Another (short) Masterpiece from Studio Ghibli

 

As a long time fan of scroll books and Studio Ghibli, I am expectedly taken in by their latest short inspired by a 12th century manga called Chōjū-Jinbutsu-Giga Emaki, or Scrolls of Cartoons of Birds, Animals, and People. It is one of the first shorts produced for  Marubeni Power . The full short will air on April 1st, 2016. In the meantime enjoy 30 seconds of beauty.

The short was directed by Katsuya Kondo, character designer and animation director on Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo, and producer Toshio Suzuki was the voice speaking the company name at the end. The background music is by acclaimed pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii and the tagline reads “There is a Japan I want to leave behind for future generations.”

Chōjū Giga, which depicted life as it was eight centuries ago through anthropomorphic animals, is recognized as one of the oldest known manga in the world. The emakimono, or handpainted, scrolls from which it originated are considered national treasures and can be found in the Tokyo and Kyoto National Museums.

Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata is a noted fan, alongside Hayao Miyazaki, and has written a book on emaki scrolls as well as drawing inspiration from them in making The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Scholars continue to debate whether this or the Shigisan-Engi- emaki can be considered the first manga published.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Isao Takahata for Studio Ghibli. The Tale of Princess Kaguya. 2014.
Isao Takahata for Studio Ghibli. The Tale of Princess Kaguya. 2014.
Isao Takahata for Studio Ghibli. The Tale of Princess Kaguya. 2014.

I am heart-broken that Studio Ghibli’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya has left my local theater. I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I saw it last week. I wanted to see it at least a couple more times. Yes, I am really really really heart broken that its gone!

I had read Yasunari’s version of the more than ancient “Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” years ago, and I have to say that much as I am a sucker for Yasunari Kawabata, I am a bigger sucker for this movie. Watch it if it ever makes it to your hometown!

A War Veteran: A word that I hope will become obsolete

Jacques Tardi. C'était la guerre des tranchées. Casterman, 1993

I am never quite sure how to feel or respond on Veteran’s day, other than sadness for those who have been to war, or worse, didn’t make it back.

Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front. 1928/29
Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front. 1928/29
“I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.”

Wrote Erich Maria Remarque in All Quiet on the Western Front in 1928, about the brutality of war. Jacques Tardi wrote about Trench Warfare in 1993, and 2008. They weren’t alone in their anti-war sentiments.

Jacques Tardi. C'était la guerre des tranchées. Casterman, 1993
Jacques Tardi. C’était la guerre des tranchées. Casterman, 1993
Jacques Tardi. Putain de Guerre! Casterman, 2008
Jacques Tardi. Putain de Guerre! Casterman, 2008

While many in the US are enjoying the “Tale of Princess Kaguya”, they may have never seen the  “Grave of Fire Flies” (火垂るの墓, Hotaru no haka) a 1988 Japanese animated anti-war film written and directed by the very same Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli .

Yet, we continue on “unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay(ing) one another”.

There are people who lived because of war, such as when the allied troops put an end to a hateful anti-Semitic despot’s march across Europe. There are people who died, because we did nothing, such as when the Hutus slaughtered the Tutsis.

Irrespective of whether the war was justified or not, what is worse is that our veterans who actually faced the horrors (that I can only try to comprehend) lack adequate care.

So, while I never know how to respond on Veteran’s Day, there are only things that I am sure of:

#1. Veterans need better care and benefits

#2. We have a responsibility to protect the innocent, but not greedy right to war.

May be one day we will all get along, Ed McCurdy’s (and my) dream will come true, and the word Veteran will become obsolete.