Hayao Miyazaki

6 Oct

Anime is animation originating in Japan. Outside Japan, anime is also referred to as “Japanese animation”. (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

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Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki (born January 5, 1941) is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films. Through a career that has spanned nearly five decades, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli, an animation studio and production company. The success of Miyazaki’s films has invited comparisons with American animator Walt Disney, British animator Nick Park as well as Robert Zemeckis, who pioneered Motion Capture animation, and he has been named one of the most influential people by Time Magazine. (Morrison, Tim)

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Spirited Away

The main theme of Spirited Away is focused upon Chihiro’s transition from childhood to adulthood.  This transformation is part of a universal narrative to which we all can relate.  Particular to its popularity in the West could be the inclusion of the animal characters made familiar to Western audiences by the Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros.  Furthermore, Spirited Away is often compared to one of the most influential narratives of all time:  Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland, which was adapted in to an animated film by Disney.

The characters derive from a long history of Japanese folklore.  Plus, there are overlaps of other cultural folklore present across the story.

A female as the main protagonist is a departure from tradition, and one more opening to equality of the sexes.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Princess Mononoke

Central to the theme of Princess Mononoke is the struggle between the nature and humanity.  Nature is represented by the forest, and the supernatural guardians within it.  Humanity is seen from the standpoint of industry and war.  Nature becomes corrupted by the evils of industrialized man.  Ashitaka who is among humans who are still in touch with nature also becomes diseased by humanity’s newly emerging evil.  Humans attack the forest and consume its resources, and even conspire to take the wealth of each other.  They also try to take the head of the deer-god, who is a giver of life and death, in an effort to obtain immortality.  Humanity is, however, shown to retain a few redeaming qualities, and in the end we are left with the hope that, though war and industry cannot be stopped, nature and humanity can retain a balanced relationship.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

The Earth’s original ecosystem has been destroyed by human industrialization and war.  With many humans wiped out, the world grew back into a “toxic jungle” full of plants and giant insects.  There is human/nature conflict that dominates the film.  The warlike humans stand for the destruction of nature and development of industry.  Nature is fighting back and repairing itself while the ohmu insects are protecting nature from being retaken by humans while the forests rebuild.


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