Me and Studio Ghibli

Hayao Miyazaki once said:

“It is the fate of modern life that we repeatedly lose touch with nature, the environment, the planet. But we try to regain it again and again. It’s like a circle. In children’s hearts and souls when they’re born into the world, nature already exists deep inside them. So what I want to do in my work is tap into their souls.”

Miyazaki is a blessing to this world not to mention a film director and the co-founder of Studio Ghibli- and I believe that Studio Ghibli is one of the only things in this world that should be described as ‘Magic’.

The first time I saw one of his movies was when my dad bought Spirited Away (2001), he had read a review by Nigel Andrews which really interests me, for it was the only review in which he’s given 6/5 stars. “It is still the only movie to which, using the magic of surreal maths for that review, I gave six stars out of five.”

And through the following years we watched all of Ghibli’s films, (excluding Porco Rosso– we didn’t have the DVD!!). My sisters and I were transported into many different worlds, ones of spirits and gods, of witches and wizards, myths, aeroplanes, floating castles, and ones where humans and trees are friends. I am proud that such films exist, and I’m glad I was able to experience them as I was growing up, when I was young and saw everything with a hint of wonder.

I’m sitting now, feeling very nostalgic, and fuelling that nostalgia by listening to the soundtracks- I’ve made a playlist for you guys on Spotify (jennyefunnell). Click here for the playlist

Every little detail of Miyazaki’s films is beautiful, as I said earlier- I really do believe that these films are magic, one of the most magical things in the world. But yes, the music, the animation, the characters and their relationships, the worlds… the list goes on.

One thing I do want to talk about is how Ghibli’s films have impacted me and my family. The films themselves nearly always have strong female protagonists, who were amazing role models for us. The films explore stories which encompass the beauty of life, through humanity’s relationship with nature, the magic of culture and the everyday, the importance of passion and dreams, and love.

I think by watching these films, I was introduced to the importance of relationships, and gratitude, as well as being motivated to pursue my own dreams and stick to what I believe in. Studio Ghibli shaped me, I know that’s a bit over the top, but it’s true. Shizuku Tsukishima (Whisper of the Heart 1995) taught me that you can achieve your dreams if you work hard, I think by working with your whole heart- you really do put a bit of your soul into it. In Princess Mononoke (1997), San taught me that compassion is something that everyone holds inside of them, whilst Prince Ashitaka taught me that hate is a burden, and forgiveness is something beautiful. Those are just a few examples; I think there is definitely something to learn from every character that Studio Ghibli introduces to us. 

I saw a comment on the Ghibli Wiki, where someone explained that Miyazaki intends to create stories where there isn’t a hero or a villain, no one is pure good or pure evil. For example, they wrote that Princess Mononoke is a story about an outsider walking into a conflict between two sides who have wronged each other. I think Miyazaki meant to show us that people are more complicated than what we believe, every single one of us has flaws, some make more mistakes than others and some have worse intentions, but we are all human. 

Miyazaki’s history flows into many of his stories and understanding what influenced him to create the films really interests me. I’m going to have separate posts about some of the movies, so I can go into more detail about it all then, but right now I’m going to talk about his 2013 film The Wind Rises.

Hayao Miyazaki’s father, Katsuji Miyazaki, was the director of the family firm- Miyazaki Airplane, a company which manufactured parts for fighter planes in World War II. His family’s business introduced a love of flying to Miyazaki, which we can see in nearly all of his work. When he was three years old, the family evacuated to Utsunomiya, and then after Utsumomiya was bombed in July 1945, they evacuated to Kanuma. (the bombing left a long-lasting impression on Miyazaki- Many of his films incorporate bombing and war, such as Howl’s Moving Castle.) From 1947 to 1955, Miyazaki’s mother suffered from spinal tuberculosis, she spent a few years in hospital before being nursed at home.

The Wind Rises is based on the story of a real figure in Japanese history, Jiro Horikoshi, who created the “Zero” fighter plane during the initial years of World War II. Miyasaki’s father and Jiro Horikoshi already show a few similarities here, however I think there are even more. In the film, Jiro first met Naoko Satomi when he saved her hat from flying away on the breeze, then he helped Naoko and her maid when an earthquake hit. They meet again later on in the story and fall in love; however, Naoko suffers from tuberculosis, similar to Katsuji Miyazaki’s wife (Hayao’s mother). Naoko leaves go to a sanatorium, so she can get better before they marry, however It doesn’t work long-term, and she dies shortly after they get married. 

So, using some observational skills here, we can see that Miyasaki may have wanted to create a film about Jiro Horikoshi as his story resembles that of Miyazaki’s father. I think that as both of his parents had passed away by the time he made the film, it could have acted as a sort of memento for his parents- but that’s just my opinion.

The Wind Rises is one of my sisters’ favourite Ghibli film, I have a clear memory of her saying this phrase to me, “Le vent se lève! Il faut tenter de vivre!”, meaning- “the wind is rising, so we must try to live.” It seems Miyazaki was inspired by the quote he took from the French poet- Paul Valéry, and I think that the film fully encompasses that quote.

I know I haven’t mentioned the other film directors belonging to Studio Ghibli: Isao Takahata, Goro Miyazaki and Hiromasa Yonebayashi. I’m planning to write about a few of their films, such as Goro Miyazaki’s From Up on Poppy Hill (2001)- one of my favourites! 

I wanted to mainly focus on Hayao Miyazaki because his films are the most significant in my memory, and his stories are the ones who taught me the lessons I still live by today.

So reader, if you’ve read up to this point, I hope you’re considering watching a few of Ghibli’s films. With an open mind and heart, I promise that you’ll gain so much from them (they recently got put on Netflix!)

But enough from me, 

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next time,

Signing off (for the second time!)

Jenny Funnell

(Hi there, I’m so happy that 5 people have subscribed to this blog, it makes me so happy so thank you thank you!!!!)

2 thoughts on “Me and Studio Ghibli

  1. We are so blessed by Miyazaki’s films, it’s really interesting to read about his inspiration and his philosophy – also those pictures of your family when you were younger are adorable, hopefully we can still preserve that some of that childish wonder as we grow up!

    Liked by 2 people

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