The movies created by legendary director, Hayao Miyazaki, are high examples of what is possible in art. His animations embrace the fantastical but also transmute it, adding his own tincture of quirkiness and absurdism by bending concepts in a way that Lewis Carrol might have envied. The worlds of Miyazaki are many: there’re chaotic, post-apocalyptic realities ravaged by giant mutant insects; they’re tribal-feudal lands where warriors fight mythical beasts and ‘proto-industrialists’ armed with early medieval weapons; and they’re also fantasies involving children encountering hidden worlds and forest spirits.
For over 40 years, Miyazaki has released an impressive range of films that explore different genres, delving into sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, and even supernatural realms. His stories play on our curiosities with a host of incredible concepts such as reclusive wizards, squired ‘witches-for-hire’, forest spirits, sentient fires, floating castles and ‘worlds that exist beyond the everyday physical world.’ Throughout all these films, recurrent themes often thread cohesively through many storylines, including strong female characters on challenge quests to prove themselves, coming of age tales, magical curses that may or may not be broken, the destruction of the natural world, and a free-spirited sense of wonder symbolized through love, hope, and youthful innocence.
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The Recurring Themes in the Surreal Imaginarium of Hayao Miyazaki
Indie Publisher and author of Fiction, J.K.A. Short also writes on music, games, and other creative entertainment