Conning wizards, building businesses, chopping arms off—the characters in Miyazaki movies are always getting so much done. This, in essence, is the Miyazaki effect – you see all these amazing characters taking control of their lives, and not only are you inspired, you’re mysteriously motivated. Before you @me, I love all kinds of Gibli movies, but gracious, isn’t there just something else about Miyazaki? The energy is quite distinct.
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I doubt it’s just me. You watch them run through the forest and scrub floors, and suddenly you want to clean your whole house and maybe bake something. I can’t claim credit for the term’s coinage—I’m referring to a post I saw some months ago, in which the poster outlines this ‘Miyazaki Effect’. The feeling of energy and organizational ability that comes out of seeing Howl’s or the bath house’s newly sparkling floors. There’s something there.
Gif via Giphy
Not to get too deep, but I do think a big part of it is the feeling the movies give you. No, they’re not really optimistic, as such—Nausicaa’s dress is that magical blue from the blood of the creatures she was trying to save. Calcifer is doused. A river will always be a river. I think this is better. The blind optimism of many things, especially much children’s media, makes it unconvincing. Miyazaki’s movies don’t fall prey to this flaw, and I think the reason is simple. They’re not optimistic, as such—they’re hopeful.
Gif via Giphy
When Kiki snatches a broom and runs through the street, trying to get airborne, you can feel it. It’s the way we’ve all been down and still fought our way into the sky. It’s how Satsuki runs after Mei, screaming, untiring. The magic in Miyazaki movies, the good, helpful magic, is all hope. Howl expands his home hoping his new family will stay. The cat bus arrives when the sisters want to see their mother, want her to get better.
Image via The Ink and Pixel Club
Nausicaa wants peace, thinks it’s worth nearly dying for, and her faith and conviction lead not only to peace, but healing—physical, yes, on the Ohmu’s glowing whiskers, but also peace for her people, the idea that the choice is not being crushed by empires or poison forests. The world seems like it’s already ended, like they’re counting down the days, but she falls through to a place where the air is clean, where it is healed. She tells us it’s never too late to start trying. To love the world.
Image via My Media Chops
Sure, the stakes in our lives might be lower. Or at least a little more surmountable. But it’s the same feeling that makes you leave the movie straining for the sky. Even if it’s just the energy you needed to do your dishes, its basis is the same—the hope that even though it’s hard work, life can be better. You can make it so much better.
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