Miyazaki’s memoir

Miyazaki-StartingPoint-cov“In the first two decades of his career, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki laid the groundwork for his legendary movies. Starting Point is a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs that go back to the roots of Miyazaki’s childhood, the formulation of his theories of animation, and the founding of Studio Ghibli.

Before directing such acclaimed films as Spirited Away, Miyazaki was just another salaried animator, but with a vision of his own. Follow him as he takes his first steps on the road to success, experience his frustrations with the manga and animation industries that often suffocate creativity, and realize the importance of bringing the childhood dreams of the world to life.

Starting Point: 1979-1996 is not just a chronicle of the life of a man whose own dreams have come true, it is a tribute to the power of the moving image.” 

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the backcover]

Starting Point: 1979-1996, by Hayao Miyazaki (Translated by Beth Cary and Frederik L. Schodt). San Francisco: Viz Media, April 2014, 462 pages, 6 x 9 in., $ US 16.99 / $C 22.99, ISBN 9781421561042. For teen readership (12+).

Miyazaki-TurningPoint-cov“In the mid-1990s, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki moved from success to success as his work found an audience outside of Japan. His animated films of the era, including Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, were internationally lauded, and Miyazaki won an Academy Award® in 2003 for his popular and critical hit Spirited Away.

Follow Miyazaki as his vision matures, as cinema-lovers worldwide embrace his creations, and as critics such as Roger Ebert take up the cause of animation and Miyazaki’s films. In a legendary career, these crucial years represent the turning point.”

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the backcover]

Turning Point: 1997-2008, by Hayao Miyazaki (Translated by Beth Cary and Frederik L. Schodt). San Francisco: Viz Media, March 2021, 452 pages,  6 x 9 in., $ US 16.99 / $C 22.99, ISBN 9781974724505. For teen readership (12+).

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

If Osamu Tezuka is Japan’s god of manga, Hayao Miyazaki is certainly their god of animation. I noticed that lots has been written about him in the last decade. Just recently I mentioned the book Hommage à Hayao Miyazaki and a special issue of the French magazine Animeland entirely dedicated to the studio he created, Studio Ghibli (for more books suggestions check the list at the end of this article). However, who better to write about Miyazaki but the man himself? Earlier last year, Viz Media has published the second part of Hayao Miyazaki’s memoir (折り返し点―1997~2008 / Orikaeshi-ten: 1997~2008, first published in Japan by Iwanami Shoten in 2008): Turning Point: 1997-2008, so I thought I would talk a little about it. The first part of his Memoir, Starting Point: 1979-1996 [出発点―1979~1996 / Shuppatsuten: 1979~1996] was first published in Japan in 1996 by Tokuma Shoten and Viz Media published it in English in 2014.

This is not the kind of books that you read from cover to cover as it is more of a reference book that you slowly read, bit by bit. It is also a little difficult to describe this memoir as it is not a retelling of his life and experience in a chronological manner like memoir usually are. It is a collection of essays, interviews, magazine or newspaper articles, lectures, speeches, notes for video releases, etc., that Miyazaki wrote or gave or that are written by other people. It is very interesting but it is not an easy reading…


“Dining in midair” (p. 218)

The first book is divided in eight chapters (besides a foreword by John Lasseter and an Afterword by Isao Takahata): On Creating Animation (with articles like “My Point of Origin” or “Thoughts on Japanese Animation” — see the table of contents for a detailed list of articles), On the Periphery of the Work (with articles like “About Period Dramas” or “My Theories on the Popularity of Manga”), People (“My Teacher and I” or “I Left Raising Our Children to My Wife”), A Story in Color (Miyazaki short manga story “Dining in Midair”), My Favorite Things (“My Scrapbook” or “My Car”), Planning Notes; Directorial Memoranda (“A Proposal to Acquire Film Rights” or “Why Shojo Manga Now?”),  Works (“On Nausicaa” or “Speaking of Conan” or “The Pictures Are Already Moving Inside MY Head”) and Biographical Chronology. I particularly enjoyed the translated short color manga “Dining in Midair” and the excerpts of Miyazaki’s scrapbook.

The second book takes a slightly different approach. It is still a collection of essays and articles but this time organized around a couple of specific works: Princess Mononoke (1997) [with articles like “On Japan Animation Culture” or “Recalling the Days of my Youth” — see the table of contents for a detailed list of articles], Spirited Away (2001) [“Room to Be Free: Speaking about Spirited Away at the Press Conference Held Upon Completion of the Film” or “Comments on Receiving the 75th Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film”], Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) [“I’ve Always Wanted to Create a Film About Which I Could Say, “I’M Just Glad I Was Born, so I Could Make This”” or “Feeling Responsible for the Future of Children and Not Wanting to Make Halfhearted Films”] and Ponyo (2008) [“On Ponyo” or “Memo on Music for Joe Hisaishi”]. It also included Miyazaki’s Original Drawings for Studio Ghibli New Year’s Cards (1997-2008) as a foreword, a Biographical Chronology and an afterword by Miyazaki.

It is really a fascinating work if you are interested in Japanese animation and a must-read if you are a deep fan of the works of Miyazaki. It offers a huge amount of material that, as I already said, you won’t read in one sitting but it is definitely worth having a look. stars-3-5

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 1996 / 2008 Studio Ghibli

Other recommended titles on Miyazaki:

  • (Collectif sous la direction de Victor Lopez). Hayao Miyazaki : nuances d’une oeuvre. Moutons électriques, 2018. 271 pages. ISBN 9782361835156 [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • Animeland Hors-Série (Juillet-Septembre 2021): Studio Ghibli. 144 pages. 12,50 € [ NelliganWebpage ]
  • Miyazaki: numéro spécial de Dada(no 197, janv. 2015, ISSN 1261-4858). Arola, 2015. 50 pages. ISBN 9782358800716. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • ALPERT, Steve.Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man; 15 years at Studio Ghibli. Berkley: Stone Bridge Press , July 2020. 296 pages. ISBN 9781611720570. [Goodreads]
  • BERTON, Gaël. The Works of Hayao Miyazaki: The Master of Japanese Animation. [Goodreads]
  • CAVALLARO, Dani. The anime art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2006. 204 pg. ISBN 978-0-7864-2369-9. $35. [Goodreads]
  • CHAPTAL, Stéphanie. Hommage à Hayao Miyazaki : un coeur à l’ouvrage. Ynnis, 2020. 155 pages. ISBN 9782376971313. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • COLSON,Raphaël; RÉGNER, Gaël. Hayao Miyazaki : cartographie d’un univers. Moutons électriques, 2013. 357 pages. ISBN 9782361831356 [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • LENBURG, Jeff. Hayao Miyazaki : Japan’s premier anime storyteller. Chelsea House, 2011. 120 pages. ISBN 9781604138412. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • NAPIER, Susan. Miyazaki world : a life in art. Yale University Press, 2020. 305 pages. ISBN 9780300248593. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • NAPIER, Susan. Le monde de Miyazaki. Éditions Imho, 2020. 366 pages. ISBN 9782364810242. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • NIEBEL, Jessica; DOCTER, Pete; KOTHENSCHULTE, Daniel.Hayao Miyazaki. DelMonico Books, 2021. 287 pages. ISBN 9781942884811. [ GoodreadsNelligan]
  • McCARTHY, Helen. Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1999. 240 pg. ISBN 1-880656-41-8. [Goodreads]
[ Traduire ]

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