Evangelion Creator Predicts The Death Of Anime

Evangelion Creator Predicts The Death Of Anime

Hideaki Anno, creator Neon Genesis Evangelion, thinks that the Japanese animation industry’s days are numbered.

In an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti (via EvaGeeks), Anno said the anime industry as we now know it will end in the next five to 20 years. Decline and “death” are unavoidable. Anno calls this only “a matter of time”. Yikes!

“Japanese animation is in decline,” Anno told RIA. “It’s already peaked.” Next, Anno believes, is the inevitable death. “After it does collapse, there will probably be a new resurgence.” The question, Anno wonders, is whether people will wait for this rebirth.

This death isn’t the end of anime per se. Japan will continue to have animation. “I don’t think animation will vanish,” Anno continued, “but perhaps, there might not be the conditions that have existed up until now that have led to the creation of interesting films.”

Anno thinks this collapse will mark the end of Japan’s dominance. Other countries in Asia, he points out, are getting richer and will produce more and more animation for their own audiences. On the contrary, Anno thinks there will be less money in Japan, which will also aid in anime’s decline and death. He also points out that there are fewer animators in Japan, which will also negatively impact anime. No doubt, ditto for a smaller population.

Of course, animation will continue abroad — and it, perhaps, that animation will be influenced heavily by anime. Who knows.

“Japan will just no longer be the centre of world animation,” Anno added. “Maybe in five years, Taiwan will be such a centre.” Anno described a recent trip to Taiwan, and the animators there, he said, had such passion and energy. In Japan, Anno says animation is “moving by inertia.”

Anno believes that animation in Japan needs to be more flexible towards adapting new methods, such as computer graphics, to find new ways to make interesting anime in a new environment. As the working conditions show, the current business model simply isn’t sustainable. If things don’t change, Anno’s prediction could become reality.


  • Yeah I think he makes some good points. Anime certainly isn’t as prevalent as it has been in the past decades, a winding-down is noticeable. I don’t have high hopes for the direction Studio Ghibli is heading in, with Miyazaki (for the millionth time) leaving and the seemingly less well received feedback from recent films (hopefully they still help make Ni No Kuni 2 though!) This is all just speculation though, it’s really hard to tell from the West. It seems like anime needs to make some changes, moving from hand-drawn to computer-assisted animation hasn’t helped the artistic side, and it seems like a lot of the heart and character is missing from modern anime. However Disney has gone from hand-drawn cartoons to full CGI animation and they are universally acclaimed for it (grrr Frozen), shown in revenue and popularity so who knows.

  • Hideaki Anno was basically insane when he did Evangelion (at least the last two episodes)… what’s changed?

    • Well, considering how much of an influence his series had over other people, not just counting the large sum of death threats he received but also the contribution it had to otakus.

      • How many times did he change and extended the ending again because of that?
        I lost count lol. I probably still do not have the definite version. Poor guy

  • Anno is a genius, both iterations of Evangelion are proof of this. Maybe he is onto something. Maybe not a ‘death’ per se, but more like a near third impact event. :p Youtube it.

  • *arches an eyebrow* Yeah, this sounds a lot like people who complained five years ago that MMOs are dead because they got bored with WoW.

    • They were kind of right though. WOW is struggling to keep interest with each expansion and almost every other MMO goes Free to Play within a few months of launch because they can’t get enough interest to sustain it.

      • Yah there’s no better example than the decline of the RTS and MMO and rise of the MOBA that whole genres can actually drift off into obscurity.

      • This is what I mean, though. WoW alone has about ten times the number of subscribers that the entire MMO industry had in users in 2002. People weren’t saying that ‘MMOs are dead’ then, either.

        WoW might have fragmented its previous userbase across new MMOs or F2P MMOs, but even if you consider ten times the number of users as used to form the entire genre’s base a few years ago to be ‘dying’, that’s just WoW. MMOs as a whole? They’re doing fine. Not subscription ones, but free are doing a roaring trade. Millions of users, and usually increased profits over when they were subbed. It doesn’t help that expectations of millions of subs is unrealistic for anything that’s not WoW.

        They’re not ‘dying’. They’re changing. And to the old guard who are fixed in their ways, they consider it to be dying because it doesn’t look like what they cut their teeth on or preferred. Or it’s not continuing along the same roaring trajectory of growth experienced when the genre first took off.

        And a lack of growth in the industry does not equal death. Anyone who perceives it that way because their own personal enjoyment is gone is exactly what I’m talking about. They’re extrapolating their personal belief onto other users and searching for stats to back it up, interpreting them in whatever contorted ways they need to.

        Anime’s not ‘dying’ by any stretch, the same as MMOs aren’t. The type he likes best might be. But that’s his problem, not the industry’s.

  • I’m a huge anime fan and I agree with Anno. There seems to be a stagnation in creativity as all the studios rush to pump out crowd pleasers (eg. Slice of life, Moe blob, harem, shonen anime) rather than creating the more nuanced and thought provoking pieces from the past few decades. Some of that is just because what was once new and revolutionary is now more mainstream, but a lot of it is just studios playing it safe with what they know will sell.

    Personally I’d love to see Western animation start producing more of the thematic breadth that we see in Eastern animation. There are notable examples but most Western animation still resides in kids shows or adult humour. My theory is that it’s to do with the general perception of animation still being that it’s “For kids” and not something that can be enjoyed by everyone.

    • I just think Sturgeon’s Law is in effect. Every season, something like two dozen shows start airing, and only 2-3 of them are actually worth watching. Much like anything produced anywhere. 90% of everything is crap.

    • I wouldn’t write off the idea of western animation becoming closer to anime. It sort of fizzled a bit after a brief boom, but I think part of that is it was treated like a kids trend by adults making the decisions. Kids went nuts for Pokemon, DragonballZ, Yu-Gi-Oh and then that died down so the people making the shows moved on. I think we should see a second boom now that people who grew up watching anime are now reaching actual positions of influence in western animation.
      I think the only real hurdle is that it has to skip straight past the cheap rubbish stage. Comics and anime built their empires and fan bases on the cheap and eventually transitioned into big money projects. Western animation has to start out with big money which means higher risk. That in turn means lower content ratings and more accessible plotlines in order to offset some of that risk.
      I guess it’s also got to get past the snobbery that comes from anime fans in regards to western content. It’s hard enough to get people to watch a dub without picking it apart.

      Personally I wish that 90’s western animation had of taken off. Back when it was closer to fringe comics. Adult comedy that’s actually aimed at adults. Stories you wouldn’t really hear anywhere else. Stuff like Duckman, Aeon Flux, The Maxx, even Beavis & Butthead/Daria.

  • Anime will have died by the time the final episode of Rebuild of Evangelion comes out.

    Hurry up Anno and co.!

  • Anime is not going to die. That’s like saying American cartoons are going to die. Not going to happen.
    The end of the current way of producing anime? Sure. As was linked in the article, the current model is not sustainable.

  • I think he’s right in some regards. Japanese animation is stuck making anime for anime fans. Occasionally they’ll throw a twist or gimmick in but it’s all become so inbred. Fan service for instance runs rampant in order to pander to existing fans and secure a slice of the existing pie, but it pushes away literally everybody else.
    I think anime will keep going because there’s not a huge amount of attrition within the fan base. Anime fans over 30 don’t just quit and so far it seems like anime fans are happy with a single twist on the standards per series, but it’s not really going anywhere this way. Minor changes will occur and things will change long term, but the change will be so slow you’ll have to stop watching for five years and then come back in order to see something half different.

    I think what really needs to happen is computer animation and project management needs to reach the point where multi-language dubs released in unison are the standard no matter where the animation is produced. Somehow figure out a way to make it cheap to go global. Don’t just make US and Japanese releases or trade between ‘east’ and ‘west’, completely destroy the language barrier and that will introduce fresh perspectives from outside of the core anime fanbase.
    It’ll take a pretty monumental effort to remove the taboo of not watching in the original language, but if all dubs are done (more or less) by the original studio that will help.

  • Anno may definitely be onto something but do remember that he is a dear disciple and friend of Miyazaki and both of them regard too heavily traditional methods and approaches and feel contempt for the modern, otaku-catering low denominator anime. Yes, lots of crap and derivative, pandering chaff is produced nowadays, but there still are and always will be gems and masterpieces produced by the people who is really passionate about animation and the anime genre.

    Doubtlessly some change has to eventually hit that old-fashioned, exploitative industry and most likely it will come as a result of a crisis. Also, it is undeniable that other countries will start rising and taking some of the prominence that anime currently has, but I really don’t think that a cultural phenomenon 60 years in the making will just crash and burn some day.

    I think Anno knows this and he’s just being overly dramatic and controversial, as he’s wont to do, to spark some discussion and serve as a sort of wake-up call.

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