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Can Hayao Miyazaki Save Disney's Soul?

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the if-anyone-can-he-can dept.

Anime 548

IronicGrin writes "Even hard-core House of Mouse apologists have to admit that Disney's Feature Animation division has lost its way. After a half decade of pathetic failures (Atlantis) and epic disasters (Treasure Planet), the company shut its fabled Orlando 2D animation studios last year and announced that it was jumping on the computer animation bandwagon. A big motivation for the move to CGI was, of course, the Magic Kingdom's tenuous relationship with Pixar--the source of all of Disney's recent animated hits. But Disney is overlooking a better example of just what its toon team has been doing wrong...right under its nose. Howl's Moving Castle, which opened this weekend to rapturous critical acclaim, is the third masterpiece from Japan's Studio Ghibli that Disney has released theatrically. Today's New York Times has a feature by A.O. Scott [reg required, blah blah] calling Miyazaki the "world's greatest living animated-filmmaker"; meanwhile, last Thursday, I wrote a column for SFGate.com on why Disney animation, 3D rendered or not, is doomed to irrelevance if it fails to (re)learn some basic lessons from Miyazaki and his cohorts at Ghibli. What do you think? Is Disney destined to fade to black, or can a little Ghibli flavor (mmm....Ghibli) get it back on track?"

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Cartoons are for Children (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801352)

Grow up. Anime is for kids, not adults. The japs are nuts.

Re:Cartoons are for Children (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801356)

No. Actually, anime is for people who like it. If that's kids then fine. If its adults, then fine.

Re:Cartoons are for Children (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801384)

Anime sucks, I like to see my cartoon characters move, not float around the screen. Lazy anime animators can't compare to the animators of the 30's and 40's.

I'll go for... (5, Funny)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801359)


Any company that can justify stealing from the public domain with no intention to return anything to it has clearly not only drawn up a contract with satan but has also disputed the subclauses, delivered the first two goats, renegotiated paragraph three and taken the whole legal department on a field trip to hell to learn new techniques.

Re:I'll go for... (3, Funny)

DarkSarin (651985) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801377)

You were doing so well up to the last phrase. They didn't go to hell to learn new techniques, but to teach them to the devils. That's what satan gets out of the whole deal, really. Their souls are already his, so this is just a way for him to learn something new and interesting.

Re:I'll go for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801628)

I was gonna say, "No...

"Unca Walt is going to burn in hell for all eternity for ruining so many lives on his crusade to save America from Communists."

But I like yours better.

I'M AN OPEN PROXY! BAN ME! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801365)

Nah just kidding. Why you care about Anime is beyond me. If you watch cartoons over the age of twelve, you're probably a loser who will never, ever, have sex.

Re:I'M AN OPEN PROXY! BAN ME! (3, Funny)

Okonomiyaki (662220) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801440)

What are you talking about? Just about all I ever do is watch cartoons and have sex or have sex and watch cartoons or have sex while watching cartoons and I have no intention of changing my lifestyle just because I'm turning twelve next month.

Talking of sex... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801529)

I'm going to slide my huge great pole in the tight love canal of a nice hot virgin Jewish (Israeli) girl. Aren't you jealous?

Animators won't save Disney... (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801367)

Because Disney isn't about animation anymore, its about Parks, Hotels, T-Shirts and films signed off by the sort of people who next week will sign off the building of a 500 room "luxury" hotel.

Until Disney drives its animation division as a seperate company run by people (business people) who understand that market it will be doomed.

Management (5, Interesting)

May Kasahara (606310) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801370)

Disney has to ditch the current management in Feature Animation before it can go anywhere-- the bean counters who are more likely to follow others' trends than to create their own (remember when Disney was the animation trendsetter?). There are still a couple of good creative types at the studio (such as Chris Sanders, who directed the quirky Lilo and Stitch), but such creatives also need management who cares about and understands animation. It's no surprise that Pixar, and not Disney, is Ghibli's biggest cheerleader in the states :P

PS: Here's an excellent series of articles about what went wrong [savedisney.com] with Disney feature animation.

Re:Management (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801392)

You hit the nail on the head.

Management is the issue over there. They are a management that seems to not understand what works for their target market. The market changed and they just don't get the way the market works now or really understand their customers.

The true test will be to see if they can regain what they had. In the meantime I won't be buying their stock.

Re:Management (4, Interesting)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801505)

It's no surprise that Pixar, and not Disney, is Ghibli's biggest cheerleader in the states

I can tell you, the respect goes both ways, too. I was at the Ghibli Museum in Japan last semester on a trip with my classmates, and they had one of the areas of the museum dedicated to Pixar, with tons of sketches, figures, models, etc. It was amazing and inspiring to see two animation houses in separate countries share their art with each other.

Re:Management (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801553)

The problem is not with the medium...It's not like a mediocre digital film is any more or less mediocre than a traditional 2d animated film. The problem is with management that is more concerned with the bottom line, who wouldn't know quality if it was sitting on their faces. They lack originality and vision.

You hear the phrase "sleeper success" applied to things the phb's didn't think were going to be successful, and "flop" applied to everything which they were sure was going to be successful was hated by the public. They need to stop trying to find the magic formula.

You see this all the time with TV; they kill perfectly good shows by trying to dissect and reproduce their success without letting them evolve...Or, my personal favorite, the friday night kiss of death. Just because something rocks the world on Tuesday (random example) doesn't mean it's going to dominate on Friday, and a lot of shows have flopped on their second seasons trying to prove it.

Meh, they will just abuse this relationship (4, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801374)

just like they abused their relationship with Pixar. IIRC, the announcement that they were closing their 2d animation studio came right before Pixar announced that after their current contract was up they would be bolting from Disney? Why? Because that asshat Eisner assumed that Disney was invincible and Pixar would come crawling to Disney no matter how much they were abused.
I still don't think Disney learned their lesson. Eisner didn't have one creative bone in his body, all he did was bleed dry whatever he could(and took a lions share of cash for himself) while Disney's main properties languished. I suspect the same will go for this relationship.

rapturous critical acclaim (0, Flamebait)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801376)

usually means some pretentious quasi intellectual twats love it and the general public will hate it.

Re:rapturous critical acclaim (2)

Ryunosuke (576755) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801397)

pointless trolling aside, Disney won't learn anything until they put the parks, all its seperate businesses, and the almighty dollar aside, and hire someone who cares about movies, not the attendance in Disney world. those "pretentious quasi intellectual twats" are the people who still want a movie worth seeing, so I'm sure you loved treasure planet.

Re:rapturous critical acclaim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801403)

So? What's wrong with that Mr. General Public?

Re:rapturous critical acclaim (3, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801478)

That, or it means it kicks ass like Miyazaki's other works.

If it weren't for my "Don't buy stuff published by MPAA members" policy, I'd own at least Kiki's Delivery Service.

Will Anime last? (3, Interesting)

Punkrokkr (592052) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801378)

Currently anime has a fairly large following, but if Disney were to go that route and give up on conventional cartoons or CGI, what happens if anime is just a fad. It may help Disney pull through in the short term, but will it be a long term solution for the lack of good cartoons from Disney? I wonder how many years anime has left?

Of course I could be completely wrong and anime would be more than just a fad, in which case this would be a good move for Disney. I guess that's the gamble.

Re:Will Anime last? (3, Insightful)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801461)

I'd hesitate to call any Miyazaki film "anime". While they certainly have many elements that anime has, they are much more than just anime. Every Miyazaki film I have seen has been good. While the anime "trend" may not continue to be popular in the United States for ever, the appeal of a good story is universal, and, as such, Miyazaki's films will still be popular after all of the anime series stop playing in the after-school, Saturday morning, and Cartoon Network rotations.

What Pixar and Miyazaki prove is that it's the story first. Only when you have a good, compelling story should you start looking at "implementation details".

Re:Will Anime last? (5, Insightful)

TheWormThatFlies (788009) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801468)

The point isn't that the Studio Ghibli movies are anime. They aren't succeeding because they are made by Japan in a Japanese animation style which is currently "in". They are succeeding because they are interesting, original stories with genuine charm, rather than schmaltzy, PC-laden cheese produced by the mangling of public domain works or historical events into unrecognisability.

The most successful and enjoyable things Disney has recently produced have been Lilo & Stitch and The Emperor's New Groove. They were good because they were interesting, original stories, not because of the way they were animated. So it's hilarious that Disney has decided that 2D animation is dead, and if they switch to 3D everything will be all better. As I recall, Treasure Planet was partially done in 3D. It still sank like a lead balloon.

I know what movies I'll be getting for my hypothetical future children.

Re:Will Anime last? (3, Insightful)

rekenner (849871) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801485)

20+ year old fad, in America alone. anime will never die in Japan... But the question is if it can make money on this side of the ocean, I suppose...

The funny thing is, it's UNDER exposed in theaters. While I sure as hell don't want Disney to handle series, they'd have the power to get more anime into theaters. There are enough people ut there that it WOULD make money. The best part is, the risk would be much smaller, as Disney only has to make money over the cost of bringing it over (and I'd assume there'd be some royalties back to Ghibli).

Is it done? ... Well, lesse... I've had about... 3 movies in theaters near me in the last 5 years? That's a no.

(Note, any business stuff was pure conjecture... And I've been up for way too long)

Re:Will Anime last? (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801530)

For one, 'anime' is merely French for animation. I don't think animation is just a fad. If you mean 'anime' as in 'Japanese animation', then that's like saying, "What if foreign films are just a fad." Don't forget that the artform has been chugging along steadily in Japan for over 50 years now, and gaining popularity in the states steadily for 40 now (Voltron, Astroboy, etc., all the way up to the ridiculous amounts of animation imported from Japan nowadays). Fads don't last 30 years.

Re:Will Anime last? (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801575)

The biggest problem is... Actually.. The problem is... Japanese are just good at this work... Really good. Brilliantly good. Impressively good. Trying to compete with Japanese and especially creme ala creme Miyazaki stuff, Disney has no chance.

Anime can just be a fad but even after anime has dissapeared from USofA, Japanese will still continue creating masterpieces. No one is interested in a cat chasing a mouse anymore. History, character growth and a real story makes a difference.

Some of the best japanese stuff are not for kids but for young adults and grown-ups. Disney stuff just won't do.

Saving Disney's Soul (5, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801379)

As a start to saving their soul, Disney would have stop trying to extend copyrights every time Mickey Mouse is about to go into the public domain. [wikipedia.org]

Their unconstitutional extension of copyrights in perpetuity has made them about as evil of a corporation as I can think of today.

Re:Saving Disney's Soul (1)

Kaorimoch (858523) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801597)

I think it is interesting how Disney makes stories out of public domain works and then tries to stop Mickey Mouse becoming public domain.

Kind of hypocritical, don't you think?

"Howl's Moving Castle" ruined with dubbing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801380)

Watched the trailer to HMC and all I can say is f*ck Disney! The voice acting is terrible ... esp Billy Crystal. I bet the film will wind up being edited for violence. (Too all anime fans who like voice dubbing, F*ck you too!) I

Guess it's off to the torrents to find an unmolested version.

Re:"Howl's Moving Castle" ruined with dubbing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801504)

Disney has been very good at releasing the subtitled works of the Miyazaki films that they distribute. According to a couple of animators that used to work there, it's because there is such a respect of his work by the people there that they feel that they have no right to edit his masterpieces. So, more than likely, they'll have the subtitles and original audio when this hits DVD, which is where I'll see it anyway.

Re:"Howl's Moving Castle" ruined with dubbing (4, Interesting)

Masami Eiri (617825) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801541)

Disney's contract with Ghibli requires them to not edit it. Localization in the dub is allowed, as long as the story doesn't take a big hit, but nothing else.
Rumor is, Miyazaki even sent them a genuine katana with a note to that effect attached to drive the point home.

not likely (3, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801382)

Disney is more likely to poison Studio Ghibli than Ghibli save Disney from its current evil incarnation.

I mean, come on: It's Disney; they can't do anything without the suits fucking somebody up.

Disney is dead. (2, Insightful)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801394)

At least the 2D-animation disney that we used to know. They have been pushed off the market by far superior and widespread Japanese animation that fills the same market. Disney has only made it worse by being unoriginal, stealing ideas, and making crappy movies.

Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

gandell (827178) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801452)

Disney has only made it worse by being unoriginal, stealing ideas, and making crappy movies.

I'm not sure that originality is Disney's biggest problem. After all, some of Disney's biggest 2D hits were based on fairy tales and fables (Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid, and yes, Aladdin and The Lion King [based on Hamlet] ). No, I think the big problem is Disney can't seem to find something that audiences identify with anymore. In the 90's, that something was the production value of a cartoon with Broadway musical numbers combined with the best animation Disney had to offer, and decent story telling (Aladdin was nearly completely rewritten before it was ever released).

So far, Disney can't find that niche to milk it. Pixar has managed to find this formula without musical numbers. Can Disney do the same? So far, the answer seems to be a resounding no.

Hamlet? (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801561)

The Lion King was based on Simba the White Lion, which was a Japanese thing by Tezuka I think. They even reused a lot of the scenes (not the actual cels, but the composition).

Re:Hamlet? (2, Interesting)

gandell (827178) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801599)

You bring an interesting point to the table. Disney's official slant on the dvd is that it's based on Hamlet, but for those who want to see what he's talking about, here's the link.

Re:Disney is dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801520)

Far superior Japanese animation?
There is nothing superior about Japanese animation.

Solution: don't focus on blockbuster/masterpieces (4, Insightful)

shoppa (464619) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801399)

The problem with Disney animation in the past decade has been its blockbuster successes.

After something like "Toy Story" or "Finding Nemo" or "Lion King" (which was not originally planned to be such a big hit!), every subsequent animated film gets compared to it. Not just box office revenue, but also reviews, relevance, etc. And of course, none quite measure up. So they cut animation spending, lay off animators, and shut down animation divisions.

The problem isn't that the subsequent films weren't good films. (Well, some weren't. Others were.) But the problem is that the blockbusters were too good.

Disney just has to get back into the cycle where they produce a range of quality animation (allowing some "duds" as well as non-blockbusters to get made). In this business world, where a single non-blockbuster means you shut down the division, this is indeed hard.

Re:Solution: don't focus on blockbuster/masterpiec (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801436)

not really.

the problem with them is that after they get one blockbuster they milk it, then milk it, then milk it some more(lion king as a perfect example, instead of doing another different film they milked it quite a bit with sequels and attached crap).

We've been here before (2, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801479)

Wasn't Disney animation in the same situation at the beginning of the 90s? Reduced to output like 'The Black Cauldron' (rated Worst. Feature. Cartoon. Ever. at the time). How did they get out of the trough last time?

Re:Solution: don't focus on blockbuster/masterpiec (4, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801495)

Setting aside the fact tht TS and FN were not, properly, Disney films, I don't think that the hits are the problem. Someone at Disney has given up on animation. There have been pretty good films (not ohmygodgottaseeita100times good), and the young audience doesn't really care that much about the nuances of story line.

The best example recently is the Heffalump movie. It's a little-kid movie, not the traditional epic, but its great for little kids (I'd say under 5, maybe up to 7 or 8 depending on the child). We saw it with my 2 year old in the theater. When it came out on DVD, we got it. So, if you were head of marketing, and you had a fairly big DVD release, how would you handle the marchandising? Lots of Roo and Lumpy stuffed animals, right? Midshare, get the kids playing with them. Give them something tangible to reinforce the whole Pooh franchise, right?

WRONG! Not only do most of the retail outlets have nothing in the Pooh line except - maybe - a stuffed Pooh bear that isn't tied to the release at all, but even the freakin' Disney Store online doesn't have a Lumpy. None. Nada. Zilch. Now, they did have two Lumpys in the local Disney Store . And those were left over from the shipment after the theatrical release, when the original (meager) shipment of Lumpy and Roo sold out in about a day and a half. Flew off the shelves, according to the DS worker.

No, in my opinion somebody at the top has purposely set the 2D animations up to fail.

Re:Solution: don't focus on blockbuster/masterpiec (3, Interesting)

Fox_1 (128616) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801616)

"Lion King" (which was not originally planned to be such a big hit!)

The Lion King [kimbawlion.com] wasn't planned to be a big hit but it was, of course it wasn't really their movie at all, just a prettier version of someone elses, likely. [straightdope.com]

I think (1)

FullMetalAlchemist (811118) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801401)

I think the problem is that those who enjoy animated epics are on average quite a bit older than before and simply expect more than Disney can deliver. It's not that their failures are worse than their old classics, it's just that when we have come of age it requires more effort to pay to see the crap.

Simply put, Disney's moves always lacked depth, unless it was a remake of someone elses work.

The japanese master the art of story telling, which it is all about. Disnay is doomed, unless it can come up with good stories. Which it probably never will, it's too institutionalized.

And while I'm bitching... I can't watch Disney crap bacuase of all the singing musical crap, for gods sake S-T-O-P.

Re:I think (1)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801592)

Yes, Disney does seem to think that animated equals musical.
This is one of the things that is wrong (IMHO) with American (movie) animation.
My other pet peeve is using famous movie/TV actors for the voice talent. It's like it was done just to get another few more percent at the box office rather than to enhance the story.
Then again when I watch anime it's alang=jp and slang=en.

Is there something wrong with me? (4, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801402)

I liked (as in didn't hate and enjoyed watching) treasure planet and atlantis as well. Is there some fundamental reason why I shouldn't have?

Re:Is there something wrong with me? (3, Informative)

PigBoyOhBoy (749359) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801498)

Try watching Castle in the Sky and then while you're sitting there, amazed, at how it is such a shameless ripoff of Atlantis, note that it was made several years earlier.

Re:Is there something wrong with me? (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801555)

Try watching Castle in the Sky and then while you're sitting there, amazed, at how it is such a shameless ripoff of Atlantis, note that it was made several years earlier.

Note to self: watch "Castle in the Sky". But I fail to see how this should prevent me from enjoying Atlantis. After all, most stories are still just rehashes of earlier stories... I can still enjoy a rip-off if it's a good rip-off ;)

If Walt were still alive... (5, Funny)

TheCamper (827137) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801404)

If Walt Disney were alive today, and saw what was happening to his company, he'd be rolling over in his grave!

Wait a minute...

Re:If Walt were still alive... (2, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801467)

The Walt Disney Company unveils today a new attraction in DisneyWorld : The Walt Disney Rollin'Grave !

Re:If Walt were still alive... (4, Funny)

eyegor (148503) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801524)

> If Walt Disney were alive today, and saw what was happening to his company, he'd be rolling over in his grave!

How do you think they power their theme parks?

They've hooked a generator to his casket and produce mega-walts of electricity!!

Just to stay on topic, compare the last 5 or so movies from Disney studios (the ones they've done in house) with the last 5 from Ghibli. They may make more money, but they're largly soulless cookie-cutter creations.

One word why Disney is history: Totoro!

I think maybe, no. (4, Interesting)

dangerz (540904) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801405)

It's sad to see the state that Disney is in. My fiance is an animator, so we've had our fair number of trips down to Orlando. She knows a number of animators, most of which have been fired.

A lot of the animators have started up their own studios though. I think Firefly Studios is one? Regardless, I think the Disney that Walt had imagined is long gone and far from coming back. They need to stop pumping out sequels and start creating movies with good stories.

It doesn't matter what medium the movie is delivered in; it's the story that delivers.

Disney's soul... (2, Insightful)

ralphart (70342) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801406)

The Disney that produced all the most beloved classics was a company started and run with an iron hand by one individual individual with a clear creative vision. Walt Disney was not the avuncular character we all saw on Wonderful World of Disney, but he was, in addition to being a shrewd businessman and (reputedly) chain-smoking tyrant, a person intimately involved in the creative process.

These days Disney is just another mega corporation run by MBAs and Financial types. The movie segment is a small part of their empire which primarily leverages old intellectual property (think "classic Disney films").

Save their soul? I think not.

Re:Disney's soul... (1)

thecardinal (854932) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801594)

Whilst our youngest (3 years old) loves the "classic" disney animations, and we'd love to return to disney florida again, I'm wondering how long Disney Co. can keep flogging the old stuff, its quite a task to keep such fondness as a going concern.

I can see in a generations time that if Disney hasn't resurrected their animation business, then they will possibly be seeing a major decline in business.

Start singing again. (1)

aeror (886028) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801409)

The always sing too much in almost any of the older films (personal oppinion). Maybe that's the key to get back on track.

It's all about the script, the talent, the artists (1)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801412)

Personally I don't think it matters one damn bit whether they go all computer-animated or not.

With an engaging story, well-told, and cleverly animated, you could put a movie together out of ripped-up pieces of construction paper and have it sell (witness Southpark, which is ony about a step higher up on the animation ladder).

Script most importantly, I think! (1)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801430)

I agree, but I think the emphasis needs to be on coming up with something original.

Every Disney film has exactly the same morals and characters as other Disney films, just with differnt names and appearances.

I'd watch animated stick figures if there was some actual depth to it all, I mean, I realize it is intended for children and all, but MAN!

(on a semi-related note, I wouldn't pay $8 to see stickmen in a theater regardless of how good the plot was, even I have principles ;) )


Good post, though, old bean, cheers ;)

my karma... disney's dogma (1)

DualG5GUNZ (762655) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801414)

All I'm saying is this: if Disney offs ABC (which it owns), I'll mod it up when I get the chance.

It's a Book! (1)

QMO (836285) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801416)

I clicked the Howl's Moving Castle link, and couldn't find anythong on Diana Wynne Jones, the author of the book.
I read about 10 or 15 books of hers, and she's good.

Start singing again (0, Redundant)

aeror (886028) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801424)

In almost any of the older films they sing too much (personal oppinion). Maybe that's the key to get back on track.

Boy, is Disney QUICK! (1)

b3s (807077) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801428)

Considering the fact that the only decent returns they have had on animated movies recently have all come from Pixar [pixar.com] , one would think that it would take less than 10 years for them to figure this one out!

Kind of Sad (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801431)

I think its kind of sad that Disney is ditching 2-D and going for the 3-D animation. Its almost like losing an art form. Will there be any 2-D animation in the future, or will everyone eventually switch over to 3D?, Leaving 2-D to the same demise as silent films and b&w film. I think that if Disney put some serious effort into its 2D films, using computers to aid in the effects, while thinking up good story lines, they would be able to continue to make 2D animation a very profitable business.

Re:Kind of Sad (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801496)

2d is stay. Afterall, anime is mostly 2d and it seems to be doing fine.

Although I do question the wisdom in Mew Mew Power on Fox, but that a something to talk about another time.

Re:Kind of Sad (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801581)

I think that anime is something that will keep 2D alive. I also feel that it is very much on the fringe. There's been a couple of big anime films in recent years, but I find that even the good ones don't get the recognition they deserve.

I have one question about Anime. Not being a big fan, what's with the lack of animation in anime? Seems like there's only ever one thing moving on the screen, usually someones lips. Or some cool effects background with the character sliding across it. I don't mind anime, and find that the stories are usually quite interesting. However, I find the animation to be quite lacking.

3D animation isn't the future (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801433)

Why does every company seem to think they need to use CGI in animation these days? Even the very best use of it still make it look out of place, nothing looks as good as everything being drawn in the same fashion.

Re:3D animation isn't the future (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801474)

I disagree. The problem is, the best use you don't notice that it's CGI. Spirited away used a lot of CG in the backgrounds, and in The Iron Giant, the giant was totally computer generated. Nobody complained. People who didn't know it was CG didn't even notice.

Re:3D animation isn't the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801544)

Nah, CGI is just the cheaper easy way.
When all the models are done, you only have to manipulate them.

A 2d animation can be just as good as a CGI one, but when adding an extra half hour, the animation one will take alot more time to produce.

Ghibli does use CGI (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801557)

They use it for background elements though, and work hard to make it look like the rest of the animation.

It started with Mononoke, and continues to this day. Howl's Castle is a 3D animated object, but you couldn't tell it by looking.

In Mononoke, where the boy is charging across the field of grass, firing his bow, the field is CGI, as is the grass. The writhing 'tentacles' on his arm are CGI as well. Watch the extras "Making of" bits on the DVD sometime.

Studio Ghibli has invested money in 3D graphics. They do use it, but they work very hard to make it look like 2D animation

Softimage even has a article on Ghibli and their use of 3D. They have 150 people in that division

http://www.softimage.com/Community/Xsi/Mag/Cs/Volu me_2/Issue_1/Ghibli.htm [softimage.com]

http://www.softimage.com/Community/Xsi/Mag/Cs/Volu me_2/Issue_1/media/Ghibli/2.htm [softimage.com]

Here's a image of a forest scene from Spirited away, when they first approach the area where the spirits' 'vacation center' is located. Oh nos! It's CGI!

But you can't tell it, can you? Why use CGI? Because for set pieces, for backgrounds, it makes relative movement for perspective pieces easier to animate. It makes deep, rich backgrounds easier to do. Else you have all your characters animated over a flat looking background, with no perspective shifts as the camera moves.

So Ghibli uses CG, but not exclusively. It's merely another tool in their chest.

Re:3D animation isn't the future (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801604)

it's a hell of a lot cheaper and kids don't notice if it's drawed or cellshaded.

besides, it can look good too(and disney has used cgi for quite some time now, and it hasn't been always looking out of place either - normal people don't even notice).

It's the story, stupid... (1)

FraggedSquid (737869) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801442)

A good story is what wins in the end. Take Wallice & Grommit, it would not matter a bit if it was in CGI, claymation or traditional, it would still be good. Disney seem to be trying way to hard and missing the point in their animation work, IIRC they gave up ages ago in their live action films. But they can change, you can get wine at Disneyland Paris.

Animators already look to Miyazaki (2, Insightful)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801443)

A lot of Disney's animators are already big Miyazaki fans; you can see the influence of Miyazaki's films in movies like Lilo and Stitch and Atlantis. It's almost a cliche that whenever Miyazaki is mentioned to people who've never heard of him, someone will pipe up with how much Disney animators respect him. But the animators don't create in a vacuum.

I think you can lay more of the blame for Disney's failures on Disney's management. They need to get out of the way and let the creative elements create. Maybe with Michael Eisner's departure this year we'll see some changes for the better.

Re:Animators already look to Miyazaki (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801615)

For the record, Miyazaki does not always meet with wide acclaim. Howl's Moving Castle has received [suntimes.com] various lukewarm [washingtonpost.com] reviews. Granted I'd rather watch a Miyazaki failure than one of the more recent Disney releases, but sometimes Miyazaki's work is just a bit too aimless and phantasmagoric to be considered universal in its appeal.

People forget that Disney went through a similar set of death spasms in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It wasn't until a series of solid releases -- The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Lion King -- that Disney retreived its street cred. The films after these four definitely drop off in quality IMHO... this dropoff though was masked by the rise of Pixar thank goodness.

My Magic Formula for Disney Success (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801445)

1. Make sure you have a good stopryline
2. Convert it into a good script. Forget the fancy animation for the moment - does the script stand alone?
3. Make sure the cutesy animal sidekicks are actually more funny than they are annoying.
4. Don't ram preachy, christian-values moralising down people's throats - build it into the plot and let people discover it for themselves
5. Don't resort to cheap shots at playing with people's emotions (or if you do, at least be subtle about it !)
6. Songs - if you gotta have them, make sure they are good ones. Kids hate all those slushy sentimental ones!

Different strokes (4, Insightful)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801446)

You know what, I love lots of anime. I can do without the ninja chicks in bikinis and powered armor, but I personally consider Nausicaa to be the greatest animated film ever made, for example.

But to assume that anime would attract the same kinds of audiences as Disney's crap is ridiculous and unsupportable. No, their releases don't get especially good market support in the US from Disney, but most of the Joe Six-packs I know who've seen Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away thought they were either (a) boring as all hell, (b) pointless, or (c) impossible to understand.

Think what you want of these people, but this is the audience that is attracted to movies like Toy Story or Aladdin or any of the dozens of like films: very American, lots of "physical" humor, not especially deep. People want crap like what Disney produces; they just need to rediscover what makes good crap.

I'll content myself with being among the few Americans who enjoy anime, but I will never delude myself into thinking it might ever be mass-market fare in the US.

Re:Different strokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801632)

I don't know what all the fuss is about over anime! That style of animation (INHO) sucks! (it's very distracting!) I much perfer the current Pixar or the old Disney style of animation that I grew up on.

Remember that the style of animation and the story are completely separate! Just because something is anime(or Pixar/Disney) does not make the story better(or worse).

Miyazaki != $$ (2, Insightful)

dioscaido (541037) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801447)

Miyazaki may be an ubelievably great artist, but his movies will not bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in movie sales, and billions in merchandizing. Therefore, no, Disney won't consider Miyazaki, or his approach, a significant asset to the company as a whole.

Re:Miyazaki != $$ (0, Offtopic)

ofermod (214606) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801591)

Mod parent down!

How many Disney movies have grossed more than films like Titanic, ET, or Star Wars? ... and if your answer are the last three Miyazaki films, you'd still be wrong. Disney has no stake in studio Ghibli films in Asia.

Lack of Passion (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801449)

What really drives businesses is when there is somebody up top who is passionate about the company and what it does. The big problem with so many is that you have an accountant up top who will drive it slowly into the ground. As it runs into trouble then they resort to texas-style accounting such as Enron and Qwest showed. Disney is in trouble because they do not have somebody up top who loves the business.

disnay has been doing bad for some time now. (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801455)

thats not a joke its been 10 years sence they done anything good when it comes to animated shows. but ten years ago there where doing shows that whent disanly like you knoe dark voilent using all star cast for voices. when cgi hit the market disany quickly fell off the 2d platform.

Re:disnay has been doing bad for some time now. (1)

boomgopher (627124) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801595)

Your post must the worst grammar/spelling I've ever seen posted here. Thanks for the early morning laugh...

That's it!! (0)

Zutfen (841314) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801462)

What do you think? Is Disney destined to fade to black...

Fade to Black.... Fade to Black.....Brilliant! A Full length 2-D Disney Animated film about METALLICA! Duh, how stupid could they be not to see this? It was right there in front of them the whole time!

1) Start with aging rockers
2) add a healthy dose of dwindling animation empire
3) make up some story, I mean, any story will do, really, it's METALLICA after all!!
4) ... stand there scratching your head wondering, "Where's my profit?"

It's early and I think I'm funny, so I must apologize.

Fade to Black (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801472)

I think Disney is going to become a company like Ohio Art: They will do one thing right (Etch-a-sketch/the mouse) and all other projects will fade to obscurity (Betty Spaghetti/Home on the Range.

What are the three main things Disney has been doing lately?
- Re-Making everything: Toy Story 3, Herby, Atlantis 2, Cinderella 2, ect.
- Animated feature that have no originality - Home on the Range comes to mind.
- Improperly marketing movies - Treasure Planet was great but it should have been marketed towards teens and not little kids. And I think they only put 4 million into marketing Treasure Planet in the US. While Home on the Range was plastered everywhere and had to have at least $100 million marketing budget.

What has made Pixar so much better then Disney films? Is it the 3D? Not really, its just another way to get a story out. But Pixar does have original stories(Toy Story) with identifiable characters (Finding Nemo) that both adults (Mr. Incredible, Elasta Girl) and kids(Nemo, Dash, and Violet for the teens) can identify with.

The golden egg kept out of sight (4, Insightful)

molrak (541582) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801487)

Howl's Moving Castle may be the third Miyazaki film Disney has distributed in the U.S., but that doesn't mean much unless you live in a major metropolitan area. Those of us stuck outside the 20 largest cities in the U.S. are doomed to wait an additional six months for these title to come out on DVD. Apparently, Miyazaki is a taste that those of us in small towns to medium-sized cities just aren't cultured enough to understand. God forbid that Disney would actually do a wide release of these masterpieces, and actually back it up with advertising.

While the DVD releases have been good, I was under the impression that it was the boys at Pizar who got Disney to distribute Miyazaki's work in the U.S. in the first place. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Re:The golden egg kept out of sight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801578)

Well, you're one lucky guy. Over here in Germany alle we got is Princess Mononoke and Spirited away, thats it.
Disney definitely could do better. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Treasure Planet 2D? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801500)

Could Treasure Planet really be considered 2d? Some of the animation, mainly characters, certainly was, but there was a very strong 3d cg element present.

Also, was it really that bad? I liked it. So there.

Screw Disney. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801515)

They can take their Military-Industrial Fascist scripwriters and shove them up their own asses.

Get rid of the Bad Psychology, and Disney might have a chance. But for as long as there are 'experts' on "child fantasy" trying to work their 'magic' into the artform of animation, their movies are going to suck.

Want to know what Disneys' problem is? Too Many Psychologists!!

Disney and intellectual property (3, Interesting)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801532)

There's much irony in the fact that in his heroic years, Disney used to be a victim of intellectual property rights abuse. First, he was "outlawyered" by his coworker Charles Mintz who basically stole rights to Oswald, The Lucky Rabbit [cartoonresearch.com] , leaving Disney seemingly without any chance. To get out of this predicament, Disney had to hastily invent another character and thus Mickey was born. But even then, major Hollywood studios have had a virtual monopoly on sound and Disney had no option but use a patent-infringing [f9.co.uk] system known as Cinephone to create the first Mickey Mouse cartoon.

One might expect that being a victim of abuse, Disney should never be abusive to the others. However, in real life it's almost always the opposite. When you are a victim, you don't dream about the perfect world, where nobody is a victim - you dream of the world where YOU are no longer a victim. I think this could partially explain this company's attitude to patents, copyright and trademark. "There was no mercy for me - why should I have it now for anyone?"

Disney's soul died with Walt years ago... (2, Insightful)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801536)

Redubbing and distributing other people's works is all Disney is good for these days. They will probably never get back to their glory days because the suits appointed to run the company just can't understand what makes a good animated feature.

I don't think Miyazaki can save Disney's soul either. He's a creative type who makes what he wants to. Disney don't make what they want, they make what their demographics tell them people want. Until Disney changes this, they will change nothing.

Interestingly Disney are required by contract not to cut or change any of Ghibli's films without explicit approval from Ghibli. However John Lasseter of Pixar is the main man behind getting Disney to distribute Ghibli's work in the US which explains why they have been released relatively unharmed.

Re:Disney's soul died with Walt years ago... (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801626)

Redubbing and distributing other people's works is all Disney is good for these days.
Oh you mean the Grimm Brothers' Snowwhite, Charles Perrault's sleeping Beauty, Collodi's Pinocchio, Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland, Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book or AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh didn't count ?

They already have learned (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801539)

They _have_ learned that their 2D feature animation business is dead -- that's why they got Pixar to do them a 3D one it and why they're closing the 2D one down now.

They have also learned that their IP holding business is still a winner -- that's why they got the copyright extension.

They have also learned that competition is bad. That's why they got exclusive distribution rights to Ghibli movies and gave them small releases with abysmal dubs.

Summary: Disney still not stupid.

But boy, the dub on that Sen to Chihiro movie was beyond belief. The spooky thing was that all these people were going to it and saying how wonderful and magical it was and all the time it was practically eviscerated by that 'don't compete with our features!' dub job.

Well, I found it spooky.

I dunno about Howl's though. It looks like a return to typical Miyazaki, and that's not an undilutedly good thing.

Ok, I am utterly rambling. But my main point still stands. Disney are survivors, they know which side their bread is buttered and they'll get copyright extensions and lock new creators into hideous contracts and stifle foreign movies if that's what it takes. I still kind of like them though somehow.

Studio Ghibli? (1, Insightful)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801543)

The US box office for Princess Mononoke was $2.3 million, total.

The US box office for Spirited Away was $10 million, total.

Howls Moving Castle is currently playing at maybe half a dozen screens in the entire United States, and probably didn't break a few hundred thousand dollars on its opening weekend.

In comparison, Madagascar made $18 million, just last weekend, and nearly $130 million total US box office in the last three weeks.

Hmm... yeah, I bet Disney is going to get right on that Studio Ghibli thing.

Miyazaki not young (1)

PolR (645007) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801547)

AFAIK, Miyazaki is pretty old and close to retirement age. Even if he "saves Disney" whatever that means, he can't do it for very long.

AO Scott (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801556)

world's greatest living animated-filmmaker

Why the need to qualify? Why not consider the possiblity that Miyazaki could be the greatest living filmmaker, period?

Of course, the very idea that an artist or an piece of art can be "best" is simplistic, like the idea that you can rank movies by stars. But you can group artists into categories for some purpose, and that in some cases there are categories with only one artist in them. And there's no doubt that among all the animated filmmakers working, Miyazaki is unique in a number of ways. But the very supercategory of animated films is not in my opinion very useful. And in the long term it's going to be harder and harder to draw the line between animation and live action.

So let's look at other ways in which Miyazaki is unique.

He's perhaps one of a kind in the category of filmmakers whose works combine serious artistic merit and broad popular appeal. Or how about this category: makers of narrative driven films that unfold at modest to very slow pace, yet are capable of holding the attention of both adults and very young children?

The truth (1)

franksp (570748) | more than 8 years ago | (#12801579)

Disney just doesn't get it. Sadly they didn't realize that it doesn't matter if the film is hand drawed, CGI, both or made by blind vestal from tibet. The most important thing is the story you are telling. This is why anime works, and this is why it is travelling around the world. I'm *not* saying the drawing technique is irrelevant, or unimportant. It is *very* important and it supports and creates the mood for the story, but a movie isn't automatically good just because it's CGI or hand-drawn.

It's about story telling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801590)

Walt Disney was a great story teller. That's why he was so successful. He was all about giving the audience something they really wanted to see. His craft was all about wonder and engagement. (It's not called Wonderland for nothing.) The suits don't get that. Walt was very hands on. The suits don't have the clues necessary for that.

Film studies student question: "What should I show?" Answer: "Whatever tells the story."

Some films were under rated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801607)

I think some this talk where some films are duds based on their box office total is unfair, especially when the US box office total is only refered to. Brother Bear, which in my opinion was a very good film, was discredited on its ~$85 (million) US Box Office, where overseas it got a ~$160 (million) box office total. But that aside, what one does like another may not, it's simply what makes us unique.

-1, Anime Fanboyism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12801622)

Anime and Japanese animation bear little in resemblance to western animation.

I know this will shock some but... some people think "Howl's Moving Castle" is a flaming piece of crap (which is exactly what I've read some news and media reviews call it). Just because it's anime, I know some of you instantly think it somehow has more merit. It doesn't.

Anime is very narrow-minded, and to be blunt, boring, because everything looks and feels the same. Whatever Disney's doing, they're doing right by not getting involved in the anime fad because you can do so much more outside of anime.
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