Posted by: P. K. | 21st December, 2007

Hayao Miyazaki and England

There are, roughly speaking, typically two distinct classes of settings in Hayao Miyazaki‘s animes that the odd ones have had the pleasure of watching. Class A involves a pretty countryside in eternal tranquility, as seen in the quiet neighbourhood of Totoro, Laputa in Laputa and, to the best knowledge of the odd ones, Princess Mononoke, which the odd ones have never had the fortune, despite numerous attempts, to complete watching. On the other hand, the dirty, inharmonious, heavily-industrialised urban slum of Class B feature prominently in many Miyazaki films: the towns in Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service and, indeed, Laputa.

Am reading Chapter 8: There Always Was an England of:

The English的圖像

where two different images of “the England” in the mind the English is discussed and contrasted. The first image is the fantasy best epitomised by Stanley Baldwin‘s depiction of

“… [t]he sounds of England, the tinkle of the hammer on the anvil in the country smithy, the corncrake on a dewy morning, the sound of the scythe against the whetstone, and the sight of a plough team coming over the brow of a hill …”

while the second image is the reality of the hideous cities and towns in England which resulted from the rapid development and expansion in the industrial revolution during the Victorian eta, a picture of

“blackened buildings, streets rank with rubbish and shit, stinking rivers and vermin-infested tenements”

as painted by Friedrich Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England.

What’s striking is how both depictions remind strongly of the typical Miyazaki settings. The reader shall examine by oneself whether this citation, from the beginning of The Gamekeeper at Home by Richard Jefferies, is reminiscent of the scene in Totoro where Totoro is first seen:

“The keeper’s cottage stands in a sheltered ‘combe’, or narrow hollow of the woodlands, oversahdowed by a mighty Spanish chestnut, bare now of leaves, but in summer a noble tree.”

whereas the Coketown in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times provides the reality check:

It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sounds upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and tomorrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next.


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