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The story of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's life and work, including his 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 The story of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's life and work, including his 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.


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The story of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's life and work, including his 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 The story of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's life and work, including his 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.

30 review for Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    Yodamom

    Amazing. Reading this almost felt like a betrayal an invasion of privacy. His life has been a long and difficult road. Born in a terrible time for Japan, raised in the shadow of great darkness, he carries that shadow. His views are so different from these modern times, yet he had grabbed ahold of the world and we have loved his art. The things I learned about him and his characters, scenery, and location choices gave me goosebumps. I never saw that but I see it now, so many layers. He is a worka Amazing. Reading this almost felt like a betrayal an invasion of privacy. His life has been a long and difficult road. Born in a terrible time for Japan, raised in the shadow of great darkness, he carries that shadow. His views are so different from these modern times, yet he had grabbed ahold of the world and we have loved his art. The things I learned about him and his characters, scenery, and location choices gave me goosebumps. I never saw that but I see it now, so many layers. He is a workaholic, that is no surprise, but the fact that he struggled to be seen does. This is a very interesting man who has touched many hearts, while healing his own heart. Don't tell him I said that but that is what I read between these pages. This man's art is breathtaking, the details, and colors so full and rich. My favorite are his clouds, they are so beautiful they compete with nature's version so well it's hard to believe they are drawn sometimes. I have been a fan of his work for many years, I own all his released movies, but knew little of the man behind the genius. You can get a feel of some parts of him though his art, his Shinto touches are most visible to me. His movies are so filled with hope, dread, adventure, struggle, heartbreak, love, loneliness, and renewal. Everyone who watches seems to get something different form his work all feel something strongly. How did this man get so many complex layers, we get to know a few. If you're a fan, read this book. Interested in the mental after effect of devastation and war on a man, read this book. I loved this book. I read a chapter then watched the movie it was talking about. I suggest you do the same with a new vantage point.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    A fascinating, if occasionally frustrating, survey of the great animator's career. I know very little of Miyazaki beyond his films, so I'm not sure how obscure the information here is, but to me Napier appears to have done a very thorough job in her research, combing key Japanese sources as well as the Anglophone stuff; there's not a chapter where I didn't learn new factual information, even aside from the generally illuminating analysis. Alas, the facts do not always redound to Miyazaki's credi A fascinating, if occasionally frustrating, survey of the great animator's career. I know very little of Miyazaki beyond his films, so I'm not sure how obscure the information here is, but to me Napier appears to have done a very thorough job in her research, combing key Japanese sources as well as the Anglophone stuff; there's not a chapter where I didn't learn new factual information, even aside from the generally illuminating analysis. Alas, the facts do not always redound to Miyazaki's credit. This is by no means a hatchet job, but someone I'd always pictured as an avuncular and loveable figure turns out to be in many respects a bit of an arse. True, he was a staunch union man, and Ghibli's stable employment terms were rare and welcome compared to most of the Japanese animation industry – but he also appears to have quite a temper on him. One telling incident occurs when he thinks the marketing department are taking too much credit for the success of Spirited Away and so, to prove them wrong, insists there'll be no marketing for Howl's Moving Castle. I mean, really. And it turns out that, while making some of the best children's films ever, he was himself being a pretty neglectful father. Which, yes, is a fairly standard cliche of the creator for children (cf that Enid Blyton biopic, for starters), but somehow one expected Miyazaki to be different, or at any rate I did. Perhaps most shocking; Totoro and Kiki, those two paeans to a gentler pace of life, my definite favourite of his films and the probable runner-up? He didn't take any break between them. And that's even before age and the darkening world scene take a hand. A recurring theme here is the tension between Miyazaki's compassion and hope, and his anger at human stupidity, with the latter tending to gain ever more of an upper hand as time progresses and people continue to wreck the world and each other. I'd also been unaware of quite how interconnected the animation scene in Japan was; it seems crazy that Kiki's European neverland town of Koriko should be the work of the same artist as Akira's Neo-Tokyo, but apparently so! The creators of Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell also worked at Ghibli, and not that I really know either at all well, but apparently the former's sinister NERV was based on life at the studio. Though so is the bath-house in Spirited Away – Napier's favourite Miyazaki film, though probably the one I like least (for all its undoubted beauties – I hate audience identification characters in general, and find the message a little clunky, the story a little less unique than in his other work). Aside from such subjective differences, though, there are one or two infelicities which I'd hope will be corrected by editorial between this Netgalley proof and the final book. Describing the Ohmu from Nausicaä as "objectively speaking, quite grotesque" is awful phrasing, in that it makes it sound like Napier has totally missed the point of the story, even as the rest of her writing on the film and the manga (they get a chapter each) makes abundantly clear that she has not. Brian Aldiss' The Long Afternoon of Earth is cited as an influence on Miyazaki, but while we always get a clarifying note with Japanese titles for the films, there's no reference to this being only the initial, abridged US publication of the book better known as Hothouse. And the notion that the pendant in Laputa works like 'kryptonite, except in reverse', is just a terrible metaphor – the sort of thing which only works if you play it explicitly for laughs, as with those Vogon ships hanging in the sky in exactly the way a brick doesn't. Speaking of which, who knew that Miyazaki himself wasn't fond of flying? I suppose on one level this makes perfect sense, because how could real world flying ever compare to flight in Miyazaki's films – which itself may only be an approximation of his own dreams of flying. Consider also his fraught relationship with his family's own history, and the way it intertwines with the story of the Mitsubishi Zero, for which they did very nicely by making parts, a situation which in turn enabled them to escape the worst of the bombing at the war's end – while leaving others in need behind, something about which Miyazaki still seems to feel furiously guilty, despite being only a child at the time. I think I was dimly aware from around the time of The Wind Rises that he had some personal connection to the Zero, and obviously one can sense from most of his films his guilt at the past century or so of Japanese history, but I had no idea it was quite so fraught or personal. And then add to that his fractious relationship with his womanising dad, the respectful but argumentative one with his mum, the difficulties both with his actual son and with Ghibli's other young animators, his surrogate children...it seems to have been a very frustrating life. And that love of the purity of warplanes, married to a fierce disdain for the very fact of war which engenders them, has its mirror in his own work: the master of animation, devoting his life to his art, then insisting he takes no pride in what he's done, and only wishes kids would go play outside instead of watching his films. If all of this makes Miyazakiworld sound like a depressing read, it shouldn't. More than anything, reading it reminds you quite what a remarkable body of work Miyazaki has created, and sometimes even the descriptions of the scenes under discussion were enough to make me well up just like the scenes themselves do. As well as wanting to revisit the classics, I've been left curious to see early work like Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon and especially Future Boy Conan, not just for their prefiguring of themes to which he'd later return, but because Hell, they're just more Miyazaki, aren't they? And Napier has a knack for summing up those themes. On the central question of Mononoke, for instance: "Can we live ethically in a cursed world? And if so, how?" Or more broadly, "relaxed interaction with otherness" as a fundamental feature of Miyazakiworld. One could easily take a paragraph or a page trying to sum up either of those, and there they are in a line each. And the stories from behind the scenes aren't always grim, either. I was particularly taken with the notion of Miyazaki touring the valleys of Wales two months after the miners' strike ended, researching landscapes for Laputa. Not least because when the first half of that film later became the first Ghibli I saw, it was elsewhere in British mining country, specifically Yorkshire. And then to add another layer of recursion, it would go on to be the best part of twenty years before I finally managed to see the rest of the film, thus pretty much recapitulating the film's own story of a fabulous world glimpsed from afar and then lost. Well, I'm so glad I got to find it again in the end, and it's lovely that now we have a guidebook too. I just hope its creator finds a little more peace with his legacy in his remaining time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fraser Simons

    I’m not going to rate it because it’s implied in the premise, but the amount of granularity on each film, especially ones I’ve seen, as well as peripheral stuff (which the author spoils the shit out of, P.S), is just not really my thing. I’m all for analyzing the auteur, but I quickly discovered I actually don’t care nearly as much as I thought I did. I have no desire to spend this much time with them. Dnf 50%

  4. 4 out of 5

    Natalie (CuriousReader)

    Miyazakiworld is a perfect example of everything I expect to get of art commentary - a deeper understanding of why the art piece (or in this case, the cinematic work of Miyazaki) speaks to his audience, what is it about his animation that connects with the soul and moves the heart? What parts of his own life inspired or influenced his body of work? Napier is knowledgeable on the topic and it shows. This book is something of a mix between a biography of the man Miyazaki Hayao and a journey throug Miyazakiworld is a perfect example of everything I expect to get of art commentary - a deeper understanding of why the art piece (or in this case, the cinematic work of Miyazaki) speaks to his audience, what is it about his animation that connects with the soul and moves the heart? What parts of his own life inspired or influenced his body of work? Napier is knowledgeable on the topic and it shows. This book is something of a mix between a biography of the man Miyazaki Hayao and a journey through his career from its buds to the almost legendary place he now holds in the minds of many. While this book suffers from its form somewhat, seemingly a kind of thesis-like structure which forces Napier to give extensive examples of film scenes to make her points (resulting in synopsis after synopsis detailed), her actual rumination and conclusions are both convincing and clear-sighted. If you're new to Miyazaki, it will most likely give you a clue as to why his work was in so many ways ground-breaking for the industry, and urge you to watch one of the pieces of his oeuvre. If you already love what Miyazaki and Ghibli is all about, it will give you a renewed appreciation for the way he marries nostalgia, (women's) agency, environmental commentary, resistance, beauty, and more in such a seamless way.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kaśyap

    I am a fan of Hayao Miyazaki and for me his films have always inspired a sense of wonder and awe. Every frame communicates a mood or an emotion that lets us get into the characters and immerse ourselves into the world. His movies do not shy away from dealing with darker themes but they have this vitality and they leave me with a sense of hope. Maybe this has partly to do with how Miyazaki works. Rather than starting with a script he always starts with and works through images. This allows the sc I am a fan of Hayao Miyazaki and for me his films have always inspired a sense of wonder and awe. Every frame communicates a mood or an emotion that lets us get into the characters and immerse ourselves into the world. His movies do not shy away from dealing with darker themes but they have this vitality and they leave me with a sense of hope. Maybe this has partly to do with how Miyazaki works. Rather than starting with a script he always starts with and works through images. This allows the script and the film to grow organically as he draws. It is always the characters will that drives the story and they end with the characters emotional growth as they learn and adapt. This also makes his worldbuilding to be so full of life. We also look at his worlds through the eyes of his protagonists who are more often than not kids who are open minded and "see with eyes unclouded". He is also a master animator who can communicate a lot just through the movement of his characters. This book is quite well researched, is easy to read and has an analysis of and gives historic context to almost all of Miyazaki's works. It also has snippets into his life, his historic and artistic inspirations, and the moments in his life that might have shaped his worldview and the themes he deals with in almost all of his works. I don't know why the author focuses a lot on rage, despair, disillusionment and the apocalyptic imagery as driving factors in his works. I always found his works including the Nausica manga to be life affirming and full of hope. Even in his most apocalyptic of scenarios, something always endures. They are often more liberating rather than melancholic.

  6. 4 out of 5

    mo

    I feel really bad about not finishing this - it was an ARC, and it's the first ARC I haven't finished prior to reviewing it. I'm not going to rate it because I only made it 30% of the way through. I simply have too much on my plate right now to read a very long, very in-depth academic-level analysis of Miyazaki's oeuvre, even if it's written in an approachable way. What I read was mostly interesting, but I admit that I didn't totally love the psychoanalyzing of mother figures in his work and how I feel really bad about not finishing this - it was an ARC, and it's the first ARC I haven't finished prior to reviewing it. I'm not going to rate it because I only made it 30% of the way through. I simply have too much on my plate right now to read a very long, very in-depth academic-level analysis of Miyazaki's oeuvre, even if it's written in an approachable way. What I read was mostly interesting, but I admit that I didn't totally love the psychoanalyzing of mother figures in his work and how it related to his relationship with his own mother. It seemed like a stretch to me. That said, I also didn't perform all the years of research into this topic that the author did, so it could simply be that I'm ignorant. I did enjoy the discussion of Miyazaki's political and ideological landscape, and I found the sections discussing his time at Toei animation very engaging to read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rocío G.

    I had not seen a single Miyasaki film before 2021. Now I've seen all of them. What can I say other than I'm thrilled I finally listened to the person who hounded me for the better part of a decade to watch them. They are delightful pieces of art and I was thoroughly entranced. I thought I'd cap off my immersion into Miyasakiworld this year by reading Susan Napier's excellent overview of Miyasaki's life and work. I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone that wants to delve a little deeper into the ma I had not seen a single Miyasaki film before 2021. Now I've seen all of them. What can I say other than I'm thrilled I finally listened to the person who hounded me for the better part of a decade to watch them. They are delightful pieces of art and I was thoroughly entranced. I thought I'd cap off my immersion into Miyasakiworld this year by reading Susan Napier's excellent overview of Miyasaki's life and work. I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone that wants to delve a little deeper into the many wonders of Miyasaki's world. There's many things to love about these eleven films and Miyasaki's distinctive worldview and aesthetic make it easy to talk about them as a cohesive group. There's the sumptuous visual style, full of lovingly-rendered landscapes (from the gorgeous countryside of Totoro to the lush forest of Princess Mononoke), cityscapes (Kiki's unforgetable city by the sea, The Wind Rises' Tokyo) and dreamscapes (the marvelous Fukai in Nausicaa, Laputa's titular island in the sky, the ethereal ocean-world of Ponyo) . There's that true sense of the fantastic that marries the enchanting to the horrifying: from Spirited Away's No Face and the undulating demons of Princess Mononoke to Nausicaa's Ohmu. Or the moral seriousness of stories unafraid to flirt with ambiguity or delve into the darkness of real-world politics (think of the bittersweet poignancy of The Wind Rises' elegy to a brutal war machine). Miyasaki's world is peopled with nuanced thoughtful figures. From the highly kinetic and resourceful heroines he's well-loved for—Näusicaa, San, Chihiro, Kiki, Sheeta, Satsuki, Fio, Sophie, Ponyo— and the thorny world-weary males— Porco Rosso, Lupin, Howl— to the wholesome lovable boys, Ashitaka, Sōsuke, Haku and Pazu. There's also an impressive roster of mature female not-quite-villains: pirate-captain Dola, the industrialist, Lady Eboshi and the Witch of the Waste. Miyasaki's characters leap off the screen brimming with personality and depth. Yet what really makes Miyasakiworld entrench itself so firmly in the hearts and minds of viewers, is, I think, the focus on the warmth of human connection. The films are full of quiet moments that highlight the easy beauty of home, family and friends: Howl's makeshift family sitting down to breakfast, Chihiro and her friends enjoying a respite in Zeniba's cottage, Mei and Satsuki finding comfort with their father in the family bath, Ponyo and Sōsuke reveling in the wonders of homemade ramen, Kiki being regaled with cake and stories at an elderly client's house. Underlying all of Miyasaki's stories is a staunch humanism that rages against anything that would suffocate the human spirit: fascism, industrialization, consumerism, war, and, above all, alienation from nature.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Angulo

    The book purports to analyze Miyazaki's life through his animated works. The analysis self was super stretched at times (many times without any foundation, just assumptions). I did learn about Miyazaki's life and how his life influenced his works, but I think one would be better of reading biographies about Miyazaki, or published essays. The analysis of the movies themselves was also pretty superficial. It tried to do too much with too little space. The book purports to analyze Miyazaki's life through his animated works. The analysis self was super stretched at times (many times without any foundation, just assumptions). I did learn about Miyazaki's life and how his life influenced his works, but I think one would be better of reading biographies about Miyazaki, or published essays. The analysis of the movies themselves was also pretty superficial. It tried to do too much with too little space.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alec Longstreth

    I learned so much about Miyazaki and his work by reading this book. It has me excited to track down the few remaining movies of his I have not seen.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Edward Rathke

    This rating should be contextualized. You see, I've basically written this book when I used to write for a site called Entropy. In 2014 or 2015, I wrote an essay about every movie Studio Ghibli produced. So I'm intimately familiar with MIyazaki's movies, having loved them for most of my life. I've also very much made up my mind about them. This book is basically a collection of essays analyzing Miyazaki's movies. Napier writes about a few that I never did (since I stuck just to the Ghibli movies) This rating should be contextualized. You see, I've basically written this book when I used to write for a site called Entropy. In 2014 or 2015, I wrote an essay about every movie Studio Ghibli produced. So I'm intimately familiar with MIyazaki's movies, having loved them for most of my life. I've also very much made up my mind about them. This book is basically a collection of essays analyzing Miyazaki's movies. Napier writes about a few that I never did (since I stuck just to the Ghibli movies), but even that didn't add enough for this to really get in me the way I hoped it would. See, I was expecting this to be more of a biography. It does have those elements and I did learn more about Miyazaki's life, but I was hoping for something more specifically about the man behind the movies, rather than just getting film criticism. The biographical elements are scattered here and there and, honestly, you don't learn much that you probably couldn't learn from reading his Wikipedia. For example, we don't get any more insight into his tumultuous relationship with his son. But there are some good anecdotes. For example, learning that Hideaki Anno modeled NERV in Neon Genesis Evangelion as a satirical version of Studio Ghibli, with Miyazaki as the tyrannical and obsessive Ikari. Outside of a few funny anecdotes like that, though, there's not a lot here to open up Miyazaki's life and character. The book is very good for what it is. It's great analysis and so very much worth it if you just want to get a deeper look into Miyazaki's films without wanting to personally do the mental work to decide for yourself. But, for me, it's really not what I hoped it would be.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

    I've been wanting another major Miyazaki book since Helen McCarthy's excellent MASTER OF JAPANESE ANIMATION, a text which, while very good, is dated now, only going as far as PRINCESS MONONOKE. Napier's book is a welcome addition to any Miyazaki fan's library, both a loving and sometimes critical look at the filmmaker's work up through THE WIND RISES. I especially loved the appreciation given THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO, a film I feel is often overlooked and too often dismissed as fluff. I've been wanting another major Miyazaki book since Helen McCarthy's excellent MASTER OF JAPANESE ANIMATION, a text which, while very good, is dated now, only going as far as PRINCESS MONONOKE. Napier's book is a welcome addition to any Miyazaki fan's library, both a loving and sometimes critical look at the filmmaker's work up through THE WIND RISES. I especially loved the appreciation given THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO, a film I feel is often overlooked and too often dismissed as fluff.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    I am a fan of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli animations. I fell in love with his movies, stories, and characters many years ago. I rewatched and have his DVDs. And they are some of my favorite movies. So could I pass the opportunity to learn more about his world and himself? Not really. Miyazaki world is an essay by Susan Napier, that sometimes feels thick. Other times pulls you into Miyazaki world and you are in his movies, living through his characters. I learn there is more more of Miyazaki outhere I am a fan of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli animations. I fell in love with his movies, stories, and characters many years ago. I rewatched and have his DVDs. And they are some of my favorite movies. So could I pass the opportunity to learn more about his world and himself? Not really. Miyazaki world is an essay by Susan Napier, that sometimes feels thick. Other times pulls you into Miyazaki world and you are in his movies, living through his characters. I learn there is more more of Miyazaki outhere like manga. And the next time I will watch his movies, it's going to be a complete different experience. I admit that although I enjoyed the Japanese pronunciation, the English sometimes was sigmatic. Anyway, I still enjoyed the listening and would recommend it to other Miyazaki fans out there. When I was almost ending listening to this book I started to read Miyazaki's Nausicaä manga.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I am a huge fan of Miyazaki, of both his films and him as a creative genius. His films gave me comfort while on quarantine order last year during the peak of Covid and I binged all 11 in a span of days. Like Napier, I have no favourites — my answer depends on the time of day and how I’m feeling. A nice commentary of all his work compiled in 16 chapters, though at some parts it can be a bit too descriptive and rambly-ish.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    i want to LIVE in a miyazaki film

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annemieke / A Dance with Books

    Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. When a friend pointed me out to this being a read now on Netgalley, I knew I had to give this ago. Unfortunately this book turned out not to be for me and I ended up dnf-ing it at about 30%. This problem lies in part with me and I don’t think this is a bad book at all. It just didn’t work for me. I’m not sure what my expectations were but the analytical approach and dissection of Miyazaki’s background w Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. When a friend pointed me out to this being a read now on Netgalley, I knew I had to give this ago. Unfortunately this book turned out not to be for me and I ended up dnf-ing it at about 30%. This problem lies in part with me and I don’t think this is a bad book at all. It just didn’t work for me. I’m not sure what my expectations were but the analytical approach and dissection of Miyazaki’s background was not it. Susan Napier really has gone to depth with this book, drawing from all kinds of source materials like the original Miyazaki biography and various interviews by him and his peers. There has gone in a lot of work and research into this work and for that I can only applaud the author. But it didn’t make for a pleasant read for me. There was too much details in places and too much analyzing of a man’s life. Of someone who is still alive. It made me uncomfortable. There is also the underlying feeling of the situations depicted in this book that I might not like Miyazaki as a person. And I don’t think I’d like to take that way from this book. I’d rather watch his movies and not think about his person, instead appreciate his art and creativity. I would not suggest reading this book if you haven’t seen all of his movies. There are chapters that go into his movies, that analyze them in their entirety which includes spoilers. But if you have watched them all or don’t mind spoilers and would like to go along for the ride with Susan Napier on where Miyazaki came from and how this shaped his films, this is going to be an interesting read for you.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gracie

    The beginning of this book was slow and took me awhile to get through: it covered Miyazaki's childhood and his early attempts at animation. While mildly interesting background, being unfamiliar with the majority of his pre-Studio Ghibli work, it was hard to stay focused. However, once the book started focusing on Lupin III and proceeding through his work chronologically to The Wind Rises, I was captivated. My complaints are along the same lines as other reviewer's here, including sections that f The beginning of this book was slow and took me awhile to get through: it covered Miyazaki's childhood and his early attempts at animation. While mildly interesting background, being unfamiliar with the majority of his pre-Studio Ghibli work, it was hard to stay focused. However, once the book started focusing on Lupin III and proceeding through his work chronologically to The Wind Rises, I was captivated. My complaints are along the same lines as other reviewer's here, including sections that felt like too much unfounded psycho analysis and an over emphasis on which characters are "representations" of the artist himself. However, I actually enjoyed the in-depth summaries and descriptions of the movies, even though I have seen some of them dozens of times, and they actually inspired me to start re-watching his oeuvre in chronological order. Napier did include some sections of literary analysis that I found particularly interesting, like the feminist themes in Kiki's Delivery Service. Although sometimes veering into psycho analysis, I also found Napier's connections between Miyazaki's movies and his life at different stages interesting and mostly compelling. I would only recommend this book to someone deeply invested in Miyazaki's movies, who has seen each at least once. I think this would be uninteresting and very spoiler-y for anyone who is only a casual fan or is just getting interested in Miyazaki's work.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pia

    Thorough, intimate, daring and compassionate.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pearce

    This falls into the gap between a popular and an academic overview of Miyazaki’s career, and isn’t quite satisfying as either but there are some good insights along the way. Some weird omissions, eg Napier seems to imply that Castle of Cagliostro was Miyazaki’s only Lupin III story when in fact he co-directed a lot of the first season with Isao Takahata and wrote & directed a few episodes of the second, including some elements that he would later expand upon in his films.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    I've loved Miyazaki films since I first started watching them. I'm not a die-hard fan and there are some of the films I don't like that much, as well as a couple I haven't seen. But I've always found them so original and special and beautiful. When I saw this book, I had to request it. It is a fascinating analysis of Miyazaki's oeuvre. A word of warning, though: you need to be a Miyazaki connoisseur to read this book - each chapter looks at every film in chronological order, with plenty of spoil I've loved Miyazaki films since I first started watching them. I'm not a die-hard fan and there are some of the films I don't like that much, as well as a couple I haven't seen. But I've always found them so original and special and beautiful. When I saw this book, I had to request it. It is a fascinating analysis of Miyazaki's oeuvre. A word of warning, though: you need to be a Miyazaki connoisseur to read this book - each chapter looks at every film in chronological order, with plenty of spoilers to illustrate Susan Napier's ideas. Not only do we explore each film, we also learn a lot about Miyazaki himself and Japanese culture and history. The illustrations are a nice addition. I would definitely recommend it to any Miyazaki fan out here. Disclaimer - I got a free digital copy of this book courtesy of Yale University and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    vir

    since I was a child, ghibli's movies had a special place in my heart. through my adolescence and adulthood, they've still managed to bring me comfort and a sense of hope, teaching me lessons that I'm definitely carrying on throughout the rest of my life. the reason why I'm not rating this with more stars it's bc there was one movie that I didn't saw therefore that one chapter was difficult to read lol. still, I'm so interested in the movie now, that I'm definitely adding it to my tbw list. actuall since I was a child, ghibli's movies had a special place in my heart. through my adolescence and adulthood, they've still managed to bring me comfort and a sense of hope, teaching me lessons that I'm definitely carrying on throughout the rest of my life. the reason why I'm not rating this with more stars it's bc there was one movie that I didn't saw therefore that one chapter was difficult to read lol. still, I'm so interested in the movie now, that I'm definitely adding it to my tbw list. actually, I feel like having a ghibli's movies marathon. reading about the stories and how they were deeply connected to miyazaki was so interesting. I had no idea how his life was his own inspiration, and how his movies mirrored his ideals and thoughts. somehow feels as if, after watching some of his movies a hundred times, I'm still discovering new details and such.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cecily Robertson

    I didn't want to finish Miyazakiworld because I felt so fully immersed in it. Each chapter is devoted to an analysis of one of his films, and they're all done with great attention to detail, thorough research, and an appreciation (and expertise) of animation. I took lots of notes reading this simply because the historic and artistic influences were so interesting, along with the vignettes of his childhood and life at the studio. I loved examining the themes that show up across his work, includin I didn't want to finish Miyazakiworld because I felt so fully immersed in it. Each chapter is devoted to an analysis of one of his films, and they're all done with great attention to detail, thorough research, and an appreciation (and expertise) of animation. I took lots of notes reading this simply because the historic and artistic influences were so interesting, along with the vignettes of his childhood and life at the studio. I loved examining the themes that show up across his work, including empowered women, environmental advocacy and dreams of paradise. Miyazaki is a wonderfully complicated human with good intentions and an incredible imagination, and this book is truly a representation of its title.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daniel MacInnes

    Susan Napier was always a major inspiration for my own writings about Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, so it's great to find a new book to read. Miyazakiworld does a very good job of covering the long career of the famed animator and director. The Studio Ghibli feature films are poured over in meticulous detail and are well worth reading. The pre-Ghibli period is a little weaker, but this is largely because those films and television shows are harder for Americans to find, as many of them were Susan Napier was always a major inspiration for my own writings about Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, so it's great to find a new book to read. Miyazakiworld does a very good job of covering the long career of the famed animator and director. The Studio Ghibli feature films are poured over in meticulous detail and are well worth reading. The pre-Ghibli period is a little weaker, but this is largely because those films and television shows are harder for Americans to find, as many of them were never commercially released on our shores. Overall, this book is highly recommended for all Ghibli Freaks. Once again, I find myself going back to the drawing board for my own Ghibli book project, scrambling for good ideas.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    A well researched, detailed look at Miyazaki's life and complete oeuvre, examining each of his films and other works in (at times exhausting) detail involving background and inspiration for each as well as recounting the writing and animation process and offering in-depth analysis of each work. Note that you would be well advised to hold off on reading this until you've seen each and every one of these films that you're interested in seeing, as this book obviously contains massive spoilers for e A well researched, detailed look at Miyazaki's life and complete oeuvre, examining each of his films and other works in (at times exhausting) detail involving background and inspiration for each as well as recounting the writing and animation process and offering in-depth analysis of each work. Note that you would be well advised to hold off on reading this until you've seen each and every one of these films that you're interested in seeing, as this book obviously contains massive spoilers for everything. Interesting if at times somewhat repetitive read that really puts me in the mood to go re-watch a Ghibli film or two.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rivaqah

    Learned about this book through the digital "Shelf Life" festival organizied by the Virginia Humanities this year. Immediately set out to buy this and wasn't disappointed. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the Ghibli films and would like to know more about the various themes that run through Miyazaki's work and what real world events, people and other pieces of culture have influenced them. It's given me lots to think about and inspired me in a way few other books have. TLDR: Immerse yours Learned about this book through the digital "Shelf Life" festival organizied by the Virginia Humanities this year. Immediately set out to buy this and wasn't disappointed. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the Ghibli films and would like to know more about the various themes that run through Miyazaki's work and what real world events, people and other pieces of culture have influenced them. It's given me lots to think about and inspired me in a way few other books have. TLDR: Immerse yourself in Miyazakiworld and "live"!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    My primary takeaway from this book is to more greatly appreciate internal contradiction and tension. Many of my favorite Ghibli films have remarkably convoluted, disjointed origins. The films are based on books or mangas, they're combined with legends, they're written and directed by one person before Miyazaki takes over and reworks them. My primary takeaway from this book is to more greatly appreciate internal contradiction and tension. Many of my favorite Ghibli films have remarkably convoluted, disjointed origins. The films are based on books or mangas, they're combined with legends, they're written and directed by one person before Miyazaki takes over and reworks them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Abby Filsinger

    What a testament to a brilliant artist and storyteller! This book gives very interesting insight into the world of these beautiful films and into the mind of a true genius. I highly recommend if you have ever wondered about well, anything that Miyazaki has done! I loved getting the backstory into his childhood as well! You not only get to relive the films but you get a peak inside the mind of probably one of the most forward thinking artists of the day! Enjoy!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jose Ovalle

    Miyazaki has become a lot more human to me after reading this book, which is kind of sad. But then again, his movies have been tinged with sadness and longing this whole time. I just missed that because I was so young when I watched his movies. It’s fitting, then, to feel a little of what he felt when making those movies now that I’ve gotten older. A great read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bay

    A look on Hayao Miyazaki's career and his individual movies. Each movie has its own chapter and explores Miyazaki's influences, his themes and his own development as a person. We also get a glimpse of the filmmaking process and the individual movies' receptions. I learned a lot. It is 'academic', but it is still easily accessible. Can definitely recommend this to Studio Ghibli fans out there. A look on Hayao Miyazaki's career and his individual movies. Each movie has its own chapter and explores Miyazaki's influences, his themes and his own development as a person. We also get a glimpse of the filmmaking process and the individual movies' receptions. I learned a lot. It is 'academic', but it is still easily accessible. Can definitely recommend this to Studio Ghibli fans out there.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Martijn Reintjes

    ~ Utopia is a place where time stops ~ Biographies of interesting people are always interesting. This one very much so. It's cool to learn how someone's experiences in life shape the art they make. I only wish I've watched some of his movies before listening to this book. But they are on my watch list now. ~ Utopia is a place where time stops ~ Biographies of interesting people are always interesting. This one very much so. It's cool to learn how someone's experiences in life shape the art they make. I only wish I've watched some of his movies before listening to this book. But they are on my watch list now.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Often a book like this can seem to fall into the 'great man' trope of history. The author does an amazing job not doing that and contextualizing the groundbreaking work of Miyazaki and his relationship to the (surprisingly) detailed literature which forms the basis of much of his work. Often a book like this can seem to fall into the 'great man' trope of history. The author does an amazing job not doing that and contextualizing the groundbreaking work of Miyazaki and his relationship to the (surprisingly) detailed literature which forms the basis of much of his work.

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