The Feature-Length 2D Animated Film is a Dying Art

Mamoru Oshii, the venerable director of animated film classics Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor, explains why the feature-length 2D animated film is becoming a dying art.


“Making anime is also the world of the artisan,” Oshii explained. “I’m the kind who wants do my own part 120 per cent with perfection, but because if I’m allowed to do that, the whole work will head towards ruin, so I think 90 per cent is OK.” Meaning? Oshii pushes himself hard to make the best work he can within whatever constraints there are.

“However,” Oshii continued, “the number of people within this country able to work with such high precision is less than five per cent. The younger generation is more individualistic, and while the world appreciates how good their art has become, they’re unable to do exhausting work like their older predecessors. The biggest reason why I’ve stopped making anime is because the people who I can do [anime] with are disappearing.”

Oshii added that if you look at all the artisans working in the anime industry, the older type of animator he wants to work with are nearly gone.


Patlabor: The Movie trailer


Chalk it up to the general decline in human intelligence, a case of prosperous times creating weak men, or encroaching Western cultural hegemony; they don’t make anime like they used to because they are simply disappearing.


Score one more for the doomsayers who’ve been warning of cultural decline. Some may dismiss the loss of 2D cartoon movies as insignificant, but the inability to maintain a level of art practiced by prior generations is a widely acknowledged sign of a dark age.


I’d add the prevalence of people who don’t see the relationship between art and practical matters as another dead canary in the coal mine.


Today animators lose the ability to replicate Ghost in the Shell. Tomorrow we forget how airplanes work.


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Originally published here.

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Brian Niemeier

Brian Niemeier is a best selling science fiction author and a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer finalist. His second book, Souldancer, won the first ever Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel., and its sequel, The Secret Kings, became a 2017 Dragon Award finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel. He's currently crowdfunding his latest work Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming on Indiegogo. Read more of his work at or pick up his books via Amazon.