Osamu Tezuka and the golden age of anime

Ryosuke Takahashi on the golden age of anime…

Ryosuke Takahashi

“Osamu Tezuka was… well, 99% of the time he was a nice guy. At Mushi Production he’d say to us: ‘You’re creatives! Go and create, draw your hearts’ desire.’ So we’d draw whatever we wanted and we’d be nearly finished, and then he’d say: ‘No! Do it again!

“We worked so hard. There would be times when we wouldn’t even go home. But we all had footrests under our desks, and you could put your coat on it and use it as a pillow. There was one time when I crawled under my table, just to get a little nap. I opened my eyes, and saw that Tezuka was sleeping under the next desk.

“Tezuka was the life and soul of Mushi. Mushi without Tezuka was like North Korea without Kim Jong-il. It fell apart.

“The Sunrise studio was founded by people who had been middle managers at Mushi, who’d seen what went wrong. At Mushi Pro, the animators were on a salary; in a sense, it didn’t matter if they worked or not and many abused that system. A lot of them had no sense of loyalty; they’d be freelancing for Toei under the desks, and at Toei, they’d be freelancing for Mushi! At Sunrise, everyone got paid for what they did.

“You ask me what the difference was between Mushi and Sunrise. Largely, it was that Tezuka wasn’t there. He had a real faith in artists and animators. The trouble with artists and animators, is that they often don’t like to work! Artists weren’t salaried at Sunrise. They had to produce work in order to get paid, and that made a big difference. All the companies in the 1970s were set up, to some extent, in reaction to the failure of Mushi, but it was only Sunrise that perfected it.

“Toy tie-ins were important to them. They had Yoshiyuki Tomino working on Gundam. If Tomino is a star, then I’m… well, I guess I’m just a street lamp! They said to me: ‘Gundam has done well for us; we want something like Gundam, but different. We don’t much care what it’s about, just make sure there are robots in it!’

Votoms

Gundam had robots fighting, but they were in space. They didn’t really have to touch the ground. My earlier Fang of the Sun Dougram had robots fighting on the ground, but they were big, stompy, slow machines. For Armored Trooper Votoms, I wanted something faster. I made them smaller. I put skates on their feet. That wasn’t about budget; that was so they could really zip around. Then one of my animators suggested that we could get them to slalom, like they were skiing… and we were off!

Of course, toys became even more important. In the 1990s, a lot of the founders of Sunrise were approaching retirement. In order to protect their staff, they sold their interests in the company to one of their clients: Bandai. It kept everyone out of trouble.

“The ‘Japanese’ animation business today sustains maybe seven thousand employees in Japan, but maybe another fourteen thousand outside it, in Vietnam, Taiwan, China and other places. I teach three days a week, at the Osaka University of Arts. I teach the students how to make entertainment animation. By which I mean commercial stuff. Not art-house cartoons, but animation that they can actually make a living on: anime that can actually help them survive! I don’t have time to write a book. I am 68 years old and professors retire at 70. Maybe then I’ll write down my experiences in the industry. Maybe…

“I’ve got a place in the countryside. It’s a little house out in the middle of nature. What do I do there? Absolutely nothing! Drink a little whisky, walk around dressed like a British gentleman… Play golf. I look out in the garden, and I think it could do with a little statuette of a nature spirit. A Moomin or something like that. Yes, I worked on the Moomins, too.

“Why did I do it? I did it to survive!” (laughs)

Ryosuke Takahashi was talking to Jonathan Clements at the Scotland Loves Anime film festival.

Out This Week – May 21st

Pokémon Movie 10-13 Collection: Diamond & PearlCollects the Diamond & Pearl saga of films – The Rise of Darkrai, Giratina and the Sky Warrior, Arceus and the Jewel of Life, and Zoroark – Master of Illusions. The Rise of Darkrai While on their way to a Pokémon Contest,...

Manga UK Summer Release Slate

Did we just drop our entire summer release slate?! Why yes, yes we did - and it's full to the brim with pocket monster movies, some more Bizarre Adventures, a touch of chunibyo and loads more shenanigans of the Super, Digital and Straw-hatted variety! See below for...

News – Dragon Ball Heroes anime on the way!?

The first leaks (via YonkouProductions) from the latest edition of V-Jump magazine have revealed that the popular Japanese card/arcade game, Dragon Ball Heroes, will be receiving a promotional anime adaptation. Dragon Ball Heroes, first released in Japan in 2010,...

Manga UK Creative #2

It's time for Manga Creative #2! Over the last couple of months we've been asking the Manga UK community to share with us their fanart, tattoos and other creations. Sadly we can't share them all, but here are some of our favourites. Please keep your entries coming and...

May 2018’s MCM London Comic Con Fundraiser!

For May 2018's MCM London Comic Con we will be continuing our tradition of holding a charity raffle to fundraise for a cause that we believe in. This time we're raising money for a cause very close to our heart - Special Effect. All you need to do to win some anime...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This