October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve taken it upon myself to watch all of Hayao Miyazaki‘s feature films [and by extension, all Studio Ghibli films]. The first one I ever watched was Spirited Away (2001), in high school [or was it middle school], which introduced me to the magical world of Miyazaki’s animation. Some people began with My Neighbor Totoro, but I was a latecomer.
I had watched anime before, but it had never felt so…deep. [Arguably I had only watched questionable anime series that I don’t even remember anymore.] Next was Princess Mononoke (1997), which I barely remember but for the wolf and the forest and the lake. Then, when Howl’s Moving Castle was released in 2004, I watched that one online too. Miyazaki didn’t create another feature film until I was in college, so in 2008, I was delighted to watch Ponyo. It didn’t seem as well-received among my friends, who deemed it weird and childish, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. After that, I waited until this summer to watch The Secret World of Arrietty (2010), which was beautiful to watch even though the storyline didn’t really go anywhere.
Now, I’m going through the archives, digging for films that were released before I was even born. I’m normally apathetic about watching old movies [there’s barely enough time to watch all the new ones!], but I love animated films, and these are undoubtedly some of the world’s best. Besides, all the movies currently in theaters are mind-numbingly unappealing, so the choice was pretty easy. It doesn’t hurt that Miyazaki’s bio mentions a few times that he explores feminist themes by casting female characters as leads in his films. Could he be any more perfect and wonderful? Apart from that, some of Miyazaki’s expressed viewpoints remind me of Shel Silverstein, who also produced pieces for children in a deliberately non-condescending and non-patronizing way.
First on my list was Laputa: Castle In The Sky (1986). It came up in a Gchat conversation with VY, and I was all “what is this laputa, sounds like a spanish curse word” [those were my exact words], so I looked it up and decided to watch it. It’s weird to watch old-school animation that isn’t all slick like modern anime, but the hand-drawn style is one of Miyazaki’s many distinct charms, from the way food looks so freaking plump and delicious to the way a character’s facial expression and hair rises when he or she is alarmed.