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Pure Emotion: Thoughts on “Hayao Miyazaki – The Essence of Humanity”

My friend sent me this Youtube video entitled, “Hayao Miyazaki- The Essence of Humanity.” After watching this short film, I didn’t realize how much Miyazaki and I have in common in regards to our philosophy and aesthetics on human emotion and realism through art. 

  • Subtleties help convey a character’s personality. I pay great attention to the subtle details that are within characters in anime and novels. It helps me get a better depiction of them.
  • Empathy. As readers and viewers, we tend to have the habit of evoking our own personal feelings and values into a character which further brings them to life or in other words, make the character more human.
  • Observation. I don’t consider myself a social person, but I do like observing other people from afar. If you just go people watching, I think it will help you understand people and yourself better. Furthermore, just by observing people, it will help you with character development in your storytelling. However, you should still interact and socialize with others too.
  • Morality is more complex than we think it is. In stories, we are given a problem that shows good vs. evil, and as the audience, we can easily pick which side to be on. However, Miyazaki takes this notion a step further, complicating the idea of good vs. evil. Every character he creates has positive and negative traits within him or her. As a result, it makes a character more human because of these imperfections, and as audience members, we question our morals of what is right or wrong.
  • A good story is one with a sense of realism. Characters are imperfect and have flaws, just like normal humans do. These characters should have dreams and desires; thus, they must overcome obstacles in order to achieve it, and along the way, they are able to grow as better people. There is also a sense of unpredictability in the characters’ lives. Just like in real life, we aren’t sure of our future pathways and are not fully prepared for what life throws at us; therefore, by conveying characters that must face and overcome unpredictable circumstances and misfortune, characters become more humanized.
  • Emotion is key. Achieving a goal isn’t as important as the journey that the character goes through in a story. Characters must be able to adapt to a world that isn’t centered on their needs. It is through this journey that the character achieves emotional and spiritual growth, which is similar to how humans obtain wisdom through life experiences, good or bad. The short film discusses how the setting and the silence of the character admiring the scenery is a moment of heighten emotion. It allows the audience to feel empathy towards the character and also allows the audience to be self-reflective on their own inner persona.

Miyazaki’s philosophy in animation is similar towards how I interpret the different visual art and media I read or watch. This short film made me appreciate Miyazaki more not only as an animator, but a humanist too.

11 thoughts on “Pure Emotion: Thoughts on “Hayao Miyazaki – The Essence of Humanity” Leave a comment

  1. An interesting post. I shall have to watch the video when I’m home from work.
    What I find interesting is that, despite having mixed emotions on Studio Ghibli’s output, I seem to share Miyazaki’s view on character creation. To be fair, regardless of what I do and don’t love in his output, Miyazaki of course pulls it off far better than I do but it’s nice to see a shared view. Morality I find to be particularly important. Good vs Evil has its place, but I’d rather see shades of grey. Even a clear antagonist should, in my opinion, have something that someone will relate to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I know a lot of people who have mixed feelings about Miyazaki’s view on the current anime industry, which makes many people dislike him. However, I can’t help but say that some of his views are right (but that’s another story). I may not agree with everything he says, but I consider him one of my pioneers for creativity and aesthetic thinking.

      It’s cool to know someone else also shares Miyazaki’s view on character creation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oddly enough, I’m not so worried by his views per se. I don’t disagree with him entirely and I tend to apply ‘different strokes for different folks’ to most things if I disagree (unless it’s something hugely important to me of course). For me it’s the output: I loved Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howls Moving Castle. The others that I’ve seen just felt bland to me. I’ve not seen all of the Ghibli output of course, but I haven’t yet found another of theirs that interests me. I think it’s because I generally view Miyazaki as working on family films, and I just think that Momoru Hosoda is far more consistent at that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh okay. I like Spirited Away, Howls and Kiki’s Delivery Service. The other ones didn’t capture my interest as much. However, Whisper of the Heart is a good one though written by Miyazaki, but directed by Yoshifumi Kondō.


  2. Thank you for this post Lyn. This video was absolutely brilliant. Real talk, I don’t know much about Miyazaki other than his being an incredibly talented and intelligent figure. His stories have fascinated me since my youth, and so, getting a deeper look at his philosophy and creative process has been thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring.
    Thanks again,

    Liked by 1 person

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