‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ Creator Slams Disney’s Recent Output As “Disappointing” And “Boring”, Says Full Switch To Digital Animation Has Left Company Creatively Sterile
In expressing a sentiment shared by many a fan of the House of Mouse’s portfolio of animated classics, Mobile Suit Gundam series creator Yoshiyuki Tomino has revealed that he is not a fan of Disney’s near-full abandoning of its hand-drawn animation roots, as he believes that their transition to digital has essentially taken the ‘soul’ out of all their animated productions.
The man behind one of the most popular mecha anime series of all times shared his opinion on Disney’s current sterility during a recent interview regarding the current state of his own industry given to Japanese news outlet Toyokeizai Online (translated via DeepL).
Speaking to the outlet’s Yusuke Nishizawa on December 17th, Tomino opened their discussion by both acknowledging the fact that “the [anime] industry is certainly in a period of prosperity” and subsequently warning “however, it is unclear whether this situation will continue in the future.”
“The excitement may continue for another five or six years, but that will be it, and it will fade away,” explained the veteran anime creator of his appraisal. “The same is true for novels and movies, but there are always ups and downs that occur with the changing times. Works are meant to be enjoyed by people with hearts, so if the world environment changes, the face of culture will change, and people’s hearts will also change. So, if we reach the peak now, we will reach a dead end from now on.”
Tomino then admitted that while “Animes themselves will not disappear,” at it current, he found it “difficult to say whether there will ever be a better work than what we have now.”
In support of his argument regarding the quality of industry’s current production methods, the creator then pointed to how “after the switch from hand-drawn animation to digital, Disney’s works were all disappointing,” and lamented how “that kind of animation will continue.”
Following a brief detour regarding the topic of AI art tools – which the creator fears little, as he told his host, “the amazing ability of humans is that they have the ability to discern when something is different. I trust that feeling” – Nishizawa then pressed Tomino for his thoughts on how the industry’s profits are currently being “unevenly distributed” between production companies, investors, and studios, with the latter usually getting the shortest end of the stick.
In turn, Tomino revealed that “it is neither the production companies nor the investors who make the most money in the industry,” but rather “the companies that distribute the videos.”
“‘Are these ‘platformers’ really paying for the intellectual property rights of their works in a fair and just manner?’ That is my biggest concern,” said the mecha genre pioneer. “I have thought in the past about how to avoid losing profits from those who have created such a clever system to keep users in a tight circle and prevent them from getting away with it. The only thing I could come up with was to charge for the [internet] signal itself. I know that’s not much more than science fiction.”
Taking in his guest’s answer, Nishizawa then asserted, “But I dare say that it would be a good idea,” to which Tomino boldly replied, “But I would venture to say that those who are in a position to do the creative work could do without it.”
Elaborating on his argument, the industry veteran detailed, “It has been a year since my workplace was moved to this new building in Ogikubo as part of the organizational integration of the Bandai Namco Group, but I don’t think it is a good environment for creating new works.”
Attempting to explain the ‘creative sterility’ of such a work environment, Tomino told Nishizawa that “This fine building is all digitalized and over air-conditioned,” and as such, lacks any real ‘personality’ with which to inspire its occupants.
Drawing a parallel between such sanitized working conditions and the art of digital animation, Tomino then criticized, “Same thing with the boring work produced by Disney’s digital production system today. People who create must have a crazy side. A sense of spirituality, earthiness, indie-ness.”
“If you can create an indigenous work of art in a space with complete control of the air conditioning, I think you should make it,” he continued before proceeding to offer up a more concrete example of his sentiment. “When I look back at Machiko Hasegawa’s Sazae-san, I can smell that it must have been drawn in a workroom where a drafty wind was blowing when manga first started appearing in postwar life. I think it would be more dangerous to lose that smell.”
Finally, as the interview drew to a close, Tomino ultimately declared, “The most important thing for producers is to give artists a place where they can make the most of their talents.”
“It is not as simple as just spending money and offering a floor of a high-rise building as a workplace,” he argued. “It would be presumptuous to think that an office worker who does not know the practicalities of production can ‘manage’ the creative process. So, it is not surprising that the producer is also a creative person.”
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