Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki has reputation for being the industry’s grumpy grandpa.
The influential director has never been shy about his disdain towards otaku, which are people who withdraw from society and spend most of their time with a hobby. Miyazaki has called out otaku for damaging the anime industry, despite being the financial backbone for decades.
Miyazaki has hinted towards his hatred for how otaku view female characters. He once claimed lolicons make it difficult to create young female protagonists because “they become the subjects of their fetish artwork.” The quote can be found in The Otaku Encyclopedia.
One 2014 interview went even further. While sketching, Miyazaki said, “You see, whether you can draw like this or not, being able to think up this kind of design, it depends on whether or not you can say to yourself, ‘Oh, yeah, girls like this exist in real life.'”
Miyazaki continued, “Some people spend their lives interested only in themselves. Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know.”
It was a seemingly random tangent that has irked the community for years. Many fans have called Miyazaki a hypocrite since he is a huge airplane otaku, but they often ignore his views on anime itself.
To understand why Miyazaki is disappointed in the anime industry, you simply have to look at Studio Ghibli itself. The name “Ghibli” is an Italian word for the hot desert winds, and it represents Miyazaki’s vision of “blowing a new wind through the anime industry.”
When Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985, the industry was home to hyperviolent and sexually explicit OVA projects like Violence Jack and Demon City Shinjuku. Miyazaki’s anti-war and pacifist views influenced the messages of his early films – violence doesn’t solve anything and that society should return to nature.
Violent anime are out of vogue, which may or may not be due to Miyazaki’s early influence. But the anime trends have shifted towards otaku culture, lolicons, and unrealistic characters, which seem to be just as disappointing to him. Instead of embracing nature and observing society, Miyazaki feels many anime fans and new talented artists are withdrawn from society and can’t bear being around others.
The industry has never been more profitable, but Miyazaki believes it’s been at the cost of artistic integrity and impactful stories. Of course, you could just write him off as a grumpy old man yelling at the clouds. But sometimes, the yelling is worth listening to.