The Studio Ghibli Essay
i. Miyazaki and Takahata
ii. Ghibli, Disney and Narrative
iii. The Ghibli Recipe
iv. Ghibli and the Self
v. You’ve Got Balls
vi. The Green Blood of Hayao Miyazaki
vii. The Great Beyond
In the mid-1970s, the man who may be the most eminent Japanese animator of the 20th and early 21st centuries decided to go on a trip.
Scratch that — in the mid-1970s, the man who would become perhaps the most eminent Japanese animator of those periods decided to go on a trip. The name on his passport and Japan Air Lines boarding pass read ‘Hayao Miyazaki’. A name with an auspicious sound even if one is not familiar with the fame it has accrued in the decades since.
When Miyazaki boarded his flight, he was nothing more than an ambitious animator in his 30s, though well-established and with a career of more than a decade running at Japan’s Toei Animation. He was the owner of a particularly teeming imagination, even relative to the febrile young animation industry in which he worked, an imagination that found curiously rich purchase in unusual subjects, places and talismans. Many of the films and series Miyazaki had worked on at Toei bore evidence of a fascination with European landscape and architecture, of his splendidly Meijian tendency towards wakon yōsai. And when such pseudo-Occidental concerns couldn’t contain him, he’d turn his attentions to a manga series like People of the Desert, which trained its fanciful eye on the 11th century tribes who peopled the pre-Mongolian Asiatic steppes. The inevitability of Miyazaki’s visit abroad had thus been forecast, as perhaps was the fact that he would one day strike out on his own and leave his own signature writ like a canyon across the landscape of Japanese animation.
But when he boarded his flight, his highly relative renown was tender only to connoisseurs in Japan, and he would walk the streets of the Hanseatic and the hills of Italy very much unknown.
No matter; no man sees more than the man unseen. Young Hayao visited the alps; he perhaps took in the island of Gotland, rising proud from…