Hayao Miyazaki's World Picture Book Review

Hayao Miyazaki's World Picture
by Dani Cavallaro
McFarland Books, 2015
$35.00; 204 pages
ISBN 978-0-7864-9647-1

I received this book for free as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

I tried to like this book. I love Miyazaki's works, and this book's cover blurb covers a lot of things I am interested in. However, it is probably the things in this blurb that I am not interested in that make the book unreadable for me.

Hayao Miyazaki has gained worldwide recognition as a leading figure in the history of animation, alongside Walt Disney, Milt Kahl, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Yuri Norstein, and John Lasseter. In both his films and writings, Miyazaki invites us to reflect on the unexamined beliefs that govern our lives. His eclectic body of work addresses compelling philosophical and political questions and demands critical attention. This study examines his views on contemporary culture and economics from a broad spectrum of perspectives, from Zen and classical philosophy and Romanticism, to existentialism, critical theory, poststructuralism and psychoanalytic theory.

There are some really interesting things here. I appreciate the effort that went into researching this book, and the way the author tried to tie Miyazaki's work together into a coherent whole.  What I don't appreciate is the prose style:

The key words in the chapter headings used in this study—time, space, vision, the courage to smile—are necessary demarcators of specific aspects of Miyazaki's thought. However, their relative arbitrariness cannot be denied. Indeed, the director's world picture is distinguished throughout by such fluidity, and such a passion of unrelenting metamorphosis, as to be by and large unsympathetic to demarcations. In Miyazaki's cosmos, time and space coalesce in a continuum of Einsteinian resonance.

I think there is something interesting here, I just don't have the patience to wade through this. I do find the book is much improved if you stop reading the text closely and just skim it. Then the ideas come through more clearly, without needing to try to analyze the text. Perhaps I come to this book with unfair expectations. Miyazaki is a very interesting filmmaker, and I was hoping for something more accessible. To a specialist audience, this book may be just the thing. For the general reader interested in Miyazaki, I cannot recommend this book at all.

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