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{ Critical Approaches – task 6 Nicole Tunningley

Hayao miyazaki research

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Critical Approaches – task 6

Nicole Tunningley

Page 2: Hayao miyazaki research

Critical Analysis

The content of these pieces do indeed have many things in common, for one they all have clear fantasy elements to them. The first being a half human half bird character (Howl), the second is further back in the image like a ghost (no face) and the third is a forest god/animal creature (Totoro).The main characters frequently differ in both appearance and age given a different aspect on the story being told

Page 3: Hayao miyazaki research

He does not have characters belonging to one age group this does in fact reflect the target audience as there is no one set age at which one would more frequently watch these films

Hayao Miyazaki’s films are categorized as Family films this therefore gives them a wide target audience. It also depends on the content of each films narrative when determining which age group would be more appropriate.

My Neighbor Totoro has a more childish audience as the theme explored is not incredibly complex and can be appreciated for it’s narrative by the younger audiences.

Spirited Away is considered slightly scarier with more mythical elements as has therefore been gifted with a slightly older audience recommendation (Young teen).

Howl’s Moving Castle fits into the farther end of the age group at a 15+ as this is considered the age at which one can fully appreciate the film for it’s thought-provoking nature.

Age and representation of

These films vary from a U certificate (Suitable for everyone) to a PG (parental guidance recommended)

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Hayao Miyazaki films are unisex are do not attempt to target one gender in particular

But Miyazaki is frequently praised for his feminist approach of telling a story.

For example when he is discussing the time period of his piece Princess Mononoke, he chose the Muromachi period stating “It was a more fluid period, when there were no distinctions between peasants and a samurai, when women were bolder and freer,” he says. This shows that Miyazaki takes into consideration how to properly represent the female gender in his infamous genre.Gender

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Blogs such as Popcorn Feminist discuss how the themes and protagonists expressed in Miyazaki’s film, far surpass those in the classic Disney’s.

Themes such as independence, anti-racial stereotyping, breaking gender roles, expressing ambition and anti-sexualisation are popular themes in Miyazaki’s franchise.

Miyazaki VS. Disney (Gender: Part 2)

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The female villains in Miyazaki’s films frequently tend to be women of the older generation.

Whereas the male villains tend to be a little younger (and thinner).

This can create a negative effect on this generation due to Miyazaki’s repetitive use of them in a harsh manner but in most cases concerning the female villains, by the end of the film they are frequently on the protagonists side.

Negative Representation

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“Miyazaki’s female protagonists are complicated, flawed, and independent figures” – ‘The Mary Sue’

Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli productions are typically based on Japanese culture, history or myths. Therefore he has his main characters positively represent these aspects of Japan.

Positive Representation

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Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli productions are typically based on Japanese culture, history or myths. Therefore he has his main characters positively represent these aspects of Japan.

All of Miyazaki’s characters have varying characteristics both with their personalities and physical features.

Miyazaki will frequently have links between his films for example the infamous egg, this is a signature piece on Miyazaki’s films that is a highlight to his audience and is also a signature in Japanese cuisine.

Miyazaki’s films technically tend to have around 3-5 main characters including the antagonist.

Miyazaki’s films can go for around 80 minutes to 120 minutes depending on the story.

Cultural and technical

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Howl’s Moving Castle was released in 2004.

Miyazaki, is a technically only half responsible for the making of Howl’s Moving Castle as a film. For one, he only half directed it and two it is based of the book ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ by Diana Wynne Jones. Which means he didn’t direct it fully nor did he come up with the story, though it does of course have it’s own little Miyazaki quirkiness.

In the English dubbed version Howl is voiced by Christian Bale who said he would happily voice any character in Miyazaki’s next film.

Howl’s Moving Castle

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Spirited Away is apparently Miyazaki’s most famous piece of work created in 2001.

But there is a theory that proves this film to not be as appropriate for younger audiences as one might have initially thought.

It all starts with an inscription above a bath house door in which the protagonist will later work. The inscription is a symbol that translates to ‘yu’ meaning hot water’, which makes sense. But when investigated further it transpired that during the Edo period (in which this was set) bath houses were basically brothels. The women are known as ‘yuna’ or hot water women.

Even more research shows that Brothel Madams in those times were called ‘Yubaba’ which is exactly the name given to the old witch who runs the batch house in the film.

The protagonist is also forced to sign over her name to Yubaba and become Sen. Which historically is customary for prostitutes to change their names and sign them over to their madams

The character ‘No Face’ interacts with the protagonist frequently by offering her tokens which is their currency. It is thought here that her is trying to buy her.

But one might dismiss this theory with one shake of the head by it’s creator. But Miyazaki himself in interviews admitted that this was intentional, stating: “I think the most appropriate way to symbolize the modern world is the sex industry. Hasn’t Japanese society become like the sex industry?”

To conclude the childhood favorite Miyazki film is about prostitution and the corruption of children. Spirited Away

(Theory Source: ‘MoviePilot’)

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‘My Neighbor Totoro’ is one of Miyazaki’s most classical family films enjoyed by people of all ages, since it’s release in 1988. But it is thought to not be as family friendly as initially thought.

God of Death theory: ‘The rumor says that the people who can see Totoro are actually close to death or already dead’

In the ending scene, it is said that the two main protagonists don’t have any shadows.

There is also a famous murder case called ‘The Sayama Incident’ (My Neighbor Totoro takes place in Sayama hills) in which two sister turn up dead.

‘The Sayama Incident’ happened in May and both sisters in Totoro are technically named ‘May’ (Satsuki means ‘May’ in Japanese and Mei is the Japanese pronunciation of ‘May’).

Though the studio dismissed the theory it is still one that will probably never die.

(Theory source: Kotaku)

My Neighbor Totoro