May 25 to 30 is Studio Ghibli Week at Polygon. To have fun the arrival of the Japanese animation home’s library on digital and streaming companies, we’re surveying the studio’s historical past, influence, and largest themes. Follow alongside through our Ghibli Week web page.
In half due to world distribution offers — like those that introduced Studio Ghibli movies to HBO Max and Netflix worldwide — Hayao Miyazaki is a family title around the globe. That’s much less true for manga’s patron saint Osamu Tezuka, although his profession has arguably had much more of an influence on fashionable media than Miyazaki.
And Miyazaki himself may need a bone to select with that.
Miyazaki is a humanist artist, creator of a number of the most touching, mild, and hopeful movies within the animated canon. He’s additionally an outspoken idealist with no apparent inhibitions about expressing his opinion, and in a each day sequence for Ghibli Week, we’re highlighting a number of the issues the reclusive director has famously disdained.
So, does Hayao Miyazaki disdain the “Father of Manga?” Yes. But it’s additionally clear that he idolizes him, too.
Tezuka started his inventive profession within the days of the Allied occupation of Japan that instantly adopted World War II. His vastly profitable (although free) manga adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island — completely poised to impress the Western officers answerable for censoring Japanese media — kicked off manga’s first golden age, and he went on to create Astro Boy, Princess Knight, and Kimba the White Lion, in addition to many equally influential, extra grownup works. He’s colloquially referred to as the “Father of Manga,” and his contributions to the nascent anime trade have additionally induced him to be in comparison with Walt Disney — who Tezuka himself revered.
When Tezuka’s profession was kicking off, there’s no query that the teenaged Miyazaki noticed Tezuka as an aspirational determine. But in 2009, Miyazaki spoke to the LA Times in regards to the second he realized he’d gone past aspiration to imitation.
“When I was finally forced to admit that my drawings actually did look like Tezuka’s, I took out the sketches I had stored in the drawer of our dresser and burned them all. I burned them and resolved to start over from scratch, and in the belief that I needed to study the basics first, I went back to practicing drawing and draftsmanship. Yet it still wasn’t easy to rid myself of Tezuka’s influence.”
In his later profession, Tezuka cut up off from his early kid-friendly work to affix the gekiga motion of 1960s Japan, which was form of analogous to what American comics went via within the 1980s: including extra realism and darker tales, in a seek for an grownup viewers. In an essay published in Starting Point, a e-book of his early writing, Miyazaki has written about how he discovered the cynicism of Tezuka’s later animated work off-putting:
I discovered myself disgusted by a budget pessimism of works like [Mermaid] or [The Drop], which confirmed a drop of water falling on a thirsty man adrift at sea. I felt that this pessimism was qualitatively totally different from the pessimism Tezuka used to have within the outdated days, as within the early days of [Astro Boy], for instance — but it surely additionally might have been that within the early days I felt nice tragedy and trembled with pleasure at Tezuka’s low-cost pessimism exactly as a result of I used to be so younger. […]
I felt the identical factor with Tezuka’s Tales of a Street Corner — the animated movie which Muschi Pro poured the whole lot into making. There’s a scene within the movie the place posters of a ballerina and a violinist of some such issues are trampled and scattered by troopers’ boots throughout an air raid after which waft into the flames like moths. I keep in mind that after I noticed this, I used to be so disgusted that chills ran down my backbone.
Miyazaki has even criticized Tezuka’s willingness to just accept a really low funds to supply an animated tv sequence of his extraordinarily well-liked Astro Boy manga. 1962’s Astro Boy sequence is credited with setting the primary stylistic requirements for the anime aesthetic. And if Tezuka had held out for extra money, Miyazaki has said, the anime trade won’t be so synonymous with low manufacturing requirements, small paychecks, and overwork.
But like most of us with childhood idols, Miyazaki hasn’t overpassed the great in Tezuka’s work. According to Ghibli Blog, he as soon as advised the nationwide Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun:
The world that Tezuka confirmed us wasn’t solely vivid, however typically scary, absurd, painful or hopeful. Modernism meant prosperity and mass consumption and at a time it invented destruction. At the nook of Asia, solely Tezuka discovered it. He realized the absurdity of modernism extra deeply than Disney.
And there’s one thing deliciously symmetrical in Osamu Tezuka revering Walt Disney, Hayao Miyazaki interrogating his relationship to Tezuka in his personal work, and his work turning into so subsequently profitable that the Walt Disney Corporation got here knocking for the distribution rights. Not that they made good use of them once they acquired them, however that’s a wholly totally different story.
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