Dear Hayao Miyazaki
A few moons ago I had a tummy full of baby causing unlimited insomnia. After being ordered to bed-rest I took to the telly – time killing conveniences such as Netflix and Instagram were still as foreign as a whinge-free pregnant woman.
I flicked and I flicked and I flicked some more until I came across a pretty hillside scene with Japanese writing spread across it.
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE
I’d always enjoyed anime and was an avid fan of Black Butler, conveniently aired just before midnight, so I was familiar with the format. But something was very different about this film.
It was stunning. It was hypnotic. I couldn’t take my eyes from it and I didn’t want it to end. It had Christian Bale. It had bacon and eggs cooked on a talking fire. It was just yummo all round.
After I had my son I continued my obsession with Miyazaki films, soon hunting down any I could get my hands on. Much like Star Wars, my son had little to no choice but to love them too as it was usually the only thing playing in the house at one point. My daughter having known nothing but the voices of Howl, Sophie, Sasuke, Ponyo and Liam Neesan, soon developed her own favourites too. And there was so much to discover!
Kiki, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, Princess Mononke, The Cat Returns, Whisper of the Heart and My Neighbour Totoro were on an endless loop in the early days of just her and I at home during the day. When the weather was putting on a showstopper outside there we were, huddled on the couch in the middle of Summer like it was an Antarctic winter. I actually willed shitty weather on so I could justify the amount of pyjama days the two of us were having. It’s one thing for a 3 year old to strut around in a onesie for 18 hours straight, quite another for a middle aged woman to validate why she’s prepping dinner in her nightie at 3:30 in the afternoon.
That seems a monlithia ago now.
Who would of thought that just one random pregnant flick of the remote, would have our entire family crushing heavily on such a thing! My mother inlaw made a lovely observation of the films. The slow pace was refreshing compared to many Western animations and the real life comparisons and focus on the details of every day life was rather joyful. Plus she liked the fact that they didn’t hype her grandchildren up – as the other crap they were watching at the time seemed to do.
Both my kids took a laminated collage of Ponyo for their news topics. They were so thrilled, but both times told me of their initial deflation, because no one in the class knew what they were talking about… except and thankfully – a little boy with Malaysian parents and a Japanese girl. They started their own little fan club that day and Ponyo became the latest playground craze only the cool kids were in on.
I too would rarely share my Miyazaki love with others as I’d get way too many scrunched up faces like I was actually talking Japanese. In a world of stunning Disney animations and catchy tunes, selling the idea of an adolescent, pancake loving witch who has to make her way in the world is a bit of a hard sell for the average Mum to wrap her head around. The few moments I have come across fellow fans, is always so joyful!
A chick was in the line at Red Dot of all places and I looked down at her ankle and lo and behold there was Totoro and his little umbrella looking back at me. I couldn’t help myself. She had the most glorious mane of fluorescent pink hair, so I reasoned she would be open to a random praising of her ankle art.
Her face lit up when I mentioned it and she proceeded to share her plans for other tattoos in honour of the great Miyazaki. We got talking about the isolation of our fanhood in WA and it was a deliciously freaky deaky moment that generated a genuine joy, not only between us but people around us suddenly began smiling at our sweet, childish enthusiasm over “cartoons”.
Such beautiful artistry and someone to admire and learn from when the act of creating seems laboriously tedious instead of a privilege.
If I have but one gripe with these films – it’s the weight gain! For every Miyazaki movie we would watch my daughter would demand we eat of the same menu as her beloved characters.
MOVIE: HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE
FOOD: Bacon, eggs and crusty bread, occasionally sweet pastries
FAVOURITE QUOTE REPEATED A BILLION TIMES: “I’m starving… I hate potatoes… I hate fish too… Pay up!”
MOVIE: KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE
FOOD: Baked goods but mainly PANCAKES! We ate sooooo many!
FAVOURITE QUOTE REPEATED A BILLION TIMES: “Jiji, if nobody comes in, I’m gonna have to eat pancakes forever and be fat, fat, FAT! And what am I supposed to do about that?”
FOOD: Ramen, ham sandwiches, ice cream… like every… damned… day at one point! Miyazaki’s exquisite details made not only my kids hungry, but me too! Nothing tastes better than a huge bowl of ramen noodles with egg slices and ham while watching Ponyo and Sasuke mowing down their bowls. I don’t even like boiled eggs!
FAVOURITE QUOTE REPEATED A BILLION TIMES: “HAMMMMMM!!”
MOVIE: MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO
FOOD: Sushi, rice, bento, cucumbers
FAVOURITE QUOTE REPEATED A BILLION TIMES: The entire theme song and anything Mei said or did. “I’m off to run some errands!” was her favourite, she even had a similar satchel and outfit and off she’d go outside and come back 5 seconds later with bark and some poor bug she’d caught. My daughter looked like Mei, thought she was Mei, acted like Mei and at one point we even started calling her Mei!
MOVIE: SPIRITED AWAY
FOOD: Dumplings, rice, tea cake
FAVOURITE QUOTE REPEATED A BILLION TIMES: “Water?” “The radish spirit!” Most of Lin’s quotes.
The gorgeous memories generated from our families love of Miyazaki movies goes on forever. When I told my kids I was writing this blog post, our weekend of exploring our state turned into a slug fest Miyazaki marathon! Maybe if we jimmy up an outdoor cinema in the backyard I won’t get the guilt’s about my Miyazaki mushrooms.