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Fluff: Really good animation for kids! Do you know about this stuff?

Posted by on Sep. 3, 2013 at 11:13 PM
  • 15 Replies
1 mom liked this

 

Poll

Question: Which princess would you rather be?

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Princess Nausicaa

Muriel


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Total Votes: 3

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He's my fav....Sooooo much better than Disney! I would MUCH rather  be a Miyazaki herione:)

How about you?

Princess Nausicaa or Muriel?

The Wondrous, Melancholy Worlds Of Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro features the young sisters Mei and Satsuki, seen here sitting next to the whimsical and outsized Totoro.

Hayao Miyazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro features the young sisters Mei and Satsuki, seen here sitting next to the whimsical and outsized Totoro.

The Kobal Collection/Tokuma Enterprises

The revered Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, 72, announced this weekend at the Venice Film Festival that he's retiring from making full-length feature films. (He previously went into "semi-retirement" after directing Princess Mononoke in 1997.)

Hearing the news reminded me that My Neighbor Totoro (1988) was the very first film I remember watching. An anime-obsessed cousin played the movie for me and my sisters on a VHS machine at a family gathering. We all sat in the basement, gawking at what flashed on the television screen while our parents clacked mah-jongg tiles together upstairs. Throughout my childhood, Miyazaki's visions chased me as I drew up my own imaginary characters.

I was envious when I first watched Totoro and was pushed with wide-eyed wonder into this different world. I wanted a mystical creature just like Totoro to be my friend — him and his enormous, engorged, bounceable belly.

Miyazaki's films left me with impressions and feelings I couldn't name or understand as a child — and feelings that parents (mine, at least) found hard to convey. That is, the longing to be a part of something larger, to simply not feel alone and to occasionally embrace eeriness.

And then, years later, I watched Totoro again as a teenager. I was older and watching of my own accord. There was something comforting, familiar, about the way Mei and Satsuki battled melancholy and fear. One of the things that set Miyazaki apart is his respect and understanding of the complex inner lives of young children. (I didn't get this type of emotion from watching American-made movies like Mulan. But I did dress up as the lead character one year for Halloween because I was so stoked there was an Asian Disney princess.) In Totoro, Mei and Satsuki's mother was bedridden with an ailment that seemed serious, if not terminal, and their father was not all that present. (My own mother died of cancer when I was 13, and my father grappled with how to raise a grief-stricken teenaged daughter.)

The scene where Mei and Satsuki wait for their father at a bus stop in the middle of the woods, at night, during a rainstorm, is heartbreaking. And stark. We're left with a pervasive sense of loneliness at the thought their father may not collect them. But the sisters are not alone. The forest is teeming with spirits that sweep away the girls' worries. There's the school bus in the shape of a cat with a maniacal grin. And then there's Totoro, with an expressionless, doe-eyed face. Together, the creatures whisk the sisters into a terrifying and whimsical world. All of it done without the benefit of much dialogue.

When Pixar released Up in 2009, one of my sisters worried that the movie would make my dad acutely aware of his own loneliness. The opening scene in Up shows a brokenhearted old man reflecting on his life and the love he felt for his late wife. Some cite Miyazaki's influence in Up. Fantastical yet grounded. In Up, the crotchety Carl Fredericksen (aka, old man dude) and the fresh-faced Russell (the badge-hungry, well-intentioned Scout who also happens to be Asian-American) go on an adventure in a house turned hot air balloon. Their relationship, at first antagonistic, develops into something that resembles the friendship between a grandfather and grandson.

But there's a difference between Up and Miyazaki's work. With the Japanese animator's films, there is no distracting humor ("SQUIRREL!") or no cheap pop-culture references ("Take a bath, hippie") directed at parents. In Miyazaki's work, there are artistry and, mostly, a silence that teeters on melancholy.

And that's perfectly OK.

Not Without Panties

by on Sep. 3, 2013 at 11:13 PM
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Replies (1-10):
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Sep. 3, 2013 at 11:17 PM


JP-StrongForTwo
by on Sep. 3, 2013 at 11:57 PM

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Sep. 4, 2013 at 12:06 AM
1 mom liked this

Im a cinderella type of gal.   Only I stayed poor and my toad didnt change into a prince...WTF happened!!!

krysstizzle
by on Sep. 4, 2013 at 12:19 AM

I've yet to see any Miyazaki films, although it's been on my list for quite some time. 

The one movie that always, always, always sticks with me from my childhood is not a Disney movie. The Last Unicorn. Remember that? It's so weird, but it just sank into my psyche and got lodged there. I loved that movie so much, and I'm pretty sure I still dream with the feeling of that movie. So bizarre. It's quite fantastic. 

etsmom
by Bronze Member on Sep. 4, 2013 at 12:33 AM

Nausicaa hands down. I LOVE Studio Ghibli movies. My kids love the magic of it. I love that it is real animation. They Love Totoro. Howl's Castle is my favorite.

etsmom
by Bronze Member on Sep. 4, 2013 at 12:37 AM

Have you ever watched the Grave of the Fireflies?  I can tell you, do not watch it with your kids. The story is very raw. 

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Sep. 4, 2013 at 12:43 AM
1 mom liked this

Oh mah doG! 

Dd12 discovered Hayao Miyazaki in early gradeschool, via the film Spirited Away.

We checked it out from the library so frequently that I got her a DVD of her own. 

The next year, she got two more from Santa: Whisper of the Heart and Kiki's Delivery Service. 

Absolutely amazing. 

MUST see.

There is no one quite like Miyazaki. 

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Sep. 4, 2013 at 12:47 AM

I've said to dd, Miyazaki is a priest of the childhood spirit.

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Sep. 4, 2013 at 2:52 AM

Our youngest FAVOURITE series ever is Escaflowne...

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Sep. 4, 2013 at 7:18 AM
Exactly! And that is why the messages in the Miyazaki films are so much better:)
Quoting turtle68:

Im a cinderella type of gal.   Only I stayed poor and my toad didnt change into a prince...WTF happened!!!

Not Without Panties

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