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“Intriguing…I enjoyed it enormously…. An attempt to define or codify Miyazaki’s cosmology is fascinating in itself, and tells us as much about what we need Miyazaki to be as what he is. Eric Reinders’ book brings us a wide ranging, multifaceted, highly personal and often playful reading of this universe, as though it were viewed through the Hubble Kaleidoscope. In the process it raises as many interesting questions as it answers.”–Helen McCarthy, writer, independent scholar and pioneer of anime history in English.

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Welcome to Miyazaki Thoughts

Hi, my name is Eric Reinders, and a regularly teach a seminar on the films of Miyazaki at Emory University. This site collects the various ideas and information contributed by students during the last year. Enjoy!

Music in the Films

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I didn’t think music was emphasized enough and I really enjoy the orchestral music throughout the movies. I ended up cutting out random lines of piano music to make a collage of the music from three of the films. Overall, I think the music deserves appreciation along side the films as it adds to the movie’s impact on the viewers.

 

-Jimin Park

Zeniba’s Seal in Spirited Away

This is something that just crossed my mind a while ago after rewatching Spirited Away. So one thing I never understood when I first watched the film when I was younger was Haku stealing Zeniba’s gold seal. I didn’t understand why Yubaba wanted Zeniba’s seal so badly, and in my head, assumed it was some sort of rivalry thing between the two sisters to make it understandable. Also I brushed over what a “seal” was and didn’t really think about it. However, I noticed the seal more in our viewing of the movie and it made sense to me.

So the object that the seal is referring to is actually called a 印章 (yinzhang) or 图章 (tuzhang), in Chinese; and these seals are stamps that represent an author or artist’s signature.

Chinese Seal Carving - Square Shape 1

So it finally made sense for Yubaba to want to steal Zeniba’s seal, as it is somewhat like stealing one’s name or identity, just like how to takes the names of her workers to control them.

-Everett Dang

“The wind is rising!…We must try to live!”

The Wind Rises opens with a quote by Paul Valéry: “Le vent se lève! . . . Il faut tenter de vivre!”, translated to “The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!” It’s clear that the title of the movie was derived from this quote, so I was curious to see what Valéry wrote that was so inspiring to Miyazaki. I found a translation of his poem “Le Cimetière marin” (“The Graveyard by the Sea”) from which the quote was taken.

This quiet roof, where dove-sails saunter by,
Between the pines, the tombs, throbs visibly.
Impartial noon patterns the sea in flame —
That sea forever starting and re-starting.
When thought has had its hour, oh how rewarding
Are the long vistas of celestial calm!

What grace of light, what pure toil goes to form
The manifold diamond of the elusive foam!
What peace I feel begotten at that source!
When sunlight rests upon a profound sea,
Time’s air is sparkling, dream is certainty —
Pure artifice both of an eternal Cause.

Sure treasure, simple shrine to intelligence,
Palpable calm, visible reticence,
Proud-lidded water, Eye wherein there wells
Under a film of fire such depth of sleep —
O silence! . . . Mansion in my soul, you slope
Of gold, roof of a myriad golden tiles.

Temple of time, within a brief sigh bounded,
To this rare height inured I climb, surrounded
By the horizons of a sea-girt eye.
And, like my supreme offering to the gods,
That peaceful coruscation only breeds
A loftier indifference on the sky.

Even as a fruit’s absorbed in the enjoying,
Even as within the mouth its body dying
Changes into delight through dissolution,
So to my melted soul the heavens declare
All bounds transfigured into a boundless air,
And I breathe now my future’s emanation.

Beautiful heaven, true heaven, look how I change!
After such arrogance, after so much strange
Idleness — strange, yet full of potency —
I am all open to these shining spaces;
Over the homes of the dead my shadow passes,
Ghosting along — a ghost subduing me.
My soul laid bare to your midsummer fire,
O just, impartial light whom I admire,

Whose arms are merciless, you have I stayed
And give back, pure, to your original place.
Look at yourself . . . But to give light implies
No less a somber moiety of shade.

Oh, for myself alone, mine, deep within
At the heart’s quick, the poem’s fount, between
The void and its pure issue, I beseech
The intimations of my secret power.
O bitter, dark, and echoing reservoir
Speaking of depths always beyond my reach.

But know you — feigning prisoner of the boughs,
Gulf which cats up their slender prison-bars,
Secret which dazzles though mine eyes are closed —
What body drags me to its lingering end,
What mind draws it to this bone-peopled ground?
A star broods there on all that I have lost.

Closed, hallowed, full of insubstantial fire,
Morsel of earth to heaven’s light given o’er —
This plot, ruled by its flambeaux, pleases me —
A place all gold, stone, and dark wood, where shudders
So much marble above so many shadows:
And on my tombs, asleep, the faithful sea.

Keep off the idolaters, bright watch-dog, while —
A solitary with the shepherd’s smile —
I pasture long my sheep, my mysteries,
My snow-white flock of undisturbed graves!
Drive far away from here the careful doves,
The vain daydreams, the angels’ questioning eyes!

Now present here, the future takes its time.
The brittle insect scrapes at the dry loam;
All is burnt up, used up, drawn up in air
To some ineffably rarefied solution . . .
Life is enlarged, drunk with annihilation,
And bitterness is sweet, and the spirit clear.

The dead lie easy, hidden in earth where they
Are warmed and have their mysteries burnt away.
Motionless noon, noon aloft in the blue
Broods on itself — a self-sufficient theme.
O rounded dome and perfect diadem,

I am what’s changing secretly in you.
I am the only medium for your fears.

My penitence, my doubts, my baulked desires —
These are the flaw within your diamond pride . . .
But in their heavy night, cumbered with marble,
Under the roots of trees a shadow people
Has slowly now come over to your side.

To an impervious nothingness they’re thinned,
For the red clay has swallowed the white kind;
Into the flowers that gift of life has passed.
Where are the dead? — their homely turns of speech,
The personal grace, the soul informing each?
Grubs thread their way where tears were once composed.

The bird-sharp cries of girls whom love is teasing,
The eyes, the teeth, the eyelids moistly closing,
The pretty breast that gambles with the flame,
The crimson blood shining when lips are yielded,
The last gift, and the fingers that would shield it —
All go to earth, go back into the game.

And you, great soul, is there yet hope in you
To find some dream without the lying hue
That gold or wave offers to fleshly eyes?
Will you be singing still when you’re thin air?
All perishes. A thing of flesh and pore
Am I. Divine impatience also dies.

Lean immortality, all crêpe and gold,
Laurelled consoler frightening to behold,
Death is a womb, a mother’s breast, you feign
The fine illusion, oh the pious trick!
Who does not know them, and is not made sick
That empty skull, that everlasting grin?

Ancestors deep down there, 0 derelict heads
Whom such a weight of spaded earth o’erspreads,
Who are the earth, in whom our steps are lost,
The real flesh-eater, worm unanswerable
Is not for you that sleep under the table:
Life is his meat, and I am still his host.

‘Love,’ shall we call him? ‘Hatred of self,’ maybe?
His secret tooth is so intimate with me
That any name would suit him well enough,
Enough that he can see, will, daydream, touch —
My flesh delights him, even upon my couch
I live but as a morsel of his life.

Zeno, Zeno, cruel philosopher Zeno,
Have you then pierced me with your feathered arrow
That hums and flies, yet does not fly! The sounding
Shaft gives me life, the arrow kills. Oh, sun! —
Oh, what a tortoise-shadow to outrun
My soul, Achilles’ giant stride left standing!

No, no! Arise! The future years unfold.
Shatter, O body, meditation’s mould!
And, O my breast, drink in the wind’s reviving!
A freshness, exhalation of the sea,
Restores my soul . . . Salt-breathing potency!
Let’s run at the waves and be hurled back to living!

Yes, mighty sea with such wild frenzies gifted
(The panther skin and the rent chlamys), sifted
All over with sun-images that glisten,
Creature supreme, drunk on your own blue flesh,
Who in a tumult like the deepest hush
Bite at your sequin-glittering tail — yes, listen!

The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!
The huge air opens and shuts my book: the wave
Dares to explode out of the rocks in reeking
Spray. Fly away, my sun-bewildered pages!
Break, waves! Break up with your rejoicing surges
This quiet roof where sails like doves were pecking.

translated by C. Day Lewis

I definitely see elements similar to Miyazaki’s beliefs in this poem. What do you guys think?

-Linda Li

Character Haikus (creative project)

Below are haikus I wrote based off each main character in Miyazaki’s movies:

Nausicaa-

The unbalanced earth

How can I save you from yourself?

I try to no avail

 

Sheeta-

Within me I have

power to save a city

and destroy it too

 

Satsuki and Mei-

Sadness envelops

Unknowingly until the totoros

Everything is okay now

 

Kiki-

Away I go, by myself

I do not feel like a child

Not yet an adult

 

Porco-

The wind is my home

Carrying the past away

I am stuck with it

 

Ashitaka-

The western land people

I have learned are kind

Savagery also rules

 

Chihiro-

Little pink outfit

Scrubbing at floors and egos

Distant memories

 

Sophie-

Small unhappy girl

Lost in the plainness she views

But he sees her now

 

 

Ponyo-

Love doesn’t have a limit

Age nor the elements stop

Water mixed with earth

 

Jiro-

Building for pleasure

Ignorant to the price it costs

In love and war lost

 

-Madison