J.J. Abrams Continues The Hideo Kojima Love Fest
Hideo Kojima and Death Stranding have left critics and fans divided. While plenty praised Kojima’s singular and ambitious artistic vision, others have accused Death Stranding of being boring or overly-long. One group that thus far seems united in its praise of Kojima is his fellow directors. In a series of videos produced by IGN, Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii, Mad Max creator George Miller, and now most recently, director of entries in a myriad of big franchises J.J. Abrams have all sung the praises of Sam Porter Bridges’ journey to reconnect America.
As with previous entries in the video series, Abrams was already a fan of Kojima’s prior to playing Death Stranding. As you can see in the video, he describes Kojima’s latest as “classic Hideo.” Abrams begins the video by outlining the general challenges implicit in writing a narrative for a video game, namely balancing existing narrative ideas with a player’s ability to make their own choices.
Death Stranding not only manages to strike that necessary balance but does so in its own unique way. To Abrams, the game’s design (from its music to its visuals) gives it a je ne sais quois that’s uniquely Kojima. One criticism no one could reasonably level at Death Stranding is that it’s too similar to the Metal Gear franchise. Abrams acknowledges the challenges in an artist diverging from a formula that has brought them success, expressing his respect for a creator who not only challenges their audience with something new but challenges themself in making that new thing.
Speaking to Death Stranding‘s emotional resonance, Abrams theorizes that Kojima designed the game with a secret, heartfelt purpose. This, according to Abrams, is a hallmark of transcendent art. Players can generally sense that hidden purpose—the creator’s most personal reason for wanting their work to exist—without it being explicitly stated. This phenomenon only enhances what could already be a masterful work of art.
While Kojima’s high level of skill at his craft undoubtedly attracts the attention of other artists, he also seems to be equal parts a charismatic human being. His celebrity pals’ likenesses are part of the uniquely complex fabric that makes up Death Stranding after all. For both of these reasons, Abrams is likely far from the last cultural figure of note who will be singing the praises of Kojima’s creations.
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