Written by Hannah Gill
It’s 11 a.m. at the Oakview AMC matinee, and I’ve just paid a paltry $4.50 for Miyazaki’s final masterpiece, “Wind Rises.” As I sit through the pre-commercial commercials, a rapper dances while attractive women make suggestive shushing mouths.
I begin to wonder why it was so hard to see this movie, which was poorly released by Disney in February. Watching the promo for “Devious Maids,” I couldn’t help but feel the “Wind Rises” PG-13 rating shouldn’t have done so much damage.
Was the United States not destined for adult animation, the famous wonderment Miyazaki coined into his career? Could American audiences not appreciate his moments of silence, environmentalism and nostalgic joy?
Fortunately, a few minutes before showtime, a young couple walked in, bounding up to the mid-back. Their quiet mumbling and contained laughter reflected the focus on life in Miyazaki’s films, and as the screen faded to bright blue, with the famous Totoro logo, I heard an audible gasp.
Bob Fischbach, longtime reviewer for the Omaha World Herald and part of the Miyazaki fan diaspora, acknowledged animation’s struggle in the United States.
“Of course, Miyazaki’s movies suffer in America because they’re structured for adults. Animation, in this country, is perceived as a kid thing,” Fischbach said. “Animation owes him a great debt in the way he has brought the art form to the serious attention of adult movie lovers.”
John Lasseter, Disney director and animator, is such a fan that Disney has dubbed all of Miyazaki’s major works, and some of his lesser ones, for release in the United States. Famous actors, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt in the “Wind Rise,” play lead characters. There is even a “Simpson’s” tribute to Miyazaki.
This popularity in Hollywood is catching on with audiences. While Miyazaki is still most famous for his Oscar winning “Spirited Away,” more viewers are branching out. President of UNOtaku Anime club Jenny Eischeid has noticed.
“People who don’t watch anime do watch Miyazaki,” Eischeid said.
Her favorite is “Spirited Away,” her first Ghibli film. Earlier in the semester, they watched it as part of a theme-night, which “went over extremely well.” She attributes this in part to the publicity his movies get through Disney, and in part for their skill.
Former President Kristen Douglas enjoys the movies’ family friendly dynamic, sophisticated plot and as an alternative to TV.
“There is a lot that is really weird and really out there,” Douglas said, “and here we tend to focus on real life drama or stupidity.”
In the theater, the bright Ghibli blue fades to a darker hue, and a line from a Paul Valery poem, translated by Day Lewis, appears in white lettering.
“The wind is rising, we must try to live.”
The couple is quiet throughout the enchanting film, besides some crying and laughter on cue. It has got a little of everything in the Miyazaki cannon, big tears, cute little sisters, complex love, environmentalism and mind-blowingly detailed animation.
As it ends, I think we must try to live, and maybe try watching a little animation. The “Wind Rises,” or any of Miyazaki’s movies, is a good place to start.