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Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki recently offered his take on French publication Charlie Hebdo running illustrations of Muhammad. That wasn’t the only strong opinion the Studio Ghibli co-founder put forth though. Aside from having harsh words for using others’ culture as fodder for satire, he’s also got a pretty big bone to pick with computer animation and consumerism.

Like his comments on Charlie Hebdo, Miyazaki’s diatribe against consumerism came as part of an interview for TBS Radio’s weekday afternoon Arakawa Kyokei Day Catch! talk show. The veteran animator hosted interviewer and journalist Osamu Aoki at Nibariki, his personal studio in Tokyo’s Musashino City (pictured above).

When asked about his lifestyle now that he no longer has to contend with the rigorous schedule required to create feature-length movies, Miyazaki said that he’s able to take two days a week off. Even when he comes into his studio, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s working, either. As visible in the photo above, Nibariki is located in a quiet, residential neighborhood, and Miyazaki jokes that even though he arrives intending to make progress on work projects, he sometimes ends up chopping firewood or heading to the nursery school next door to see what the kids are up to that day.

As for those work projects, Ghibli fans will be sad to hear that Miyazaki shows no intention of reversing his stance on not making any more theatrical releases. Instead, his primary involvement with the Ghibli brand these days involves its museum in Tokyo’s Mitaka neighborhood, particularly in planning exhibitions of non-Ghibli-related works. Miyazaki says he’d love to do something for novelist Ranpo Edogawa’s Yureijima (“Ghost Island”), saying that he used to rent it from the pay libraries that dotted Japan’s cities in his boyhood, but that his exhibition ideas never seem to materialize precisely as he imagines them.

▼ The cover to Yureijima

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As a matter of fact, Miyazaki’s clarity of artistic vision and perfectionism may in fact be holding him back from starting the previously speculated short films many anime enthusiasts have been hoping for. In accepting his recent honorary award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Miyazaki spoke of how he was privileged to have been able to spend his career in an era where animation was done almost entirely by hand. That’s no longer the case, and Miyazaki isn’t convinced he wants to deal with the industry’s overwhelming shift towards more technologically intense production methods, saying:

“Computers are too involved in the process of animation, and the brains of animators are becoming computerized.”

The 74-year-old Miyazaki isn’t interested in changing the style he’s honed over decades of helming celebrated anime, nor does he want to forcibly coerce a staff into doing things the old-fashioned way, or to adapt their CG methods to more closely mimic the look of hand-drawn and painted animation cels. “I’ve reached a fine age for retirement, so…I think that’s the right decision,” he told Aoki, adding: “Making feature films is exhausting.”

▼ These sleepy characters aren’t half as worn out as the guy who created them.

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Miyazaki’s biggest beef, though, is with social trends beyond the scope of mere anime production. As the conversation turned towards recent terrorist incidents and international issues, the retired director took aim at a different target.

“Civilization based on mass consumption is itself a problem,” he declared. “The ideas that if you have money, and that cheaper is best…are the lowest.”

▼ He didn’t explicate how the mountains of officially licensed Ghibli merchandise fit into the grand scheme of things.

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Miyazaki went on to call mass consumerism “stifling.” Saying that he expects an increasing level of disorder in world affairs, he cited ISIS’ targeting of two Japanese citizens and what he called the reckless wastefulness of the Japanese economic framework as “precursors to a terminal condition,” and also criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying that the politician’s statements in times of crisis are too simplistic.

Almost as soon as he seemed to be writing Japan off, though, the animator changed his tone. “I think we have to ask ourselves how we will carry ourselves in these times. If I state it simply, we shouldn’t be thinking of Japan as the center of the world, but as a corner of it,” he remarked. Pointing out the way in which Japan is free of internal geopolitical struggles, unlike many countries in the Middle East and Central Europe where simmering ethnic and religious tensions are frequent sources of conflict, he concluded by saying, “That’s the good thing, geopolitically, about being the farthest in the corner in the world, and I think Japan is in a position where it can take intelligent action.”

Source: Nikkan Sports
Top image: Photozou
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