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Miyazaki Talks to the Guardian 234

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the gods-of-anime dept.
BrainGeyser writes to tell us The Guardian is running an interesting summary of an interview with Hayao Miyazaki, proclaimed 'God' of anime. In the interview Miyazaki discusses a wide range of issues from his distribution deal with Disney to the future of anime. From the article: 'There is a rumor that when Harvey Weinstein was charged with handling the US release of Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki sent him a samurai sword in the post. Attached to the blade was a stark message: "No cuts."' While it was actually Miyazaki's producer, Miyazaki did 'go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein, and [..] was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts. He [Miyazaki] smiles. "I defeated him."'
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Miyazaki Talks to the Guardian

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  • by Joe Random (777564) on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:14PM (#13586279)
    was it a Hattori Hanzo sword?
  • Renting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zymano (581466) on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:17PM (#13586300)
    Which one of his movies should you rent ?
    • Re:Renting (Score:4, Informative)

      by NoTheory (580275) on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:22PM (#13586325)
      Spirited Away. It's probably the friendliest for american audiences. (let the flaming begin!) My Neighbor Totoro is a classic fantastic for kids (and others of course!). The Princess Mononoke is better for kids who are a little older.
      • Re:Renting (Score:5, Informative)

        by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday September 17, 2005 @07:01PM (#13587030)
        My favorite work of his is his series of _Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind_ graphic novels. The art is gorgeous, and the style is very different from other Japanese artists- Miyazaki's biggest influence is clearly Moebius.

        There are four volumes, so it develops the world and story to a much greater depth than in the movie. It's Tolkienesque in scope, as much an exercise in world-building as storytelling. Miyazaki creates maps, kingdoms, technology, religions, and ecology for the world.

        At the same time, his character development is excellent. As always his villains are the most interesting ones, and he's got a ton of them. They're also much more developed than in the movie. Princess Kushana switches sides halfway through, there's an immortal king suffering from ennui who is just fantastic, and then there's the God Warrior. The God Warrior is a mindless killing machine in the movie; but in the comics it is sentient... which makes it much more creepy, and Nausicaa's relationship with it is weirdly touching, but mostly disturbing.

        There are some parts that come off as overly sentimental in the third volume- probably my least favorite- but it picks up again, strong, in the fourth. The fourth volume is as dark as Miyazaki gets. The ending... not happy, not unhappy. Complex. Again, that makes it one of his stronger works.

        I'm not a huge fan of Japanese entertainment, but this is hands-down my favorite comic.

    • Re:Renting (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NoTheory (580275)
      I neglected to mention Laputa (aka "Castle in the Sky"), that one is also up there with Spirited Away imo.

      you know you can find these all [imdb.com] via IMDB.
    • Re:Renting (Score:2, Informative)

      by bidule (173941)
      Mononoke first. Porco Rosso second. Then anything is good.

      Spirited Away requires some understanding of bath houses and kami to fully enjoy. Totoro also happens in Japan, but the story is more universal.

      Kiki is his most disneyesque work, good for introducing others.

      Nausicaa, Laputa, I'm sure I'm forgetting some.
      • Re:Renting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@yahoo.STRAWcom minus berry> on Saturday September 17, 2005 @05:48PM (#13586692)
        Spirited Away requires some understanding of bath houses and kami to fully enjoy.

        Yeah, I was kind of surprised that someone else described that as the most western-friendly. To me, it's the one film that requires the most understanding of Japanese culture in general (not just bath houses and kami) to enjoy. You can still enjoy it without that understanding, but you won't really fully "get" it.

        All of Miyazaki's films have an underlying theme or moral. I have yet to find an American who really understood what Spirited Away was saying on the first viewing... and I must admit the only reason I probably did was that I watched it first in Japan surrounded by Japanese speakers. (So I both had it explained to me - I didn't understand all the dialogue - and I got to hear the impressions of a lot of other people in the theater afterwards.) Most people in the west seem to describe it as a run-of-the-mill "coming of age" fantasy, which it most certainly is not.

        So I wouldn't start with that one. I think it's actually kind of an advanced Miyazaki film - there's a lot of subtext, a lot of cultural specificity, and while the underlying theme is relatively simple (it's a film about gluttony and greed), it seems like the way it's presented is not all that easy for westerners to grasp.

        Same is actually true of Nausicaa, which has a lot of Cold War stuff mixed in and that kind of gets lost in translation, and maybe even forgotten now that the cold war is over...

        I do agree that Mononoke is a good place to start. It's pretty simple, but it doesn't seem simple as you're watching it. It's beautifully animated, it's still relevant, and the plot itself is pretty imaginative, though easy to follow. It's also not really culturally-specific - I mean there are a few things (like the little guys running around the forest, I can't even remember what they're called), but nothing that gets in the way of following the story or understanding the theme. And you can imagine a similar sort of plot set in the west at that time.

        Kiki and Porco Rosso are good too, although they're a bit lighter and may give newcomers a bit of a skewed idea of what Miyazaki's really all about. Laputa I just didn't think held up all that well the last time I saw it; the animation is not his best, and the story doesn't flow as well as some of his later films.

        Totoro might be the one of his films (well, other than Howl's Moving Castle) that I haven't seen, so I can't comment on it.
        • What? Spirited Away had a unifying theme?! Great! What is it?

          When I went to see SA, I'd successfully decoded the central allegories of Nausicaa and Mononoke. I especially liked the latter's mapping to survival-of-the-fittest darwinism versus the mercy and excesses of science and "progress".

          So when I went to see SA I was constantly trying to lock-on to the allegory, and came up blank. The parents turning into pigs looked like a big clue, especially as it was mirrored by the all-consuming black demonic e
          • Re:Renting (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MajorB (903150)
            I always thought it was about racism. For the first half of the film, everybody mistreats Sen\Chihiro simply because she is different. As Chihiro's grows up and proves herself to these people, the characters begin to respect her for who she is and sees past what she is. Yubaba doesn't see this. She was so occupied with money and running her business that she failed to notice even when her son had been replaced.

            The big clue is the scene on the train. As Chihiro rides, we see neon signs advertising businesses
        • ) Most people in the west seem to describe it as a run-of-the-mill "coming of age" fantasy, which it most certainly is not.

          I'm not sure if you're saying that it is not a "coming of age" fantasy, or if you're stating that it is more than just a "coming of age" fantasy. But i'll toss my pennies out there for you.

          Spirited Away, blew me away. It certainly is a "coming of age" fantasy. I think you're reading into the gluttony and greed aspects have merit, but Spirited Away is most certainly about a little girl g

        • They make an interesting point and then they let us salivating on the expectation of the nitty gritty details.

          What are those oh so insightful cultural references in a movie where my greatest recollecion of it is of a vomiting (or was it shitting) mega worm?
      • Complete works: http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/films/ [nausicaa.net].

        I recommend:
        Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro (not usa-released yet?)
        Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (not usa-released yet?)
        Laputa: The Castle in the Sky
        My Neighbor Totoro
        Kiki's Delivery Service
        Grave of the Fireflies (hardcore war film)
        Porco Rosso
        Ocean Waves [TV movie] (aka, I Can Hear The Ocean) (not usa-released yet?)
        Pom Poko (not usa-released yet?)
        On Your Mark [music video] (not usa-released yet?)
        Whisper of the Heart (not usa-released yet?)
        Princes
    • Re:Renting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by i_should_be_working (720372) on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:28PM (#13586361)
      All of them. I haven't seen one that I didn't like yet. Though I haven't seen "Kiki's delivery service" yet which I heard wasn't as good. I'm sure it is though.

      One great about his movies is that there is almost never the stereotypical bad guy that is just evil for no reason. Everyone is doing what they think the right thing is. Much closer to real life.

      They are mostly for children though. If you'd rather get something more adult, Princess Mononoke is probably the one to get.
      • Re:Renting (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tdelaney (458893)
        Everyone's tastes differ. IMO Kiki is Miyazaki's best work. One of my co-workers thinks that Laputa is. Another votes for Totoro (which I put as #2, then Spirited Away). I don't rate Nausicaa as highly as the others, but that may be because the Nausicaa manga is my favourite, and the movie only covers a short portion of the manga (with significant changes).

        But it's so hard to choose between them. All of the Miyazaki movies have IMO been very good to superb. I can't say the same for all Studio Ghibli work (T
      • Re:Renting (Score:3, Informative)

        by boa13 (548222)
        Though I haven't seen "Kiki's delivery service" yet which I heard wasn't as good. I'm sure it is though.

        Kiki's excellent, too, but almost purely a coming of age movie. Early-teen stuff, no war, no epic, no magic... except for the magic of a beautiful, idealistic European town, the magic of nice people, the magic of life, the magic of music and excellent storytelling. Oh, and some broom flights, too.
      • haven't seen "Kiki's delivery service"

        I saw that for the first time two days ago, and it is very good. It's less dramatic than the others and there are no bad guys, but it is very good for other reasons. It has a slowly developing storyline so could probably be watched in parts, and could be watched by all ages despite the fact that it does not portray a perfect world with perfect people. Most adults would probably enjoy it too.

        I enjoyed Totoro the first time, but think the second time I saw it was a di

      • Kiki's Delivery Service is just as good, though it has a different flavor than most of his other movies (as other posters mention below).

        I do have to say, however, that I was disappointed by Howl's Moving Castle; perhaps it's just that I've come to expect a higher standard from Miyazaki, but it really didn't live up to what I was looking forward to. (Not that it was a bad movie--just not Miyazaki quality.) I've never read the book it was based on so I can't make comparisons, but my feeling is that he do

    • Re:Renting (Score:2, Insightful)

      I'd strongly recommend Spirited Away. While Princess Monoke was very good, Spirited Away was...well, simply marvelous!

      Actually, I'd rent them both...

    • Tonari no Totoro is the first Miyazaki film I saw, and it's still my favourite.

      I also highly recommend Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Porco Rosso.

      Actually, they're all damn good, but these three are my favourites.
    • My vote's for Kiki's Delivery Service, which works well in a magical-realistic kind of way. Porco Rosso was nifty too.

      Hmmm... I just realized, all of Miyazaki's movies have that spirited, willful teenage girl in there somewhere. It even goes back to Castle of Cagliostro! (That was, for those playing along at home, a Lupin the 3rd movie.)

      Which is not to imply any kind of Japanese-stereotypical pedophile association, mind you. If anything, his movies are pre-sexual, e.g., "For God's sake Alvy, even Freud
  • No cut (Score:4, Informative)

    by bidule (173941) on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:17PM (#13586303) Homepage
    Of course, the "no cut" was because of that "marvelous" Warrior of the Wind. Or how to turn Nausicaa into an hollywoodian action-packed movie.
  • Weinstien. Cuts? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25NO@SPAMcfl.rr.com> on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:32PM (#13586373) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone find it ironic that the producer (or executive producer) of Pulp Fiction, Bad Santa, Kill Bill, Sin City, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Clerks, wanted to CUT something from a film? I coudn't have been that hard of a sell.
    • the weinstein's are notorious for making cuts. they do NOT like long movies, and have cut huge chunks out of imported cinematic feasts such as "Cinema Paradiso" and "life is beautiful." Princess Mononoke, the movie that was localized by Miramax's staff, is considered to be long for an animated movie. it was also more violent than anything that disney has ever produced.
    • Which are not necessarily the ones you are infering.
  • by Travoltus (110240) on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:39PM (#13586398) Journal
    Every time I see a Miyazaki movie I'm reminded of what Disney used to be.
  • No cuts? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by St. Arbirix (218306) <matthew.townsend@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Saturday September 17, 2005 @04:47PM (#13586444) Homepage Journal
    I must say that I hope something was cut in the American release of Howl's Moving Castle.

    It just played on campus last Wednesday. The film quality was pretty bad and the sound was absolutely horrible (I blame the distributer). The drawing had to be the best I think I've ever seen in any anime or Disney flick.

    There was one major plot hole that pretty much the whole audience fell through though. At a point late in the movie, after they've alluded to one character having had a curse put on him, the main girl kisses this character and with a *pop* he turns into a real person and exclaims: "I'm the prince from the kingdom next door!"

    The audience roared with laughter at that. There was absolutely no mention in the beginning of the movie about this missing prince (that we could hear, maybe it was the shitty sound) and at the very end we realized that he was the whole reason for the war that was the major plot element of the story.

    I really hope there was something cut from the Miyazaki version. Or at least that there was something said that we collectively managed to miss.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 17, 2005 @07:01PM (#13587031)
    Now, here's a brilliant example of what's wrong with US anime industry today. Probably one of the most respected directors in anime had to actually fly in and demand not to mess with his stuff. Forget keeping the material intact or respecting the creator's vision when our marketing research drones tell us we can "potentially" make 2 or 3 bucks more by screwing with it till marketing, rather than the creator, approves it.

    I swear, if the industry was in charge of the mona lisa and marketing told them more people would buy prints if she was showing her pearly whites they'd paint right over the friggin thing!

    Just import or pirate anime, at least that way you can avoid the marketroid version of whatever you're watching. Sadly, that is actually pretty much what is happening. And the companies wonder why they're hated and fansubs are loved.
    • Probably one of the most respected directors in anime had to actually fly in and demand not to mess with his stuff. Forget keeping the material intact or respecting the creator's vision when our marketing research drones tell us we can "potentially" make 2 or 3 bucks more by screwing with it till marketing, rather than the creator, approves it.

      That's a bit of a double standard, isn't it?

      He certainly "screwed with" Howl's Moving Castle so that it was barely recognizable. Maybe he did it for idiological

    • Probably one of the most respected directors in anime had to actually fly in and demand not to mess with his stuff.

      He didn't have to fly in at all. His contract with Disney famously denies them the right to make any cuts whatsoever. He was flying in to discuss the project anyway, so Weinstein asked him to make exceptions and give permission for cuts to be made. All he had to do was say no, and had he stayed in Japan during that time, all he would have to do was fax, email, or telephone a "no". Or jus

  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday September 17, 2005 @08:41PM (#13587409)
    I had read the book, and was severely annoyed that the movie thoroughly trashed the plot and characters of a very good children's book:
    • Insertion of gratuitous air raid scenes
    • Sofie had MAGIC in the book ... she's demoted to an Anime chick in the movie
    • Hacked out the backstory so you have no clue who the girl in the bakery is
    • Etc.
    • And so forth
    • by patiwat (126496) on Sunday September 18, 2005 @01:08AM (#13588139)
      Your comments are valid and interesting. But note, though, that Diana Wynne Jones, the author herself, was reportedly very pleased with the movie.

      The following quote comes from http://ansible.co.uk/Ansible/a210.html [ansible.co.uk] and refers to a personal screening of Howl's Moving Castle that Miyazaki hosted for Mrs. Jones near her home in Bristol:

      `Miyazaki came in person, carrying with him a tape of the film, an interpreter and sundry other shadowy figures (all this was supposed to be secret for fear of the Japanese media, who then descended on me afterwards, so I couldn't mention it beforehand) and we had a private showing at the Watershed cinema. The film is goluptuously splendid with breathtaking animation. I had grown used to young ladies regularly writing to me to say that they wanted to marry Howl. Now, Howl in the film is so plain stunning and sexy that I think I have joined them. And after the showing and the scamper through Bristol I had a long talk with Mr Miyazaki and it began to seem that we were soulmates.'

      I personally think that Sofie wasn't merely just any anime chick - she's a Miyazaki anime chick! Like Nausicaa, Fio (Kurenai no Buta/Porco Rosso), Shizuku (Whispers of the Heart/Mimi wo Sumaseba), and the other great Ghibli female leads, Sofie has more spunk, curiosity, complexity, and compassion than the vast majority of heroines of just about any genre.

      As for the air raid scenes - this is a war we're talking about. Unfortunately, air raids on civilians are an inevitability of any modern war. But seeing it from the perspective of the victim in such explicit horrible detail really emphasis to the viewer that this war really really sucks.

      I personally think that Miyazaki has a pretty good record of book/story adaptations:

        - Gauche the Cellist (Miyazawa Kenji) had a wonderful soundtrack, the right "feel", and is a very faithful adaptation.
        - Whispers of the Heart (Hiraagi Aoi) unfortunately removed a lot of poetic elements, and made some significant changes to the plot, but retains the overall "feel", while the character development of Shizuku is just wonderful. And the magic of the very last scene with the bicycle is beyond words.
        - Ironically, Miyazaki's most disappointing adaptation, in my opinion, is Nausicaa. For me, the manga was an extradordinarily complex landmark work. The movie, although wonderful, just couldn't compare. The entire environmental theme (can man ever live in harmony with nature?) was only scratched at in the movie.
      • Have you read the book?

        Diana Wynne Jones, the author herself, was reportedly very pleased with the movie.

        What's she supposed to say? Very few authors have the luxury (like JK Rowling) of having script approval. And I agree with her that the animation was great and Howl was a hunk. I note that she appears to have said nothing about what happened to Sofie's character.

        Sofie has more spunk, curiosity, complexity, and compassion than the vast majority of heroines of just about any genre.

        In the book,

      • As for the air raid scenes - this is a war we're talking about. Unfortunately, air raids on civilians are an inevitability of any modern war. But seeing it from the perspective of the victim in such explicit horrible detail really emphasis to the viewer that this war really really sucks.

        Well, yes -- except that in the book there was no war! Miyazaki-san took a perfectly good story and, rather than tell it, forced it into his own obsession.

        You can't justify the air raids as a necessary consequence of

    • Movies may be based on books, that does not mean they should be textually accurate.

      And again.

      Movies may be based on books, that does not mean they should be textually accurate.

      And agian.

      Movies ....
      • Movies may be based on books, that does not mean they should be textually accurate.

        Trite. There is a difference between the kind of editing dictated by the length (LOTR, for instance) and format constraints [1] of a movie and what Miyazaki-san did. Cuts are necessary -- but he inserted a completely foreign theme, warped the plot around it, and cut most of the original story to make room.

        That is not the kind of "adaptation" that is compatible with any kind of artistic integrity.

        [1] Catch-22 relies s

  • Some of the most brilliant directors have been the ones who are the biggest control freaks. Kubrick, for example, demanded extremely exacting control over every facet of his movies' creation. That's how he managed to keep his art intact and coherent.

    Ridley Scott's work on Blade Runner shows a similar link between hard-nosed directorial oversight and strong art.

    Miyazaki is, I think, one of the few Japanese directors who really gets to make the whole production his. If he needs a spare half-million for som

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