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    • CommentAuthorSovawanea
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2007
     
    I have to preface this with some background on why I have been so reluctant to get into anime or anime style films and shows. One of my high school jobs was working at Suncoast. This would have been a pretty average experience if I did not live in Tulsa, OK where we were had the largest stock of anime in town and second only in the state to the other Suncoast in Oklahoma City. I have no problem with people in general who enjoy anime. It was just the obsessive and rabidity of some of the requests I had to deal with, being treated like a total idiot because I was not aware of the correct sequential order of certain series or directors (even though out of a staff where I was the youngest, I was the only one who knew anything about classic or other foreign films) and having to put up with my manager playing imports on the TVs to get people in the store and letting us deal with them keep coming in over and over and expecting us to have something soon that we could never order. And then there was the constantly being hit on. Oh, yeah and being exposed to the demon rape plots...not really a great representation either.

    It sort of psychologically predisposed me to be "meh" at best to the whole genre. When Princess Mononoke came on our college movie station late one night, I did try to watch. I ended up falling asleep and that was really my last exposure for awhile.

    Recently, my boyfriend has convinced me to have another go, given that Miyazaki's film have gained a lot of critical acclaim. So, I'm sort of viewing them backwards. We watch Howl's Moving Castle, which I completely loved. In a strange way, it was sort of like being a kid again and watching the Jetsons. In my perfect fantasy world, I will have food replicator and a house that allows you to travel by spinning a wheel next to the door. Last week we watched Spirited Away. I think it was very well done and interesting, but did not quite capture the imagination as well as Howl's.


    Possible spoilers below:







    I think it was mainly that there was a familiarity once her parents started to eat and things began to go downhill that there was a parallel there to the myth of Persephone. Maybe it's just that Spirited Away occurs in the spirit world, but I really felt like in this one there was much missed in viewing when you didn't know the cultural history and myths that I assume he was borrowing from. This increased when the stink spirit was found to have a thorn in its side...We grew up with the myth of the lion with the thorn in its paw who is helped by...a mouse, I think? Ok, so exact memory fuzzy, but the parable remains etched into the cultural memory. On the other hand, there's the possibility that because we are unfamiliar with the culture, the movies are able to capture our imaginations and surprise us better. Since we don't recognize all of the themes and conventions, the storyline is even less predictable.
    •  
      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2007
     
    I had the same sort of hangup, though just because of one overzealous coworker who used to annoy the hell out of me. At that point, I'd had limited exposure to Anime and thought of it favorably, but having it associated with this person made me want to totally avoid it at all costs. Plus, it's expensive to buy those DVDs and until netflix and other long tail rental places came about, it was difficult to find them in rental stores too. Also, I remember going to one comic book convention when I was like 13 years old and seeing some wierd hentai thing. I was like, well the naked chicks are kinda cool I guess, but what's with all the tentacles? And what's that white stuff? I decided that the Japanese are a little wierd and a little scary. I later warmed to the Japanese culture, because they're a little wierd and a little scary. Or something.

    The first hour or so of Howl's Moving Castle were great, some of his best work, but then it sorta devolved and ended on a sour note (for me, at least). I love Spirited Away, and I think part of the allure is that it does sorta reference stuff I'm not that familiar with. My post on the blog last Sunday talks a lot about translations and cultural contexts of foreign film, and I've also posted in the past about specific cultural references in Spirited Away. I think a big part of why I liked it was that I didn't really know where it was going, but that everthing that happened was logical and fit together well.

    In any case, all of Miyazaki's films are at least worth a watch and make for good introductions to Anime (speaking from my limited experience). I've only recently started getting into Anime, and am enjoying myself. I have a whole category of Anime posts at this point...

    ~tallman