New York Times and Sen to Chihiro / Go

mark schilling 0934611501 at
Tue Jan 8 10:12:33 EST 2002

Michael Arnold says he "kept seeing shadows of Alice in Wonderland and the
Wizard of Oz" in "Spirited Away." I did too, particularly the "Alice" books,
but when I mentioned this to Suzuki Toshio of Studio Ghibli -- the film's
producer -- he said Miyazaki's strongest influence had been "The Tombs of
Atuan," the second book in Ursula K. Le Guin's "Earthsea" series. I haven't
read the book, but its back cover blurb says that the heroine, Tenar, "was
stripped of her name and family while still a child and dedicated as high
priestess to the Nameless Ones, dark powers of the Tombs of Atuan." It also
mentions a young wizard, Ged, who "stayed to set Tenar free and lead her out
of the darkness." Sound familiar?

Suzuki added that Miyazaki was a bigger fan of European fantasy lit than
Japanese folk tales and that the "Japaneseness" of the film was much more a
matter of style than story.

Michael also comments that "Haku was supposed to be a dragon." Most
certainly, but he was not the film's "bad guy," which is what the
one-sentence plot summary in Brooke's NYT article implies. Re-reading it, I
realize that what bothered me was less any specific "error" than the
imprecision of the language. Why the plurals for "dragon" and "sorceress,"
when Sen "fended off" one of each? Who put the "curse" on the parents? No
one that I could see. Thus the impression that Mr. Brooke didn't see the
film in question, but instead cribbed from a Japanese-language press

Michael asks about pre-release publicity for "Go." When I did a story on the
making of the film for Screen International the Toei publicist told me they
had tried to pitched it mainly as an "action film" for young males, but
Kubozuka was swamped with interview requests from women's magazines. So
perhaps the guys Michael overheard at the theater hadn't seen much about the
film in the media because they weren't readers of Josei Jishin and Nonno.

Mark Schilling
schill at

From: "M Arnold" <ma_iku at>
To: <KineJapan at>
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 11:52 PM
Subject: Re: New York Times and Sen to Chihiro / Go

> From: "Ulrich Plate" <plate at>
> > he delivers his punch line: "Revered in Japan, Mr. Miyazakai delights in
> > playing the antiglobalization curmudgeon."
> There are some essays at the "Sen to Chihiro" web site with interesting
> comments, talking about how the film is Miyazaki's unique kind of
> "anti-hollywood entertainment."  Also a line in a piece Miyazaki wrote
> he states that in the "borderless" world, races who forget their past are
> going to be made to lay eggs like chickens until they're gobbled up.  If
> this were a different film it might have made better sense to me, but this
> time those lines stuck out in my memory because I got the strange
> I could have mistaken them for something out of an Ishihara Shintaro
> I do think the movie has several weak points, and while I read again and
> again that Sen's trip to the land of the gods was supposed to be a very
> unique Japanese experience, I kept seeing shadows of Alice in Wonderland
> the Wizard of Oz.  Anyway I'm getting off track.
> I do think Haku was supposed to be a dragon; Sen certainly does have to
> him off in a few scenes.  Has anyone here read the Eureka special issue on
> "Sen"?  There were a couple of essays in the book I thought were fairly
> provocative--one on Miyazaki as the "king of perversion" and another
> entitled something like, "Anime of the Empire/The Empire of Anime."  I'd
> interested to hear how any of you 'read' those.
> For my first trip to the movie theater in 2002 I went to see "Go" in
> Yokohama, and I thought it was very worthwhile.  As usual I eavesdropped
> the other moviegoers while walking out of the theater, and one man was
> telling his friend that he was disappointed the film had received so
> mass media publicity, and that it was probably due to the subject matter.
> Does anyone have comments on this?  It did take a while for me to find a
> place to see the film, but I haven't been watching the media closely
> to say how much attention they've been giving this one, and it did get
> Japan's nomination for the Academy Awards...
> Michael Arnold

More information about the KineJapan mailing list