Miyazaki retrospective, i.e. "Totoro Power" - Jan&R - September 1991

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Hayao Miyazaki: A Retrospective of His Filmography - JAN&R - September 1991

The following article is reprinted from page 1 of the September, 1991 issue (Issue 5, Volume 1) of Japanese Animation News and Review: The Official Newsletter of Hokubei Anime-kai (North American Anime Circle). The Editor (-in-Chief) is Mark A. Weiss, and this issue actually came out in November -- despite the cover-date (because it's an AnimeCon Special).

Hayao Miyazaki: A Retrospective of His Filmography

By Takatomo Nakagawa

Editor's Note: Takatomo Nakagawa is our Japanese correspondent. His writing appears in our publication from time to time in the form of an open letter. For the most part, I have made it a point to reprint his writings in their original form. As a result, some expressions may seem unusual to our stateside readers, however, one should keep in mind the perspective of the writer. We are fortunate (and honored) to have the first-hand information from Mr. Nakagawa appearing in our publication. I feel that his understanding of Mr. Miyazaki's work is enlightening, as well as a treatise to help us understand the Japanese way of thought.

I'm writing about Hayao Miyazaki.

It is needless to write that he is the best anime maker in Japan; in fact, he is the best and most popular "film" maker. His popularity as a film maker is as well as Akira Kurosawa's. For example, "Totoro" is the second most popular movie of the Japanese, according to questionnaires sent by the largest TV station -- NHK (the first is [Seven, Ed.] Samurai directed by Akira Kurosawa). And according to questionnaires sent by the largest magazine - PIA, "Nausicaä" is the third of all (the first is "E.T."). As above, people are divided into two factions, the "Nausicaä" and the "Totoro" ones, but "Miyazaki-anime" finally has high popularity. Not only anime fans but also others love him.

At first, he leapt into fame by "Lupin III The Castle of Caliostro" [Cagliostro, Ed.] (I don't know the spelling of it) in 1979. This is an action movie of good quality. Some of "007" series, I have heard, were made after the model of it.

Before, he made a TV anime series "Future Boy Conan" in 1978. This anime was popular, but Mr. Miyazaki didn't become known to the public yet. "Conan" is a compilation of anime making, drawing and direction. So this is a textbook for anime makers.

Next, he made Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in 1984. This is a monumental work for him. It made a great sensation and moved us to tears. This movie and the heroine - Nausicaa have continued to be judged "The best of successful anime" and "The best of successful character" in Anime Grand Prix in Animage since then. It enabled anime to be on equal footing with live action.

Next, he made "Laputa, the Castle in the Sky" in 1986. This movie has the highest quality of his anime. It is compilation of his entertainment; an exciting story, a skillful direction, excellent music, refreshing scenes of flying, and an aura that invites us to a joyful ocean of teardrops.

Next, he made My Neighbor Totoro. This movie also made a great sensation because it expressed the scenery which Japanese had forgotten for growth and an adult had done for growth. The scene of "Totoro" is a suburb of Tokyo in the 1950-60's. The scenery of "Totoro" is the origin of Japanese soul. Though we had forgotten it, "Totoro" showed it to us. So it also moved an adult, though it was made for children. It won most of the Japanese movie awards for 1988. Well people say that Totoro changed children. Children believe Totoro to live in a tree, so they conduct a mass protest movement against cutting down tress. Not only a forest but also a roadside tree was preserved by them. People call it "Totoro Power".

Next, he made Kiki's Delivery Service in 1989. This movie drew the most audience of a Japanese movie. It was made for teenagers who worry about our future; independence or identity. This is a cheering movie for them. Talking by Kiki and Urusra [Ursula, Ed.] in the cottage gave them courage.

In my case, I knew him first for "Nausicaä". I watched it on the school event. I was astonished and moved. This event proved to be the turning point in my life. By the way, in 1984, "Nausicaä", "U.Y. 2 Beautiful Dreamer" and "Macross" ("Robotech") were put on the screen. That was a bumper year for the anime movie. Next, "Laputa" was put on the screen, but "Totoro" is more important for me. "Totoro" is the best movie for me. I was moved with pureness of characters. Mr. Miyazaki expressed the feeling carefully, which we used to have in our childhood. We used to be interested in everything; a tadpole, an acorn, and small things. We may have seen "Totoro", susuwatari, or Neko-bus (Cat-bus). When I watched "Totoro", I thought, I may have forgotten very important things. So I cried in the theatre and was suffering from wiping out tears. And further, Grave of the Fireflies was another movie put on the screen with "Totoro". My tears were the flood and the flood purified my mind. Next, I watched Kiki's Delivery Service. I was 17 years old at the time. This movie supported my mind. I thought I watched a fit movie on the fit time. And now, he is producing a new movie "Omoide Poro Poro" [Only Yesterday, Ed.]. I have no words to describe my thanks for him. I think we are very happy because we can live with him and watch anime shows of him.

How about the above. Now I'm making a list of LDs. Next time, I'll write the list, a composition about Gainax studio which made "Secret of Blue Water", etc. All for now.