Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Miyazaki the master

We've been watching the Hayao Miyazaki film fesitval showing this month on the Turner Classic Movies television channel. Too bad the month is almost over! Thanks to this (probably our favorite) channel, we've recently seen Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Whisper of the Heart," both not yet available on DVD in this country, and both knockdown knockouts. These animated films are so beautiful, funny, charming, and go so far beyond any "cartoons" I've ever seen, both in artistic achievement, and in their storylines and pacing. What a treat to find these films becoming more available in the U.S. Previously we have seen "Spirited Away," "Castle in the Sky," "Kiki's Delivery Service," and "The Cat Returns." The whole family loves these movies.

They (who?) refer to Miyazaki as "the Japanese Walt Disney." The only connections I see are that both men were at the top of their class, both aimed at movies to be enjoyed by all ages, and both dealt with animation. No knocking Walt (who is one of my heroes), but I would rather see a Miyazaki movie than a modern Disney movie today. Even the good recent Disney movies (like "The Incredibles" and "Finding Nemo") are so loud and have so much over-the-top, non-stop, unrelenting ACTION and whiplash snarky dialog that I find them ultimately too tiring, despite their dazzling computerized effects. Too many U.S. children's movies today are just too frenzied and ha-ha-wanna-be-hip to be enjoyable. Meanwhile, Miyazaki can rivet and delight me with his very quiet ways.

But all that aside, I'm happy to recognize that this does seem to be a golden age for children's movies right now.


  • At Wednesday, January 25, 2006 3:16:00 AM, Anonymous Yoshinori said…

    I like Hayao Miyazaki's films, too. His films are very fine. I love "Castle in the Sky" the best. I'm Japanese, and I have seen his movies since I was child. I'm happy that Hayao Miyazaki's movies are loved all over the world.

  • At Wednesday, January 25, 2006 3:24:00 PM, Blogger Zabrina said…

    Thanks for your comments. Miyazaki's movies are relatively recent in the U.S. What a treat to discover them (I'd never heard of them until "Spirited Away").

    It is very interesting for our family to see a little bit of the world through a Japanese viewpoint for a change! I especially liked the domestic and school scenes revealed in "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Whisper of the Heart." It makes us hope to be able to visit such a different and interesting country someday.

    One of the most amazing things for us to see was how the schoolgirl in "Whisper of the Heart" was able to roam all over her city by herself, even after dark--and not be afraid of crime! I especially like Miyazaki's friendly universe where although bad and sad and frightening things happen, most people are kindly and helpful. So this is very reassuring to children (and me) in entertainment. There is still suspense and drama, but there is the sense that all is safe and well underneath, though life can be hard. The whole approach and feel is very different from the recent Harry Potter movies, which are also very good, I think, but much "bigger" in scope and "scarier" and "darker" in suspense, noise, and effects.

    I'm glad we are able to enjoy all these family movies these days.

  • At Friday, January 27, 2006 8:13:00 PM, Blogger GayPatriotWest said…

    Also a fan of Miyazaki. If you get a chance, make sure to check out some of his other flicks as well: Howl's Moving Castle (comes out on DVD in March, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds. The first two are gems, the last one Nausicaa, one of his earlier works, is a flawed gem, but shows some of the elements which define his later, better works.

  • At Tuesday, January 31, 2006 12:13:00 PM, Anonymous Yoshinori said…

    I also like to see American world through American movies. The world of "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Whisper of the Heart" shows Japanese satae very well. "My Neighbor Totoro" is Japanese country, "Whisper of the Heart" is town. They are so realstic.

    I saw "Whisper of the Heart" three weeks ago. I love this movie, too. In Japan, we can see most of Miyazaki Hayao's movies (from "NausicaƤ of the Valley of Wind" to "Howl's Moving Castle
    ") on video or DVD. In "Whisper of the Heart" the schoolgirl goes around her town, and I think it is usual. "Whisper of the Heart" is pleasing love story for me :) It makes me so happy.

    You said most people in his films are kindly and helpful. I think so, too, and it is one of reasons I love his movies. Have you ever seen "Princess Mononoke" ? I can't tell most people in "Princess Mononoke" are kindly and helpful (but I like the movie).

    I'm glad to hear opinions about Miyazaki Hayao's movies from person in another country.

    I'm sorry I'm not good at English. I'm studying English at the university.

  • At Thursday, February 02, 2006 8:12:00 AM, Blogger Zabrina said…

    I have enjoyed your comments about Miyazaki's movies. I haven't yet seen "NausicaƤ" or "Princess Mononoke," but I am going to request them from Netflix soon (the service that sends DVDs on loan through the mail). Thanks for these recommendations.

    Your English is a whole lot better than my Japanese (which consists of three or four words). My son knows more, as he memorized many song lyrics in Japanese from Pokemon and Sailor Moon videos!

    Thanks again for your comments.

  • At Saturday, December 29, 2007 2:29:00 AM, Blogger Ymarsakar said…

    My son knows more, as he memorized many song lyrics in Japanese from Pokemon and Sailor Moon videos!

    Yeah, that would do it.

    The new Disney movie "Enchanted" is very popular and very good right now.


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