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Manga legend scolds AI created zombie animation as an insult to life



  • Artificial intelligence systems are getting increasingly good at constructing, designing and animating their own short movies, automating more of the tasks that, up until now, have been thought of as the preserve of humans and humans alone


Born in 1964 it’s safe to say that legendary Studio Ghibli animator Hayao Miyazaki, the man behind hits such as Manga and Spirited Away, has seen a few things – but he’s never seen anything like this, until now. Last week Miyazaki was invited to see a new AI produced animation short and what he saw disgusted him.

“I would never wish to incorporate this technology into my work at all,” he said.


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He was shown short reel displaying an animated zombie that was generated by the Dwango Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Japan. The group intended to show Miyazaki the capability of machine-learning to be able to construct unusual forms of animated movement with a goal to, in the words of one of the researchers, “… build a machine that can draw pictures like humans do.”

As you can witness in the video below, Miyazaki was less than impressed, launching into an extended smack down describing the work as, “an insult to life itself.” Miyazaki’s primary concern seems to be that the animation fundamentally lacks a sense of human empathy as he says, “Whoever creates this stuff has no idea what pain is or whatsoever. I am utterly disgusted. If you really want to make creepy stuff, you can go ahead and do it.”



As the camera pans back to the thoroughly devastated researcher’s faces – let this “pitch” serve as a stark warning to all you entrepreneurs out there who think you’re pitch is ‘da bomb – it’s hard to not get the sense that this interaction is a perfect encapsulation of the generational divide that technology has thrust upon the creative industries. Miyazaki, an artist that has actively maintained his hand drawn animated sensibilities for over half a century, comes face-to-face with a collection of computer kids getting AI to generate novel forms of movement and the result is a car crash. That said though it has to be said that bearing in mind that this is a purely AI computer generated animation it certainly oozes creepy and, after all, that’s kind of the point – even if the team did get their pitch horribly wrong.

Ironically, Miyazaki has recently returned to work from his earlier announced retirement to make one last feature-film. His first to be entirely computer generated, but for now let’s just hope the guys at DAIL don’t get together with Japanese artists Teruyuki Ishikawa and Yuka Ishikawa who just managed to create Saya, a CGI school girl so real that she’s managed to fool just about everyone into believing she’s the real deal.

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