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Hayao Miyazaki's Memoir

Starting Point: 1979-1996

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R to L (Japanese Style). A hefty compilation of essays (both pictorial and prose), notes, concept sketches and interviews by (and with) Hayao Miyazaki. Arguably the most respected animation director in the world, Miyazaki is the genius behind "Howl's Moving Castle," Princess Mononoke" and the Academy Award-winning film, "Spirited Away."

500 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 1996

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About the author

Hayao Miyazaki

282 books2,573 followers
宮崎 駿

Hayao Miyazaki was born in Tokyo on January 5, 1941. He started his career in 1963 as an animator at the studio Toei Douga, and was subsequently involved in many early classics of Japanese animation. From the beginning, he commanded attention with his incredible ability to draw, and the seemingly-endless stream of movie ideas he proposed.

In 1971, he moved to A Pro with Isao Takahata, then to Nippon Animation in 1973, where he was heavily involved in the World Masterpiece Theater TV animation series for the next five years. In 1978, he directed his first TV series, Conan, The Boy in Future, then moved to Tokyo Movie Shinsha in 1979 to direct his first movie, the classic Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro.

In 1984, he released Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, based on the manga (comic) of the same title which he had started two years before. The success of the film led to the establishment of a new animation studio, Studio Ghibli, at which Miyazaki has since written, directed, and produced many other films with Takahata. All of these films enjoyed critical and box office successes. In particular, Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke received the Japan Academy Award for Best Film and was the highest-grossing (about US$150 million) domestic film in Japan's history until it was taken over by another Miyazaki work, Spirited Away.

In addition to animation, Miyazaki also draws manga. His major work was the Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind manga, an epic tale he worked on intermittently from 1982 to 1994 while he was busy making animated films. Another manga, Hikoutei Jidai, was later evolved into his film Porco Rosso.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 140 reviews
Profile Image for Michael Scott.
724 reviews130 followers
July 24, 2012
When I saw Starting Point: 19791996 in store at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne, I was still overwhelmed by joy: Hayao Miyazaki is for a long time now one of my favorite artists. This volume covers almost twenty of his productive years, with interviews, edited pieces, and even journal pages. The reader finds out not only about work-related topics, but also about Miyazaki's opinions about war, culture, animation, society, nature, well, pretty much about anything (hint: Miyazaki appears to be a very stubborn and opinionated person). A second volume, Turning Point: 1997-2008 (Orikaeshi Ten 1997~2008), is currently under publication. Oh, and this first volume is excessively long and repetitive.

Miyazaki-san is perhaps best-known in the West for his children feature-film animations My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Spirited Away (2001), and Ponyo Off the Cliff (2008). He is the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, with titles such as Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Porco Rosso (1992), and Princess Mononoke (1997). Miyazaki was the lead man in the production of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), a cult-film about a polluted world and the relationship humanity-nature. This volume covers all of his work until 1996, which includes being director, (lead) animator, screeplay writer, and Jack-of-all-trades. Judging by his short writing, Miyazaki's statement that his scripts required much re-writing is true.

Here are a few things that I learned:

* What it takes to produce a good work of art is talent, passion, and a good dose of hard, long, detailed work. Miyazaki loves handcrafted objects, regardless of their type; for example, he appreciates greatly a house in the Open (Traditional House) Museum of Tokyo, because it is made using much handicraft.

* Miyazaki is opinionated, and critical and even hostile against other artists, esp. against Disney and manga creators. About Disney, he states "I hate Disney's work [...] they show nothing but contempt for the audience"---this statement should be taken with a grain of salt, as elsewhere Miyazaki mentions three of Disney's creations (Snow White, Peter Pan, and The Old Mill part of Silly Symphonies) as some of the most accomplished animations in history.

* Miyazaki likes Japanese nationalism, and is attracted by the mid-1980s notion of "broadleaf evergreen forest culture", which seems to state among others that a unique Japanese treat is the integration with nature.

* Miyazaki's directorial approach is loose and focuses on animation. As a main consequence, the films he directs start from concept sketches and only have a script much later in productions; sometimes, the script is produced after (!) the animation is completed, only for copyright purposes.

* The technique of animation has greatly evolved over time. Some of the advances are featured in Studio Ghibli's movies and have been requested by Miyazaki. For example, the rubber multi-plane technique used in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and several other computer graphics (CG) effects were greatly enhanced for Howl's Moving Castle (2004), see also The Art of Howl's Moving Castle, p.77 amd 187--189. Sometimes, the advances are numeric: Howl's Moving Castle (2004) featured twice the number of CG effects present in Spirited Away (2001).

On the negative side, the book is full of contradictions. For example, Miyazaki is a self-confessed lazy person but also self-described hard-working, at times Miyazaki describes his relationship with nature as profound but dismisses it in the interview with academics (p.414 onwards), Miyazaki is strictly anti-war, which he deems stupid, but is fascinated with and likes to depict war machinery, Miyazaki is oftentimes praising the qualities of his animations but takes a modest stance during the interview with academics, etc.

Overall, a must-read for anyone interested in the creation of art using the animated feature-film medium.
Profile Image for Kerri.
951 reviews340 followers
December 3, 2022

“To be born means being compelled to choose an era, a place, a life. To exist here, now, means to lost the possibility of being countless other potential selves.. Yet once being born there is no turning back. And I think that's exactly why the fantasy worlds of cartoon movies so strongly represent our hopes and yearnings. They illustrate a world of lost possibilities for us.”

I didn't grow up watching Studio Ghibli films, and although I had long been drawn to images from them, I didn't actually see one until a few years ago. They were even more than I had expected them to be, and I did wish that I could have seen My Neighbor Totoro as a small child, as I am sure it would have enthralled me even more than it did as an adult.

This book of essays and interviews was fascinating, offering an insight into a man brimming with creativity, brilliance and wild contradictions!
Even when discussing projects I haven't seen or read, I was constantly interested in his views and the way he expressed them.

One detail that I found touching was in the 'biographical chronology' section at the back of the book, it says, 'Upon entering university, discovered there was no manga study club, so joined the children's literature study club, the closest thing. At times Hayao Miyazaki was its sole member.'
I found the image of the young man carrying on even when no-one else was there endearing, and it also seems like an early indication of stubbornness that has served him well in his career.
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
514 reviews110 followers
December 3, 2022
It's a mix of articles, reviews, speeches, hot takes, and reflections here. As usual, in something this mixed, some pieces were more interesting to me than others. But wow, some of them were just wonderful. There are some delightful explanations of movement and using movement to show weight. My favorite section was Characters, little written sketches of real people in his life. Also the part about his awful car. Also the parts about how to foreground theme above all things, to keep theme always in mind as a guiding principle so that the whole work can transcend to a new level.
12 reviews1 follower
June 8, 2010
This book is mostly boring and occasionally brilliant. The two great things expressed here are Miyazaki's overall positive attitude about making films, which is really foreign to me and was refreshing to be exposed to, and his definition of realism.

Realism for Miyazaki is a kind of depth of detail. His primary example is the depth of detail in a tree: bark, leaves, insects, etc. Real things are fortified by these rich, interlocking levels of detail. This is a big difference from the kind of surface realism attempted by most films.

"The best scenario might be one that includes the mass of leaves and even the insects that crawl among those leaves."

Other quotes:

"I want to send a message of cheer to all those wandering aimlessly through life."

Entertainment is not about escapism. It can be about lighting up the imagination, showing audiences something new or reminding them of some feeling or idea that they were distracted away from.

A film should have "few barriers for entry" but "the barriers to exit must be high and purifying."

"Films must not be produced out of idle nervousness or boredom."

Profile Image for Veronica.
101 reviews63 followers
February 5, 2022
“I ended the story at the same point as we are now, at the starting point of an incomprehensible world.” Miyazaki on the ‘resolution’ of Nausicaä
Profile Image for Annie Su.
258 reviews7 followers
June 5, 2021
this book has:
- a lot of interviews with/speeches by Hayao Miyazaki that reveal his viewpoints and beliefs
- a nice interlude with some scrapbook pages by Miyazaki
- film proposals and original ideas behind a lot of Miyazaki films
- Miyazaki talking about how much he likes planes and is fascinated by war (but is decidedly not pro-war)
- where Miyazaki started (at Toei Animation as an in-between artist), what it was like working on various projects, and his very admirable work ethic.

At the end of the book, Isao Takahata states that Miyazaki is a man full of contradictions. This is true; often he will express a very nihilistic view, but in the next sentence will emphasize the importance of making your best effort no matter what and that in our finite lives, we have the capacity to experience beauty and be emotionally moved. I admire that he has such a strong sense of "why" behind the work he does—he really cares about bringing joyful, nuanced, and beautiful works into this world!

Note: I find the English translation of this book to be a bit...unnatural? The language doesn't always flow well.
Profile Image for Yuniar.
107 reviews23 followers
June 20, 2017
"Creating animation means creating a fictional world. That world soothes the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality, or suffering from a nearsighted distortion of their emotions."

It's a book about the great Japan Director Animation film, Hayao Miyazaki on his early days as an animator. Starting Point makes me believe that he is one of the genius people out there. He creates his works with such wide range, accessible to younger and older audience. It so amusing how it downward with the trend nowadays for most animation films being planned today is targeting the older audience.

Inside the book, we also see his artworks on eight pages contain a series of scrapbook pages in black-white series and it's so fascinating. Once I see this, I miss his works because it's so charming seeing him as a workaholic animator create such a wonderful scrapbook into pages. There are also plenty of interesting Studio Ghibli essay and animation. It's surely such a delight to read.
Profile Image for Yesenia.
12 reviews3 followers
July 25, 2011
I would find it hard to believe that any true fan of Miyazaki-san would find this book boring or off-putting. Yes, it's a collection of essays, but they offer insight into the brilliance behind his award-winning works; I find it fascinating to know where he finds his inspiration. He also offers his own opinion on topics that might seem completely unrelated to animation--politics, the environment, the economy--but that ultimately affect the industry and his art nevertheless. Truly a great book for anyone who has grown up alongside Studio Ghibli's movies.
8 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2018
This book was excellent. I am familiar with Miyazaki's work in animation (Spirited Away may be my favorite movie of all time, and I am fascinated by his films in general), but the book gave me a lot of new and surprising information. Some of it could be repetitive, and incongruous at times, but it was definitely worth the read. When at its best, the book was phenomenal.
Miyazaki shares views on Japanese history, society and environment, his various studies and fascinations with planes: so many subjects, stories, and points of view I had never considered at length before. He stresses observation and the importance of one's own experiences, in order to create, as he puts it, a "lie" so rich that it can be a believable world, captured in a film for children to enjoy, and adults to relive their childhood. He also details his experiences in past projects, from his successful hits to much lesser-known projects, without glorifying the process of becoming an animator, or throwing on pretense.
Some aspects of this book proved more entertaining than others, and I'm sure someone well-versed in Japanese history and culture would get a lot more out of it than I did (though there are footnotes defining certain terms and events). Even so, I think this is a good thing because it encouraged me to learn. I would recommend reading this book slowly, in small doses, to absorb each interview and story as its own piece. Each time I read a new part or chapter, I found myself itching to draw something, so I'd definitely recommend it to aspiring artists and animators.
Profile Image for Phrodrick.
864 reviews36 followers
June 14, 2020
For about the third time master director and artist Hayao Miyazaki has retired. There is every reason to believe that this one will take. His Starting Point, 1979-1896 reads like the results of going through old files and publishing some rather than trashing them all. I had hoped to gather some combination of who was the young Miyazaki, how he matured as an artist and some information on terms like Manga and any of the several forms and styles that in fact are mentioned in this collection. Instead this is a collection of lectures, interviews and promotional discussions. Being sections of the same things for different occasions it follows that it is repetitious, less than instructional and ultimately disappointing.

But for the lovely section of his drawings and the scattering of insights this would be a 2-star book. Towards the end there are flashes of brilliance, but they are lost in the flow of in-house interviews meant to sell movie tickets.. Even these are not dependable. The discussion of a light hearted movie can devolve into something more about personal politics or staff struggles.

As implied by the title there is a second book, Turning Point 1997-2008 which means there may be a third. Any interest I, as a fan still have is dampened. I will need some time to get over this let down and not make a point of buying a new copy.
Profile Image for Kaśyap.
271 reviews123 followers
May 31, 2016
Considering the nature of the book, a collection of articles and interviews, it is fragmented and redundant. But definitely recommended for Miyazaki-san's fans. Provides an insight into his mind and his work and creative process.
Profile Image for Nightary.
84 reviews
September 13, 2018
There is certain kind of books where you can finish them in two or three days, and they are others that you can't help but live with them, either because you got attached & grew to love deeply, so you want to extend your experience with them as much as possible. Or because, harshly, they are too hard to read.

This book was both

I struggled reading it. I had to reread paragraphs many times. But, I enjoyed it, thoroughly, and loved it.

Because Hayao Miyazaki has so many opinions about so many subjects you feel overwhelmed by them. It was really hard for me to get what he meant. And I couldn’t usually skip what I read and spent days just thinking about one idea he had or a remark about the environment. For me, it was that dense. And, It was a pleasure seeing how much he jumped between topics and talked about the weather, architects, his kids, plants, sociology, his friend’s kids, script writing, world building and so on.
And honestly, I can’t fully say I grasped everything in the book. I filled it with notes nonetheless.

Hayao Miyazaki is a unique person and as enjoyable as his movies. and I think I may like him a bit more than his works now.

Also, I must note how much I admired the translator. I rarely find works that are faithful to this extent but done very well, you could feel the spirit of the book.
Profile Image for Victoria.
10 reviews
February 25, 2018
What you can take out of this book really depends on what you're looking for. I read a few of the negative reviews (I only read the negatives :') ) and it's interesting to contrast what the general reader wanted (a biography, which it isn't and hence the negatives) versus what I and possibly other artists could benefit from- mind + methodology.

For the casual purveyor, Starting Point is a sneak peek into Miyazaki's personal lifestyle and thought process. Interrupted with numerous tangents involving the role of nature + technology in society, personal relationships and criticisms of colleagues, and his rage against the anime industry; it reveals a surprisingly pessimistic world view and creed on attempting to create an oasis of quality animation amongst an already oversaturated industry. Overall, it provides a far less humorous insight of the director than can be garnered from standalone hero-worship snippets and The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.

As a whole, there are some parts that may be entirely too dry and nuanced. However, Miyazaki's short form essays reveal an in depth understanding of emotions and transitioning from childhood to maturity, which make his characters far more believable than comparable films. For the serious film buff who enjoys analyzing films, which I am admittedly not, it may be far more enjoyable chew through- it's fascinating to realize how purposeful his choices are for the way characters act despite the inexplicably natural way those actions are upon viewing. Simultaneously, there are also some completely arbitrary decisions, made purely as a result of personal experience. Versus the guesswork interpretations of paintings by old masters, it's actually possible to contrast the multitudes of fan theories with the director's intention in design elements and directorial choices.

Some included are:

- why Satsuki is hesitant in embracing her mother at the end (My Neighbor Totoro)
- the catalyst for Kiki's depression + loss of powers (Kiki's Delivery Service)
- why there are so many massive camphor trees in his movies
- the design of the floating castle in Castle in the Sky
- etc

As for myself, as an artist who does not necessarily want to be one and yet is involuntarily compelled to continue drawing, the first 1/3 of the book was personally relevant and prompted an intense urge to cry.
January 4, 2021
As a rookie employee of my company, this book though me a lot about the importance of giving your effort and understanding the things you do. Personally, I kind of feel sometimes stressed during the lockdown and quarantine. So I made a routine about reading this book at least 1 hour per day in the morning before I start the day. What I wrote here has no context about the book or a spoiler. It is only the knowledge I received from this book. Of course, I do love Ghibli films, and I have watched most of them. But what I truly learned from this book was more than the films of this studio.
The main thing is about famous studio ghibli and how the legendary director Miyazaki does his work but, I found that whatever you started to do or still doing must have some certain value in it. And it must have motivated you in a certain way. But it also demands self-sacrifice from you or someone close to you. Overcoming and giving up is your option, of course, but one thing that Miyazaki did was he waited and worked almost 20 years to find the studio ghibli. Do not fill yourself with a temporary suffering feeling and patiently do what you love to do and drive through the ups and downs to reach your dream.
Profile Image for Matt Kelland.
1,420 reviews2 followers
September 21, 2016
Absolutely brilliant book, a must for any filmmaker, specially animators. Miyazaki writes a series of essays about how he creates, and most importantly why he creates. How does he see the world, and how does he represent that on screen? How do you make audiences care about what they're seeing? What makes Ghibli films so superior to those of just about every other animation studio in the world?
It's not about the drawings or the 3D models. It's not even about the movement. Miyazaki talks about what his characters feel, and how he wants his audiences to feel. He talks about empathy, and about thinking beyond the purely visual.
He also talks about the process of creating animation, the people he's worked with or met, and the films that have influenced him. It's an incredible insight into one of the most creative minds of the last 50 years.
(Personally, I didn't care for the interviews towards the end of the book, but no matter. The essays made it worth while.)
Profile Image for Benjamin Robinson.
262 reviews5 followers
April 19, 2017
I think this book will only appeal to a very specific audience. It is not a grand, sweeping narrative about the life and works of Hayao Miyazaki. This book is a collection of interviews, essays, and speeches that he has given over the course of 27 years. In a way, this makes the book even more interesting. Instead of an author attempting to interpret the actions of Miyazaki, or even Miyazaki attempting an interpretation of himself, this book simply exposes his thoughts as they were at a certain time in his life regarding his professional career. In a way, this exposes Miyazaki for who he is in a sense that is more true than any narrative would be. If you want a story about Hayao Miyazaki, go get a different book. However, if you want a glimpse into the mind of a very practical artist, then this will be a fascinating read.
Profile Image for Ilse.
146 reviews16 followers
February 8, 2017
More 3,5 stars... It was great to get to look into the mind of this great animator, to know how much he cares about nature, what he thinks of childhood, about animation, etcetera...

It was boring at times though, probably in part because of the writing, but honestly animation isn't the only subject in this book. I don't really know what I expected from this, but I definitely hoped it would be better (aka; I wanted it to blow my mind and maybe get more info on how to get better at this difficult craft)...

I'm still so glad I got to read this book, Miyazaki is a master of animation and to learn more from and about him is a great gift!
Profile Image for Errol.
4 reviews17 followers
July 2, 2010
Definitely enjoyed it. Why? Because it provided an insight into Miyazaki himself. It gave background to his thoughts on certain films, on the process of making them. It revealed to me how his Japanese culture, which I am not familiar, affected him. There is one chapter dedicated completely to Future Boy Conan. I had not seen it and so I put the book down and watched the whole thing before I came back to the book again. Maybe it's because I'm a fanboy, but it was very fascinating and to me, worth the read.
Profile Image for Nymphredyl.
39 reviews2 followers
September 21, 2013
It builts an interesting picture of one of my favorite animation authors. It sheds light in the way he perceives the world around him and what his work means to him which is always valuable information to have when one attemps to watch a story in full light.
Profile Image for Cornelius.
19 reviews
June 25, 2010
Holy cow all Miyazaki talks about is overpopulation and how there are too many cartoons on TV.
2 reviews
October 5, 2022
It's very easy to believe that Miyazaki is simply a grumpy old man who despises the entire medium that he works in, or someone who's genius is so untouchable that it makes sense for him to be as caustic and cold as he is. Years of "anime was a mistake" memes and pitting his work against every animated movie to come out of Japan have created a situation where Miyazaki has been put on the highest pedestal and no one feels the need to bring him down from that pedestal to really examine who he is, what he stands for, and what goes into making his work. Reading this giant book of essays, writings, interviews, and talks that Miyazaki gave over 1979-1996, a period that represents his start as a film director, demystifies this man and reveals him to be, more than anything, incredibly human. He contradicts himself constantly, one year being passionate about a specific cause and the next believing it to be frivolous and unimportant to some other, greater cause. He constantly talks about how much he hates humanity and it's inherent cruelty, but also believes strongly in an optimistic future and a world where everyone is capable of being a good person. In between moments of describing how the entire Japanese animation industry has failed him, he always mentions the people who made it worth suffering through, and the ways in which he strives to make it better. Miyazaki is someone who can't help but believe in the beauty of the world and the people who reflect that beauty.

Skip the foreword by known sex pervert John Lasseter, and don't miss the incredibly touching afterword from Isao Takahata, someone who is able to convey all of Miyazaki's quirks and peculiarities better than the man himself is able to throughout the book.
December 16, 2017
Hayao Miyazaki Starting Point: Book Review

Starting Point is a memoir worth a read from anybody especially those seeking a career in the world of animation. The works and thought process of Hayao Miyazaki's mind are inspiring all on their own. Through Hayao eye’s you get his view and ideas on the industry whether it be negative or positive. His advice and lessons our giving and taught through his own expense throughout the whole memoir that will enlighten and may change the way you think of animation as it has done for me. His thoughts on creative freedom, deadlines, and corporate influence, greed on the industry are talked and discussed about through experience and witness.
Starting point starts right off with Hayao talking about what animation is to him and right away you get to learn about how this animation genius sees his works. The way he thinks of animation and the industry is mentioned and gone back to through the whole fist half of the book with a favorite of mine being quote from early on in the book saying “That world soothes the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality, or suffering from a nearsighted distortion of their emotions." pg. 25. When it comes to the process of how his works come together he mentions how motivation is key he is always looking for some motivation to drive him saying things like “what i wanted to see in the 3rd grade” or “what kind of cartoon films my children might want to see” and even “younger children in my neighborhood” pag. 50. The time and nature of the world inspires setting and feel of a film he makes. To have insight to a man who is considered a legend in the animation industry is amazing, for fans of Hayao its really means something to see how he has such a humble and positive outlook on his place of work and life is pretty special.
For those seeking advice or perception on the world of animation this book constantly offers pointers and sort of “things to do first” from Miyazaki. Questions he gets from fans and others and what to do before going to work in the industry or just going straight in he answers with doing what it is that pleases you. But his advice goes deeper he warns newcomers to learn about what goes on in “his world” and decide what it is they want to say with the films they make. “In fact many of those who have not taken the plunge into the professional world of animation tend to speak endlessly about animation techniques”pg, 22 he says things like this a few times to get people to understand that preconceived notions on animation aren't always true, it's something always consistent with newbies. One of the first topics talked about in the book is nostalgia and how the first thing we think of starts with what we experienced in the past saying “nostalgia is one of the fundamental starting points for most people involved in creating animation.”. With a lot of what he says about the industry for people to take note of he wants people to live a “life” in a scene and do things they want to do travel learn other topics because the would of animation will leave you with no time to really explore other things in life. He has one big piece advice for everyone reading and its something im gonna keep in mind “My advice to you all is to study” pg. 22.
Hayao gives his thoughts on anime and manga during the anime boom in japan and the loss of motive afterwards. During the anime boom production reached upto 40 shows a week which was extreme and insane, but after so many shows were produced he talks about the loss of motive within them. He goes on to talk about how character lack depth and independent motives, he watched as anime became a bit stale to him with each show having the same them and drive for there characters. To him they all followed basic motives saying “robot soldiers fight because there robot soldiers” pg. 82 it became repetitive. He talks about loss of motivation in the U.S. and how everything became about killing nazi enemies and how animators began creating things with action and drama because it was hot at the time and he says “when creator start depicting things that they don't really believe in, they start to betray themselves.” to him if your not creating what you love then what our you really doing.
With his inspiring thoughts and interesting ideas on information Starting point is a fantastic read for fans of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki and animators looking to join the industry. Hid thoughts and words on animation as a whole inspire and enlighten when reading them and for those who have watched his work it opens them for deeper thought and understanding knowing his thought process. This is a must read from any fan and animator sure to change their outlook on the industry as a whole.

Works cited
Miyazaki, Hayao. Starting point: 1979-1996. VIZ Media, 2014.
Profile Image for Alex2739.
143 reviews1 follower
April 29, 2021
The only fitting review I see is something along the lines of: thank you Hayao Miyazaki~
Profile Image for Lệ Lin.
159 reviews62 followers
July 20, 2020
“If you plan to reflect what you really want to do in your own work, you must have a firm foundation. My foundation is this: I want to send a message of cheer to all those wandering aimlessly through life.”




≛ This book is a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs in which the first half revealing some of his personal views that I oppose* and the latter half, however, still made me look up to him for his dedication and acute observation both in work and life. There is a part of me feeling like he is a conservative man embracing only the world he went through but skilfully convincing viewers to see what he believed and still being able to stay inside his bubble while contributing the world his talent.
Moreover, he didn’t afraid to criticise the Japanese society for its flaws and pointed out the weakness in the contemporary world of animation, tv-series or giving straightforward comments on his peers.
≛ His speech for children is a bit boring to me so I actually skimmed most of them.
(*) ex: He cares about the environment but he encourages people to have children as a way to go on living for the human race's doomsday is rather realistic to him.
He exclaimed that Moomin (created by Tove Jansson) was 'ugly', which broke my heart! He seemed to not be a big fan of Western animations even though the introduction of this book was written by John Lasseter, what an irony.

Some facts :
⋆ The manga - Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind - is one of the most daunting and longest projects he involved in (I had to put it in my to-read list out of my curiosity)
⋆ They usually didn't have any script in Studio Ghibli and the team had to wait for Hayao Miyazaki to finish the storyboard, which made the production process nerve-racking (and yes they all turned out amazing!).
⋆ The earlier time frame for My Neighbor Totoro, according to Miyazaki's answer to one interview, would be handled by Grave of the Fireflies. The only hint of time is the Shigeru Sugiura manga scribbled in Kanta’s notebook. It was put in by the original artist, Masako Shinohara as her personal preference.


Dưới đây là note bằng tiếng Việt trong quá trình đọc, được viết theo cách hiểu của riêng mình.

Sự học là nền tảng
⁃ Biết chủ đề mình muốn nói, và kĩ thuật sẽ là thứ bổ trợ / p22 34
⁃ Lời khuyên việc học / p23
⁃ Trí tưởng tượng không đến từ việc tự nhào nặn những gì ta nhớ được mà ở việc nghiêm túc tìm hiểu và tổng hợp kho hình ảnh có sẵn và kiến thức thu nạp thành tranh vẽ.
⁃ Việc tạo storyboard trong hoạt hoạ là cần thiết nhưng đôi khi sẽ không bao giờ đủ thời gian cho công việc này khi một tác phẩm dài 1 tiếng với, ví dụ, 800 cảnh chỉ có một storyboard cho từng cảnh, bạn cần gấp hai hoặc gấp ba con số ấy (p32).
+ Nhiều nhà hoạt hoạ sẽ thay vào đó bằng việc sketch các cảnh liên tục để tiết kiệm thời gian. Vấn đề không ở việc bạn chỉ vẽ storyboard để truyền tải cốt truyện chính (core story hay scenario) mà việc biết ‘chủ đề’ mình muốn khai thác. Từ hình dung tính cách nhân vật, hướng đi chính cho đến bối cảnh không gian và không khí chính. Tất cả phải được nghĩ đến trước khi hướng đến việc làm storyboard để tiết kiệm sức lực và thời gian (p.32-34).
+ Nếu thực hiện các bản sketch thay vì làm storyboard, việc cần thiết là xem xét liệu bản vẽ có thú vị hay không.
- Mọi người trong tổ sản xuất có thể đưa ra ý kiến nhưng với một người làm sáng tạo chuyên nghiệp, bạn cần đưa ra những giải pháp thay thế và hiểu được trách nhiệm của bản thân nếu extra labor cần cho giải pháp ấy - hoặc bạn không có quyền để lên tiếng (p35)
⁃ Những ảnh hưởng trong cuộc sống thời niên thiếu tạo nên tư duy làm phim/ mục đích làm phim cho trẻ em (p.55)
⁃ Cel animation ưu và nhược (p.73x 74) / thẳng thắn thừa nhận bản thân ông không thích cách sử dụng người thật của Disney vì nó làm giảm đi niềm vui thích và cảm quan của người hoạ sĩ.
Profile Image for Esteban.
199 reviews21 followers
January 11, 2020
Un rejunte de entrevistas y artículos sobre temas de interés para Miyazaki y para aficionados a la animación. La selección encuentra un buen equilibrio entre los aspectos más personales del proceso creativo y los que tienen que ver con el trabajo duro y puro. En Starting Point hay apologías al crunch, descripciones de jornadas laborales bastante ásperas, referencias literarias, valoraciones negativas de clásicos de animación y una falta general de condescendencia al productor y consumidor promedio de anime. Lo suficiente para no quedarse con una imagen romántica y sin matices del hombre y su obra.
Profile Image for Matthew.
150 reviews34 followers
February 4, 2019
"I'm fully aware that in today's world, to create truly human-oriented works, we have to accept an inhuman daily schedule, and of course I wind up becoming a workaholic. I believe my dilemma is a yoke similar to what audiences- who yearn to be liberated from their daily lives- must bear. It requires a strong will. So that's why I believe that the only solution for me is to go back, again and again, to my starting point."
From "Thoughts on Japanese Animation," p. 85

A diverse set of essays, interviews, and occasional writings culled from a dragnet of sources. Some of it is thin in substance and seems only to pad out the length of the book: planning memos for Ghibli's 80s features don't illuminate very much. But much of the material is full of wisdom and warmth, showcasing Miyazaki's love of children, nature, and other innocent things, or otherwise describing in fine detail the production element of his craft. Above all, Miyazaki (once a union organizer) believes in the powerful works good and worthy efforts create-- the power of kindness to one another, the power of pride in hard work, and the worthiness of treating our world with care and respect.

Miyazaki is exacting, curmudgeonly, slightly misanthropic, and dedicated to a life spent in arduous toil. It has been rewarding toil-- it's not for nothing that he's the most famous anime director in the world, and the one anime artist for whom those who otherwise hate anime will point towards and say "... but he's pretty good." But his addiction to work, seemingly so Japanese in nature, has come at a cost. In an essay like "I Left Raising Our Children to My Wife" he lets a door open and admits rather nakedly that his wife Akemi Ota, once an animator herself, had to quit the industry in order to raise their two sons in Miyzaki's perpetual absence. A revelation like this sheds new light on the long-whispered rumors of Miyazaki's strained relationship with his son Goro, and of Goro's reluctant participation with Ghibli.

To my mind, one of the best pieces here is "I Parted Ways With Tezuka When I Saw the Hand of God in Him," an incisive and brutally honest essay on the work of elder mangaka Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy, et al) upon the occasion of his death. It is something of a kingslaying moment, as Miyazaki frames Tezuka not as a mentor, but as a rival, a peddler of cheap and tawdry goods, whose passing should be mourned but whose work should be buried. Another fascinating piece is "Miyazaki on his Own Works," a long interview from 1984, just a year before the founding of Ghibli. He reflects candidly on his mid-60s to early 80s work, largely in television and largely under other directors, giving detailed, nostalgia-flecked descriptions of the painful and tireless process of producing a weekly animated program for television. As he describes his early projects like Lupin III, Heidi, and Sherlock Hound, it becomes apparent that he would've gone down in history as a legendary wunderkind with wide-ranging tastes and abilities if he'd stopped there and had never founded Ghibli or directed a story of his own creation. But, the same year as that interview, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was released, and the steamrolling faerie wind of his career began in earnest...
Profile Image for Lloyd Downey.
339 reviews
February 2, 2021
Not quite a biography nor an autobiography; Not a sampling of his animation or drawing but a collection of interviews and writings about and by Hayao Miyazaki. I loved it. It's vaguely historical in terms of time lines but it meanders this way and that in teasing out Miyazaki's approach to manga and animation and the influences in his life. The translation is marvellous. Never once did i find that awkwardness that comes from having to translate something from Japanese into English ...so full marks to the two translators. And Miyazaki himself comes across as a fascinating kind of person. Fairly direct and seemingly very honest about his intentions, successes and failures. But he is surprisingly erudite about his intentions for an artist. (I think Artists frequently adopt the stance of an Australian sculptor who was asked "why are you burying these sculptures in the soil?" ....not an unreasonable question....His reply was " If you have to ask, you can't possibly understand".
Miyazaki comes across as incredibly talented ...his first supervisor at Toei Animation, Sadao Kikuchi says. "in those days, as now, his ideas and compositions were outstanding. I Still clearly remember that his lines were free and natural in the blacksmith illustration he brought with him when he joined the company........there are many animators who are good at drawing, but in terms of composition and imaging, he is first and foremost in the animation film world."
He was also a driven workaholic ...committed to completing the projects..even at the expense of his family life...which he now regrets. (hard to have it both ways).
He is extremely philosophical about his love for nature and his intentions in getting this across to a whole generation of children. He's been compared to Disney...but doesn't have a very high opinion of the Disney studios. Given the way the book has been put together, it's inevitable that there will be some repetition but that merely reinforces some of the messages that he has been striving to get across through his art. He is refreshingly self critical about his work...what worked and what didn't work and it's interesting that the commercial imperative was constantly both driving him and his team but also applying a discipline on their work. I love his work, ....Totoro was the first example that I saw and my son loved this and Ponyo ....maybe Ponyo and the song that went with it was loved more.
Will I now try and read the second part of this biography? Not sure. But this first part was quite fascinating in terms of seeing something of what makes Hayao Miyazaki tick. (And I would like to visit the museum he has established on the outskirts of Tokyo).
Happy to give this book five stars.
Profile Image for Brendan.
18 reviews3 followers
February 24, 2018
If you ever want to diagnose my personality, you can start with the time I read 450 pages of Miyazaki interviews and essays when I hadn't even seen all the movies he talked about. There's a lot of material here! It covers a lot of ground, too, but it's really interesting to see themes and repeated points emerge across media and time. This book made me get out my highlighter and scribble notes in the margins. I don't think his creative mind is any less enigmatic to me after reading the book, but knowing his process and motivation will inform what I'm seeing now, and I'll be much better able to parse his structural intent.

If you've watched Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, you'll see the persona on display there emerge here too. The dude was already cranky old pessimist twenty-five years ago, and he doesn't suffer indulgence much. He used to be an animators' union officer, yet once he's running his own productions, he tacitly expects people to work so hard they end up in the hospital. He's open about his failures as a father and a Marxist. He is vastly intelligent and often charming, but if there's one thing that comes across very clearly in every piece, it's that the man has no intent or interest in bullshitting you.

When I'm talking about movies or books, I often find myself collapsing them to a sardonic one-sentence reduction. It's not a very fair way to treat them, but then again, so many stories--even those I like!--are morally simple and structurally similar. I can't do that with Miyazaki's films. It's not that they're too complex to summarize, it's just that they bypass so many of the assumptions that creators and audiences use to scaffold their communication--allegory, genre, escalation, boldly articulated takeaways (or the outright rejection thereof). Some of them shrug off plot. This book makes it clear how Miyazaki's determination to look closely at everything, from the number of frames in a run cycle to the arc of aviation history, drives that unique approach. I have a lot to learn from it.

It's worth keeping in mind that this is a book in translation. I can't say how close it hews to the original, but it makes what could be fairly dry material very readable, and doesn't seem to be overreaching for luminous prose as it does so.

"Other studios may also have been pushing their limits. I do think they were all working very hard. But I think we were working the hardest. What I mean is not that we were just working hard, but that we consciously determined what we wanted to do and worked toward that. And what we wanted to do was to create animation that had some meaning and was worth making." --Hayao Miyazaki, 1991
Profile Image for Friend.
6 reviews30 followers
March 25, 2018
My own starting point with Miyazaki was fifteen years ago sitting at home watching an animated film by the name of spirited away. Suffice to say, I was drawn into his world - not so much by their technical excellence in meticulous details (although, that is important too), but an artist quality that transported me, and still transports me, to a world where there are no distinctive villains, where the protagonist is a child with no superpowers but simply going through a search of identity just like you and me, and where the world - however magical - is supported by a backbone of realism, of universal values in love, faith, and other traits that define humanity. Naturally, then, I am curious about Miyazaki, and this book gives me whispers of his past.

The book provides a snapshot of Miyazaki's worldviews, from his perspective on newcomers to the budding animation industry in the early 1980s, to his rather introverted childhood, to his fascination with becoming a manga artist, amongst other experience and encounters. It is a little summary of his life, letting the readers form links to elements of his films. However, there are instances where detailed discussion about cinematic techniques hold dangers of leaving the casual readers astray, including the more moderate audiences like myself grappling the meaning between lines on ways of directing, for example. However, there are also stints where Miyazaki portrays a refreshing view on life. I particularly like his speech to a sixth grade audience, captivating in humour and perspective. The experience underlines why he wants to make films for children, and, via animation, show the children of our times why life is worth living.
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