Tag Archives: Hayao Miyazaki

Brave-ly Done (More Disney Music)

Every child is influenced by the entertainment they are shown. I am fortunate in that I saw many Disney movies as a child. I do not like every Disney movie out there, but most of them are hard to dislike. After all, Walt Disney was not in the habit of writing trash. He was one of those rare entertainers who earned money as a reward for telling a good story, not telling any old story just to make a dollar. *Sigh.* We could use a few more storytellers like that these days!

Anyway, readers, here are some more Disney songs which I would like to share with you. I hope you enjoy them! After all, it’s…

“A Whole New World!”

The Mithril Guardian

Brave

Touch the Sky

Aladdin

Arabian Nights

One Jump Ahead

Friend Like Me

Prince Ali

A Whole New World

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I’m Wishing

A Smile and a Song

Whistle While You Work

Heigh-Ho!

Scrub in the Tub

The Dance in the Dwarfs’ Cottage

 

Robin Hood

Ooo De Lally

Love Goes On

A Pox on that Phony King of England

Not In Nottingham

 

 

The Jungle Book

Elephant Patrol

Bare Necessities

I Want to Be Like You

That’s What Friends Are For

 

Mulan

You’ll Bring Honor to Us All

Reflection

I’ll Make a Man Out of You

A Girl Worth Fighting For

True to Your Heart

 

 

The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride

We Are One

Upendi

Not One of Us

Love Will Find A Way

 

(I know it’s not technically a Disney movie, but they are the ones who translated it into English, so….)

The Secret World of Arietty

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Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones

Image result for Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones Image result for Howl’s Moving Castle film

If you are familiar with the renowned Hayao Miyazaki film Howl’s Moving Castle, this blogger must warn you up front: Mr. Miyazaki diverged somewhat from Mrs. Jones’ story. Now, Mrs. Jones has no problem with that, the author of this post has no problem with that, and no one I know personally has a problem with this. But some people somewhere are bound to prefer either the book or the movie over the other. And in this case, that is a real shame, because both film and novel are about equal in terms of storytelling power and prowess.

Besides which, if you want to better understand the film’s plot, Mrs. Jones’ book is the best place to find information on the world of Howl’s Moving Castle. In the film, we see that Sophie is running her father’s hat shop, her mother is shallow and into the latest fashions, and Sophie is continually passed over because she is not as pretty as her younger sister, Lettie.

In the book, the very first thing we learn is that the country where Sophie Hatter and her family live is called Ingary. Second, the mother we see in the film should actually be Sophie’s stepmother. Her mother in the books died when she was two and Lettie was one; so her father remarried a young woman who worked in his hat shop. This young woman was named Fanny. Fanny had a child not long after the marriage – another daughter – and her name is Martha. So there are actually three Hatter sisters in the book.

Another thing to remember about Ingary (other than it is a country where invisibility cloaks and seventeen league boots are real), is that the eldest of three in a family never has an interesting or prosperous future. Neither does the second child, though that one may do somewhat better than the oldest. No, it is the third of three who makes the mark on the world.

Sophie learns this at school and so resigns herself to her fate. This makes her quite agreeable, after her father’s sudden death, to taking up residence in the hat shop, which she will inherit after Fanny retires. Meanwhile, Lettie is to be apprenticed to a baker and Martha is to be apprenticed to a witch.

And speaking of witches, it turns out that the Witch of the Waste once terrorized the country of Ingary fifty years back. Rumor has it she has returned now to take her revenge on the king, and so no one is allowed to go out alone, especially at night.

To add to the trouble, the king’s wizard – Suliman – went out to deal with the Witch of the Waste. Unfortunately, it appears that his attempt got him killed.

And on top of all this, a great big floating castle is roaming around Sophie’s town of Market Chipping. At first the residents think it is the Witch’s castle. Then someone explains it is actually the residence of the Wizard Howl.

This is no improvement, however. Howl is said to suck the souls from the prettiest girls he meets. That or eat their hearts; the rumors vary. Either way, no one in Market Chipping wants to lose their daughters to either fate, and Sophie, Lettie, and Martha are warned to never go out alone or to have any dealings with Howl.

When Sophie finally gets away from the hat shop to see Lettie some months later, she happens to run into a very attractive young man at the May Day celebrations. She barely speaks to him, but even that is enough to anger the jealous Witch of the Waste!

And so Sophie’s adventure in the novel begins.

I enjoy the film and the book about equally. Mrs. Diana Wynne Jones is an excellent writer, and her books are full of fun. Howl’s Moving Castle has two sequels: Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. I may get around to reviewing these in the future, or I may not. If you can find copies of these novels, though, I highly recommend them to you. They are hilarious!!

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

Nausicaa: Of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaa: Of the Valley of the Wind, is a movie written, directed, and animated by Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese filmmaker and artist. This movie focuses on Nausicaa and her kingdom, the Valley of the Wind. A thousand years after a war that devastated the Earth, humanity lives in small, secluded kingdoms. Outside the kingdoms, the Earth is being consumed by a Toxic Jungle guarded by huge insects.

The Toxic Jungle got its name from the fact that the plants in it shoot out poisonous spores and gasses. Anything other than the giant insects that live in the jungle – whether it is animal or human – which should be unfortunate enough to enter the jungle without a mask will be dead in five minutes.

Nausicaa is the princess of the Valley of the Wind and the heroine of the film. The Valley of the Wind is a peaceful kingdom by the sea. The winds from the ocean protect the valley from the Toxic Jungle’s poisons and spores. However, people in the valley are not immune to the same sickness that plagues all the remnants of humanity. Living in proximity to the Toxic Jungle means that, inevitably, some of the jungle’s poisons slowly kill the people who live near it. The disease brought on by the jungle’s poisons leads to paralysis, turning the body “hard as rock,” and it eventually kills the person who receives the sickness. Nausicaa’s father, King Jil, is suffering from this illness.

Nausicaa is a kind and loving girl with a special sensitivity to nature. She can communicate with the insects in the jungle and calm their wild rages whenever someone outside or – rarely – inside her kingdom is idiotic enough to do damage to the jungle or kill an insect. Any such action brings swift retribution from the biggest, most impressive – and most dangerous – insects in the jungle: the enormous Ohmu, or Ohm for short.

Everyone in the Valley is Nausicaa’s friend. Though they all readily defer to her, and typically call her “Princess,” it is clear that Nausicaa is well-beloved by her people because she loves them. She speaks easily to them and their welfare is her top priority. She does enjoy her trips into the Toxic Jungle on her glider (which is a very cool method of transportation that I want very badly!), and learning the ways of the jungle and the insects. But in the end, it is her people whom she cares for the most.

I saw Nausicaa when I was fifteen, and I was immediately impressed by three things. The first thing I enjoyed about the show was the animation; Miyazaki is well known for his animated features, and Nausicaa shows the world why. The vistas, the clouds, the jungle, Nausicaa and her people – all are rendered in stunningly beautiful detail in the hand-drawn frames. CGI has nothing – absolutely nothing – on hand-drawn animation of this caliber. It is too bad animated shows are no longer rendered so well.

The second thing that impressed me came in the first ten minutes of the film. An old friend of Nausicaa and her father, Lord Yupa, returns to the Valley and is greeted happily by the inhabitants. Nausicaa is busy repairing a windmill as the Valley people excitedly ask Lord Yupa for news and express their joy at his return. Then Nausicaa goes down from the windmill and leads a new mother to Lord Yupa. Nausicaa herself is carrying the woman’s baby daughter, the only child born in the Valley in one year!

The fact that only one baby was born in the Valley is astounding; and the small, seemingly inconsequential detail that it is the biggest news in the kingdom in a year shows how hard it is in the world of this story for people to have children anymore. Compared to today, where the lives of children are thrown away, this idea of children being precious is very timely.

This brings me to the one thing that weighs down Nausicaa: the film is very insistent that humanity has lost touch with nature. Two other kingdoms in the movie, the Tolmekian Kingdom and the land of Pejite, stand in for humanity’s “wanton” brutalization of nature. The Ohmu and the jungle represent nature which, when attacked, fights back violently.

The Kingdom of the Valley is set up so that it shows humans living in relative harmony with the Toxic Jungle and the insects. The Valley residents do not have to fear the jungle’s poisons, and so they have never tried to burn or chop it down. This means that the Ohmu have left them alone and, in some odd way, respect them. In return, the Valley residents avoid bothering the jungle at all costs. They instead try to understand the jungle, how it came about, and how to live with it.

Nausicaa’s sensitivity to the Earth and nature is part of this theme. The whole reason she can communicate with the Ohmu and calm the other insects in the jungle is not only a result of her study of the jungle and the insects. It is a result of the fact that she is in tune with nature.

This theme is heavy in the story and makes it hard to watch sometimes. But the film does have its saving graces. As I mentioned above, there is a third thing which impressed me. Later in the movie, a leader from Pejite informs Nausicaa that he has men luring Ohmu into the Valley of the Wind. He is doing this to destroy the Tolmekians who have invaded the Valley after invading Pejite. He is also doing this to secure a weapon which may destroy the Toxic Jungle and its insect guardians.

Nausicaa is horrified by his barbarity. She goes so far as to break down into tears at the thought of the outrage: that this man would lure the insects into an innocent kingdom and destroy its people, as well as the unsuspecting Ohm which are being used, essentially, to get revenge on Tolmekia.

The Pejite leader tries to comfort her when she starts crying, saying that someday she will realize that they are doing this “for the good of the planet.”

Nausicaa responds perfectly. Angrily striking away his comforting hand, she shouts, “The good of the planet?!? You’re killing my people!!”

Nausicaa’s statement sums up what is really going on in the world today, that one thing or another – nature, healthcare, or some other faux ‘good’ – is being used to give moral credence to outright murder and savagery. This tendency to put nature over humanity weakens the movie’s potential but it does not utterly destroy the story. I think it would have served Miyazaki better if he had placed the story on another planet humanity was trying to colonize, but as the film stands, it is enough to pass the time enjoyably. And yes, I still think the animation is unbelievably beautiful!

And I STILL want Nausicaa’s glider! Hey, science geniuses! Get busy and design this thing! For heaven’s sake, somebody had better start producing these things! I tell ya, there IS a market for them out there!

Catch you later, readers!

The Mithril Guardian