January 14, 2013

On Ghibli and the seaside

It's not a big secret that I am a passionate Studio Ghibli fan. I am looking at a plush toy of the Catbus in this very moment, so there you go...

There is something very soothing about Ghibli movies. Something very down-to-earth and spiritual.
I am especially intrigued by the implicitness of supernatural existence. Take for example "Howl's moving castle", or "Kiki's delivery service". In all these movies, humans, wizards, witches, demons...they are all aware of each other but don't make a big deal out of it. Or in "My neighbour Totoro", where children aren't afraid of the forest spirit, but rather embrace him with childlike naivety and without any unjustified prejudice.
Isn't this the definition of a child's pure, open mind? Would a child know someone is "different", if society wouldn't tell them they were?

Ghibli movies always seem to get to the very core of things. Even the bad guys get portrayed in a positive way somewhere along the line, ensuring the audience understands the reasoning behind the villain's actions. Usually a broken heart, a friends' betrayal or simply society's cruel judgement on him/her are justifying, in a way, the bad guy's behaviour. And while these movies are obviously fictional, the above just sounds all too familiar and can easily be applied to today's society. I mean, loosing the plot over a broken heart - pretty relevant in our day and age, am I right?
The thing I find very remarkable, because it's so different to European fairy tales, is that the villain always gets a second chance. Usually the hero (or, in Ghibli movies usually a heroine) tries to find the villain's weakness and stumbles across above mentioned traumatizing experience. Then, instead of using this knowledge to destroy the villain, (s)he tries to fix that poor fucker up. Psychological rehabilitation. (Where I come from our villains either get shoved into an oven to burn, they drown, die of hunger, get their eyes picked out by ravens, go up in flames and so on. You get the idea) And the message right there? Arseholes don't get born as such, there is a reason to act like an arsehole and while not all of them technically deserve our compassion, we should still try to feel at least a little sorry for them. (Note: Does not apply to major arseholes (read: mentally challenged 'leaders' of the past, present and future))

I could go on and on about my fascination and passion for Ghibli movies, but there is really one imagery that repeats itself and that makes my heart dance particularly wild. The town at the seaside. A warm familiar feeling in my chest, as well as the architecture suggest Myazaki's inspiration are European towns. Whenever I watch a movie and the heroine wanders through the streets of her home town, my thoughts take me back to when I explored the Cote d'Azur, the South of Spain, Monaco and Italy, Brighton beach and little cute French towns in New Zealand.