Thankfully, this hasn’t stopped animator/director Sayo Yamamoto from not only surviving over the past two decades — but thriving. And in style. Like Attack on Titan, Yamamoto’s ‘Yuri!!! On Ice’ has become a breakout hit, and amazingly, it’s only her third time as a series director. … Yamamoto’s success as a woman director shouldn’t be the exception to the rule in the anime industry.
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most renowned animators alive. He brought us visually arresting, pro-woman, environmentalist tales like ‘Princess Mononoke’ and ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.’ He brought us lush tales of magic and mythology, like ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Howl’s Moving Castle,’ with young women as protagonists and other women as focal, powerful characters throughout. Miyazaki now insists that his latest animated film, ‘The Wind Rises’ (‘Kaze Tachinu’), will be his last.
Granted, Ashitaka (voiced by Billy Crudup) is an important character. Even so, it is a bit disconcerting when the IMDb blurb about this movie only mentions him, and almost none of the female characters who are equally, if not more, important to the story. Princess Mononoke (voiced by Claire Danes) is the title character, but is only mentioned toward the end of the blurb. This movie is so much more than yet another “save the princess” quest!
Immortality is not what makes a world better. Hope, friendship, and love do, and love is not limited by sex, gender, ethnicity, or race. Women like Homura and Kyoko can fall in love with other women like Madoka and Sayaka respectively. We have the responsibility to stand up with people like them. This series is part of the reason I try to do that and more. I hope that many others to do the same.
Kiki’s Delivery Service carefully constructs a world where a girl’s agency is expected, accepted and supported, while Disney movies typically present a girl’s agency as unusual, forbidden, and denied. The difference between these two messages is that Kiki’s world anticipates and encourages her independence, while the women of Disney are typically punished for this.
For example, in The Little Mermaid Ariel wants to “live out of these waters,” but her father forbids her exploration of the human world and punishes this dream. Sea witch Ursula exploits Ariel’s desire to discover another world beyond her own as well. This is hardly an isolated incident.
Studio Ghibli This is guest post by Eugenia Andino previously appeared at her Web site (in Spanish) and is cross-posted with permission. The female protagonists in Studio Ghibli films have often been analysed as examples of feminist work; ranging from young women (like Nausicaa or Princess Mononoke) to little girls like Ponyo. The most popular […]
Written by Myrna Waldron. Nausicaa hears the bubbling healthy water inside a petrified tree Unlike the previous three reviews for this “retrospective,” I was going into this review almost completely blind. I had not seen Nausicaä before today, and only knew that it was a film with a strong female protagonist and a lot of flying […]
Written by Myrna Waldron. Howl’s Moving Castle travelling through the mountains The next film featured in my “Miyazaki Month” retrospective is Howl’s Moving Castle. It was the successor to Spirited Away, which was supposed to be Miyazaki’s Swan Song, but then again so was Princess Mononoke. Dude’s never going to retire, and that’s just fine. […]
Written by Myrna Waldron. Haku and Chihiro walk through a floral maze Spirited Away has a deserved reputation as Hayao Miyazaki’s Magnum Opus, and even managed to outgross Princess Mononoke at the Japanese box office. It’s also, to this date, the only traditionally animated non-Western animated feature to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Which […]
Written by Myrna Waldron. You will find few well-known directors as overtly feminist as Hayao Miyazaki. Of the 10 films he has directed, only two, The Castle of Cagliostro & Porco Rosso, have male protagonists. The others have dual male and female protagonists (Castle In The Sky, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo) or […]
Guest post written by Rosalind Kemp, previously appeared at Bitch Flicks on November 30, 2011. “For the people who used to be ten years old, and the people who are going to be ten years old.” — Director Hayao Miyazaki on Spirited Away The films of Studio Ghibli provide their viewers with a rich variety […]
This is a guest review by Jason Feldstein. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been one of my favorite stories for years now. Artists have used the storyline of a young girl finding herself in a magical world numerous times. If there is one version that resonates with me, it is a film called Spirited […]