5 Articles You Should Read Today

Although I generally try to avoid these kind of catch-all posts, I just can’t avoid it today for various reasons. Below is a list of articles I read today that should interest you.

Miyazaki and Feminism

Helen McCarthy has a post where she raises the notion that Hayao Miyazaki may not be the great feminist that many see him as. While it is generally accepted that he creates films with great, strong female characters, McCarthy argues that he created these characters more out of necessity that any real desire to improve the presence of females in anime.

Disney Take A Stand Against The Asylum Of Animation

Via: The Guardian

Bleeding Cool has this article reporting that Disney has finally decided to take on the knock-off films that are produced with an uncanny resemblance to their hits. Numerous titles including Braver, What’s Up and the Little Cars are all in the firing line as the company seeks to end their distribution. My thoughts? There are eejits out there who will considerany animation to be from Disney.

Of Mice and Ego

Coming by way of Michael Sporn is this review of Chuck Jones’ early career and his many cartoons featuring mice by Thad Komorowski. Naturally Sniffles is the main focus of attention, but the post itself is a great analysis of Jones’ style of directing and indeed the kind of stories and characters he used. Well worth a read.

Is Adventure Time the Weirdest Kid’s TV Show Ever?

British newspaper The Guardian takes a look at Adventure Time and doesn’t really come to any solid conclusion (but then we all know there are far weirder kids shows out there). Nonetheless it is a generally fawning piece that praises the show’s ability to place itself within “that sweet spot between pre-teen adoration and countercultural cool”, its awesome visuals and the fact that the characters are gradually aging as the show progresses.

Made by ABVH

This is perhaps one of the cooler tumblelogs devoted to the animated GIF that I’ve come across. Well worth a follow if you’re on Tumblr.

In Praise of the BFI Spirited Away book

Via: Good Reads

Admittedly (and ashamedly), the Spirited Away book by Andrew Osmond published by the British Film Institute (BFI) sat in my cart on Amazon for quite literally years before I finally got around to buying it. I know, I know, but that’s just the way it happened.

In any case, the wait was absolutely worth it. Far smaller in size than I had originally imagined, its dimensions are no indication of the stature of the writing. Presented as sort of an overarching summary of the plot intertwined with details of the production and overarching themes, the BFI Spirited Away book serves as a comprehensive guide to one of my very favourite films.

Delving deep into the beginnings of the production, Osmond teases out the reasons for its very existence; why Hayao Miyazaki decided to make it when he did, and why it stands as one of his best films to date. Analysis comes in the form of the various themes (environmental and social) running throughout the film as well as focusing on the character of Chihiro and her development during the course of the film.

Osmond has done a fine job of conveying the sometimes complex traits of the film that have confused many Western (and Japanese) audiences since the film debuted in 2001. He also does quite a good job when it comes to the background to the film, and to Miyazaki himself, going into some detail about his career to date and how is personal experiences helped shape the film.

Overall, the book is a definite must-read companion to the film. It does an excellent job of stripping away some of the layers and, at least for myself, has lead to a clearer understanding of the film. You can buy it on Amazon and consider it the best $15 book you buy this year.

Hayao Miyazaki: His FIlms In His Own Words

Hayao Miyazaki imageEmpire Magazine has a surprisingly insightful interview with Hayao Miyazaki which contains his own thoughts on his movies over the last 30 years or so.

Well worth a read for choice quotes like this:

Why did the lead character have to be female? Well, it doesn’t look truthful if the guy has power like that! Women are able to straddle both the real world and the other world — like mediums…..It isn’t the swordplay that Nausicäa is good at, it’s that she understands both the human world and the insect world. No animals feel danger in approaching her; she’s able to totally erase her sense of presence, existence. Males, they are aggressive, only in the human sphere — very shallow! (Laughs) So it had to be a female character.

H/T to Eddie White for tipping me off with his tweet 🙂