Directing an adaptation of a work you fucking hate

Obligatory nude Hazuki image no.1

I think we all know by now that the director for the Bokura No anime fucking hates the manga. People I’ve talked to said this probably came about from Gonzo being a huge company and the people not really having much say in what they’re asked to do. This kind of cheapens anime for me. I understand for these fellows it’s a job to put bread on the table, but there is a distinct difference between a director who approaches his work as a job, and a director who approaches his work as art.

To be fair the Bokura No guy is making the best of it, by asking if he can change the story to suit his tastes. While this is bad news for fans of the manga who want an accurate adaptation, I’d rather watch this guy direct something he kind of likes over something he loathes. That’s part of what makes good direction, love for your work. I think this is why Evangelion works so well, because apparently the entire series really close to Anno’s heart.

Obligatory nude Hazuki image no.2

I think Akiyuki Shinbo really likes some of the projects he takes on. I recently finished Tsukuyomi, and loved it. I especially like his slapstick gags involving the falling pans. Each time a pan falls it feels like Shinbo’s messing with a character, like they’re his friend or something. Sometimes when they do something dumb, or when they’re doing something really cool, he just drops a pan on their head and (I imagine) he laughs. Shinbo really makes a work his own. I don’t know much about his interests, but I can tell he probably has an interest in proper film making, or at least theatre. The elaborate setups of locations which echo that of movies, or the animated stage lights and film crews are clear indications of such interests. It’s not really fourth-wall breaking, though. It’s more him being eccentric and indulging in his interests, and I like that. It adds a degree of character to the piece. I also enjoy how he’ll approach a lot of shots more like a design or a piece of artwork. He really takes this to the max in Hidamari Sketch, and I’ve really come to enjoy it simply because of that.

But enough about Shinbo. I kind of went off on a tangent there.

I’m not sure how each studio handles who does what, but I’m sure the size of the studio has to do with it. I’m taking a wild guess here, bit I think Shaft is a pretty small studio, given the volume of work they produce each season. Gonzo on the other hand seems fairly large, pumping out three or four shows a season. I’m going to guess the Gonzo approach to things is more business conscious, while Shaft goes more in route of experimental and wild. This isn’t to say that Gonzo doesn’t produce some fairly experimental works. I mean, look at NHK. However, I think NHK was more a result of poor quality control than it was conscious creative decisions.

I kind of forgot where I was going here. Ah well. Anyway, basically it’s saddening that I’m watching a work that the director himself hates. I hope these bigger companies have some kind of way that the directors can choose what they do. I appreciate anime as art, but when the director’s heart isn’t in it, it comes off cold.

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