Hayao Miyazaki News

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This is some pretty significant news if you're a fan of Studio Ghibli films. It was announced just today at Italy's Venice Film Festival by Studio Ghibli president Koji Hoshino that acclaimed Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki will be retiring at age 72 from future production of Ghibli films. This is off the heels of the studio's release of Miyazaki's latest work, The Wind Rises, which has been playing in Japanese theaters since July 20.

Many anime fans are likely familiar with the work of Hayao Miyazaki. He has been involved in animation direction since the 1970s, directing a number of TV anime titles during the period like episodes of the first Lupin III TV anime and Future Boy Conan. His directorial film debut, The Castle of Cagliostro, is still recognized as one of the best films in the Lupin III franchise among fans of the popular Monkey Punch thief character.

Miyazaki was one of the original founders of Studio Ghibli in 1984, having directed a number of films for the studio like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Kiki's Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. His 2001 film, Spirited Away, is still the highest grossing film of all-time in Japanese theaters and the only Japanese animated film to receive an American Academy Award for Best Animated Film in 2003.

The man will definitely be missed by me in the world of anime as I've been a fan of many of his films for years with Kiki's Delivery Service being one of the very first anime titles I seen in the late-1990s, just as Walt Disney Home Entertainment started up their deal with Ghibli to release many of their films internationally to home video and theaters. How do you guys feel about Miyazaki's retirement from film direction?

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Like anything new to someone, that is misunderstood or not understood, needs an outline or path to start on. You don’t just jump into Anime, That’s like jumping into any art form and expecting to understand it fully. A little art history not only helps the understanding of something but also the enjoyment of it. Unless you want to just look at pretty pictures, and feel happy. And if that is the case, just stop reading this post now….. But if you would like my simple guide to an Anime adventure in which it is about the journey and not the destination then here it is.

Start with a series, it takes a little work and time but the outcome with worth the work. Make sure the series fits those criteria you may have. And also make sure it’s not a million episodes. Stay away from Bleach, Naruto, and other endless shows. They have their purpose, but it’s not a beginning. Here are some of my personal choices for a beginning of the Anime path. LAIN, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Hellsing. These are some simple yet exciting and worthy choices. You don’t just jump into and start with Rothko paintings; you start with some popular inspiring pieces of work.

Here is where you can jump into some films. Miyazaki films DON’T count, his anime isn’t anime, it’s genius yes, but does not belong anywhere near the anime path. It deserve it’s own category…. Anyway back on track. Films, yes, start with a couple big ones. Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, Blood, Wolf Brigade, and then maybe a couple films not just about the action. The likes of Millennium actress, Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers, and Grave of Fireflies (cried), and many others.

NOTE. This is a long path, not one you can just devour and be done with it in a month. This should be done like anything in life worth doing well. Time and Love.

Now is the chance to branch out into some strange, get a little daring, and watch some stuff you might not like even like, put in the work so to speak. Now is the time to watch Paranoia Agent or Speed Grapher, FLCL, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Now and Then, Here and There, Paprika, Tekkonkinkreet, and this list can actually go on and on. It is the meat and potatoes list.

You’ve put in some work, you deserve some dessert, so go and re-watch some favorites, some stuff you might have missed, or sit back and relax while you watch the new shit. Maybe you are getting stuff weekly straight from Japan, maybe full series from eBay. But your Truly Watching anime, YAY, High School of the Dead, East of Eden, Deadman Wonderland, Sekirei and Queens Blade (late at night), Beck, Gantz, Ergo Proxy, Code Geass, and you having a blast!

IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR. YOU ARE AN ANIME LOVER. The good news is for the rest of your days you will be surprised by the strangest of shows and films, happiness will come from characters only you and your interweb anime friends will “understand”. The bad news, you are a fully-grown man or woman, who watches shows mainly made for kids. LOL

*Most of us didn’t have a guide; we ventured the anime road lone wolf style. But satisfaction of knowing what a Fist of the North Star can actually do, makes it all worth it.

Long Live Anime!

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We did it. We autotuned Kessler. You're welcome. If you're already listening, stick around for discussion of Miyazaki films, midnight livestreams and more!

iTunes link / RSS / Download (MP3)

Now for a little housekeeping: our iTunes feed is finally in working order! The podcast name, the episode descriptions, the album art: it's ALL THERE. The release dates for the first four episodes got a little bit jacked up in the process, but dude, whatever, that's internet for you. It's all smooth sailing from here!

If you're curious about that Johann Sebastian Joust game we mentioned, the official website is right here, complete with a useful video showing you what exactly the hell it is.

Thanks again for listening, guys!

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Many of you are well familiar with Hayao Miyazaki and the many quality works that Studio Ghibli has worked on for over 25 years now in Japan and for some of you, their anime films might have been your gateway drug into anime. Not counting The Borrower Arrietty (which has yet to be on video) and any other upcoming film from the studio, I have decided to personally rank what I found to be the best and worst Ghibli films out of the 17 films available on video, streaming or on direct download. While it was made before the studio's official formation, I will also be including Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind on this countdown since it was created by those who would later form into Ghibli. I will warn folks that what I present here is merely my personal opinion. So do not get too uptight over anything I rank higher or lower on this list.

17. Tales from Earthsea
Being the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro, Tales from Earthsea was enough of a mess in the quality of its plotting. The film tended to gloss over relevant details concerning the world of Earthsea and any developments involving its characters, in particular what drove Arren to murder his father. Combine this with a shallow villain in the form of Lord Cob and enough elements of deus ex machina for the movie ending, and you have perhaps the worst Ghibli film that the studio has put together to date.





16. Ponyo
Currently being the highest-grossing Ghibli film here in America, Ponyo was created purely to appeal to children with its simple and light-hearted content which could turn away older viewers. The low ranking I give this film has nothing to do with it appealing to children. It has to do with the poor attempt the movie attempts to do in presenting its "life lessons" and some events that made me question the movie sticking with its light-hearted mood. The beginning of Ponyo presented a few themes it was juggling around that the movie seemed to want to explore such as man's pollution of the ocean, overprotective parents and the elderly thinking of better days. However, the movie fails to expand onto these themes instead favoring focus on the movie's fantasy element involving Ponyo. In addition, the flooding Ponyo causes as a result of her magical powers towards the later half of the movie and the easy resolution to it seemed something that should have been handled more seriously with the ending giving me a bad taste in my mouth as it felt similar to a typical ending you would find in a Disney animated film.

15. Pom Poko
The premise behind Pom Poko with its focus on raccoons trying to protect their forests from land expansion had its potential, yet became mauled with issues in whom exactly it wanted to appeal to. The antics of the raccoons and the cute way in which they were drawn make it seem too childish to hook older viewers yet the serious themes explored with land expansion and some onscreen deaths with the raccoons make it not so friendly to show to younger viewers. In addition, trying to paint sympathy on the raccoons doesn't come across as convincing with the narrator trying too hard at pushing sympathy onto them and the raccoons coming across at points as selfish and greedy such as stealing money from an amusement park owner or celebrating the pranks they pulled off.



14. The Cat Returns
The Cat Returns was a Ghibli film that started off decently in its first half and just fell flat in its second half. Focused on high schooler Haru and her interactions with cats from the Cat Kingdom, the first half made for a fun light-hearted comedy when Haru finds herself unwillingly receiving unusual gifts from servants of the Cat King for saving the life of his son, the prince, leading to some fun and unusual results that run at a slow, natural pace. Yet by the second half, the focus of the film shifts over to the Cat Kingdom where the film's pacing is rushed giving the viewer little time to get a sense of things within the kingdom. Also like Ponyo, The Cat Returns makes a failed attempt at expressing a "life lesson" for Haru to learn about which it fails to elaborate on because of the lack of focus on the girl's character.



13. Howl's Moving Castle
Like The Cat Returns, Howl's Moving Castle is a movie that starts off smoothly enough in its first half yet falters in its second half for me. The first half does a decent enough job of fleshing out the characters of Howl and Sophie to give you a sense of who they are and what they desire for themselves giving consistent focus on the two when Sophie starts living with Howl when she becomes cursed by the Witch of the Waste. However when the second half progresses, the plot focus becomes a bit disjointed making it difficult to keep track of events as the Witch of the Waste becomes a resident of Howl's home, Howl's involvement in the sorcery wars continues to put his body at risk and Sophie is conflicted over her feelings for Howl. By the end of the movie, it definitely comes across as a Disney-esque ending with the formulaic setup to have all cursed characters become freed and the unnatural way in which Howl and Sophie come together as a pairing.


12. Ocean Waves
Not many of you would be familiar with this movie as it has yet to be released in America and it was the only made-for-TV movie Ghibli animated to date during the early 1990s. Made to appeal to young adults, this movie explores a young man recalling his years in high school where he is caught up in a love triangle involving his best friend and a new female student. Interactions between the three come across naturally, as well as the awkward tensions faced by Taku as he tries repressing his feelings for Rikako to not upset Yutaka. The pacing for the movie does feel a bit rushed as it does quickly progress through the major events with the love triangle. Plus compared to many of the more well-known Ghibli works, Ocean Waves is a bit more subdued in its mood compared to the lively and high-paced stories you would often come across with Ghibli films which combined with appealing to young adults makes it an acquired taste.

11. Spirited Away
Being the only anime film to date to win an American Academy Award, Spirited Away was quite the feast on the eyes with its visuals featuring plenty of detail in the setting of the bathhouse with bizarre character designs coming off the various gods and spirits encountered by Chihiro as she works under Yubaba the witch. While the coming-of-age story was done before by Ghibli with some of their earlier works, Chihiro did come across as a believable girl of her age as she finds herself in a new environment that she is forced to adapt to, develop independence and learning to work and befriend the bathhouse workers. However, your mileage could vary on how well you warm up to Chihiro's character as she is a far cry from the strong-willed, independent female characters one could be accustomed to from earlier Ghibli films such as Nausicaa, Kiki and San. In addition, the immense focus on Chihiro and the fast pace of events does prevent one from getting to know more about the other bathhouse workers Chihiro comes to befriend and leads to a somewhat rushed ending.

10. My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro is a children's film that sticks with simplicity throughout its entire run without tossing in anything to bog it down like what Ponyo pulls off, making it a better quality children's film as a result. Focusing purely on the interactions between the Totoros and sisters Satsuki and Mei, the movie consistently retains its light-hearted mood with the moments between the two even with some drama coming from the hospital stay of Kei and Satsuki's mother. As a result, this movie contains no coming-of-age dilemmas, life lessons or antagonists to get in the way of these interactions. This is a perfect movie for a parent to show to their kids, though older viewers might feel a bit alienated seeing it (which happened with me) as it doesn't have the typical themes you would expect out of Hayao Miyazaki's films.



9. Only Yesterday
Like Ocean Waves, Only Yesterday was a film geared towards young adults when it was released during the early 1990s and it has yet to see a video release here in the states. Focusing on Taeko taking a break from her office job to figure out what to do with her life, the movie switches between past and present time frames quite frequently as Taeko reflects on events that occurred in her childhood. The transition between present and past events flows smoothly with occasions of Taeko's younger or older self being immersed with one another during transitions. Events do flow at a slower pace with the movie, unlike Ocean Waves, allowing one to get enough sense of Taeko's character as a woman who gets enjoyment reflecting on the smallest, irrelevant moments that occurred with her as a child while helping out her in-laws on their farm as she figures out what she wants to do for herself in the present. Like Ocean Waves though, this movie is geared for a specific audience and is just as subdued in its mood making it another title of acquired taste for viewers.

8. My Neighbors the Yamadas
A fun family comedy, My Neighbors the Yamadas is a series of short vignettes similar to titles like Azumanga Daioh and Minami-ke exploring the everyday activities of the Yamada family. The family members make for a likeable bunch due to their believable personalities and how they interact with one another in everyday situations such as losing daughter Nonoko at the mall leading to a family panic, wife Matsuko and husband Takashi getting in some silly arguments and son Noboru exasperated at the silly arguments coming from his parents. Their interactions with one another can come across as both heartwarming and silly with the occasional adult moments tossed in to give parents a good laugh. The artwork and animation for this movie is quite likely the lowest quality to come from Ghibli to date as they were trying to emulate the art style of the movie's manga source material resulting in simple visual details and a lack of fluid movement at many points throughout this movie. On top of that, this movie might not hook in those who didn't get enjoyment out of the series format and slice-of-life setup that drove the laughs for similar titles like those mentioned above.

7. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
This steampunk adventure movie features many of the prominent elements of Ghibli movies that one can enjoy. It features an immerse world that takes advantage of the steampunk genre through the use of advanced steam-powered machines in an alternate Industrial Era setting. Laputa creates an adventure out of Pazu and Sheeta's developments as they try to find out more about Sheeta's origins and become entangled in a government plot involving Sheeta's mysterious pendant. The two also come across villains who later become allies to their journey in the form of Dola and her group of air pirates. The visuals to the movie still hold up rather well today despite being made in 1986 as it features a great amount of detail coming from features such as scenery, buildings and airships; as well as well animated moments of movement during the movie's more intense moments such as airship fights and the Dola Pirates raiding a prison to rescue Sheeta. The movie does get a little bogged down for me thanks to Muska being your typical shallow baddie and the sudden developments that led to Laputa's ending.

6. Whisper of the Heart
A worthwhile coming-of-age romance, Whisper of the Heart focuses on middle schooler Shizuku finding herself curious about her own future when she comes across Seiji, a young man who has already planned out what he wants to do for himself. The movie believably explores the developments of Shizuku's character as she finds herself inspired to write her own story as a result of Seiji's goal to become a luthier (repairman of stringed instruments) and undergoes the challenges of trying to put her story together. Both of Seiji and Shizuku's characters behave naturally for their age as Seiji comes across as mature for his age and prepared for what sort of future he wants for himself while Shizuku is insecure and uncertain over what she wants to do for herself. The movie features detailed designs of scenery, in particular antiques found in an antique shop such as a grandfather clock and a cat statue that serves as inspiration for a character used in Shizuku's story. The John Denver song "Country Road", used at several points during the movie and sung in English and Japanese, fits in well with the natural mood of the movie and is used for plot development with Shizuku's character. The only blemish I could bring up with Whisper of the Heart would be the sudden choice of ending when Seiji and Shizuku come to terms with what they want in their relationship.

5. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Being the very first movie made by Ghibli, Nausicaa includes many of the highlights to expect out of Hayao Miyazaki's films: a strong-willed and independent female lead in the form of Nausicaa, themes on environmental awareness involving the insects known as Ohmu and residents of the Valley of the Wind, the lack of a true antagonist, opposing factions that have justifications for their actions and fluid flying scenes coming from Nausicaa flying her air glider. The movie is notable for some complex animated scenes, in particular a scene animated by future Evangelion director Hideaki Anno involving the resurrection of one of the Giant Warriors towards the ending of the movie. A fun little fact about Nausicaa is that the ending of the movie has been known to cause some debate and controversy amongst fans over whether or not Miyazaki was adding in religious symbolism to the movie which he vehemently denies. Any fan of Ghibli movies should give this movie a peek as it helped pave the way for the future successes and films that the studio would put together.

4. Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke was the second Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki to explore themes related to environmental awareness in the form of the conflict between Lady Eboshi's ironworks village and the animal gods of a nearby forest with banished prince Ashitaka playing middle man in the bloodshed. Like Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke makes you care for the motivations of both sides involved in the conflict with both sides shown to care for those they wish to protect. Lady Eboshi and San both stand out as examples of strong-willed, independent women within Studio Ghibli works with San caring greatly for the wolves that adopted her despite being conflicted about joining human society when she encounters Ashitaka and Eboshi creating a village ruled by women in male-dominant feudal Japan that accepts outcasts such as lepers and prostitutes. The movie features fluid and intense battle scenes coming from the battles that occur between the two factions fighting with one another with great-looking and detailed scenery and character designs, in particular the various animal gods that are seen throughout the film. Princess Mononoke is Ghibli's most intense work to date filled with a number of graphic scenes that include heavy bleeding, the decomposing of animal gods when they die and the severing of human limbs. Because of this, it would not appropriate for younger viewers to see.

3. Porco Rosso
An immersive and somewhat touching adventure title, Porco Rosso is quite different from Hayao Miyazaki's other works in the fact that its setting occurs during an actual time period in the form of 1924 Italy, around the time fascism is about to gain influence in the country. Focusing on the character of pig-headed freelance pilot Porco Rosso, this movie effectively mixes focus on exploring the man's character and the conflicts he encounters with air pirates and a rival love interest. The movie does get a bit deep in its exploration of Porco as he finds himself disillusioned at his own humanity and comes to regain his faith in it with the presence of young mechanic Fio Piccolo later in the movie. Other characters come across as quite lively and fun to get attached to such as Porco's old romantic flame Madame Gina and the group of bumbling air pirates. The plane flying scenes are the animation highlight for the movie moving quite fluidly and are a sight to behold for an early 1990s movie.

2. Kiki's Delivery Service
This coming-of-age fantasy film is a perfect one for the entire family to check out as it involves young witch Kiki learning to live on her own as part of a family tradition when she turns 13. The movie does well at exploring the young girl's developments as she adjusts to her new surroundings and tries making friends with some of the locals, in particular a young boy named Tombo who has a strong interest in aviation. Like earlier Miyazaki works, the animation highlight for Kiki's Delivery Service comes from the flying scenes involving Kiki on her broom, which also serve as a symbolic source of character growth for Kiki's character towards later in the movie. The movie is notable for being the first Ghibli film to be released in America by Walt Disney Home Entertainment with voice talents for the English dub led by Kirsten Dunst and the late Phil Hartman as Kiki and her pet cat Jiji respectfully.


1. Grave of the Fireflies
One of the most emotionally powerful anime titles to come from Japan, Grave of the Fireflies explores the tragic circumstances involving siblings Setsuko and Seita as they struggle to survive on their own in the final days of World War II following the death of their mother during an enemy air raid. The movie doesn't hold back in depicting the civilian perspective of the war as the opening scene of the movie featuring Seita's ghost reveals the inevitable death of him and his sister that is to come and featuring scenes of the corpses of people killed during air raids. Even with all the depressing moments, the movie does show off its lighter moments with Seita and Setsuko spending time with one another as they try to hold to whatever normalcy that they can with their lives despite the fact this could contribute to their tragic downfalls with the harsh reality of war still lingering in Japan. Grave of the Fireflies is one of the personal favorite films of acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert. If you don't mind tragedy with your anime, then Grave of the Fireflies is worth a look as you are likely to shed a tear or two for the hardships faced by Seita and Setsuko.
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 Background Reading - is going to become my sporadic attempt to put together a series of articles based on various books about anime and manga - to give give long time fans like myself, burgeoning fans like our own Tom Pinchuk, and absolute newcomers something to check out to give them background on the genre, recommendations for new to watch, or general explanation of various cultural idiosyncrasies. What better way to start then a general primer on the medium, eh?

Finding a “canon” of important works in any field is generally difficult to settle on. Do you go by popularity, artistic merit, influence on other works, early works of prominent creators, or a combination thereof?

The Rough Guide to Anime, by Simon Richmond – in Penguin Books Rough Guides series, probably has the best “canon” list of anime titles available, and certainly makes for the best English language primer to anime currently in print in the US, and makes for interesting reading for long-time fans and newcomers alike.

As the title states, this book is a “rough guide” - not only in terms of the series, but in terms of the depth of the book. It's not supposed to be any sort of academic text to the appreciation of the medium. It simply tells you what you need to get your feet wet. The book opens with a brief history of animation in Japan, from before World War Two to the present, discussing the evolution of the medium and its outgrowth from manga. We get some general information on some of the big names (Tezuka in particular), and some basic background to set up, in terms of Japanese society, where we are when we get to our “Canon”

The “Fifty Greatest Anime” takes up the majority of the book. Lists tend to be generally controversial, but the list in this book manages to be successful at not only being “safe” but also “comprehensive”, a difficult task at best. Unfortunately, this also means that many titles on the list are also out of print, or will be out of print soon as of this writing. Classic works by Tezuka like Jungle Emperor Leo and Astro Boy make the list, as well as the complete filmography of the late Satoshi Kon (still alive when the book was written), and many of Hayao Miyazaki's works. Other classics like Evangelion, Mazinger Z, Cowboy Bebop and Utena have made the list as well. It's a fantastic list, and I simply cannot disagree with any of the choices on the list.

The later section of the book covers various genres, like Eastern and Western Fantasy, comedy, and historical fiction, as well as names to look for, in terms of studios, directors and writers, and voice actors, as well as a basic tourism guide. The genres and names sections include examples of works by those names, studios, and in those genres. All of that is generally useful, though unfortunately they don't do a good job of indicating whether the shows mentioned are licensed or not. While I have no doubt that Richmond would rather his book be ever-green and have to worry about license statuses of some of the works he mentions – considering that Legend of the Galactic Heroes has not been licensed and likely will never, ever be licensed, it would be probably have been helpful to mention what series would not have been available in the US at the time of the book's printing.

Nonetheless, long time fans of anime and newcomers to the fandom alike will find a lot of value in this book, both through background on the medium as well as recommendations for new series and films they might otherwise have overlooked.

 

The Canon

In The Rough Guide To Anime, author Simon Richmond lists these films and series as his "canon" of the greatest and most important anime in the history of the medium. Reasons for their inclusion are listed in the book, and they are presented in the order they are listed in the book (ISBN 978-1-85828-205-3).

1. Akira
2. Astro Boy

All three Astro Boy series are included under one entry.

3. Barefoot Gen
4. Castle in the Sky
5. Cowboy Bebop
6. 5 Centimeters Per Second
7. Fullmetal Alchemist

The TV series and movies are included in this entry.

8. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
9. Ghost in the Shell
10. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
11. Grave of the Fireflies
12. Gunbuster
13. Howl's Moving Castle
14. Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
15. Kiki's Delivery Service
16. Kimba the White Lion
17. Little Norse Prince
18. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro
19. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross
20. Metropolis
21. Millennium Actress
22. Mind Game
23. Mobile Suit Gundam
24. My Neighbor Totoro
25. Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind
26. Neon Genesis Evangelion
27. Night on the Galactic Railroad
28. Ninja Scroll
29. Only Yesterday
30. Panda and The Magic Serpent
31. Paprika
32. Paranoia Agent (TV)
33. Patlabor The Mobile Police (OVA)
34. Perfect Blue
35. Porco Rosso
36. Princess Mononoke
37. Puss in Boots
38. Revolutionary Girl Utena
39. Samurai Champloo
40. Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal
41. Serial Experiments Lain

42. Star Blazers
43. Steamboy
44. Spirited Away
45. Taro the Dragon Boy
46. Tekkon Kinkreet
47. Tokyo Godfathers
48. Urusei Yatsura
49. Whisper of the Heart
50. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise
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I hate when people are so stuck-up and pretentious that they think they can make whatever asanine comments or come out whith whatever crap and it be ok. Sadly most people DO just sit there and bend over for them when they say this stuff. For instance, the whole Miyazaki ipad thing. Now I hate the Ipad, but what he said came out of his rear. Now, people are defending him and saying him not using modern technology in everyday life is the reason his films are so good. JUST WOW!!!!
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I was thinking about this today as i read over an article of Gias about Rape Games being banned, I noticed one of the users made the comment at least the feminists havent been able to get into the game world as yet. This comment upset and offended me but i thought as i usually do, hey its what he thinks and quite frankly he is probally getting about as much real life sex as my grandfather.  
 
BUT i digress, so i looked into the subject further and thought about what Anime and Manga I ENJOY and am not offended by, mind you do not mistake me for a feminist.. im an equalitist.. in every way i do not believe that womens rights rate any higher than mens or vice versa, sadly the world of Anime disagrees with me... in a lot of ways.. I find Hentai disgusting and disturbing.. and those that enjoy films titled RAPEMAN even more so. I ranted and vented to myself about all this today and decided that i would totally give up on anime as every time i came across it all i got was BIG BOOBS and tentacles raping women.. bah.. the few films i adored where few and far between mostly coming from
Miyazaki
 
 So i decided in my ranting and  quitting smoking to take a breath and calm down and think. Off i went to go searching online for others who felt this way and came across and intriguing blog...  one that opened my eyes and made me think outside the OMG ANIME IS JUST A WAY FOR JAPANESE MEN TO GET OFF ON CHILD PORN IN A SAFE WAY...   made me realise there can be more to all this
 
so here is the blog for you all to read and see if you get from it what i did. 

 

Girls On Film - Anime & Feminism

October 24th, 2006

Sometimes I wonder: just how much media do you need to consume to get a good picture of what you’re talking about?

Is there space for the otaku academic? I don’t want to find out on my own…

The gender revolution in Japan underlies all of this talk. In the past several decade we’ve seen a lot of changes in the cultural, social, and even in economic and political realms regarding the role of women. Looking at this from the media consumer’s perspective is just one of the many lenses academics use. And when we talk about Japan, we gotta involve the “popular visual culture” or whatever namesake that one can make of from Genshiken.

But I think most people are finding that, for now, the change is modest when viewed from the lens of anime and manga. If anything, my own experience indicate as so.

In Zyl’s column we see that some people think this is so as well. I get the feeling this is so because the way Japanese media works–being as corporate and entrenched by big money as the rest of the industry world-wide (most notably in the US). The point continues in the treatment of the academic literature about women and their reflection in popular media, in manga and anime. The old fogies opining inside their ivory towers? Not at all an unusual thing. Especially when we’re looking at groups where women are rare and few. Even more so when we’re looking at anime that is marketed primarily to men. Most anime are adaptations from shounen and seinen manga, after all, especially the ones that make it across the language divide.

I’m going to spin some of my reactions from Zyl’s column and the subsequent comments out in the remainder of this post.

First: Just what makes a good example for the feminist empowerment concept as a character in anime? Commonly western scholars point to Miyazaki’s heroines–often Chihiro from Spirited Away and San from Mononoke Hime. I guess not enough people have seen Howl’s Sophie but I think she is way better as an example.

Age. Sophie conducts herself as a young adult; San and Chihiro are still notably childish. Being child-like isn’t really anything that is particularly poignant, and that’s the problem with spinning a feminist critique from a child, even if she is a female. It’s not really probative. Perhaps another example along with Sophie is Kiki. I’m not so sure about Nausicaa, and that’s because, well, we’ll get to it in a bit.

Gender-based achievement. One problem that bothered me with Chihiro as an example was that many of the things she did was something that any attention-paying, careful and thorough child could have done. If Gillian Anderson’s Wolf-God in Mononoke adopted a boy instead of a girl, will San remain the same? I think as a movie, no, but as a character and a plot device, probably yes. On the other hand, I just can’t say the same about Sophie, and maybe even for Kiki (but there’s more wiggle space there).

The role of gender in the film. I think Kinsella definitely has pointed out something awesome about Spirited Away and its parallel to the whore houses of days old. I think customarily it would have been odd for a boy to work in the capacity Chihiro has, although it was fancifully ambiguous in the context of the film. I think, however, you can construe that point either way in regards to the cultural significance and the interplay of the female gender in today’s society. The traditional chinese tale that was the original work for Disney’s adaptation of Mulan tells probably a similar message about piety and both celebrates female ingenuity, tenacity, and overcoming dire difficulties. The question is just that–is gender role merely yet another difficulty that both of these heroines overcame? I think my objection with Nausicaa also has to do with this. As to San, I think she acts as a foil for Ashitaka, but again, I didn’t think she was a she for much anything particular, maybe only to highlight that romantic undertone.

But enough Ghibli bashing. I’m sure we can find some wholesome, positive examples (Eboshi Gozen, for instance) outside of the flagship North American Ghibli titles. My point is we shouldn’t just look so superfically and we should apply some healthy dose of context.

Second: The role of men. I think when we talk about women we also have to talk about men. This is particularly a point that shows up when someone raises Major Motoko Kusanagi. She’s a girl in a boy’s world. I think no matter where you look in real life, there are always more male law-enforcement folks than female. Her rag-tag team of ex-military coupled with Aramaki’s politicking says a lot of things about…politics (yet another male-dominant field). The oddity of the Major’s disposition, in a setting that resonant with real life’s tendency to repeat these same sociological makeup, may be making a point. Kinesella says it’s fantasy-fulfillment, it’s a bunch of “phallic girls.” I can’t see how it can be truer for Ghost in the Shell.

But I think there’s also something to be said that in the Ghost in the Shell TV series, we see a slightly different Motoko Kusanagi. What comes to my mind is the motherhood episode, but outside of that it’s really a dog-eat-dog world, and the Major uses her sex appeal and gender positioning as a tool to manipulate.

Still, compare Ghost in the Shell with any of your standard fair, girls-with-guns, it makes you wonder. Maybe oldies like Gun Smith Cats comes closer? Or should we just go straight to Black Lagoon? Or…

Third: Urosukidouji–or alternatively, let’s pick the right show to talk feminism. I think it makes almost no sense to use, say, Aria THE ANIMATION. It makes some sense to use Naruto and One Piece. It makes even more sense to use Paprika, but probably not much sense to use Ghost in the Shell: Innocence. What criterias am I looking at?

Who is going to watch it: Paprika is an arthouse film, but it’s based on a renowned sci-fi author’s work in Japan. It also focuses on, heh, gender roles. One Piece has a HUGE fangirl-base, and Naruto has some. Aria is escapist seinen fantasy. GITS: Innocence is another arthouse film, but it is one that is fully preoccupied in telling/saying one very specific set of things.

What it’s about/what does it say: Paprika is about the story of a woman coming to terms with herself in a maze of dreams, realities, networked dreams, a chain of real-life mysteries involving life and death. Aria is about girls in a fantasy Venice learning to be gondola operators / tour guides. One Piece is about pirates and “getting crew and loot.” Naruto is a teenage self-redemptive story. GITS: Innocence is about a detective learning to cope with a new reality with his good friend and ex-partner who turned into a … computer thing, while solving a criminal mystery.

I think part of the problem, as my first couple paragraphs alluded…is just that the academia seems to just lack that beef with the familiarity of these works. You have to not just tap into the otaku pulse, but actually watch the shows and read the books they tell you about. If we’re going to use this lens seriously, we need not only people who has the academic wherewithal but also someone who has already been looking through the lens in its full glory.

There is probably more to be said on this. Like being able to naturally reassign your sex at 17 is one of the most empowering things that can happen to a girl. Talk about a feminist subtext!



Posted by omo in English-Language Modern Visual FandomModern Visual Culture with 8 comments. Trackback link here.     
 
 

oh and please dont comment on this with stupid remarks... keep it poignant and valid

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STARTING POINT: 1979-1996

TRACES THE FIRST HALF OF THE CAREER OF FAMED ANIMATION DIRECTOR HAYAO MIYAZAKI

NEW FROM VIZ MEDIA  

Comprehensive Edition Will Debut As Miyazaki’s Latest Animated Film Hits Theatres In North America This Summer   

San Francisco, CA, July 17, 2009 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced the publication of the first of a new collection of essays, interviews, memoirs and manga from legendary animation director, Hayao Miyazaki, titled STARTING POINT: 1979-1996. STARTING POINT: 1979-1996 has an estimated street date of August 4 and will carry an MSRP of $29.99 US and $34.99 Canada. 

The book will cover the first-half of Miyazaki’s legendary career, during which he rose from humble beginnings to create some of the most seminal animated features ever made, including Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, Castle In The Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso, as well as his launch of Studio Ghibli. A fitting introduction is offered by John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar and Walt Disney. Ponyo is Miyazaki’s newest feature film and will be released by Walt Disney in North America this August.  

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the world’s most beloved animation directors. In September 2005 he was awarded the Venice International Film Festival's Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, and his Studio Ghibli received the Festival's Osella Award for overall achievement in 2004. His notable films include Spirited Away, winner of the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle, all of which have received tremendous acclaim in the U.S. Miyazaki’s other achievements include the highly regarded manga series NAUSICAä OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, which is also published domestically by VIZ Media (rated ‘T’ for Teens). VIZ Media also publishes many other Hayo Miyazaki books including the for CASTLE IN THE SKY, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, SPIRITED AWAY, PRINCESS MONONOKE and more. VIZ Media also publishes many of Hayo Miyazaki’s beautiful and engaging Art Books and Picture Books. 

“Hayao Miyazaki is known and loved around the world for his imaginative films that continue to delight children and adults,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & Marketing for VIZ Media. “STARTING POINT presents, in Miyazaki’s own words, his philosophies towards life, his work, the animation industry both in Japan and abroad, and his creative inspirations and motivations. He also offers lots of stories, many of them quite humorous, which show the extent of his complete dedication to animated film and the people with whom he works. We invite fans to enjoy this chronicle of the life of a man whose own dreams have come true.”

 

In the first two decades of his career, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki laid the groundwork for his legendary movies. STARTING POINT is a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs that go back to the roots of Miyazaki's childhood, the formulation of his theories of animation, and the founding of Studio Ghibli. 
Before directing such acclaimed films as Spirited Away, Miyazaki was just another salaried animator, but with a vision of his own. Follow him as he takes his first steps on the road to success, experience his frustrations with the manga and animation industries that often suffocate creativity, and realize the importance of bringing the childhood dreams of the world to life.
 

VIZ Media will also be releasing the PONYO PICTURE BOOK and THE ART OF PONYO, both due to release on August 4,2009. Volumes 1 and 2 of THE PONYO FILM COMIC will be released on August 11, with other volumes to follow. 

For more information on any VIZ Media titles, please visit www.viz.com. 

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga (graphic novel) publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan’s largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa and is a global ex-Asia licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, and DVDs, and develops, markets, licenses, and distributes animated entertainment for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; Phone (415) 546-7073; Fax (415) 546-7086; and web site at www.VIZ.com.

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