Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features ‘Princess Mononoke’ proposal

April 07, 2014 | 1:12 p.m.
turningpoint c1 Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

The cover for "Turning Point: 1997-2008," the second volume in legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki's memoir. (© 2008 Nibariki / © 2008 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

2003 new years card by miyazaki turning point Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

A 2003 new year's card from Studio Ghibli, drawn by legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki. The card is one of several featured in his memoir, "Turning Point: 1997-2008." (© 2008 Nibariki / © 2008 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

startingpoint c1 Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

The cover for "Starting Point: 1979-1996," the first volume in legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki's memoir. (© 1996 Nibariki / © 1996 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

windrises artbook Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

The cover for "The Art of The Wind Rises," a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki's film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

windrises sketch 150 Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

Concept art featured in "The Art of The Wind Rises," a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki's film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

windrisesposter jp Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

A movie poster featured in "The Art of The Wind Rises," a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki's film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

windrises04 150 Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

A scene from "The Wind Rises," featured in "The Art of The Wind Rises," a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki's film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

windrises02 150 Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

A scene from "The Wind Rises," featured in "The Art of The Wind Rises," a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki's film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

windrises01 150 Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features Princess Mononoke proposal

A scene from "The Wind Rises," featured in "The Art of The Wind Rises," a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki's film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

The second installment in Hayao Miyazaki’s memoir is out Tuesday, offering a glimpse into the legendary animation director’s career of more than three decades, and Hero Complex readers get an exclusive sneak peek.

“Turning Point: 1997-2008,” from Viz Media, traces the Japanese director’s most successful years, which saw the release of “Princess Mononoke,” the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Ponyo.” During this time, Miyazaki’s work received critical acclaim and began to garner an international audience.

Director Hayao Miyazaki attends a press conference to announce his retirement on Sept. 6, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (Jun Sato / WireImage)

Director Hayao Miyazaki attends a press conference to announce his retirement on Sept. 6, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (Jun Sato / WireImage)

The 452-page tome includes Miyazaki’s essays about Japan’s animation culture, the differing perspectives of children and adults, and his memories of youth, among other topics; interviews with various publications and panels, including one with Roger Ebert; illustrations for Studio Ghibli holiday cards and films; and even poetry, written to aid composer Joe Hisaishi.

“Turning Point” is the companion second volume to 1996′s “Starting Point: 1979-1996,” which chronicled Miyazaki’s rise from humble beginnings, his launch of the Studio Ghibli animation studio, and the release of his early films — “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and others.

Also due out Tuesday from Viz is “The Art of The Wind Rises,” a collection of images from Miyazaki’s 2013 animated feature “The Wind Rises,” which earned an animated feature nomination for the Academy Awards earlier this year and brought in more than $117 million at the worldwide box office. The gorgeous 230-page hardcover features art of the film, from conception to production, as well as in-depth interviews with the filmmakers.

Concept art featured in "The Art of The Wind Rises," a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki's film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

Concept art featured in “The Art of The Wind Rises,” a collection of concept art and images for Hayao Miyazaki’s film. (© 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK / © 2013 Studio Ghibli / Viz Media)

The film, which the director has said will be his last, tells the story of real-life Japanese engineer Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the Zero fighter plane. The film follows Jiro through key historical events, including Japan’s devastating 1923 earthquake, a tuberculosis epidemic and economic troubles that preceded the nation’s plunge into World War II.

Hero Complex readers get an exclusive look at an excerpt below from the “Turning Point” memoir — Miyazaki’s proposal for his landmark feature “Princess Mononoke” — as well as a peek at some images from “The Art of The Wind Rises” in the gallery above.

PRINCESS MONONOKE

The Battle Between Humans and Ferocious Gods — The Goal of This Film

Princess Mononoke Proposal (April 15, 1995)

Compiled in Film Pamphlet issued by Tōhō, July 12, 1997

In this film, samurai, lords, and peasants who are customarily featured in period dramas hardly make an appearance. Even when they do, they perform only in very minor supporting roles.

Lady Eboshi in Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke." (Miramax Films)

Lady Eboshi in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke.” (Miramax Films)

The main characters are humans who do not appear on the main stage of history and ferocious gods of the mountains. The human characters are ironworkers, members of the iron-production group: engineers, laborers, blacksmiths, iron sand gatherers, and charcoal makers. They are transporters such as packhorse and ox drivers. They were in those days armed and had formed organizations that we might today call cottage industry manufacturing groups.

The ferocious mountain gods that confront the humans appear as wolf gods, boar gods, and in the form of bears. The Forest Spirit (Deer God), the key figure in the story, is an entirely imaginary creature with the face of a human, the body of a beast, and antlers of tree branches.

Ashitaka rides Yakul the Red Elk in Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke." (Miramax Films)

Ashitaka rides Yakul the Red Elk in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke.” (Miramax Films)

The young male protagonist is a descendant of the Emishi people who disappeared after being defeated in ancient times by the politically powerful Yamato people. And if we search for a likeness for the female lead, she is in appearance not unlike a clay figurine from the Jōmon period (12,000 BCE–300 BCE).

The main locations are the foreboding deep forest of the gods and the fortresslike Iron Town where iron is made.

The conventional period drama settings of castles, towns, and farming villages with rice paddies are merely distant backdrops. Rather, what I plan to recreate is the landscape of Japan when there were far fewer people, when there were no dams, and when the forests were dense — when nature had a high level of purity with its deep mountains and dark valleys, pure and rushing streams, narrow dirt roads, and large numbers of birds, beasts, and insects.

With this setting, my aim is to depict a freer image of the characters without being bound by the conventions, preconceptions, and prejudices of traditional period dramas. Recent research in history, ethnology, and archaeology has shown us that our country’s history is far richer and more diverse than we are generally led to believe. The poverty in period dramas has almost all been created from the drama in films. Disorder and fluidity were the norm in the world of the Muromachi period (1336–1573), the setting for this film. It was a time when present-day Japan was being formed out of social upheaval, when those below overcame those above from the days of the Southern and Northern Dynasties period (1336–1392), and the ethos of eccentricity, swaggering scoundrels, and the chaotic rise of new arts held sway. It differed from the period of Warring States (1467–1568), when organized battles were fought between standing armies, and also from the Kamakura period (1185–1333) with its fierce and earnest warriors.

San rides on wolf god Moro's back in Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke." (Miramax Films)

San rides on wolf god Moro’s back in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke.” (Miramax Films)

This was a more unpredictable and fluid time, more magnanimous and free, with less clear class distinctions between warriors and villagers and women as depicted in the drawings of artisans and tradespeople. In such a time, the contours of life and death were very clear. People lived, loved, hated, worked, and then died. Life was not full of ambiguities.

Herein lies the meaning in creating this work, as we face the coming chaotic era of the twenty-first century.

I am not attempting to solve the entire world’s problems. There can never be a happy ending in the battle between humanity and ferocious gods. Yet, even amidst hatred and carnage, life is still worth living. It is possible for wonderful encounters and beautiful things to exist.

Ashitaka and San in Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke." (Miramax Films)

Ashitaka and San in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke.” (Miramax Films)

I will depict animosity, but that is in order to show the fact that there is something more precious.

I depict the bondage of a curse in order to show the joy of liberation.

What I will show is the boy reaching an understanding of the girl, and the process of the girl’s heart opening up to the boy.

In the end the girl may say to the boy, “I love you, Ashitaka. But I can’t forgive human beings.”

The boy will smile and say, “That’s all right. Won’t you live together with me?”

This is the kind of film I want to make.

© 2008 Nibariki

© 2008 Studio Ghibli

What do you think of the excerpt? Let us know in the comments.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+

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