ANN’s Favorite Director poll

October 11, 2006 at 7:22 pm (Anime)

ANN is currently running a Who is Your Favorite Director? poll. To qualify the director had to have at least one piece in their Top 50, and had to have directed at least one other piece besides that. Unsurprisingly, right now Miyazaki is winning by a very large margin. I voted for Kon, because he’s obviously the best anime director ever, and I also like his work (“favorite”). Only the Top Eight or so really have much notable in them I think.

I’m skipping over options like “I can’t decide,” and “My favorite director isn’t listed”. These are done in the current ranking order as of this post, so they might be wrong now.

Hayao Miyazaki
The reason he’s winning the poll is probably that Miyazaki is sort of a brand name. He’s probably the only anime director a lot of people know by name, and his anime have been some of the most successful exports to the U.S. That said, he certainly belongs on the list. He has an excellent understanding of ideas like the Epic, the Fantastic, and Adventure. I’m not sure how much of this is channeled through his writing and how much through his direction, but if you look at an adaptation such as Howl’s Moving Castle rather than one of his original stories, it’s still recognizable as a Miyazaki piece and still shares most of the same virtues.

Satoshi Kon
My love for Kon is pretty immense. If you don’t already know, Kon directed Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and Paranoia Agent. He also has a new movie out now called Paprika. Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress are great examples of how you can use animation as a medium to do things that would probably be impossible in any other medium. That’s one reason he’s so great. The other is that the animation tricks he uses in those two films are part of the story itself in that where he muddles up what is reality and what is dream / film / fantasy / imagination, the characters have it a bit muddled as well. Tokyo Godfathers was a bit more conventional, but also stunningly portrayed (I thought); I thought it showed his versatility as well as continuing to establish his ability to control dramatic tension and story flow.

Shinichiro Watanabe
Watanabe is responsible for Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. He also did storyboard work on a lot of other impressive titles. The direction in Cowboy Bebop at least is worth some credit (I haven’t seen more than an episode or two of Champloo). Cowboy Bebop is ridiculously pretentious, but Watanabe did do a really good job of maintaining the atmosphere of the show. There’s more to say here, like about the whole church scene in the fifth episode, but it’s not really coming up in a usefully verbal way for me.

Hideaki Anno
Well, I’d be shocked if Anno wasn’t somewhere up here. The big Anno titles are Eva, KareKano, Gunbuster, and Nadia. I have a hard time unraveling Anno’s direction from the rest of the Gainax Package, honestly, particularly the animation. Like I’m not sure how much of the weird and good parts of these are Anno and which are…I forget the major animator’s name. Anno definitely has a sense of the Epic especially as it exists in science fiction, and does interesting things with portraying human psychology.

Mamoru Oshii
I don’t know Oshii’s work well enough to really comment. GitS Innocence sure was pretty though.

Yoshiyuki Tomino
Well, I guess he’s the man behind Gundam, for whatever that’s worth.

Akitaro Daichi
I had no idea who this was until I looked at his profile. He has a pretty impressive resume: Bokura ga Ita, Fruits Basket, Kodocha, NTHT, and a bunch of other stuff. I cannot for the life of me think of any unifying elements between those four works, except that they’re all pretty good, so I’m not sure what to say about him.

Makoto Shinkai
Did Voices of a Distant Star, and a whole bunch of short pieces like She and Her Cat, most of which I haven’t seen. Shinkai definitely deserves some mention; Hoshi no Koe is really well put together and maintained its mood nicely, and She and Her Cat was a pretty interesting short piece. Based on those two I would say that Shinkai’s strength is his ability to support a Theme effectively.

Oh, hmm, a few more down on the list was somebody they apparently left off by mistake at first (meets the criteria though): Tatsuya Ishihara. Responsible for: Air, Kanon remake, and Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. I couldn’t watch AIR, but I didn’t think the direction itself was at fault. The direction in Kanon seems pretty good, and Haruhi was all sorts of delicious. Again I’m not sure how much of the credit here should go to him and how much should go to the animation team, but Ishihara is one to watch for. I’m really curious to see the next thing KyoAni does that isn’t a sad-girl eroge adaptation.



  1. super rats said,

    Millenium Actress would probably have been tedious as a live action movie or at least would have to be done in a completely different way, really changing the whole package. It just shows how well Kon knows how to work the animated medium to not just the advantage of the story, but the possibility of being able to tell a particular story. Or something like that. Usually don’t say stuff like that, but wanted to say more than, yeah mang, totally agree with the Kon love.

  2. Sasa said,

    Thank you for pointing this out! I voted for Makoto Shinkai. I love him to death, even though I like most of the other directors you mentioned as well.

    Interesting to see ANN’s other polls… they all look pretty boring and marketing-centered to me.

  3. j.valdez said,

    I just bought the Makoto Shinkai box that ADV released, a few hours ago. I was very impressed by “Voices” the first time I saw it, the second and third time it was still impressive on story alone. I’ve only seen “The Place Promised in Our Early Days” once so I’m looking forward to another viewing.

    I’ve seen a lot of the animation mentioned in this post, but I’m ashamed to say I’m not familiar with most of the directors names.

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