The names of Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, and Satoshi Kon are familiar to pretty much anyone who has an interest in Japanese animation. And it is no surprise that these are the three directors who have also received extensive attention in the English-language scholarly writing on anime. But, as was widely reported and discussed last year, Miyazaki has now effectively retired from working as a feature film director. Oshii’s last anime film was 2008’s Sky Crawlers – he has since been working primarily on live-action projects. Kon passed away in 2010.
The question of who will be the next truly major anime director has been raised time and time again in discussions about the current state of Japanese animation, and anime’s prospects for the future. Some names that have come up include Hideaki Anno, Kunihiko Ikuhara, and Mamoru Hosoda – but none of them have received the same kind of acclaim or attention as did Miyazaki, Oshii, or Kon. Granted, there were definitely quite a few responses in the literature on anime to Anno and Neon Genesis Evangelion, but, important – transformative – as that series was, it was also very much a product of a particular point in time, and he has not been able to follow it up with anything else that would be as prominent. (more…)