First off, we owe you an apology. While the quote has become a popular meme among anime fanatics, it would appear animator Hayao Miyazaki never actually said: “Anime was a mistake”.
The quote comes from a 2014 interview for Golden Times, in which he criticised modern anime and accused modern animators of not observing real people.
So while the “Anime was a mistake” quote doesn’t hold up, the sentiment behind the meme is pretty accurate. Hayao Miyazaki is famously technophobic, once comparing the Apple iPad to masturbation. Anyone who’s seen The Neverending Man will know that he frequently clashes with computer animators and has only used CGI once for his short film Boro the Caterpillar.
When it comes to artificial intelligence, Miyazaki’s views are clear. In 2016 a team of young animators showed him a piece of animation drawn using AI technology. In the clip, a humanoid creature drags itself across the floor using its head as a leg. When asked for his feedback, Miyazaki said: “Whoever creates this stuff has no idea what pain is whatsoever. I am utterly disgusted. If you really want to make creepy stuff, you can go ahead and do it. I would never wish to incorporate this technology into my work at all. I strongly feel that this is an insult to life itself.”
Miyazaki seems to regard AI as a way for humans to replace a faith they once placed in themselves. He was likely shocked to hear of Netflix’s recent decision to employ AI to fill a labour shortage. In a tweet, Netflix Japan explained that the short film The Dog & The Boy had been created using AI-generated art. “As an experimental effort to help the anime industry, which has a labour shortage, we used image generation technology for the background images of all three-minute video cuts,” the streaming platform wrote.
Miyazaki’s fear that humans are “losing faith in themselves” has since been echoed by Guillermo del Toro, whose recent film Pinocchio was made entirely by stop animation and was filmed over 1000 days. “I think that art is an expression of the soul,” the director said. “At its best, it is encompassing everything you are. Therefore, I consume, and love, art made by humans. I am completely moved by that. I am not interested in an illustration made by machines and the extrapolation of information.”