Mamoru Hosoda Says Hayao Miyazaki “Does Not Have Confidence In Himself As A Man”

As he received plaudits at Cannes for his latest film Belle, Mamoru Hosoda, 53, vented frustrations about anime’s treatment of women, particularly Hayao Miyazaki’s depiction of young women and girls in his films. He is not a fan of how Miyazaki portrays young women. He threw shade on a certain “great master of animation” for the portrayal of young women in films.

While Hosoda did not name who he was referring to, it sounded like he was criticizing famed director Hayao Miyazaki during his recent interview with the AFP.

“There is a great master of animation who always takes a young woman as his heroine,” said the Oscar-nominated director of “Mirai.” “And to be frank, I think he does it because he does not have confidence in himself as a man.”

Hosoda would rather not have his heroines be examples of “virtue and innocence” who are forced “to be like everyone else.”

“It really annoys me to see how young women are often seen in Japanese animation — treated as sacred — which has nothing to do with the reality of who they are,” he was quoted as saying.

The 53-year-old director noted that he does not want to be part of such “veneration of young women,” which he finds disturbing.

“You only have to watch Japanese animation to see how young women are underestimated and not taken seriously in Japanese society,” he pointed out.

The two filmmakers have a complex history. Hosoda was inspired to enter animation after studying the sketches for The Castle of Cagliostro, Miyazaki’s first feature as director. He was later hired by Studio Ghibli to direct Howl’s Moving Castle, but left the project over creative differences and was replaced by Miyazaki. He has since found fame through his own Studio Chizu (Wolf Children, Mirai), and is one of the clutch of filmmakers routinely touted as the heir to Miyazaki.

Hosoda was at the Cannes film festival for the premiere of his latest feature, “Belle,” a modern take on “Beauty and the Beast.” In the film, a shy teen girl named Suzu becomes a pop diva inside the virtual world where she overcomes online abuse via her online persona, “Belle.” Belle draws on the story of Beauty and the Beast, but makes significant changes. “In the original story the Beast is the most interesting character,” Hosoda told AFP. “He is ugly and has this violence but he is sensitive and vulnerable inside too. Beauty is just a cipher. It is all about her looks. I wanted to make her as complex and rich.”

Hosoda also took shots at the dystopian tropes on the virtual online universe, including Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” for depicting the digital world as “malevolent and dangerous.”

The filmmaker, who has a young daughter, wants empowered viewers who can “take control of their digital destinies rather than cower in fear.”

“Human relations can be complex and extremely painful for young people,” he explained. “I wanted to show that this virtual world, which can be hard and horrible, can also be positive.”

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