Floating around the internet are countless memes featuring Hayao Miyazaki drawing a peaceful scene and uttering what is considered his most controversial quote, “Anime was a mistake.” The irony that a household name in the anime industry would have such a scathing opinion on his own genre is, frankly, hilarious.
There’s just one problem – Miyazaki never actually said this. The quote seems to have been incorrectly lifted from an interview from 2014 in which the filmmaker is discussing the problem with many artists’ mindset in the modern anime industry. Anime isn’t a mistake, rather, being unable to connect it to reality is.
Hayao Miyazaki Never Said Anime Was a Mistake
The infamous line where Miyazaki bashes anime comes from a series of screen caps of an interview posted on the Japanese website Golden Times. The English translation of the interview shows that while this quote was never actually said, Miyazaki does still have some strong opinions about the anime industry, specifically the artists that are a part of it. “If you don’t spend time watching real people, you can’t do this, because you’ve never seen it,” he says. “Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people… It’s produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans. And that’s why the industry is full of otaku!”
It’s not anime itself that Miyazaki has a problem with. Rather, his concern is that those in the industry are relying too much on their expectations of what anime should be, and not enough on human experiences. Building off real-world experiences is a common piece of advice for artists of any genre, but Miyazaki seems to feel it’s especially needed, and ignored, in his own industry. It’s common knowledge that he has high standards regarding anime, one of many reasons he struggles to commit to his retirement. It seems that the easiest way to try and meet those standards is to just step away from the screen.
Miyazaki Wants Anime Artists To Build From Reality
While it’s fun to think about the creator of such whimsical movies as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle being a grump with a grudge against his own industry, misleading or outright false quotes like the famous meme take away from the wisdom that he has to offer. Miyazaki is truly committed to his art, and he wants to see it continue to develop into something even better than it is now. In order to create something magical, anime artists have to build a foundation based on the reality of the world. According to Hayao Miyazaki, anime wasn’t a mistake, but disconnecting it from the human experience is.