He may have won acclaim worldwide for his animated movies, but celebrated Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki would like to see kids today spend more time outside rather than in front of a screen.
Speaking at a rare news conference Thursday, the Oscar-winner also criticized Japan's prime minister for repeatedly touting his love of manga.
The 68-year-old Taro Aso, who previously as foreign minister and now as prime minister, publicly professes his penchant for the Japanese cartooning genre and helped spearhead the establishment of an international manga prize.
"It's an embarrassment," the filmmaker said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan when asked about Aso's manga mania.
"That's something that should be done in private," he added.
Miyazaki also scoffed at current politicians who assert that manga is among the country's most important exports.
The filmmaker denounced today's society as "full of virtual reality: television, video games, e-mail, mobile phones and manga" that "saps children of their strength."
The 67-year-old animator, who acknowledged that his opinion might be considered odd considering his vocation, harkened back to a more natural lifestyle and teaching children practical outdoor skills at a young age.
"Instead of thinking about how to stimulate demand by creating bridges or roads, we should have the proper environment in place for future generations," he said, noting his involvement in a project to train 20 young animators in a studio away from Tokyo.
Miyazaki, who creates hand-drawn artwork in a world obsessed with digital animation, won an Academy Award in 2003 for his film Spirited Away.
His latest, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, made the rounds at a host of film festivals this year and is currently screening in Japanese theatres. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Little Mermaid, Ponyo tells the story of a little goldfish who longs to become human and live with a little boy on shore.