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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I loved the video and it was another opportunity for me to feel the beauty of Ghibli movies. Thank you

3 days ago

The characters generally have reactions leading to actions. I believe ‘ambiguity’ might be closer to what you’re positing. But maybe I’m splitting hairs.. I don’t know, I’m ambivalent about it ;)

3 days ago

Surprised the ending to Porco Rosso wasn't mentioned. Embodies this idea wholly and is beautiful.

3 days ago

Spirited away was my favourite as a kid.

4 days ago

“She doesn’t even blink.”

blinks

5 days ago

I find we simply get lost in those films. Sometimes we get lost in life. If something lost is not later found, it will be replaced. The self is replaced when it is lost. The self is an illusion (a perception), the state of being lost is the answer and the truth of who we are. Nothing. We are all actors playing out a perceived role in a society of individuals with the same fundamental struggle; finding out who or what we and everything else is and what that means we, and all other things are supposed to do. It's all nonsense, but we find sense. That's what we do. And then we just exist within our little realities, until we are lost once more and need to find sense and an identity once again. It's the fundamental struggle of existence as we know it, and it will keep going unless we stop, and that means letting go and letting things be as they are as we simply have no control over anything... which also means we are bound to succumb to the struggle of meaning after having understood it and in doing so you forget. If we lived forever we wouldn't, because we would lose ourselves over and over again as we consciously exist and develop perceptions. I'm just begining to ramble at this point so...
I find this video puts some of the ambivalence you described about spirited away into perspective:
http://youtubesmov.com/mov/8lUDpWq1yOx/vid.html?

6 days ago

Thanks for the crappy review. But I highly doubt that you possess the capacity to fully understand Hayao Miyazaki movies. Nice try anyways I will give you a thumbs down and an unsubscribe. But thank you for wasting 12 minutes of my valuable time

1 week ago

im two years late, but this was such a beautiful video, i hope to see more of this in the future !!

1 week ago

Ambivalent: having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

For the record I think the characters themselves aren’t ambivalent. It’s the audience that feels ambivalent about the characters because they can’t put those characters into clear boxes.

The characters themselves are not ambivalent — they have their own sets of beliefs and views and when faced with different situations act accordingly to those beliefs. The thing is we as the audience are not acquainted with their beliefs and hence rarely expect them to do what they do or be the way they are — hence we feel like we can’t ‘pin’ them down, are undecided about which camp those characters fall into in our minds — this leads to us feeling ambivalent about the characters.

Miyazaki portrays his characters very realistically — which is to say his characters are complex and multifaceted, some wise some shortsighted and many of them in various stages of maturity and growth, and we get to follow their journeys of making mistakes and growing. There’s no rush to pin judgment on these characters because they are still changing and growing and being fleshed out as the movie goes on.

That’s very true to what we tend to see in real life — people rarely act in a way reminiscent of a true hero or villain or fit neatly into little boxes; it’s only in movies that we tend to see that.

That’s why Miyazaki’s movies are so poetic — his characters behave in a way that reminds you of the people interact with in daily life; yourself even (the pacing of the movie also helps with that). The characters on screen are not caricatures, they are you and me.

1 week ago

No yeah, that scene THOROUGHLY creeped me out as a kid

1 week ago

I feel like this is what made chihiro such a special character to me as a child, and more importantly the movie. Because I didn’t see her reaction to anything, I felt as if I took on that role for her and was even more involved in the story. Like it was me experiencing that world

1 week ago

Sorry I missed this video when it came out.

Miyazaki was deeply affected by the war. It rings throughout his works, and you cannot truly address the ambivalence you speak of in his works without this understanding.

In a lot of ways, the cost of war being greater than it’s rewards is a near constant in his works. He shows this through characters on both sides of conflicts each having redeeming qualities while the conflict both tears them and what they hope to win from said conflict to shreds.

Even his peaceful works ring with this. Take Kiki’s Delivery Service for example, where the culture and mixed technical levels give a subtle but poignant look at what Europe could have been without the wars.

1 week ago

mr.mathews*: *heavy breathing

1 week ago

In the introduction you mention "business men" getting off the train and going somewhere we do not know. These are not business men. They are shadows of blue collar workers, specifically, African Americans. This scene is Miyazaki's tribute to the Great Migration of early 20th century America. During and after the Great Depression African Americans left the south in huge numbers. They were hoping for a better life in the big cities in the north - Chicago, New York, St Louis, Detroit and so on. They were fleeing poverty, racism, and injustice in hopes of finding work by supporting the war effort. A chance to change their unfortunate circumstances by building a better life for their families.



This is also one of my favorite scenes in Miyzaki's work. It is a calm meditative reflection on the sadness and suffering caused by racism in the world. Consistent with eastern ideas of good and evil, it does not beat us over the head with a moral or indignant message. Instead, Miyazaki chooses to simply paint a picture (and a beautiful one at that) of a quiet train ride, a brief and quiet ghost-like moment. A sad yet somehow hopeful moment in our history. He truly is a master of this art form.


Thanks for the video.

1 week ago

I found out by looking this video, that the animators of Neon Genesis Evangelion loved Spirited Away and used the same train in their scene where Shinji talks with himself.

2 weeks ago

now do ''place promised in our early days"

2 weeks ago

Hold up I haven’t seen it yet

2 weeks ago

Hayao has made me less judgmental. I love seeing all perspectives. Minnie Driver played such a great Lady Eboshi.

2 weeks ago

Every good novelist embraces ambiguity and ambivalence to shade their characters. It's what makes a story great. Disney films bludgeon audiences with completely unrealistic characterizations and good-bad binaries. It's (part of) what makes Ghibli films works of art, whereas Disney's films can only be called entertainment.

2 weeks ago

Please make your video as long as you'd like, I enjoy them very much, express all you can, its priceless :)

2 weeks ago

"Okay so this video is getting kinda long..." he says, before the 8 minute mark.
I've seen all Lord of the Rings movies back to back. I've sat through 1-hour video essays or documentaries.
I have binged series, 20 minutes long, 12 episodes, back to back.
How should I feel about your statement? I don't know, but I feel a bit insulted. I have not lost my attention span.

2 weeks ago

1:52 "She dosen't even blink!"
Literally blinks 1 second later

2 weeks ago

You made me love Spirited Away even more, and it's one of my favorite movies.

2 weeks ago

Could you talk about the balance Ghibli films have between stunning beauty, and reality? I feel like Ghibli films are so much more beautiful than real life, but it never seems supernatural (unless it is of course) but rather innate and almost unremarkable.

2 weeks ago

fainted

2 weeks ago

I felt such Western point of view from this vid. so interesting

2 weeks ago

Honestly a lot of Japanese movies and books does that. It is kinda weird in a beginning but after a time you get used to it

2 weeks ago

I am late to the game on this vid but personal opinion if anyone cares: I never saw any of Miyazaki’s characters as lacking strong opinions or personalities or reactions. Rather Miyazaki’s storytelling style relies on cues from cinematography and the environment of his stories. His characters aren’t neutral ciphers for the audience. They’re just very Japanese in their presentation. Not everything is explained through dialogue including the characters inner thoughts. For example: Ashitaka isn’t unbiased. He strongly empathizes with the spirits and gods and the townspeople. He’s not neutral. He has a stance and that is peace. But he listens and takes in everything. But his verdict still stands: they all need to live in peace or the world will continue to be cursed by hatred. And he doesn’t always says this outright. His inner state of mind tends to be in congruence to the environment around him whether it’s the weather or how the pacing is structured. It’s almost as if we’re in his mind as we’re watching him and his story play out.
This is not to say Ghibli films lack ambiguity they most certainly are ambiguous. But the characters do have a life of their own. It’s just that Japanese attitudes towards life and others tends to emphasize strong awareness of the world around you and other people. Individuals aren’t separate even if they conflict with others and the world. The liminality is in identity and the need to compromise with the world rather than conquer it.

3 weeks ago

One way train symbolizes controversy between City and Village. Previously people live and travel in both ways, but today only old people finish their lives in villages, and all young people chose living in the city’s (one way direction), all who stayed will disappear (they almost disappeared already). It’s one of the biggest problem of our community this days.

Sorry for my bad English.

3 weeks ago

Ambivalence is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

3 weeks ago