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Yoshiyuki Tomino: "Japan Is No Longer a Leader in Animation"

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Gundam creator points to unwillingness to innovate, Chinese competition as factors that threaten Japan's anime dominance

The Hokkaido-based news website Real Economy reported on Monday that Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino spoke at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art for the "World of Yoshiyuki Tomino" exhibit, which will run in Sapporo from October 17 to January 23. There, he spoke highly of the Hokkaido-born creators he has worked with, such as Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (Mobile Suit Gundam), Tomonori Kogawa (Space Runaway Ideon), and Akira Yasuda (Turn A Gundam). However, he also spoke of the challenges in Japan's creative environment today, warning that "Japan is no longer a leader in animation."

"As digital techniques evolves, I feel that the animation industry's position will become precarious," he said, bringing up the high-quality animations in music videos as an example of progressing technology. "As an anime industry person, it rankles me that they've come so far that they can even do animation. But that's also indicative of how, using digital animation, even a single individual can create a satisfying whole. The question is how should Japan's anime production, which deals with series and story-driven works, regard these developments?"

He said that he perceives a certain amount of indifference at Sunrise towards these innovations, and that he thinks that both he and the studio have a responsibility in proactively seeking out new talent. However, on a fundamental level, he hopes that the workflow can evolve to such a degree that the views of old men such as himself are no longer necessary for driving things forward. He also hopes that the digital generation in turn can embrace the teamwork environments of studios in order to create things that aren't just personal projects, but which can also be regarded as "open entertainment" by the public.

Tomino then went on to highlight the rapid developments of animation in Beijing, saying that "they are developing very polished works of commercial entertainment." He said that the anime-lovers who attended his lectures at Beijing University 10 years ago are now working as professionals in the current Chinese animation industry. "What's scary is that even intellectuals from big-name universities like Beijing University have entered the world of anime."

Furthermore, he claimed that the Chinese government has been supporting its domestic animation industry quite heavily as part of its state policy. He said that in comparison, Japanese politicians are acting as if "they're stuck 30 or 40 years in the past."

"There's a danger that if Japan keeps making anime with a single-minded focus on the business angle, then we'll suffer a total defeat to the guys in Beijing," he warned. "But I don't intend to throw a bone to those guys who came to my lecture. I don't want to lose. Still, I want you all to be aware that Japan is no longer a leader in animation. Despite this, the media and business worlds are not conscious of it."

Tomino created and directed the Mobile Suit Gundam anime in 1979. He made his debut at Osamu Tezuka's Mushi Production where he worked on the Astro Boy television anime.

He has since directed anime including Zeta Gundam, Gundam ZZ, Char's Counterattack, Gundam F91, Victory Gundam, Turn A Gundam, Muteki Kōjin Daitarn 3, Space Runaway Ideon, Aura Battler Dunbine, and Gundam: Reconguista in G.

Source: Real Economy via Otaku USA

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