often have no qualms about obtaining it by means that don't benefit the creators or the industries themselves (in other word: piracy) and those industries have often been too lax about tackling those problems. In the meantime, pressure has been constantly applied to make product at lower cost, or with less manpower. And the market has dictated to the kind of product being produced.
I don't know if people are wrong to think that entertainment is a basic entitlement, I'd say it's up there as part of a basic standard of living. It may not be as important as food on a pure survival basis but merely surviving isn't enough and shouldn't be an acceptable minimum standard in the modern age.

That said, the way people treat entertainment (and other essentials for that matter) is oddly inconsiderate (for want of a better word). Perhaps "ignorant" would be the more relevant point, it seems that people just expect to get their essentials and have no consideration for how they are produced or delivered nor who may be involved. To be honest, I'd say it's a wider problem with society where we're completely failing to educate people in what being part of a society actually means.

I was watching Yusibu the other day and there was a moment I found quite interesting. The naïve girl who is new to this whole "capitialism" and "working" business comments that getting paid for helping customers allows her to buy the things she wants/needs and that some of those will have been produced by the customers that she has been serving. Upon hearing this, the main character realises that he hadn't thought of things that way and had simply thought everyone was out to get what they could for themselves. Basically, the theory behind the system and the way everyone actually treats it are so different that it needlessly creates problems. Of course, it's not really reasonable to assume that it's simply a matter of ignorance and it could be that too many people simply have no consideration for others and would prefer to exploit the system for their own benefit even if they know the true idea behind that system.

If I wasn't rambling before I'm fairly sure I am now. Also, I've depressed myself and probably further derailed the thread.

I suppose I should point out that my little anecdote (which I may have poorly described) isn't exactly standard for Yusibu. It's mostly (bad) fanservice with underdeveloped characters but a surprisingly endearing sense of humour and optimism that keeps it from being terrible (as I saw it anyway). It does mention the odd interesting point but it rarely gives them any significant attention, unfortunately.
 

ConanThe3rd

Railgun
qaiz said:
IncendiaryLemon said:
You'll find that the majority will probably contest that. Ninja Slayer not withstanding.
Maybe people have liked what they've done, that's fine. But singling them out as the pinnacle in a thread about how anime needs to change and adapt to survive doesn't really make any sense, much less comparing the works of an entire Studio to a single man who gave them a stage to speak on in the first place at Gainax. To be honest, in the end I think that this discussion may have been derailed, because you know...trigger, the bastions for quality anime.
I said Trigger (though I could have said any number of studios) because they're to Gainax what Treasure was to Konami and say what you want for their content (and I will have my time with the "genius" who thought of making Ninja Slayer as it was a thing) at least they're trying something other than sitting and whining like he owned the place and wasn't causing the same stagnation with the same story (Rebuild of Eva) that he puts on the fans of the work for enforcing.

As far as Anno is concerned to me, it's Put up or Shut up time.
 

HdE

Comic Book Guy
Smeelia said:
Not sure if I'm helping to derail the thread here but I'll continue anyway...

I really enjoyed that last post Smeelia! Nicely thought ought, eloquently worded and most definitely on topic, I'd say. I mean, this is a thread for talking about what Hideaki Anno has said, right? As opposed to a thread talking bout the fact that Hideaki Anno... said something.

This part interests me, and I think it comes off the back of Anno's comments tangentially:

Smeelia said:
Not sure if I'm helping to derail the thread here but I'll continue anyway...

I'm always a bit cautious about the idea that "creativity is dead". I think people often feel that there's not enough creativity when it's really just a tendency for there to be a lack of shows that appeal to their tastes at that time. Ideally there'd be shows for everyone but just because people aren't making the things you'd like doesn't mean that there's nothing creative or that all of the shows today are rubbish.

I actually looked into this a little while back. I've been wondering for a while how well served fans of genre fiction have really been over the last three or four decades, and I thught it might be a good idea to sit down and try to list, from memory, some of the most notable, well-regarded movies in some specific genres.

It makes for quite an interesting exercise. And it's also quite an eye opener to consider how few of those movies became successful franchises.

I wonder sometimes if, as much as we may get excited about a new Marvel movie, new Star Wars or whatever, it's actually REALLY worth getting excited about. Good quality storytelling and moviemaking will always be enjoyable. But wouldn't it be better to have something fresh, by now?

Consider how many sequels and re-boots there are in movies. That can be another eye-opener. Stuff gets recycled and re-packaged because of the perception that it sells.

Anime is going to be subject to those same perceptions and the pressures to 'do the numbers', which can only equate to less risk taking.

At least, that's my take.
 

Y-San

Shinki
I think the 'death' of a genre is always a good thing more than anything else because it clears the ground for anyone who wants to actually fill that gap and I think it also makes people more receptive to whatever fills that void because it feels relatively fresh by comparison. Personally, I think it's the most exciting time to be involved in a creative industry where decline exists because it's an opportunity to make new ideas noticed, if anything, it's surely harder to push against a trend in full bloom than create on for yourself?
 

ConanThe3rd

Railgun
But that's the thing. Anno has Eva as leverage to do the things he wants and push against that grain. If he was so dead set on it he could probably walk in and say "I'm Hideaki Anno, Son, I'll make you my version of [franchise] and it will sell millions" or "I'm Hideaki Anno, son, I Have an idea for a show where [premise] and it will sell millions."

Going back to Trigger, that's what makes them different from Gainax/Kara; they're doing stuff, sometimes it's not "Good" objectively speaking (Ninja Slayer, mostly) but, dammit, they bloody well trying which is more than I can say of Gainax/Kara who'd rather put out a music video that's all "Oh Otaku are trash (But have a whole bunch of images of Eva figures so buy all our playlists and toys, trash!)" and then for their next trick make a remix of self same because following up on a story seems beyond Kara these days.

The people with power (Anno, Myazaki) would rather piss and moan about things than sort their crap out, dust themselves off and get to damn work like the rest of us have to (with none of the guarantees being ether two holds).
 

ConanThe3rd

Railgun
ConanThe3rd said:
But that's the thing. Anno has Eva as leverage to do the things he wants and push against that grain. If he was so dead set on it he could probably walk in and say "I'm Hideaki Anno, Son, I'll make you my version of [franchise] and it will sell millions" or "I'm Hideaki Anno, son, I Have an idea for a show where [premise] and it will sell millions."

Or, to put it in another way; Ikuhara's careerer since Sailor Moon.

Going back to Trigger, that's what makes them different from Gainax/Kara; they're doing stuff, sometimes it's not "Good" objectively speaking (Ninja Slayer, mostly) but, dammit, they bloody well trying which is more than I can say of Gainax/Kara who'd rather put out a music video that's all "Oh Otaku are trash (But have a whole bunch of images of Eva figures so buy all our playlists and toys, trash!)" and then for their next trick make a remix of self same because following up on a story seems beyond Kara these days.

The people with power (Anno, Myazaki) would rather piss and moan about things than sort their crap out, dust themselves off and get to damn work like the rest of us have to (with none of the guarantees being ether two holds).
 

qaiz

Pokémon Master
I'm still very confused at how and why Trigger of all studios fell into this discussion at all, very bizarre. And while I'm on the subject, I love how we've come around to ******** on Anno and bloody Miyazaki of all people, like seriously it just depresses me greatly. No respect. It's actually really enraging me at the moment. Do I even want to reply? *Sigh*...I guess I'll humour myself. You say "The people with power (Anno, Myazaki) would rather piss and moan about things than sort their crap out" but not only does that make no sense, but shows that you have a very romanticized view of the industry, and also a very short memory. I mean what does "sort their crap out" entail? Hmm? Perhaps releasing an Oscar nominated film recently constitutes? Not that an Oscar Nomination should matter, but the fact that his works are recognized outside of the echo chamber known as the 'Anime industry' shows that he's pushed the envelope far more than anyone else in making Japanese animation accepted among all walks of life, a thing that it oh so desperately needs in order to remove the ugly shackles it's tethered to at the moment. I mean, The Wind Rises, a film that has more heart and effort put into each and every single frame than any other animation studio on the planet would dream of having wasn't exactly that long ago, and the man's what, 74 years old? So he can't sit back and talk about an industry he's grown up in, reflect on the woes? From the World Masterpiece Theatre to Studio Ghibli, the man has proven why he's the best and has bowed out with a much needed and deserved retirement, and we **** on the man? Because he's what, old and inactive? Who gives a crap? That doesn't mean that we nod and he's never wrong, but to brush him off as some old man yelling at clouds, and almost insinuating that he's lazy is infuriating.

And then you insist that they "get to work" as if they aren't actual human beings who might want to do other things and can't take breathers. "Get to work Anno you lazy ****". Ermm, how about he does what he wants? You're not entitled to anything. Trigger are "getting to work" because the studio is broke as **** and needs every dime it can muster up, not to save the industry. It’s a job and it brings a pay check. Trigger aren't even pushing the envelope from a creative stand point, so I'd understand if you were to hold Studio Ghibli up as the bastion of Japanese Animation, but Trigger? The run of the mill studio that only gets the time of day because they're ex-Gainax? LWA was alright, and the studio consists of a family of very talented people, and their shows for all intents and purposes are fine, but this pedestal that you’re holding them up to is strange. They're just a studio, regurgitating the same old trends and tropes, doing the same old song and dance, and very reminiscent of P&S/gurren Lagann era Gainax.

And this all gets away from the main point at hand. If this was a thread about your favorite Studio, I'd be fine if you said Trigger, but let’s get one thing straight, when we talk about 'saving the industry' we're talking about the infrastructure, as in fixing things from the inside out. From pay to work conditions to pricing, merchandising and general image. Anime is seen as a negative thing, and the user-base/audience is very insular and self contained. Look how badly that affected Nintendo. On top of the world with the Wii and DS only to come tumbling down. Staying in your little bubble means that you won’t get hurt, but if you’re just selling to the same people, there’s no room for growth, and that's key. Studio Trigger make anime, cool, Anno never stated that anime is ceasing to be made or that it’s all bad, but that the way things are from a system level isn't sustainable.
 

Smeelia

Thousand Master
HdE said:
I really enjoyed that last post Smeelia! Nicely thought ought, eloquently worded and most definitely on topic, I'd say. I mean, this is a thread for talking about what Hideaki Anno has said, right? As opposed to a thread talking bout the fact that Hideaki Anno... said something.
Well, thank you.

HdE said:
I wonder sometimes if, as much as we may get excited about a new Marvel movie, new Star Wars or whatever, it's actually REALLY worth getting excited about. Good quality storytelling and moviemaking will always be enjoyable. But wouldn't it be better to have something fresh, by now?
I'm a pretty big Star Wars fan and I'm not especially excited about the new films because I'm just not sure if it'll be worth it (that and we've been burned before). It'd be great if they could match the quality of the original trilogy but even if they do it'll probably just be a new group of enjoyable adventure films and I'm not sure it'll really add anything to what Star Wars has already done. It doesn't help that the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films are kind of along similar lines and have been quite popular recently so a successful Star Wars probably wouldn't feel like it's reinvigorating a genre.

I do think there's potential in the Star Wars universe though. The Knights of the Old Republic games had some very interesting interpretations of the lore and comments on morality (among other things) and it'd be great to see the films handle subjects like that. Still, any significant deviation from the basic expectations that people have would probably draw criticism ("this isn't my Star Wars" and so on). On the other hand, I think the prequel trilogy may have suffered by trying to replicate something that it didn't appear to understand.

I wouldn't say it's just the fault of the consumers though. It does seem that creators/publishers usually prefer to target the "safe" group of established fans rather than just create something they think is great and hope that it attracts fans based on it's content alone. I suppose that's a tough position to be in though, if you're using a well known franchise then there are certain expectations and while you're alienating established fans you might not draw in new fans because of their mistaken assumptions about the franchise.

I have to admit, I'd have mixed feelings about something I love being "re-interpreted". I'm not sure how I'd feel if Non Non Biyori Repeat involved Hotarun being outed and victimised by a closed minded community for her feelings about Koma-chan Senpai. Exploring the dangers of being an outsider in an isolated community could be interesting, especially using characters we thought we knew but it'd also be a shame to sacrifice getting more of my Non Non Biyori. Of course it could be worse, they could have a version of Non Non Biyori where we get to hear Natsun and Koma-chan's brother talk.

Yowanda-san said:
I think the 'death' of a genre is always a good thing more than anything else because it clears the ground for anyone who wants to actually fill that gap and I think it also makes people more receptive to whatever fills that void because it feels relatively fresh by comparison. Personally, I think it's the most exciting time to be involved in a creative industry where decline exists because it's an opportunity to make new ideas noticed, if anything, it's surely harder to push against a trend in full bloom than create on for yourself?
You might be right, although if so then for the future of the anime industry I might have to sacrifice the moe/cute girls doing cute things anime that I'm so fond of and I'm just not sure I'm willing to take that risk.

I do think there's a risk that you could move on from a genre without really exploring it fully though. I'd say Shirobako relies on the moe trend to be what it is and yet it manages to transcend that limitation and become something unique. If we were too quick to discard a genre and everything attached to it then we could miss out on such treasures.

qaiz said:
when we talk about 'saving the industry' we're talking about the infrastructure, as in fixing things from the inside out. From pay to work conditions to pricing, merchandising and general image. Anime is seen as a negative thing, and the user-base/audience is very insular and self contained. Look how badly that affected Nintendo. On top of the world with the Wii and DS only to come tumbling down. Staying in your little bubble means that you won’t get hurt, but if you’re just selling to the same people, there’s no room for growth, and that's key.
I guess this may be what you meant but part of the problem is a tendency for businesses to be complacent, relying on what has worked before and their own predictions to see them through. Another major issue is that the money people probably don't care about how they make money and would rather take the easy route they think is safe than take a chance on something that could be worth more in the long run but could also go horribly wrong. From a business point of view making a truly unique work of art that doesn't make a large profit is a failure and that's perhaps the saddest thing about human society in general.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure just how much fans can do to change the attitudes of "investors". Maybe that's something we need to figure out.
 
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