The Dark Ages in Miyazaki Hayao’s Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro or, The Way Forward is Backwards

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I only watched Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro because I needed a touchstone experience since I know Cowboy Bebop references its characters, even if only in terms of design. It’s a Miyazaki film so I trusted that I’ll be amazed at some level – and I was. I also left with the impression that Spike and Jet remembers love for a little more than just the character designs of Lupin and Jigen.

When I watched the show, I distinctly felt its age. It was old and it wanted to be old. There was a such a romance from an old world. The concerns of the characters may have been contemporary – heists, crime, politics and police may be timeless things after all, but the setting and arguably the values that permeate the work, are Old-World. I think the very idea of “Gentleman Thief” is Old-World. This is only the surface of the kind of romance this film has with elapsed time.

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The Castle of Cagliostro sinks when the aqueduct falls with the Clock Tower. The Golden Cross shatters during the wedding. The Archbishop is a doddering tool, a rubber stamp in the corrupt proceedings. The Knighthood, dressed like black Templars, are actually a corps of assassins. The liberation of the Principality of Cagliostro isn’t forward facing – it’s gaze is fixed on the past. It’s real treasure isn’t the Post-Reformation styled Post-feudalism, or even a complete modernization (the only technological vestiges: the Autogyro, the printing press – all destroyed). The real treasure is a revealed antiquity: a sunken Roman city.

This makes me think of the all the other films I’ve seen by him. I realize that Cagliostro was the only film of his that I haven’t seen! A quick look at Wikipedia gives me this summation of his style and themes:

Miyazaki’s films often emphasize environmentalism and the Earth’s fragility.[27] In an interview with The New Yorker, Miyazaki claimed that much of modern culture is “thin and shallow and fake”, and “not entirely jokingly” looked forward to an apocalyptic age in which “wild green grasses” take over.[28] Growing up in the Shōwa period was an unhappy time for him because “nature — the mountains and rivers — was being destroyed in the name of economic progress.”[29] Miyazaki is critical of capitalism, globalization and their impacts on modern life.[30] Nonetheless, he suggests that adults should not “impose their vision of the world on children.”[18]

You won’t find an overt environmentalist theme in Cagliostro, nor an anti-war one. What I do find interesting is how it resolves:

  • The castle, clock tower and aqueduct = technology
  • The rings bearing the Cagliostro family crest = wisdom of the past (even inscribed in a dead language)
  • The Count Cagliostro (the villain) is crushed by the hands of time (history’s cruel joke against greed and Modernity)
  • The “true” treasure of Cagliostro = Roman Ruins
  • How the treasure is revealed = the clock tower, the aqueduct, and the castle are destroyed/ruined by a deluge.

The economic future (treasure) of the Principality is neither industry nor technology. It is tourism! The liberation from the Dark Age isn’t the  Modernism of the Enlightenment. It’s an appeal to an earlier time. A ruined antiquity! What does one do with a ruined antiquity? One passively experiences it. You look at the ruins and say “oooh,” and/or “the old ways are better” and or “the old world is so beautiful.”

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When the technology of the world is ruined in the apocalypse and the resolution of the Nausicaa manga, the future of the world isn’t so much an unknown newness, it’s an appeal to a pristine past. The world is cleansing itself and perhaps human beings are part of its cancer. In Mononoke, Lady Eboshi and her charges are left bereft of Iron Town to start over – their technological achievements destroyed and their subsistence reset to that of a more innocent past. There’s less to do with the natural treasure they’re left with, but a lot of time to appreciate its beauty.

This is the heavy hand by which Miyazaki writes his stories. What seems obvious in works like Nausicaa, Mononoke and Ponyo, are already present prior to Studio Ghibli. I am tempted to say it’s subtle, but I don’t think it is. It’s hard to be subtle when you’re using a deluge to sink modern work and un-sink antiquity (and call it the true treasure of Cagliostro).

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I’m not one for didactic, preachy works (even in essays), nor do I appreciate works for their message. But I appreciate the epic consistency of Miyazaki Hayao for over thirty years. The themes by themselves don’t bother me given that the other elements in his works are so powerful. The craftsmanship particularly in animation is superlative. But that’s me, do you think these themes are a credit to these works? Or are the films but things you enjoy despite the themes, and overt messages?

Omake

This screen captured image is from episode 24 of Super Dimension Fortress Macross as part of a video game in the arcade where Max and Millya would duel. I feel ridiculously good to have gotten this reference from Miyazaki’s film just now.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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51 Responses to The Dark Ages in Miyazaki Hayao’s Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro or, The Way Forward is Backwards

  1. Tronulax says:

    I just recently rewatched Castle of Cagliostro, coincidentally. A great movie indeed. Personally, I consider Miyazaki’s earliest works, Cagliostro, Nausicaa, Laputa, his best.

    • Matt Wells says:

      Agreed. Don’t forget My Neighbor Totoro!

    • I’m never going to be as pleased with Nausicaa as most fans because it did feel so incomplete to me. I am a huge fan of the manga, you see.

      I like My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso, and Kiki’s Delivery Service best, but I’ve yet to rewatch Spirited Away after many years so it may be up there as well. I do find it interesting that my favorite Ghibli film isn’t by Miyazaki. I am always and forever in love with I Can Hear The Sea.

      • d3v says:

        It’s easier when you get to see Nausicaa as a child before learning about the manga. While it’s definitely not as rich, as a narrative, the movie is quite complete and gets its message across quite well.

  2. gwern says:

    > But that’s me, do you think these themes are a credit to these works? Or are the films but things you enjoy despite the themes, and overt messages?

    Orson Scott Card has written

    > “Polemic—persuasive writing—only works when it doesn’t feel like propaganda. The audience must feel that you’re being absolutely fair to people on the other side.”

    In that vein, one can also quote Miyazaki:

    > “The concept of portraying evil and then destroying it – I know this is considered mainstream, but I think it’s rotten. This idea that whenever something evil happens someone particular can be blamed and punished for it, in life and in politics, is hopeless.”

    In a few movies, Miyazaki *does* show some sympathy and appreciation of the ‘technium’ (as Kevin Kelly calls the ecosystem of technology & machines). _Laputa_ and _Porco Rosso_ lovingly depict prop planes; _Spirited Away_ makes the bath house with its plumbing and heating systems almost a character, and the train scenes are of course possible only with technology’s fruits. _Howl’s Moving Castle_ tries this as well with the eponymous castle (and fails, IMO). _Kiki’s Delivery Service_ shows that tech delivers benefits for those inferior normals not genetically blessed with magic flight. And so on.

    The movies which seem to lack any positive portrayals of technology are also the ones that seem the most didactic. _Monoke Hime_ is 100% clear that technology is awful and murderous (the best he can come up with for the town to make is guns?), and as you point out, technology is manifested mostly in negative ways in _Castle of Cagliostro_ with the counterfeiting. And then there’s _Future Boy Conan_ or _Nausicaa_…

    • Vendredi says:

      I actually disagree on Princess Mononoke’s portrayal of technology; I felt the portrayal of the townsfolk at times sympathetic. Consider that the iron industry of the town that provides employment for so many, and raises the status of the women in the town. There’s also the depiction of how the town cares for and employs lepers.
      Yet at the same time Mononoke doesn’t shy from showing the environmental cost of heavy industry, and does so more directly and more boldly than other Miyazaki films. In fact I think it’s the most effective portrayal of technology out of all his films, precisely because it skips the extended metaphors for a straight-up human presentation.
      It’s different altogether than Castle in the Sky and Nausicaa; the “technology” in those works are essentially magical plot devices – beautifully designed to be sure – but they are relics of a forgotten, fantastical past.

      • gwern says:

        > and raises the status of the women in the town. There’s also the depiction of how the town cares for and employs lepers.

        I personally got the message that the solution for Miyazaki is not technology providing employment for the lepers & women, but everyone not discriminating the eff against them! (This may be unreasonable; it’s a little like the old lady writing to the newspaper saying that alcoholism and obesity wouldn’t be problems if everyone would just drink and eat a little less. But I think Miyazaki thinks this way.)

        (Another example: how didactic is _My Neighbor Totoro_? Not very.)

        > It’s different altogether than Castle in the Sky and Nausicaa; the “technology” in those works are essentially magical plot devices – beautifully designed to be sure – but they are relics of a forgotten, fantastical past.

        In _Laputa_, I was talking about the pirates’ technology (notice I was putting it in the company of _Porco Rosso_).

        • coburn says:

          I find that really interesting, because my first response to your original comment was along the lines of Vendredi’s: that Mononoke goes out of its way to show that Eboshi is kind as well as cruel.

          I think the key is whether you view Miyazaki as criticising technology or modernity. As you say, machines don’t care for lepers, but Eboshi’s enlightened attitude is very much modern (it’s certainly nothing like the ritualised culture of the hero’s village).

          My assumption was always that Miyazaki the airship lover was setting out to query modern culture rather than the existence of machines, which makes me see Eboshi as a balanced character. Perhaps though that’s a case of linking together his works of my own accord. Mononoke Hime as a stand alone film could be fairly accused of inelegant didactics, if you do think it’s about the iron first and foremost (although personally, I do not).

          – On a side note, Eboshi, together with Kushana in Nausicaa’s manga, features in a very heavy handed story, but is, y’know, princess fucking awesome. Looking at that Scott-Card quote, maybe that’s the key: the message is unambiguous, but Miyazaki’s happy to give the devil a good tune to play. Which can make him seem more even-handed than he is (and deception, surely, is apposite to this post, which is about the subtext in a seemingly carefree film).

          • gwern says:

            > that Mononoke goes out of its way to show that Eboshi is kind as well as cruel.

            In fine accordance with the first two quotes.

            > My assumption was always that Miyazaki the airship lover was setting out to query modern culture rather than the existence of machines, which makes me see Eboshi as a balanced character.

            Computer scientist Alan Kay once said

            > “Technology is anything that was invented after you were born.”

            (Miyazaki was born in 1941, at the very dawn of the jet age of airplanes .)

    • I think your observation that Iron Town’s primary product being guns is indeed very telling.

      I originally thought that Princess Mononoke was its most didactic in that Ashitaka was never questioned as a character. His righteousness was portrayed with unwavering conviction. The characters who questioned him… are the Gods themselves, and only in terms of “are you righteous enough?”

      His personal struggles are all external: wanting to save everyone, dealing with the demon that corrupts his body — which in turn is from a demon corrupted by rage/fear induced by modernity.

      The only character with complexity, and who’s faced with big choices is Lady Eboshi. And wow what a character indeed.

  3. animekritik says:

    I’ve seen about five of his films, and watch them despite his message. Honestly, I suspect I’ve seen Castle of Cagliostro but I’m not totally sure and that’s my problem with Miyazaki: I find his work bland and forgettable. I have a hazy recollection of him being a great writer and artist and that’s it, I just don’t connect with what he does. If someone asked me whether they should watch a Miyazaki film I’d wholeheartedly say “Yes, just don’t expect me to watch it with you.” :/

    • Sometimes, works that are sensually arresting (visually, aurally) for most people do not make significant impressions for a few (who are otherwise discerning) viewers. It is the same case with me and such works as Last Exile, but most notably FLCLC, a darling of many anime fans and critics. I tried watching FLCL four times, and having finished it finally in 2009, I am largely indifferent to it.

  4. Carrot Glace says:

    You forgot something quite important about what modernity brings: corruption and money. Very interesting omission…

    • I forgot nothing of the sort. Rather, corruption and money existed far earlier than modernity. The shekel was a form of commodity money that was used as early as 3000 BC. Biblical stories of corruption abound. Imperial courts are documented/portrayed in literature as corrupt cesspools of intrigue. The Roman Republic had a lot of money and corruption going on, which only increased during its imperial era. The Feudal period of history is also referred to as the “Dark” Age — also for the many instances of corruption during it. The reformation of the church and the counter-reformation is based on a legacy of corruption.

      I find your accusation somewhat interesting.

  5. megaroad1 says:

    I think the memorable chase scene from Cagliostro is remembered with love in a couple of other anime. I’m at least pretty sure that ‘Full Metal Panic; The Second Raid’ has the main characters involved in a car chase in Italy that pays homage to this one.

    • Matt Wells says:

      Said car chase is also remembered in the minor Lupin OVA The Fuma Conspiracy…starring a younger, Green Jacket Lupin, it opens with an extended car chase between Lupin in his Yellow Fiat, and Zenigata’s Interpol police cars. The tone there is far more comedic and light hearted, but the homage to Miyazaki and Cagliostro is clear.

    • I’ll look out for that when I watch it someday (when I have the ability to apprivoise with a cybody and generate zero time).

  6. Jack says:

    In terms of Miyazaki’s works, The Castle of Cagliostro comes across as a film with perhaps no message at all. If you sit down with a bunch of people to watch it and then ask them what they thought about it after it finished you’d probably hear people describe it as a “fun adventure film”. If you screened them Nausicaa straight afterwards they’d surely take note of it’s environmentalist message.

    This is because in the The Castle of Cagliostro his message becomes apparent when brought into the context of Miyzaki’s world view and his other body of work, where as on it’s own the messages are far less obvious. I’d wager that works better than the heavy-handed approach scene in some of his other work.

    Well I guess now that you’re finished with his films you still have his TV works, like Future Boy Conan!

  7. Matt Wells says:

    Perhaps one of the things I like best about this film is it shows how talented an Action Director Miyazaki can be. Aside from his anti-war stance and longing for nature, the man can really show a thrilling action sequence, something he does less and less of with age. I adore Cagliostro, but apart from the reasons you mention, its also something of a character study for Lupin himself. Clarice’s connection to his past, the chance at love and respectability she offers him, and the oppertunity she offers the thieving lech to play the white knight.

    That moment at the end when she’s hugging him, and this pained look comes across his face, where our renowned pervert is unable to even put his arms around her. The look of sorrow in his face driving off says it all, before Fujiko and Zenigata drive past, and he’s back to his old chirpy self, and the status quo returns. Miyazaki’s interpretation may be completely at odds with Monkey Punch’s true vision for Lupin, but I like the contrast and variety it provides.

    I think there’s a whole post to be made of the differences between the three Lupins: Miyazaki’s Green Jacket gentleman thief, Monkey Punch’s Red Jacket lecherous hustler, and the compromise between both versions, the softer Pink Jacket Lupin. Though that said, unless your a huge Lupin III fan, it does go outside your usual area of discussion. Great article, and a great discussion of Miyazaki!

    • Word. The guy can show action like a master. The car chase where Lupin climbs the cliff wall with his tiny car is absurdly amazing. The melees between the Interpol and the Royal Guard are delightful, as well as Lupin’s tangles with the assassins.

      Lacking perspective of the treatment of Lupin in the context of other portrayals, I can only take your word for your commentary on the sensitive lecher presented here. I found his lechery rather unremarkable, but that’s maybe due to my being used to lecherous characters in anime.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for the generous words.

      • Matt Wells says:

        Its rather more explicit in the Red Jacket series, where Lupin is more in line with your modern day anime pervert. Think Ryo Saeba in City Hunter. Both are outdone by the original manga, which had Lupin RAPE A WOMAN. On more than one occasion. Lets just say Miyazaki had good cause to clean his image up a bit.

        • Nick Bennett says:

          You do yourself a very minor disservice by omitting to mention the original green jacket TV series – although I’ll forgive you as its quite hard to come by in translated DVD form. It’s much more in line with the manga and is notable for being the TV series that Miyazaki actually cut his teeth on in anime. (He would later come back to write/direct some episodes of the red jacket TV series, especially towards the end of its very long, nearly 200 episode run!) Miyazaki’s depiction of Lupin as a gentleman thief (and Zenigata as an actual policeman and not just a bumbling fool) is ironically very atypical for the character considering how memorable this movie is.

          • I didn’t come into watching this wanting to become a Lupin fan and so I just wanted to watch the most accessible, easiest to digest, and best-made sample of the franchise. Even after enjoying this film as much as I did, I’ll forego hunting down more, and I’ll go back to my primary preoccupation which is giant robots.

          • Matt Wells says:

            I sort of automaticly include Cagliostro with the rest of Miyazaki’s Green Jacket Lupin. That series was very much his baby, and it wears his influences on its sleeves. I was under the impression that Red Jacket Lupin was the series most faithful to the Monkey Punch manga? I understood it as Green Jacket series being the result of TV censorship and Miyazaki’s portryal of Lupin as a gentleman thief. By the time Red Jacket Lupin aired, Japan’s TV standards were more lax, and we got MP’s unvarnished chivalrous pervert. That’s what I heard about it anyway.

  8. Reid says:

    I think I might be the only person who’s into anime that can’t stand most Miyazaki works. Of the films I’ve seen (and I’ve seen most of them), I honestly don’t like any except Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke and Porco Rosso. This isn’t a troll-type post, either, but I wonder if something’s wrong with me for not appreciating movies liked by many others that enjoy the same things I do. I haven’t seen Castle of Cagliostro (nor anything much Lupin III-related), so I won’t comment on it specifically, but overall I would say that Miyazaki’s body of work stands up as a little…over-rated. Of course, this is all just my sorry opinion. Like I said, there’s probably something wrong with me.

    • Matt Wells says:

      Miyazaki is pretty overhyped, so dissapointment is somewhat inevitable. Have you ever seen Laputa: Castle in the Sky? I really liked that one, and as one of his earlier works, its lessed weighed down by his usual enviromentalist themes. Good action and cool characters too. You should check out his Nausicaa manga if you enjoyed the movie, its far more complex and emotionally satisfying than the truncated film version. The film only covers the first two volumes!

      • Reid says:

        I’ll have to check out Laputa and the Nausicaa manga. Thanks for the recommendation.

        • Nausicaa manga is my second most favorite manga ever. It is fricking astounding. If I become rich enough, an OVA series adapting it must be done.

          • Matt Wells says:

            Not while old man Miyazaki lives! Nausicaa is very much his baby, and he’d rather die than let anyone else handle it. Very protective of it.

            He’s mentioned animating the rest of the story occasionaly, but he’s too old for that now. OVAs would be too long and expensive, movies would take up too much time and resources from Ghibli, and TV animation wouldn’t touch it; too old, adult and mature. Not to mention Miyazaki wouldn’t go back to TV animation even if you put a gun to his head.

            He mentioned once that Hideaki Anno was interested in doing a spin-off prequel about the early days of Kushana, but Miyazaki turned him down. Said he’d make it needlessly violent and focus on the battles over her character. 🙂

            And the Nausicaa manga kicks unholy amounts of ass. Easily Miyazaki’s TRUE best work, blows his films out of the water.

          • I know of that Anno story.

            BUT, it’s not like I’m going to be stupendously rich anytime soon, and Miyazaki’s days on this earth are numbered.

    • hearthesea says:

      I’ve often wondered why I can’t seem to get into Miyazaki too. I see so many glowing compliments and a lot of gushing over his work, and yet when I sat down to watch Spirited Away I was completely underwhelmed. In terms of visual aesthetics, I can definitely understand why people like him, and his movies often feel quite pleasant and warm, but in regard to everything else I honestly wonder what all the fuss is about.

      To be fair, I haven’t seen much of his work. I did try Princess Mononoke, and I definitely preferred that to Spirited Away (especially in regard to the arguably more ‘gray’ approach with characters, which has already been discussed in the above comments) but I didn’t really connect to it as I was never particularly interested in the protagonists. The one I liked the most, in terms of caring about the characters, was actually Howl’s Moving Castle, but even that didn’t blow me away or anything. At first I wondered if it’s because these Miyazaki films seemed to be aimed more at a ‘family’ audience, but I absolutely love something like the Toy Story films, and they’re aimed at a family audience too.

      • If it isn’t there, don’t force it. It’s not like you’re supposed to provide a vote right now or at any time. As long as you don’t actively denigrate things you don’t identify with, unless you can fully articulate the materials’ failures, it’s all good.

    • Oh there are quite a few of you.

      Of course, if you don’t enjoy something many people like, the temptation is to call the material overrated.

      Similarly, I have the same opinion on FLCL, but I just stop short of calling it overrated just because I’m indifferent to it.

      Interestingly, I had thought the same for the entire Gundam franchise up until I became a fan 2 years ago (I dropped the fist 9 shows I watched until I got into 00).

  9. shumbapumba says:

    Cagliostro is one of my favourite Miyazaki films. And while I do appreciate the themes of his works, I enjoy the films as examples of good film-making – fun, wholesome, heart-warming entertainment. A particular theme doesn’t make a film, it’s the execution. Miyazaki knows this. Themes should not be forced upon the audience and I think Miyazaki’s concerns pronounce themselves quite naturally from the narrative. They are there if you want them, but the films are still great despite this. It’s the balance of entertainment, art and universality that makes Miyazaki such a great film-maker, imo 🙂

    • Yes, the execution is for me the main draw — and by execution I mean the craft: the storyboarding of a scene, the composition of a moment or even a single image. Of course, the illustrations are incredible.

      I also find his little touches, how a large group of people move especially in celebration superbly done. I think he’s great at portraying the loud, open laughter in what seems to me rural kind of folk.

  10. gaguri says:

    It’s been so long since I watched Cagliostro but I do remember it to be incredibly fun and moving. I love the word “ruined antiquity” and the image you’ve posted on rediscovering the beauty of the roman ruins through the destruction of the clock tower. Even looking at your first/second images I think there were lot of corporate megastructures but also glimpses of the past, not sure since my memory is hazy, which is interesting. And these may well serve as excellent projections of, also, corrupted values that is robbing the people of good old world values like integrity, noble causes, etc.

    I’ve only watched two Lupin movies (well there was one more but I didn’t really like it), but Lupin: The First Contact was just as awesome as Cagliostro which is quite a feat.

    • I am now intrigued by this apparent “ageing” process of values. I wonder when Integrity and noble causes “got old.” I think they are ever present, just as corruption and greed have been around forever… I see people talking about them as if they’re just in fashion the same way newfags act like TTGL introduced the hyperboisterous manly man kind of character.

      I think that if values “age,” they age universally; if not, they’re pretty timeless. The talk I see and hear (see the above accusation that I omitted certain ills that modernity introduced is myopic, recency biased, etc.

      —-

      Having said all that, it’s easy to assign the values of an age, or civilization on the megastructures as you name them. The construction of any such project would take up such a significant part of the lives of people involved that this must figure in some way in their world-view. I can imagine masons devoting their whole lives for the construction of a castle, a temple, a bridge, etc.

      • gaguri says:

        I agree with you, good causes and corruption exist throughout the ages. I really need to watch the movie again but it looked like that was the kind of sentiment the movie was pushing through, that somewhere in this process of progressing forward we are losing sight of precious values of the old world.

  11. Faith@ahead says:

    i’m a big Miyazaki fan! and i just love how he includes environmentalism in most of his movies! my faves are howl’s moving castle, spirited, mononoke-hime, nausicaa, and totoro! unfortunately, i wasn’t able to watch cagliostro because the dVD i got had crappy subs (yeah, it’s pirated! haha!) will try and watch this soon though! thanks for the review!

    • You’re welcome, though I warn you that this isn’t a review. I don’t do reviews in general. I do recommend this film, but I put this out more as an analysis piece relative to Miyazaki’s body of work and in the spirit of appreciating common aspects to them.

  12. Reid says:

    This is only related in to the discussion at hand, but I think it’s appropriate nonetheless. Based on what I’m reading from everyone in regards to Cagliostro, I can’t help but think it would make a terrific candidate for “The Purpose of Anime and Manga Part VI” under a heading like…”Purpose 016: To see a director’s life’s work in its embryonic form”. That said, are we not going to see any more of the “Purpose…” series? I found those to be pretty cool since they oftentimes pointed out new shows to me, which, regardless whether or not I decided to watch them, expanded my understanding of anime as a medium…maybe. Anyway, sorry for the diversion.

    • Yes it does, but I am actually exhausted keeping up with blogging. While I don’t think I’m burning out, it’s just so difficult now to keep up with my various projects due to work and family activities. The series will be back at some point, once I get more time to first relax, then get organized.

      • Reid says:

        No worries, buddy. Family and work obviously have to come first. You do a great job here, so please don’t take my comment as me complaining in any way. Other than NgeeKhiong, this is the first blog I’ve ever really followed with any regularity and I can’t tell you how much it brightens up my day!

  13. kadian1364 says:

    I’m not going to argue that Miyazaki’s works don’t have a heavy environmentalist slant, but I do wish to separate the curmudgeoning rants of an old man and the tireless artist who created a series of amazing films that have endured time. However radical the politcal views of the man, I’ve always found his movies relatively tempered in their message. For example, Castle of Cagliostro is quite a different movie when you’re looking for a specific statement about modernity vs. allowing what’s there on film to present itself. At least, I feel it’s fairer to read the common themes as an artist goes forward in chronology rather than backwards. Same as applies to the evolution of the careers of Tomino, Anno, Shinbo, etc.

    Regardless, I most enjoy Miyazaki’s films that are ‘about something’, not despite of. It may be attributed to his advancing age and the decline of skills, but his later films, Spirited Away, Howl’s, and Ponyo, are mainly just about strange magical spectacles with nothing to tie each film together. Give me a dash of enviromentalism or anti-war any day.

    • Well, this reading is just another reading in the scheme of things. But to me, it is obviously interesting and thus I submit it for consideration for viewers and fans of the Miyazaki corpus of films.

      Thus, I don’t submit it as THE way to watch Cagliostro or Miyazaki in general.

      The discovery of this theme here is a novelty, a “nice find” but beyond this, it’s flightier speculation and all in good fun — though I admit that whatever I write here can be appropriated by both fanboys and detractors. Well, fags be. And I still think that this thing that the Cagliostro film “doesn’t say” overtly, speaks so very loudly of the sensibilities of its writer.

      As a contrast:

      Mononoke Hime vs. Aquarion OVA

      A brilliantly crafted film with overt environmentalist sympathies vs. an incredibly shitty project with hamfisted efforts to strangle viewers to like(?), save(?), care for(?) environment and ecology.

      Even within polemic/didactic works, there’s a way to do it well. Miyazaki does it consistently well. Kawamori is shit a lot of the time.

      • Reid says:

        Do you mean Genesis of Aquarion?

        • Yes, but the series while bad, isn’t awful and has its own charm, the OVA lost all that charm and went all dark and serious and fuck…

          • Reid says:

            wow I didn’t even know there was an OVA. It’s that bad, huh?

            The show was only decent, to me, but like you said, it had its own goofy charms. I thought the ending was pretty cool. Heroic sacrifices and all that. ^^

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