In an interview with AFP last week, veteran anime producer Masao Maruyama, who was involved in founding animation production studios Madhouse, MAPPA, and M2, expressed his less-than-optimistic thoughts about the future of the Japanese animation industry.
The 81-year-old notably told AFP that the Japanese animation scene may be overtaken by its Chinese counterpart, saying, “In Japan, people are no longer trained in animation. The only reason China hasn’t quite caught up with Japan yet is because of a bunch of restrictions imposed on free expression there. … If more freedom is unleashed, Japan will be overtaken in no time.”
Maruyama, who described himself as the “most authentic inheritor of [Osamu] Tezuka’s DNA” in the interview, also spoke of the anime industry’s obsession with commercial genres (AFP mentions shows with cute female characters as one of his examples) in lieu of building up future talent. He added that Japanese animation “doesn’t necessarily outshine” the creativity of Disney or arthouse French productions.
Earlier this year at the Berlinale Film Festival, anime director Makoto Shinkai also warned of the possibility of China overtaking Japan in the animation department. Shinkai, whose latest film Suzume was a Golden Bear nominee at Berlinale, was reported by AFP as saying, “The quality of [Chinese] movies is improving rapidly, and they’re also able to build those unique characters we have in Japan. So I think sooner or later they’re going to overtake us.”
Maruyama became involved in the anime industry as early as the 1960s and has had planning/animation producer/producer credits on shows like Perfect Blue, In This Corner of the World, Dennou Coil, Redline, Paprika, Nana, Monster, and more. Currently, he is the executive producer for the upcoming Pluto anime adaptation produced by M2. Maruyama inspired the character Masato Marukawa in the anime industry-themed anime Shirobako.
Source: AFP (via The Japan Times)