Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: Hayao Miyazaki
Ok, ok, I admit it, I am not a huge anime fan. Never really have been, and probably never will be. But a couple years ago my friends introduced me to a movie that technically falls in to the category of anime, and since then I have indulged in many more films from this same amazing film director and animator. So today I put my suggestions in you to investigate and enjoy any film made by this amazing man: Hayao Miyazaki.
Miyazaki really knows how to tell an incredible story. In addition to stunning and breath-taking animation, he also tells phenomenal and complicated stories that really know how to pull on your heartstrings. There are still several movies by Miyazaki I have not yet gotten to enjoy, but here I want to bring you my rave reviews of the ones that I have watched.
That first movie I mentioned to you was Princess Mononoke. Those of you that have followed Lilith from the get-go realize that my initial avatar was the namesake of this movie itself. Mononoke is not your classic Disney princess in any form or fashion. Instead she is an orphan girl raised by wolves that is destined to protect the forest and the way of life the animals there enjoy. Through this movie we follow Ashitaka, an exiled prince from a distant land, as he tries to track down the source of a demon that possessed a large boar and terrorized his town. His journey leads him to Mononoke’s forest, and he becomes entwined in a classic battle between not good and evil, and environmentalism and development. While I tend to always fall on the side of the environmentalist, this movie does a wonderful job of explaining how neither side is right or wrong, neither side is good or bad, but they must come to a compromise together to sustain a healthy life for all.
The message of this story is a pure and true one, but what I really love in this movie are the animals. So many beautiful creatures, from wolves to boars, monkeys to even little tree spirits, are so wonderfully animated. The forest god is truly breath taking, a vision I will have in my mind indefinitely.
After enjoying Princess Mononoke I moved on to another Miyazaki film: Spirited Away. This story was probably meant to be even more of a teaching experience than his other movies. The movie starts off with Chihiro, the 10-year old main character, being driven to her new home by her parents as the family moves to a new part of the country. The family makes a wrong turn and accidentally ends up in an abandoned town, but before they can escape Chihiro’s parents are turned in to pigs by a spell and the whole family is trapped in a spirit world. What follows is a beautiful story where Chihiro has to rescue both her parents, herself, and a new boy who is actually a river spirit trapped in this cursed town. Again, the characters are quite endearing, and the animation is stunning. And I really love the villains in this film: there is something so grotesque and repulsive about the way Miyazaki draws the monsters in his stories.
Next I watched Howl’s Moving Castle, which is probably my favorite love story of all of Miyazaki’s films. This complicated story deals with war times; evil people in power, and the mysterious Howl falling for a simple and lovely woman with a good heart. I don’t want to give too much else away, but this movie is action packed with amazing fight scenes. I think one of my favorite images from the film took place in a palace with the most stunning fish pond in the center: even though it was a cartoon it was spectacular and I couldn’t imagine it being anything but real. And another theme Miyazaki has in a lot of his films: some of his characters have the magical ability to either commune with or become animal counterparts.
The last of the Miyazaki films that I have enjoyed was Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. It’s interesting to me that in many ways the storyline very much reminded me of Princess Mononoke, but this film was made over a decade before Mononoke. This movie occurs thousands of years in the future in a post-apocalyptic setting. Not surprisingly, humans have poisoned the earth and the majority of it is covered with fungal organisms that when inhaled kill a human within hours. Nausicaa is another princess, though this time from a colony in the Valley of the Wind, who also communes with animals and even can get through to large Ohms that could easily destroy whole cities when they are enraged. Sadly a group of power-hungry people seek to use Giant Warriors, an old creation previously used by humans in times of war, to reclaim much of the lost planet, and of course open another Pandora’s box in the process. Nausicaa and her friends are forced to try to stop these people from annihilating all that is left of the earth. While there were a lot of beautiful scenes in this movie, I think I enjoyed one of the opening scenes the best where Nausicaa is exploring an abandoned, fungi-infected forest. She stumbles across a shed ohm-shell and the fungal spores that shower down on her during her exploration make it quite a magical scene.
That wraps up this week’s suggestions from Lilith. What’s great is I know there are lots more Miyazaki films out there that I can continue to enjoy as well. So take my advice geeks, go check out this man’s films and hopefully you will be as awed as I was with his stunning imagery.
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Posted on January 9, 2014, in Cartoons, Let Me Put My Suggestions In You, Movies, Recommendations and tagged Anime, Hayao Miyazaki, Howl's Moving Castle, Miyazaki, Movies, Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, suggestions. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.