Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Really Short Review: Miyazakiworld by Susan Napier

Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art
Susan Napier
Release: September 4, 2018
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The story of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's life and work, including his significant impact on Japan and the world

A thirtieth‑century toxic jungle, a bathhouse for tired gods, a red‑haired fish girl, and a furry woodland spirit—what do these have in common? They all spring from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki, one of the greatest living animators, known worldwide for films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and The Wind Rises.

Japanese culture and animation scholar Susan Napier explores the life and art of this extraordinary Japanese filmmaker to provide a definitive account of his oeuvre. Napier insightfully illuminates the multiple themes crisscrossing his work, from empowered women to environmental nightmares to utopian dreams, creating an unforgettable portrait of a man whose art challenged Hollywood dominance and ushered in a new chapter of global popular culture.

I've been a huge fan of Miyazaki's films since I first watched Kiki's Delivery Service and Howl's Moving Castle so I downloaded this without looking at what it was really about as soon as I saw it on Netgalley. I think I was expecting more of an art book than a treatise on his life and work. I found everything about this book fascinating.

It kind of read like an unofficial biography of Miyazaki as reflected through his movies. Each chapter is about a different movie and its origin and influences and such but we get a lot of information about Miyazaki's personal life in each one. Honestly, I felt a bit uncomfortable with the amount of personal information we got in this book as it isn't an authorized biography to my knowledge. That being said, I really enjoyed learning about the creative process behind each movie and how you could see his life experience reflected in each one. I wanted to go watch the movie each chapter was about once I finished it. I'm going to do that if I ever read this book again.

Overall, I would recommend this book to Miyazaki fans and newbies alike. It was very accessible and readable considering how much information was crammed into the pages. It will make you see each movie in a different light afterwards. I, for one, appreciate the majesty of each one even more now. Plus, the color art plates in the middle were beautiful.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  3.5 / 5 Stars

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