Starting Point: 1979-1996

January 01, 1970

(Viz Media)

 

www.viz.com

 

BY CHRIS
ZIMMERMAN

 

At 68 years
of age, Hayao Miyazaki continues to flourish as one of the most respected and
influential filmmakers today. Earlier this year, his film “Ponyo” opened in
America after earning over $155 million dollars in Japan back in 2008 and
becoming the country’s eighth highest grossing film.

 

Miyazaki has received praise from both
critics and his peers including John Lasseter, the CCO of Pixar Animation
studios, who also happened to write the forward for the book. Despite this, his
work has only met with favorable success outside of Japan. While it may be a result due
to lack of exposure, Miyazaki
himself tends to shun the spotlight, preferring to be left alone to his art.

 

The essays
and interview featured within offer a candid insight into the reclusive
director’s innermost thoughts about everything from his work to the (then)
current state of Japan.
In his own words, Miyazaki
describes what an animator’s goals should be and how the methods of animation
have evolved over the years to what they are today.

 

The portrait
he paints of himself is not a flattering one and may serve to surprise his
fans. Inside he expresses his regrets that his work never permitted him much
time at home with his family. He discusses how his wife was left to raise his
children and how they inspired him to work harder:

 

“…they made me want to make movies
for them, to show them certain kinds of work. My children were both my
motivation for work and my best audience
.”

 

Also
included are pages of notes (most of which are in Japanese) and meticulous
sketches reprinted directly from his scrapbook. The notes that are written in
English are fascinating to read especially those lined next to his sketches.
Despite being only sketches, they display Miyazaki’s
penmanship as most could be confused with finished drawings.

 

Starting Point is essential reading for any fan
wishing to understand Miyazaki.
This is the first and only collection to look beyond the man’s films, digging
into his history and beliefs. Since it was originally published in Japan in 1996, Starting Point doesn’t cover his more
recent and critically acclaimed work. There is however, more than enough here
to keep fans occupied until hopefully a second volume is released.

 

 

 

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