Hayao Miyazaki and the Art of Ambivalence | Big Joel


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Published: 2 years ago
In this video, I look at one of my favorite directors, Hayao Miyazaki. I start with Spirited Away and move through a good number of his movies. I pay careful attention to the way he engages with the feeling of ambivalence. This is an analysis of the moments that created these anime masterpieces.

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Thanks you have given me a more complex understanding of these movies. 😁 I haven’t seen them this way before.

21 hours ago

East Asian culture, particularly Japanese has mastered this art of “yin”. Saying so much with so little, allowing silence to speak volumes—and that’s why I love it so much. It provides so much depth and space for contemplation for the audience. “Trust and betrayal” the backstory behind Rurouni Kenshin provides an identical atmosphere. That’s why these films never get old, because there’s never quite a definitivity to it all, you can always look at it from another angle or find more depth

1 day ago

Snake Eyes Shirafuji

1 day ago

Generally I really love what you do, your analyses can be so spot on, but especially where fiction links with emotion you tend to miss points and miss-observe. In this instance too: out of all the things you wrongly ascribe (for instance the dark passengers on the train as business people, when they in no way resemble business people - with their sturdy, country-folk silhouets and big bags, whereas business people tend to dress with sharp angles and slim cases for luggage), your character assesment of Chihiro as being AT HEART "passive and maleable" is totally off the mark. She starts off as a weak, self-pitying child, but she develops very suddenly into an individual with distinct boundries and on-the-spot decision-making skills, her latent talent for self-preservation and self-establishment brought out suddenly by the traumatic experience of losing her parents. Your assesment of Chihiro goes directly against what Miyazaki says about the character of Chihiro himself in interviews: that she is a regular spoilt ten year old girl thrown into completely alien surroundings who has to buck up, go with her gut and show the world who she is in order to save herself. She's not maleable at all, she stands her ground against all the sucking and abusive agents around her - she's a talent, a force of nature, given how well she deals with all that is happening. She even surprises seasoned grown-ups around her (like Lin) with her speedy development. Chihiro is a deep, deep character, with a life, an interior and beliefs ALL her own. Taking a random train trip? This trip represents the death of her old child-self towards the dedication to the person she feels she now should become - that is why the expression on her face is... placid, eerie calmness?? No, her face is stern, look at that terse mouth!! I know exactly how she feels; she has no time for her fellow passengers with their own lives, dead or right here right now - she's got business to take care of. There's nothing ambivalent about this, this is Miyazaki helping us all out to be more courageous, strong people.
And then the thing about Howl: how can you say he is ambivalent about the war, when he almost dies trying to fight for the right outcome night after night, the King even hauling his Howling ass over to the castle because he broke his promise for being a lackey for the kingdom in return for the education in magic he received?
How can you say there is ambivalence amongst the audience of The Wind Rising when most of us acutely feel that there is a blindly ambitious man missing the love that life is made up out of, his beloved killing herself out of love for him because she realises her love's love for the miracle of mechanical flight is greater than the love for her.
Bruh, is you mad? Please check some documentaries of and interviews with Miyazaki, because he has a lot of beauty for you in all these films that you seem to be missing. I grant you the beauty of Miyazaki, even if in making all this beauty he treated his son rather bad and his wife still never sees him. Lord knows he gave up a lot just to give you all this "ambivalence".

2 days ago

A quite brilliant summation for a an old lady fan- trying to teach about AMBIVALENCE. Thank you.

5 days ago

Cuz ambivalance is what reality is.

5 days ago

Hands down my favorite Miyazaki film. 💗

6 days ago

I’m a Japanese, I come to YouTube to interact with foreigners, and they give me all sorts or racist comments.(e.g, I thought you ate dogs(which is not true)).
But by the way we are all deeply moved by this pure two minutes of no dialogue, I can tell that we are all of one kind.
I know that people here are more appreciative of Japan, but I hope there will be more kindness in the world anywhere I go.
To those who have read this comment, thanks for bearing with my poor English, I wish you all a good day:)

1 week ago

the only true evil in the princess monokoke from my personal stand point is the unseen threat... a catalyst to all the bad in the film yet unseen he is always. The emperor who in his greedy quest for immortality brought war to iron town and then was the catalyst of Nago being shot and transforming into a corrupted beast. he took advantage of people and in essence makes him the Ambivalent villain. No one on screen is evil but the emperor truly is.


So full of himself that characters seek forgiveness from HIM to peer upon the Nightwalker and not the Nightwalker himself.


I think its brilliant miyazaki made me hate one with a face unseen for his destruction and manipulative narcissistic greedy ways....

1 week ago

I love this. This is what I love about so much anime, the lack of a need for black and white thinking when it comes to protagonists/antagonists, or creating artificial momentum in the form of non stop action sequences and witty one liners, not all information is spoonfed to you and not everything HAS to be explained and there is just this mature acceptance of weird shit that is going on around Chihiro and there must be some rhyme and reason to it even if she isn't privvy to it straight off the bat instead of neverending over the top reactions to everything constantly. It creates fantastic immersion.

1 week ago

Dude this is a genius observation. Thank you for explaining my childhood.

2 weeks ago

Cbt

2 weeks ago

I know this is an older video, but if you're still looking for ideas, you could do an analysis of the Ghibli movies based around a comparison/contrast of the films based on directors. i.e., Miyasaki vs Takahara vs Kondo.

3 weeks ago

I'm convinced that Miyazaki is a pacifist anticapitalist. Change my mind.

3 weeks ago

That's what really touches my heart about Miyazaki films. Besides from the beautiful breath taking animation, there was somthing else, a quality of the story telling that calmly causes you to reflect on life. Thank you for putting it into words and making this video.

3 weeks ago

love this, make more!!

3 weeks ago

Lovely

3 weeks ago

The Western mind tends towards the object or character and the effects they have on their surroundings, while the Eastern mind tends toward the surroundings and the effect they have on the object or character.

Because of this, Western minds create more linear stories for the object or character with the Eastern stories being more holistic.

US movie culture has a particular tendency towards clear stereotyped characters that are either good or evil within formulaic plots that must have a happy ending, because it is assumed that any ambiguity will dissatisfy, unsettle or even disturb the audience.

The Australian movie 'Picnic At Hanging Rock' initially worried US distributors for that reason, and the lukewarm box office for 'Children Of Men' may also be due to an unresolved ending.

Luckily it turns out that audiences of either cultures are not always stuck in their respective ways.

4 weeks ago

She's growing up; becoming more courageous. It's part of the movie's theme, facing things head on.

1 month ago

this made me appreciate these movies even more than i already do

1 month ago

Now that I know what ambivalence is, I don't think I like it (in movies). In art for example it's beautiful, but... How do you expect me to care about characters if they themselves don't even care about anything? Just 'going with it' in obscure settings sounds really unwise and, the movie having ended with almost nothing explained, is a bit more irritating than awe-inspiring. It is kinda gorgeous tho. But it just bothers me.

1 month ago

Its just so beutiful i am crying

1 month ago

Regarding Princess Mononoke, Eboshi is wrong. Flat out, unambiguously, wrong. She's presented as sympathetic and placed in a difficult position, but that's of her own making. She's never portrayed as the outright villain, Jigo fills that role a little more overtly, but if she had never shown up to Iron town, the conflict wouldn't have started, the dead men and animals, and the forest spirit would still be "alive".

Eboshi, sympathetic and likeable as she is, never accepts that she's in the wrong, never takes reaponsibility for the death she has caused until it almost literally bites her in the ass. Even then she's not repentant, she's just, "well, we will start over and rebuild."

Ashitaka takes a side, because he realizes that Eboshi is wrong. He does everything he can to stop Eboshi's plan to kill the Forest Spirit, short of killing her; I mean he throws his sword at her. That seems like someone who has motivation for action.

1 month ago

Also, https://vimeo.com/357117766

1 month ago

Wow your video is so beautifuly explain, thank you 💜

1 month ago

"My son is a mistake" Hayao

1 month ago

It's called ma in Japanese. Emptiness. The moments in between. It's meant to let the story breath and have dimension not just tension.

1 month ago

This is also my favorite scene and I couldn't tell why, thank you for this video!!

1 month ago

I really enjoyed this video. I'm discovering Miyazaki movies because I'm tired of the western entertainment industry and their desperate clamoring race to capture and hold their audience's attention at all costs, as well as trying to shove their values down our throats. I love that Miyazaki movies can have these quiet, contemplative scenes, and that they respect their audience enough to let us draw our own conclusions about the story rather than inserting a character's opinion in the middle of everything. The movies play out like there's no audience at all, but in doing so they speak all the more powerfully to our hearts. It's rather like the way real life works.

1 month ago

that girl is fainted lmao

1 month ago

The kid shadow figure looks more like Haku

1 month ago