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

Ika Willis blake at gaudaprime.co.uk
Sun May 13 05:43:23 EDT 2007


Kyra asked (after spoiler space for *Princess Mononoke*):

> S
> P
> O
> I
> L
> E
> R
>
> S
> P
> A
> C
> E
>
> S
> P
> O
> I
> L
> E
> R
>
> S
> P
> A
> C
> E
>
>  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?

<snip>

> 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.  <snip> When people claim that it is special because it is not
> black-and-white, to what exactly are they comparing it?

Ee! Interesting! This is something I notice a lot, actually (cf the
Harry Potter books) - films/books which appear to me to be very
clearly black-and-white in terms of morality being praised to the
skies for their 'moral ambiguity'.* But I *think* what people mean
when they say that Jigo doesn't affect the moral complexity of the
film because he's a minor character is that, although it's obviously
possible for individual people to be straightforwardly *bad* in the
fictional universe of *Mononoke*, the film itself doesn't use its
narrative to answer the larger ethical questions that it raises. The
universe itself - the way that cause-and-effect functions in the
universe, the consequences that people's actions have - isn't pressed
into service to make sure that a straightforward distinction between
'good' and 'evil' holds all the way through.  I mean that the
ambiguity is on the level of the fit between narrative and universe,
not on the level of the characters.

So you could compare *Mononoke* to, say, Hollywood movies where the
narrative rewards characters for making the 'good' choice - say
Strong-Jawed Leader X refuses to abandon the weakest member of his
team in order to safeguard the rest of the team, and instead of
EVERYONE DYING (as you might expect), something intervenes which means
that they all survive and X is feted as the best leader ever rather
than being dismissed the Service. The whole machinery of the universe
becomes complicit with the narrative's demand for good guys and bad
guys. *That's* what doesn't happen in *Princess Mononoke*.

I think, anyway. I'm still trying to figure this out - thanks for your
thought-provoking post!

Love, Ika

*in the case of the HP books, 'moral ambiguity' seems to mean that
Dumbledore consistently behaves very badly but looks like Gandalf,
while Snape consistently behaves very well but wears black.

PS: I love your .sig! I have such beautiful visions in my head now!

> ---
> "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_



More information about the Dwj mailing list