Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation

Helen McCarthy

Published by Stone Bridge Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 1880656418 / ISBN 13: 9781880656419
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Synopsis: Artist-writer-director-producer Hayao Miyazaki is often called "the Walt Disney of Japan." His animated theatrical features have been smash hits in Japan, and many, including My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service, are already familiar to American audiences. Now, with Disney-Miramax's imminent release of Princess Mononoke,, Miyazaki's masterwork and one of the top-grossing film in all Japanese history, this "animation master" is about to take America and the world by storm.

Mixing first-hand interview and personal insights with critical evaluations of art, plot, production qualities, and literary themes, McCarthy provides a film-by-film appraisal that examines technique as well as message. She reveals Miyazaki to be not just a master of the art of animation, but a meticulous craftsman who sees his work as a medium for shaping the humanistic and environmental concerns of our times.

An overview of the artist and his early career is followed by in-depth examinations of seven major Miyazaki films: Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Castle of Cagliostro, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, and Princess Mononoke. Included are design and technical data, story synopses and character sketches, personnel and filmography data, and critical evaluation. Illustrations throughout, in color and black and white, show the detail and vigor of Miyazaki's art.

Written for anime fans as well as students of film, literature, and popular culture, McCarthy's book raises animation criticism to a whole new level and is an essential guide to the work of a world-class filmmaker.

London-based Helen McCarthy is author of Anime! A Beginner's Guide to Japanese Animation, The Anime Movie Guide, and (with Jonathan Clements) The Erotic Anime Movie Guide. She appears frequently on radio and TV and at conferences around the world.

Review: Director Hayao Miyazaki ranks among the most interesting and original figures currently working in world animation. His charming children's films My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service enjoy a rapidly growing audience in the U.S., and his brilliant Princess Mononoke, which broke box-office records in Japan, was released theatrically in the U.S. in November of 1999. Although storybook adaptations and a few Japanese volumes about individual films have appeared in the U.S., a major study of his work in English is long overdue. Miyazaki's many fans will enjoy Helen McCarthy's Hiyao Miyazaki and Mark Schilling's Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan's Most Popular Film of All Time, but neither is fully satisfactory.

McCarthy, who has written extensively about anime, offers an overview of the artist's career in animation and manga. She discusses each film in detail, with character descriptions and plot synopses, but she writes as a fan (rather than a critic or historian), and her text overflows with superlatives. Miyazaki is an exceptionally talented director, and his work merits a more discerning evaluation. McCarthy is also surprisingly careless about details: the ill-fated Japanese-American collaboration, Little Nemo, was in the works far longer than six years; and she describes the boar-god Nago in Mononoke as being wounded by a "ball of stone" when it's a actually an iron bullet. The latter may seem like nitpicking, but the hero's search for the source of the iron sets the plot of the film in motion. Finally, like Schilling's Princess Mononoke, Hiyao Miyazaki would have benefited from more careful proofreading; for example, McCarthy misspells the name of animation giant Winsor McCay. The extensive, but by no means complete, bibliography is a useful resource. --Charles Solomon

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Title: Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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