Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On Anno, Animation, and Fantasy vs. Reality

Well, I reckon I might as well make some use of this weblog. Here's something I found interesting, which I wouldn't bother to post on my LJ since I know there wouldn't be much of an audience for it there. (Why am I posting it here when I know that there's even less audience? God alone knows...)

Hideaki Anno on Hayao Miyazaki (circa '98, I think)

Hideaki Anno, best known as the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, is an odd one. Personally, I think he takes himself a bit too seriously -- the "tortured artist" image gets on my nerves. ('Course, as an aspiring artist myself, I may well come to empathize with him 20 years from now if ever I achieve my dreams...). Even so, although some of his work and opinions grate on me, I can't deny that I find him a rather fascinating individual, and I find myself oddly interested in his thoughts.

"Animation, as a means to enjoy everything in a pure, fake world, is a realization of dreams and has become entrenched in film. In short, it is a thing where even coincidences are arranged and everything judged cinematically unnecessary can be excized." That's an interesting perspective. Certainly something that's never occured to me as a wannabe animator, but it makes sense.

Anno's the source of my favorite quote: "We can't weave our lives only out of things we like." From what I've read, Anno was one of the leading figures behind the rise of the Japanese otaku subculture in the '80s, and then made a turnaround in the mid-'90s during the production of Evangelion, which turned into a scathing denunciation of the decadent otaku lifestyle. "We can't weave our lives only out of things we like." That's something I've struggled with recently. I've always been secretly ashamed of calling myself a "geek," and I've vehemently rejected the label of "otaku" (whether in regards to anime or any of my other interests), since the words carry a connotation of self-absorption, of disconnection from reality, and of self-imposed autism -- willingly shutting off contact with the real world and its problems to focus solely on a self-contained fantasy world of wonderful, superficial little baubles that entertain while keeping us blissfully distracted from the demands of reality. "We can't weave our lives only out of things we like."

(Incidentially, this is one of the reasons I was drawn to the animated series Genshiken, whose premise was the reconciliation of otaku lifestyle and the ability to function in reality. In the end, I felt the main character gave in to his hobbies way too easily.)

Sometimes I wonder why I want to be an animator. Well, no, actually I don't. It's pretty straightforward: animation is the perfect visual art form for conveying a sense of the fantastic. In animation, anything you want to happen can happen: the only limits to what you can get on screen are the budget, the deadline, and the animator's imagination. As noted above, you can, if you so wish, create the "perfect" world within animation. With all the shit that's been going on in my life for the last several years, I'm strongly drawn toward that.

But is it worth it? Well, maybe I'll find out. "Forfeiting one's goal leads to despair, and is a sickness that can prove fatal," quoth Mister Anno. I've forfeited enough dreams so far. What if I actually manage to go through with this one? Will it be worth it? There's only one way to find out.

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