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An Animator Who Makes Peace - Review by Gina, Teen Blogger


Would you like to have a cat bus that soars through the air and takes you anywhere you want? How about a floating castle and a thumb-sized best friend?

Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki, creates films with amazing fantasy worlds that are full of adventure and hope. His films also show a strong sense of peace and love for children. For example, the films My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo exemplify the innocence of children and when watching them, we can’t help but smile at their cheerfulness.

Spirited Away DVD CoverWhen watching one of Miyazaki’s most successful animated films, Spirited Away, I strongly felt that Miyazaki really understands children. In one part of the movie, he describes how ten-year-old Chihiro walks through a tunnel and is forced to become more mature. Chihiro doesn’t want to walk the tunnel and clearly says so, but her parents are very interested in seeing what’s at the end of it. So, they start to walk, not knowing that the tunnel leads to the spirit world of gods, witches, and monsters; a world where humans are turned into animals. After a few thrilling events, Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs and she must work at a bathhouse to avoid being turned into an animal herself—all while trying to save her parents. She goes through a hard time and after a while, we can clearly see through Chihiro’s actions that she is much more mature than in the beginning. It made me think to myself that if you had to be by yourself and against the world, it would make you grow up quickly. Wouldn’t it?

His movies, though set in bizarre worlds, also have things that are the same as our real world. For example, in Spirited Away, I noticed that the creatures in the spirit world had the same fascination with money as people in our real world. In one part, the madam of the bathhouse doesn’t realize her baby is missing because she gets distracted by piles of fake gold. In another part, a frog tries to grab the gold from a monster’s hand, but the frog gets grabbed instead. Sadly, there are a lot of people who are blinded by money in reality. They don’t see the important things in their lives and sometimes don’t even realize that they’re missing very precious things such as their family, health, etc. I thought this part of the movie was very critical.

Howl's Moving Castle DVD CoverMiyazaki’s movies can also be beautiful. Howl’s Moving Castle, for example, is very beautiful because one of the main themes, love, was very well illustrated and told. It was based on one of Dianna Wynne Jones’ novels, Howl’s Moving Castle. The plot is focused on a girl named Sophie (who was cursed by a witch!) and a sorcerer named Howl. Howl and Sophie go through quite an amount of hardship to have a happy ending. It’s hard to describe it without giving away too much, so I recommend that you watch it– it’s perfect for old-fashioned romance lovers.

Studio Ghibli has published a lot of good movies. Be sure to check out the Japanese versions because they’re the originals. English versions may not have the same mood as the original ones. [Editor's Notes: 1. Studio Ghibli is the film studio headed by Hayao Miyazaki and others. 2. The DVDs at the Library include both the original Japanese language tracks and the dubbed English ones.]

For people who love nature, peace, and children, I recommend trying these movies:

Ponyo Cover

I also recommend learning more about Hayao Miyazaki because movies can be even more interesting when you learn about their creator. For example, I did some research and found out that Miyazaki’s father was a fighter plane company director during World War II. I’ve noticed that there is always something that flies in his movies: the super low-density gliders in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the red plane in Porco Rosso, the floating castle in Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Interesting, eh?

 

Gina,

Teen blogger

 

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