It shouldn’t be a surprise that I am an admirer of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. I’ve posted about Miyazaki and Ghibli related things many times in the past. Most people by now know about Miyazaki’s movies. Far fewer know about the various pieces of mange that he’s done over the years. Which is sort of sad, because the mange is fun, has good, lighthearted stories, is where Miyazaki pokes fun at himself and is usually filled with pigs as characters. Here’s a list from Nausicaa.net.
As wonderful as Miyazaki’s films are, they don’t actually represent the full scope of his story telling. The videos barely mention Miyazaki’s manga, you can’t ignore it and understand where the themes for a lot of the movie stuff comes from.
Miyazaki was drawing anthromorphic pigs long before Porco Rosso. Of course the manga and films are not the only homes for Miyazaki’s pigs. They can also be found somewhere in the Ghibli Museum, looking strangely like Miyazaki himself. But I’m not going to say where in the museum the tableau is. You will just have to find it for yourself.
Rocket 24 ran a post about Tomonoura and since I’ve been to Tomonoura I thought I would add some pics and commentary. This where Miyazaki went for the beautiful images that made up his film “Ponyo.” This is a post I’ve wanted to do for some time and Rocket’s post was the perfect excuse to do up an introduction to this wonderful place.
Here’s the “Ponyo” trailer. If you haven’t seen the movie, buy or rent it. You will not be sorry.
Tomonoura is one of those magical places that sometimes happen when left behind by time. If you are in the region and tired of nuclear malaise it’s a great off the driven path place to visit. the scenery is wonderful, the food great and it’s a great place to shop and explore. There’s also the thrill of feeling like you are in a Ghibli movie. A truly wonderful place to go.
One of the wonderful places you can visit in Tokyo is the Ghibli Museum. http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/
It the physical manifestation one of the most creative minds ever. While Mr Miyazaki didn’t have the budget that Walt Disney had, he’s managed to create a wonderful space filled with imagination and fun. Here’s my Flikr album from my two visits there:
Unfortunately you can’t take photographs inside the building. Which is a shame as the space begs photography.
Here’s a scan of the brochure: http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/museum/
This doesn’t begin to show the wonderful weirdness of the space. suffice to say it will be like no other place you have ever been.
Watch out for the gift shop though. It’s run by the Mama Aiuto gang who are very skilled at finding ways to entice you give them money.
In my less than humble opinion Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” is the best engineering movie ever made. I will admit to a certain degree Of bias in this. I have been a Studio Ghibli fan since I saw Kiki’s Delivery Service in the raw Japanese at a convention back in the early 1990’s. I bought the first Disney release of Kiki’s when it came out and ever movie since. I have copies of every Miyazaki movie and have seen even the stuff that was never officially released here in the US. I’ve been to the Ghibli museum, twice. I have all the art books for the Miyazaki movies. So I think that Miyazaki is one of the greatest film makers of all time. But I’m certainly not the only one in the world with that opinion.
Miyazaki’s reputation and my fan slobbering not withstanding, “The Wind Rise stands on it’s own. It’s not a children’s movie essentially like most of Miyazaki’s movies and deals with themes such as drive, persistence, death and achievement that you don’t see in say Kiki’s or Spirited Away. The characters in “Wind” are adults in an adult world, doing adult things. The main character, Jiro has to deal with illness and loss, all the while pursuing his dream. He experiences failure and triumph, turned to bittersweet by life. This is a beautiful work with a foot in what we experience in real life. Here’s the trailer, beautiful in it’s own right.:
Beyond Miyazaki’s usual fair of young people this reaches out of Miyazaki’s usual box of story tricks. And he doesn’t reach for comedy to blunt the edges like he did with Porco Rosso. No fascist hating pigs here. Just young engineers trying to understand a world seemingly going slowly mad. And the relationships are not perfect fairy tails with happy endings. Jiro’s love interest Naoko is carrying the burden of fatal disease, something that was common in a world without antibiotics. This was our world, but in many ways it’s as alien as the world of Spirited Away. Miyazaki presents that brilliantly.
The film captures the essence of the creative process that engineering represents. Through Jiro we see an engineer’s growth through simple project to visiting foreign lands to learn new technologies to his first aircraft and failure, followed by triumph. We also the failures. Aircraft are pranged and contracts lost. The foreign aircraft company that japan is buying technology from is uncooperative when it comes to sharing technical details. And the engineers struggle to overcome technical and production hurdles. We see the Mitsubishi company having to use oxen to cart the aircraft and out to the field and then cart the pieces back. We see Jiro’s first project airplane in pieces and Jiro withdrawing on vacation in depression, his dream seemingly in ruins. We also see his comeback in triumph.
In addition to all that is the detail. Miyazaki gets the details of the engineering office right. We see all the roles needed to make the project work. We see the stress of the contract meeting and the fun of the design startup meeting with it’s somewhat unrealistic goals. We also get to see how all the engineers can’t wait to get a look at the new parts even when the secret police is waiting outside. Miyazaki does a wonderful job of getting the feel of engineering right.
There are very few movies made about engineering. There’s the British movie about Mitchell and the Spitfire and that’s about it. Googling “engineering movies” produces lists of movies: http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/8655/Top-10-Movies-for-Engineers.aspx http://www.imdb.com/list/ls002692832/
None of these touch on the design process the way that Miyazaki does. I don’t know why Miyazaki chose this as his last movie. It may be that he was resolving some issue in his past or it may be that he felt the subject was a story that needed to be told. He was right, this is a story that needs to be told, not just about the Mitsubishi type A6MJ Zero, but about the engineer and creative process that has changed our world in so many ways. A truly great film.