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Yoshiyuki Tomino Yoshiyuki Tomino

Yoshiyuki Tomino, an anime industry veteran of more than 50 years and the creator of the iconic Gundam franchise, recently sat down with Japanese publication Toyo Keizai to discuss the current state of the his country’s animation industry.

According to Tomino, anime is in the middle of a historic boom, but he’s concerned about the future.

“I think it would be difficult to say that better work than what is being produced now will come out,” he told the publication before warning that he’s seen recent changes that could derail the good thing the Japanese industry has going.

“After switching from hand-drawn to digital animation, many of Disney’s works became disappointing. But that’s how they’re produced,” he explained, arguing that if Japanese producers follow suit, they’ll see a similar dip in quality.

Tomino says that since Bandai Namco Group reorganized its business and moved his offices into a new, state-of-the-art facility, he’s been unhappy with the work environment, which he believes is not conducive to creating enduring artwork.

“This magnificent building has been completely digitalized and has excellent air conditioning,” he started before explaining why modernization isn’t necessarily a good thing. “It’s like Disney’s boring digital production system today. A creative person must have a crazy side, spiritual, earthy, and indie-like. If you can create a piece of art in a space with fully controlled air conditioning, I think you should do it. But when I look back at something like Machiko Hasegawa’s Sazae-san, I get the sense that it was drawn in a drafty workplace during the post-war period when manga began to appear. I feel there is a danger that sense may disappear.”

Tomino also lamented that he had noticed a fundamental change in his own creation over time. In the case of Gundam, however, the creator says it’s been driven by audience taste rather than shifting production techniques.

“To tell you the truth, I feel that the fundamental messages I put into Gundam, such as theories about society and war, are hindered by the design of the giant robot called Gundam and aren’t being conveyed as well as I would like,” he explained. “Children like dinosaurs and giant robots, and Gundam’s popularity is an extension of that.”

Pictured at top: Yoshiyuki Tomino, Credit – 文部科学省ホームページ, CC BY 4.0

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Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang is the Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.

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