Anime and genre

tim.iles at tim.iles
Mon Oct 2 12:20:53 EDT 2006

>   I think that what Miyazaki does in order to receive credit as   
> "director" is substantially different from what Mizoguchi did to   
> receive credit as "director".

Forgive me in advance for the obvious naivete to follow... Alex brings  
up a crucial point, but one that introduces a different issue in the  
anime/live-action debate, I think--because it really  addresses an  
inadequacy in the term "director" as the film industry uses it. On the  
one hand, there are still undeniable similarities between the roles of  
the "director" in live action and anime, aren't there? Both are  
responsible for "directing" the work and its components--settings,  
lighting, camera placement/angle (I realise using _these_ terms is  
problematic in animation), types of characterisation for a given  
character, coaxing a good performance from an actor, story/dialogue,  
etc... Granted the _media_ that form these components may differ, but  
essentially don't they fulfill the same function in live-action and  

On the other hand, because the media are after all so different and  
animation typically requires many more participants to produce--many  
more artists, painters, CGI programmers, etc--then the term "director"  
necessarily takes on a different meaning in animation, one that,  
despite its essential similarities in many points with its live-action  
usage, has to cope with a substantively different range of issues.

Perhaps this difference is responsible for the types of "resistance"  
or hesitation some people may feel for addressing animation and  
live-action in the same way--using the photography/painting analogy,  
because the photographer "just has to push a button," there can be an  
antipathy towards calling him/her an "artist" using that term's  
traditional meaning of one who manipulates a pencil or brush to  
achieve an effect on the page of canvas (not an antipathy which I  
share, however). But I don't think anyone here would agree with that  
perception of the photographer, and I don't think it's justified...  
And also, using that analogy, perhaps the "director" of an animated  
film deserves more credit, because of the greater numbers of  
participants with whom s/he has to deal! ^_^

But personally I think the term "director" is potentially a source of  
trouble--the person who does what this term denotes in live-action is  
doing something different than the person working in animation, as  
Alex says--despite the overlap in some key areas.

Nonetheless, I think approaching a cinematic work from a different set  
of criteria because it's either live-action or animated is  
fundamentally--well, wrong... Both types of film making are attempts  
to create cinema capable of conveying a set of meanings, and  
_perceptually_, we experience both types in similar ways. I think,  
personally, the overlaps between the media outway the differences in  
means of production, and the respective strengths of each more than  
compensate for any perceived weakness when each are compared. I also  
think there's a need for much more critical work on animated films as  
'serious' cinema.


Tim Iles
University of Victoria

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