The War Is Always Right On Top of You

I was just pondering why Miyazaki’s adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle didn’t work, and obviously most of it is “because Miyazaki imposed his WWII issues instead of going with the book’s”. But you know, it’s not just Miyazaki’s issues.

Even though a lot of anime and manga artists have relatives that lived out in the country, and that rural life is part of their psyches, there’s definitely a feeling that war always happens right in your face. There’s not the English “and then the children were sent to the country to get out of the blitz” or even “we live in a remote rural area, so we only heard about the war or saw battles from a distance”. A plane always crashes right in the middle of the remote village, or the children are taken hostage by the enemy, or something.

Admittedly, Japan did suffer tons of bombing, but so did plenty of other countries. But really really rural Japan isn’t usually given a voice in anime. It’s grandmothers who live in the country; or it’s peasants in the remote samurai past, or possibly ninjas. Or the WWII Japanese country people are being used as experimental subjects by Unit 731, of course.

It’s possible that this is some kind of shame thing, that the country people didn’t get bombed and just got to quietly starve to death as the city people came and took all their crops and then all their seeds; or survived only because they hid food, in the traditional way of oppressed Japanese country people.

But yeah, that’s what Miyazaki really didn’t want. Jones had a subtle feeling of the scariness of war, by keeping it far off but within sight. Miyazaki spends ten minutes putting you through a bombing raid of his own devising, totally unbalancing the plot — as if the English never wrote books about being caught in bombing raids. But the war is always right on top of you, in his stories, and there could be no exceptions.

1 Comment

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One response to “The War Is Always Right On Top of You

  1. Maybe it’s a culture thing? I’d imagine not many movie/anime folk grew up in the country….

    I mean, when was the last time we had folks from the country on our TV when they weren’t Beverly Hills Hillbillies ripoffs?

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