NOCs of the Roundtable: Miyazaki Memories

Last weekend, Studio Ghibli announced that it’s founder, award-winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, was retiring from making movies. For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time Miyazaki has “retired” (he’s like the Jay-Z of the animation game), but there definitely seems to be an air of finality to this announcement. If The Wind Rises ends up being his final film, it will be the cap to a long, illustrious, and brilliant career.

After the jump, several of The Nerds of Color reflect on what Miyazaki’s movies have meant to them.

Julie Kang

For reasons I cannot recall now, I was fortunate enough to see an undubbed My Neighbor Totoro as a 5th or 6th grader in the theater. It was my first Miyazaki film, and still my favorite. Miyazaki’s ability to portray the wonder and glory of childhood imagination without a wisp of condescension or schmaltz made “Totoro” a masterpiece, one of the best films ever created, animated or non-animated.

(Now that I think about it, “Totoro” must have impacted me on a deeper level than I thought because my husband is a dead ringer for Mei and Satsuki’s dad, and my daughter is Mei incarnate. Interesting…)

Junko Goda

My first Miyazaki obsession was Taiyou no Ouji, Horusu (aka The Little Norse Prince), circa 1968. It was Takahata’s debut feature and Miyazaki was one of the animators. What compelled me the most as a kid was the fight scenes. Horusu had this axe on a rope and he would skillfully throw it and chop up the enemy wolves chasing after him. I obviously didn’t grow up on no Bambi. I watched 15 year old boys tear shit up with an axe.

After that, was Nausicaa. This inspired me to pursue my path as a veterinarian, until I realized that I was more of a creative rather than a scientist. When I got a hold of the original manga that Miyazaki had created, it became a bible for my life: to strive to acquire knowledge, be more empathetic, to have an open mind, and to always strive for peace beyond the human instinct of anger.

Jenn Fang

Sorry this isn’t very witty, but I loved Spirited Away.


I guess I don’t really have much else to say other than it (along with his other works) is a revolutionary movie that introduced modern American audiences to anime as an art form, and not just as entertainment.

Nelson Wong

I saw Miyazaki in person at SDCC’s Hall H in 2009 for the Ponyo presentation. I waited through two hours to get into Hall H and three hours of previous panels that I wasn’t all that interested in just to see him. He was introduced by John Lasseter. When Miyazaki came out on stage the whole Hall H audience gave him a standing ovation, and it was awesome.

What proceeded after was a Q&A between Lasseter and Miyazaki. It was a memorable moment to see the master in person, certainly once-in-a-lifetime for me.

LaShawn Wanak

I remember going to see Only Yesterday at the Art Institute of Chicago during a film festival. I’d been blown away by Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, but Only Yesterday seemed to speak to me the most — an office lady treasuring the memories of her childhood. When Disney starting acquiring Miyazaki films, I was excited, until I learned that though Disney holds the license, there’s a good chance it won’t be released here. Something about it being “too Japanese,” and some not so Disney-friendly things such as preteens discussing menstruation and a father slapping his daughter.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, but as of last month I am the proud owner of a blu-ray copy of Only Yesterday. And it’s just as beautiful as I remember!