Hayao Miyazaki Blasts Studio Ghibli Employees Over Grotesque Experimental CGI Animation

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By Caitlin Donovan | More Articles
December 12, 2016  04:23 PM

A clip from the NHK special "Hayao Miyazaki: The One Who Never Ends" has gone viral. It shows Hayao Miyazaki, acclaimed director of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke among others, utterly roasting a CGI team who presented him with some grotesque virtual animation. You can see the clip, fully subtitled, below:

The team giving the presentation was the team from the Dwango Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The team included Dwango's president, Nobuo Kawakami, who is also a trainee producer at Studio Ghibli. They showed an experimental AI program that learned how to animate after observing humans and stated their eventual goal was to create a machine that could animate just like humans and possibly even replace them.

The animation itself is pretty intentionally grotesque, with the team saying it was “disturbing movements that humans can’t think of" as a creature flopped around using a head as a foot. The team felt such animations could be useful for zombie video games.

Miyazaki was not pleased. He described the animation as an "insult to life itself". He was offended by the idea of something that couldn't understand pain being in charge of animation, citing a disabled friend who had difficulty moving due to pain in his tirade. And unsurprisingly, he was not stoked for the idea of machines replacing human as animators, even stating that he feared we'd reached the end times.

Miyazaki is famously sharp-tongued, so I'm not at all surprised by this reaction. He was incredibly harsh and I feel really bad for the CGI team, who looks mortified. On the other hand, I have no idea why they would think Miyazaki would have a positive reaction to this. Anyone slightly familiar with him and his work knows he considers the human element of animation incredibly important and is wary of it being removed with technology. And while he can do creepy animation, I can't imagine anyone thinking he's the dude to appreciate grotesque zombie video games.

The people in the studio HAD to know Miyazaki would react this way, which makes me think this was probably an intentional stunt designed to get a Miyazaki tirade on camera. If the presenters were in on this plan, I can't feel too sorry for them. While I'm not a fan of Miyazaki's harshness, I can see where he's coming from. 

What do you think of the tirade? Is it justified? Or not?

Read: Hayao Miyazaki Breaks Retirement Vow Again to Work on New Anime Film

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Caitlin Donovan is a long-time nerd with a passion for superheroes and epic fantasy. She lives in North Carolina with her cat and wrestles with writing novels and doing editorial work when she's not ranting about pop culture online. She runs a blog at ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com
@Caitlin Donovan | caitlin@epicstream.com