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The Manga of Miyazaki
October 4, 2011 12:21 PM   Subscribe

If you recognize the name Hayao Miyazaki, it's most likely due to his anime films. But along with his involvement in animation, Miyazaki has produced some manga and illustrated story books. Part of the reason his work in still images is less known is lack of translation and distribution. That's where the fans come in, digging up and translating many Miyazaki works, back to his first published manga, which was a serious serialized work, in 1969-1970.

Predating his first solo manga, Sabaku no tami (People of the Desert), there was a 1969 Puss in Boots manga, tying into the Puss in Boots movie (Japanese trailer with English subs; Japanese movie with Lithuanian (?) overdubbing), on which Miyazaki worked as a key animator. In 1972, there was a similar serialized manga of a movie for Dōbutsu Takarajima (Animal Treasure Island; Japanese trailer #1, #2, Swedish dub with moments of English).

Shuna no tabi (The Journey of Shuna) is a short watercolor manga that was released in 1983, something of a proto-Nausicaä.

Miyazaki released a book of image boards in 1983, including images of movies he had only dreamed of making. One of those stories was titled Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke). The story is vaguely along the lines of Beauty and the Beast, and includes imagery that would appear in future Miyazaki movies, including Spirited Away. The story line is a huge change from the movie as released.

That same year, Miyazaki released a short illustrated story, Imouto he (For My Sister). I'll leave the 17 page story to stand on its own.

From 1982 to 1994, Miyazaki published his serialized epic Kaze no tani no Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind). The first two volumes were used as the grounds for the movie, but the story continued on for another 5 volumes of manga.

In 1989 or 1990, Hikōtei Jidai (The Age of the Flying Boat) was published in Japan, showing a story that would evolve into the 1992 film Porco Rosso. In 1993, a US magazine focused on anime and manga published an English translation, 13 years in advance of the US release of Porco Rosso on DVD.

Zassō Nōto (Daydream data notes) is a series of sporadically released graphic essays on Miyazaki's manga stories, mecha ideas, or movie ideas about tanks, planes, or battleships from the era before World War II. The essays were serialized from 1984 through 1990, and compiled into one volume in 1997. Some of the stories were broken out into their own publications, including Hansu no kikan (The Return of Hans), in 1994.

Kūchū de o-Shokuji (Dining in the Air) is an illustrated history of in-flight food, published in 1994 in a Japan Airlines in-flight magazine. The manga is available in English in Starting Point: 1979-1996, a collection of Miyazaki's writings and interviews.

Doromamire no tora (Tigers Covered with Mud) was a six-volume serialized manga, published from 1998 to 1999. A fan translator describes it as "one of the very best comics in the world involving pigs and tanks."

In 2006, Miyazaki provided a new cover illustration and a 23 page manga, titled A Trip to Tynemouth, for a Japanese re-issue of British World War II ghost stories.

Most recently was the 2009 manga Kaze Tachinu, featuring more love for old aircraft.
posted by filthy light thief (33 comments total) 129 users marked this as a favorite

 
like like like! thanks for this.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 12:31 PM on October 4, 2011


You're welcome! I was going to post the 1980 Mononoke Hime image board story, but I found that there was a lot of (translated) material online. The newest stuff was the thinnest, and I think there might even be another recent manga I didn't list.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:36 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Filthy light thief's posts have cost American business roughly 85 billion dollars a year in lost productivity.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:44 PM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


My god, that "For My Sister" one is lovely. Thank you for posting this.
posted by jbickers at 12:44 PM on October 4, 2011


Not fair! I have work to do today, dammit.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:46 PM on October 4, 2011


Speaking of different mediums, Studio Ghibli has a videogame coming out soon! It's called Ni no Kuni and it looks beautiful.
posted by lemuring at 12:53 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would this be like discovering Walt Disney's first sketchbook? Is Studio Ghibli considered the premier animation studio in Japan at this point?
posted by stroke_count at 12:54 PM on October 4, 2011


Thank you, filthy light thief!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2011


Thanks. That's a lot of new stuff to digest.

I always thought that with his love of old aeroplanes, Miyzaki would have appreciated these, if he never saw them.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2011


OK, here's a list document lengths, for the sake of your time management:

Shortest: For My Sister

Still pretty short: Mononoke Hime (1980 storyboard version)

Moderately long: The Age of the Flying Boat and The Return of Hans.

Longer: The Journey of Shuna and Tigers Covered in Mud (the latter may not be complete)

Longest: People of the Desert

Set aside a weekend: Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (this one is available in various translations through retail channels, and possibly at your library).

stroke_count - Some of the early image board books could be akin to Walt Disney's sketches, especially Mononoke, as that has so many elements seen in future movies. The rest are examples of Miyazaki's story telling and art styles.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:00 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


And I like to think that all you've lost in productivity, you've gained in appreciation and understanding about another random topic or area of interest.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:02 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting that People of the Desert is more of a illustrated narrative than a manga type book.

And god is Nausicaä good. The movie version of the first bit was great, I really wish they'd done the rest.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:11 PM on October 4, 2011


Also worth mentioning the amazing Ghibli Museum. It's kind of the anti-Disneyland - the focus is squarely on the creative process, but filled with all the charm of his movies. Even getting to the museum is a carefully planned experience.

The museum itself an intimate little building, like a quirky little mansion, where you walk through a replicated artist's workspace with drawings all over the walls, reference materials, and sketchbook after sketchbook of Miyazaki's work (and other Ghibli artists I'm sure). If you really want to see the man behind the curtain, it doesn't get any better.
posted by lubujackson at 1:27 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nausicca has been on my wishlist for so long. I keep waiting until I can get all the volumes in one go, because I have seen 4-volume English editions and 6-volume
ones, and I don't want to get messed up and get 1/2 and 1/2.
posted by jb at 3:15 PM on October 4, 2011


jb, I'm not sure if that'll happen in any official format. Currently, Wikipedia lists a 7 volume "Editor's Choice" edition from Viz as the most current and accurate version, and notes that prior English versions were a 7 volume "Graphic Novel" series and a 4 volume "Perfect Collection", both with mirrored images to "correct" the Japanese formatting of right to left reading.

Any way, if you look at 1) the formatting (reading from left to right vs right to left) and the covers, you'll see which ones match. Also, check the publication dates, if you're looking at physical copies and not online sales.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:22 PM on October 4, 2011


Oh, wow. This is a wonderful post! Thank you!

Also worth mentioning the amazing Ghibli Museum. It's kind of the anti-Disneyland - the focus is squarely on the creative process, but filled with all the charm of his movies.


The Ghibli Museum is roughly my personal idea of what Heaven must be like, except in my ideal version I can take home all the Ghibli Museum exclusive films like "The Day I Bought a Star".
posted by byanyothername at 3:40 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


byanyothername: The Ghibli Museum is roughly my personal idea of what Heaven must be like, except in my ideal version I can take home all the Ghibli Museum exclusive films

Agreed. It's weird that Miyazaki said that the shorts are museum exclusives to "allowing children to enjoy them without being influenced by commercialism," yet only one film is scheduled for screening at the theater, meaning one will have to make repeat trips to the museum to catch different films. Do you get a free pass to see the other shorts? But they're his creations, and he can do what he likes with them.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:49 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


now that I've been reading more manga, I definitely would like to read the right-to-left version.

about the shorts: really, if they wanted to take away the commercialism, they could put up an official website and show them there to the whole world.
posted by jb at 4:00 PM on October 4, 2011


but yes, I hate all my friends who have been to the Ghibli Museum

(I thought about dressing up like a catbus for Halloween - but couldn't figure out how to do it practically).
posted by jb at 4:02 PM on October 4, 2011


"Totoro" is one of the best movies ever. That's all.
posted by mermayd at 4:21 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! Well done sir, well done.
posted by roboton666 at 7:07 PM on October 4, 2011


I've been out to Mitaka a couple times to see the museum, and it is pretty damn amazing. The spinning diorama of the various Totoro characters (small figurines captured at different stages of motion, they spin, there's a strobe, and it looks like animation) is something I can literally watch for hours. Every time I've gone, someone has had to pull me away. My only gripe is that adults aren't allowed to sit in the cat bus and have their pictures taken. Kids only.

I'm not sure if the Lawson's only thing is still in effect for buying tickets, but for non-residents, there is/was a work around. In Mitaka, if you seek out the JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) tour agency, make a sad face, show them your passport, and tell them you didn't know you had to buy tickets in advance, they'll sell you tickets to the museum.

As for the 'only at the museum' shorts, I kind of like it. I mean, I'd like to be able to see Mei playing with the baby cat bus, but there's something about only being able to see it there that makes it more special. Ubiquity has a nasty way of turning the special into the mundane.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:30 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Nausicaä" is my favorite manga as well! If any of you read French, it was published several years ago, the full set, in Japanese format (large and left-right):
Volume 1 to Volume 7, it's possible to browse them all through the related items. Still available, looks like it's been reissued this year (not surprising, French translations of manga in Japanese format are hugely popular here in France).

Already read "For My Sister", shall be spending down time in the office with the others today :) It's also making me want to re-read "Nausicaä", haven't in a few years now. Thanks so much for this post, my Miyazaki fan friends are going to love it too!
posted by fraula at 2:32 AM on October 5, 2011


Is Studio Ghibli considered the premier animation studio in Japan at this point?

Japan? The world. They're so far ahead of DreamWorks, Pixar, and Disney it's painful.
posted by rodgerd at 2:36 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miyazaki did the last drawing for the upcoming charity book Sketchtravel. The only image I can find of it is on their FB page, but it's a watercolor of a charming, triple-wing plane flying past a small boy on a hilltop.
posted by lucidprose at 12:04 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you for this post, filthy light thief!

The spinning diorama of the various Totoro characters (small figurines captured at different stages of motion, they spin, there's a strobe, and it looks like animation) is something I can literally watch for hours.

Hooray, it's not just me! That diorama is so enchanting that it's almost enough by itself to justify the cost of a flight to Tokyo. It's the only thing I've ever seen that can really fool my brain into believing in magic.

I visited twice in 2005, and at the time there was a special Pixar celebration going on, so the short animations were standard Pixar shorts. Cute, of course, and I hadn't seen some of them before, but I do feel disappointed to have missed out on the Ghibli specials. I'll go back someday...
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:30 PM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Japan? The world. They're so far ahead of DreamWorks, Pixar, and Disney it's painful.

Seriously. Maybe it's just because I'm not getting the cultural references, but I don't get how anyone could watch something like Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro and then call Pixar (or Disney!) imaginative. There's so many great images (cat bus! dust sprites! spider coal shovel guy! monster ghost thing that vomits mud!) that are memorable and kind of WTF.
posted by DU at 7:42 AM on October 6, 2011


DU: It's not just that for me. It's that, say, Pixar basically do what, for adults, would be called action-adventures and action comedies. Which is not a crime or anything, but almost their entire output is Red Heat and Twins. And that seems to be true for most modern Western animation for kids.

Ghibli, on the other hand, well: Totoro is a beautiful little slice of life. It's not a "wisecracking odd couple united against an old foe", it's a couple of kids and their dad moving to a new place and living their lives with a nice dose of fantasy. Kiki's Delivery Service. And so on.

Plus I enjoy being able to show my daughter movies where girls and women are the central character, or co-equal, not an entity that dies at the start to provide motivation for teh menz (Ice Age, numerous Pixar), or a third wheel interruping the bros (later Toy Story). There are more exceptions to that one in mainstream Western animation (Disney are actually better at that than Pixar, but when their central characters are more likely to be Belle, singing the joys of domestic abuse) it ain't a big improvement. Kikki, Totoro, Ponyo, and so on, on the other hand?

(Also let me give a special hug to Totoro for "fathers who are not absent, incompetent, or evil".)
posted by rodgerd at 11:00 AM on October 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


(Also let me give a special hug to Totoro for "fathers who are not absent, incompetent, or evil".)

And who can love people without having to fight someone to prove it.
posted by DU at 11:43 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, Ghibli movies are OK saying less, with the assumption that the audience (specifically kids) understand more the situation without a whole lot of narration or explanation.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:04 PM on October 6, 2011


While we're talking Totoro, I love Ebert's "great movies" essay on it:

Here is a children's film made for the world we should live in, rather than the one we occupy. A film with no villains. No fight scenes. No evil adults. No fighting between the two kids. No scary monsters. No darkness before the dawn. A world that is benign. A world where if you meet a strange towering creature in the forest, you curl up on its tummy and have a nap.

...

There is none of the kids-against-adults plotting of American films. The family is seen as a safe, comforting haven. The father is reasonable, insightful and tactful, accepts stories of strange creatures, trusts his girls, listens to explanations with an open mind. It lacks those dreary scenes where a parent misinterprets a well-meaning action and punishes it unfairly.

posted by jbickers at 12:06 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those quotes from Ebert's review makes Totoro sound like it's saccrine. And it's true that while Totoro is very uplifting, it's far from saccrine. It has a very scary monster - tuberculosis - and darkness before dawn - Mei going missing, and possibly drowned.

It's quite a scary world - a world in which mothers go to the hospital and may never come back, where fathers are gone for long hours at work in the city, and life is precarious.

Maybe it's also that I know that the movie is set just a few years after Grave of the Fireflies - Satsuki and Mei might not remember the war, but it's only been a few years since children starved to death nearby.
posted by jb at 12:16 PM on October 6, 2011


from the Ebert review: There are two family emergencies: A visit to the hospital to visit their mother, who wants to hear all about their new house, and another occasion when Setsuki gets a call from the doctor and needs to contact her father in the city. In both scenes, the mother's illness is treated as a fact of life, not as a tragedy sure to lead to doom.

Which isn't true at all - the illness is a possible tragedy - they aren't sure whether she will die or not.
posted by jb at 12:21 PM on October 6, 2011


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