[DWJ] Re: Heyer and Ghibli (now with Mononoke spoilers)

Kyra Jucovy klj at sccs.swarthmore.edu
Sat May 12 22:17:57 EDT 2007


On Sat, 12 May 2007 minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

> My own personal favourite after *Totoro* is *Princess Mokonake* -- quite
> apart from being extraordinarily beautiful and having probably the
> cutest small irrelevant creatures ever, it's the one I found most
> thought-provoking.  Nothing in it is cut-and-dried, black-and-white,
> good-and-bad, nobody is quite what they appear superficially to be, and
> there are more small important twists than I can readily keep track of.
>
> Minnow

This statement actually brings up a question that I have been wondering
about, well, ever since I first saw _Princess Mononoke_ seven years ago,
which I will now ask you or any other list members who want to chime in.
I should probably note that I am asking this question out of respect - DWJ
List members are so intelligent and thoughtful that I assume that they
have good reasons for saying things, which they can readily explain to
me, unlike some of my friends ;-).  But my question does involve spoilers
for the movie, so here is some spoiler space:

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So, what you say about _Princess Mononoke_ sounds very familiar to me -
it's a claim or similar to a claim that I remember people making to me
before I saw the movie, and one that I have heard many times since.  But I
have never understood this claim.  I think I've seen the movie three times
now, and, each time, it has seemed very obvious to me that Jigo is the
villain of the movie, a completely cut-and-dried bad guy who only does
horrible things and is not at all sympathetic (maybe he is sometimes
comically appealing, but that doesn't actually make him a sympathetic
character, just a funny villain).  So what am I missing here?  (I admit
that the last time I saw the movie was five years ago, so I may well not
be remembering something.  But the reaction I'm talking about is the one I
had every single time I saw the movie, immediately following seeing it.).

I had this conversation with my best friend (who is actually a Miyazaki
skeptic too but likes _Mononoke_), and she claimed that people consider
the movie to depict everything in shades of grey  because Jigo is a minor
character.  But that doesn't make sense to me.  Of course, if you have a
black-and-white evil character in your story, he isn't going to be one of
the protagonists.  Just because the protagonists are more sympathetic than
the villain but not absolutely perfect does not make the movie
particularly unusual.  Sure, there are stories out there with completely
perfect protagonists, but there are also a lot of stories with imperfect
protagonists, so I don't see why _Mononoke_ is seen as some kind of
innovation.  When people claim that it is special because it is not
black-and-white, to what exactly are they comparing it?

Thanks for any light you can shed on this question!

ObDWJ: What I like about the movie is not the human interactions but the
depiction of the nature spirits.  Combined with my fondness for _Totoro_
and _Spirited Away_, this makes me think that my favorite thing about
Miyazaki is his depictions of the numinous.  So for a long time I have
been thinking that, if Miyazki made a DWJ-film based entirely on my
preferences, it would be _Spellcoats_.  _Drowned Ammett_, and, more
recently, _The Merlin Conspiracy_ and _The Pinhoe Egg_ might work, too,
but _Spellcoats_ is my favorite of those four books.

						---Kyra


---
"I was there when Lacan first set his guitar on fire.  I was there in
Florida when Walter Benjamin flashed his willy to the crowd.  But I'm
losing my edge to the kids."
					---Luther Blissett, _The Valve_




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