Announcing the Hayao Miyazaki blog-a-thon

Hayao Miyazaki self-portrait, December 2004.

To call Hayao Miyazaki the “Japanese Walt Disney,” as many do, is to miss the point. Disney wasn’t actually a particularly gifted animation writer or director, and he didn’t actually direct most of the classics—Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo and the rest—that bear his name. His gifts were those of the visionary and the impresario. Miyazaki’s got some of that as well—he just designed a Tokyo clock; he has helped make his co-founded Studio Ghibli one of the most well-known and financially successful in Japan; the studio’s museum has much of the hands-on whimsy and spectacular charm of Disneyland.

Unlike Disney, however, Miyazaki is primarily a filmmaker. Over the past thirty years, there hasn’t been a more nimble, more socially conscious, more graceful, or more humane animator than Miyazaki. His oeuvre is one of the most wide-ranging and dynamic of any filmmaker—Japanese or otherwise, animator or otherwise—and yet his work is immediately recognizable. He’s written and directed slapstick comedies, social realist parables, mythological fantasies, and surreal dreamscapes. His work is so beautiful that it sometimes hurts the eyes. His characters are complex, and their relationships with other characters and their own environments can be even more complicated. In such films as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke, his compositions and narrative structures can be so challenging as to approach the avant-garde, but he’s never less than accessible.

For these reasons and many more, I propose a Hayao Miyazaki blog-a-thon. I propose it for May 12-14, and I hope you’ll join me in writing about the man and his work. All aspects of Miyazaki—from his prickly personality, to his work on 1970s TV shows, to work that he’s written but not directed, to (of course) his movies—are fair game. Neophytes and dissenters are welcome. Send me links to your essays, and I’ll make sure to post them here.

So, May 12-14, 2006. Miyazaki festival. Pass it on, people.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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8 Responses to Announcing the Hayao Miyazaki blog-a-thon

  1. girish says:

    Great idea, Walter!
    I’ve also linked to this post to help spread the word.
    I’ll be buried neck deep in final exams that week and weekend and alas, won’t be able to join you. But I look forward to all the reading afterwards.
    (I’ll also be sending the blog-a-thon link to my mom in India–one of her all-time fave flicks is Porco Rosso.)

  2. Hooray! I’ll definitely be joining this one, probably with SPIRITED AWAY — if not that, something.

  3. Edmund Yeo says:

    Absolutely wonderful. This is the kind of thing I can get involved in easily (… compared to writing about, say, Robert Altman). If I can remember, I will definitely whip up a post about every single Miyazaki film he did after he started Studio Ghibli.

  4. A. Horbal says:

    I think that I will write something about Porco Rosso

  5. Walter! Great idea! I’m going to be pretty booked up that week, so I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to come up with something, but if I can I’d love to take another look at KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE. My girls are TOTORO, KIKI and SPIRITED AWAY fans!
    At the very least, expect a shout-out on my blog within the next day or so!

  6. Tuwa says:

    My post is up. Over the last month I’d had little more than a link to here in the draft post; and then today I realized that, yes, this was today. Oops. http://tuwa.blogspot.com/2006/05/stray-cats-and-cat-bus.html
    I look forward to seeing the rest of the entries. He does some remarkable, warm, humane work.

  7. Tuwa says:

    Sorry, the URL got truncated when I posted it but didn’t link it. (That “preview” button, it lets you preview?) ^_^ The post is here.

  8. Edmund Yeo says:

    Due to the fact that I’ve started the production of my short film, I might need to postpone my piece for the Blogathon a wee bit later than originally planned. Darn.

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