Hayao Miyazaki: Environmentalism And Pacifism

Hayao Miyazaki: Environmentalism And Pacifism

A look at some of Hayao Miyazaki's central themes connected to his films.
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Throughout my life, I’ve had a huge passion for animation that started with Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki retired recently in 2013 after his final film The Wind Rises. So naturally, I took it upon myself to watch all of his films this past month; this only strengthened my love and admiration for his work. With his departure, he left a significant mark on animation and the way we teach children through media as a whole. Miyazaki created profound messages centered in environmentalism and pacifism that only enriched the viewing experience for not only children but the expanding audience he gained throughout his life.

Environmentalism

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) is easily one of Hayao Miyazaki’s greatest epics. This film is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, ravaged and turned to ash by humanity’s greed and war. Nausicaä is the title character, a princess of the last area of livable land thanks to the natural resources the wind and rivers provide. Once neighboring kingdoms discover her home and its resources, she has to find a solution to prevent the ruin or her country. The film itself focuses on Nausicaä trying to find an alternate route to improving the earth. She fights against all the odds to make it clear that there’s another way to save the planet, one that helps the earth heal from its poisons. This film centers in Miyazaki’s feelings about pollution, and the damage it hence causes to the earth; the destruction via fire and poison alludes to nuclear war, as well.

After the film’s release, Miyazaki continued with this trend of promoting environmentalism, or even just the presence of nature as a center in his creations. Princess Mononoke (1997) features a war between nature versus industrialism and serves to be an important lesson on cherishing and respecting the environment; if there’s too much industry the world can become imbalanced. Spirited Away (2001), features an encounter with a Stink Spirit, which turned out to be a River Spirit with a lost identity caused by pollution; Miyazaki mentioned in an interview that the spirit represented a polluted river in his hometown he helped clean. Ponyo (2008) frequently shows trash and debris in areas where the main character, Ponyo, is swimming in when she first encounters humans. Her father also talks about the greed of man and how they’re dangerous for Ponyo.

Pacifism

Princess Mononoke is also a hallmark into Hayao Miyazaki’s feelings of not only environmentalism but pacifism as well. The film is set up expecting the protagonist to choose a side, but it isn’t so simple as just picking one group over the other. Both characters that are seemingly villains on either side of the conflict turn out to be loved and care for by the people they look after. Another example is Spirited Away, where all of the characters have a motivation or something they care for, like Yubaba, the witch in charge of the bathhouse, and her baby. Miyazaki pushes characters to have a hidden side to them, a trait that makes them human to the audience, and to find a way for all parties to be happy without having to pick between two sides. Another good example would be My Neighbor Totoro (1988), where there isn’t explicitly a villain at all. The central conflict is between the two sisters and their anxiety over moving and their mother getting better. The story focuses on the dynamic of the sisters and the adventures they have together, and there isn’t a real villain in the story. This serves to Miyazaki’s beliefs and creates a way to make fascinating, complex characters that are three-dimensional.

In Miyazaki’s daily life, pacifism is a belief and practice that influences him. As a small child, Miyazaki experienced firebombing as a child in during World War Two. His experiences of war left a lasting impression and he continuously speaks out against the violence. When Miyazaki won the Oscar for Spirited Away in 2003, he refused to go to the ceremony because of his disapproval of America invading Iraq; Miyazaki didn’t come back to America until 2009. He still speaks out against political policies that he believes harms pacifism and diplomacy.

Conclusion

Hayao Miyazaki has continuously kept a consistent message throughout his films; there’s always multiple sides to a story, there's always a path out of conflict that doesn't involve violence, and we have to cherish and appreciate nature instead of ruining it. A reason Miyazaki’s films will continue to be beloved is that these lessons are only a small piece to his movies; it’s just a stepping stone that enriches the bigger picture. So many of his films have this quality to them that makes them a wonder to watch; whether it’s the hand-drawn animation, the story, the characters, or the charm the entity of the film holds, there’s always something to enjoy and appreciate about every film that Miyazaki created. He may have retired, but his films will remain important, relevant, and valued by fans for generations.


Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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After 'Extremely Wicked' And 'The Stranger Beside Me,' We Now Understand The Criminal Mind Of Ted Bundy

1 hour and 50 minutes, plus 550 pages later.

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Netflix recently released a movie in May called "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile" (2019), based on the life of Ted Bundy from his girlfriend's viewpoint.

In 1980, an author and former Seattle police officer, Ann Rule, published a book about her experience and personal, close friendship with Ted Bundy, called "The Stranger Beside Me."

These two sources together create an explosion of important information we either skim over or ignore about Ted Bundy. Watching this movie and reading this book can really open your eyes to who Ted Bundy really was. Yeah, there are the confession tapes on Netflix, too, but these other things can really tie it all into one big masterpiece of destruction.

I swear, it will blow your mind in different ways you never thought possible.

In the movie, "Extremely Wicked", Zac Efron stars as the infamous Ted Bundy, America's most notorious serial killer. He portrayed the murderer who kidnapped, killed, and raped 30 women or more. Personally, he made a great Ted Bundy, mannerisms and all. Lily Collins stars as Ted's girlfriend who was easily manipulated by Ted and believed that he was innocent for years.

The movie is told in the order that Liz, Ted's girlfriend, remembers.

In the book, "The Stranger Beside Me", Ann Rule writes about Ted Bundy, who used to be her old friend. They met while working at a crisis center in the state of Washington and were close ever since. Like Liz, Ann believed he was innocent and that he was incapable of these horrific crimes.

Ted Bundy had made both Liz and Ann fools. He easily manipulated and lied to both women about many things for years, his murders being "one" of them.

Okay, so we all know that Ted Bundy was absolutely guilty as hell and totally murdered those women. 30 women or more. He literally confessed to that, but researchers and authorities believe that number to be way higher.

But... you must know that the movie and the book tell two different stories that lead to the same ending. That's why it's so intriguing.

At one point, I couldn't stop watching the movie. Then, I bought Ann Rule's book and was completely attached to it. I couldn't put it down.

For me, Ted Bundy is interesting to me. Unlike most young girls today, I don't have a thing for him nor do I think he's cute or hot. I know that he used his charm and looks to lure women into his murderous trap. That's why it's so hard to understand why this movie and book created a new generation of women "falling in love" with Ted Bundy.

GROSS: He sodomized women with objects. He bludgeoned women with objects or his own hands. He was a necrophile. Look those up if you have not a clue of what they mean. That could change your mind about your own feelings for Ted Bundy.

After "Extremely Wicked" and "The Stranger Beside Me", I now understand the criminal mind of Ted Bundy. He was insane, but he was also smart, put together, educated, charming, and lots more. That's why I'm so interested in why his brain was the way it was.

The criminal mind is an interesting topic for me anyway, but for Ted Bundy, it was amazing to learn about.

I highly recommend both the movie and the book I quickly read in two weeks! If you want answers, they are there.

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