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Can Hayao Miyazaki Save Disney's Soul? 548

Posted by Hemos
from the if-anyone-can-he-can dept.
IronicGrin writes "Even hard-core House of Mouse apologists have to admit that Disney's Feature Animation division has lost its way. After a half decade of pathetic failures (Atlantis) and epic disasters (Treasure Planet), the company shut its fabled Orlando 2D animation studios last year and announced that it was jumping on the computer animation bandwagon. A big motivation for the move to CGI was, of course, the Magic Kingdom's tenuous relationship with Pixar--the source of all of Disney's recent animated hits. But Disney is overlooking a better example of just what its toon team has been doing wrong...right under its nose. Howl's Moving Castle, which opened this weekend to rapturous critical acclaim, is the third masterpiece from Japan's Studio Ghibli that Disney has released theatrically. Today's New York Times has a feature by A.O. Scott [reg required, blah blah] calling Miyazaki the "world's greatest living animated-filmmaker"; meanwhile, last Thursday, I wrote a column for SFGate.com on why Disney animation, 3D rendered or not, is doomed to irrelevance if it fails to (re)learn some basic lessons from Miyazaki and his cohorts at Ghibli. What do you think? Is Disney destined to fade to black, or can a little Ghibli flavor (mmm....Ghibli) get it back on track?"
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Can Hayao Miyazaki Save Disney's Soul?

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  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:06AM (#12801359) Homepage
    ...no.

    Any company that can justify stealing from the public domain with no intention to return anything to it has clearly not only drawn up a contract with satan but has also disputed the subclauses, delivered the first two goats, renegotiated paragraph three and taken the whole legal department on a field trip to hell to learn new techniques.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:07AM (#12801367) Homepage

    Because Disney isn't about animation anymore, its about Parks, Hotels, T-Shirts and films signed off by the sort of people who next week will sign off the building of a 500 room "luxury" hotel.

    Until Disney drives its animation division as a seperate company run by people (business people) who understand that market it will be doomed.
    • I feel that Disney has fallen into the same greed trap that does every large business these days. Often I'll speak of Disney with my parents or grandparents, and it seems that while Walt Disney was still alive and in charge, it was the Google of the day - do no evil.

      So, being that I was born in '78, is there anyone that can speak to the glory days of Disney? Was it pure and good while Walt Disney was in charge? And exactly when did it lose it's way?
      • by warmcat (3545) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:05AM (#12801750)
        Disney != Google at any time.

        http://www.answers.com/topic/disney-animators-stri ke [answers.com]

        ''...The salary structure remained crazy-quilt, and the only general wage increase Disney granted in those years was self-serving: he brought a number of workers up over the forty-dollar-a-week level, at which point, under the Wagner Labor Relations Act, they ceased being entitled to time-and-a-half for overtime." Schickel says that Disney "responded gracelessly to the pressures of his increasingly difficult economic situation." Story conferences became brutal. "An animator working on Fantasia took piano lessons at his own expense" to increase his understanding of music, and when Disney found out about it, he snarled "What are you, some kind of fag?"

        As the biggest and most successful animation studio, Disney was an obvious target for the Screen Cartoonists' Guild. There was a layoff which seemed to target members of the Guild selectively, and things reached a boiling point when Disney fired animator Art Babbitt, whom Disney regarded as a "troublemaker." Three days later, on May 29, 1941, the strike began. ...''
      • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:05AM (#12802231)
        Disney need to do a serious focus group research with today's kids. I have a number of relatives aged 10 to 13. These kids were never taught to hate Disney, but they absolutely think it's lame.

        They highly favor Yugiho/Pokemon over Mickey mouse for example. Is it me or are Japanese the only ones creating fucked up anime-ish characters for kids? Americans play their character creation process too safe, fearing political correctness. In the end American characters are boring.

        • Is it me or are Japanese the only ones creating fucked up anime-ish characters for kids?

          You have to take into consideration that the cartoon/animation market is much larger in Japan, and there are different cartoons made for different demographics. Just because one Japanese manga/anime you've seen is "fucked up" doesn't mean that work targeted children. There are age restrictions in Japan as well on sale of creative works.

          In comparison to Japan, the US cartoon/animation market seems stagnant. I can't ex
      • "So, being that I was born in '78, is there anyone that can speak to the glory days of Disney? Was it pure and good while Walt Disney was in charge? And exactly when did it lose it's way?"

        I dunno about when it lost its way or if it was ever a "do no evil" sort of company. But, as an animator who was born in 78, I can tell you their glory days are certainly creating positive ripples even today. There's a book floating around called "The Art of Life" (err I hope that's the title, memory's a little fuzzy)
      • Think of Walt Disney as the Bill Gates of his day. He tried and failed several times to start up various businesses. His one success was the Mickey Mouse cartoon. With that start, he levreged into the movie business and grew quickly.

        Once he had some power, he used it for all it was worth. He dominated the film channels and forced theatres not to show any competing anmation on threat of loss of rights to show Disney. He dominated his company, employees and competators. Old disney was all business, and The M

    • by rtphokie (518490) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:12AM (#12801799)
      ding ding ding.

      The problem isn't format, it's story. Disney built it's business on story telling and seems to have completely forgotten how to do that.
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:06AM (#12802233) Journal
        One only has to look at the difference between Pixar's releases and Disney's own animation. Disney's animated movies are so over-the-top and so attrociously written that it's little wonder that they've seen revenues falling in the 2D division. Sure Pixar's animation looks cool, but that's not the secret. The secret, as always, is the writing. Whatever the medium you're going to tell the story in, you still have to have good writing, good plotting, good characterization. Pixar's movies are clever, well-scripted and have elements that can amuse all the members of the family. Disney's movies seem targeted these days towards girls from about 3 to 8 years old.

        Disney has become the most obvious symbol of the mediocrity that has taken over American entertainment. I don't have any problem with them dipping into the public domain, but look at the drivel they produce; the Hunchback of Notre Dame was truly a gag-worthy production. Pocahontas had no resemblence to history other than in name. Treasure Planet took one of the greatest adventure stories ever written and turned it into a muling pile of crap.

        If Disney wants to get with the times, fire the first writer that says "Now here we've got to have a singing animal."

        • If Disney wants to get with the times, fire the first writer that says "Now here we've got to have a singing animal."

          Why ? Disney's version of Robin Hood had plenty of singing animals, and it was a great movie.

          "Too late to be known as John the First
          He's sure to be known as John the worst
          A pox on that phony king of England!"

          Then again, I haven't seen recent Disney movies, so maybe they've overdone it...

        • by centauri (217890) on Monday June 13, 2005 @11:35AM (#12803009) Homepage
          On the other hand, look at some of the wonderful movies they produce:

          Both "Lilo and Stitch" and "The Emperor's New Groove" are hilarious and original, not to mention beautifully animated.
        • > Treasure Planet took one of the greatest adventure stories ever written and turned it into a muling pile of crap.

          I take exception to that. Treasure Planet captured the spirit of the story and most of the details. The whole eighteenth century with robots and rockets style was cool. The soundtrack was good. The voice for Billy Bones was great. It had the most creative version of Ben Gunn since Miss Piggy in the Muppet version. The scene where Israel Hands flies out into space from the mast instead of dr
    • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:46AM (#12802561) Homepage
      "Because Disney isn't about animation anymore, its about Parks, Hotels, T-Shirts and films signed off by the sort of people who next week will sign off the building of a 500 room "luxury" hotel."

      While I agree about the hotels, I have to say (as I presented in a Brand Planning research project I did) I think you're dead wrong on the park. You see, what made Disney what is was in its glory days was the fact that no one else had the perfect balance between quality animation, and the park that brought it to life and let you experience the magic of Disney.

      That was their unique selling point. And if you take a look at profits from their park, you'll realize how vital it really was. And while I can't find the actual figures now, it is also interesting to note that in years where the park took the biggest profitability hits, they also SEVERELY cut its maintenance budget. I felt this was a big factor, since nobody really wants to hang out in a park where half the rides are down, there's spiderwebs on dumbo's ears, and the puke still hasn't been cleaned up.

      Another thing that hasn't really been happening with the parks lately is crosspromotion. They have an amazing chance to advertise for the park in the theaters and on DVDs for all of their stuff, but as far as I've seen, they don't ever do that. They need more movie tie-ins with the park, and they need to keep it relevant.

      Part of the problem with this is that they don't seem to want to make the investment with rides/amusements based on new titles because they don't want to spend the money unless its a big hit, and frankly with the crap they've been putting out lately, I can't really say I blame them.

      But unfortunately, business is about taking risks, especially if you're in the business of creativity. People are getting tired of Cinderella's castle. They want Howl's castle instead. I just wonder if Disney has enough balls to attempt it.

  • Management (Score:5, Interesting)

    by May Kasahara (606310) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:08AM (#12801370) Journal
    Disney has to ditch the current management in Feature Animation before it can go anywhere-- the bean counters who are more likely to follow others' trends than to create their own (remember when Disney was the animation trendsetter?). There are still a couple of good creative types at the studio (such as Chris Sanders, who directed the quirky Lilo and Stitch), but such creatives also need management who cares about and understands animation. It's no surprise that Pixar, and not Disney, is Ghibli's biggest cheerleader in the states :P

    PS: Here's an excellent series of articles about what went wrong [savedisney.com] with Disney feature animation.

    • You hit the nail on the head.

      Management is the issue over there. They are a management that seems to not understand what works for their target market. The market changed and they just don't get the way the market works now or really understand their customers.

      The true test will be to see if they can regain what they had. In the meantime I won't be buying their stock.
      • Re:Management (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Monday June 13, 2005 @11:39AM (#12803058)
        Of course - management's job isn't to produce quality products, it's all about making money for the shareholders. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. If they ever lose track of that, they get fired.

        This does NOT encourage creativity, or encourage innovation. Why take risks (and possibly get-sacked) when you can stick with the status-quo and make bags of money.

        Disney's formula is depressingly predictable - take the hero or heroine, give them a sidekick (usually an animal), insert a predictable "bad guy/girl" who's just evil because they want to be. Sing a few songs, dance a few dances, everything looks like it's going the protagonist's way until something goes wrong near the end, add a bit of action, everything turns out OK (cue another musical number).

        Is it any wonder that Disney, and other big companies are scared to death about losing the intellectual property they have? They're not really capable of creating new work, so the lifeline they're clinging-to are the "classics".

        N.
    • Re:Management (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheoMurpse (729043) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:33AM (#12801505) Homepage
      It's no surprise that Pixar, and not Disney, is Ghibli's biggest cheerleader in the states

      I can tell you, the respect goes both ways, too. I was at the Ghibli Museum in Japan last semester on a trip with my classmates, and they had one of the areas of the museum dedicated to Pixar, with tons of sketches, figures, models, etc. It was amazing and inspiring to see two animation houses in separate countries share their art with each other.
    • by tgd (2822)
      Its always been a company with a brief spurt of serious creativity followed by a long period of expert sucking.

      Disney is back where they were in the 70's. One bad family movie after another. One forgettable animated feature after another.

      I think what is more suprising than their fall now is the fact that they stayed at the top during so much of the 90's. They had several decades of nothing prior to that.
    • by Draconix (653959) on Monday June 13, 2005 @01:54PM (#12804349)
      It fails to mention that The Lion King is not Disney's original story, but was instead plagiarized from Kimba the White Lion [straightdope.com].
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:08AM (#12801374) Homepage Journal
    just like they abused their relationship with Pixar. IIRC, the announcement that they were closing their 2d animation studio came right before Pixar announced that after their current contract was up they would be bolting from Disney? Why? Because that asshat Eisner assumed that Disney was invincible and Pixar would come crawling to Disney no matter how much they were abused.
    I still don't think Disney learned their lesson. Eisner didn't have one creative bone in his body, all he did was bleed dry whatever he could(and took a lions share of cash for himself) while Disney's main properties languished. I suspect the same will go for this relationship.
  • Will Anime last? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Punkrokkr (592052) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:09AM (#12801378) Homepage
    Currently anime has a fairly large following, but if Disney were to go that route and give up on conventional cartoons or CGI, what happens if anime is just a fad. It may help Disney pull through in the short term, but will it be a long term solution for the lack of good cartoons from Disney? I wonder how many years anime has left?

    Of course I could be completely wrong and anime would be more than just a fad, in which case this would be a good move for Disney. I guess that's the gamble.

    • by MasterOfMagic (151058) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:24AM (#12801461) Journal
      I'd hesitate to call any Miyazaki film "anime". While they certainly have many elements that anime has, they are much more than just anime. Every Miyazaki film I have seen has been good. While the anime "trend" may not continue to be popular in the United States for ever, the appeal of a good story is universal, and, as such, Miyazaki's films will still be popular after all of the anime series stop playing in the after-school, Saturday morning, and Cartoon Network rotations.

      What Pixar and Miyazaki prove is that it's the story first. Only when you have a good, compelling story should you start looking at "implementation details".
      • Re:Will Anime last? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:07AM (#12802243) Homepage
        I'd hesitate to call any Miyazaki film "anime".

        Especially not 'Spirited Away'; although that film included some Japanese characteristics, it wasn't in-your-face stereotypical anime (I'd say it was Japanese at a deeper, and more interesting level).

        In terms of visual style, it borrowed from 'Alice in Wonderland' as much as it did from anime. It's also notable that Chihiro wasn't drawn in stereotypical "big-eyes cute" fashion; in fact, she looked fairly ordinary, which I guess was all to the benefit of the film.

        And yeah, the story was the thing. 'Spirited Away' was so good because it was multi-layered and had depth. OTOH I'm not sure it would appeal to (e.g.) children under 7- perhaps a bit scary, but also not simplistic enough.

        That having been said "Kiki's Delivery Service" struck me as more of a (very good) competitor for Disney; although as a 29-year old guy I didn't enjoy it that much (didn't have the same broad appeal as 'Sprited Away'), I've no doubt that were I a 9-year old girl, I'd have loved it to bits...
      • by TomHandy (578620) <tomhandy&gmail,com> on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:20AM (#12802352)
        I don't really understand this attitude, but it strikes me sort of like the people who don't like to refer to certain high quality comic books as "comic books".

        "anime" simply means Japanese animation. I have no idea why someone would have the attitude that Miyazaki (and Studio Ghibli films in general) couldn't appropriately be called anime. What does it mean to be "more than just anime"? Does that mean that anime, as a baseline definition, only refers to Japanese animation that is just mediocre to average, and that the excellent Japanese animation should be referred to using some other term? Is this some hang-up that non-Japanese have about the use of the term anime (because, of course, in Japan, ANY animation, including non-Japanese animation, is anime, but that's a different issue). Heck, it's like saying that Miyazaki's Nausicaa manga shouldn't be called manga, because it's "more than manga".

        I think I understand your point, that Miyazaki's stuff shouldn't necessarily be lumped in with some of the generic TV anime out there, but I think that point can be made without taking this attitude that "anime" isn't an appropriate word to describe what Miyazaki's films are.

    • by TheWormThatFlies (788009) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:26AM (#12801468) Homepage

      The point isn't that the Studio Ghibli movies are anime. They aren't succeeding because they are made by Japan in a Japanese animation style which is currently "in". They are succeeding because they are interesting, original stories with genuine charm, rather than schmaltzy, PC-laden cheese produced by the mangling of public domain works or historical events into unrecognisability.

      The most successful and enjoyable things Disney has recently produced have been Lilo & Stitch and The Emperor's New Groove. They were good because they were interesting, original stories, not because of the way they were animated. So it's hilarious that Disney has decided that 2D animation is dead, and if they switch to 3D everything will be all better. As I recall, Treasure Planet was partially done in 3D. It still sank like a lead balloon.

      I know what movies I'll be getting for my hypothetical future children.

      • by Kaorimoch (858523) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:57AM (#12801682) Journal
        To take that point further, as an anime fan of many years, it wasn't the animation that attracted me to anime. It was the stories. Some of the greatest anime series were original stories with deep involving plots that weren't just fomulaic or "safe". Series like Evangelion, Ranma, Full Metal Panic, Escaflowne have well thought out characters, original stories and brilliant scripts.

        My belief is Disney fails with most movies because it tries to make a movie as appealing as possible to everyone (dialogue adults and children understand, adapting known stories rather than making it original, dumbing down) and tries so hard that it messes it all up. If it tried to be a little more "out there" with their storylines, it may have some success.
      • by ghostlibrary (450718) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:05AM (#12801746) Homepage Journal
        Problem is, reviewers like Stephen Hunter at the Washington Post just "simply do not get it" (his own words: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2005/06/09/AR2005060901951.html [washingtonpost.com]) and trash them in reviews. Seriously, he starts out by saying he's the wrong person to review it, then proceeds to give a negative review. What ever happened to "I don't get it, so I recuse myself", I'll never know.

        Anyway, when I try to loan Miyazaki movies to my sister's kids, they never get to watching them-- because they haven't heard of them and "they're different". So a lack of marketing and a lack of a brand really make it suffer.

        Too many parents rely on brand (e.g. Disney, Nickleodeon, HBO) as a filter for what they'll let their kids see. Too many kids only want to watch the branded stuff their peers mention.

        It reminds me of a John Lasseter (sp?) interview about Pixar, when an executive asked (for Toy Story), "okay, what are the 8 songs?" The idea of doing a movie (to compete with Disney, no less) that didn't follow The Formula and include the marketable songs was considered folly.

        So Miyazaki-type movies have an uphill battle because "they're different" and they lack the marketing bit to appeal to 'the consumer masses'.
        • Problem is, reviewers like Stephen Hunter at the Washington Post just "simply do not get it" (his own words: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti c [washingtonpost.com] le/2005/06/09/AR2005060901951.html) and trash them in reviews. Seriously, he starts out by saying he's the wrong person to review it, then proceeds to give a negative review. What ever happened to "I don't get it, so I recuse myself", I'll never know.

          Well, I don't know. "I thought it was kind of arbitrary" is as good an opinion as any; I don't

        • *clicks link, check review*

          Eeeek! This guy liked Hudson Hawk... and they still let him write movie reviews?!
      • Re:Will Anime last? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:08AM (#12801777)
        Mod parent up...

        This is exactly right. Ghibli movies are not good because they are anime. They are good in their own right and they just happen, as animation produced in Japan, to fall under the label of "anime".

        Don't get me wrong. I watch a fair amount of anime. In fact, I'd even go so far to label myself an anime fan. But the simple fact is that 95% of the anime that gets produced is dreadful. And, believe me, I'm including an awful lot of the popular stuff in that assessment. For every Evangelion, Noir, Excel Saga or Mononoke-hime, there's at least a dozen formulaic "big robots hitting each other" shows, Pokemon clones, Dragonball clones and insanely-insulting-to-the-intelligence precisely-pitched-at-the-desperate-fanboy-market "Love Hina" style harem shows. Oh, and most of it *is* for kids.

        In short, anime is like pretty much any other genre. A few titles which really stand out in the mind and endure, set against a sea of tripe. Not so different from the broader TV and cinema output of the US or the UK, really.

        Right now, Miyazaki is one of the most talented people making "family" movies. In fact, Studio Ghibli and Pixar are basically the only people in the world making animation that's entertaining for both children and adults. That's the real story here.

        As for Disney's woes, its animation division desperately needs to break out of its tired formula for mass producing identikit movies. Can we PLEASE get lead characters who aren't wisecracking late-teens-early-twentysomethings. In fact, while I'm on that particular rant, I'll address it to the anime industry (excluding Ghibli and one or two others) as well. How about some characters who actually fall outside the 16-21 age range for once? Please? Oh, and Square-Enix, how about letting me have an FFXI avatar who looks as though he needs to shave more than once a week.

        Ok, just got completely sidetracked and can't even remember where I started. I'll shut up now.
    • by rekenner (849871)
      20+ year old fad, in America alone. anime will never die in Japan... But the question is if it can make money on this side of the ocean, I suppose...

      The funny thing is, it's UNDER exposed in theaters. While I sure as hell don't want Disney to handle series, they'd have the power to get more anime into theaters. There are enough people ut there that it WOULD make money. The best part is, the risk would be much smaller, as Disney only has to make money over the cost of bringing it over (and I'd assume there'
    • by Maestro4k (707634) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:05AM (#12801744) Journal
      Currently anime has a fairly large following, but if Disney were to go that route and give up on conventional cartoons or CGI, what happens if anime is just a fad.
      It probably is a moot point, one of the things that gives anime (and manga) its popularity is the willingness to have mature themes and stories. Mature in this case doesn't mean pornographic, but stories that deal with real issues, emotions, struggles, etc. It's not uncommon to see titles targeted at young kids that deal with very serious issues (rape, bullying, love (and not puppy love either), even "alternate" relationships show up fairly frequently, especially if it's a CLAMP work.) Can you see Disney _ever_ being willing to explore a mature theme in a "cartoon" they make? They've walled themselves off into the G rating only corner and seem to like it there. That's not to say a G rated animation has to suck, just that Disney seems to think it can't have any mature themes period. Slapstick and musical numbers will save the day! (Or at least that seems to be what they think.)

      Think about it, Pixar's films are great, they're extremely kid friendly but they _DO_ explore mature themes as well. The characters evolve, they learn new lessons, they're _NOT_ perfect. Some of the things in them will completely go over kids heads, but give the adults a good chuckle. Animation doesn't have to be watered down crap to be a good kid's movie. Disney used to know this (hell look at Bambi alone, can you imagine Disney of today doing a show where the main character's mother is killed shortly into it?) but they seem to have forgotten it completely. It's not just Disney doing away with their animation studio, it seems Disney has lost it's heart and soul.

      It may help Disney pull through in the short term, but will it be a long term solution for the lack of good cartoons from Disney? I wonder how many years anime has left?

      In general or the stuff that gets yanked up to target (and market) directly to kids? (e.g. Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc.) In general I'd say the anime market will continue to grow, although it may slow some. There's a couple of generations of kids growing up now that know that the shows they love so much come from Japan and they'll be getting into anime and manga more heavily as they get older. The diversity of titles in anime alone can compete with Hollywood's offerings, so there's something for every taste.

      While some in the business (*cough*AVD*cough*) like to proclaim doom and gloom at every chance they get (in particular about fansubbers), the market isn't showing any signs of falling apart. The main issues now are ones of success. Retailers are less willing to stock titles that don't start selling well right away. I personally wonder how big an issues that is though because more of the places that actually stock a decent amount of anime are more speciality stores, and they're going to understand that some titles pick up sales slowly.

      Manga in particular is growing amazingly. Viz's Shonen Jump has done so well that they're launching a sister magazine called Shojo Beat targeted at girls. Shonen Jump graphic novels sell amazingly well (the $7.95 price point can't hurt). Even Del Ray has gotten into the business, starting out with some very high profile titles (Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic, both by CLAMP) and slowly expanding out. Their titles cost more than the industry standard $9.99 (at $10.99), but they also come with all the extras from the Japanese release (translated to boot), translation notes and tend to be a bit thicker in my experience.

      Anime in and of itself is not just a fad, it's been growing for many years. Early fans used to watch whatever they could get, even if it was some Nth generation VHS copy of a show Raw (no subs) that you could barely watch. Thanks to fans, especially ones dedicated enough to do fansubs, and those who distributed them, the market continued to grow. In the last 5-6 years it's grown dramatically

      • Re:Will Anime last? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mttlg (174815)

        Can you see Disney _ever_ being willing to explore a mature theme in a "cartoon" they make? They've walled themselves off into the G rating only corner and seem to like it there. That's not to say a G rated animation has to suck, just that Disney seems to think it can't have any mature themes period.

        Disney is simply delivering what American parents want. Have you forgotten last November already? Some of us realize that it is futile and counterproductive to try to hide kids from reality, but we are i

    • by tekrat (242117) on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:58AM (#12802699) Homepage Journal
      Will anime last? Will anime last?

      Are you kidding?

      I thought anime was just a fad during ROBOTECH. I thought I was the only one who worshipped at the altar of Star Blazers.

      And this is back in the day when you couldn't get anime at the local Blockbuster, when the only way to see anime was to have a friend (or a friend of a friend of friend) send you copies of tapes that originated in Japan.

      We sat in darkended rooms watching 10th gen copies of tapes that were so blurry by that time you could barely see the characters or hear the sound. Just look up the history of the CFO (Cartoon Fantasy Organization) for that bit of madness.

      Yeah, anime is just a fad, that has lasted 30+ years so far in this country alone, with no sign of abating. Anime is now glutting the animation market, you can barely find a cartoon on TV or in the video stores that *isn't* anime or anime-based, or anime looking.

      Cartoon Network, to their credit, is producing a lot of animation with a variety of styles, and much of it is quite good. But, their action-oriented stuff is generally anime-looking (teen titans, justice league, etc. etc.)

      Star Blazers will have it's 25th anniversary IN THIS COUNTRY (the USA), in September. That's Star Blazers, not Space Cruiser Yamato.

      And, despite the crude looking animation, it's still one of my favorite shows, one of the hallmarks of anime everywhere, and still a fairly strong seller on DVD because of the power of its storyline and characters.

      Yeah it's fad. A Fad might be the current hupla surrounding the re-release of GATCHAMAN, which you might have seen as Battle of the Planets (or Eagle Riders or G-Force). I saw the DVD preview for that recently, and jumped out of my seat.

      But anime appears to be here to stay. Consider the fans of Astroboy, now aging into their 50's, who are still fans of Astroboy, or who, at least, can fondly remember the opening song.

      And what would your childhood have been without Speed Racer, currently enjoying a breif stint doing Geico Commercials (because everyone remembers the show!).

      Yeah, anime is a fad. It's a fad that has already lasted an entire generation, and kids who've been fed a steady diet of Pokemon are now turning to Love Hina (as my nephew is), and then soon Evangelion.

      I'd dropped out of the anime scene until I came across something called "Big O" on Cartoon Network. That show was so friggin amazing that I became an anime fan again, practically overnight.

      I'm in my 40's. Please, tell me this is a fad. Because so far, it's outlasted my entire wardrobe.

  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:09AM (#12801379)
    As a start to saving their soul, Disney would have stop trying to extend copyrights every time Mickey Mouse is about to go into the public domain. [wikipedia.org]

    Their unconstitutional extension of copyrights in perpetuity has made them about as evil of a corporation as I can think of today.
    • 1) Micky Mouse is not going into the public domain. the earliest Mickey Mouse shorts would be going into public domain, not the character himself

      2) extending copyrights is more evil than dumping toxins into drinking water? destroying local economies? exploiting slave-like and child labor to produce tennis shoes? profiting off of warmongering in the US and around the globe? yeah, that stuff's kinda bad... but trying to stop their IP from going into the public domain? THAT'S SO TEH EVIL!!!!!!1
      • by nasor (690345) on Monday June 13, 2005 @12:07PM (#12803324)
        If the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons went into the public domain, the character itself would also become public domain. Although more recent Mickey cartoons would still be copyrighted, anyone could start making their own new Mickey Mouse cartoons. Or t-shirts, or watches, or lunch boxes... One would only need to be careful to derive their Mickey drawings etc. from the public domain works, rather than later versions.
  • not likely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bersl2 (689221) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:10AM (#12801382) Journal
    Disney is more likely to poison Studio Ghibli than Ghibli save Disney from its current evil incarnation.

    I mean, come on: It's Disney; they can't do anything without the suits fucking somebody up.
  • Disney is dead. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Silverlancer (786390) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:12AM (#12801394)
    At least the 2D-animation disney that we used to know. They have been pushed off the market by far superior and widespread Japanese animation that fills the same market. Disney has only made it worse by being unoriginal, stealing ideas, and making crappy movies.
    • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gandell (827178) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:23AM (#12801452)
      Disney has only made it worse by being unoriginal, stealing ideas, and making crappy movies.

      I'm not sure that originality is Disney's biggest problem. After all, some of Disney's biggest 2D hits were based on fairy tales and fables (Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid, and yes, Aladdin and The Lion King [based on Hamlet] ). No, I think the big problem is Disney can't seem to find something that audiences identify with anymore. In the 90's, that something was the production value of a cartoon with Broadway musical numbers combined with the best animation Disney had to offer, and decent story telling (Aladdin was nearly completely rewritten before it was ever released).

      So far, Disney can't find that niche to milk it. Pixar has managed to find this formula without musical numbers. Can Disney do the same? So far, the answer seems to be a resounding no.

      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Maestro4k (707634)
        I'm not sure that originality is Disney's biggest problem. After all, some of Disney's biggest 2D hits were based on fairy tales and fables (Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid, and yes, Aladdin and The Lion King [based on Hamlet] ).
        Also note that Howl's Moving Castle, Miyazaki's latest movie, isn't an original (it's based off an obscure British Children's Book). Yet it's done insanely well and Japan and is already doing quite well in the US. Still the title is partially original, it's not exac
  • by shoppa (464619) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:13AM (#12801399)
    The problem with Disney animation in the past decade has been its blockbuster successes.

    After something like "Toy Story" or "Finding Nemo" or "Lion King" (which was not originally planned to be such a big hit!), every subsequent animated film gets compared to it. Not just box office revenue, but also reviews, relevance, etc. And of course, none quite measure up. So they cut animation spending, lay off animators, and shut down animation divisions.

    The problem isn't that the subsequent films weren't good films. (Well, some weren't. Others were.) But the problem is that the blockbusters were too good.

    Disney just has to get back into the cycle where they produce a range of quality animation (allowing some "duds" as well as non-blockbusters to get made). In this business world, where a single non-blockbuster means you shut down the division, this is indeed hard.

    • not really.

      the problem with them is that after they get one blockbuster they milk it, then milk it, then milk it some more(lion king as a perfect example, instead of doing another different film they milked it quite a bit with sequels and attached crap).
    • by Ed Avis (5917)
      Wasn't Disney animation in the same situation at the beginning of the 90s? Reduced to output like 'The Black Cauldron' (rated Worst. Feature. Cartoon. Ever. at the time). How did they get out of the trough last time?
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:30AM (#12801495) Journal
      Setting aside the fact tht TS and FN were not, properly, Disney films, I don't think that the hits are the problem. Someone at Disney has given up on animation. There have been pretty good films (not ohmygodgottaseeita100times good), and the young audience doesn't really care that much about the nuances of story line.

      The best example recently is the Heffalump movie. It's a little-kid movie, not the traditional epic, but its great for little kids (I'd say under 5, maybe up to 7 or 8 depending on the child). We saw it with my 2 year old in the theater. When it came out on DVD, we got it. So, if you were head of marketing, and you had a fairly big DVD release, how would you handle the marchandising? Lots of Roo and Lumpy stuffed animals, right? Midshare, get the kids playing with them. Give them something tangible to reinforce the whole Pooh franchise, right?

      WRONG! Not only do most of the retail outlets have nothing in the Pooh line except - maybe - a stuffed Pooh bear that isn't tied to the release at all, but even the freakin' Disney Store online doesn't have a Lumpy. None. Nada. Zilch. Now, they did have two Lumpys in the local Disney Store . And those were left over from the shipment after the theatrical release, when the original (meager) shipment of Lumpy and Roo sold out in about a day and a half. Flew off the shelves, according to the DS worker.

      No, in my opinion somebody at the top has purposely set the 2D animations up to fail.
      • Maybe they're cutting back on the product because of the complaints about the movies being overly commercial.

        Another question: there have been four Pooh theatrical releases over the last four years. For the fourth one, how much promotion is required? How much is acceptable?

        Pooh has been everywhere in recent years. That alone could be why Disney didn't market the movie. Maybe they didn't need to.

        I don't think they're setting up 2D to fail. At this point, they're just ignoring it. Why push Pooh

    • by Fox_1 (128616) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:50AM (#12801616)
      "Lion King" (which was not originally planned to be such a big hit!)

      The Lion King [kimbawlion.com] wasn't planned to be a big hit but it was, of course it wasn't really their movie at all, just a prettier version of someone elses, likely. [straightdope.com]

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:13AM (#12801402) Homepage
    I liked (as in didn't hate and enjoyed watching) treasure planet and atlantis as well. Is there some fundamental reason why I shouldn't have?
    • Try watching Castle in the Sky and then while you're sitting there, amazed, at how it is such a shameless ripoff of Atlantis, note that it was made several years earlier.
      • Well, Castle in the Sky is one of the most boring Miyazaki movies. Even my kids don't like to watch it.

        Atlantis, IMHO, is underrated, if only for the humor. Yeah, the story's nothing new, but the characters are engaging, and some parts make me laugh even though I've seen it a dozen times.

        Don't get me started on the sad, sad release of Atlantis 2, or Tarzan 2, or Lion King 1 1/2, or Cinderella 2, or...

    • I liked Atlantis (I wouldn't buy it, but it's worth watching once), but I didn't think Treasure Island was worth the price of admission.

      Neither of those two are as good as The Emperor's New Groove or Lilo and Stitch, probably the best two animated features *period* during this supposed dry spell...

      Disney might not be cranking out huge blockbusters recently, but they can still tell a good story and make a good movie. What else matters?

      And remember: Pudge controls the weather.
  • If Walt Disney were alive today, and saw what was happening to his company, he'd be rolling over in his grave!

    Wait a minute...
    • by eyegor (148503) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:36AM (#12801524)
      > If Walt Disney were alive today, and saw what was happening to his company, he'd be rolling over in his grave!

      How do you think they power their theme parks?

      They've hooked a generator to his casket and produce mega-walts of electricity!!

      Just to stay on topic, compare the last 5 or so movies from Disney studios (the ones they've done in house) with the last 5 from Ghibli. They may make more money, but they're largly soulless cookie-cutter creations.

      One word why Disney is history: Totoro!

  • I think maybe, no. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dangerz (540904) <stuff@tildastudi[ ]net ['os.' in gap]> on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:14AM (#12801405) Homepage
    It's sad to see the state that Disney is in. My fiance is an animator, so we've had our fair number of trips down to Orlando. She knows a number of animators, most of which have been fired.

    A lot of the animators have started up their own studios though. I think Firefly Studios is one? Regardless, I think the Disney that Walt had imagined is long gone and far from coming back. They need to stop pumping out sequels and start creating movies with good stories.

    It doesn't matter what medium the movie is delivered in; it's the story that delivers.
  • Disney's soul... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ralphart (70342) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:14AM (#12801406)
    The Disney that produced all the most beloved classics was a company started and run with an iron hand by one individual individual with a clear creative vision. Walt Disney was not the avuncular character we all saw on Wonderful World of Disney, but he was, in addition to being a shrewd businessman and (reputedly) chain-smoking tyrant, a person intimately involved in the creative process.

    These days Disney is just another mega corporation run by MBAs and Financial types. The movie segment is a small part of their empire which primarily leverages old intellectual property (think "classic Disney films").

    Save their soul? I think not.
  • Personally I don't think it matters one damn bit whether they go all computer-animated or not.

    With an engaging story, well-told, and cleverly animated, you could put a movie together out of ripped-up pieces of construction paper and have it sell (witness Southpark, which is ony about a step higher up on the animation ladder).

  • I clicked the Howl's Moving Castle link, and couldn't find anythong on Diana Wynne Jones, the author of the book.
    I read about 10 or 15 books of hers, and she's good.
  • I think its kind of sad that Disney is ditching 2-D and going for the 3-D animation. Its almost like losing an art form. Will there be any 2-D animation in the future, or will everyone eventually switch over to 3D?, Leaving 2-D to the same demise as silent films and b&w film. I think that if Disney put some serious effort into its 2D films, using computers to aid in the effects, while thinking up good story lines, they would be able to continue to make 2D animation a very profitable business.
    • Re:Kind of Sad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Recovery1 (217499)
      2D animation is never going to die. Even now as we speak there are new 2D animation companies sprining up all over the world in the most unlikey countries and places. Part of this is because the tools needed to do an animated show/series/movie have gone down considerably. Movies like Spirited Away are also excellent proof that the genre is not dying -- but it is changing.

      What is it we always argue about here on Slashdot the most? Big companies, inflexible to change. The Disney franchise is huge, and the fo
  • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:20AM (#12801433) Journal
    Why does every company seem to think they need to use CGI in animation these days? Even the very best use of it still make it look out of place, nothing looks as good as everything being drawn in the same fashion.
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:22AM (#12801443) Homepage Journal
    A lot of Disney's animators are already big Miyazaki fans; you can see the influence of Miyazaki's films in movies like Lilo and Stitch and Atlantis. It's almost a cliche that whenever Miyazaki is mentioned to people who've never heard of him, someone will pipe up with how much Disney animators respect him. But the animators don't create in a vacuum.

    I think you can lay more of the blame for Disney's failures on Disney's management. They need to get out of the way and let the creative elements create. Maybe with Michael Eisner's departure this year we'll see some changes for the better.
  • Different strokes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squarooticus (5092) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:22AM (#12801446) Homepage
    You know what, I love lots of anime. I can do without the ninja chicks in bikinis and powered armor, but I personally consider Nausicaa to be the greatest animated film ever made, for example.

    But to assume that anime would attract the same kinds of audiences as Disney's crap is ridiculous and unsupportable. No, their releases don't get especially good market support in the US from Disney, but most of the Joe Six-packs I know who've seen Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away thought they were either (a) boring as all hell, (b) pointless, or (c) impossible to understand.

    Think what you want of these people, but this is the audience that is attracted to movies like Toy Story or Aladdin or any of the dozens of like films: very American, lots of "physical" humor, not especially deep. People want crap like what Disney produces; they just need to rediscover what makes good crap.

    I'll content myself with being among the few Americans who enjoy anime, but I will never delude myself into thinking it might ever be mass-market fare in the US.
    • by SparksMcGee (812424) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:19AM (#12801854)
      Parent is correct in his assertion that anime is something of a "cult" following--granted, an absurdly, gigantically huge cult--but that it's still not quite mainstream enough to bring in the sort of bucks of American style animation.

      More specifically, if you restrict yourself to anime, you've cut your audience--some people just won't see it or else consider it crazy, far out, and inaccessible (because, let's face it, a heck of a lot if anime is crazy, far out, and inaccessible, just in an entertaining way). And, like American animation, there is some very good anime (Cowboy Bebop, a choice I hope is non-controversial) and plenty of lame ones (I'm not going to cite any examples because that's just begging for flamewars. Think so some anime you hate and put it here). Hence, you've restricted your market by your choice of style, but anime is just that-a style. It's no guarantee of quality by any means, and Miyazaki has done some amazing work, (though let's be honest with ourselves--Mononoke and Nausicaa were more or less the same movie), but part of that may be because he hasn't whored himself out as a profit moachine, but rather as a dedicated animator, and you don't need to convert to and anime-based approach to find that, you just need a Disney willing to hire people (like those who work at, say, Pixar) who share his dedication.

      And, though it's responding to flamebait, American animation isn't crap. I would go so far as to say that it's objectively better than Japanese animation. Please don't take this as an insult to anime, potential flamers, (Bebop is in fact my favoritest show ever, blah blah blah), merely an observation. The drawing in American animation tends to be less elaborate than that in anime (also somewhat less stylistically limited. It's a rare anime that doesn't include at least one of the following: drawing hair as an impossibly elaborate system of spikes sprouting of characters' heads, "expressive" eyes that take up half of people's faces, or chins likes knives). However, the animation is much better. The elaborate drawing required of anime, and in particular its frequent conversion from the still medium of manga, results in a great deal of scenes defined by minimal physical movement, or action scenes that jerk through a series of 1-second stills. Conversely, American animation, especially Disney, is always very, well, animated. Compare something like Trigun or DBZ (as examples of shows in which motion is very important) to Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast and the differences in the way motion is portrayed are just phenomenal, and there's more and smoother motion in American animation, hands down. Miyazaki's work is to some extent a partial violation of this tendency--Studio Ghibli's work at times reaches American fluidity--but the fact of the matter is that, in general, American animation is objectively better as animation. American animation tends towards the fluid and anime towards the static and elbaorate. I'm not saying either is "better," but any contention that work like Disney's represents "crap" represents the work of someone who enters a battle of wits unarmed.

      • Re:Different strokes (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gulthek (12570)
        You are comparing two big budget American motion pictures (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) to a Japanese WWF tv show (Dragonball Z)?

        At least compare equally. Pit "Spirited Away" or "Princess Mononoke" vs the two from Disney. Even the aging "Ghost in the Shell" fares well.
  • Miyazaki != $$ (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dioscaido (541037) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:22AM (#12801447)
    Miyazaki may be an ubelievably great artist, but his movies will not bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in movie sales, and billions in merchandizing. Therefore, no, Disney won't consider Miyazaki, or his approach, a significant asset to the company as a whole.
    • Re:Miyazaki != $$ (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jack Taylor (829836) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:01AM (#12801721)
      Miyazaki may be an ubelievably great artist, but his movies will not bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in movie sales, and billions in merchandizing

      ... Except in Japan. In Japan, Miyazaki's movies really do bring in this kind of revenue, and he's without question the most popular animator in Japan. Maybe the most popular film-maker in Japan. Of course there are cultural differences, but is the concept of what makes a good story really that different in Japan and America? And by the way, the article is talking about using Miyazaki's approach, not his actual films - Disney have already have already managed to procure global distribution rights to Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, as well as the video rights to most of the others. (They've done a really poor job of the region 2 DVDs so far, as well.)
    • Re:Miyazaki != $$ (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stalyn (662)
      Well Howl's Moving Castle has grossed 210 million dollars worldwide. While Spirited Away did immensely better. However Spirited Away I think grossed 10 million dollars in the US and Howl's inital opening in 36 theatres grossed 400k.

      So why do these films do so poorly in America? Americans in general have a case of xenophobia. Now imagine if they took's Miyazaki's vision for a movie but had an American write it and also have Americanized animation. I guarantee it would do tremedously well.

      Also btw Howl's Mo
  • What really drives businesses is when there is somebody up top who is passionate about the company and what it does. The big problem with so many is that you have an accountant up top who will drive it slowly into the ground. As it runs into trouble then they resort to texas-style accounting such as Enron and Qwest showed. Disney is in trouble because they do not have somebody up top who loves the business.
  • by molrak (541582) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:28AM (#12801487) Homepage
    Howl's Moving Castle may be the third Miyazaki film Disney has distributed in the U.S., but that doesn't mean much unless you live in a major metropolitan area. Those of us stuck outside the 20 largest cities in the U.S. are doomed to wait an additional six months for these title to come out on DVD. Apparently, Miyazaki is a taste that those of us in small towns to medium-sized cities just aren't cultured enough to understand. God forbid that Disney would actually do a wide release of these masterpieces, and actually back it up with advertising.

    While the DVD releases have been good, I was under the impression that it was the boys at Pizar who got Disney to distribute Miyazaki's work in the U.S. in the first place. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
  • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:38AM (#12801532) Journal
    There's much irony in the fact that in his heroic years, Disney used to be a victim of intellectual property rights abuse. First, he was "outlawyered" by his coworker Charles Mintz who basically stole rights to Oswald, The Lucky Rabbit [cartoonresearch.com], leaving Disney seemingly without any chance. To get out of this predicament, Disney had to hastily invent another character and thus Mickey was born. But even then, major Hollywood studios have had a virtual monopoly on sound and Disney had no option but use a patent-infringing [f9.co.uk] system known as Cinephone to create the first Mickey Mouse cartoon.

    One might expect that being a victim of abuse, Disney should never be abusive to the others. However, in real life it's almost always the opposite. When you are a victim, you don't dream about the perfect world, where nobody is a victim - you dream of the world where YOU are no longer a victim. I think this could partially explain this company's attitude to patents, copyright and trademark. "There was no mercy for me - why should I have it now for anyone?"
  • by PhotoBoy (684898) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:38AM (#12801536)
    Redubbing and distributing other people's works is all Disney is good for these days. They will probably never get back to their glory days because the suits appointed to run the company just can't understand what makes a good animated feature.

    I don't think Miyazaki can save Disney's soul either. He's a creative type who makes what he wants to. Disney don't make what they want, they make what their demographics tell them people want. Until Disney changes this, they will change nothing.

    Interestingly Disney are required by contract not to cut or change any of Ghibli's films without explicit approval from Ghibli. However John Lasseter of Pixar is the main man behind getting Disney to distribute Ghibli's work in the US which explains why they have been released relatively unharmed.
  • AO Scott (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:42AM (#12801556) Homepage Journal
    world's greatest living animated-filmmaker

    Why the need to qualify? Why not consider the possiblity that Miyazaki could be the greatest living filmmaker, period?

    Of course, the very idea that an artist or an piece of art can be "best" is simplistic, like the idea that you can rank movies by stars. But you can group artists into categories for some purpose, and that in some cases there are categories with only one artist in them. And there's no doubt that among all the animated filmmakers working, Miyazaki is unique in a number of ways. But the very supercategory of animated films is not in my opinion very useful. And in the long term it's going to be harder and harder to draw the line between animation and live action.

    So let's look at other ways in which Miyazaki is unique.

    He's perhaps one of a kind in the category of filmmakers whose works combine serious artistic merit and broad popular appeal. Or how about this category: makers of narrative driven films that unfold at modest to very slow pace, yet are capable of holding the attention of both adults and very young children?
  • by SparksMcGee (812424) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:22AM (#12801880)
    Many are correct in their assertion that anime is something of a "cult" following--granted, an absurdly, gigantically huge cult--but that it's still not quite mainstream enough to bring in the sort of bucks of American style animation.

    More specifically, if you restrict yourself to anime, you've cut your audience--some people just won't see it or else consider it crazy, far out, and inaccessible (because, let's face it, a heck of a lot if anime is crazy, far out, and inaccessible, just in an entertaining way). And, like American animation, there is some very good anime (Cowboy Bebop, a choice I hope is non-controversial) and plenty of lame ones (I'm not going to cite any examples because that's just begging for flamewars. Think so some anime you hate and put it here). Hence, you've restricted your market by your choice of style, but anime is just that-a style. It's no guarantee of quality by any means, and Miyazaki has done some amazing work, (though let's be honest with ourselves--Mononoke and Nausicaa were more or less the same movie), but part of that may be because he hasn't whored himself out as a profit moachine, but rather as a dedicated animator, and you don't need to convert to and anime-based approach to find that, you just need a Disney willing to hire people (like those who work at, say, Pixar) who share his dedication.

    And, though it's responding to flamebait, American animation isn't crap. I would go so far as to say that it's objectively better than Japanese animation. Please don't take this as an insult to anime, potential flamers, (Bebop is in fact my favoritest show ever, blah blah blah), merely an observation. The drawing in American animation tends to be less elaborate than that in anime (also somewhat less stylistically limited. It's a rare anime that doesn't include at least one of the following: drawing hair as an impossibly elaborate system of spikes sprouting of characters' heads, "expressive" eyes that take up half of people's faces, or chins likes knives). However, the animation is much better. The elaborate drawing required of anime, and in particular its frequent conversion from the still medium of manga, results in a great deal of scenes defined by minimal physical movement, or action scenes that jerk through a series of 1-second stills. Conversely, American animation, especially Disney, is always very, well, animated. Compare something like Trigun or DBZ (as examples of shows in which motion is very important) to Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast and the differences in the way motion is portrayed are just phenomenal, and there's more and smoother motion in American animation, hands down. Miyazaki's work is to some extent a partial violation of this tendency--Studio Ghibli's work at times reaches American fluidity--but the fact of the matter is that, in general, American animation is objectively better as animation. American animation tends towards the fluid and anime towards the static and elbaorate. I'm not saying either is "better," but any contention that work like Disney's represents "crap" represents the work of someone who enters a battle of wits unarmed.

  • by couch_warrior (718752) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:39AM (#12802038)
    As far as I am concerned, Disney has always been about seducing children to the dark side. After all, Mary Poppins was a witch who took her charges to a meeting of her coven. Then there are films like "bedknobs and broomsticks". Or clips like Mickey as the sorcerers apprentice. Can anyone think of a Disney film that has promoted faith in God... didn't think so. The trouble is that our whole culture has become so hedonistic and pagan, that the devil no longer *needs* Disney, he has video games teaching children to cast spells and make pacts with demons before most of them can read.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:59AM (#12802190) Homepage
    Kids still love "The Little Mermaid," "The Lion King," and "Beauty and the Beast." These are all viable franchises, both as animations and as stage shows. Why? Because they tell a good story.

    It's all up to Disney. The 2D animation form is highly relevant and even the work Disney was doing just a few years ago is popular.

    Does anyone really believe that the success of the Pixar films is due primarily to the technology they employed?

    I'm not suggesting that Disney should go in for "South Park" style material, but the success of "South Park" shows that even the crudest "limited animation" techniques--a la UPA in the 1950s--can achieve commercial success today.

    If Disney's institutional memory has forgotten how to make good 2D animations in just a few short years, OK, but that's their own failure and they shouldn't blame it on the technique itself.
  • by visionsofmcskill (556169) <(vision) (at) (getmp.com)> on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:05AM (#12802229) Homepage Journal
    While i'm a huge fan of anime, listing Akira, Princess monoke and a host of others as my absolute favorites, anime in general is NOT the solution.

    It's all about the stories, stupid.

    Seriously, one has only to look at cartoon network to understand that the stylistic medium is hardly the prime determinate of quality. Ranging from Futurama, Family guy, Justice league and others to ATHF, PowerPuff Girls, Ed, Edd, & Eddie back towards your Trigun and BeBop and the insurmountably great Samarai Jack. You can quickly surmise that how the characters are drawn hardly relates to the quality of the show and/or movie.

    Disney has truly grown decrepit in it's stories, loosing a huge portion of the charm and power it's former greats (Bambi, snow white, pinochio, Dumbo, cinderella, lady & the tramp, sword int he stone, sleeping beuty, 101 dalmations, etc...) to the current onslaught of crap.

    Pizar's astounding sucess stems NOT from it's medium of choice but through it's incredible story telling captivation.

    I Personaly am saddened that one of the great artistic styles truly pioneered by disney itself will slowly fade and possibly die simply because disney is incapable of hiring talented writers. I love anime, however there's a great degree to be said about all the various styles out there including what is literally the heart of being a "cartoon". While realism in films such as Akira are astounding and well appreciated, the fluidity and artistic impressionism of films such as fantasia, Beuty and the beast and even others (south park, simpsons, etc...) shouldn't be sacraficed.

    Suffice to say, no matter what form of animation Disney uses it will all go to squat if they don't change how they produce their storyboards.

  • by mwood (25379) on Monday June 13, 2005 @01:22PM (#12804004)
    Animation alone cannot pull in the audience. What is lacking is *storytelling* and that takes writers.

    Disney has lately been doing quite a lot of something that they pooh-poohed in the discussion on at least one DVD: more of the same. If cute spotty dogs sell once, sell 'em again. Some days it seems that everything coming out of Disney is "a II movie". Don't give us more dwarves. Let stories end, and tell new ones.

    I haven't seen _Treasure Planet_ so I can't say whether it's good or bad, but I've seen the trailer and the concept miserably fails the laugh test. The animation is darned good but what it's telling me is *stupid*.

    When most of your new stuff is either ridiculous or retreaded, don't expect to do well.

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