Animation Articles: March 22, 2020

A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 22nd of March, 2020.

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The Podcast: Episode 3 with Helen Haswell

In this month’s podcast, I chat with Helen Haswell. Helen is a PhD candidate at Queens University in Belfast, who’s area of research happens to be the merger of Disney and Pixar that took place back in 2006. We discuss that, and lots more in this episode. Just excuse the error in the opening; this is the third episode, not the fourth!

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Genuine Storytelling Versus Naked Commercialism

Almost all films are a commercial venture to some extent but not all are created equal, as the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Disney demonstrate. Both make successful films, but only one does it to genuinely tell stories.

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The Animation Anomaly Podcast Episode 3

The third Animation Anomaly podcast episode. Post-website crash, post-MBA and only on the third attempt! I swear I’m slowly getting the hang of things.

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Flixist Looks At Spirited Away But Neglects One Very Important Thing

Matthew Razak over at Flixist has a great in-depth look at Hayao Miyazaki’s seminal 2001 film, Spirited Away. That article is well worth a few minutes of your time as it discusses many aspects present in that film that are sadly lacking in many contemporary American productions.

However, while Razak focuses a lot on the animation, the direction and the over-arching themes of the film, he almost completely neglects to discuss the characters.

Yes, he talks about Chihiro and her transformation from a spoiled little girl into a more mature adolescent and his analysis is quite good in that regard. However, he glosses over the supporting characters that help her in that regard.

Like Haku, the faithful, if resentful, servant of the bath house owner Yubaba who is on a quest for self-redemption and rediscovering his identity, or Lin, the worker at the bath house who teaches Chihiro some of the realities of working life. Not to mention Yubaba herself, show imparts a tough impression of the businesswomen and her strikingly contrasting sister, Zeniba.

If it were not for characters such as these, as well as the multitude of supporting characters, from river gods to no-faces, Spirited Away would be an altogether duller film. Visuals and direction can greatly improve a film, but if the characters themselves aren’t complete, the film will feel stifled and wooden.

That is where Miyazaki excels in his films; the characters are never boring, or repetitive or simple. They are complex, flawed and plentiful; just like real people. Their importance should not be overlooked when analysing a film.

 

 

It’s Now 10 Years Since the World Was First Spirited Away

 Via: Inside Pulse

Today marks ten whole years since Studio Ghibli first shared Spirited Away with the world. Thus far it is the only foreign film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which says a lot about it and its success with foreign audiences.

Spirited Away is one of my favourite films for the simple reason that it has a lot going for it. A great coming-of-age story, a quirky yet layered set of characters, fantastic animation that stays true to traditional methods while incorporating digital technology and a superb score by Joe Hisaishi all combine to make it a very enjoyable film yet at the same time remain an emotional tale.

Its hard to believe its now 10 years old but it is. A true testament to the deftness and skill of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. John Lasseter also deserves an honourable mention for handling the better than usual English dub.

Oliver Good over at The National has a nice write-up on how Spirited Away helped break the mould for Japanese movies.

 

 

People I Respect: Hayao Miyazaki

This is the second in a series of posts in which I explain why I respect certain people in the animation industry and why you should do the same.

Hayao Miyazaki imageDo you really need me to explain why I respect the greatest animation director alive today?

How about a long and varied history of making animated films of the best quality? How about being the single biggest force in helping anime films attain popularity in the US? (Yeah, Akira helped too but Hayao’s films appeal to everyone).

Hayao Miyazaki’s output at Studio Ghibli has mesmerized the world for over 25 years and shows no sign of stopping. That is not why I respect the man though.

No, I respect him for his devotion to animation as a storytelling medium. Much more than that is his devotion to traditional animation as a storytelling medium. In an age when the computer has conquered production, he remains lovingly committed to the paper and pencil.

Besides that, Miyazaki’s films remain fascinating studies in character. Yes, the animation is superb, but that is always a sideshow to the characters and their story, on whose level we always see the film.

Hayao Miyazki is more than worthy to be included on the list of people I respect.

How Animators Should Be Managed

Hayao Miyazaki imageVia: Collider.com

According to Hayao Miyazaki:

I am an animator. I feel like I’m the manager of a animation cinema factory. I am not an executive. I’m rather like a foreman, like the boss of a team of craftsmen. That is the spirit of how I work.

And that’s the way it should be. Craftsmen only need a light hand to guide them and someone else taking care of client-relations, budgets and the like. There is no reason to micro-manage someone who knows what they are doing.

If only more studios were run this way, just imagine what things would be like…

Hayao Miyazaki in The New Yorker

In 2005, Margaret Talbot wrote an article on the one and only Hayao Miyazaki for the The New Yorker magazine. It’s an excellent profile of perhaps the greatest animation director alive. It’s a bit lengthy, but you will be richly rewarded should you take the time to read it.