The Miyazaki Challenge

MiyazakiI try to watch every film by Hayao Miyazaki. His amazing Japanese animated films can be enjoyed by both adults as well as children. He has another film coming out soon, but if you haven’t already, I challenge you to watch two or more of Miyazaki’s films before seeing “The Wind Rises”.

I enjoy Miyazaki because his character development, the lack of simple good-versus-evil genre, strong roles for women, the music and its Japanese animistic qualities. Below are a list of his films. I put !!! next to ones I wouldn’t want you to miss — but mind you, I thorough loved them all.

  • 1979 Lupin the 3rd
  • 1984 Sherlock Hound
  • 1984 Nausicaa !!!
  • 1986 Castle in the Sky !!!
  • 1988 My Neighbor Totoro !!!
  • 1989 Kiki’s Dilivery Service !!! (great for kids)
  • 1992 Porco Rosso
  • 1997 Princess Mononoke
  • 2001 Spirited Away !!!
  • 2002 The Cat Returns
  • 2004 Howl’s Moving Castle
  • 2008 Ponyo
  • 2013 The Wind Rises (coming !)

See my other chat about films here.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to “The Miyazaki Challenge

  1. Dunno. The animation is high-quality and meticulous, but it always feels to me like the effort has gone well past the point of diminishing returns. I liked Totoro, but I thought Princess Mononoke (Is “Monoke” a shortening used by fans, or is that just a consistent typo you made?) was overrated (at least in its western release) and felt kind of preachy, and I’m afraid to watch Howl’s Moving Castle because I really love the book it’s based on and I’ve heard that, ah, the usual rules apply for existing fans (that is, “differences from the book will make you twitch and gripe and you will not only not enjoy the movie but you’ll ruin it for anyone who sees it with you”).

    It would be interesting to see if there’s anyone who completely read and enjoyed the manga of Lupin the 3rd or Nausicaa in the Valley of the Winds first and then saw the movie, and see what they thought of the movie version.

  2. Thanx, Vicar,
    Not sure what you are talking about concerning “Monoke”? 😉 (thx)
    I kind of agree with Princess Mononoke now that I think back on it and changed my recommendation — thanx.
    I did like Nausicaa in the Valley of the Winds. I never read any of the Mangas.
    Did you like it?

  3. I haven’t seen it, although it looks interesting. Mostly I stick to comedy when I watch video at all these days, and I have a huge backlog of stuff to watch.

    Mostly, though, I’m more and more sticking to manga when I go in for Japanese cartoon media at all. The art is generally more differentiated in style, there’s usually more detail to the plots, and there are free fan translations online of some series which haven’t got official translations, which is a nice bonus. (I’m really enjoying Again!!, for example.)

    Have you seen Mushishi? The manga won a bunch of awards (and has an unusual plot structure) and has a feel not entirely unlike Princess Mononoke, and the anime is supposed to be innovative, although it was for TV rather than a movie. (Then again, if you’re watching something on TV the differences in quality between an animated TV show and an animated movie — other than framerate — are likely to be less noticeable.)

  4. Oh, by the way: have you ever tried to read the original stories about Arsene Lupin, from whom the character Lupin III is supposed to descend? I tried, and found them almost unreadable, but it may have been the translation. Or it may simply have been an irreconcilable difference in outlook/cultural moorings between me and the author; it’s hard to say.

  5. 1979 Lupin the 3rd – Somehow have never seen it.
    1984 Sherlock Hound – Somehow have never seen it.
    1984 Nausicaa – Loved it. Need to watch it again.
    1986 Castle in the Sky – Somehow have never seen it.
    1988 My Neighbor Totoro – Loved it. Need to watch it again.
    1989 Kiki’s Delivery Service – Good, but not my favorite, I agree that it is definitely great for kids.
    1992 Porco Rosso – Somehow have never seen it. I blame the title.
    1997 Princess Mononoke – This was my first Miyazaki film, and it just blew me away. I still love it, and don’t mind the preachiness.
    2001 Spirited Away – Definitely my favorite. I love this movie, and it comes to mind often.
    2002 The Cat Returns – Somehow have never seen it.
    2004 Howl’s Moving Castle – Only Miyazaki film I’ve seen in the theater. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow me away.
    2008 Ponyo – Somehow have never seen it.

    Glad to know there is another film coming out. I need to get busy and watch some of these that I haven’t seen.

  6. Thanx for sharing, Mike.

  7. @ The Vicar,
    (1) No, I’ve not seen Mushishi — which means “The Bug Master”. I found it on Netflix and saved it to my list — thanx — my daughter will like it.
    (2) Not, not done the Lupin series and probably won’t

  8. Ian

    Totoro was a firm fave in our house when our son was little. Though his parents always loved it more than he. The English language voice actors for the girls were not so great, better in Japanese with subtitles. We’re fans of several others. Howls Moving Castle I love the Ghibli version, even though I also love the book and the two are almost different stories. It seemed by that point they could hire good English voice actors, so it felt more of a package. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi I first watched when I was butchering Japanese over skype lessons, so its the only one I’ve also ploughed through without the english. Several of the others I’ve seen once or twice and enjoyed, but not enough to buy. I am, however, *very* excited about Miyazaki’s last movie. Not least because in it he seems to be ready to tell a story with historical/political dimension. Perhaps he feels like he can, now he’s handing off to his son.

    Talking of whom, I haven’t seen From Up On Poppy Hill yet, but I didn’t rate the young Miyazaki’s Tales from Earthsea all that much.

  9. “Bug Master”? Well, that’s not inaccurate, but doesn’t quite describe it either. The “-shi” suffix in this case is used for people who make a paying job out of something, and “mushi” usually means insects and spiders but traditionally really just means “little creatures”. Which is irrelevant, because in the cartoon, “Mushi” are these semi-magical things, which are sort of like bacteria or fungus but sometimes are larger than that. The main character makes a living by helping out people who have problems — usually strange illnesses — which are caused by various strange creatures. For the most part, the stories end happily, or at least merely with melancholy, but there is just a touch of potential for body horror in a couple of them, so be forewarned. (Then again, I haven’t seen the animated version, so it could be different.)

  10. @ Ian,
    Yeah, I can fortunately listen in Japanese and avoid the English voices. Good to hear your thoughts.

    @ The Vicar,
    I haven’t seen the series. The “shi” in MushiShi is also used as “Master” in the teacher sense and to mean a practitioner. Heck, in Japan I was a KyooShi (teaching-Shi/ professor) and a SenKyuShi (Acupuncture-Shi).
    You are right, “mushi” has many nuances too. Heck, Mizumushi is “Athlete’s Foot” (fungus, eh). Do you read and write Japanese?
    Thanx for the background — I look forward to seeing them.

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