When something gets as mind-bogglingly popular as Makoto Shinkai’s your name., people are bound to want to tear it down. This time, it’s the old guard of the anime elite finding fault for the sake of backlash. Specifically, Toshio “Otaking” Okada, co-founder of studio Gainax.
Okada has devoted much of his 58 years to the otaku lifestyle, starting with dropping out of college in the 70s because he forgot to hand in his course registration forms. After that, he kept up the pretense up being at school for his parents, who were giving him an allowance to support him in his studies. Meanwhile, he got to know emerging anime perennials like Hideaki Anno, later the creator of Evangelion, and formed General Products when he realised he could make a living from selling model (or ‘garage’) kits.
It was 1986 when he co-founded Gainax and filled the role of CEO. From then on, he made a name for himself as an expert in otaku. It’s a reputation that’s stuck long since his retirement from Gainax in ’92, as he now fills his time appearing on TV, lecturing and writing books on his specialist subject. One of his best known non-fiction titles is You Otaku Are Already Dead, a critique of the trends, isolation and retreating attitudes of those who call themselves ‘otaku’.
Now we know what we’re dealing with, we can go into the criticism he launched on your name. during a lecture in Kyoto:
your name. is a huge hit. There are a lot of women who are saying the film is a masterpiece, and it has me worried about the future of Japan. Come on, the film just uses the good parts of films and manga that’ve sold well in the past. It’s rubbish. As a person who’s been involved in anime, there wasn’t one second of your name. that I thought was interesting or moving. Seriously, the story and script are awful. Even comparing it to the artistry of Hayao Miyazaki’s films is a mistake.
Usually, as with his “otaku are dead” spiel, he at least reigns in the rage and critiques from a responsible position. I’ve written a separate piece on this (which you can read here) so I won’t go into the details of why this is a disgusting insult to anime creators and fans. All I will say here is: Grrr!
Golden Boy mangaka Tatsuya Egawa has also expressed disappointment with your name., but in his case it seems more on a personal level with Shinkai. He’s said, “From the perspective of a professional, I didn’t find [your name.] interesting at all,” adding that “it lacks [Shinkai]’s voice, and it’s just composed of elements that sell”.
Unfortunately, we in the west can’t yet defend the arguments around your name. one way or the other. But I’m sure we’re all agreed in saying that Okada’s rant is just that, from a man frustrated with his own disconnection from the modern anime industry.