First, I wanted to give a quick update on Group Naga and our podcasting endeavors. This past weekend plus the beginning of this week has been rather successful for us as we really began organizing, recording, and editing. Last week we had originally toyed with the idea of Will as our host while Sili, Christina, and I each had our own sections. But, Christina came up with the great idea of Sili interacting within the sections of Christina and myself instead of having her own section since she was able to bring in Chinese context to our Japanese-focused sections. After recording and editing, we found this to be a really successful and organic approach. Although our newly edited draft is still rough and far from the finished product, we are happy with the organization and the amount of material we have within our podcast.
Besides recording and editing, my weekend was also spent watching two Studio Ghibli movies with one of the members of Group Death, Peyton. Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki have constantly been referenced to throughout our class and the class blog, most notably with Group Mononoke and their focus on this particular film. So naturally, one of the movies we watched this weekend was Princess Mononoke. The next night, we watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Although Peyton had seen these movies before, these were my first viewings and what really stood out to me were how closely they seemed to be linked.
Although we did not choose to watch these movies together specifically, they both seemed to have common themes, most notably their concern with nature and its coexistence (or lack thereof) with humanity as well as the morality of the main characters. In Princess Mononoke, as Group Mononoke has expressed, there is much commentary on nature and the negative effects of human development on it. Many of the animals/spirits/youkai, especially the boars and wolves, express their disgust and mistrust of the humans because they are destroying their home, which is the forest. Similarly, in Nausicaa, there is the issue of nature suffering from poison, forcing the humans to wear masks when they ventured out into land that was affected by spores.
Another commonality that stood out to me was the “goodness” that was evident within the main characters of each film, Ashitaka and Nausicaa. Both characters did not seem to see the “antagonist” as a villain. Instead, they both seemed to see the good in everyone and everything. In Princess Mononoke, when Moro’s head bites off Eboshi’s arm, Ashitaka goes to help and prevents San from killing her. In Nausicaa, when the plane she is riding in with (essentially) her people’s conquerors is shot down, she helps Princess Kushana escape the burning plane even though she may be seen as an antagonist.
Both of these movies were very insightful into the themes and youkai used within modern-day Japanese tales and I am happy especially that I have now seen Princess Mononoke since one of the group podcasts focuses on this work.
-Thanks for reading!