Friday, May 24, 2013

World’s Greatest Living Animator’, John Lasseter, whose "Up" was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s delicate, joyful, hand-drawn cartoons.

Hayao Miyazaki, the 72-year-old ‘Walt Disney of Japan’, is not just big in, er, Japan.

Acclaimed by adults and adored by children, the anime created by Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli is characterised by progressive feminism, environmentalism, a resistance to simplistic good versus evil dynamics and an impossible cuteness.

To mark this week’s 25th anniversary theatrical reissue of his huggable My Neighbour Totoro and the harrowing anti-war drama Grave Of The Fireflies, here’s a bento box trio of Miyazaki’s other must-see delights.

Princess Mononoke (1997)
Pay attention, Disney, this is what a genuine girl power princess looks like. Princess Mononoke, who was raised by wolves, is a fierce, blood-spattered warrior who despises all humankind until she encounters a young prince. The heroine’s strength is matched by the environmental message as the forest-dwelling Mononoke and her furry friends take on the industrial evils of Iron Town.

When Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein snapped up the US distribution rights, he demanded Miyazaki make edits to his rambling romantic epic. Miyazaki retaliated by sending Weinstein a samurai sword engraved with the words ‘no cuts’. What a legend.

Spirited Away (2001)
Grossing $200m (£132m) before it even opened in the States and won an Oscar, this marks the pinnacle of Studio Ghibli’s art. In it, a grumpy ten-year-old girl finds herself ‘spirited away’ to a magical kingdom after her parents are turned into pigs. The notion of a girl coming of age after tumbling into a fantasy land and the mind-blowing visuals here are unmistakably Japanese.

The main setting is a traditional bathhouse populated with odd characters such as a huge, wobbly ‘radish spirit’ and a silent ghost called No-Face. This is considered one of the greatest animations of all time.

                                 Spirited Away Trailer HD


Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
The late Welsh children’s author Diana Wynne Jones continues to be criminally unheralded in Britain but Miyazaki is clearly a fan. He came out of retirement to direct this Oscar-winning adaptation of her novel about a young hatter called Sophie who goes to work as a cleaning woman for a flashy young wizard called Howl.

The film differs from the book – mainly through its preoccupation with pacifism. Miyazaki apparently wrote the screenplay in response to the Iraq War. He once said, only half-jokingly, that he longs for a post-apocalyptic future where ‘developers go bankrupt… and wild grasses take over’.

                "Howl's Moving Castle" Trailer (English version 2005)



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